Ceramic Tile vs Bamboo Flooring

Ceramic Tile vs Bamboo Flooring

Let’s compare ceramic tile vs. bamboo flooring. Which is better? Both are popular options for your home. Here, we will look at the pros and cons of both ceramic tile and bamboo flooring.

Ceramic tile has stood the test of time as a prized building material for its durability, versatility, and beauty. It also comes in a wide range of options, from simple to luxurious. Tile costs more on average due to the sundries and extensive labor required.

Bamboo is an excellent choice if you want an eco-friendly hardwood floor with a DIY option and at a more affordable price.

Taking on any type of home remodeling project involves a lot of work, time, and money. You want to make sure you are getting the best return on your investment and a floor covering you will be happy with.

In this guide, we’ll explore:

Side-by-Side Comparison

 Ceramic TileBamboo Flooring
Construction & AppearanceGlazed clay fired until solid with designs printed on top. Available in geometric patterns or styles that mimic stone or wood. Attached to HDF or 5-ply core. Available in tile or plank. Prefinished or site-finish. High variation pattern and color.
DurabilityVery durable.Durable depending on type.
Waterproof?Yes.Water resistant, not waterproof.
Pet-Friendly?Yes.Some types.
Eco-Friendly?Yes.Yes.
CleaningWet mop ok.Damp mop ok, do not saturate.
RefinishingNo. Can be refinished if solid or is engineered with a thick veneer.
Installation TypeGlue and groutClick, float, glue.
Radiant HeatYes.Engineered Type Only.
Ease of DIY InstallProfessional installation recommendedClick and float is easiest for DIY. Other methods may require professional installation.
Cost$$-$$$. Costs more on average due to sundries, accessories, and labor.$$. A more affordable wood product option. Costs less or the same as a lower end engineered hardwood on average.
Flooring GuideTile Flooring GuideBamboo Flooring Guide

Construction and Appearance

Ceramic tile is a blend of natural clay and other materials. Then manufacturers fire it, like pottery, until it’s hard. They print it with a design then finish it with a durable glaze and fire it again.

Porcelain tile is still technically a “ceramic” tile, but with a few differences. The manufacturer uses different clays and fires it under extreme heat. This creates a more durable product that you can even install outdoors.

Ceramic tiles are a timeless classic finish that works well in any room of the home. They come in a wide array of shapes and sizes with designs that mimic natural stone and wood or feature distinctive geometric patterns.

You must install all ceramic tile with grout, but many people use this necessity to the advantage of their tile design. You can use grout that is a certain color to enhance the layout or blend seamlessly into the design. Grout is available in every color of the rainbow plus fun glitter as well as glow-in-the dark options.

People have prized bamboo for centuries as a sturdy and readily available natural building material. The wood-like grass grows quickly and people can harvest it frequently without harming the plant. They bond the grass with natural resins and form it under high pressure to create the bamboo product people use for flooring.

Bamboo floors are available in several plank types, including solid, engineered tongue and groove, engineered click-together, and solid click-together.

These floors feature a striated pattern that is unique to bamboo. Color options include natural, tiger-stripe, and carbonized as well as prefinished stain colors in browns, tans, reds, grays, and yellows.

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Durability

Ceramic tile is a wonderfully durable surface. It is hard, scratch- and gouge-resistant, and somewhat impact-resistant. It will not dent under heavy furniture but could crack if a heavy object is dropped on it. However, items such as glassware would shatter before the tile would crack.

The durability of a bamboo floor is dependent on the way the grass strands were oriented during manufacturing. A strand woven bamboo will be much harder than a horizontal or vertical bamboo. Strand woven bamboo is one of the harder wood floors available on the market.

Bamboo floors, even strand-woven, are more prone to scratches and dents. If you plan on installing it in a high-traffic area, consider choosing a hand-scraped or antiqued matte finish instead of a smooth glossy one. The texture can hide wear and minor scratches.

With these considerations in mind, we can safely say that ceramic tile is much more durable than bamboo.

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Waterproof

You can safely install ceramic tile in the all the wet areas of your home. The possibilities are endless for your bathrooms, laundry room, kitchen, and even the floor of that luxurious steam shower you’ve been coveting.

