Porcelain and Ceramic Tiles – What are the Differences

Date: Dec 20 2018 4:06PM

Porcelain and Ceramic Tiles – What are the Differences

One of the most frequently asked customer questions is just what is the difference between ceramic and porcelain tiles? Well essentially both porcelain and ceramic tiles start life in the same way; they are both produced using a blend of materials and minerals such as clay feldspar and silica. The main differences then occur during the manufacturing process.

With ceramic tiles, the materials are mixed then ground and crushed in up to three separate processes, using crushers, mills and grinders. Sometimes the raw materials are initially mixed with water to improve the mixture; this process is called wet milling. If this has been done, then any excess water is removed and the resulting mixture is pressed and dried. This pressing process can be replaced by another process known as extrusion, where the tiles are formed by forcing the clay mixture through a mould.

The final ceramic tile type and grade is determined by the different amounts of raw materials used in the composition of the initial mixture, also the varying amounts of iron in this mix will determine the colour of the body of the tile, which can either be red or white.

The methods for glazing the newly formed tiles differ depending on whether they have been wet milled or dry milled. Dry milled tiles are fired at low temperatures before glazing, in a process called bisque firing, then they are re-fired at a higher temperature, and this process can take up to 3 days. But if the tiles have been wet milled then only a single firing is required at temperatures of around 2,000°F or higher and this can take as little as 60 minutes, ceramic tiles made this way tend to be much stronger.

Porcelain tiles are more durable and hardwearing than ceramic tiles and this is because of the slight difference in manufacturing. The ingredients are more refined and pressed under great pressure, the formed tiles are then fired at a much higher temperature, this causes the tile to vitrify and it’s this process that creates a very dense strong tile with a low water absorption rate.

There are two types of porcelain, glazed and full bodied. A full bodied porcelain tile has no surface glaze this means that the tile is not as susceptible to surface wear and the porcelain goes all the way through the body of the tile, thus creating an extremely durable hardwearing tile. Both glazed and full bodied porcelain tiles are ideal for use as kitchen floor tiles; also they are popular for use in bathrooms, conservatories and utility rooms.