When to use ceramic or porcelain for your tile flooring

The word "ceramic," in its strictest sense, refers to any material made of clay, even if it includes sand or glass. That means, while most people think of a ceramic as that highly designed 4 X 4 square, it also includes mosaics, terracotta, and subway tiles. Porcelain tile is also a type of ceramic, although it performs very differently in installations, making some think it’s a different product altogether. Now, which should you choose for your tile flooring?

When to use porcelain tile, rather than ceramic tile for your floors

Porcelain is composed of clay, sand, and glass and fired at higher temperatures, making it heavier, denser, and ideal for heavily trafficked floors in busy rooms like the kitchen or bath. It’s also composed of a non-porous clay called kaolin so it is waterproof, whether or not it's glazed and can be used outside. While some tiles say "frost-free," they can still crack in freeze-thaw conditions. Porcelain tiles do not. From a design viewpoint, the trend is toward bigger and bigger tiles and porcelain, being a large format, certainly answers that call. Sometimes porcelain can be as large as 25 X 25, making it the preferred choice for a stone tile where a more continuous look like that of a quarried slab might be in order. Don’t let those all-white, glassy tiles we sometimes see in bathrooms fool you; porcelain comes in an almost unlimited number of colors and patterns and can be made to look like anything, from wood to stone and leather.

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A word about classification levels

While they can all be used as tile flooring the box is marked with a general classification of one to three; one is appropriate for walls only, while two and three can be used for floors. Then it goes a little deeper, for glazed tile only, with PEI ratings set by the Porcelain and Enamel Institute. These range from C-1 to C-5, broken down by floor types, such as low, medium, or heavy foot traffic. The best classification for residential use is either C-3 or C-4, as it addresses floors of medium to heavy foot traffic. C-5 is marked mainly for commercial use. Come into the Freedom Flooring tile store in New Holland, PA where we service New Holland, PA, West Chester, PA, Pottstown, PA, Reading, PA, Lancaster, PA, Harrisburg, PA, York, PA, and Lebanon, PA. You’ll learn more, explore our great selection of tile flooring and find out about our estimates. You’ll be impressed with our professionalism, knowledge, courtesy and service.