Vitreous China vs Ceramic Toilet: Differences & Comparison

Written by

Paulk Webb


Freddie J. Hagopian

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vitreous china vs ceramic toilet

It may come to your knowledge that toilet material has something to do with the easy maintenance of the toilet. Not everyone is excited about cleaning a toilet and you’ll surely agree with this statement. Thus, it’s reasonable to contemplate vitreous china vs ceramic toilet. These are the commonly used materials in making toilets nowadays.

You should know that vitreous china is a kind of enamel coating that is applied to ceramics, especially porcelain. It’s still added even though ceramic proves to be durable and resistant against chipping and scratches.

Ceramic is smooth and sealed so why are some toilets covered with vitreous china? The answers will be found in the following parts that discuss ceramic vs vitreous china in terms of their pros, cons, and applications.

The Vitreous China Application


What is vitreous china? To know this material better, you should know how it’s made and its nature. Vitreous china is an enamel coating on ceramics and porcelain. It makes the surface denser, tougher, and shiner. These are the characteristics that you want from a toilet. On a different note, these can also be found on vitreous china bathroom sinks.

In the past, vitreous china was an important substance because of its glaze effect, which made a difference in the appearance of the typical ceramic. It’s also how it got its name. The word ‘vitreous’ means glass-like. Ceramic and porcelain go through a treatment involving vitreous china to gain a reflective shine from the powdered glass and composite minerals.

Artisans and manufacturers melt a certain type of powder in a kiln or specialized oven to achieve the glaze coating. It will reach a melting point for its application or painting of glaze. The ceramic or porcelain must be painted with whatever the producer prefers as the vitreous china is the last coating. After applying, it must be given enough time to dry and placed under fire for sealing.

Some think that vitreous china has a distinct category of ceramic products. However, they should be reminded that it’s just a coating. The unglazed materials are ceramic and porcelain. Again, manufacturers of toilets, sinks, bathtubs, and other bathroom fixtures start with ordinary porcelain and finish with vitreous china. This type of polish doesn’t change or alter the structure of the base material.


  • Adds shine and gloss to the surface
  • Create tougher and more durable coating
  • Resistant to spill and staining
  • Easy to clean by wiping or using a sponge
  • More sanitary as it can resist germ inhabitation
  • Used in arts and different applications (toilets, sinks, bathroom fixtures, and kitchen counter)


  • Prone to chipping when being stressed
  • Can crack easily

Creation and Uses of Ceramic


Ceramic goes under heat or high temperature to become flawless porcelain or the intended form and looks. The inorganic types of ceramic usually used are clay, silica, and feldspar. They become porcelain after going through the firing process. The said materials are heated up to harden for durability. It’s the sole step to creating porcelain products if they’re unglazed.

Unglazed products, including toilets, are suitable for vintage or rustic bathroom décor. As you can imagine, an unglazed, ceramic toilet looks raw and elegant. If it’s intended for vitreous china, it needs to go through another firing process at a high temperature. The enamel, glass-looking coating is laid out on the porcelain once the ideal temperature is reached.


  • Suitable for vintage or rustic décor or theme
  • Hard and durable


  • Densely porous so it can absorb water

Differences Between Ceramic Toilets and Toilets With Vitreous China Finish


1. Necessary cleaning

Both toilets should be cleaned after use to maintain their good condition.

A vitreous china toilet has a lot of advantages but the number one concern of many is the necessary cleaning required by each toilet. Since it’s an enameled item, you can clean it with soap and water every time you use the toilet. Despite its moisture resistance, you still need to keep it dry. Avoid using tough scrubs and brushes when cleaning it as they can scratch the surface and make it dull-looking.

So, you have to be careful about what you use when cleaning the enamel-coated toilet, or else, you can damage it. On the other, it’s advisable to clean the unglazed ceramic toilet daily to discourage soap scum, bacteria, and germ build-ups. Prepare a washcloth or sponge to wipe your ceramic toilet after using it.

Avoid using an abrasive cleaner on a ceramic toilet to not cause damage. I recommend the Seventh Generation toilet bowl cleaner and Lysol Power toilet cleaner so you’ll have peace of mind when cleaning your toilet.

2. Aesthetics

The gloss and glaze of vitreous china help to bring out the sleek appearance of a toilet. But it doesn’t completely outshine ceramic toilets as some people are still fond of rustic and vintage decoration. Many also appreciate the elegance of ceramics.

3. Cost

There’s not much difference in the cost of these toilets. Price gaps can happen in some cases as it depends on the market.

Vitreous China: Does it Compromise Safety?

Is vitreous china toxic? This is a common question among people who worry about the adverse effects of the enamel coat. Even though the toilet is not china kitchenware that gets in contact with your food, you sit on it so your skin touches the surface.

Only highly decorated vitreous china has lead or metallic substance. It can be seen on classic china kitchenware but not on vitreous china toilets. So, it’s safe to say that toilets with enamel coating are not toxic.

Ceramic, Porcelain, and Vitreous China Used to Make a Glazed Toilet

Here is how these materials are used to make a glazed toilet.

1. Bottom Rung

The first step is mixing powder and clay with water and letting the mixture harden into ceramic. Then, it is pressed into the desired form like that of a toilet. Finally, it is placed in an oven or kiln at a high temperature for the firing process which makes it resistant to scratches and chipping.

2. Middle Rung

Porcelain is known as the hardest clay but it comes from ceramic. It also goes through the firing process, although the applied temperature is much higher. This enables results with a smooth finish that is less dense and porous.

3. Top Rung

Vitreous china also goes through heat as it’s a combination of liquid and powdered glass. It’s referred to as the enamel coating, which is applied to porcelain after its firing process.

This coating makes the porcelain more resilient, sanitary, and dense. The appearance is improved as the porcelain becomes shiny. There’s a Grade A vitreous china that has a higher tolerance level to impact.

The Final Words

It’s wise to understand the materials used in making a toilet as it simplifies your vitreous china vs ceramic toilet decision. You’ll easily differentiate the toilets that have a coating of vitreous china from ones with a ceramic and porcelain composition due to the glossy effect.

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