The 3 Best and Most Popular Types of Ceramic

There are more types of ceramic than you might expect. People have been making pottery for thousands of years. Even today, we are still uncovering fragments of ancient bowls and vases from Greece, Italy, and other areas of the world. The art of pottery has remained relatively unchanged after all these years.

But what are the three main types of ceramic anyway? What makes them so different? Read on and discover your answers below.

Types of Ceramic: Earthenware

Earthenware is one of the oldest types of ceramic in the entire history of pottery. Many ancient forms of pottery are earthenware. In particular, earthenware types of ceramics were formed into large vases known as amphorae. People in ancient Greece and the Roman Empire used these vessels to bring wine and olive oil to great distances.

The main downside of earthenware is that it is porous and such vessels started to become rancid after repeated use. Some potters solved this problem by coating the exterior and interior of an earthenware vessel with glaze, making it resistant to liquids. Earthenware is unique because it doesn’t need to be baked at a very high temperature, usually around 1,200° F.

Types of ceramic

The downside of heating pottery at such a low temperature makes the pottery more vulnerable to scratches and other types of damage. Some types of earthenware you can still find today involve terracotta roof tiles and bricks for buildings and walls. You can even make your own earthenware pottery by using earthenware pottery clay.


Stoneware is another very old type of pottery. The main downside to this type of pottery is that it takes a long time to make. The firing process alone takes quite a long time and the kiln or oven involved needs to reach very high temperatures, often around 2,000° to 2,400° F. These high temperatures accomplish something unique: it turns the exterior of the stoneware pottery into glass.

This makes the glazes on stoneware pottery very shiny. The great thing about stoneware is that it is not porous, unlike natural earthenware pottery. It is also very dense and strong compared to earthenware and it is even safe for the microwave or dishwasher.

You can find stoneware ceramics not only in the world of pottery but also used for pipes, sinks, and bathtubs.


Porcelain is a relatively new type of ceramic compared to the other two types already discussed. It originated in China but only made its way into the Western world in the 1700s. Porcelain is unique because it is unusually strong.

Its strength comes from its high firing temperature which is usually around 2,600° F. You might be wondering if there is any real difference between porcelain and stoneware. After all, they are both very durable and they are both baked at high temperatures. However, porcelain is different because it is only made from white clay.

Some materials other than clay may be occasionally used to make porcelain, but the goal is to make sure that the resulting ceramic is white. Although porcelain is very strong, potters have figured out how to craft it into very delicate forms. In fact, with enough skill, you can form more intricate shapes and forms with porcelain compared to stoneware or earthenware.

In museums, you may come across many old porcelain pottery figurines with fine details such as flowing hair, delicate fingers, and so on. Now that you know the three main types of ceramic, you can better identify them when you happen to encounter them and you might even have the chance to craft some of your own.

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