What You Should Know About Porcelain and Ceramic Tiles
Porcelain and ceramic are similar, in that they are both made from clay and kiln fired, making them very different from other categories of tiles, such as glass or natural stone. Although the words porcelain and ceramic are often used interchangeably, differences between the two types of tile can make a difference in the cost, appearance, and longevity of your installation.
What's the difference between porcelain and ceramic?
Ultimately, a ceramic tile is categorized as porcelain if its moisture absorption rate is .5% or lower. Ceramic tile is cheaper, easier to install, and offers more color selections than porcelain. The ingredients of porcelain tiles are more refined, and it is fired at a greater pressure and higher temperature than ceramic, making it much harder and denser, and consequently, more expensive and more difficult to install than ceramic. But cost is only one consideration among many.
About Glazed and Through-Body Porcelain
A glazed porcelain tile has a coating that fills in any microscopic holes on the surface of the clay, making it easier to keep clean than unglazed tiles. However, unglazed tiles are better for slip resistance and less likely to show signs of wear, since the color on the surface is the same color that runs through the entire tile.
Tile Care and Maintenance
Tile floors should be swept and damp mopped regularly and professionally cleaned as needed. Porous grout lines can be sealed to inhibit staining and to make regular cleaning more productive. When grout color sealer is applied to grout lines, they become impervious to stains. With all the benefits of clear sealer, grout color sealer offers numerous additional benefits, including constant-acting mildewcides and fungicides. Unglazed porcelain tile, although less porous than natural stone, can be subject to discolorations and staining with traffic and use. These surfaces should be professionally sealed once per year or more. Glazed ceramic or porcelain tiles do not require sealing, but may need slip resistance treatments, depending on the way the space is used.
Consider all the factors, and not just price, when you make your purchase decision for new floors and surfaces. For existing floors, proper care and maintenance can make a world of difference. Don't replace your tile without consulting with an experienced tile restoration contractor, who may be able to achieve dramatic results that postpone or eliminate the need for replacement.
This is one of a series of articles written and published on behalf of surpHaces Partners.