Porcelain vs. Ceramic Sink: How to Tell Them Apart and Which Is Better?

The fact of the matter is that when you’re looking to buy a new bathroom sink, one of the most important things to consider is what material it is made out of. Of course, there are a wide variety of materials that may be used, but there are only a few that are ideal.

Today we want to take a look at two specific bathroom sink materials: ceramic and porcelain. Yes, these are two very similar materials that do have some different characteristics, though. So, between the two, which one is better for your bathroom sink?

Porcelain vs. Ceramic Sink

Ceramic and Porcelain: What Are They?

Ceramic is a type of pottery that is made by mixing clay powder and water. This mixture is then sculpted into various shapes, which in this case is a sink, and it is usually shaped by hand. To cause this mixture to harden, it is then treated with extreme heat.  The result is a kitchen sink made out of pottery that is extremely resistant to scratching and chipping.

On the other hand, we have porcelain, which is technically also a type of pottery. Porcelain is made by using a very fine mixture of clay that is packed at very high pressure and baked at extremely high temperatures in a kiln. The clay used is much finer than the clay used for ceramic, and moreover, both the pressure and temperatures are much more extreme when porcelain is being made.

How to Tell Ceramic and Porcelain Sinks Apart

Ceramic and porcelain sinks are actually extremely hard to tell apart. If you are just looking at them with your naked eye it can be nearly impossible. One of the easiest ways to tell what your sink is made out of is by looking for the model number and then doing a bit of research online. Realistically, the owner’s manual for yours should tell you what your sink is made out of, but if you don’t have this anymore then the model number should do the trick.

In terms of appearance, the issue here is that both of them look more or less the same. Both have a naturally translucent and glossy appearance, kind of like milky glass. The thing with ceramic is that it may or may not be treated with a glaze. The issue is that with bathroom sinks, ceramic must be treated with a glaze to make it totally waterproof, and this gives it that glossy and milky white appearance, just like porcelain.

Therefore, in terms of appearance alone, it’s nearly impossible to tell the two apart. That said, just because it’s not nearly impossible to tell the two apart based on appearance alone, doesn’t mean there aren’t differences between them that you need to know about.

Ceramic vs. Porcelain Sinks: What Are the Differences?

OK, so although it’s almost impossible to tell apart ceramic and porcelain just by looking at them, there are some important differences that you need to know about. When it comes down to it, ceramic and porcelain sinks do not perform the same way, and they don’t have the same amount of durability either.

1. Manufacturing

One of the biggest differences between ceramic and porcelain sinks is how they are made. Something that we have already covered above. However, the important thing to keep in mind here is that porcelain is made with a much finer type of clay. It is heated to a higher temperature and a lot more pressure is applied than when ceramic is made. This is very important to know because this is the difference that leads to all of the other differences.

2. Porosity

Another big difference between ceramic and porcelain sinks is how porous they are. Now due to the manufacturing process of ceramic, when it is not graved is very porous and therefore it does absorb some water. If your ceramic sink absorbs too much water, it is going to get very brittle. It’s going to start cracking and it’s going to break. For this reason, ceramic sinks must also be glazed to render them 100% waterproof, or else you are going to have problems.

Due to the manufacturing process, porcelain is a lot denser and less porous, or in fact, it is not porous at all and therefore it does not absorb any water and it doesn’t even need a glaze to achieve this property. The bottom line is that porcelain is much more naturally waterproof than ceramic, and therefore is a much better option for its sink.

3. Durability

Yes, ceramic sinks are very durable, particularly when it comes to being scratch-resistant. They are also resistant to chipping. Now, with that being said, a ceramic sink won’t be able to withstand a heavy impact, and it will shatter. However, this is not something that would make ceramic sinks not durable enough for basic everyday use.

With all of that being said, porcelain is the more durable of the two. Due to the fact that it is heated at a higher temperature and more pressures applied during the manufacturing process as well as the fact that there are also other materials included, such as metals, it is a much more durable material. Porcelain is much more scratch and chip resistant than ceramic and it is more impact resistant too.

4. Cost

Yet another notable difference between these two six materials is how much they cost. Now both ceramic and porcelain are relatively cheap to purchase, which is a good thing of course. Porcelain is one of the most affordable sink materials on the market right now with even the higher-end models not costing all that much.

Ceramic sinks can also be extremely affordable, but the price range does vary a lot more than with porcelain sinks. High-end ceramic sinks, depending on the style and design, can cost a lot more than high-end porcelain sinks.

Which of the Two Should You Get?

What we also just want to say here is that both of these sink materials are extremely easy to clean, which is why they are so popular today. If you’re looking for an extremely affordable and basic sink, then a porcelain sink is definitely the way to go. Not to mention the fact that they are also more durable.

However, ceramic sinks come in many more designs and styles than porcelain sinks, which usually only come in the most basic and simplistic designs. So, what it really all comes down to here is that porcelain is more durable and functional, whereas ceramic probably looks a bit better, at least depending on the specific sink question.

Summary

Although we did spend today talking about porcelain and ceramic specifically, there are many other sink materials to consider. Before you choose any one sink, make sure that you do all of the research necessary.