What's The Difference? Porcelain Tile Vs. Ceramic Tile

February 23, 2024


For flooring and wall tile options, ceramic and porcelain tile are popular choices that are often confused due to their similar appearance and composition. However, the materials have significant differences regarding composition, durability, cost, and suitability for various applications. This comprehensive guide delves into the distinctions between porcelain and ceramic tile to help you decide on your next home improvement project.

Understanding the Basics

Before getting into the details, let's establish a foundational understanding of porcelain and ceramic tile. Both are made from clay, which is then fired in a kiln. However, their compositions differ slightly, leading to variations in characteristics and applications.

Porcelain Tile

savoy-crema-porcelain-tileSavoy Crema Porcelain Tile

Porcelain tile is crafted from refined clay and other natural materials and fired at extremely high temperatures. This process results in a dense, durable tile known for its strength and resilience. Porcelain tiles are available in numerous sizes, colors, and patterns, such as natural stone or porcelain wood look tile, catering to many design preferences.

Ceramic Tile

marza-rust-ceramic-subway-tileMarza Rust Ceramic Subway Tile

Ceramic tile is also produced from clay but of a coarser quality than porcelain. Like porcelain, ceramic tiles undergo a firing process; however, they are fired at lower temperatures. This results in a slightly porous structure, making ceramic tiles ideal for applications where moisture absorption is minimal.

Distinguishing Features

While porcelain and ceramic tiles share similarities, several key differences set them apart:


Porcelain tile takes the lead in durability. Its dense composition makes it highly resistant to scratches, stains, and moisture. This makes porcelain tile preferred for high-traffic areas such as kitchens, bathrooms, and entryways. Ceramic tile, while still durable, may be more susceptible to chipping and wear over time, particularly in areas of heavy use.

kenzzi-indigo-encaustic-porcelain-tileKenzzi Indigo Encaustic Porcelain Tile

Water Absorption

One significant distinction is their water absorption rates. Porcelain tile boasts a lower absorption rate, typically less than 0.5%. This attribute renders it suitable for indoor and outdoor use, including areas exposed to moisture, such as bathrooms and outdoor patios. With a slightly higher absorption rate, ceramic title may be better suited for indoor applications where moisture exposure is limited.

Design Options

Porcelain and ceramic tiles offer numerous design options to suit various aesthetic preferences. From sleek and modern to rustic and traditional, there's a tile style for every design scheme. Porcelain tiles often mimic the look of natural stone, wood, or concrete, providing a versatile canvas for creative expression. While equally diverse, ceramic tiles may offer a softer texture and more intricate patterns, adding warmth and character to any space.

belmond-obsidian-ceramic-wood-look-tileBelmond Obsidian Ceramic Wood Look Tile


Regarding maintenance, porcelain and ceramic tiles are easy to care for. Regular sweeping and mopping suffice to keep them clean and looking pristine. However, due to its lower porosity, porcelain tile may require less frequent sealing than ceramic tile, particularly in areas prone to spills and moisture.

Choosing the Right Tile for Your Project

When choosing between porcelain and ceramic tiles, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The decision ultimately depends on factors such as the intended use of the space, budget constraints, and personal preferences.

Porcelain tile emerges as the top contender for areas where durability and moisture resistance are paramount, such as bathrooms, kitchens, and outdoor patios. Its superior strength and low water absorption make it ideal for high-traffic and moisture-prone areas.

Conversely, ceramic tile may be better suited for indoor applications with minimal moisture exposure, such as living rooms, bedrooms, and dining areas. Its versatility in design and affordability makes it a popular option for homeowners seeking to enhance their interiors while staying within a conservative budget.

Final Thoughts

There are no losers in the debate of porcelain tile versus ceramic tile—only winners. Each tile has unique qualities, catering to different needs and preferences. Whether you opt for porcelain’s durability or ceramic’s charm, both choices will elevate your space and last for years.

So, as you embark on your tile selection journey, embrace the diversity of options available and let your creativity soar. Whether revamping a kitchen, remodeling a bathroom, or embarking on a new construction project, the perfect tile awaits.

For more information on ceramic and porcelain tile, chat with us online now, plan a visit to your nearest MSI showroom, or contact a local authorized MSI retailer in your area.


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