Differences Between Porcelain, Ceramic and Natural Stone Tile

When a homeowner approaches the duty of a kitchen or bathroom remodel, they most commonly find themselves having to decide on tile, whether it’s for a countertop, backsplash, flooring or bathroom shower. As they begin to make their selections, this popular question arises, “What is the difference between porcelain, ceramic and natural stone tile.”

To begin, porcelain and ceramic are not different kinds of tile. Porcelain is just one of many varieties of ceramic tile. All ceramic tiles, including porcelain, are made out of clay, some additives (such as feldspar and quartz sand), and water. The only difference between porcelain tile and regular ceramic tile is that the clay used in porcelain tile is more highly refined and purified.

Consequently, porcelain tiles are denser than a standard ceramic tile. Because of their high density, porcelain tiles are less likely to absorb moisture which makes them more durable and resistant to staining. Porcelain tiles are frequently found on harsher applications like flooring and even outdoor areas where freezing may occur.

Ceramic tile comes in either glazed or unglazed surfaces. The glazed surfaces are like glass and are best used on walls as they are too slippery for floor applications. Glazed ceramic tiles are also a little more susceptible to cracking. 

Basically our best advice is ignore the term porcelain altogether when shopping for clay-fired tiles. Disregarding the completely useless distinction between porcelain and ceramic tile actually makes choosing tile much easier. Instead of trying to figure out if a tile is or is not porcelain, just look for the size, pattern, price and color that works best for you in a tile rated for the application you intend. 

Natural stone tile on the other hand is somewhat different than porcelain and ceramic. Because of its natural variances some people find it difficult to keep a clean and neat appearance.

Though the uniqueness guaranteed by natural stone can be appealing, it can make large rooms seem busy and can be overwhelming to the eye. It is also challenging to clean considering all its textural ambiguities and non-uniform coloring. As a positive note, natural stone is very scratch resistant and holds up much better under stress and normal traffic than ceramic or porcelain tile.

Although it might seem challenging to care for and maybe even design around, natural stone is by far the most beautiful tile on the market. Nothing says elegance quite like natural stone.

Now as you move forward with future kitchen and bathroom remodeling, obtaining this knowledge about tile will help you nonetheless. New Life Bath & Kitchen strives in educating our clients and making sure they are most satisfied with their home investments.