To keep your tile a waterproof surface, reseal your grout periodically or purchase a urethane type that doesn’t need sealing. When moisture gets into a tile installation, it can cause discoloration, mold issues, and water damage to other parts of the room.

Bamboo floors, on the other hand, are naturally water-resistant. However, bamboo is not waterproof and not recommended for areas with excessive moisture such as a bathroom.

Keep in mind that a leak from an ice maker, sink, or other appliance will not only damage your subfloor, it will also damage your flooring beyond repair. A full floor replacement is expensive, so it is important to understand this risk should you choose to install a non-waterproof floor in a wet area.

It’s always a great idea to buy a few extra cases of flooring to keep on hand for repairs. Flooring styles are discontinued frequently and there is no guarantee that you will be able to order a matching replacement in the future.

If a waterproof flooring is what you’re after, ceramic tile is the clear choice.

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Pet Friendly

Many pet owners choose hard surface flooring because it is easy to clean pet hair, dander, and the occasional accident.

Ceramic tile is an excellent choice for pet owners. Fluffy or Fido will have a hard time destroying your tile. It’s easy to clean, durable, and waterproof. However, try to avoid letting pet accidents sit for too long as urine can discolor the grout.

Bamboo floors are more prone to scratching and indentation from pet nails. Even though it’s moisture resistant, it can be badly damaged if your pet has an accident when you aren’t around to clean it up right away. If left to sit, urine can seep into the floor and continue to smell long after it’s been cleaned.

Ceramic tile is the more pet-friendly flooring option here. You may want to consider a color and texture that hides pet hair and dirt from muddy paws. It’s smart to avoid high-gloss finishes because it shows everything.

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Sustainability

Bamboo is unique in that it grows like wildfire. Companies can harvest this wood-like plant frequently without killing the plant or harming the rhizome root structure.

In the past, manufacturers used harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde in the manufacturing process. These days, they use natural resins and adhesives, but for some sensitive people, these too can be problematic.

Consider looking for a flooring that features the FloorScore and CARB-2 compliant logos. These agencies have strict guidelines for VOCs and can provide more information regarding the chemical content of the products.

It’s important to note that there is no such thing as a completely formaldehyde-free wood floor as trees naturally produce this compound and trace amounts are left even through the manufacturing process. These trace amounts are not known to cause any ill-effects in humans.

Ceramic tile is also a great sustainable option. properly installed tile can last a lifetime. This eliminates waste when you compare it to flooring options with a shorter lifespan.

Furthermore, many factories are now “closed loop” and use recycled materials, water, and green energy sources to power their machines.

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Cleaning

Many people choose hard surface floors because they are easy to clean. Ceramic tile and bamboo floors are no exception.

To remove dirt and debris, you can either use a hard floor vacuum, a microfiber sweeper, or a regular broom.

If you choose to use a vacuum, take care that debris does not become embedded in the wheels or stuck in the beater bar. This can scratch or gouge your floor.

Some people swear by tile steam mops for their ceramic tile floor, but only do so at your own risk. Hot steam can cause discoloration and efflorescence, or a white-ish film that occurs from minerals releasing from the tile and grout. This haze is nearly impossible to remove.

Avoid using products containing bleach on your tile as it can eat into the finish over time and strip away your grout’s sealant.

Instead, use pH-neutral cleaning products specifically for your type of floor. It’s good practice to test the product in a corner of the room or closet as some cleaners may damage the floor beyond repair.

Cleaning grout joints is too high-maintenance for some people. If you can’t stand the thought of being on your hands and knees scrubbing your tile, this may be a deal-breaker. Urethane grouts are lower-maintenance and easier to clean, but the joints can still trap dirt, leaving your floor lackluster.

With no grout joints, bamboo floors are simple to maintain. However, they are more scratch-prone. So, you may still find yourself on the floor filling in scratches with a furniture marker or almond stick.

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Ease of Installation and Repair

Ceramic tile installation is a time-consuming process with a lot of steps and many things that could go wrong. In addition, special tools and a wet saw are required that most homeowners don’t have sitting in their garage. For these reasons, many people leave this install to the professionals.

