When most people think of ceramic tiles, they think of those plain shiny square tiles in grandma's bathroom. But porcelain and ceramic tiles are so much more than that; they represent a broad
spectrum of color, texture, size, pattern, and styles!
Ceramic and porcelain products are clay products that are fired at different temperatures, glazed or not glazed, for different levels of durability and density. The resulting products are beautiful, durable tiles that can match any style and fit any space.
Porcelain and ceramic are made from the same basic clay material, but porcelains are fired at a higher temperature than ceramics, and as such become denser.
When tiles are tested for density, they are submerged in water for a period of time. Less porous materials (like porcelain, ceramic, glass, etc.) absorb less water (and fewer stains!) than other materials, such as natural stone. Porcelains are just harder, denser and slightly less-porous ceramics.
Learn more about the differences between porcelain and ceramic tiles in our blog.
Ceramics are limited in the areas they can be used. They're great for any wall application such as a shower or a backsplash (see below for notes on when apply a sealer to ceramics).
Most ceramics are fine for bathroom countertops, but are not recommended for kitchen counters where heavy pots and hot pans can cause breakage.
Floor-grade ceramics are designed for use in low-traffic areas such as bathroom floors, but they could easily chip or crack in entryways or on kitchen floors.
Ceramics are recommended for interior spaces only, with only a few exceptions: decorative ceramics have been used successfully on covered outside walls where they are protected from the elements. Ask us about specific materials you like and where you want to use them, and we'll tell you what precautions to take to protect your tile.
Anywhere! Porcelain tiles are among the most durable materials you can choose for floors, countertops, or walls.
Porcelains are especially desirable in areas where you want the look of a different material, but need a low maintenance installation. Many wood-looking porcelains are installed in high-traffic family rooms, hallways, and kitchens where real wood would be difficult to maintain.
However, in exterior spaces such as patios or outside kitchens, we recommend avoiding lower-end porcelains in favor of higher-quality, commercial-grade porcelains for extra density and less brittleness. These tiles will better resist the freeze/thaw of Pacific Northwest winters.
Porcelain is the most durable tile material you can use in your project. These tiles work great in wet areas, such as showers, and hold up beautifully in outside spaces. The vast majority of man-made products never have to be sealed, and cleaning them is very easy: almost any household cleaner can be used on porcelain and ceramic tiles.
They won't swell or warp with exposure to heat and water like wood floors. They're easier to clean than carpet and are harder to scratch than wood, laminate, or linoleum. They won't hold on to
allergens like carpet does and don't contain VOCs like some carpet, wood, or vinyl products.
Both porcelains and ceramics come in a wide variety of colors, textures, and patterns. Advances in porcelain production technology have led to High-Definition porcelain tiles that convincingly look and feel like natural stone, wood flooring, and even fabrics like linen and leather. Instead of an easily-scratched wood floor or a slate that needs sealing, consider installing a highly durable porcelain look-a-like.
Most porcelain tiles never need to be sealed. We recommend using a penetrating sealer on polished porcelain to fill in the micropores that are opened during the polishing process. Some unglazed porcelains are susceptible to staining; ask your tile retailer whether our not your particular tile needs sealing.
Seal your ceramic tiles if:
One of the best aspects of porcelain and ceramic tiles is the fact that they are so easy to clean!
Porcelains have very low porosity and are very durable; you can use any household cleaner on them. Some ceramics are more delicate: if you have a ceramic with a crackled glaze or a hand-crafted appearance, check with the manufacturer to see if there are cleaning limitations. Most ceramics, however, can be cleaned with any home cleaners.
If you are at all worried about damaging your tile, stone, or grout with a cleaning product, we recommend the AquaMix and Miracle lines of tile cleaners. These cleaners are specifically designed to protect tile and stone products while effectively degreasing, killing germs, and removing dirt.
Man-made tiles can cost anywhere from $1 per square foot to over $10 per square foot, depending upon the tile's durability, production quality, and appearance. Learn more in our blog post about the many factors that influence the cost of tile.
Whether you have a shower, fireplace, or countertop, you'll need some way to finish the edges of your installation so you're not looking at the ugly cut or unfinished edges. An edge trim also protects the edge of the tile; a square edge is more prone to chipping. The two most common ways to finish an installation is with bullnose tile or Schluter edge trim.
Bullnose tiles are made of the same material as the
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