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Ceramic vs. Porcelain Tile Flooring

Author: Tanya Campbell
by Tanya Campbell
Posted: Jul 22, 2019
porcelain tiles

Flooring tiles are one of the very first elements that transform a new house or a room into a home. It also plays an important role in giving an old house a magical facelift. With changing times and trends, there are many types of tiles to consider. The variation is mostly dictated by the material. The material of the floor tiles determines its application, aesthetics, and overall usage. This, of course, affects the price.

If you are looking for the perfect tile flooring for your home, it is important that you first get an idea about the differences between various floor tiles. Ceramic and porcelain tile floorings being the two most popular options in construction and interior designing, we discuss here the difference between the two. Read the comparative study thoroughly to make a great buying decision.

Ceramic tiles are the most versatile of all flooring tiles. They suit any room type. Porcelain tiles, on the other hand, are perfect for outdoor use. They are durable and can withstand any weather. Many people use the terms ‘ceramic’ and ‘porcelain’ interchangeably; however porcelain is a specially treated ceramic in which finer particles are mixed with clays and fired at a higher temperature to create a hard glaze on the outer surface. The advantages and disadvantages of ceramic and porcelain floor tiles have been discussed here taking the following quality parameters into consideration:

1. Durability

2. Water absorption

3. Frost resistance

4. Slip/skid resistance

5. Dust/stain resistance

6. Colour permanence

7. Fire resistance

8. Hygiene issues

9. Chemical resistance

10. Design options

1. Durability

Ceramic tiles have a much longer life than many other tiles as they are made up of sand, clay and other natural products which are all fired in a kiln. They are tough and difficult to crack. Even if a tile cracks, you can replace it easily. A quality installation of ceramic tiles can last for decades.

Porcelain tiles are one of the toughest tile types available all over the world. They not only render a beautiful look to the room where there are installed but also remain the same top-quality year after year. Porcelain tiles are classified based on their Porcelain Enamel Institute (PEI) ratings. Tiles with PEI rating 5 are considered perfect for high-traffic spaces in commercial environments.

2. Water Absorption

Only glazed ceramic flooring tiles are water resistant. Ceramic by contrast is highly porous. It is the protective, hard outer glaze that prevents water from seeping inside. You can use glazed tiles in areas like bathrooms and kitchens where there is a lot of excess moisture. Non-glazed ceramic tiles are a strict no-no for cold climates. There is a chance where they may freeze and crack.

Porcelain tiles are made to prevent water and other liquid penetration. They are highly dense and effectively stops damp (if any) from rising up the masonry and spreading in a building. The water resistance property of porcelain tiles can be increased further by applying a melted glass glaze on it.

3. Frost Resistance

There is a direct relationship between water absorption and frost resistance. The less water a particular tile absorbs, the greater is its frost resistance.

Porcelain tiles do not allow any type of fluid to pass through it at all. They have a water absorption rate of less than 0.5%. They are recognized by international bodies for being frost-proof. Needless to say, porcelain tiles are more frost resistant than their ceramic counterparts.

4. Slip/Skid Resistance

Glazed ceramic tiles are more slippery compared to unglazed ceramic tiles. Being slip/skid resistant unglazed ceramic tiles are recommended for areas subjected to frequent water spills (bathrooms and laundry rooms) or heavy foot-traffic (walkways, living areas, etc.).

Due to their outer glazing, porcelain tiles can be slippery at times, especially when wet.

5. Stain & Dust Resistance

Ceramic tiles have a low stain resistance as they absorb moisture. Glazed ceramic flooring tiles, however, do not let stains stay on their smooth surface. They do not retain dust particles either. Plain water or a damp cloth is generally, all that you need to keep the tile flooring clean.

Porcelain tiles being moisture-resistant can easily prevent any stain. They don’t retain dust or dirt residue. You don’t need to worry about polishing or buffing a porcelain tile flooring to maintain its finish and shine. You can safely go for it for your kitchen, dining space, or mini bar. No alcohol or other liquid will be able to leave a mark on its surface.

6. Colour Permanence

The colours in ceramic tiles do not fade even if exposed to direct sunlight. Porcelain tiles are also colour resistant. Because of their tough nature, porcelain flooring tiles can be cleaned using harsh cleaning products; the paint doesn’t fade or chip easily.

7. Fire Resistance

Ceramic tiles are completely fire-proof. The surface does not change, nor does it give off any toxic gas, smoke, or fumes if the room around it inadvertently catches fire.

Porcelain can be heated to extreme temperatures, which means they are reasonably fireproof. Moreover, the material helps prevent the spread of flames in case of a fire breakout.

8. Hygiene issues

Both glazed ceramic and porcelain flooring tiles help maintain a healthy environment in the house. The fact that they do not absorb water or any liquid and prevents stains and dust from staying on the surface speaks for their hygienic quality. They also prevent damp from affecting the floor, reducing the chance of mould and mildew growth. However, the grout areas between the tiles are susceptible to carrying dirt and moisture.

9. Chemical Resistance

Ceramic tiles are highly resistant to chemicals. Porcelain tiles are ceramic tiles with 50% feldspar in them. Hence, their chemical characteristics are almost similar. Both are resistant to acids and alkaline liquids.

10. Design options

Countless design options are available in both ceramic and porcelain floor tiles. Thanks to advanced manufacturing techniques, ceramic tile producers are coming up with materials that can be printed in several ways. They can be printed to mimic the look of natural products like marble, granite, hardwood, bamboo, cork, or even steel. Or, they can be accented with custom motifs. Further, these flooring tiles can be cut and sized into various geometric shapes to best suit the room size and décor.

There are many other critical factors to consider when choosing between ceramic and porcelain floor tiles. You must take into consideration the tiles’ weight, material cost, installation cost, and grout maintenance before zeroing on your choice. Tile flooring is a long-term investment and is certainly an important one. So, research your options well before hitting the market for the right floor tiles for your home.

About the Author

I am a marketer, reader and re-searcher

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  • petergray  -  3 years ago

    Hello Tanya, Thank You for sharing this amazing information about flooring tile in this blog. There are some interesting facts about ceramic & porcelain tiles in the blog. We, J & L Tiles are also in the tile industry in Canada. You can check some fabulous tile designs on our website Jltile.ca

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Author: Tanya Campbell
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Tanya Campbell

Member since: Nov 23, 2016
Published articles: 27

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