How to Choose Porcelain or Ceramic Tiles: 9 Simple Steps

Differences Between Porcelain Tiles and Ceramic Tiles

First and foremost, it's essential to understand that both are types of ceramic coverings. Yet, they possess several distinctions:

  1. Material Composition: Ceramic tiles are manufactured from clay and other natural elements, while porcelain tiles derive from a mix of clay powder, feldspar, and other components, pressed into thin tiles.
  2. Size: Typically, ceramic tiles come in smaller dimensions, whereas porcelain tiles can be quite large (often referred to as large-format tiles) - up to 300 cm in size.
  3. Thickness: Ceramic tiles usually have a thickness around 6-8 mm. In contrast, porcelain tiles might range up to 12-14 mm thick. However, there's also ultra-thin porcelain measuring 3-4 mm in thickness, ideal for seamless wall finishes and even furniture facades due to its lighter weight.
  4. Durability: Porcelain tiles showcase higher strength and wear resistance compared to ceramic tiles, making them suitable for more trafficked surfaces.
  5. Water Absorption: Porcelain tiles have a lower water absorption rate than ceramic tiles. This attribute makes them more apt for spaces prone to moisture and water contact.
  6. Price Point: Typically, porcelain tiles carry a heftier price tag compared to ceramic tiles.
  7. The choice between ceramic and porcelain tiles hinges on several factors, encompassing aesthetic preferences, budget constraints, the purpose of the room, and anticipated surface traffic. Ceramic tiles can be a go-to for bathrooms, kitchens, and other less-trafficked areas, whereas porcelain tiles might be preferable for commercial spaces, staircases, lobbies, and other high-traffic zones.

Apavisa Natura Porcelain Tile featured in a project Life Kutuzovsky

Key Considerations in Choosing Tiles

When deciding on porcelain tiles or ceramic tiles, it's imperative to take into account several crucial aspects:

  1. Room Purpose: Different rooms demand distinct types of tiles. For instance, bathrooms and kitchens benefit from high-moisture-resistant ceramic tiles, whereas living and bedrooms might opt for decorative porcelain tiles. Interestingly, tiles in living rooms and guesthouse bedrooms, or to create a statement piece, are becoming more prevalent. Still, homes traditionally resonate with comfort, often making carpeting a more familiar choice for such spaces.

  2. Tile Size and Shape: The dimensions and design of ceramic and porcelain tiles should be in harmony with the room's size and geometry. Smaller rooms generally benefit from petite tiles or mosaics, whereas larger rooms can accommodate large-format porcelain tiles.

  3. Style and Color Palette: While choosing your tiles, factor in the room's overarching design and color scheme. Both porcelain and ceramic tiles can mimic various materials, from stone to wood or even metal. Hence, choose those that best complement the room's design aesthetic. Further details on this will be elaborated on later in the article.

  4. Material Quality: Both tiles should be of superior quality to maintain their appearance over time without compromising on their functional attributes. Also, consider the material's wear resistance and durability.

  5. Manufacturer's Reputation: Prioritize renowned and tried-and-tested ceramic material manufacturers. This approach ensures confidence in the material's quality and its performance features.

  6. Surface Type: Ceramic and porcelain tiles come in an array of surfaces - from smooth, matte, textured to embossed, and more. Depending on the room's usage and the desired visual appeal, you can pick an appropriate surface.

  7. Laying Technique: Various laying methods exist for ceramic and porcelain tiles, including the classic, varied mosaic patterns, diagonal, or a diamond layout, among others. Each technique has its unique advantages and is suitable for specific room types. For instance, a diagonal tile arrangement can visually amplify a room's size. However, such a layout might demand a more generous tile reserve for trimming.

