One of the most common questions asked when planning for a large tile job is what kind of tile should be used – porcelain vs. ceramic tile?
These days, advancements in tile manufacturing and tile glaze techniques have brought about so many design choices, that to the average eye, the two are not all that different.
In fact, both types of tiles, if glazed, have almost identical characteristics with regards to durability. It’s only when you are agonizing over seemingly identical tile samples in Sacramento, that it’s nice to know a little bit about what’s underneath so you can make an informed decision.
Porcelain Vs. Ceramic Tile Compared
|Price||Generally costs ~60% more|
|How it’s made||Made of refined clay, minerals and water
Fired in a kiln at higher temperatures
Can be glazed or unglazed
|Pros||Harder, denser, less porous, harder to stain, less likely to crack, better at cold temperatures, requires less frequent and easier cleaning|
|Cons||Can be harder to cut (wet saw with a diamond blade) and install|
|Water absorption||0.5% of water|
|Great for||Commercial and home – High traffic areas, high moisture areas, and outdoors|
|Applications||Kitchens, flooring, walls, bathrooms, laundry, patios, countertops|
|Price||$.50 – $50+/square foot|
|How it’s made||Made of clay, sand and feldspar
Fired in a kiln at lower temperatures (1,800-2,000°F)
Can be glazed or unglazed
|Pros||Can be easier to cut (simple tile cutter) and install, flooring stays cooler in warm climates|
|Cons||Softer, porous, susceptible to stain, requires frequent deep cleaning|
|Water absorption||0.5%-3% of water|
|Great for||Commercial and home – low-traffic areas, low-moisture areas, warmer climates|
|Applications||Kitchens, flooring, walls, high-end custom designs of interior spaces|
As a general rule porcelain tends to run a little higher in price than its ceramic counterpart, but it may not always be the case depending on the durability rating and design. Porcelain also has the reputation for being nearly impermeable and does not chip as easily. Cleaning and maintenance is also fairly easy, but again that all depends on whether or not the tile is glazed. Overall, porcelain is the material you would go to for high-traffic, high-moisture spaces both indoors and outdoors – kitchens, patios, showers, lobbies, hallways, and baths.
Though porcelain tile can be more expensive, the savings can be realized through less maintenance. Porcelain tile also doesn’t require special cleansers, a vinegar and water solution will most always do the trick.
On the other hand, ceramic tile can be a little less expensive to install because it tends to be easier to cut. However, because ceramic tiles are more porous, they are recommended for lower traffic areas and walls because they are more prone to staining and chipping. The porous nature of ceramic tiles can make them more susceptible to absorbing moisture and may cause cracking in colder climates.
Maintenance and upkeep of ceramic tiles can also be a little more work. Ceramic tiles typically require more frequent, deeper cleaning.
Key Factors in Tile Selection
When choosing tile for a job, be it a kitchen, bath, or even an outdoor patio space, the following should be taken into consideration:
- Proper installation
No matter what material you choose, the end result is only as good as the skill level of your installer. Tile installation is a highly technical skill. The best installers are not only skilled at their craft, but also have an eye for design to ensure that every piece is laid with consideration of the bigger picture.
- Check the ratings
Whatever you choose, most tiles come with durability and weight ratings for both floor and wall applications. Be sure to check what your selected tile is rated for to ensure the product is best suited for your specific needs.
- Maintenance and upkeep
If properly maintained, with frequent cleaning with the recommended cleanser for your specific tile, and in some cases, annual sealing, tile can last a lifetime in a home or business.
The cost can vary widely depending on the total project surface area, type of tile selected, and the complexity of the design. Planning a tile job is the perfect balance of all three.
Porcelain Vs. Ceramic Tile: You Make the Call
When it comes to porcelain vs. ceramic tile, there really is no magic answer – one is not indisputably better than the other.
Like most construction projects, the answer sometimes comes down to personal preference, and sometimes what someone likes is the only factor that matters. Who loves a beautiful arrangement of tile that’s been installed poorly or is damaged? No one.
While price, durability, ease of install, and overall use, are the pillars of any construction material choice in our minds, professional installation of whichever tile you choose should always be considered. Working closely with a tile installation team can ensure you make the right choice for your project.
In most cases, no matter what material you choose, if it’s installed by an expert tile pro, and maintained over time, just about any tile material will work.
Brooks Tile has over 40 years of experience in both commercial and residential tile installation. We work with both porcelain and ceramic tile, and are eager to collaborate with you on your Sacramento tile installation. Contact us for more information on our expert installation services and to schedule a consultation for your next project.