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The Difference Between Ceramic and Porcelain Tile

When it comes time to choose flooring for your Florida new home construction or remodel, tile is the obvious best choice for our hot, humid climate. It effectively repels not just the humidity in the air, but any excess water and moisture that builds up in traditionally water-related rooms like the kitchen, laundry and bathroom. Tile is also an effective flooring for the rest of the house as well, easily repelling any spills, wet or dry. It’s also available in a myriad of colors and patterns to suit virtually every taste, including tile that looks stunningly like wood planking.

While homeowners enjoy the benefits of tile, there often remains the question of whether to install ceramic or porcelain. The clay material used to make ceramic tiles is the same used in the manufacture of porcelain tiles, says Do It Yourself. The difference is that it’s much more refined in porcelain. Porcelain tiles can also withstand higher temperatures than ceramic. Let’s examine what else separates the two, so you can make a more informed decision when it comes time to choose yours.

CERAMIC TILE Ceramic tile, maintains Joseph Lewitin for The Spruce, refers to the general group of manufactured hard tiles made from pressed and fired clay. There are several subcategories of tile, ranging from relatively soft and porous terra cotta to very hard porcelain tiles made from fine clays fired under very high temperatures. Its hardness and imperviousness to water make ceramic tile an ideal flooring material for the whole house, from kitchen to bedroom. The only exception would be upstairs due to the weight of the tile. Here you would just need to make sure proper support is in place for a heavier flooring. Ceramic floor tiles are more versatile in appearance, and can be fabricated using almost any color, design, pattern, or texture imaginable. Glazed ceramic flooring tiles have a hard protective top layer that makes them impermeable to water and most stains, giving them resistance to the high humidity we experience here in southwest Florida. This is the main reason why tile is the best bet when remodeling wet areas like bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms. They do, however, require sealing three to four times a year in order to maintain the structure and protect from wear and tear. While most ceramic floor tile is glazed, there are a few unglazed ceramic tiles, such as traditional Saltillo tile. These also must be sealed to protect their surface from liquids and stains.

PORCELAIN TILE Although ceramic tiles are highly recommended for interior floors, porcelain tiles are more preferable for heavy traffic spots such as hallways and kitchen floors, as well as for outdoor use, given that they are stronger than ceramic. Their added durability also makes them highly resistant against chipping and scratching. Additionally, porcelain does not require glazing and is virtually stain-resistant, claims SebringDesignBuild.

Another difference that sets porcelain apart from ceramic tile is its water absorption rate of less than one tenth of 1%, where ceramic has a rate that is typically greater than 3%. This is an important factor in your tile decision for outdoor use in your patio, lanai and walkways. Porcelain is the way to go for outside use. Should you desire the look of porcelain indoors and have allergies, you’ll be happy to know that it’s naturally resistant to allergens and bacteria, making porcelain a hygienic material to use indoors or out. From a design perspective, while ceramic tile offers the flexibility of holding paint to offer beautiful patterned options for a backsplash or wall design, today’s porcelain floor tiles can look convincingly like marble, hardwood, metal, even leather or cork. They are also easier to clean than ceramic using simply water and a mild detergent.

TILE MAINTENANCE Also, both kinds of tiles on occasion can chip from use over the years or possibly from something heavy that’s dropped. If this happens, its typically at the grout line, which could over time expand into a crack. Epoxy or colorants can be used to paint the chipped spots in ceramic tile to make them less noticeable, says Ceramic Tile and Stone Consultants, but in order to achieve complete perfection, you’re better off replacing the broken tile.

The Spruce shares that porcelain clays are denser and thus less porous than ceramic clays, thus making porcelain tile harder and more impervious to moisture than ceramic tile. Chip the ceramic tile and you find a different color underneath the top glaze. Chip the porcelain and the color continues all the way through. As a result, the chip is nearly invisible.

SEALING Finally, keep in mind that the grout in between the tiles is porous and will need sealing three to four times a year. With this comes the conundrum that the newer grout will be a different color depending on how long ago the floor tile had been laid. Over time, however, the new grout will eventually match the original work. With regular upkeep, all tile should last for many years of enjoyment in your Florida home.

If you have any questions or concerns about the tile install in your new home construction or remodel, J. Sweet Construction is here to help. With more than 20 years of experience in southwest Florida, we approach each project with honesty and integrity.

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