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Choosing Tile: Porcelain or Ceramic?

When it comes to decorating your home or business, tile flooring has many unique characteristics that can improve the visual appeal of any room. Using features such as color, patterns, and textures, ceramic and porcelain tile can be installed to make a room appear more spacious, glamorous, or even easier to clean. However, there are some key differences between ceramic and porcelain tile that can help you decide which type to use, and where. Here is some vital information you should take into account when considering installing ceramic or porcelain tile.

1. Traffic: First off, you should consider your desired location in the building and how much traffic that area is likely to get. Porcelain tile is much denser and heavier than ceramic tile, and can endure more punishment without showing as much wear. However, if the traffic will be lighter or have a medium flow, then ceramic tile can do the job all the same. In fact, some glazes offered for ceramic tile are slip- and abrasion-resistant, and have a special composition that reduces wear. The slip-resistant glaze is especially useful when you need to take children, the elderly or the disabled into consideration when remodeling your home.

2. Heat and Cold: Next, if you are planning to install tile either outdoors or in wet areas, you need to know which tiles are frost-proof and which are waterproof. For ceramic tile, there are specialty glazes that seal the tile body from frost or water. However, ceramic tile is porous and will absorb water through the grouting if a spill is not cleaned up right away, or if the grout was not sealed properly. Should the ceramic tile reach a moisture level of 3%, it has a high probability of freezing and causing frost damage if outside. Luckily, if you do plan on installing tile outdoors, porcelain tile is both frost and waterproof. Its absorption rating is less than 0.5% and proves to be the safest bet for backyards, bathrooms and outdoor patios. In the opposite direction, if you are looking for fireproof tile to use in barbecues or fireplaces, ceramic tile is your best bet, because it has already been fired once in the kiln when created and will not catch fire again.

3. Color: Once you have decided on location and purpose for the tile, you can start looking at color, patterns and composition. Ceramic tile gets its color and patterns from the glazes that are used and thus, have infinite possibilities to choose from. Porcelain tile, on the other hand, gets its color from the entirety of its clay-pressed body and is much more limiting in the styles and colors available. Also, since the ceramic tile’s glaze is fired into its body, the color cannot fade, but if the tile gets chipped it will show the white or red clay underneath. Since porcelain’s color is the same throughout, chips will not be as noticeable. Ceramic tile is offered in glazed and unglazed styles, while porcelain can be crafted as matte, glazed, or high polished.

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