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Glazed vs. Polished vs. Unpolished Tiles

People often discuss the use of tiles, as we see them in both home decor and art appreciation nowadays. With the rise in living standards, the demand for various tile brands has increased, as seen in the variety of ceramic tiles available. So, many feel they need clarification about which type of tile to pick, especially when some tiles look very similar, like glazed tiles and polished tiles.

Yet, two types of tiles are often top choices for many people. Such tiles, glazed and polished, are now the most popular purchases. To understand their differences, we first need to know what polished and glazed tiles are and what an unpolished tile is.

Table of Contents

What Are Glazed Tiles?

glazed tile 01

Glazed tile is a type of tile with a special formula glaze that one can polish. People apply it last on antique tiles. Such tiles often have either a transparent glaze or a transparent embossed flower glaze.

Glazed tile has the benefits of polished tiles and antique tiles. Its surface is as smooth and clear as polished tiles. Yet, it also offers a variety of patterns and deep or bright colors, similar to antique tiles.

What Are Polished Tiles?

polished porcelain tile

Polished tiles get their smooth and bright surface from a special process that polishes the tile body. Such tiles reflect light well and are hard, resisting wear. You can use them in most indoor areas but not in bathrooms or kitchens. They are suitable for balconies and outside walls, too. With special technology, polished tiles can look like stone or wood.

Difference Between Glazed & Polished Tiles

Materials

The material of the tile body is the key difference.

  • Glazed tiles: The color does not penetrate the tile body. If you examine the side of a tile, you will notice that glazed tiles show clear layers, with a layer of glaze on top. If the tile surface has a very thin layer of color, it indeed is a glazed tile.
  • Polished tiles: The color is deep into the tile body, making the color of the tile body up to 1-2 mm below the surface the same as the surface itself.

Colors

  • Glazed tiles: Offer much more colors than polished tiles do. After adding glaze, one prints patterns on glazed tiles, are printed with patterns, so they have more lively and free colors. Glazed tiles can be red, black, yellow, blue, purple, or any other color.
  • Polished tiles: Often have simpler colors, with less variety. The color differences between tile surfaces could be more apparent.
glazed tile 02
Glazed tile

Patterns

Polished tiles cannot display very fine patterns, but glazed tiles can show extremely detailed lines, as thin as needles.

Wear Resistance

Glazed tile has a layer of glaze on top of polished tiles, giving it better brightness and transparency compared to polished tiles. However, polished tiles have a thick crystal layer on their surface, whereas glazed tiles only have a thin glaze layer. As a result, glazed tiles do not wear as well as polished tiles.

Stain Resistance

Polished tiles have uneven air holes on their surface, which can easily collect dust. In contrast, the glazed surface of glazed tiles does not have this issue. Therefore, glazed tiles are better than polished tiles in resisting stains.

polished porcelain tile 02
Polished tile

Price

Glazed tiles are known for their high simulation effect. They have the benefits of antique and polished tiles. The production adds a glaze layer on the tile surface, which is then polished. The process requires more steps than for polished tiles.

They are rich in colors and patterns similar to antique tiles, and also have the bright, clean surfaces seen in polished tiles.

Consequently, glazed tiles have a higher price tag than polished tiles.

Difference Between Polished & Unpolished Porcelain Tiles

Polished porcelain tiles look elegant and match most furniture and decor well. They are also cheap and liked by both designers and homeowners. However, some people need help deciding whether to use polished or unpolished porcelain tiles.

We will talk about several differences between polished porcelain tiles and unpolished ones. We’ll examine their production methods, finishes, sealing, and maintenance.

polished-porcelain-tiles-vs-unpolished-porcelain-tiles

Production Methods

Polished floor tiles get their shiny texture from being polished with a diamond disc. Unpolished floor tiles don’t go through this polishing.

Also, producing polished porcelain tiles creates tiny pores on the surface, but the glossy finish covers them. Basically, producing both types of tiles is almost the same, except for the last step.

Finishes

Polished porcelain tiles feel glossy and smooth, as you would expect. You can find them in two varieties: glazed and unglazed.

However, unpolished porcelain tiles usually have simple surfaces and do not offer glazed or unglazed options.

Polished porcelain tiles often have a 3D look, while unpolished ones tend to have a matte or honed finish.

Uses

Polished tiles have a glossy and slippery finish, so they’re usually chosen for indoor areas.

Unpolished porcelain tiles, with their rustic surface,  are better suited for outdoors and areas with much activity. Also, since unpolished porcelain tiles are more slippery than polished ones, they work well in bathrooms and other areas that get wet.

Unpolished porcelain tile 01

Sealing

A sealer is a liquid coating applied to the porous surface of a tile or grout, protecting against oxidation, natural wear, and daily use. Polished porcelain tiles need sealing because they have tiny holes on the surface that need protection from adhesive or grout. You should apply the sealer both before and after installation.

On the other hand, unpolished porcelain floor tiles resist water, grouting, and spills better than polished porcelain tiles and don’t need sealing.

Maintenance

Polished porcelain tiles need more care than unpolished ones because their shiny surface can easily get scratched. You should not use anything that could scratch or harm the polished tiles. Also, you need to clean them every week or two to keep their shine.

Unpolished tiles, however, don’t need this kind of maintenance. Cleaning them once a month is enough to maintain their look.

FAQs

Can glazed tiles be used in high-moisture areas like bathrooms?

Because of their moisture-resistant surface, glazed tiles are suitable for high-moisture areas like bathrooms. But remember to choose tiles with the right slip-resistance rating for floor use to ensure safety.

polished porcelain tile 03

What are the aesthetic differences between glazed and polished tiles?

Glazed tiles offer a wider variety of colors and patterns due to the glazing process, including textures and designs. Polished tiles highlight the tile’s natural beauty with a glossy finish that makes colors more vibrant and patterns more pronounced.

Are there significant price differences between glazed and polished porcelain tiles?

The cost can change based on the tiles’ quality, brand, and design. Usually, polished porcelain tiles might cost a bit more because of the extra steps needed to get the polished look. But the price difference might be slight, depending on your chosen tiles.

What are the environmental impacts of producing glazed vs. polished porcelain tiles?

Both glazed and polished porcelain tiles need much energy to produce, mainly because of the energy used in the firing process. Producing glazed tiles might affect the environment a bit more because extra materials and steps are needed for the glaze. Yet, new improvements in production methods are helping to lessen these effects.

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