Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Cement Tile Rug Creates a Welcoming, Warm Patio


A centered rug pattern with border in a warm palette welcomes guests.
A centered rug pattern with border in a warm palette welcomes guests.

The stunning pattern of our Traditional Alcala cement tile series, in a custom colorway, creates a spectacular entry for this Southern California home. The owners wanted to showcase the front porch of their home with a dramatic cement tile pattern and border using warm colors and earth tones that were not only complementary to their own home, but also to their historic neighborhood.

The border, which effortlessly frames the 8"x8" Traditional Alcala cement tile pattern rather nicely, can be used to accentuate a room or hallway. This particular installation shows how the traditional method of using cement tiles can create a focal point in any area.

The colors used in this pattern are:


Suede


Blonde Wood


Indian Red


Brown

You can use these colors, or get creative by designing your own color scheme. Choose from any of the 80+ Heritage Cement Tile colors we offer.

Tips for Creating a Cement Tile Rug

Handcrafted cement tiles are capable of grabbing the attention of anyone who enters your home from the moment the front door is opened. The key to creating a long-lasting, successful cement tile rug is planning, and a good sketch or drawing done to scale showing the placement of the tiles. Read more about How to Create a Cement Tile Rug Design.

Handmade cement tile will not wear ragged over time - it only gets better! With a range of design possibilities, whether bold Cuban tile patterns in contrasting colors or classic cement patterns in harmonizing colors, handmade cement tiles will transform any space! See our new Guide to Buying Handmade Cement Tile to get started today!


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Seasonal Harvests

Wine Cellars
Wine / Vineyards
"Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing." - Ernest Hemingway

Now that summer is nearly over, it.'s almost time for harvesting the grapes that will, in good time, make it to your table to enjoy with a weekly meal, or to enjoy with friends and guests during the weekend. It takes years for a wine to truly develop into something to be savored, and yes, even admired.

The same could be said for our handmade cement tiles. Just like a fine wine, they too initially need time and care to develop into a long-lasting product - all before it arrives at your front door, ready to be installed.

Cheers, and enjoy the last weeks of summer!



Capture Summer Sun & Savings with our Valencia tile

Hand Painted Spanish Tile Listello


Capture the warm, golden sun and clear blue skies of summer with tile inspired from classic Spanish patterns. Our hand-painted, glazed ceramic Valencia Spanish tile makes a great kitchen listello or backsplash. It's also stunning when used for decorative stair risers.
Hand Painted Spanish Tile - Valencia PatternOur Spanish Valencia 6"x6" Ceramic Tile is part of our extensive Spanish Ceramic tile collection. With its historical Spanish pattern and colors, Valencia is created using traditional Majolica glazing techniques. The patterns, which are hand-brushed by the tile artist, are a perfect complement to outdoor living areas too, such as pools and fountains.

Turn the ordinary into extraordinary by using Spanish ceramic tile for your walls and backsplashes. To sweeten the deal, we're offering 10% off any Valencia 6"x6" purchase made during September. Discount applies only to stock on hand. You must place your order over the phone and mention the "SUMMER" coupon code at the time of purchase.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Cement Tile Quality Expectations in Custom Design


To help gain perspective and set realistic expectations of handmade tile, I often say artisan tiles are like the strokes of an Impressionist painting or hand woven rug. When you closely look at the stroke or weave, you will see color variation and the design motif itself may not be perceptible or clear. Step back though and the blended imperfection of the artist's hand creates a stunning work of art.

Sunset in Venice by Claude Monet
Image Credit
Our modern-day world has created an affinity for perfection. We are so used to seeing everything crafted to such tight tolerances that glossy productions are de reguer. One of the most common questions I hear when people receive their first sample or order is that the "The cement tile is not perfect" in some way.

Handmade Cement Tile will have slight imperfections
Handmade Cement Tile will have slight imperfections.
We want our installation to look like that bistro in Paris or Hacienda in the Yucatan. The truth is that the imperfections are there; but, the beauty of the pattern and variation in color allow your eye to see the same thing you see when you look at a Monet or Seurat.

