Porcelain Tile is defined as a ceramic tile that is made with a dense impervious body, extremely low porosity, made of high quality raw materials and specialized production techniques.
It is generally made by the dust pressed method from a composition of more feldspar (or an equivalent mineral) and less clay, is subject to higher pressure, and is fired longer. This results in tile that is dense, impervious, fine grained, with a very low water absorption (0.5% or less) as tested per ASTM C373. This process makes porcelain tile perfect for all applications - both interior and exterior, especially in freeze/thaw and wet environments.
For years, porcelain tile was almost always used for commercial applications because of its strength and water resistance, but new technology had allowed for design styles that have inspired architects and designers to see its potential for most applications, including building facades.
Given it's durability and aesthetic appeal, porcelain tile has become the go-to product of choice for many specifiers where they may have normally considered natural stone. Porcelain tile continues to grow in the ceramic industry, almost becoming the standard for use, even by the retail consumer.
Adding to the benefit of porcelain is the fact that the installation of porcelain tile requires no polishing, waxing, or sealing. Porcelain is easy to maintain and simple to clean. And since porcelain contains less clay and more feldspar while being pressed at a higher pressure than other ceramic options, it has a higher breaking strength. This creates a strong porcelain tile that is quite resistant to scratches and stains.
Regarding porcelain tile, the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) notes there is a concern over whether all tiles identified as "porcelain tile" actually meet the ANSI ceramic tile standard for low water absorption. In fact some non-porcelain tiles (tiles that do not meet the ASTM C373 test standards) made overseas are knowingly mislabeled as porcelain. This is because roughly 70% of all porcelain tile sold in the United States is manufactured overseas.
So while some tiles may be classified as porcelain, they may in fact not meet the stricter and more demanding criteria for water absorption used in North America. This is important to anyone specifying porcelain tile, because when a non-porcelain tile is unknowingly substituted, freeze thaw and expansion failures can result from unexpected moisture absorption.
This is why we make sure that our porcelain tile manufacturers and partners meet the standards for any tile identified as porcelain. We also work with our factory partners to make sure that what you specify fits into the project budget and is available for your project to help eliminate "value engineering" or product switching by a contractor who suddenly finds a "cheaper" substitute. See our resources page for more details.
Division 9 works with some of the best porcelain tile manufacturers in the business. Give us a call to learn more about porcelain and how some new porcelain tile could greatly improve your living space. Read more about thin porcelain installation.