What are the Different Types of Ceramic Wall Tile?

Sarah A. Kleven

Ceramic wall tiles often are used in kitchens and bathrooms. It is easy to clean, easy to maintain and comes in an array of colors and patterns to dress up a home's decor. Before choosing ceramic wall tile for a project, homeowners should know there are three main types tile: glazed, unglazed and porcelain. Each type varies in how it is made. Some ceramic wall tiles also vary in their appearance.

Ceramic wall tiles can be matte, semi-gloss or high-gloss.
Ceramic wall tiles can be matte, semi-gloss or high-gloss.

These tiles are made of a mixture of water and several types of clay pressed together and allowed to dry. The dried tile then is coated with a colored ceramic stain and a gloss that is baked on. The ceramic stain is applied to the top of the tile, so if the tile chips, the color of the clay will be exposed. The color of the clay likely will be a different color than the ceramic stain finish.

Ceramic wall tile comes in a variety of finishes. They are matte, semi-gloss or high-gloss. Most ceramic tile is semi-gloss or matte finished. High-gloss finished ceramic tile can easily be scratched.

Unglazed tile is most often used in the outdoors. It lacks the baked gloss finish of glazed tile, so it stains easily. To prevent staining, unglazed ceramic wall tile requires sealing.

Porcelain ceramic wall tile is made of ingredients similar to those used in glazed ceramic tile. The porcelain type of tile is baked at a higher temperature than glazed tile, however, which makes it the more dense option of the two. This means that porcelain tile holds up better in areas of heavy traffic, making it a popular choice for commercial use as well as household use. Porcelain ceramic wall tile also is good at resisting stains and moisture.

There is another advantage that porcelain ceramic wall tile has over glazed and unglazed ceramic wall tile. The color used in porcelain tile actually is mixed throughout the entire tile. If a porcelain ceramic wall tile is scratched or chipped, it is less noticeable than a chipped glazed or unglazed ceramic wall tile, extending the lifespan of the tile.

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