Finding the right tiles for your home can be extremely difficult as there are a myriad of options available in the market to choose from. The right flooring should not only look beautiful, but it should also be easy to maintain, long-lasting, and should be resistant to stains and scratches. Since replacing the tiles often is not an easy process, it becomes important to choose the right tiles that suit the distinctive functionality of the space. If you are choosing floor tiles that are durable, easy to install, and stain and scratch-resistant, porcelain tiles are what you should look for. However, not all porcelain tiles are the same. While both ceramic and porcelain tiles are made from kiln-fired clay, both types of tiles are completely different. Porcelain tiles are significantly more durable, rigid, harder, and water-resistant.
Porcelain tiles are available in different designs, colors, and patterns. Based on the type of design or print, porcelain tiles can be of two types: Glazed and full body porcelain tiles. When you look to buy porcelain tiles for your living space, you may be in a dilemma about whether to choose glazed tiles or full body tiles. Let’s compare the two types of tiles to make the right decision.
The meaning of glazed is often considered glossy or shiny. However, the term glazing in the tile industry means adding a liquid glass or enamel coat to porcelain or ceramic tile. Hence, a glaze is a protective substance and not a description. Porcelain tiles are mostly glazed, and the glaze can either be glossy or matt. The glazing is added to a tile before adding it to the kiln. The glaze material fuses to the top layer of the tile during the firing.
Technological advancements in the tile industry have made it possible to print anything on porcelain tiles using inkjet printing machines digitally. Fabrics, rare stones, or reclaimed wood images can be easily printed on tiles to give a unique and classy look. All-porcelain tiles that have inkjet printing are glazed tiles, and the glazes on the tile are to protect the printing or pattern on the tiles.
Full-body porcelain tiles, also known as unglazed porcelain tiles, are entirely made of natural clays and fired in a kiln. When no glaze is added to the tile while adding the clay to the kiln, the resultant tile composed is called unglazed.
Unglazed tiles get their color from the mineral deposits present in the clay used to compose the tiles or by adding natural color pigments. These pigments can also be designed to create a pattern that runs through the tile, which is why they are called full-body tiles.
As an unglazed tile doesn’t have any liquid glass or enamel protective coating, the tiles can absorb liquid, leading to stains. Hence, unglazed tiles require a protective sealant that needs to be recoated frequently. However, these tiles have higher slip resistance, impact resistance, and abrasion resistance than glazed tiles.
Let’s compare the two types of tiles to find how glazed porcelain tiles are different from full body porcelain tiles:
· Production process: The process of producing both types of tiles is almost the same, with the only difference being glazing material, which is added before the clay is fired at the kiln to create glazed tiles. During firing, the glazing material floats to the top surface to become a coating of the tile.
· Coating: A coating of liquid glass or enamel is added at a very high temperature on the top surface of the tile before the tile clay material is fired in the kiln. On the other hand, no coating is added to the full-body tiles.
· Appearance: full body tiles have an earthy, natural appearance, whereas almost infinite textures, colors, styles, patterns, and finishes can be achieved in glazed tiles through inkjet printing.
· Design/pattern: The design or pattern in the full-body tiles goes throughout the tile, but the pattern is only at the top layer in glazed tiles. Hence, the designs or patterns can wear off from the top surface of the glazed tile.
· Stain Resistance: As there is no coating on full-body tiles, the liquid is easily absorbed by porcelain tiles and can result in stains. However, because of liquid glass coating, glazed tiles are non-porous and are highly stain resistant.
· Thickness: Unglazed or full-body tiles are thicker and denser as compared to glazed porcelain tiles.
· Slip Resistance: Due to liquid glass coating on glazed tiles, they are lesser slip-resistant than a full-body tile. Hence, glazed tiles are generally considered for residential use, whereas full-body tiles are suitable for wet areas, outdoor areas, and commercial use. However, slip-resistant glazed tiles can be produced using modern tile production techniques.
· Impact resistance: Full body tiles are more impact resistant than glazed tiles. Glazed tiles have poor impact resistance and can break easily if they collide strongly, making them inappropriate for use on the aisle floor in public places.
As full body porcelain tiles and glazed porcelain tiles have their own characteristics, choosing the right type depends mostly on the place where it is to be installed. Just like the location, not every porcelain tile is the same. The right choice between the two types of porcelain tiles depends entirely on comparing the space requirement with the features of each type of tile.
Commercial spaces with high traffic, like an office or a store, require a different type of tile than a residential space with very low traffic. Moreover, the tile choice should also be made based on the weight to be carried as a glazed tile has poorer impact resistance and cannot be used in areas with heavyweights. Understanding the difference between the spaces will help you make the right decision and help you maintain the look of your living space for years.
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