Comparing Porcelain and Ceramic Tiles

Ceramic and porcelain are not the same, though they belong to the same family of tiles. They could be considered close cousins, especially when bringing into the discussion other dramatically different kinds of tiles such as glass tile, quarry tile, natural stone, etc. So how different are both the materials from each other?

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Brief Intro to Ceramic and Porcelain 

Ceramic tile is basically a mixture of various natural materials such as clay. The clay is a special variant that is mined and coloured, shaped, and then subjected to fire in kilns. Conventional ceramic tiles could have their own colour and left unglazed such as terra cotta. They could feature highly designed or coloured surfaces that could be glazed either in a matter or high gloss finish. Ceramic tiles usually have either a red or white body colour scheme below its coloured, glazed upper layer.

Porcelain is a variation and newer variety of ceramic tile. It’s quite popular among homeowners. The tile comprises fine porcelain clays. Compared to ceramic tiles, porcelain gets fired at higher temperatures. As a result, porcelain is less porous, denser, more robust, and less susceptible to stain and moisture compared to ceramic tiles. This is why the majority of porcelain tiles can be installed both outdoors and indoors. Porcelain’s hardness and density also means it’s much harder to cut. 


Thanks to porcelain’s through-body makeup, it’s considered denser compared to ceramic tile and is also more suited for heavy-duty use than ceramic. The top glaze of the ceramic doesn’t have much depth to it. For instance, if you chip the tile, you would see another colour underneath. Porcelain, on the other hand, has a much thicker glaze, which means you chip the tile and the colour would still stay. In other words, the chip is almost impossible to see. 

The other reason porcelain wins the durability battle is because it’s fired at much higher temperatures and also kept under fire much longer than ceramic. This along with porcelain’s higher feldspar (a type of rock) content makes the porcelain more durable. 


Ceramic tiles cost lesser than porcelain. Both ceramic and porcelain tiles come in a variety of sizes. When the average price of both the tile variants and all their sizes are considered, porcelain would set you back by $5.20. On the other hand, you may have to shell out $3.24 for ceramic. In percentage terms, this means porcelain is 62 percent more expensive than ceramic. By the way, this is just a rough indication of the price, and the money you spend on these tiles could vary. But you are most likely to find ceramic cheaper than porcelain. 

PEI Rating

PEI (Porcelain Enamel Institute) rating denotes the hardness of a tile, which helps determine whether a particular tile is suitable for a specific project. Not just porcelain and ceramic, all tiles have their own PEI ratings. The following are the different PEI ratings and their meanings:

• PEI 0: Used only for wall tiling.
• PEI 1: Can bear least traffic – generally used in bathrooms.
• PEI 2: Could bear light traffic – can be used in bedroom and bathroom.
• PEI 3: Ideal for light-to-moderate traffic, such as domestic floors.
• PEI 4: Can bear moderate-to-heavy traffic – typically used in an entrance, hallway, balcony, kitchen, and a few commercial applications.
• PEI 5: Capable of handling high traffic and, therefore, can be used for all commercial and domestic floors that are subject to heavy footfall/abrasion. 

Generally, ceramic tiles have a PEI rating of 3 or 4; the porcelain tile’s rating starts at 3 and can max at 5. 


Keep the aforementioned points in mind when making a choice between porcelain and ceramic. However, at the end of it all, it’s important you choose a tile type that complements your house, lifestyle, and style more than anything else.

For more information, visit: Primaporcelain.