Porcelain vs. Ceramic Tile: How Are They Different?

When you are planning a kitchen or bathroom remodel or are in the process of picking out flooring for a new home, there are so many options available it can be difficult to choose the perfect one. Tiles, both porcelain, and ceramic, are a growing trend when it comes to flooring but it is important to understand the differences between them before choosing the perfect one for your family’s needs.

What is Porcelain Tile?

Porcelain tile is created from refined clay and other natural elements. The tiles are kiln-fired and then either left in a natural state or transformed to look like stone, wood, concrete and other decorative options. They are extremely durable and you have the option of choosing glazed or unglazed tiles.

What is Ceramic Tile?

Ceramic tiles are kiln-fired at a lower temperature than porcelain so they are more porous. The clay used to create the tiles is also less refined making it much less expensive than porcelain. Tiles are available in a wide range of colors and styles.

Advantages of Porcelain Tile

Porcelain is harder and denser than ceramic tile. It also has a very low absorption rate so it is extremely resistant to water damage. This makes it an excellent choice for kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms as well as for outdoor use on patios. It withstands heavy traffic so you can use it in entryways and on countertops as well. Porcelain is very forgiving when it comes to spills and it is very hard to scratch. Once each month, use a vinegar and water solution or tile-friendly cleanser to clean the tile. If the tiles are glazed, use a mop but if they are unglazed use a soft-bristle brush.

Disadvantages of Porcelain Tile

Because it is very durable, the cost of porcelain is much higher in cost than other types of tile. In fact, the average cost of porcelain is 60 percent higher than the average cost of ceramic tile. It is also very difficult to cut, requiring a wet saw with a diamond blade. Professional installation is recommended due to the difficulty of cutting the tiles. Oils, waxes, abrasive scrubbers, bleach and ammonia can seriously damage porcelain tile so you must use caution when choosing cleaning products. Porcelain is much heavier than other types of flooring. If you want to install it on a second floor, you may need to reinforce the sub-base to be sure it is strong enough to support the extra weight.

Advantages of Ceramic Tile

The biggest advantage of ceramic tile over porcelain is the cost. Even elaborate ceramic tiles can be relatively inexpensive. Ceramic tile is also very easy to install as the tiles can be cut with a simple tile cutter. Ceramic tile gives your room a clean-line finish and tiles with a glazed finish can be customized in a wide range of colors or patterns. In areas where temperatures remain high most of the year, the coolness of ceramic tile can feel nice on the feet.

Disadvantages of Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tile is far less durable than ceramic and it is critical that any spills be wiped up quickly due to its high absorption rate. Ceramic tiles do not do well in areas exposed to high moisture such as showers or patios. Like porcelain tiles, ceramic is also heavy so extra support may be needed under your floors. You need to clean ceramic tiles at least once each week rather than once each month due to its porous surface. Although the coolness of the tile may feel nice when the weather is warm, in cold months it can be uncomfortable. If glazed tiles chip, the clay underneath will show. Because it is less durable, ceramic tile is not recommended for areas of high traffic. Ceramic tiles also take a bit more maintenance than porcelain tiles. Once each week, tile floors should be swept or vacuumed. Using a mild detergent and water, the floor should then be cleaned using a string mop, starting at one end and working down to the other. Once finished mopping, dry the floor with a soft towel or microfiber cloth.

If you are in the market for flooring for a home remodel or new build, contact us today to learn more about porcelain and ceramic tiles. Our helpful associates will help guide you through the entire process so you get the right flooring to meet your family’s needs.

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