The beauty of cement tile is in the variation and slight imperfections
The beauty of cement tile is in the variation and slight imperfections.

I do enjoy sharing this journey of discovery with folks unfamiliar with cement tile, or encaustic cement tiles as they are often called. I've been working with a customer in Denver on a design. She discovered our Cuban Heritage Design CH110-2B pattern and while she liked the colorway, it just wasn't right for her. I explained that the colors for that pattern are easily changed using any color from the Heritage Color Palette. However, this process takes time  we are talking design here. The best place to start is with color chips so you can create a cohesive design and really see the colors. A few weeks after receiving her chips, she had found the right colors and had us create several renderings to see what worked best.


A sample of one rendering that Avente provided using the customer's color choices
A sample of one rendering that Avente provided using the customer's color choices.

Color substitution are never easy; but, I was impressed with the colors she selected and loved the different choices. This design-inspired Denver homeowner found the renderings the ideal way to find what worked best and ordered strike-offs or sample tiles of the rendering that she like best.

This is a story, of how a project should go! And, I felt thrilled that each step of the process helped quickly guide the homeowner to make a decision they loved. Three weeks after the samples arrived, I received this email:
Hi Bill,

We received our strike-off samples. As expected we love the design and are so pleased with the color combination! Given the tiles are handmade, we did expect some slight variation from tile to tile 
 minor blemishes or color bleeding, lines not matching up perfectly.
Photo of customer's strike-off with slight color variation and line widths.
However, can you comment regarding this particular tile (see below)? Is it representative of the typical quality we should expect? We are concerned.

Pattern lines on tiles should be crisp.

I can see why she was concerned. In my efforts to set reasonable expectations for a hand made tile, I had neglected to explain that strike-offs samples may not always have the most crisp pattern lines because it takes time to get the metal mold to settle and work with the frame.

Here's my reply:
Dear Denver,

I think your expectations for cement tile are correct – which means I've done my job. The variation in color and slight imperfections you find in the first set of images are to be expected. The blurred pattern and edges in the second set of images (with red circles) should not be expected in the full order.

The primary goal with strike-offs is to confirm color acceptance for the pattern. The problems you see in the second set of images occur in strike-offs because we can’t make enough tiles and fine-tune the process that allows the mold to settle.


I hope you have enjoyed understanding how the hand of the artist creates a unique look in cement tile and the importance of quality in custom design. Never stop asking questions because they provide the clarity to ensure you are buying a top-notch product. If you enjoyed today's post on custom cement tile design and what makes a high quality tile, you might also enjoy our Avente Tile’s Guide to Buying Handmade Cement Tile to learn more about this amazing product.

Download: Guide to Buying Handmade Cement Tile

Of course, all of us at Avente Tile are here to help you with your cement tile questions, design solutions or technical questions. Feel free to post a question here and don’t hesitate to call us at 888.739.4972; or email: info@aventetile.com.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Handmade Cement Tile: Defining Quality


Handmade Alcala Cement Tile on a bathroom wall.
Handmade Alcala Cement Tile on a bathroom wall.

In my last post, I introduced Avente Tile’s newly published Guide to Buying Handmade Cement Tile. This 14-page downloadable Guide features information, examples of cement tile installations, FAQs, and more. To understand the nuances of cement tile, let’s look at what cement tile is, and how it differs from ceramic or porcelain tile.

Handmade cement tile in geometric shapes elegantly define a clubhouse restaurant's floor.
Handmade cement tile in geometric shapes elegantly define a clubhouse restaurant's floor.
What is Handmade Cement Tile?
Created using a hydraulic press, cement tiles, also known as encaustic tiles, were first created in the mid-19th century in Europe. They were originally used only in prestigious buildings and high-end homes, but by the turn of the century, cement tiles could be found in homes all over the country.

