Ceramic and porcelain tiles are two of the most popular choices for homeowners to install in their bathrooms, kitchens, hallways and in other places throughout the home. However, even though they’re part of the same family, they’re two distinctly different products. The main difference between ceramic and porcelain tiles is the type of clay that is used to manufacture them, as well as their water absorption capabilities. Porcelain tiles absorb less that 0.5% of water they’re exposed to, while ceramic (along with other non-porcelain tiles) absorb over 0.5% water.
Whether you choose one or the other depends on what your expectations are for this material and the location where it will be installed. These are some of the pros and cons of porcelain tiles that may help you decide whether this material is a good fit for your needs.
Pros of Porcelain Tile
1. Water absorbency
Since porcelain tiles absorb less that 0.5 percent water, they’re ideal for installation in rooms with high moisture levels, such as bathrooms. Porcelain’s low absorption is due to its natural density which makes this material very hard for the water molecules to penetrate which in turn makes the tile nearly waterproof.
Bathrooms are an obvious choice for porcelain tiles, along with your kitchen’s wet zones around the sink, dishwasher and areas where you do most of the food prep and clean-up. Kitchens can benefit from porcelain flooring, along with laundry rooms and mudrooms or entryways as porcelain can withstand the moisture from rain, snow or a washer leak much better than other materials.
2. Strength and durability
Porcelain is a very dense material and as such has a long-term resistance to everyday wear-and-tear, scratching and scuffing. This is especially true for through-body porcelain which is a type of tile where the color of the tile goes from the top all the way through the entire body of the tile which makes is extremely scratch and damage resistant. Porcelain is a great flooring option for areas that get a lot of foot traffic such as hallways, the living room or the kitchen.
3. Outdoor Use
Porcelain’s density and impermeability to water make it especially fitting for use in outdoor settings, such as on your patio floor. This is especially true for areas that get a lot of rain, snow and are prone to freezing during the winter months. When tiles such as ceramic freeze the moisture they have absorbed expands which breaks the tile. Porcelain’s waterproof nature is a huge benefit for those who want to avoid the risk of cracks in their outdoor flooring.
Cons of Porcelain Tile
If you’re on a tight budget, then porcelain may not be the material for you. Even though not all porcelain tiles are expensive they are on average more costly than the alternatives, such as ceramic. Ceramic tiles can be found for under $2 per square foot and they rarely cost more than $4 per square foot. On the other hand, high-end quality porcelain tile easily surpasses $5 per square foot and it can be difficult to find a quality porcelain tile for under $3.
2. Not DIY Friendly
Porcelain’s density is a huge pro in some aspects; however it is not always a benefit. Porcelain tiles are especially difficult to cut and install than other materials which makes DIY jobs involving porcelain tricky. Trying to install porcelain tile by yourself especially for a project that requires extensive cutting is can quickly lead to sloppy, uneven cuts. It is also more difficult to fix to the floor than ceramic tiles which could lead to an uneven surface that will require the help of a professional to fix.