Choosing between glazed and unglazed porcelain tiles

Not all porcelain tile is the same. Understanding the different porcelain tile available, and how the manufacturing process impacts the tile’s durability is crucial in choosing the right tile for the right project.

Advances in technology have made it possible to digitally print, using ink jet machines, anything one can imagine onto porcelain tile. Reclaimed wood images, fabrics, and rare stones can now be faithfully reproduced. However, glazes must be applied over all ink jet printed tile to protect the image. All ink jet porcelain tile is a glazed tile. Because these glazes are protecting, essentially what is a photograph, there will be a repeat within the pattern. Glazed tiles are not full body porcelains, which is a common misconception.

Unglazed porcelain tiles are the only full body porcelain tiles available. Full body porcelain means the entire tile is composed of natural clays. Full body is not the same as through color. Full body tiles may use different colored clays. During the firing process sintering occurs making the tile one. This is not dissimilar to the way nature makes stone from sediment.

The design of the tile is created by refining natural clays mixed with natural pigments. Full body, unglazed porcelain tiles have higher slip resistance, higher abrasion resistance, and higher impact resistance than glazed porcelain tile. These characteristics are essential in choosing the right tile for heavy traffic commercial spaces. Surfaces made of pressed pigments are easy to clean and won’t wear down over time when compared to tiles with glazes.