Unfortunately, around the 1960s and 70s, cement tiles fell out of favor. Thankfully, the need for using “green” sustainable building products has created a renewed interest in cement tile. The wide array of available colors, custom patterns, and the matte finish of the tiles makes them a fresh, yet practical choice for those desiring something unique, sustainable and timeless.

Cement Tiles are:
• Durable
• Long-Lasting
• Sustainable
• Recyclable
• Handmade
• Extensive Color, Design Options

Manufacturing Process
Cement tiles are handmade using a traditional, centuries-old, manufacturing process requiring several steps, unlike ceramic tiles that are kiln-fired. You can see the extensive process of creating individual handmade cement tiles on the blog post, Aguayo Cement Tile Factory Tour.

Color mixtures are hand-poured into molds and grids in which the designs of the cement tile are formed.
Color mixtures are hand-poured into molds and grids in which the designs of the cement tile are formed.

First, the color layer is prepared using a mixture of marble powder, white cement and other minerals. The color mixture is hand-poured into molds and grids in which the designs of the tile are formed. Next, a layer of cement is sprinkled on top, thus providing a bond between the color layer and the body of the tile. A layer of cement and sand then creates the tile body. Each cement tile is then hydraulically pressed into shape to increase density and then cured underwater for up to 28 days to create extra hardness. They are then dried and set to age, which allows the tile to harden even more before shipping.

Handmade cement tiles are dried and set to age on racks, allowing them to harden prior to shipping.
Handmade cement tiles are dried and set to age on racks, allowing them to harden prior to shipping.

Because of the steps needed to create a high-quality cement tile, the cost per tile can range from $12 to $25 per square foot. It can take eight to 10 weeks for your tile to be made. If you choose a customized color, the length of time for delivery, as well as cost, will increase.

Remember, cement tiles are handmade, one tile at a time, making each tile unique and different.- you’ll see the hand of the artisan tile-maker in each cement tile.


Download: Guide to Buying Handmade Cement Tile

Next time, I’ll be talking about the various sizes, shapes and formats available with cement tiles. In the meantime, you can download Avente Tile’s Guide to Buying Handmade Cement Tile to get a head-start on an upcoming project, or just to be inspired!

Of course, everyone at Avente Tile is well-versed and experienced in answering any possible question you may have. Therefore, please don’t hesitate to call them at 888.739.4972; or email: info@aventetile.com.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Decorative Tile in Commercial Design


While I prefer the quiet residential neighborhoods for my morning walks in Los Angeles, crossing commercial swaths and busy streets can't be avoided in California's most populous city of 3.8 million people. Surprisingly, I've discovered some stunning uses of decorative tile in commercial design on the storefronts and facades of many buildings that pay homage to this state's romance with tile during the early 1900s.

Decorative tile adorn this commercial building on Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills
Decorative tile adorn this building on Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills
An up-close look at the pattern details of a commercial tile facade.
An up-close look at the pattern details of the tile facade.

You may remember last month's post, A Book Recommendation for California Tile where I review California Tile: The Golden Era 1910-1940: Hispano-Moresque to Woolenius. An example of California's love for tile, specifically for commercial or business use, can be found on page 172 of the publication with this vintage advertisement for Glendale, CA-based Tropico Tiles by Tropico Potteries.

Tropico Tiles Ad showing the influence of Decorative Tiles in Commercial Design
Tropico Potteries advertisement from The Building Review, June 1922.
Courtesy of the Tile Heritage Foundation Library.

Further illustrating the expansive use of richly patterned tile, or faience tiles as they were commonly referred to about a century ago, can be found along quaint storefronts along South La Brea Avenue, where each business boasts its own unique decorative tile design.

Spanish and Moorish designs influence the border patterns.
Spanish and Moorish designs influence the border patterns along this storefront.

The strong Spanish and Moorish influences are seen in the border pattern motifs and use of terracotta colors in the main field.

