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Which is Better: Ceramic or Porcelain Tile?

Whether you’re remodeling a bathroom, renovating a kitchen, or installing new flooring, if you’re embarking on a project that involves tile work, you’ll find no shortage of options to choose from. Of the myriad of tiles, ceramic and porcelain are two of the most popular types. People regard both tile flooring materials as highly durable, extremely versatile, and aesthetically pleasing. So, which is better: ceramic or porcelain tile?

Which is Better: Ceramic or Porcelain Tile?

Below, we’ll take a closer look at both options, compare the pros and cons of each, and help you make the right decision for your next tiling project.

Ceramic vs Porcelain Tile: Composition and Manufacturing Process

Ceramic

Ceramic tiles are comprised of a blend of sand, clay, and other minerals. The combination of materials is molded and then kiln-fired to harden them into a solid, cohesive piece. Due to the composition of materials, ceramic tiles tend to be porous. They are best used for indoor applications. Ceramic tiles are available in different finishes, such as glazed and unglazed, creating varying appearances and textures.

Porcelain

Porcelain tiles are also clay-based and are fired in a kiln; however, a much finer clay is used, and the tiles are fired at a much higher temperature. This results in a denser, less porous tile, which makes porcelain tiles less porous, more durable, and water-resistant. As such, they are suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, as well as high-traffic areas. They are also available in unglazed porcelain however they have a rustic and earthy appearance.

Ceramic vs Porcelain Tile: Durability and Resistance

Ceramic

While ceramic tiles are durable and can resist wear and tear, because they are more porous than porcelain tiles, they are more prone to moisture absorption. As such, ceramic tiles are not suitable for use in areas that are exposed to water, such as kitchens, bathrooms, and entryways. In dry locations, however, ceramic tiles are a more cost-effective option.

Porcelain

Since they are less porous, porcelain tiles are extremely durable and are very resistant to moisture absorption. As such, they are a great choice in areas where water will be present, such as bathroom flooring, laundry rooms, kitchens, entryways, and even patios and walkways.

Ceramic vs Porcelain Tile: Design and Style Choices

Ceramic

In terms of design, ceramic tiles offer seemingly endless options. They are available in a wide assortment of colors, textures, and patterns, so they’re highly versatile. You shouldn’t have any trouble finding ceramic floor tile that will suit your taste and style.

Porcelain

Though more limited in terms of design and style options, there are still a lot of different ceramic tiles to choose from. There are many colors and patterns available. They can be made to look like natural stone and wood because of improved manufacturing techniques. Porcelain tiles tend to offer a more refined and finished look than ceramic tiles.

Ceramic vs Porcelain Tile: Maintenance and Longevity

Ceramic

Ceramic tiles are pretty easy to maintain. They should be cleaned regularly; mild soap and water are usually all that is needed to keep these tiles looking their best. With that said, however, it is important to note that due to their porous nature, ceramic tiles are more prone to staining and wear and tear. For this reason, maintaining these types of ceramic tiles is more labor-intensive than maintaining porcelain tiles.

Porcelain

Because they are less porous, more dense, more durable, and moisture-resistant, porcelain tiles require less maintenance than ceramic tiles. They are less likely to scratch, chip, or stain; additionally, they tend to last longer than ceramic tiles. With proper care, both options can withstand the test of time; however, in general, porcelain tiles have a leg-up over ceramic, as they are more durable.

Ceramic vs Porcelain Tile: Cost and Installation

Ceramic

Because they are less dense than porcelain, ceramic tiles are more affordable. Ceramic tiles are relatively easy to install; however, they are a bit more delicate. It is possible they could chip or become otherwise damaged during the installation process. Extra caution must be used when using a tile cutter for a snug installation.

Additional Information: How Much Does Ceramic Tile Installation Cost?

Porcelain

The composition of porcelain tiles makes them the more expensive of the two options. That said, however, because they are more durable, they are less prone to damage during the installation process. Additionally, because they are more durable, they tend to be a better long-term investment.

Porcelain vs Ceramic Tile: Which Option Should You Choose?

Both ceramic and porcelain tiles offer a wide range of benefits. When choosing tiles, consider their placement, desired style, ease of cleaning, and cost. Whether you opt for ceramic or porcelain, there’s no doubt you can create beautiful surfaces with both types of tile.

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