Although they belong to the same family, porcelain and ceramic tiles are more like cousins than siblings. Some will use the terms ‘porcelain’ and ‘ceramic’ tiles interchangeably, but there are quite a few differences between these two which the experts could easily distinguish. This means one might be a little more advantageous for your project than the other which is something to keep in mind. Depending on how you plan to use your space, porcelain or ceramic tiles may suit you better.
Porcelain tile has a water absorption rate of 0.5 percent or lower as defined by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) https://la.astm.org/ 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.
PROS & CONS OF PORCELAIN TILE
Water Resistance: Porcelain tile is almost impervious to water compared to ceramic tile.
Durability: porcelain tile is more durable than ceramic tile while being less subject to wear and tear.
Composition: Because of the uniform color of material in unglazed porcelain tile, small chips may not be as noticeable as they would be on a piece of ceramic tile.
Cost: It costs more to manufacture porcelain tile. This means that it is more expensive. It’s long-term durability, however, offers savings over time.
Cutting: Porcelain is very strong. It requires skill using special tools to cut it, but it can be challenging for an inexperienced DIYer.