This original commercial tile installation can be found on S. La Brea Ave. in Los Angeles, CA
This original commercial tile installation can be found on S. La Brea Ave. in Los Angeles.

A true testament to the durability of tile is not just time; but, their ability to withstand harsh urban environments, as well as repeated abrasive cleaning of graffiti in this urban locale.

Tiles stand the test of time and graffiti in L.A.'s urban locale.
Tiles stand the test of time and graffiti in L.A.'s urban locale.
The use of bright orange, yellow, black, turquoise and aqua colors are tell-tale signs of the optimistic color palette commonly used in the early 1900s.

Bright colors on the tiles date the tiles to the early 1900s
The bright colors date the tiles to the early 1900s.
You can see how classic tile patterns and design are always being re-interpreted with updated colors, such as the bright yellow and turquoise, mixed with new designs, such as the triangular accent strip.

The designs you've seen thus far were all found on storefronts – below the window panes, down to the sidewalk. They are reminiscent of a slower time when folks walked the boulevard for their needs. Unfortunately, these commercial installations are nearly invisible now as we zoom past storefronts in our cars, making sure to meet deadlines imposed by a harried schedule.

Lastly, I want to share a rather unique installation that perfectly illustrates how a classic pattern and color palette can remain nearly unchanged from a pattern still available today.

Tiles create interest in this unusual commercial application.
Tiles create interest in this unusual commercial application.

In the image above, you'll notice that the tiles create a cascade-like effect below the Spanish Baroque architectural details of this structure. The tile design flows up from below the ground level to just below the second level. The tile pattern, which has the look of water, effortlessly draws attention to the details.

Tile ribbons cascade from the Spanish Baroque window details.
Tile ribbons cascade from the the Spanish Baroque window details down to the ground where solid-colored field tiles are placed.

Tile ribbons cascading from the Spanish Baroque window details emulate a trickling stream.
Tile ribbons start and end with a classic Spanish tile pattern.
Upon closer look, you can see that the tile ribbons start and end with a classic Spanish tile pattern.

Decorative Tiles in this historic installation match a pattern Avente sells today.
The decorative tiles used in this historic installation match a pattern Avente Tile sells today. How's that for timelessness?

The hand-painted tile that you see in this design looks very similar to our Barcelona Design Quarter San Jose tile.
Avente Barcelona's San Jose Tile Design Quarter

There's something to be said for classic tile patterns and colors – even in commercial design. Do you agree? For Spanish Tile Design inspiration, see our extensive collection of Hand Painted Spanish Tile Design Ideas.



Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Avente Tile's Guide to Buying Cement Tile

Avente Tile's <em>Guide to Buying Handmade Cement Tile
Avente Tile's Guide to Buying Handmade Cement Tile

Handmade cement tile has to be one of the most beautiful types of tile available for transforming a space into a personal expression of pattern, style and design. However, since it is a handmade product, figuring out what makes a high quality and durable cement tile isn't immediately obvious.

For that reason, we are proud to announce the launch of our Guide to Buying Handmade Cement Tile to help you make sense of the choices available. The Guide features 14 pages of inspirational cement tile installations and patterns, and most importantly, valuable tips for buying handmade cement tile culled through Avente Tile's founder Bill Buyok's vast experiences and travels involving handmade cement tile.

A sample page of Avente Tile's Guide to Buying Handmade Cement Tile
A sample page of Avente Tile's Guide to Buying Handmade Cement Tile

A sample page of Avente Tile's Guide to Buying Handmade Cement Tile illustrates the beautiful and vivid patterns available with handmade cement tile.

This Guide was designed with you and your needs in mind. More than a decade ago, as a first-time cement tile purchaser, Bill was frustrated with the lack of relevant and easily found information. With our help, after reading through this well-developed and cohesive Guide to Buying Handmade Cement Tile, you'll be able to:

  • Find the cement tile that's right for you.
  • Learn how to distinguish quality cement tile from inferior ones.
  • Understand the types, formats, colors, options and designs available.
  • Set realistic budgets, costs for freight, and what to expect for delivery.
  • Tips for when to use in-stock tiles, custom tiles, and how to create your own designs.


