Ceramic Tile vs. Porcelain Tile

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Ceramic Tile vs. Porcelain Tile

Porcelain Tiles

Porcelain is made from ‘China
clay’ or refined clay and are fired at very high temperatures – therefore it is technically also ceramic. The properties of this clay give it translucence and hardness making porcelain tiles very strong and able to withstand environmental stress! Porcelain is a more refined and dense type of ceramic tile

There are several differences
between these two bases that we often use for our
hand-painted ceramic tiles.

The argument for porcelain:

    1.  Porcelain
tiles are much denser and as such have less shrinkage than quarry tiles. They
absorb less than  0.03%

    2.  Porcelain
tiles are more impermeable to water, acids
and dirt, and are suitable for busy areas as it is easy to clean.

     3.  Porcelain tiles are not sensitive to the sun rays or
to changes in temperature: constant exposure to solar rays
does not alter their color,

    4.   Porcelain tiles are frost/freeze proof and fireproof,
and with a very low probability of cracking.
 They do
however, have a tendency to chip

     5.  Porcelain tiles are more expensive


Quarry Tile

Quarry tile is a hard and durable ceramic tile – similar to porcelain but made in a different way using natural quarried ingredients are grounded together and extruded in tile

1.   Quarry tiles offer a look that is more natural than porcelain, with more variations,
and provide a warm and more traditional look. These variations make it a great choice for
commercial use as stains and

2.   Quarry tiles are great for wet surfaces as their natural rough texture offers slip resistance

3.   Quarry tile is an excellent choice for commercial spaces due to its texture and easy maintenance.

4.   Unglazed quarry tiles must be sealed to keep them from staining.

5.   Quarry tiles absorb very little moisture 0.03%-0.05% just above ‘impervious’ and thus are great options for frost/freeze conditions – with added glaze and firing this will decrease the level of absorption


Tiles Used for Freeze and Frost Areas –
Especially Pool Tiles


Ceramic quarry tiles tend to
expand more with temperature and can show some sensitivity in areas where there
are variable changes in the temperature.  These types of tiles are also
more porous than porcelain tile depending on the process of manufacture.

Most are concerned when it
comes to swimming pools. If, you have a swimming pool let’s say in Chicago;
without maintenance, you may find that this type of base is more likely to
crack. Meaning once has to empty the pool during the winter months then the
tiles will reliably stay in good condition until the spring/summer months.


Tiles Used in Mild Temperature Areas


In places where the temperature
and weather variations are similar to Los Angeles, ceramic tiles have been
used in fountains and swimming pools with no problems for years as long as
there is no trauma to the tiles.

For high traffic areas…we may
recommend that porcelain or thicker quarry tile is used just because these
tiles have less shrinkage due to their denseness – especially in areas where
there are variables in temperature – heat to frost/freeze; and because these
tiles tend to be more durable and will need less upkeep in the years to come.

In terms of coloring, porcelain
with a white background gives some colors more brilliant light whereas the
quarry tiles with rust ground coloring can give more warmth to the coloring.
But in all cases, we have to reformulate our glaze to look as good on porcelain
as they do on clay.



Specs for Clay Ceramic Tiles (Sima)

Specs for Porcelain Tiles:

Porcelain or Quarry tile?

While there are dense quarry tiles for your job in any temperature here are the differences


Quarry Tile

ASTM# Result
Water Absorption C373 < 3.0%
Breaking Strength C648 > 350 lbs
Scratch Hardness MOHS 7.0
Chemical Resistance C650 Resistant


High Traffic Areas, Pools (denser quarry tile good for freeze/frost temps), wall tiles, kitchen and bathroom tiles - and commercial

Setting Quarry Red Tiles
6x6 Porcelain tile

Porcelain Tile

Water Absorption C373 < 0.5%
Breaking Strength  > 425 lbs
Chemical Resistance  YES

Frost Resistance   YES


High Traffic Areas, Pools (needed in freeze/frost temps), wall tiles, kitchen and bathroom tiles - and commercial