  8. Grout Line Width: The width of the grout lines during tile installation is also a determining factor. For example, larger tiles often look best with narrower grout lines to minimize gaps. Contemporary tile installation standards typically call for grout lines ranging between 1.5 - 2.5 mm. Some experts can even lay tiles with no grout lines at all. For this, it's preferable to opt for high-quality rectified porcelain tiles, sometimes termed as "cut tiles". Tiles with a 5 mm grout line are generally non-rectified porcelain tiles.
    Rectified porcelain tiles are porcelain tiles that have undergone a rectification process or precise edge treatment. In the rectification process, the edges of the tile are made perfectly straight and aligned using specialized equipment. This allows for a minimal (up to 1-2mm) grout line, creating a visually seamless surface.

Key advantages of rectified porcelain tiles include:

  1. Aesthetics: The possibility of a minimal grout line gives a continuous and unified look, especially valued when mimicking materials like stone or wood.
  2. Easy Maintenance: Fewer grout lines mean less space for dirt and microbes to accumulate.
  3. Dimensional Precision: Rectified or cut porcelain tiles have exact dimensions, simplifying the installation process.

However, keep in mind that rectified porcelain tiles typically cost more than non-rectified ones. Also, installing them demands careful substrate preparation and a professional approach.

  1. Maintenance and Cleaning. When selecting a tile, consider its ease of cleaning and care. For instance, matte porcelain tiles and ceramic tiles are more prone to staining than glossy or lappato surfaces.

Ceramic tile from Ape ceramica Arts Tip Nude, Nude, Turquoise 50x20 and the Flamingo Panel WIDE & STYLE 120x240 in a project Tales on Emerald

Choosing Porcelain and Ceramic Tiles Based on Interior Design Style

When it comes to selecting floor and wall coverings, it's vital to consider the interior style. Porcelain and ceramic tiles aren't just durable and long-lasting materials but also a way to infuse elegance and flair into a room's decor. Let's explore options suited for various design aesthetics.

Classic and Neoclassic

The Classic style is distinguished by its elegance, opulence, and emphasis on detail.

  1. Color and Texture: Light shades such as beige, cream, and gold are preferred. Iconic textures for tiles or porcelain in this style include sandstone, travertine, granite, "calacatta" white marble, and "emperador" brown stone. A traditional combination of different colored stones arranged with a border or "carpet" pattern is typical. The chessboard layout with black and white tiles is also a classic choice. In a classical setting, the tiles can have a glossy finish, adding an extra sense of grandeur.
  2. Size: In the classic style, both large and small formats can be used, featuring traditional patterns or ornaments. A quintessential tile for this style is the "metlah" tile. Gorgeous decorative floors are made out of it. There's also an abundance of tiles with printed classic patterns like the fleur-de-lis or damask. The "piglet" tile design is currently trending for the classic style.

The "Piglet" tile is a distinctive and recognizable ceramic tile format that rose to popularity during the mid-20th century, notably in Soviet construction. Its name derives from its unique shape: small rectangles reminiscent of bricks but with rounded edges. The typical dimensions for the "Piglet" tile are 97x57 mm, though sizes may vary depending on the manufacturer. They were frequently used in bathrooms, kitchens, and other areas requiring moisture-resistant finishes. One of its main attributes is its versatility and ease of installation, making it an excellent choice for crafting both functional and original interiors. While the "Piglet" was especially trendy in the past century, it is experiencing a revival today, as many appreciate a touch of retro in their interiors.

  1. Details: Remember, the style also includes wall moldings, which can be achieved using appropriate friezes, borders, and cornices, as well as textured panels.

Neoclassicism fuses classical elements with more modern touches. While luxury remains valued, the design becomes less intricate. Here, you don't need the "full set" of frieze, cornice, and ornate baseboard; one of these elements is sufficient.


Minimalism is defined by simplicity, sharp lines, and an absence of superfluous details.

Ceramic Tile Monte Tiberio 120x60 by Kerama Marazzi in a bathroom design by Sunny City

  1. Color and Texture: Monochrome matte colors — black, white, gray. Smooth textures with no excesses. Suitable for minimalism are porcelain tiles and ceramic tiles mimicking concrete or understated stone, devoid of prominent veins or color variations. Wood-like porcelain tiles with consistent texture and color, free of knots, are also apt. However, if you desire an accent wall, the style permits the use of tiles mimicking white marble.
  2. Size: Large tile formats to give a sense of space.
  3. Details: Any decor is superfluous in minimalist design.

