What’s the Difference?

Ceramic tile is usually created by mixing a base of clay with different types of minerals and water.  A stoneware clay body will be fired at around 1,800-2,000°F and have water absorption between 0.5%-3.0%, with some even as high as 20%!

Porcelain tile on the other hand is made out of a mixture of clay, sand, and feldspar.  Feldspar is a naturally occurring mineral in granite.  The sand strengthens the mixture, while the feldspar melts, fusing together all the materials making the tile denser than a standard ceramic tile, thus stronger (30% stronger than granite!) and more stain resistant.  Porcelain tile will be fired at a temperature up to 2,300°F.  The higher firing temperature will drive out more water, and with the feldspar melting to form a low-order glass, the tile will be far more impervious.  The American standards as set by the TCNA (Tile Council of North America) for a porcelain product is that it must absorb less than or equal to 0.5% of water. 

What is technical porcelain?

“Technical porcelain” takes porcelain tile to another level and fires each tile to absorb less than or equal to 0.1% of water, making a virtually non-permeable body in the tile industry.

Why the confusion between ceramic and porcelain tiles?

  • Both can have a ceramic glaze, the difference is in the body. There are both un-glazed  and glazed porcelains. 
  • The PEI rating is for the hardness of the glaze or surface of the tile not whether it is porcelain or ceramic.
  • To reiterate, the tile industry traditionally has described porcelain tile as being a practically impervious form of ceramic tile, meaning that the tile will absorb equal to or less than 0.5% of water.

What are the benefits of porcelain body tile? 

  • Greater body strength of the tile and less likely to crack in marginal situations.
  • Freeze/thaw resistance and outdoor use
  • Less expansion and contraction of the floor
  • Lower moisture absorption makes it a more stable product