Multicolored ceramic tile backsplash in kitchen

To the untrained eye and the novice in surface materials, porcelain and ceramic tiles look quite similar. To add to the confusion, both belong to what is called the “ceramics tile” class, which simply means they are made of natural baking clay. There are, however, a few major differences between the two that you should know before deciding which one is best for your design project. 

Quilt-pattern floor in white kitchen

Quilt Tile with Marrakech Design from Claesson Koivisto Rune

Density and water resistance

The main difference between porcelain and ceramic tiles comes from the type of clay they are made from. Porcelain tiles are manufactured from fine-grain clay mixtures, while ceramic tiles use a coarser type. In fact, one way you can tell the difference between porcelain and ceramic is to touch their surface. Porcelain feels smooth, while ceramic tile is more uneven.

The finer raw material and the fact they are fired for longer and at higher temperatures make porcelain tiles denser and more durable. They are also less porous and virtually waterproof, a good attribute to look for when designing an outdoor space. While glazed ceramic tiles are fairly resistant to water, unglazed ceramic tiles are more susceptible to water damage, which means they are not good candidates for outdoor projects. The lower density also makes them more likely than porcelain tiles to crack or break. 

Geometric pattern in kitchen floor

Mari Tile with Marrakech Design from Claesson Koivisto Rune


Both porcelain and ceramic tiles come in a large variety of colors and patterns, even copying the appearance of other materials, such as wood or marble. This makes them appealing when you want the durability, ease of maintenance and water-resistant properties of porcelain or glazed ceramic, and the elegance of marble or the warmth of wood.

However, the colors and patterns of the ceramic tiles are only printed on the top surface and sealed underneath the glaze. If the tile is chipped, the color of the inferior layer shows, which makes the damage more visible. This is not the case with porcelain tiles, which are the same color top to bottom. There is no difference in color if porcelain tiles chip. 

Red ceramic tile with leaf pattern

Lily Tile with Marrakech Design from Claesson Koivisto Rune

Affordability and suitability

Due to the material used and the more involved manufacturing process, porcelain tiles are more expensive than ceramic tiles. However, the price of high-end ceramic tiles is comparable to that of porcelain. 

Because of their higher density and durability that makes them less susceptible to scratches, porcelain tiles are preferable as a floor treatment in areas with high traffic, or as the material of choice in rooms with a high risk for water infiltration. They can safely be used for both indoor and outdoor projects, and commercial interior design projects can greatly benefit from their durability. More susceptible to breakage and water infiltration, ceramic tiles are better for lower traffic areas and an excellent choice for backsplashes or other decorative touches. Both are heat-resistant and can be used for countertops. 

Professional installation is preferable when installing porcelain, since its stronger and denser construction requires experience and proper tools. Ceramic tiles, on the other hand, are easy to cut with a snap cutter and are the material of choice for DIY projects. 

Green ceramic tile with geometric pattern

Lily Tile with Marrakech Design from Claesson Koivisto Rune

If you are thinking to open a new business or are in the process of rebranding and remodeling your existing business, contact us to get a free consultation from Mindful Design Consulting. Click HERE to price your project design.

Also, take a look at the “Branding By Interior” e-book, the only book written on this subject at this time. It brings insight into how you can turn your business into a market-dominating competitor by using human cognitive responses.

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