Porcelain or Ceramic Tile: Why it Matters

If you were taking the verbal section of the SAT, one of the questions might look similar to this:  A square is to a rectangle, as ___________ is to ceramic tile. 

The answer of course would be porcelain tile.  Much like a square has stricter credentials, however still meets the qualifications of a rectangle, porcelain tile is just that.  While porcelain tile fits the description of ceramic tile, it takes it a step further in differentiating itself from its close relative.

Porcelain vs Ceramic Tile: What’s the Difference?

First off, what qualifies something as ceramic tile?  Ceramic tile is usually created by mixing a base of clay with different types of minerals and water.  A stoneware clay body will be fired at around 1,800-2,000°F and have water absorption between 0.5%-3.0%, with some even as high as 20%!

Porcelain on the other hand is made out of a mixture of clay, sand, and feldspar, which is a naturally occurring mineral in granite.  The sand strengthens the mixture, while the feldspar melts, fusing together all the materials making the tile denser than a standard ceramic tile, thus stronger (30% stronger than granite!) and more stain resistant.

Porcelain tile will fire up to 2,300°F.  The higher firing temperature will drive out more water, and with the feldspar melting to form a low-order glass, the tile will be far more impervious.  Thus, the American standards for a porcelain product is that it must absorb less than or equal to 0.5% of water (Read more about our manufacturing process).

Why the Confusion between ceramic and porcelain tiles?

The biggest debate over porcelain tile vs ceramic tile is that there ceases to be one universally accepted definition.  This means that buying from overseas can be risky, as all they have to do is label their product as Porcelain on the side of the box before it ships and distributors can sell it as “true” porcelain.

To reiterate, the American tile industry traditionally has described porcelain tile as being a practically impervious form of ceramic tile, meaning that the tile will absorb equal to or less than 0.5% of water.

StonePeak takes our porcelain tile to another level as we fire each tile to absorb less than or equal to 0.1% of water, making a virtually non-permeable body.  This style is referred to as “technical porcelain” in the American tile industry.

What to Take From This Article?

1)         Porcelain tile should absorb ≤ 0.5% of moisture

2)         StonePeak manufactures technical porcelain, absorbing ≤ 0.1% of moisture

3)         Porcelain tile has exceptional durability, being 30% stronger than granite

4)         Because of their higher density and impermeable surface, porcelain tile is more resistant to staining

5)         Take a look at just how beautiful true porcelain ceramics can be!

Take a look at our Porcelain Tile Collections!!