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When it comes time to make a tile decision, many homeowners are torn between two of the most popular options on the market: porcelain versus ceramic? Hmmm, what’s it gonna be? Well, we are here to help you make the best possible choice for your home. But before we pit these tile options against each other, we should note that porcelain and ceramic—both clay-based—are among the most popular tiles for a reason. They are attractive versatile options, whether you’re considering tile for a wall, floor, or countertop. Your home will benefit from either choice. But there are clear pros and cons. What are they? Well, let’s find out.
The key differences between porcelain and ceramic stem from the different ways the tiles are manufactured. Porcelain is composed of more refined clay and is kiln-fired at a higher temperature than ceramic. That makes porcelain considerably harder. Harder tile is difficult to cut, but its increased hardness also means porcelain lasts longer than ceramic.
Porcelain also has an edge on ceramic when it comes to porousness. Its extremely low water-absorption rate makes porcelain an especially great option for bathrooms, patios, and other areas of the home—inside and out—where the tile is going to regularly get wet. These qualities also mean porcelain is less susceptible to staining than ceramic. The hardness and low-absorption rates also mean porcelain doesn’t need to be cleaned as often, either.
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At this point, it might sound like porcelain is the clear choice over ceramic. After all, it’s more durable and holds up better to routine dousing. You might be wondering whether there’s a single reason to choose ceramic instead. Well, we can give you two: As noted above, porcelain’s hardness makes it more of a challenge for your run-of-the-mill do-it-yourselfer to cut. And it probably won’t shock you to learn that porcelain also comes with a higher price tag.
Porcelain’s increased difficulty to work with also deters many otherwise eager do-it-yourselfers from handling the installation. The deterred, instead, turn to professional tile installers, thereby adding an additional cost to their already more expensive porcelain decision. Of course, lots of homeowners do choose to lay porcelain themselves. An amateur can, indeed, handle the work, but, without the proper tools, diving into a porcelain job can lead to a prolonged headache. You may have heard that you absolutely need a wet saw to cut porcelain. And while that’s not entirely true, it’s certainly the case that a wet saw is the most efficient option, especially for larger jobs.
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Does your typical do-it-yourselfers have a wet saw at the ready? They do not. They are more likely, however, to have the basic tile tools required for ceramic installation. At the very least, your average do-it-yourselfer is unlikely to be turned off at the expense of acquiring the tools needed for ceramic work.
The choice between porcelain and ceramic boils down to some basic pros and cons that homeowners need to weigh. Ceramic costs quite a bit less and is relatively easy for do-it-yourselfers to lay. Porcelain is more durable and better suited to bathrooms and other areas of the home that regularly experience moisture. But porcelain also costs more and isn’t nearly as easy to work with—an issue that pushes many people to hire professionals. Ultimately, it comes down to what’s right for you and your home.
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