Porcelain is a type of ceramic tile that is much more durable than standard ceramic tiles. For this reason, porcelain tiles are often used in areas that will be exposed to moisture, such as bathrooms and patios, as well as areas that will receive heavy traffic.
Ceramic includes a broad class of products that consist of clay or silicate fired at high temperatures. Porcelain is made from a specific type of clay called kaolin, which is fired at extremely high temperatures around 2600F.
Porcelain tile is usually much thicker than standard ceramic. Because glass is formed at the high temperatures at which it is fired, porcelain is slightly translucent when held up to light. Both ceramic and porcelain tile typically have a pattern screen printed on the front.
Porcelain tiles, because they are fired at high temperatures, are often stronger than ceramic tiles and even some natural stones. Because of this feature they are excellent for use in areas with heavy traffic.
Porcelain tiles are more resistant to staining and moisture than traditional ceramic tiles because they are denser. Ceramic tiles that allow water to seep into the subfloor can ruin an installation.
Porcelain tiles are generally able to withstand constant freezing and thawing, while more porous ceramic tiles will crack under this stress.