Both are made of clay and hardened by heat. Porcelain tile is a better version of ceramic. Porcelain tiles are dense and impervious. Actually, the better term is “less pervious”. As porcelain tiles are less pervious compared to ceramic tiles.
The density and less absorptive property make Porcelain a better choice for high traffic commercial or exterior applications.
The difference in making of Ceramic vs. Porcelain Tile:
Ceramic tiles are made from clay and water. Sometimes few admixtures are used like sand. Ceramic tiles are fired 1100 degree centigrade (2000-degree F).
Porcelain tile has silica. Kaolin is a clay with high silica content, and it is very common in porcelain tile production. The mix is fired at higher temperatures compared to ceramic tile. The temperatures used are about 1200 – 1400 degree centigrade (2200 – 2600 F).
The difference in Density of Ceramic vs. Porcelain Tile:
The density of porcelain tile is 2400 kg/ cubic meter (150 lb/ cu ft). While the density of ceramic tile is 1800 to 2200 kg/ cubic meter (110 to 135 lb/cu ft). Now, just for a better understanding, you can compare it with density of water. Which is 1000 kg/ cubic meter (62.5 lb/ cu ft).
Higher density is lower porosity and high durability. The high density of porcelain tile makes it more suitable for heavy traffic areas. It is more resistant to wear and tear. And less pervious to water.
How the difference between the two tiles is measured?
There are two important checks to measure the strength and toughness of tiles. One is water absorption test and the other is impact resistance test.
When the tile is soaked in water, it will absorb water and gain some weight. The percentage (%) increase will tell us how porous the tile is.
The water absorption of porcelain tile is less than 0.5% compared to 3% or more in case of ceramic tile.
The impact test also called tile breaking test. Different countries have different testing standards. The porcelain is always stronger than ceramic.
Some other tests on tiles are surface abrasion test and stain resistance test.
Some more terms associated with tiling: vitrified, glazed and un-glazed:
Let’s review everything in terms of tile making process. At first, it is a clay which turns to tile after heating. This tile is simply called ceramic. When you put a coat of enamel or liquid glass on top and then put the tile in the kiln, it becomes glazed ceramic tile.
When clay is mixed with silica and fired at high temperatures, the tile is called vitrified tile. Vitrified tile is much stronger and durable. Vitrification is a process of making the tile using clay and silica and heating it to different stages.
Both ceramic and porcelain tile could be vitrified. Actually, porcelain tiles are always fully vitrified. The glazing can be applied to both vitrified or non- vitrified tiles. And then it becomes glazed or un-glazed tile!
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