You've probably seen glazed porcelain tile at some point, although you may not have known that was what you were seeing. Common to bathrooms (especially around showers and bathtubs) and kitchens (as a back splash), glazed porcelain is admired for its glossy beauty and durability. The glazed finish covers the natural porous surface of the tile. Even though mold and mildew can be a problem with the grout in between the tiles, the tile surface itself holds up well in wet areas.
Porcelain tiles are made of porcelain clay that has been fired at high heat. Porcelain tile is sold in matte, polished or glazed finishes. Glazed tile has a layer of glaze, which is usually colored, applied during the manufacturing process. This gives the tiles a high-gloss appearance.
Porcelain tiles are usually sold as 6-inch, 12-inch or 18-inch squares. They come in boxes marked according to how many square feet each box of tile will cover. If you are buying these tiles, keep in mind that some may get broken during installation. It is a good idea to buy more than you think you'll need.
Glazed porcelain tiles resist stains and water. They are hard-wearing, making them good for kitchen counter tops, bathrooms and other areas where scratch, stain and water resistance is a must.
Glazed porcelain tile is more costly than other kinds of ceramic tile, and certainly is more expensive than vinyl. Glazed porcelain, although sometimes used for flooring, is also more slippery than other kinds of porcelain tile. Hard objects (heavy cookware or tools, for example) striking or falling on porcelain tiles may chip them. These chips may be deep enough to show the underlying porcelain--which can be noticeable because the color of glazed tiles is only in the glaze, and not through the depth of the tile.
Glazed porcelain is easy to clean--usually a damp mop is sufficient. Occasional cleaning with a mild cleaner, suitable for porcelain (non-acidic, as this may harm the finish) is sometimes necessary. The grout, however, can get easily stained. Sealing the grout may prevent this.
Corey M. Mackenzie
Corey M. Mackenzie has been a professional freelance writer for more than two decades. She received a B.A. with honors from Wichita State University. Corey specializes in writing about pets, interior decorating, health care, gardening, fashion, relationships, home improvement and forensic science. Corey's articles have appeared in Garden Guides, Travels and other websites.