When it comes to choosing floor tiles, sourcing the most appropriate materials is crucial in making your decision. Tile designs and materials vary, with some being restricted to wall use only, while other options offer you the freedom of choice in being able to use them as either floor or wall tile. Two of the most popular tiling options include porcelain and ceramic tiles. Although both of these tiling options are made of the same raw materials and may appear very similar in their structure, they do have certain specific differences that will dictate their most suitable use and application in the home.
What are tiles made of?
Most tiles in the ceramic tile or porcelain tile families are made of similar materials, including various clays, sand, talc, feldspar, calcite, and dolomite. These materials are combined to form an ideal mixture, which is then formed into the required tile shapes and formats before being baked in a kiln. The baking process removes all moisture from the tiles, resulting in a hard and durable surface finish.
What are ceramic tiles?
Ceramic tiles are created using the above listed raw materials. The way they differ from porcelain tiles, however, occurs during the tile baking process. Ceramic tiles are baked at a lower temperature than porcelain tiles and are also in the kiln for less time. This process creates a softer tile structure that is lighter in weight than other options. Due to these qualities, you will find that most ceramic tile collections are often only recommended for wall use as they cannot withstand the same level of foot traffic as a porcelain tile would.
Ceramic tiles will often feature a sleek, baked-on glaze across their surface. As ceramic tiles are often softer in nature than other options, they can be porous, meaning that they can be susceptible to absorbing liquid or powder spills, which in turn can result in staining or discolouration. If ceramic tiles are not glazed, they will require sealing in order to be protected. Glazed ceramic tiles, however, will not require sealing, offering a low-maintenance alternative solution.
Although ceramic tiles are usually only restricted to wall applications, this quality allows for a range of unique benefits in your next tiling project. Being lighter in weight means that these tiles are often simpler and quicker to lay, ensuring a smooth job. Their softer nature in comparison to other tiling options also means that they are easier to drill through, allowing for better ease of installation of wall accessories such as towel rails in the bathroom or wall shelves throughout the home, for example. As most ceramic tile collections are not bound by the restrictions that come with designing floor tiles (where considerations in regards to slip or trip hazards have to be taken into account), you will also find that more decorative and stylised options are available with tile designs including 3D raised surfaces, ultra-glossy glazes and ornate patterns. Most ceramic tiles will often feature a baked-on glaze that acts as a protective barrier; glazed ceramic tiles will not require sealing, whereas un-glazed options can be porous and, as such, will require sealing in order to be protected from staining and discoloration. Ceramic tile options make for the perfect feature tile solution in the home, being an excellent choice for use as bathroom wall tile or a kitchen splashback tile.
What are porcelain tiles?
Porcelain tiles are also made using the same raw materials noted above. However, these tile types are baked at a significantly higher temperature and for a longer period of time when compared to ceramic tile collections. This process results in an incredibly hard and durable tile option that, in most cases, is suitable for use as both a flooring option or as a wall tile. You will also find other exciting benefits become available as a result of this extended baking process: These tiles are almost completely non-porous, meaning they will not require sealing and are resistant to staining as a result of powder or liquid spills. These tiles are also resistant to heat, scratching, and moisture, making them an exceptional choice for use as floor tiles in any area of the home, from the kitchen to the bathroom, and throughout your interior spaces.
Porcelain tiles offer an incredibly versatile design solution, with most collections offering the flexibility of use as either a floor or wall tile. Although there are certain more decorative collections of porcelain tile available that are restricted to wall use only, you will find that most collections can be used as a flooring option throughout the home.
You will also find an impressive range of designer tile options available in porcelain collections that effortlessly emulate the look and feel of various materials such as concrete, natural stone, and even timber. These types of tile collections are specifically designed to offer an alternative option to these materials that will not require the same level of care and maintenance while still giving you the same look in the home. Porcelain lookalike tile options will even include variations in colour and texture to create a realistic appearance, making for an excellent solution in the home.
Modern tile designs in porcelain collections offer ultra-realistic lookalike options that perfectly simulate the look and feel of natural stones, timber, or even concrete tiles. These porcelain tile options can be used as a low-maintenance alternative solution to materials that will require a certain level of care and maintenance to keep them looking their best over time.
Choosing between ceramic tiles and porcelain tiles becomes simple when understanding the characteristics that set these two classic tile options apart. Whereas ceramic tiles are most often restricted to vertical applications only, porcelain tiles make for an excellent choice as a flooring option throughout your home’s interior design scheme. Of course, certain specific collections may be an exception to this general rule of thumb, allowing you more freedom of choice when it comes to selecting your new tiles.