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The Difference Between Porcelain & Ceramic

The Difference Between Porcelain & Ceramic - The Bright Angle

Porcelain is a member of the ceramic family, but not all ceramics are porcelain. Capisce?

Within this article lies an explanation

The main difference between porcelain and ceramic lies in their genetic make-up. Ceramics use red, brown, or white clay, while porcelain uses only white clay. True porcelain has to meet highly controlled and strict water absorption criteria. It needs to be 0.5% or lower in water absorption, at the test.

The testing process involves firing the porcelain, then weighing it, then boiling it for 5 hours, then soaking it for 24 hours. It is then weighed again, and if the weight is less than 1/2 of 1% of the original weight, then it can be considered porcelain. This means the highest absorption standards are put onto porcelain as a ceramic variant - making it stronger, semi-translucent, and very resilient to liquids.

There are many different kinds of ceramics: porcelain, stoneware, terra cotta. Ceramics refers to fired clay. White clay is typically called porcelain because it is so pure. Off-white clay is often called stoneware and has iron and other impurities. Terra Cotta is red clay that is porous and used for flower pots because it is the cheapest and absorbs water.

Porcelain Process

What's the Difference Between Porcelain vs. Ceramic?

To create porcelain with the right density, a special Kaolin clay mixture is combined with a flux such as Feldspar and fine silica glass that melts together at temperatures of 2200-2500 degrees F over a certain amount of time. The temperature rises 100 - 300 degrees/hour to cook the porcelain slowly. Porcelain has lower porosity and higher density than terracotta (found in flower pots ceramics) or stoneware.

Terracotta and stoneware use a smaller ratio of white kaolin clay and are typically fired to a lower temperature to become vitrified ceramics. This is because the impurities in the materials lower the melting point. The purity of porcelain means it is denser than terracotta and stoneware. 


Durability & Styles of Porcelain

The strength and translucent properties of porcelain, relative to other types of pottery, arise from vitrification and formation of the mineral Mullite and quartz within it. Though definitions vary, porcelain can be categorized into 3 main categories: Hard Paste, Soft Paste, and Bone China. Porcelain can also be made into a slip, which is liquid clay used to fill plaster molds. 

The density of this material is less subjective to wear and tear, and it is almost impervious to water in comparison to terracotta (flower pots) or stoneware. The finish is smoother than ceramic which makes it an attractive material when it comes to the touch. Lastly, it can withstand up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit when used in the oven. 

You might also notice that a terracotta pot will have moss and growth at the base or the exterior of the pot, while with a denser and impervious material such as Porcelain, this won't occur because water will be unable to soak into the pot at the bottom. 

A Side-by-Side Comparison

Appearance: Porcelain is preferred over terracotta or stoneware due to its look and feel. Even though porcelain has a porosity lower than .5%, it is often covered in a glaze to add color and texture. Due to its refined clay mixture, the finish can be extremely smooth. It can also be used as enamel over the outer layer of metal, giving the metal the protection and look desired due to its low enamel erosion. 

Porcelain Light Shade


Heat resistance: As explained earlier, due to its density, and higher kiln temperatures, porcelain, as a fired ceramic material, wins out over terracotta and stoneware

Care and cleaning: Both are tied in this position, but much depends on the finish and application. However, in wet environments, ceramics are more prone to staining.

Durability: Being a harder and denser material, porcelain wins out over other ceramics such as terracotta and stoneware.

Lifespan: Much of this depends on the environment and level of abuse present.  While Porcelain is harder, it could be said to be a little more brittle. This means that when applied as flooring in the form of a tile, it will resist wear and tear more than ceramic.

Applications: Like everything that's made of clay and fired to become ceramic, the artistic range of porcelain is vast. You can aim for a farmhouse look with handmade bowls, plates, and cups to serve food and drink. While both materials bode well in a home environment, white porcelain's properties distinguish it from the other. TBA's Olive Oil Dispenser Bottle is made of porcelain and also outperforms all others in regards to its resistance to absorption. Its opaque qualities also provide more protection for the olive oil in comparison to cruet ceramic variants, which might stain over time. The hygiene of porcelain is also to be considered. With its high density and low absorption, using rubbing alcohol, soap, or bar keepers helper will make a very clean and microbe-free surface. 


Uses in Tile

Ceramic tile is one of the most common tiles in the home. It can be used in any room in the house. It's easy to install and clean. The bonus is if you are looking to renovate, it offers a great price point. The appeal of porcelain tiles is that they can emulate the look of natural stone, brick, or wood - but without maintenance. You get the same features without the upkeep, and it can even be used outdoors, resisting the weather more than the original counterparts. The biggest drawback is the installation. When using it as flooring, the need for adhesive is required. For bathrooms, porcelain is the preferred choice for walls and shower/bath areas mainly due to its water resistance. However, for a smaller budget, slip-resistant ceramic tile can be a good substitute. For a mid-budget, one can use ceramics on the walls.

Porcelain Accessories

Now that the background is well understood and established of the value and difference between both Porcelain and other ceramics, let's talk about how home decor such as vases, lighting, condiment flasks, cups, glasses, and cups fit into the lifestyle of a home. We at The Bright Angle use a satin glaze that is incredibly smooth and stain resistant for our various wares and designs.

This photo shows a selection of our exquisite porcelain products offered in our online store.


Porcelain from TheBrightAngle 


Elixir Olive Oil Bottle With Stopper, a versatile piece of kitchen stoneware

* Oil bottle measures 3.23”x3.25”x12” (excluding stopper)

* Microwave safe (excluding stopper) and dishwasher safe.

* Used to store and dispense olive oil, dish soap, syrups, and bar drinks.


Porcelain dispenser



Native Planter and Tray, this porcelain set is designed with a subtle oval shape.

* For succulents and other small plants.

* Planter measures 6”x 4.5”x 4”

* Tray measures 8”x 5.5”x 7.5”

* Tray is also available as a solo purchase.

* Planter includes a hole for drainage.


Porcelain Planter


The Double Shot Espresso Cup, is a handmade, comfortable one-fingered cup.

* Cup measures 3”x 2.5”x 2.75”

* Holds 4oz or two shots of espresso

* Microwave and dishwasher safe


Porcelain Lifestyle


The Nesting Bowl Set, delightful oval-shaped space-savers, are a stylish set of bowls for your home or as a special occasion gift, such as a wedding gift to housewarming gift.

* The largest bowl measures 12.5”x 10.75”x 5.75” to fit serving needs.

* The medium bowl measures 9.5”x 8.75”x 5.5” ideal for grapes and citrus.

* The small bowl measures 7.15”x 6”x 4.25”, perfect for snacks

Microwave and dishwasher safe.


Porcelain Nesting Bowl Set


The Dolan Lamp, a modern lamp with a one-of-a-kind porcelain shade, works great to illuminate desks, workstations, or bedside tables.

Available in a brass or steel base

* Brass base includes wireless charger (iPhone and Android compatible)

* USB port (universal standard USB-A)

* Steel base includes a dimmer switch

* USB port (universal standard USB-A)

* Lamp dimensions ( lamp and shade) 8.8”x 7.8”x 17.4”

* 5W LED A 19 Edison bulb, warm white- 2700k, 50,000-hour lifetime.


Porcelain lamp from TheBrightAngle