Porcelain tiles vs ceramic tiles: Which one should you choose and what are the differences between them? 

At first glance, it’s quite hard to tell the difference between them (as they have the same surface coating). And if you’re not thorough enough, you could be choosing the wrong tile for your home. 

Worker carefully placing ceramic tiles on adhesive surface for a floor
Worker carefully placing ceramic floor tiles on adhesive surface

In this article, we’ll explain the differences between porcelain and ceramic tiles, their pros and cons, and which tile flooring is the best for your home. 

Let’s get into it. 

What are the differences between porcelain and ceramic tile?

The main difference between them is actually the rate of water they absorb. This might sound a little bit technical – but it is important to help understand which tiles are more suitable and where you can apply them for your home. 

As a quick comparison, porcelain tiles absorb less water than ceramic tiles or other non-porcelain tiles (due to the differences in the materials used).

What this really means for you is that porcelain tiles have better durability and lifespan as compared to ceramic tiles. 

But this doesn’t entirely make ceramic tiles bad – as ceramic tiles have its advantages too! 

Let’s go deeper into their differences and look at the pros and cons of each tile. 

1 – Design & appearance 

While both porcelain and ceramic tiles look pretty similar, their properties are not the same due to the way they are being manufactured. 

So, how should you go about when choosing the tile for your home?

You can first look at the surface coating of the tiles. Do you prefer it shiny or without the glaze? While both usually come with the coating itself, however, ceramic tiles do have the unglazed flooring option. 

An example of unglazed ceramic tiles
An example of unglazed ceramic tiles 

If for whatever reason, you feel that the shiny coating of the tiles are limiting your home design, then by all means, go for the unglazed option of the ceramic tiles. 

Also, many homeowners that we spoke to actually preferred ceramic tiles because of its diverse flooring options. 

Dyes are usually added when ceramic tiles are being manufactured. This makes them an appealing choice as homeowners will have more tile colors and patterns to choose from.

But, it’s not all bad for porcelain tiles either. One recent innovation with porcelain tiles is the ability to manufacture them in a way that mimics the appearance of other tile materials.

A stoneware range of porcelain tiles
A stoneware range of porcelain tiles

So, if you’re looking for tiles that resemble wood grains or natural stone, then porcelain tiles are probably a good choice.

2 – Cost of installation 

The cost to install porcelain tiles will be slightly higher as compared to ceramic tiles. This is because porcelain tile is hard in its physical nature, making it more time-consuming to install.

Expect contractors to charge you at a higher service cost as the installation work will be harder than usual. 

So, if you’re tight on your renovation budget, ceramic tiles are probably the best option you can consider. They are softer in nature and are easier to install. Plus, ceramic tiles are generally cheaper than porcelain tiles, making them the affordable flooring option for many homeowners. 

Apart from the installation costs and the cost of buying the tile itself, you also have to factor in the maintenance works involved (and their related costs) – which leads us to our next point.

3 – Durability & maintenance 

Porcelain tiles are generally denser (and therefore less porous) than ceramic tiles. This makes porcelain tiles harder in nature (and much costlier to install, as mentioned above).

And because of this, porcelain tiles are much more durable than ceramic tiles and require less maintenance. You just need to perform regular wipe downs, then the porcelain tiles will be in good shape for years! 

In general, porcelain tiles have a lifespan of 60+ years. So, you definitely get your money’s worth even though you spend a lot more money upfront. 

On the other hand, even though you might spend less on ceramic tiles, they are more prone to cracking and breaking. Especially for the unglazed ceramic tiles, you may need to apply sealers to the entire tiles and not just the grout lines. 

Lastly, ceramic tiles are difficult to clean due to the grout lines themselves. You might find yourself scrubbing and cleaning the lines most of the time. 

Maintaining porcelain tiles is easier than ceramic tiles
Maintaining porcelain tiles is easier than ceramic tiles

4 – Water & heat resistance 

Because porcelain tiles are denser and less porous in nature, they are very water-resistant, holding up well to moisture. Making them one of the best options to be used in damp areas such as the bathroom area.

Porcelain tiles also have good heat resistance, making it a good choice for kitchen countertops and tables. 

Ceramic tiles on the other hand are more porous, and more susceptible to moisture. But overall, they are widely used in damp areas as well and are the preferred choice by many contractors around Malaysia (due to costing reasons). 

Plus, the difference in terms of water resistance between porcelain tiles and ceramic tiles are very minimal especially when the latter is glazed. 

5 – Stain resistance

For the same reasons (density & porosity), porcelain tiles are highly stain resistant. They work really well for your kitchen and you don’t need to worry about spilling or cleaning too much because the stains are very easy to remove. 

And if you’re a pet owner, you’ll especially love porcelain tiles due to its stain-resistant nature.

Which is more expensive – porcelain or ceramic tiles? 

Porcelain tiles cost around RM6.80/piece (and could go higher depending on the design and collection) while ceramic tiles cost around RM0.50/piece. 

The stark difference in price is mainly due to the materials used in both the tiles. As seen from the pros & cons we shared above, porcelain tiles are more durable and have that premium quality to it.

When deciding on which tile to go for – remember to factor in the installation & maintenance costs as well. If you’re looking to buy the tiles, feel free to browse through our catalogue of tile flooring here.

Which is better – porcelain or ceramic tiles?

The ultimate question from homeowners – which tiles are better? While there is no straightforward answer to this, we can, however, look at the pros and cons of each tile and evaluate where best to apply the tiles for your home. 

Since porcelain tiles are more durable and water resistant, they are generally the preferred choice to be installed in the bathroom and kitchen areas. Plus, they are also the best choice to install in the outdoor areas, especially since Malaysia’s weather is more prone to raining. 

Consider also the foot traffic inside your home. Ceramic tiles are best suited for wall and accent features, areas where foot traffic is low while porcelain tiles are best suited for areas with high foot traffic volume such as the living room, kitchen area and outdoor patio. 

So, which tiles are the best? Ultimately, they are both good in their own ways and will really depend on where you want to install them. Consider the costs (to install & maintain them) and if you’re not stringent enough, they might eat into your renovation budget. 

Conclusion

Lastly, never be too shy to ask for advice from your contractors or interior designers. They are here to help! And if you need more advice – feel free to get in touch with our Hommies too. 

That’s all for this article. What are your thoughts after reading our take on the differences between porcelain and ceramic tiles? Do you agree? Share with us your thoughts in the comment section below. 


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