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Standard ceramic tile or non-porcelain tile differs from that of the porcelain variety. Non-porcelain is typically manufactured using red or white clay, which is then fired in a kiln. Each tile is finished with a durable glaze that displays the tile’s color and pattern, offering myriad variations for wall and floor tile applications. Ceramic tile is softer and therefore an easier product to cut than its porcelain counterpart and thus carries a 0 to 3 Porcelain Enamel Institute rating, which is a scale of foot traffic suitability, not quality. The scale extends to level 5, which designates use in areas with heavy foot traffic such as in airports or the grocery store. As such, non-porcelain tiles are typically better suited for very light to moderate activity.

Porcelain tiles are formed with porcelain clay. The resulting tile is usually dense, fine grained, and smooth with a well-formed face. Provided these tiles carry a far lower absorption rate than non-porcelain they are frost resistant. Porcelain tiles are also available with a glazed surface, which comes in matte, semi-gloss, or high-gloss finishes. Glazed tiles provide a hardened, impermeable surface after they’re fired in the kiln making it great for the bathroom or kitchen. Here are some additional details surrounding ceramic and porcelain tile products:

  • Full Body Porcelain: These porcelain tiles, also called through-body tiling, carry the pattern and color throughout the entire thickness of the flooring material making them excellent coverings for commercial applications as they’re practically invulnerable to wear.
  • Water Absorption: This is important to consider for bathroom applications or anywhere that moisture and humidity are of concern. In general, the denser the tile the lower the water absorption. So, while dense tiles are stronger, their capacity to withstand wet and humid conditions is lower.
  • Shade Variation: It’s important to remember that some ceramic products and tiles that are subject to firing may display a more significant variation of color within their dye lots. Check tile labels to see the listed color variation, which can range from low to high


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