Porcelain tiles are the new kids on the block. This year has seen a dramatic rise in their use by domestic and contract customers. But are they any better than ceramic?
Those in the know tell us that porcelain tiles are ‘sustainable luxury’ – low maintenance, hard-wearing and uniquely beautiful. There is a huge variety of finished effects to choose from, including stone, marble, wood, concrete, and metallic. But how do they compare to ceramic tiles?
The durability and non-absorbency of porcelain tiles make them perfect for high traffic areas as they are resistant to scratches and scuffs. Porcelain tiles are made from a specific white clay; to which finely-ground sand and feldspar (used to enhance hardness, durability and resistance to chemical corrosion) are added. This makes the mix denser and thus less porous than ceramic clays. It absorbs less than 0.5% of water – considerably less than its ceramic rivals. The tiles are fired at a higher temperature to reduce water content before the glaze is applied, thus making them super hard-wearing. This means that they are more durable and better suited to areas with high moisture content or high traffic areas.
On the downside, porcelain tiles can dry out much more quickly so greater care has to be taken when using grout and jointing compounds. Dried on compounds can be difficult to remove and the residue left could become a problem.
Ceramic tiles are made from natural red, brown or white clay which is softer and less dense that porcelain clay and are therefore much easier to cut and shape. They are also available in more up to date and intricate designs.
If price is a consideration, then ceramic tiles are likely to be the best solution for internal use. You don’t have to compromise on style, as there is a huge range of patterns and styles to suit any look.
Whilst ceramic tiles are cheaper than porcelain, they can be prone to cracking in cold weather. Best used on internal walls and floors, and low traffic areas.