Porcelain Vs. Ceramic Floor Tile: An Honest Review

Have you been asking yourself, “How will I know which floor tile is best for me?” or saying, “I can’t even tell the difference from what I’ve seen online.” You’re not alone! That is pretty common among people who are shopping for floor tiles. 

There are endless options for both porcelain tile and ceramic, so most homeowners go back and forth, and it can feel like a battle knowing what is best for you. Here at Flooring Solutions, we have been taking the guesswork out of our clients’ plates by sharing honest facts about both tiles. 

There are advantages and drawbacks to both porcelain and ceramic floor tile. The choice isn’t just about looks; it’s also about how it will perform with your family and lifestyle. After all, this is your home and your decision. We’ll deep dive into the specifics for you so you have a clear understanding of their differences, and how those will impact if they are or are not a good fit for you. You’ll be armed with the information you need to make your decision. 

What Is Porcelain Tile

Most Porcelain tiles are made up of a mixture of clay, sand, and natural stones. Once the tile is formed into the desired shape, it is then heated at an extremely high temperature and made into a solid. This gives porcelain tile a strong inner and outer consistency. 

Since it is strong and durable, porcelain tiles are commonly used in kitchens. There tends to be more foot traffic and potential impact in kitchens, like pots & pans falling, or even food and drink. It can be used in other places, like bathrooms, sunrooms, or in a dining/living space.

8x8 hexagon floor tile being installed

Top 3 Benefits of Using Porcelain Floor Tile:

  1. Durability & wear and tear:

Because of how porcelain is produced, it is built to be durable and strong. It usually lasts a great amount of time. If you need flooring that stands up to busy households with kids, pets, and heavy foot traffic, porcelain tile could be a good fit for you. Do you know you don’t want to replace your kitchen floors for at least a few years? Porcelain tile is made to last and could be a good choice.

  1. Readily available:

There is a huge demand for porcelain tiles in the industry. This means manufacturers are consistently working to produce it to keep up with the demand. Product shipping times can greatly affect a remodel! It can mean the difference between getting what you love and having to settle due to availability. Porcelain tile’s popularity has ensured there are shorter shipping and waiting times with many manufacturers.

  1. Large variety & options:

The demand for porcelain has grown beyond a tile look. Now there are wood-look, stone-look, and various other options available. Do you have wood-look flooring in other parts of your home? Maybe you want to try to match it with tile in a wet area. Porcelain tile could be a great match for you. It also can mimic marble and natural stone.

What Are The Disadvantages of using porcelain tile?

  1. Price

Porcelain can sometimes be about 20% pricier than ceramic tile. At Flooring Solutions, our average kitchen flooring remodels using porcelain tile cost anywhere from $4,000 to $6000. We’ll dive more into costs per square foot of both tiles, and average room sizes later in the article.

  1. Man-made to mimic stone and marble.

This means you may see a repeated pattern across certain tiles, as the patterns are manufactured onto the surface of the tile. This means if two tiles with a repeated pattern are installed side by side, it will not look as natural as what real stone and marble do. You want your patterns to flow and be spread out naturally. It will be slightly more noticeable after installation is complete if you do not. Above all, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for installation, or have a professional flooring company manage your installation.

porcelain tile in primary bathroom

What is Ceramic Floor Tile?

Ceramic tile floor is made up of a combination of ingredients, similar to porcelain tiles. The main components found in ceramic tiles are the clay, natural earth minerals, and water. These ingredients are mixed, pressed and glazed, and heated to form a solid tile. 

Ceramic makes a great choice if you want a simple, neutral look in a bathroom or other small wet areas. However, ceramic tile might not work well if you have large animals or heavy furniture that will rest on the tile for extended periods of time.

Top 3 Benefits of Using Ceramic Tile:

  1. Can be less expensive than porcelain tile.

    Because of the way ceramic tile is produced, the raw materials typically do not cost as much as porcelains.

  2. Ceramic tile usually weighs less than porcelain tiles.

    This can be an advantage purely from a labor standpoint. Whether you’re installing yourself, or you’ve hired a professional flooring company.

  3. Natural components used.

    The raw, natural components used to manufacture ceramic tile make it a very eco-friendly option.

What Are The Disadvantages of Using Ceramic Tile?

  1. Density

    Ceramic tiles are less dense than porcelain tiles. This could result in quicker/easier chipping and cracking

  2. Less variety

    Fewer options and variety are available. Manufacturers have decreased production of ceramic tiles over time.

What is the cost difference between porcelain and ceramic tile?

The average price range for porcelain tile is between $4-$7 per square foot. 

So, how much does it cost to get new tile in an average-sized kitchen? Most kitchens are between 200-500 square feet. We will use 500 square feet in this example, since math isn’t much fun, and this is easier for us all! For around 500 square feet of porcelain tile, it may cost you between $2,000-$3500 for the tile material. 

The average price range for ceramic tile is between $3-$5 per square foot. Remember that 500 square foot kitchen from above? If it was tiled in ceramic tile instead of porcelain tile, it may cost you between $1,500-$2,000 for the tile material. 

Manufacturers typically have a “good, better, best” approach for budgets. That means they try to have options available in all sorts of budgets. A typical Flooring Solutions customer spends, on average, $5 per square foot for floor tile material. 

Can Porcelain or Ceramic Tile Floor Be Installed Over Your Existing Floor?

Flooring Solutions does not recommend floor tiles be installed over any existing floor.

Tile installs and performs its best when it starts from the ground up. You can install tile directly over a wood or concrete subfloor. You can also consider installing a layer of hardibacker or concrete underlayment prior to the tile floor installation. Overall, this can be beneficial if your subfloor is uneven or imperfect.

installing tile over concrete subfloor

Why shouldn’t you install floor tile over existing flooring?

The biggest reason is the risk of the tiles not staying properly glued down to whatever flooring you install them over, such as a hardwood, laminate or vinyl plank. Another reason is it will likely add to the height of your flooring too much, making it an uneven transition between two floor coverings. This can be unsafe, as it’s a tripping hazard, and also just not look very pretty.

Though it is rare, the exception to that is if it is tile over existing tile – though we still recommend having a fresh subfloor. It is best to have a professional flooring company advise you if this is an option for your home.

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Porcelain Vs. Ceramic Tile Floor – Which One is Right For You?

With endless options for both, it can make it tough to decide whether porcelain or ceramic tile is right for you. Trying to figure it out on your own can make it even more difficult. How do you truly know which tile option is right for you?

After learning the price differences, and a few advantages/disadvantages for both, you may be feeling like you prefer one tile over the other. Or it could have left you a bit more unsure, and that’s okay too. No matter what stage you’re at for your project, we are here to help provide you with enough information to make your decision.

While you’ve been able to educate yourself online and see some options for porcelain and ceramic tiles, we highly recommend speaking to one of our flooring specialists in person or over the phone. You can get expert design advice and receive a detailed estimate for your project to help you with budgeting for it. A Flooring Solutions specialist can help you determine what tile is best for you! Schedule your free In-Home Consultation with a Flooring Solutions specialist today.

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