Scandinavian Style

The Scandinavian style combines simplicity and functionality with a focus on light shades and natural materials.

  1. Color and Texture: Light shades and natural wood or stone textures. For the Scandinavian aesthetic, porcelain tiles mimicking wood, concrete, or natural stones are apt.

Porcelain Tile Italon White Stone 120x60 and Maison Honey 120x15 and 120x20 in a project by Eco Apartment for a Young Lady

2.. *Size: Options range from small to medium to large tiles.

Porcelain Tile Italon Charme Evo 60x60 and Kerama Marazzi Dorato Tile 8.5x28.5 in a project by Eco Apartment for a Young Lady

3.. Details: Natural, minimalistic geometric patterns and hexagon-shaped tiles, or in a "patchwork" style, are popular. The recognizable "Piglet" tile, just as with classic designs, has its place here, especially as white brick walls are a signature look for this style.

The Onda 30x60 porcelain tile by Kerama Marazzi in a "patchwork" style.


A mix of Japanese and Scandinavian aesthetics.

  1. Color & Texture: Neutral, muted colors with a focus on natural earthy warm shades. This includes hues of gray and beige. This style is notably warmer compared to Scandinavian and Minimalism. Japandi often features matte clay textures in terracotta colors.
  2. Size: Simple geometric shapes of squares or rectangles.
  3. Details: Minimal decor, emphasizing naturalness and simplicity, as well as textures that mimic hand-smudged walls of traditional dwellings.


The loft style embodies spaciousness, a raw industrial atmosphere, and a mix of modern and retro elements. When selecting tiles for such an interior, it's essential to consider the primary characteristics of this style.

  1. Color and Texture:
    • Dark Shades: Black, dark gray, brown. These colors will accentuate the industrial nature of the style. Consider using tiles with irregular colors, perhaps with splotches, to introduce a touch of casual ruggedness. The loft style often incorporates porcelain tiles that mimic wood, with a rustic texture where cracks and knots are visible.
    • Brick Texture: Imitating brickwork is an excellent choice for walls in a loft-style interior. Today, many manufacturers offer tiles that mimic brick with varying degrees of "weathering" and texturing.
    • Concrete and Metal Textures: Mimicking concrete or metal will also reinforce the industrial vibe.

Beverello porcelain tile 80x20 by Kerama Marazzi, offset layout in two shades: light gray and dark.

  1. Size:
    • Large Size: To highlight the spaciousness of the interior, opt for large tiles. This will give an impression of continuity and vastness.
    • Rectangular Tiles: These are perfect for imitating brickwork.
  2. Details:
    • Rough grout lines: These add texture and underline the style's character. You can use contrasting grout to emphasize the tiles.
    • Vintage or retro elements: The "chevron" tile or vintage patterns of the encaustic tile can serve as a feature wall or floor section.

Encaustic tile in a loft-style restroom interior in the Men's cave project.

  1. Application Area:
    • Walls: Utilize tiles to craft accent walls or as a backdrop for other decor elements.
    • Floors: A rough, textured tile, possibly with metal or concrete imitation, is a perfect match for loft-style flooring.

In general, when choosing tiles for a loft interior, it's essential to base decisions on industrial design principles, the ruggedness of materials, and the mix of old and new elements. With the right tile selection, you can foster a unique atmosphere cherished in this style.

Overall, the guidelines for selecting porcelain and ceramic tiles encompass several crucial factors, including style and color scheme, room purpose, size and shape, material quality, manufacturer, surface type, installation method, grout size, and maintenance and cleaning. By choosing the right ceramic material, you can create a beautiful and functional space that pleases the eye and maintains its appeal for a long time. It's also essential to consider your budget and capabilities when selecting porcelain and ceramic tiles to find the best value for money.

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