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The difference between ceramic and porcelain tiles

The difference between ceramic and porcelain tiles

Date: September 12th, 2016 CTD Tiles | Tags: ceramic tiles, porclain tiles, tiles, tile, tile trend, ctd tiles, bathroom tiles, bathroom design, wall tiles, floor tiles, floor and wall tiles, tiles for bathroom, porcelain floor tiles
What is the different between ceramic and porcelain tiles?

Many people wonder what the difference is between the most common forms of Ceramic & Porcelain tile and it’s no wonder with their similar appearances.

Don’t let this fool you though, as there are many differences between the two tile types including PEI ratings, through bodies and weight.

Puzzled? Don’t be! Let us shine some clarity on the battle of the clays for you!

We’ve put together a Ceramic vs Porcelain blog to help you explore the differences between the industry’s most popular ceramic and porcelain tiles.

glazed ceramic and glazed porcelain

Ceramic vs Porcelain Tiles

Porcelain tiles are denser than ceramic tiles giving them hard wearing qualities suitable for both wall and floor.

Through body porcelain tiles in particular are known for their outstanding durability thus having no PEI Rating however, glazed porcelain tiles gain a Porcelain Enamel Institute (PEI) rating depending on how appropriate the tile is for a specific area. We’ll go into that further in this post. 

How to tell the difference between a ceramic and a porcelain tile

Despite their similar appearances, there are ways to tell the difference between ceramic and porcelain tiles.

For example, if you were to remove the top layer from a porcelain tile you would be able to see distinct markings from the first layer as they flow throughout the whole tile otherwise known as through body.

However, if you were to remove the top layer of a ceramic tile you would be presented with softer clay rather than the expected markings.


How porcelain and ceramic tiles are made

•    Porcelain tiles are made from dense natural clay. Once the mixture is ready it is moulded and pressed into the desired shape and fired at an extremely high temperature and for a longer time to eradicate almost 100% of the moisture.

•    Ceramic tiles are created using a heated kiln after being shaped. The firing of the tile draws out moisture and helps the tile to form low weight qualities.


Benefits of Ceramic

•    Ceramic tiles have many benefits including light weight, low maintenance and man made qualities.

•    Functional and eye catching, ceramic tiles are perfect both bathroom and kitchen splash backs and will add value to your home.

•    Ceramic tiles are more flexible than porcelain tiles as they are a softer tile and therefore easier to cut but most modern tile cutters can handle this.

Benefits of Porcelain

•    Porcelain tiles are heavy weight, making them a tough yet sophisticated option.

•    Porcelain tiles are known for low maintenance and man made qualities, perfect for bathrooms, kitchens and large living areas.

Ceramic and Porcelain PEI Qualities 

Reflections Tile Range

The construction and qualities of ceramic and porcelain tiles differ greatly.

One classification that influences / affects where to use specific ceramic and porcelain tiles is called the Abrasion Resistance PEI rating.

The hardness rating (PEI Porcelain Enamel Institute) ranges from 0-5, 5 being the toughest and 0 being … well, you guessed it... not as durable.

Below are the four most common classifications which you will see when shopping for tiles on the website and in our showrooms.

2 - Light traffic. Residential wall and floor use.

3 - Light to moderate traffic. Residential wall and floor use.

4 - Moderate to heavy traffic. Residential wall and floor use with external access.

5 - Heavy Traffic. All residential wall and floor use with external access.

Taking the above classifications into consideration when choosing a tile for your up and coming project is key to a successful outcome.

Typically a porcelain tile will receive a rating from 3-5 and a ceramic tile a rating 3 and under – you can find this rating on our showroom labels and next to products on the website, you should also note that this is normally applied per tile, some colouring can affect the rating so always check each individual tile.

If you have any queries regarding PEI rating, please feel free to speak with a member of staff inside your local showroom.

Bathroom Tiles

Are you working on a new bathroom project or perhaps you may be wondering what kind of tile to use for your next renovation?

british stone

Have you already got your dream tile in mind? If so have you considered all of the necessary checks before hand? It is increasing common for customers to make their way into our Showrooms with a chosen tile in mind only to find out that it is not suitable for their chosen room.


Avoid disappointment with our top tips on where to use Porcelain and Ceramic tiles within the bathroom.

•    We recommend using a Porcelain Tile for your Bathroom floor for a water resistant, durable room foundation however selected Glazed Porcelain tiles can be used on feature walls, take our feature wall worthy glazed porcelain Pietra Pienza tile as seen above for example.

•    Textured tiles with anti-slip properties are ideal for wet room wall and floors as well as being great for under tile heating. You might also consider matt mosaics with the extra grout lines to provide additional slip resistant properties.

•    Ceramic tiles are perfect for bathroom walls as they are easy to lay and come in a range of co-ordinating colour variations.

•    Always consider your surfaces, if you have a curved area, a small porcelain or ceramic tile may need to be used however that can also mean more grout lines and less coverage.

glazed ceramic

It is a good idea to inform your tiler of any unusual design features and a member of staff who will be able to advise you on a suitable tile.

There’s is definitely more than meets the eye when it comes to Porcelain and Ceramic Tiles from the Gemini Wall and Floor Tile collection! 

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