Guide to Buying Handmade Cement Tile
Active links direct you to comprehensive information about the topic or product you're interested in.

As always, our commitment to you is our continued quest for excellence. How can we help you with your cement tile needs today?





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Cement Tile Inspiration

Cement Tile: Floors, Walls

Eats: Salads
"Constant use will not wear ragged the fabric of friendship." -- Dorothy Parker


What would summer be without the gathering of friends and family around the backyard or dining room table? And with summer, comes the need for drinks and meals that cool our bodies, while simultaneously warming our hearts. Whether you're sharing stories, adventures or a meal, summer is the perfect season to just hang out and relax!

With that said, summer is also when the bounty of seasonal fruits and vegetables from your backyard garden, or from the farmer's market, can be effortlessly paired in a meal-worthy salad. Coupled with a glass of wine, a cool evening breeze, and lively conversations, it's no wonder summer is our favorite season!

Interestingly, just like friendship, handmade cement tile will not wear ragged over time. It only gets better! With a range of design possibilities, whether bold Cuban tile patterns in contrasting colors or classic cement patterns in harmonizing colors, handmade cement tiles will transform any space! See our new Guide to Buying Handmade Cement Tile to get started today!

Remember, no matter which project you choose to conquer, Avente Tile is here to help you reach your design goal. Our extensive Cement Tile Design Ideas gallery features a large collection of projects dedicated to inspiring you and your living space. How can we help you today?

Download: Guide to Buying Handmade Cement Tile

For inspiration or answers about cement tile, download Avente Tile's Guide to Buying Handmade Cement Tile now!



Cool Down With Our Summer Savings

Cool Down With Our Summer Savings

Does the heat have you down during these dog days of summer? Then cool down with our summer savings special! Receive 5% off all online tile purchases when you spend $200 or more. Just place your order online by August 31, 2014, and use coupon code SUMMER during checkout.



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Book Recommendation for California Tile


Have you ever learned the meaning of word and then a few days later you read the word in a magazine, then someone mentions the word at a party, and shortly thereafter you see it repeatedly? I had a similar experience with someone I just recently met and want to share some of the great things I’ve already experienced from this relationship.


A colorful tile circa 1920 found in a Beverly Hills storefront
Colorful tile circa 1920 found on a Beverly Hills storefront


If you follow this blog, then you know I’ve been a long-time supporter of the Tile Heritage Foundation. Joe and Sheila co-founded the Tile Heritage Foundation in 1987; Joe serves as the Foundation's president. When I first joined many years ago, I had the great pleasure of meeting Sheila Menzies at the Coverings Booth; but, Joe and I seemed to always miss each other. I had the great pleasure to meet with Joe and Shelia this past June to help better understand the THF’s goals and how I and my company, Avente Tile, could further their worthy cause.

A few weeks later, my spouse visited The California Heritage Museum in Santa Monica. This small museum has a great mission: to present displays of American decorative and fine arts, and to promote the passion that is collecting. On my spouses’ return, I received a wonderful book about "California Tile" that is edited by none other than, Joseph Taylor.

California Tile The Golden Era 1910 - 1940 is a Great Resource for Historical California Tile Patterns
"California Tile The Golden Era 1910 - 1940" is a great resource
for historical California tile patterns.
Book Jacket Image via Amazon.com

California Tile: The Golden Era 1910-1940: Hispano-Moresque to Woolenius was first published December 1, 2003 by California Heritage Museum for an exhibit with the same name. Joseph A. Taylor is the editor for this book. How I missed the book or the exhibit at the California Heritage Museum, I'll never know. But, if you love tile and have a passion for the great California tile makers like Batchelder, Malibu, or Pomona, then you'll love this book. It has great photos of tiles, installations, and the manufacturing process.

