Ceramics and porcelain: what’s the difference?

Ceramics and porcelain


Planning a project or renovation can be a complicated process. After all, there are many details, and it is necessary to pay attention to the types of materials that will be used in the process. This is the case of the choice between ceramic flooring and porcelain.

There are different types of patterns, aesthetics, and textures for each floor. Therefore, many people are in doubt about the difference between ceramic and porcelain. However, with the right information and planning, it is possible to make a great purchase, according to your style and the best cost-benefit.

Check out the differences between them below.

Differences between ceramic and porcelain

Porcelain and ceramic floors. The market is full of different coating options.

Among the differences between ceramic and porcelain, the main ones are the composition of materials and the manufacturing process.

Ceramics are basically made of clay, but it also receives other minerals, in smaller quantities, to ensure the piece’s strength. Porcelain tiles also receive clay, but with more rocky minerals, including some used to make porcelain.

While the porcelain tile preparation process is wet, with powder atomization, ceramic production is done by dry means, that is, dry powder without atomization. In addition, in the pressing process, the porcelain tile is fired at 1,200 degrees celsius, that is, at a temperature higher than the ceramic firing, which is done at 1,150 degrees celsius.

This difference determines a greater resistance to the porcelain, which also has less porosity, therefore, it practically does not absorb water. Therefore, porcelain is considered more durable and resistant than ceramics. But that doesn’t mean it’s better. See, below, the other features of each material.

Strength of materials

Dark green floor. Materials have different strength levels.

To determine the best type of material for each environment, it is important to pay attention to the types of wear that it will be exposed to in a given environment. For this, there is a classification called Usage Class.

It is an index that assesses the resistance of all coatings, whether ceramic or porcelain. From 1 to 6, each indicates the resistance to frictional wear and abrasion of the enamel when reacting with possible chemical and physical compounds.

Class 1:

It includes less resistant coatings. Therefore, they are specific for use on walls, as they do not withstand any type of friction or abrasion, they should not be used on the floor.

Class 2:

From this level on, coverings can be applied to the floor, but with caution and only in certain environments, especially those with little movement. Its use is only recommended in bathrooms and residential rooms.

Class 3:

With greater resistance, the coating can be used anywhere in the house, as long as it does not integrate with the outside of the house.

Class 4:

Among the coatings for residential use, this level is the one with the most resistance. Therefore, as long as it is in homes, it can be used both indoors and outdoors.

Class 5:

Coverings of this level can already be used in commercial areas, as long as the movement is medium. Example: inside a store with little movement of people.

Class 6:

These are the coatings that have greater resistance, so their use is indicated for any residential project, commercial area or environment with intense movements, such as supermarkets, hotels and even dance floors.

Strength-based on the type of friction received

Coating with stamped pattern. Knowing the strength of the pieces more thoroughly ensures that they last longer.

Before buying the material, it is interesting to find out the strength of the part according to the wear that the material withstands. For this, there is an indicator called the Porcelain Enamel Institute, better known by the acronym PEI, which indicates the durability of the product.

It is a scale ranging from 0 to 5. Therefore, the higher the material, the greater the resistance of the material, which means that it can be used in environments with greater movement.

PEI 0 no traffic
PEI 1 low traffic
PEI 2 Moderate traffic
PEI 3 Average traffic
PEI 4 high traffic
PEI 5 Intense traffic

Paging of ceramic and porcelain pieces

Different pagination. There are different patterns and, with them, different pagination can be done. Source: Pinterest

Both pieces follow standard measurements, however, to choose the best piece size for a given environment, the idea is to define the type of layout, that is, the layout of the floors to be laid. In other words, the design is formed by the pieces.

Paging defines the beginning, direction and end of the settlement, whether on the floor or on the wall. As such, it can be diagonal, straight, or tie-in style. There are several ways to accomplish this process.

Also, an interesting tip is to make pagination for the environment based on the project’s measurements and with the help of an architect or salesperson, for example. Ensuring a copy of the pagination in the work helps a lot for good execution.

Thus, the size of the pieces will define the amount of product that will be used, which also includes losses.

Finishing the parts

Pink floor with marbled pattern. The finishes are the most varied.

There are different types of finishes for ceramic and porcelain tiles. They can be smooth or textured, with or without shine.

There are two types of porcelain: technical and enameled. The technician does not receive enamel, so it can be polished or natural (which is the most resistant of all) and, therefore, cannot imitate the appearance of other materials, such as a wooden floor, for example.

Enamel is shiny, permeable, easy to clean and very slippery. Therefore, it is ideal to avoid its use on surfaces in bathrooms, kitchens, outdoor and commercial areas.

In addition, the finish of enameled porcelain tiles is the category that has the greatest number of variations on the market, such as satin, smooth, textured, shiny pieces, etc.

So, to make shopping easier, the ideal is to plan: define the pattern, check the resistance of the enamel of the chosen model and select the size according to the pagination.

Edge and grout

Covering with grout, behind a shelf with two milk pots (one turquoise and one cream). Grout is a very important part of coatings.

The edges of ceramic and porcelain tiles can be of two types: bold or rectified. The bold edge is rounded and requires larger joints, usually over three millimeters. The ground parts are straight and have a much thinner grout, usually between half and two millimeters.

Also, it is important to pay attention to spacers. After all, they help to standardize the thickness of the chosen grout. It is also necessary to select the specific laying mortar and grout, according to the specificity of each material chosen.

Standard for ceramic and porcelain tiles

Blue and white coat with patterns. The key is to follow your decorating style.

On the market, there are several types of finishes, for all styles. There are patterns that imitate wood, rocks, cleaner aesthetics with smooth, textured, polished coatings, etc. The ideal is to pay attention to the type of decoration planned for each environment.

There are many trends in coatings that are shaking the market and contributing different options to suit the most different styles, such as 3D coatings, creative pagination and large pieces, for example.