Ceramic vs Porcelain Tile Flooring

Ceramic vs Porcelain Tile Flooring

By Fortino Rosas / September 27, 2021 / 3 Comments

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    You’ve narrowed your new flooring selection down to tile, but you have one final decision left to make – which is the better choice between porcelain vs. ceramic tile? Both look similar on the store shelves or in pictures online. Even though these two flooring types look similar, there are major differences between the two.

    Since installing new flooring is a big job that comes at a large expense, you want to make sure that you purchase the right flooring the first time. No one wants to waste time and money on a floor that just doesn’t meet their standards. This is why we’ve done the research for you, comparing these two flooring types side-by-side so you can choose the right flooring for your home.

    In this article, we’ll compare porcelain and ceramic tile flooring across six different categories. We’ll explore features including durability, installation, and more. Read on to learn more about which flooring is the best choice for you.

    In this guide, we’ll explore:

    Side-by-Side Comparison

    Ceramic TilePorcelain Tile
    DurabilityExtremely durable. May crack with force. Extremely durable. More durable than ceramic tile.
    Good For Allergies?YesYes
    CleaningDaily cleaning with broom, dust mop, or vacuum cleaner for bare floors. Can be wet or steam mopped for deeper cleaning. Daily cleaning with broom, dust mop, or vacuum cleaner for bare floors. Can use a mop or soft bristled brush with vinegar and water or other mild cleaning product.
    Outdoor UseMay be damaged by excess water or cold temperaturesYes
    Self-InstallationSpecial tools required but easy enough for most homeownersSpecial tools required. May be difficult to cut
    Price$1 to $30 per square foot$3 to $35 per square foot
    Installation Costs$4 to $8 per square foot$6 to $10 per square foot
    Lifespan75 to 100+ years60 to 100+ years
    Water ResistantYesYes


    Ceramic and porcelain tile are both made of clay and other natural materials, then fired in a kiln. Despite these similarities, there are a few differences in how they are created that affect durability.

    Clay that is purer and more refined is used to make porcelain tile. When it’s fired in a kiln, porcelain is fired under greater pressure and at a higher temperature. Because of this process, porcelain is much denser and harder than ceramic.

    When selecting porcelain tile, it’s important to note that this flooring is graded by the Porcelain Enamel Institute. This is a measurement of the durability of the tile.

    Grade I tile can’t be used on floors and is made for use on walls. It is the least durable and would crack if used as flooring or on countertops. Grade II is slightly more durable, but it is made for light traffic and not recommended for homes with children and pets.

    Grade III porcelain flooring is more durable and usually sufficient for most applications. It can withstand moderate traffic in areas such as kitchens and hallways.

    Grade IV porcelain tile is a commercial-grade tile that people can also use in homes. This tile is best for high-traffic areas because it is strong and durable, but this tile has limits in its colors and finishes.

    Contractors do not use Grade V tile in homes. They use Grade IV tile for high-traffic commercial and industrial buildings.

    Because it is so dense and hard, a high-quality porcelain tile is the more durable flooring type when you compare it to ceramic tile.

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    Outdoor Use

    Most homeowners shop for tile to use inside of their homes in rooms including bathrooms, kitchens, and entryways. Other homeowners want to decorate patio and outdoor areas using tile. Will ceramic and porcelain tile hold up to outdoor conditions?

    In some climates, you can use a high-quality ceramic tile outdoors. However, if the tile is exposed to water or extremely low temperatures, it may crack. It’s best to use ceramic tile in milder climates and in areas that are covered and not exposed to the elements.

    Porcelain tile does not absorb water, and a high-grade tile is extremely strong and durable, withstanding even sub-zero temperatures.

    Because you can use it for almost any outdoor application, porcelain tile comes out on top in this category.

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    When you make the choice to update your flooring, you may opt to tackle the project yourself. This is a good idea if you are on a budget and want to save money, as professional installation can cost thousands of dollars. If you opt to do-it-yourself, which flooring is easiest to install: ceramic or porcelain tile?

