At first glance, we might think that ceramic tiles are simple and that there is no difference between the different types of tiles. This is not true as there are several characteristics that differentiate them.
First of all, you shouldn’t name this category as ceramics, but rather the tile family. You also need to know that the tile family has two major sub-categories: ceramic tiles and porcelain tiles. People often tend to confuse them, yet each one has its own characteristics, especially in terms of porosity and hardness.
Ceramic tiles are in fact made from terracotta that has been heated to a temperature of980 to 1,200 °C. A layer of enamel (glass) is added which gives it its colour and finish. This is one of the biggest differences between ceramic and porcelain tiles, because ceramic tiles only have a coloured surface while porcelain tiles are coloured all the way through. When it comes to the ceramic tile finish, the choice is limited, since it is possible only to obtain a matte or glossy finish.
Since they are more porous than porcelain tiles, ceramic tiles are easier to cut and can be installed both on walls and floors. This being said, it is true that any type of ceramic tile can be installed on walls, however it isn’t true that any type of ceramic tile can be installed on floors. In fact, the majority of ceramic tiles are made to be installed on walls and not floors. Ceramic tiles are generally small, usually less than 12” x 12”.
Porcelain tiles are made of porcelain stoneware and clay baked at a temperature of 1,200to 1,400 °C. Since they are baked at a higher temperature than ceramic tiles, porcelain tiles are harder, more resistant and less porous due to the reaction of the elements to the heat. Since it is less porous, porcelain is an excellent choice of tile for outdoor use, since it will react less to bad weather(humidity, frost) than ceramic tiles.
Porcelain tiles have a variety of finishes, including matte, smooth, 3D, polished, textured (slate, fabric), imitation (concrete, wood). This is what makes them more popular than ceramic tiles, since they are available in a much wider variety of styles.
All in all, tiles (or ceramics as most people call it) are a type of floor covering that has proven itself over time and will persist through the years.