In our decades spent as tile installers in Mississauga, Toronto and the GTA, we’ve been asked frequently about the differences between porcelain and ceramic tile. We’ve been asked which is better, which is more expensive, which is warmer. We’ve been asked which is more durable and which withstands water best. We’ve been asked dozens of questions about these two popular tile types, and today, we’re going to answer the most common.
Porcelain and Ceramic Tiles
First, let’s get a handle on what porcelain and ceramic tiles are. Both tile types are clay-based, and both have a smooth, clean look. Both are available in a wide-range of shapes, colours, patterns and finishes too, so they can enhance, complement and beautify just about any space.
However, there are important differences between these tile types, and ultimately, these differences will help you choose the right one for your project.
Let’s learn more.
What You Need to Know About Porcelain Tile
All porcelain is ceramic but not all ceramic is porcelain. Think of it like cola: all cola is soda but not all soda is cola.
Made from kaolinite (clay mineral) and other natural ingredients, porcelain tile is kiln-fired on high, and is, on the whole, the most durable kind of clay-based tile. In addition to being harder than other clay tiles, it’s also less porous, making it almost impenetrable by water and an excellent choice for bathrooms, laundry rooms, mudrooms and patios.
Porcelain is also easy to clean. Sweep your tile as needed, then, once a month, use a mix of three parts water and one part vinegar to mop. A cloth or soft mop is ideal if you have glazed porcelain, and a soft bristle brush is best if you have texture or unglazed tile. Finally, rinse with clean hot water and dry with a towel.
The main drawback of porcelain is that it is over 50% more expensive than other ceramic tiles and is difficult to cut, thanks to its density. If you are trying to cut porcelain on your own, you’ll require a wet saw with a diamond blade and an eye for precision. For this reason, porcelain can be a challenging DIY project and may be best left to professionals (unless you’re experienced).
If you have questions about installing porcelain tile, contact us. Our expert tile installers have helped hundreds of clients make better, more informed decisions about their flooring. You don’t have to be a client: our consultations are free.
However, even if your DIY skills aren’t up to porcelain standards, there’s another option.
What You Need to Know About Ceramic Tile
Ceramic tile is more affordable than porcelain, starting as low as $1/sq ft and going as high as $8/sq ft. Porcelain generally costs $2/sq ft more than ceramic.
Ceramic tile is also far easier to cut. A basic tile cutter will do the trick.
Made from clay, albeit a less refined clay, ceramic tile is kiln-fired at a lower temperature. This makes for tile that’s cooler and a welcome reprieve in the hotter months.
Ceramic tiles come with a glazed finish that offers protection and also, versatility in terms of colours and pattern.
The downsides of this flooring type are that, compared to porcelain, it has a high absorption rate. This means spills have to be soaked up immediately.
What’s more, the glaze can chip relatively easily. So, this combined with the porous nature of the tile means that it is not as good of an option for high-traffic, moisture prone areas like family bathrooms, kitchens, patios and mudrooms.
Also, while the cool tile underfoot may be welcome in the summer, it’s not so comfy in the winter months.
Another drawback for people who don’t like to clean: because ceramic tile is more absorbent, it needs to be cleaned once a week, not once a month. The good news is cleaning is easy. Just sweep up loose dirt and debris, then use hot water with a mild detergent to mop the space. When you’re done, towel dry the entire area.
Whichever type of tile you end of choosing, know that both tile types can add seamless beauty and style to your home. And remember, feel free to contact us if you have any questions. We offer free consultations and, as the premium tile installers in Mississauga, Toronto and the GTA, we’re always happy to help.