Porcelain and ceramic tiles are two commonly used materials in contemporary shower design. Although porcelain and ceramic may seem similar on the surface, there are significant differences in terms of water absorbability, cost, and durability. If you're struggling to decide between these tiles, no sweat, we've done all the research on the pros and cons of porcelain versus ceramic.
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Porcelain tiles are the preferred choice in showers for one reason: water resistance. Obviously, the shower is one area of your home that will frequently get damp. Although there are slip-resistant ceramic tiles on the market, they're always more porous than porcelain. For this reason, most homeowners feel more comfortable installing porcelain tiles in their shower.
Please keep reading as we delve into the distinctions between porcelain and ceramic. We'll discuss the durability of each material, installation techniques, and proper cleaning methods so you can make an informed decision to pick the best tile for your shower.
What Is The Best Tile To Use In A Shower?
Although porcelain is the preferred choice, that doesn't mean slip-resistant ceramic tiles are inappropriate for shower design. Indeed, since ceramic tiles are lighter than porcelain, they are easier to work with and available in the broader assortment of designs. Plus, ceramic tiles are usually more cost-effective than porcelain.
Let's take a quick look at the pros and cons of porcelain and ceramic tile:
- More durable than ceramic tiles.
- Chips and cracks are less noticeable.
- More expensive.
- Fewer style and color options.
- Heavier than ceramic.
- Impossible to cut at home without professional equipment.
- Wide variety of colors, styles, and finishes.
- Possible for skilled DIY'ers to cut and install at home.
- Slightly porous.
- Not all ceramic tiles are slip-resistant.
- Easy to chip or crack.
To help you choose between these tiles, let's first review the major distinctions between porcelain and ceramic. After you have a firm understanding of these materials, we'll explain how these tiles stack up in terms of longevity, cost, and ease of cleaning.
Are Porcelain And Ceramic Made From Different Materials?
Interestingly, both porcelain and ceramic are both made out of the same primary material: clay. The only difference between these two tiles is how they are manufactured.
Unlike ceramic, porcelain tiles must endure extremely high temperatures when fired in the kiln. The extra effort that goes into manufacturing porcelain gives it it's distinct durability and water resistance. Of course, the added expense of firing porcelain at such high temps also drives up the price tag.
How To Tell The Difference Between Porcelain And Ceramic Tile?
Since porcelain holds a high standard, you should see an official seal from the American Society for Testing and Materials on your product. Although this is the easiest way to distinguish porcelain from ceramic, there are a few other ways you could tell the difference between these materials.
For starters, you should look at the color on the side of the tiles. Porcelain tiles will usually have a uniform color throughout, while ceramic tiles will not. It's for this reason cracks on porcelain tiles are less noticeable than on ceramic tiles.
Another critical distinction between porcelain and ceramic is the weight. Porcelain tiles will always weigh more than ceramic tiles. You will also notice porcelain tiles aren't as flexible or as easy to cut versus ceramic.
If you're still having difficulty telling the difference between these tiles, then you should rub your hand across the tile's non-glazed exterior. Because porcelain tiles are made with finer-textured material, they often have a smoother texture than ceramic.
What's The Average Lifespan Of Porcelain Vs. Ceramic Tile?
With proper maintenance, both porcelain and ceramic tiles could last a lifetime. In fact, many interior designers now claim ceramic tiles could last as long as 75 years, provided homeowners occasionally seal the grout between tiles.
However, since porcelain is more durable than ceramic, it tends to have a longer lifespan. Over the years, it's easier to chip or scratch ceramic tiles, which might cause you to order replacement tiles at some point.
For your information, you can find many professional sealants online that are perfect for ceramic tiles.
What's The Average Cost For Porcelain Vs. Ceramic Tile?
In general, porcelain tiles are more expensive than ceramic tiles. According to a new report from HomeAdvisor, prices for porcelain tiles start at $3 per square foot and go up to $35 per square foot. By contrast, ceramic tiles start at $0.50 per square foot. Other estimates suggest you could pay as much as 60% more for porcelain tiles.
In the long run, however, porcelain may be a more cost-effective purchase. Remember that porcelain is more durable than ceramic, which means it usually has a longer lifespan. It's less likely you will need to replace your porcelain tiles in your lifetime.
What's Easier To Clean, Porcelain Or Ceramic Tile?
Since porcelain tiles are naturally resistant to moisture, they tend to be lower maintenance than ceramic tiles. It's unlikely any accidental spills will stain porcelain. Indeed, many homeowners prefer porcelain tiles in their kitchen for this very reason.
Porcelain's high resistance to staining should factor in if you have children or pets running around the house. It's easier to wipe away messes like mud or fur on porcelain versus ceramic tiles. There are many fantastic cleaners now available for both porcelain and ceramic tile surfaces.
By the way, if you'd like to learn all about cleaning bathroom tiles, be sure to check out "7 Bathroom Tiles Cleaning Hacks."
Installation Considerations For Porcelain Vs. Ceramic Tile
Now that you know the essential distinctions between porcelain and ceramic let's go over a few secondary considerations many consumers have. In these final sections, we'll explain whether you need to seal these tiles and whether you could add features like in-floor heating.
Do You Need To Seal Porcelain Tile In A Shower?
You don't have to seal porcelain or ceramic tiles in the shower, especially if they have a water-resistant finish. There are a few cases, however, when sealing your tiles might make sense. For instance, some people choose to seal tiles that have an unglazed finish. If you want more information on sealing porcelain and ceramic tiles, then you've got to check out this in-depth report, "Do Bathroom Tiles Need To Be Sealed?"
Is Glazed Tile Slippery When Wet?
Although some glazed ceramic tiles could get slippery when wet, there are slip-resistant materials on the market. Whatever you do, please avoid ceramic tiles labeled "high gloss" as these tend to cause the most safety issues when wet. Instead, always ensure your glazed tiles have a "slip-resistant" seal of approval.
Could Porcelain Or Ceramic Tile Have In-Floor Heating?
Ambient heating is all the rage in shower floor design, especially in states that experience chilly winters. Luckily for your toes, porcelain and ceramic tiles are the best materials for underfloor heating technology.
Although both of these materials are great heat conductors, most home experts prefer working with porcelain in the shower. The main reason has to do with porcelain's water resistance, which reduces the odds of a technical malfunction.
So, Which Tile Suits Your Shower's Style?
When it comes to shower tiles, porcelain is the preferred choice due to its superior durability and water resistance. This doesn't mean, however, that slip-resistant ceramic is not an option. Depending on your budget and aesthetic vision, ceramic tiles might be a brilliant choice for your bathroom.
If you have any specific questions about whether to buy porcelain or ceramic tiles, we encourage you to speak with a professional interior designer. You might also want to check out our previous post on bathroom color schemes to spark your imagination.