Differentiating ceramic and porcelain

Everything you need to know to make the right choice.

Porcelain vs Ceramic

Both these words are used interchangeably by most people. Sometimes, even the best floor covering experts are guilty of substituting one word for the other. The reason behind this is that both types of products are very similar because their fabrication process is similar. To distinguish these products from one another, your floor covering expert will talk about the tile’s grade or PEI (Porcelain Enamel Institute) number.

In the picture above, the coloration of our ceramic, Feel (A), is only on the tile’s surface. However, with the Avant-Garde porcelain tile (B), the coloration goes through the body of the tile. A coloration that bleeds through the body of a tile is often an indicator of porcelain. Remember that this isn’t the only indicator of porcelain. Both porcelain and ceramic can have enamel, in such cases, the body of the porcelain will be of a different colour than its surface.

It is important to know that both types of products are made of clay which can be decorated and then baked. When porcelain is made, the combination of clay and mineral particles is much finer than the particles that compose ceramic. There finer particles allow a better compression and a higher temperature cooking capacity. The minerals within porcelain are therefore fused together better than in a ceramic, which makes the tile very solid. As opposed to ceramic, porcelain is denser and is often coloured throughout the body of the tile. Porcelain is also less porous than ceramic and absorbs less than 0.5% of water. Ceramic can absorb between 0.5% to 4% of water.

Beyond numbers, this means that porcelain is harder and more resistant to stress. It is ideal for the following uses: high traffic areas, humid rooms and even outside! It’s recommended to purchase porcelain for bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms and basements, which are the most humid parts of your home.

But even though ceramic is more porous, it also has some interesting advantages. It is easier to cut and it’s also a great product to install on walls. Ceramic is also generally more affordable than porcelain. By paying close attention to preparing your subfloor and to choosing the best adhesives, you will see it is sufficiently resistant to most of your needs. However, we recommend a higher grade ceramic and to clean it only with a lightly moist mop.