PORCELAIN SLABS VS CERAMIC TILE
PORCELAIN TILE VS. CERAMIC TILE COMPARISON GUIDE
LEARN THE KEY
Porcelain vs. ceramic tile: Is this a war between two vastly different types of materials or is it simply a war of words? For consumers, the terms porcelain and ceramic are often used interchangeably as if they were the same thing. And this is understandable since ceramic and porcelain tiles are used for the same applications, are installed the same way, and have largely the same merits and drawbacks as a flooring or wall surface material. At the same time, tile shop salespeople often claim a world of difference between the two, probably to justify porcelain's cachet and its higher prices. Is there really a difference between porcelain and ceramic tile?
PORCELAIN VS. CERAMIC
TILE / MAJOR DIFFERENCES
According to the Tile Council of North America, industry group that decides whether a tile is porcelain or ceramic, everything boils down to whether the tile can meet a set of highly controlled water absorption criteria.1 Both ceramic tile and porcelain tile usually receive a surface glazing that makes them hard to distinguish from one another.
Porcelain tile has a water absorption rate of 0.5 percent or lower as defined by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) section C373.2 To test this, the fired tile is first weighed, then it is boiled for five hours and left to sit in water for 24 hours. Then it is weighed again. If the tile weighs less than half of one-percent more as a result of water-absorbing into its surface, it is considered porcelain. To achieve this density, a special kaolin clay mixture is used, which is finer and purer than most ceramic clay. It usually contains notable levels of quartz and feldspar mixed in. Porcelain tiles are fired at temperatures ranging from 2,200 to 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit. To the consumer, it generally suffices to say that porcelain is a dense, fine-grained, smooth tile that is more impervious to water than ordinary ceramic tile. Porcelain tile virtually always receives a surface glazing treatment a coating of liquified glass material while some forms of ceramic tile are left unglazed. As a rule porcelain tile is more impervious than ceramic tile and is thus subject to less water infiltration.
Tile defined as ceramic uses a coarser clay with a smaller ratio of fine kaolin clay, and it generally lacks some of the additives used in porcelain clay. Ceramic tile is fired at lower temperatures, generally no more than 1,650 degrees Fahrenheit. Ceramic tile can be slightly more prone to water infiltration than is porcelain tile, though these differences are fairly minimal if the ceramic tile is glazed.
Ceramic tile and porcelain both are often manufactured with a glazed surface coating, and at a glance, they may be indistinguishable.
One recent innovation with porcelain tile is the ability to manufacture them to resemble different materials. While ceramic tile generally has solid color and pattern, porcelain tiles are available that are remarkably good at mimicking natural stone such as marble or even wood grains. This makes porcelain tile an excellent choice where you want the look of wood without wood's susceptibility to water damage.
Most ceramic tile that is not categorized as porcelain is a solid color, and simulations of wood grains or natural stone are not common with basic ceramic tile.
BEST FOR APPEARANCE:
Porcelain tile has the edge when it comes to appearance, for the simple reason that it is available in more colors, patterns, and surface finishes, including tiles that resemble wood grains and natural stone.
WATER AND HEAT
Both ceramic and porcelain have very good resistance to heat and are sometimes used on countertops.
Porcelain tile is denser, heavier, and more impervious to water, and thus is a better choice than ceramic tile for outdoor locations, although outdoor use is recommended only in mild climates. Porcelain tile has excellent resistance to heat, making it a good choice for countertop surfaces.
Ceramic tile is somewhat more susceptible to moisture infiltration, though the differences are minimal if the tile is glazed. Ceramic tile has excellent heat resistance, making it a good choice for countertops. Best for Water and Heat Resistance: Porcelain Tile Porcelain has slightly better water resistance, making it possible to use it in outdoor locations in regions with mild climates. Ceramic tile is generally not recommended for outdoor locations in any environment.
By : Lee Wallender
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