Porcelain tiles are ceramic tiles commonly used to cover floors and walls, with a water absorption rate of less than 0.5 percent. They can either be glazed or unglazed. Porcelain tiles are one type of vitrified tiles, and are sometimes referred to as porcelain vitrified tiles.Although porcelain has been used for making tiles for many years, modern production methods and quantities has made porcelain tiles available for the average householder in recent years. It has quickly replaced ceramic tiles as the most popular option.
The dense, hard surface of porcelain has made polishing a viable alternative to a glazed surface. This means that a tile can be fired, then a polish cut into the surface, creating a shine without a glaze.Porcelain is much harder than ordinary ceramic tiles and is usually selected, despite its higher price, for its hard wearing nature. Porcelain can be used in both wet and dry areas such as bathrooms, showers and kitchens.
Porcelain is denser and therefore heavier to handle than other ceramic tiles. For this reason, it is generally more expensive. Being harder, it is more difficult to cut and drill and requires specialist tools, which can hamper fitting and increase costs. Polished porcelain may need sealing, where ordinary glazed tiles do not. The glazed surface is coated with less than two microns.Specialised cements are necessary for installation of porcelain tiles, and in the US specifications, are set by the Tile Council of America and supported by the Tile Contractors Association. Porcelain, being denser and heavier than ordinary ceramic tiles, needs a stronger adhesive to hold the weight on walls. Therefore, typical ready-mix adhesives are not recommended for porcelain.
When porcelain is first made, it is not absorbent, but the polishing process for making the unglazed surface shiny cuts into the surface, leaving it more porous and prone to absorbing stains, in the same way as natural stone tiles. Unless they have a suitable, long-lasting treatment applied by the manufacturer (for example, nanotech treatment), polished porcelain tiles may need sealing. Porcelain sealants are either solvent-based or water-based, which is cheaper, but does not last.