We all know that tiling is by far one of the most popular decor and building trends in the world. After all, everything looks good on tile, from the bathroom to the backsplash in the kitchen. 

Well, there are many different tiling solutions out there, but the porcelain vs ceramic debate seems to dominate conversations not just among homeowners, but also in home decor experts and contractors. 

It’s hard to distinguish between the two, to be honest. For starters, they are all installed the same way, and offer the same kind of beauty you’d expect from tiling. 

So, how do you decide between the two? Is ceramic better than porcelain or is it the other way around? 

We will be delving into this comparison today and give you as much information as possible to help you make an informed choice for your home! 

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.. – Helen Keller

Water Absorption Rate 

A key difference between porcelain and ceramic tiles can be observed based on how the two absorb water, and it’s actually how manufacturers define if a piece is really porcelain. Here’s the process: 

The first step is weighing the tile. The piece is then boiled in hot water for nearly five hours. Once the boiling is done, it’s dipped immediately into a pot of cold water. 

The tile is left there for 24 hours, and after that, it’s weighed again. If the tile weighs less than 0.5% more, it’s considered porcelain. 

What this means, for the consumer, is that porcelain tiles are basically more dense, fine-grained, and smooth, resulting in a tile much more impervious to water than ordinary ceramic options. 

Due to the water absorption rates, porcelain would be a better choice for the bathroom and other wet rooms, while ceramic tiles can be used throughout the whole house. If the ceramic is glazed, though, then the difference is not that noticeable. 


Because of the massive debate we’ve had over the years about distinguishing the two, the Tile Council of North America and the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association decided to come together and form a third organization dedicated to Porcelain, called the Porcelain Tile Certification Agency or PTCA. 

The agency provides certification for all porcelain tiles, making it easier for consumers to tell the difference. If you really want to be sure you are buying authentic porcelain and nothing else, then you may want to pick tiles certified by the PTCA. You will notice they’ll have the certification mark on the packaging to distinguish them from the other options.


The installation preferences vary a lot depending on the homeowner. Some argue that porcelain can be used both indoors and outdoors, while others prefer concrete or other flooring materials for the sidewalks. 

However, the one thing everybody can agree on is that ceramic should only be used indoors. The tiles are not nearly as durable to withstand the elements, as they can get damaged or crack in a very short time, especially if exposed to constant rain or areas that freeze. 


If you’re trying to work through the porcelain vs ceramic tile cost to decide which is better for your budget, then it’s important to understand the kind of durability the two offer. After all, you want to invest on tiles that will last for years without chipping or fading. 

Porcelain, since it’s denser and less porous, is far more durable than ceramic. It’s the reason why it’s used in outdoor settings and it’s recommended for areas with high traffic. 


Ease of cutting is also something that may help you distinguish between ceramic and porcelain. Tile density highly affects it, as denser tiles will require more effort to cut. 

As we mentioned earlier, porcelain is much denser than ceramic, meaning it is relatively harder to cut compared to its cousin. If you’re deciding on a tile to install in an intricate space, that would require lots of cutting to fit details, it would be better to go for ceramic options. 


Well, let’s now get to the most important factor. Both ceramic and porcelain have their own benefits and drawbacks, and they even seem to play the same role. 

So, do they cost the same? Definitely no.

Ceramic tiles are almost always cheaper than porcelain, costing up to 70% less compared to their denser counterpart, especially if we’re talking about lower end options. 

However, as you go for the higher end tiles, you will notice that the price difference between the two is not that dramatic.

Well, if you ever wanted to know how to tell the difference between ceramic and porcelain tiles, then the guide above should really give you some helpful pointers. 

Keep in mind that while I tried to be as exhaustive as possible, there are still many other things that can bring out the subtle differences between these two popular tiling solutions.

Want to know more about porcelain and ceramic costs? Then contact a local pro to request a free estimate for your project!


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