    Ceramic tile is fairly easy to install, even if you have no experience with flooring. The process includes prepping the subfloor, applying mortar to adhere the tile, cutting with a wet tile saw as needed, installing spacers between each tile, and applying grout.

    Even though the job is fairly easy, it’s important to have the right tools and materials on-hand so that the job goes smoothly. A tile saw is the most important, since using other saws or tools to cut ceramic tile can crack or chip the flooring.

    Installing porcelain tile is a bit different and more difficult. When cutting porcelain tile, you use a wet saw but you will need a diamond blade specifically for cutting porcelain. To properly adhere tiles, you should use a latex-modified thinset mortar.

    It’s possible to install both types of tile yourself, but for an easier install, purchase ceramic tile.

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    Unless you have millions of dollars sitting in the bank, the price of your new flooring is always a consideration. If you’re on a tight flooring budget, is ceramic tile or porcelain more affordable?

    Before getting into the specifics on pricing, it’s very important to note that all tile – whether ceramic or porcelain – is available in a wide range of prices. Where you live, the brand you select, the quality of the tile, sizing, and other factors contribute to the price of flooring.

    With that in mind, ceramic tile costs anywhere from less than one dollar to $30 per square foot. The price varies based on the design, quality, size, and brand that you select.

    For example, a high-end, extremely durable, brand name tile in a size larger than 12-inches by 12-inches will be much more expensive than a lower quality, smaller tile in a basic color.

    Porcelain tile is slightly more expensive than ceramic. You should expect to pay between $3 and $35 per square foot for this flooring. Like ceramic tile, the size, color, quality, and brand will influence the price.

    Even though pricing is similar, ceramic tile is often the more affordable option for the budget-minded consumer.

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    Cleaning & Maintenance

    If your busy lifestyle leaves you little time to clean and maintain your floors, you want to select a flooring that doesn’t require special care. When it comes to cleaning and maintenance, which is the better choice between ceramic and porcelain tile?

    For daily cleaning, you can sweep or vacuum ceramic tile with a vacuum cleaner specifically for use on bare floors (a hardwood vac would work, as well). For deeper tile cleaning, use a mild cleaner or detergent mixed with water on a tile mop or cloth to clean up any large messes. When you finish, dry the floor with a microfiber cloth to keep it looking its best.

    For daily cleaning, you can sweep or vacuum all porcelain tile using a vacuum cleaner specifically for use on bare flooring. For all tile, make sure to purchase a vacuum specifically for bare floors to prevent scratching or cracking the floor.

    When it comes to deeper cleaning, you need to first consider the type of porcelain tile you have. You can clean most porcelain floors using vinegar and water. If you have glazed tile (wood-look tile, or otherwise), a mop is fine, but if your tile is unglazed or textured, you should use a soft-bristled brush.

    When cleaning porcelain, avoid the use of wax, oil-based cleaners, or abrasive cleaners or brushes. After you have applied the cleaner to your floor, rinse with hot water and dry with a microfiber cloth.

    Although both floors are fairly easy to clean and maintain, ceramic is the easiest when it comes to upkeep.

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    Stain Resistance

    You want to move away from carpets and to a bare floor option because you no longer want to worry about stains that ruin the appearance of your floors. With ceramic and porcelain tile, are stains a concern?

    Ceramic tile is more porous than porcelain tile, so stains may occur. If this is a concern, you should avoid putting ceramic tile in areas where there is heavy traffic or where spills are more likely to occur, such as kitchens or outdoor patios.

    Porcelain tile is less absorbent and porous, so it is more resistant to stains. You can use porcelain tile in almost any area without worrying about stains.

    If you want a floor that is very resistant to stains, the best option is to choose a high-quality porcelain tile. However, it’s also important to remember that proper care and regular cleaning of all flooring is a must in order to fend off stains.

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    What is better: ceramic or porcelain tile?

    Which one is better depends on your budget and needs. Ceramic tiles are durable, but less durable than porcelain. They’re easy to clean and are more affordable than porcelain, but aren’t ideal for outdoor use.
    On the other hand, porcelain tiles are suitable for outdoor use, but are more expensive and more difficult to install without professional knowledge.

