Porcelain tiles are essentially ceramic tiles, but with a notably low absorbency. Porcelain tiles are most often made from silica, feldspar, kaolin clays, and coloring oxides and are fired at about 1200 degrees centigrade. Porcelain tiles are known for their hard wearing and are often used on walls or floors.
Both porcelain and ceramic tiles have distinct advantages that go beyond just cost savings. They offer a large array of stylish options, are very durable, they resist moisture, are easy to clean and care for, and can endure a high amount of foot traffic and kitchen-related wear.
Definition of Porcelain
Simply defined, a porcelain tile is a ceramic tile with an absorption of less than 0.5%. In other words, if you soak a porcelain tile, it should never absorb more than one half of one percent of its own weight in water. There are many different kinds of porcelain, all of which meet this basic definition but each of which has its own unique characteristics.
Glazed porcelain is the most common type of entry-level porcelain tile. It starts out with an uncolored body on which glaze and decorative applications are applied. The tile is fired and the glaze melts onto the body forming a durable top layer which can look like stone, wood, leather or whatever the tile designer can dream up.
A through-body porcelain has pigments through out the entire body so the color goes all the way through. Because pigment is the costliest part of the tile, through-body porcelains tend to be more expensive. However they will not show wear because the color goes all the way through.
Dry Application Porcelain
These porcelains have colored or opaque glass sprinkled on top that melts in during the firing process to add depth to the appearance.
Polished porcelains are the run through a polishing machine to leave a partially to fully shiny surface.
Why Use Porcelain?
It's true that ceramic tile with higher absorptions has successfully been used for many years. Porcelain has many additional benefits that make it an outstanding choice for almost every application. Since the color of the body is usually similar to the color of the surface, chips and wear are less noticeable. Due to its density, porcelain is more durable and can withstand more stress than traditional ceramic tile. The lower absorption makes porcelain frost proof since water can't enter the body of the tile and then crack the tile when it freezes. Porcelain is also resistant to mold and mildew formation since there are no pores for the mold to take hold.
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