Porcelain vs Ceramic
The Tile Guy has a large selection of both porcelain and ceramic tiles.
Porcelain has become popular in residential flooring over the last several years. Most people want to buy porcelain because it is the same color and pattern all the way through the tile. However, this is true on less than 5% of porcelain tiles, called through body porcelain. The majority of porcelain tiles are glazed porcelain and when chipped, the porcelain shows.
Porcelain is denser than ceramic which means it has a lower absorption rate. It is frost resistant – making porcelain better for outside applications.
Indoors, the extra density makes porcelain less likely to chip. But it is a little overkill too. Some people lead you to believe that if you’re not getting porcelain then you are ruining your house.
There are different qualities of ceramic tile. Some ceramics are denser than others, including ‘High Density’ ceramics which test the same as porcelain and can be used outside. There are many great quality ceramics that are more than sufficient in a house.
All glazed tiles, whether porcelain or ceramic, have a PEI rating which will tell you how resistant the glazed surface is to scratching and chipping. A tile with a PEI of 1 will scratch and chip easily and should only be used on walls. A PEI of 2 is good for light residential areas like bathrooms. A PEI of 3 is good for all residential applications. 4 is used in commercial applications and 5 for heavy commercial applications like a mall.
If you drop an iron skillet on equally rated ceramic and porcelain tiles, you will probably chip both. If you drop a glass, you will probably will not break either one. Because of the difference in density, there may be some things that may chip one or the other, but the difference is neglibible.
Porcelain has been around a while, but has been mainly used in outside and commercial applications. A lot of manufacturers have gone to porcelain tile recently because the price of tile in general has come down. By going to porcelain, the manufacturers can justify not lowering their prices.
The bottom line is that in a typical residential application, both glazed porcelain and ceramic tiles will endure comparably provided they have the same PEI rating. A through body porcelain is great, but there are not very many choices and they generally cost a little more.
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