Porcelain Finish - Glazed, Polished, or Natural

Jim Williams
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Buying Guides

Porcelain tile is among one of the most popular tiles for bathrooms, kitchens, porches, laundry rooms, and high-traffic areas prone to spills and stains. Its popularity is based on the durability, quality, and design variability for a home or business.

When choosing porcelain tile finish you must also choose what look you are going for and how much traffic that the space gets. Yahoo! notes, “When you are looking at the finishes of porcelain tile, it is important to keep in mind where you will be placing the tile. Tiles with a high gloss tend to be more slippery than those with a low gloss. If you are going to be placing the tile on your floor you may want to consider a porcelain tile that has a less glossy finish to avoid slips and falls when the tile becomes wet.”

Here is a breakdown of each type of porcelain finish:


Porcelain can be glossed to create a high shine appearance. The glaze, which is liquid glass, is usually baked into the surface of the tile at very high temperatures in a kiln. The glazing shields the tile surface from dirt, grime, and water. They are easier to clean and any liquid on its surface will drain faster. The downfall: When wear and tear occurs on the glazed tile surface, it can strip way the glaze so that the different color in the body of the tile shows through.

Glazed porcelain tile will have a more finished look available in many colors. The surface of glazed tile is often a different color than the body of the tile.


Polished porcelain achieves a middle-of-the-ground sheen. Polishing the exterior of the tile will give it a glazed look, without actual glaze. The process of polishing porcelain can make the tiles more porous, and therefore less water-resistant. Because of this, porcelain tiles need to be treated in order to increase their durability. In many case, sealing the tiles during the grout process can increase their water resistance.


Natural, unglazed, or unpolished creates a solid-body look with pigments evenly distributed throughout the tile, though the face still tends to be darker, notes DoItYourself.com While sometimes treated with soluble salts, the water resistance of a natural, unglazed/unpolished porcelain tile remains less than one percent. Though natural tiles do not have the impermeability of polished or glazed tile, they do have a benefit: natural ceramic floor tiles do not show the normal wear and deterioration from foot traffic and use. Additionally, they are very suitable for commercial and industrial purposes.

Decide the look and feel of the project when determining what type of treated (or untreated) porcelain tile you’d like for your home or building project.

Learn more facts about porcelain tile...