Porcelain VS Ceramic Tile, Which Is the Best for A Home Remodel?

Porcelain VS Ceramic Tile For A Home Remodel

Often we hear the terms ceramic tile and porcelain used interchangeably. The fact is, while they both fall under the heading of “tile” there are differences. Traditionally, porcelain usually refers to fine china. While porcelain is often delicate and translucent, porcelain, when used for floor tile, is a different composition, that is durable and timeless. While it might make sense to refer to ceramic and porcelain, (which are close cousins) interchangeably when referring to other materials like natural stone, quarry tile or glass tile, they are pretty different

Let's explore the differences between porcelain vs ceramic tile, and the best use of each material in your home remodel.

All About Porcelain Tile

The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has created standards for labeling porcelain and ceramic tile. Porcelain must have a water absorption capacity of .5%. To determine these fired tiles are weighed, then boiled in water for 5 hours and left to sit in water for an additional 24, then reweighed. If the tile weighs .5% or less than its original weight as a result of water absorption, it is then considered porcelain.

Porcelain is often extruded and has fewer impurities than ceramic. It is formed of quartz, clay, and feldspar that is then fired at temperatures ranging from 1200 – 1400 degrees celsius. The Porcelain Tile Certification Agency (PTCA) certifies tile as being porcelain. As of today, there are only 28 manufacturing facilities that have received porcelain certification.

Porcelain clays are denser and more durable than ceramic. Because they are impervious to water and durable enough to stand up to heavy use, they are excellent for use in wet areas like bathrooms and kitchens. If porcelain chips, the color runs through the tile making it suited to high traffic areas, unlike ceramic tile which when chipped can be a different color underneath and need replacement.

Today, manufacturing techniques have given us photorealistic porcelain tile that is almost indistinguishable from natural wood or stone. Because it is fired longer and higher temperatures and has a higher feldspar content, porcelain is much more durable than ceramic. Along with the wide variety of colors, sizes textures and patterns, porcelain is extremely popular with homeowners!

All About Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tile comes in a wide assortment of colors, styles, patterns, shapes, and sizes. Because ceramic is a less dense material than porcelain, it's also far easier to work with. It can be cut by hand, by a wet tile saw, or a snap tile cutter. Because porcelain is much more brittle, professional installation is always recommended.

Ceramic tile will always be a cheaper choice than porcelain. This makes it perfect if you have a limited budget. Ceramic tile is not water resistant, so if it is used in a wet environment like a kitchen or bathroom, it will need to be properly sealed. It also needed to be resealed regularly to keep it looking new.

Ceramic tile is also available with a wood or stone look as well as a huge variety of other colors, patterns, and styles. Ceramic and porcelain both excel at high traffic areas. Because it is budget friendly, it's possible to save considerable money when tiling vast areas like a family room or living room.

Porcelain vs. Ceramic Tile: 5 Home Remodeling Scenarios

Here are five home remodeling scenarios to consider. Let's look at porcelain vs ceramic tile to see which is the better choice under various conditions.

1. Your installing tile in an area prone to moisture.

Porcelain is impervious to water. If you're planning on tiling a wet area like a bathroom or kitchen, porcelain is durable, dense and waterproof. Porcelain is a perfect choice.

2. You're on a limited budget.

Ceramic tile is a no brainer. It's always cheaper than porcelain. As a general rule, it's difficult to find a quality certified porcelain tile for under $3 per foot. High-end porcelain can easily cost well over $5 per foot. There are hundreds of examples of ceramic tile that rarely costs more than $4 per foot and plenty in the $2 price range. Winner ceramic tile!

3. Your installing tile in a high traffic area.

This is a tough one. While porcelain is more durable, ceramic is also durable and in fact, more durable than other choices like hardwood, laminate or carpet. With proper maintenance, ceramic tile can provide years of service. The verdict? A toss-up, if you find a ceramic tile pattern you love, you're safe using it to tile a high traffic area!

4. You're doing a DIY project.

If quality and professional look matter to you, tile flooring is not something homeowners should tackle themselves. If you choose to install floor tile, ceramic is a much friendlier material to work with. Ceramic is easier to cut and doesn't require an investment in special cutting tools. According to the TCNA non-porcelain tiles are easier to affix to the floor. If your job requires intricate cuts, you should consider having a professional install your floor. Winner ceramic tile!

5. When Your remodeling your exterior patio floors.

Porcelain tile is a must for this application. New exterior porcelain tiles are available that are as durable as stone and because they are impervious to water they won't react to the weather. Ceramic tile can absorb water, and if you live in a climate that experiences freezing temperatures, they can crack. If you reside in a climate that experiences freezing temperature, ceramic should not be used. Match porcelain!

When it comes to making a choice between porcelain vs ceramic tile, both are excellent choices for your home remodeling project. Each has their use in your home improvement project. Both offer you plenty of options to match your style and will look great in your home. If you're unsure whether to go with porcelain or ceramic, talk to a designer at Toulmin Cabinetry and Design. The team at Toulmin can help direct you to the best choice to meet your needs.


About Toulmin Kitchen & Bath Design - We're West Alabama's award-winning, premier kitchen and bath showroom. We're experts who are known for a design-build process that makes the construction process stress-free. Contact us to schedule an appointment for a design consultation.