Porcelain vs. Ceramic Tile – Which One Wins the Duel?


I guess the very first question some of you might ask is something like: “Wait, they are not the same thing?”. Well, not technically. You’d be surprised how many tools usually made of steel can be also made from ceramic – but on that, later. So let’s dive into more details.

Porcelain is More Expensive

There is a general tile category simply known as ceramic. This category is divided among others also to ceramic and porcelain. If you have ever been shopping for tiles or other tools made of ceramic, then you’ve certainly noticed that porcelain is more expensive. But why is that exactly?

Water Absorption

American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) defined porcelain tile as a material with water absorption rate of 0.5 percent or less. This is done through various tests that include weighing and boiling. There are also other differences between the two, but the deal-breaker is the water absorption rate.

Key Differences

Porcelain is also more impervious than ceramic tile; it’s also generally smoother, extruded, rectified and contains more kaolin. Thanks to these qualities the porcelain is harder to make.

Water absorption rate is also the main reason why the ceramic should not be installed outdoors. Because it absorbs too much water, most ceramic tiles will crack within one weather season.

Porcelain is also much denser than ceramic, which makes it tougher and stronger against impurities, but that same fact also makes it harder to cut.

Because of the longer and harder making process of porcelain, it’s also more expensive, sometimes even twice as much.

Can I Make My Own Porcelain Tile?

Technically, yes, but you may not call it porcelain, unless it meets the ASTM C373 standards. Even if it does, there is an official 3rd party group called Porcelain Tile Certification Agency (PTCA), to which you need to send several tile samples, submitting an official participation agreement and keep renewing the certification every 3 years.

Oh, did I say that you must also pay a fee? Well, yes, you have to.

What Should You Go For?

It all comes down to what you expect from the tile. In the picture above you can see the pros and cons of each tile, so eventually it is up to you to decide.

If you want to go for lower water absorption, better durability or outdoor use, and price is not the issue, then go for porcelain.