    Which is more expensive: ceramic or porcelain tile?

    Porcelain tile is more expensive than ceramic tile. If you’re trying to decide between the two, though, many other factors will also influence your decision, including the size, quality, and design.
    In general, ceramic tile can cost between $1 and $30 per square foot. Porcelain tile is slightly more expensive, with average prices that start at around $3 and go up to $35.

    What are the advantages of ceramic tiles?

    Ceramic tiles are a durable flooring type that’s available in many colors, prints, and sizes. These tiles are low-maintenance, resistant to water damage, and are a great option for homeowners who suffer from allergies.
    Ceramic tiles are more affordable than porcelain tiles and can be installed by homeowners, although they require special tools.

    What are the advantages of porcelain tile?

    One of the most significant advantages of these tiles is their durability. Porcelain tiles can last for decades,  and are highly resistant to damage, scratches, dents, stains, and moisture. In addition, this flooring type comes in many sizes, colors, styles.
    Porcelain tiles can be installed outdoors, won’t fade, and won’t break when exposed to pressure or heavy weight. Another huge advantage is that these tiles are easy to clean.

    How long do porcelain tiles last?

    Porcelain tiles are incredibly durable. If you decide to install them in your home, you can expect them to last between 60 and 100 years. Although they’re a big initial investment, these tiles will serve you for years. You just have to remember to maintain and care for them properly.
    Another thing to know is that not all porcelain tiles are the same, and higher-quality ones with a higher grade will be more durable.

    Is porcelain harder than ceramic?

    Yes, porcelain is harder than ceramic. Although both tile types are made using clay, the process is slightly different. Porcelain tiles use much purer clay, which makes them harder and more durable. Also, these tiles are produced using more pressure which creates a denser material.
    The temperature used during the production of porcelain is higher also, which is another factor that contributes to a higher hardness.

    What is the average cost to install porcelain tile?

    The average installation cost for porcelain tile is between $6 and $10, depending on your location, room size, type of tile, the difficulty of the job, etc. Generally, these tiles are more difficult to install than ceramic tiles; therefore, your best bet is a professional.
    For the installation, you’ll need not only a lot of knowledge but also special tools such as a wet saw.

    Final Verdict

    When it comes to bare flooring, both ceramic and porcelain tile are extremely durable. With proper installation and care throughout the years, both types of flooring can add beauty to your home for many years to come. Both flooring types come in a variety of styles, colors, and sizes, so it’s easy to find the right match for your interior.

    If you want flooring that is budget-friendly, easy to install, and extremely simple to clean and maintain, choose ceramic tile. Remember, though, that cheaper isn’t always better. Consider the overall quality before purchasing ceramic tile based on price to ensure you get a durable product.

    If you’re looking for extremely durable flooring that is resistant to stains and that you can use anywhere – including outdoor areas – you can’t go wrong with porcelain tile. This flooring may be more expensive and more difficult to install, but the quality and durability is truly unmatched.

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    About Fortino Rosas

    Chief Floor Critic, 32 years of experience in flooring installation and sales

    Fortino Rosas is an independent flooring contractor with 32 years of experience in residential and commercial flooring installation and sales. He joined the Floor Critics team to share his expertise with our readers. Fortino has acquired vast knowledge and skills in the areas of product selection, space planning, and installation. He has installed flooring in residential, government, and commercial office projects in the Midwest. Visit Website.

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    3 thoughts on “Ceramic vs Porcelain Tile Flooring”

    1. I am looking for a stone look for an outside porch that will be in direct sun and rain so non slip in a rectangle shape Like travertine.

    2. I’m looking for info on return on investment for wood-look porcelain tile. How does this product affect sale of the home? I know hardwood has best ROI, but what about porcelain tile?

    3. Tyler Johnson

      That’s good to know that porcelain tiles are good for outdoor use. I am thinking about putting a tile floor on my patio and I would want tiles that could hold up outside. If I end up doing it I’ll have to make sure that I go with porcelain tiles.

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