Here's a paragraph from the introduction by Joseph Taylor: "Over the years ceramic tiles integrated themselves it the cultural fabric of California; tiles are everywhere and they're convincingly apparent. The brightly colored wall tiles along with the rich earthen roof tiles and pavers, often found in stark contrast to white stucco facades, have woven their way into the community conscious.

A Moorish-influenced California tile detail from the early 1920's
A Moorish-influenced California tile detail from the early
1920s decorates this window in Los Angeles.
Further, the book showcases how “California tile makers excelled in their craft during the first half of the twentieth century, producing richly patterned designs for building facades, interiors, garden ornamentation, furniture, and even serving pieces. 'Old California' art tile is rich in tradition and innovation.”

Lastly, the tireless effort that went into researching and publishing this work should be applauded. With hundreds of tiles from Hispano-Moresque, Kraftile, Helen Greenleaf Lane, Malibu, Markoff, Muresque, Pacific, Pomona, Tropico, West Coast and more, not only is this publication a great source of inspiration, it's also a vehicle for instilling a sense of appreciation of the colorful art form of tile.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Porcelain Tile vs. Ceramic Tile


Since launching our new line of Porcelain Pool Tile earlier this month, we've been getting a lot of questions about what makes porcelain tile better than ceramic tile. More commonly, the question is simply, "What is the difference between porcelain and ceramic tile?" It’s a question I gladly welcome and one that is fairly easy to answer.

Glazed porcelain tiles, like the blue tiles used for this fountain, are good choice for pools and spas.
Glazed porcelain tiles, like the blue tiles used for this fountain, are a good choice for pools and spas.

Homeowners often discuss ceramic and porcelain interchangeably, as if they were one and the same. To add confusion, tile shop salespeople often extol the superiority of porcelain and claim there is a chasm that separates the two. Porcelain tile tends to be more expensive and this is one reason salespeople will try to "justify" porcelain to those not versed in tile’s technical details.

Porcelain tile is a type of ceramic tile and nothing more. In other words, all porcelain tiles are ceramic tiles; but, not all ceramic tiles are porcelain. Porcelain and ceramic tiles are very similar, especially when compared to cement tiles, quarry tile, glass tiles or stone. Porcelain, by definition, is a ceramic material made by heating materials, including clay in the form of kaolin, in a kiln to temperatures between 2,200 °F and 2,500 °F. Porcelain has high strength and translucence because of the formation of glass and minerals within the fired body at these high temperatures. Porcelain derives its present name from the Old Italian porcellana (cowrie shell) because of its resemblance to the translucent surface of the shell. While all of this might be interesting, it has very little relevance to porcelain tile.

What Makes Porcelain Tile – Water Absorption Rate
A tile can be a porcelain tile IF AND ONLY IF it has a water absorption rate of 0.5% as defined by American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) C373. To pass the test, a group of tiles is fired and then weighed. The tiles are boiled for five hours and then they sit in water for another 24 hours. Then, the tile is weighed again. If the tile weighs less than half of one-percent more as a result of water absorbing into its surface, then it is considered porcelain. No cowrie shells here.

Porcelain tile is typically extruded and will have less impurities than ceramic. It may be rectified and usually contains more kaolin than ceramic. However, the defining difference is that porcelain must have 0.5% or less water absorption rate.

Some ceramic tiles, like these decorative Malibu tiles, on the stair risers are rated for freeze/thaw cycles.
Some ceramic tiles, like these decorative Malibu tiles on the stair risers, are rated for freeze/thaw cycles.

Porcelain Tile Certification
Due to confusion and dishonest tile companies, the Porcelain Tile Certification Agency (PTCA) was created to certify tile as being porcelain or not. So, according to the PTCA, a tile has to meet ASTM C373 standards of water absorption to be branded as porcelain. A company does this by sending in five tile samples for testing, paying a fee, submitting a participation agreement, and renewing certification every three years. After certification, a company may use the "Certified Porcelain Tile" branding.

