Innovation is a term we hear often these days. Technological and non-technological innovations are interconnected and are even seen in the area of tile flooring. Tile has been produced for hundreds of years and was typically only seen on important buildings or the homes of the wealthy. However, today’s tile has been revolutionized by many innovations in the tile industry. Digital in-jet technology is used to achieve the beautiful designs and authentic stone appearance we have now.

We all know that the variation in color and pattern is almost limitless in naturally occurring stone. Mother Nature does an amazing job in this department. So with so many options available, how do you narrow down your options? Even if you’ve made the decision to go with tile, you still have a lot to consider. Before you land on a choice for design or appearance, you must first determine whether you prefer porcelain or ceramic tile.

So let’s start with the basics.

Porcelain Tile:

This category of ceramic tile was originally named for the color. It was used to describe a gleaming tile that resembled the white cowrie shell. The kaolin clay used was white or very light in color. Today, though, color is no longer the distinction between porcelain and ceramic tile. In fact, porcelain tile can be any color, and that color is present throughout the entire tile, whereas ceramic is only tinted or printed on the upper layer.

But that’s aesthetics. What about durability? When it comes to sheer strength, porcelain wins hands down. Which makes it a very desirable commodity among manufacturers—so desirable, in fact, that some manufacturers may use this term for marketing purposes. Meaning, they say it’s porcelain but it’s not the Real Deal™. If porcelain is your passion, you want to make sure the porcelain you go with is certified.

So what’s the difference between certified and not? Certified porcelain tile must meet certain requirements, such as those by the American Nation Standards Institute (ANSI). These standards grade porousness, which are used to determine the best application for the tile.

Remember what we said about imitators? If ever you’re in doubt, refer to The Porcelain Tile Certification Agency (PTCE). This agency is the authority on what is or isn’t porcelain. Being durable and water resistant isn’t enough to make the cut. To be declared authentic porcelain, the tile is graded on a scale of 0-5 with 5 being the hardest, and must receive a grade of 4 or 5. This density rating is significant insomuch as it tells us that the tile will be more stain and water resistant and most suitable for radiant in-floor heating. The best uses for certified porcelain tile are high traffic areas and outdoors, due to its durability and strength.

That said, we advise against tackling a porcelain installation project yourself, as the titles can break easily. Porcelain’s innate density makes it harder to cut, and therefore harder to break.

In addition to the strength, porcelain tile offers the widest range of color and designs. These tiles mimic natural stone so well that you’ll find that your guests mistake it for the real thing after it has been installed. And even if you’re not big on the natural look, you have leather, fabric and even animal prints to choose from. You can totally custom design your floor in ways you never imagined.

Ceramic Tile:

Ceramic tile is incredibly versatile. While it is less refined, it’s also easier to cut for DIY projects in addition to being more affordable. Unlike porcelain, the color in a ceramic tile is only baked into the top layer rather than present throughout the entire tile. While ceramic is more susceptible to chipping and cracking, the material can be replaced without going to too much expense.

While both types of tiles can be glazed, glazing ceramic tile will add a protective layer, which makes it impervious to water and staining and therefore an affordable choice for kitchens and bathrooms. If you like the unglazed look, you will need to seal the floor in order to keep it looking its best. Even though ceramic tile cracks easier than porcelain, it is still extremely tough and a quality installation should last decades if well maintained. And even then, cracked tiles are relatively simple to replace.

Knowing cost, durability, as well as water, wear, stain resistance and other facts about your tile options helps make the decision making process easier. There are truly countless factors to consider, which is why we recommend you contact the experts at Stoneridge Flooring Design. We’re here to answer all your questions and help you choose the perfect tile, color, and pattern for your home—one that can be enjoyed for years to come.