No doubt, porcelain is one of the best material options you have for your outdoor landscaping project. And when it comes to selecting the right tile, you have to find a balance between function and form.
Aside from aesthetics, it’s also important to consider other characteristics of a tile. These include maintenance, abrasion resistance, and slip resistance.
If you want a material for your pool area or outdoor spaces, the ideal choice is unglazed tiles, as their surface is highly slip-resistant. Additionally, they are resistant to scratches, which makes them great for areas receiving a lot of traffic daily. On the other hand, glazed porcelain tile will work great on your residential project, where colour plays a vital role.
But whether you opt for a coloured or full body porcelain tile, it’s essential to understand the difference between the two types of outdoor porcelain pavers.
There’s not much difference in the manufacturing of these landscape materials. Both glazed and unglazed porcelain tiles are made by utilizing a blend of natural pigments and clays. These materials then go through a firing process of 1200 degrees celsius to harden and strengthen the raw materials to make them suitable pavers for landscaping purposes.
This is where the difference lies. The process for unglazed tiles stops after the firing. It’s what provides them with that rustic and more natural look, as well as a matte and textured finish.
On the other hand, glazed tiles undergo an additional phase in the firing process during which a layer of liquid glass is added to the surface using very high temperatures. This makes glazed porcelain tiles less slip-resistant and not suitable for outdoor landscaping purposes. In contrast, unglazed porcelain tiles are more slip-resistant in high traffic and moist areas, making them more suitable for your outdoor projects.
Natural clay utilized in creating unglazed porcelain tiles has mineral deposits that provide their colour. Additionally, they can also acquire it through the addition of other natural pigments to the clay.
These pigments can be designed into various patterns that will run through the entire tile. And since the body colour is universal from top to bottom, such tiles are known as “full-body” or “through-body” porcelain tiles.
The creation of colour body porcelain, on the other hand, involves continuous coloured stains from the glaze surface throughout the body of the tile. The process synchronizes the colour of both the glaze and body, which lessens the visibility of any impact chips which may occur. Nevertheless, the colour remains consistent throughout the tile. But any surface design does not continue through the tile body.
One word of caution from our experts is that many products are falsely marketed as full-body porcelain. However, nearly 99.9% of porcelain pavers that are sold and used for outdoor purposes are colour body porcelain and not full-body porcelain. The manufacturing cost of full-body porcelain is far higher than colour body porcelain, making them unsuitable for large areas that are generally required for landscaping use.
You can always reach out to our team of experts to help you determine whether the pavers you are purchase are in fact full body or colour body. We’re here to help!
Glazed Or Full Body Porcelain Tiles?
When it comes to price, full-body porcelain tends to be more expensive than glazed porcelain. The cost of real, high-quality, full body porcelain will cost you around $3 to $5 more per square foot than glazed porcelain.
Additionally, full body porcelain is quite limited in terms of designs due to the cost of manufacturing and the limited market / application for outdoor use. The exception to this rule is full-body porcelain for interior use. There are a number of companies that sell extensive indoor porcelain products that are full-body as the thickness of these tiles is usually less than 1 cm, allowing them to create a product that is not prohibitively expensive for indoor use.
Which Material Should I Choose?
The difference between glazed and unglazed tiles is in the type of raw materials used for their making. The percentage of enamel that is used for superficial decoration also plays a role here. Furthermore, mineral composition is also an important factor to consider for porcelain pavers, and tiles in general, as it allows a lower water absorption rate.
Porcelain can have different quality grades, measurable only through lab tests. Our porcelain tile products have water absorption averaging below 0.1%, making them some of the highest quality outdoor porcelain pavers that are available in the market.
When it comes to full body and coloured body outdoor porcelain, full body is quite rare to find in the market. However, a lot of representatives and companies mislead customers by claiming they have these products.
Keep in mind that there are only a few real through-body / full-body porcelain tiles because of how costly they are to manufacture. It is more important to choose a reputable supplier and we strongly suggest you look at country of origin over the characteristics of full-body vs. colour-body. The country of origin and reputation of the manufacturer will inform you whether or not you are being provided a high quality porcelain tile. Italian outdoor porcelain tiles continue to remain unbeatable when it comes to quality and durability, which are critical for our North American climate.
We stand by our products and can provide you with ASTM reports for outdoor porcelain pavers specifically for our products.