Vitreous China vs Porcelain vs Ceramic: What’s the Difference?

The most popular materials for bathroom sinks are vitreous china and porcelain. Many times, people wonder what’s the difference between vitreous china and porcelain. It’s difficult to get a straight answer when reading product descriptions especially when things are worded differently. The truth of the matter is, vitreous china is a coating added to ceramics like porcelain.

Vitreous china/porcelain is commonly used to make basins and toilets. The word vitreous means “Glass-Like” and describes the high gloss shine that vitreous enamel gives to porcelain and ceramics.

Vitreous China

Vitreous china is a glazing technique that is added to porcelain. It is a glass based enamel coating that makes things more durable, denser, and shinier. When a large amount of heat is applied to powdered glass, a liquid called vitreous enamel is created.

The term “Vitreous China” refers to ceramic materials (like porcelain) that have been glazed with vitreous enamel AND can also be used to refer to the actual enamel coating. When shopping, they’re essentially the same thing but if you want to get technical, they are different; base (porcelain/ceramic) vs the coating (vitreous enamel). No need to make things overly complicated.


Porcelain is the hardest and strongest material when it comes to clay. It’s the most common material that is used to make bathroom basins because of this. All ceramic materials are heated in a kiln at a very high temperature. This causes the clay to become less dense and porous.

What does Ceramic Mean?

Ceramics include any inorganic material that is prepared through a heating and cooling process. Ceramic sinks are made when materials are heated and then cooled so that they maintain a constant shape/form. With this understanding, porcelain and vitreous china are also ceramic materials.

Ceramic sounds like pottery so the name is spruced up a bit to sound nicer and called porcelain. Don’t you just love how that rolls of the tongue? Porcelain is a type of ceramic in this case.

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