Ceramic VS. Porcelain Tiles

Although they belong to the same family, porcelain and ceramic tiles are more like cousins than twins.

Some people will use the terms porcelain and ceramic tiles interchangeably, but there are a few differences. This means one might be a little more advantageous for your project. Just something to keep in mind.

Depending on how you plan to use your space, porcelain or ceramic tiles may suit you better. Here’s how they differ and where they’re best used.


The main difference between a porcelain and ceramic tile is the rate of water they absorb. Porcelain tiles absorb less than 0.5% of water whilst ceramic and other non-porcelain tiles will absorb more.

This is down to the stuff used to make porcelain tiles. The clay is denser and so less porous. It effects how the tiles behave, and what they’re best used for.

Here’s a helpful overview of the key things that make each tile what it is. We like to help where we can!


How are ceramic tiles made?

Ceramic tiles are made using natural red, brown or white clay. Firstly the clay is fired at a high temperature to reduce the water content, the glaze followed by the pattern is then applied. Voila, then you have your finished your product.

How are porcelain tiles made?

Porcelain tiles are made using very specific clay, with finely-ground sand and feldspar added to the mixture. The tiles are fired at a higher temperature than ceramic, this helps to make porcelain tiles super hardwearing.


The Porcelain Enamel Institute rating (PEI rating) is a quick and easy way to see which tile is suitable in your home depending on how many times the area you are tiling is walked over.

Tiles are graded from 0-5 depending on the hardness of the tile:

  • PEI 0 - No foot traffic (wall tiles)
  • PEI 1 - Very light traffic (e.g. bathroom)
  • PEI 2 - Light traffic (e.g. bathroom and bedroom)
  • PEI 3 - Light to moderate traffic (suitable for most domestic floors)
  • PEI 4 - Moderate to heavy traffic (suitable for domestic floors and some commercial uses)
  • PEI 5 - Heavy traffic (suitable for all domestic and commercial uses with heavy footfall)

Most ceramic floor tiles are graded between 3 and 4. Porcelain tiles tend to have a rating between 3 and 5.


The shower

As porcelain is nearly waterproof, porcelain tiles are the best material to use when installing a wet room due to the levels of moisture.

Ceramic is perfect to use all over in a standard bathroom especially with the wide choice of designs available including some with anti-slip properties.

High foot traffic

The durability of porcelain tiles make them perfect for high traffic areas as they’re resistant to scratches and scuffs. Whether in an area of the home that sees high footfall, such as the hallway or kitchen, or in a commercial space, porcelain is the most hard wearing. However, compared to other flooring options such as laminate or carpet, ceramic tiles still represent a durable and hard-wearing choice.

Your patio or outdoor space

Porcelain’s level of water resistance means it’s perfectly placed to weather everything that nature has to throw at your new patio. In cold weather, ceramic may crack, meaning you’ll be needing a replacement floor much sooner than you’d like. In this case porcelain will offer you peace of mind.

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