Porcelain tile countertops are, in essence, a more refined version of ceramic tile countertops. Porcelain tiles are made of high-grade white clay, whereas ceramics are made of coarser red or brown clay. However, that refining process leaves a few advantages and disadvantages which should be considered before purchasing one or the other.
Durability and Stain Resistance
Both porcelain and ceramic are made from clay and quartz ferrous sand combined with water. Only the porcelain tiles have gone through more refining processes making them denser than the ceramic. This allows for greater durability and higher stain resistance making them better choice for an outdoor kitchen or potting bench. The durability is also of benefit for places which see extreme cold because water does not penetrate porcelain.
Ceramic tiles are definitely cheaper than porcelain and drawbacks which come from the economy are often negligible for the average consumer. The PEI (or strength) rating of ceramic tiles usually runs from 0 to 3 whereas porcelain are 4 to 5. Ratings of 4 and 5 are generally reserved for extremely high-traffic areas or commercial and industrial use. For residential use on countertops a rating of 2 or higher, especially if the tiles are glazed or sealed is more than adequate.