Only a score of North American tile companies have received Porcelain Tile Certification.

Why Tile Water Absorption Matters
Unless explicitly recommended, laying either porcelain or ceramic tile outside is typically not recommended in frosty environments. The primary concern: if the clay bisque or body absorbs water and you live in an area that freezes, your tile will crack when exposed to freeze/thaw cycles. That’s why it's imperative to know if the tile is rated for freeze/thaw cycles. You might argue that a glazed ceramic is imperious to water and it is. However, there is enough latent water in the bisque, often after installing, that can damage the tile when it freezes. If you live in an area, like Los Angeles or the Mediterranean, that is not subjected to hard freezing, then you don’t have to worry about this problem. Avente tiles that are rated for freeze/thaw cycles include:

  • Porcelain Pool Tiles – Plain (solid-color) porcelain tiles that have been freeze/thaw tested. They are great for spas, fountains or any outdoor application.
  • Yucatan Field Tile – Vitreous tiles are another type of ceramic tile that generally absorb very little water. We've used these tiles for projects in Colorado cabins at 7,000 ft. elevations that aren't used in the winter. The tiles are in great shape, year after year!
  • Malibu Decorative Tiles – Decorative ceramic tiles that have been freeze/thaw tested and pay homage to the Spanish Revival period of Los Angeles.
  • Malibu Field Tiles – Plain (solid-color) ceramic tiles that have been freeze/thaw tested and coordinate perfectly with our Malibu decos.

While conventional wisdom has been to keep porcelain or ceramic tile away from the outside, you can see there are lots of options for ceramic tiles that are suitable for exterior use.

Benefits of Porcelain Tiles
Porcelain does offer some benefits that you won’t find with ceramic. However, for most residential application most of these benefits are "gold cladding inside a steel suit of armor." In other words, while true, you probably won’t benefit from them – especially if using a glazed porcelain tile.

Porcelain clay is more dense than ceramic clay. Therefore, porcelain tiles are less porous than ceramic and this makes porcelain tile harder and more impervious to moisture than ceramic tile. The increased density also makes it more durable and better suited for heavy usage than ceramic tile. For instance, unglazed porcelain in a restaurant is the best choice for a hotel lobby or restaurant entry. Unglazed porcelain has through-body composition and color. Chip a glazed ceramic tile and you find a different color underneath the top glaze. Chip the porcelain and the color keeps on going--the chip is nearly invisible.

While both porcelain and ceramic are fired, porcelain is fired at higher temperatures for a longer time than ceramic. Additionally, porcelain has higher feldspar content, which adds to its durability. The strength in porcelain tiles means they resist wear and abrasion and the Porcelain Enamel Institute (PEI) ratings for porcelain tile tend to be at the top of the scale (4-5). The PEI ratings for ceramic tile can land just about anywhere on the scale from 1-5. The PEI ratings is commonly referred to as “abrasion resistance” and is probably the most commonly used industry rating for wear. PEI Ratings of 5 are good for heavy residential and commercial traffic, whereas a PEI 1 is recommended for wall applications only.

Porcelain tile and vitreous tile work well for an outdoor patio subjected to freeze/thaw cycles.
Porcelain or vitreous tile work well for an outdoor counter subjected to freeze/thaw cycles.

Find the Right Tile for the Project
I've had people request decorative porcelain tiles with a PEI 5 rating. I've asked them, "Where are you using the tile?" The customer replies, "On my kitchen wall. I want the best tile!" Different tiles and tile materials are manufactured for different applications to provide the best results. Take into account the application first and also who will be doing the installation. Ceramic tiles are less dense than porcelain tiles and usually a far easier material for homeowners and DIY installers to cut. Porcelain requires experience to cut because it is very hard and brittle compared to ceramic. Remember, ceramic tile will be less expensive than porcelain tile. While porcelain has many benefits, ceramic may the best choice for the job!