However, installing ceramic tile can be a fun challenge for the intrepid DIYer. Some people start with a small backsplash or entryway before trying to tackle a large floor project.

If you are looking for an easier DIY floor, bamboo may better for you.

A click-lock bamboo is a great option for a DIY install. You will not need special tools or adhesives, but you will need a saw that can make both horizontal and vertical cuts that will accommodate the length of the plank.

Tongue and groove engineered, and solid bamboo floors can be installed with nails, staples, or glue, depending on the manufacturer’s recommendations. This can be a more challenging installation and may best be left to professional installers.

You can refinish bamboo if you need to, if it is solid or engineered with a thick veneer. Note that refinishing will void manufacturer warranty if the floor was sold as prefinished product. Keep in mind that if you choose to refinish your floor, the finish will not be as durable as the one they applied in the factory.

On the other hand, you cannot refinish ceramic tile. You must replace it if it becomes damaged. You can remove and replace grout if you need to. However, you run the risk of damaging your tile in this time-consuming and expensive process.

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Radiant Heat

No one likes cold feet. Therefore, many people keep their carpeted floors when they really yearn for an easy-to-clean hard surface.

Sure, you could wear slippers and throw down area rugs. Better yet, install a radiant heating system under your new ceramic tile or engineered bamboo floor.

Not only is an under floor radiant heat system luxe, but it can be practical and even save on energy bills over time. It’s only heating the occupied area instead of running the furnace through the whole home. This savings can offset the initial cost of the system.

Radiant heating works well under ceramic tile. It can be purchased in easy-lay mats or a wire that gets embedded in the thin set.

Many engineered bamboo floors are also now rated for use with radiant heat systems.

Always check the manufacturer’s recommendations for acclimation and installation standards to make sure your floor’s warranty is still valid after installing over radiant heat.

Also keep in mind that your flooring installer will not be able to install the thermostat and connect the system to it. A licensed electrician must do this work. They will also assess your home’s wiring to make sure it can handle the radiant heat system.

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Cost

Perhaps the largest drawback of ceramic tile is the cost.

While you may find a great deal on a dollar-per-square-foot tile at your local big box store, the price doesn’t stop there. You will also need backerboard, thin-set, grout, trims, and other accessories.

Tile installation is labor-intensive and costly. Even if you choose to do it yourself, and you don’t have the tools, they are expensive.

Plus, you will not have access to your space for several days due to drying times of the adhesive and grout. Some people even opt to stay in a hotel if a contractor is installing tile in large areas of their home, further adding to the cost.

The average cost for bamboo flooring is variable. Price factors include: type, veneer and plank thickness, plank width, and finish.

For example, a budget-friendly bamboo is a click-lock type with a thin veneer. Whereas a more expensive bamboo may be a thick veneered tongue and groove, solid click, or solid tongue and groove.

However, bamboo is less expensive on average than other hardwood species. This is largely due to its status as a renewable resource.

Another cost factor to consider is installation. If you plan to hire a professional to install your floor, you can expect to pay less for a click-lock installation and more for direct glue, nail, staple, or glue float.

Both ceramic tile and bamboo floors may increase the value of your home as people consider them to be higher-end finishes.

Here, bamboo is the budget-friendly winner due to its low cost and DIY option.

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The Verdict

The differences between ceramic tile and bamboo flooring really comes down to durability, water resistance, pet-friendliness and cost. In other categories, they are very comparable.

If you want a distinctive hardwood look without the price tag that is also eco-friendly and has a DIY option, a bamboo floor is a great choice.

Ceramic tile might be a better option if you want to invest your hard-earned money in a floor that is pet-friendly, waterproof, looks luxurious, and will last a lifetime.

When we compare ceramic tile vs. bamboo flooring, there is not a clear winner. They are very different floors that each meet a different set of needs.

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Sarah Williamson

About Sarah Williamson

Sarah is a self-described “flooring nerd” with over a decade of building industry experience including installation, estimation, and sales. She thrives on finding unique solutions to interior design challenges and sharing her love of creating inspired spaces through writing.

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