Tile Characteristics Can Be Unique:
Cost of the material
With little exception, ceramic tile is going to be the least expensive of the three, followed by porcelain and then natural stone
Porcelain relatively speaking is the hardest of the three materials. Stone can be softer, however the nature of ceramic makes it the easiest to chip. Stone is colored through so a chip isn’t as noticeable, with ceramic the chip will usually stand out like a beacon. Porcelain has a more expensive family of through-body porcelain, where the color is contain through the body of the porcelain, however the variety of patterns and colors is limited
Without a doubt ceramic tile is the least expensive to install, it has great forgivingness and can be installed with the simplest of thinsets. Porcelain takes more care, requires more expensive thinsets, more expensive tools and much more careful installation due to the nature of the material and it’s resistance to adhesion unless it is installed correctly. Stone is by far the most expensive to install, with additional labor required for pre-sealing of the stone if required, the thicker thinsets because of the irregularity of the material and the more expensive thinsets required. It’s probably not common knowledge to homeowners but some marble will actually curl and warp if the wrong thinset is applied to it.
Looks or esthetic value
Stone has a look of it’s own, it is ageless and timeless and beautiful. When it comes to porcelain, the best porcelain is usually judged by how well it mimics natural stone. Ceramic when it tries to mimic a natural product fails miserably, ceramic has a look of it’s own and it’s best to use ceramic for what it is known for which is richer solid man-made colors that are not trying to look like a natural stone material.
This is an interesting criteria. Looking at stone you could say since it’s a natural product that the variety is endless, however while there are endless variations of colors, veining and such there are definitely a finite amount of varieties of stone, from slate to marble to granite. The variations in the different families of stone, are what makes it so versatile. Porcelain we would consider the work horse of tile with a large amount of variety, but all trying to mimic natural stone. Ceramic while there is a multitude of ‘artsy’ one-off ceramics the selection of ceramic is pretty limited to mimicking the popular colors of the color palette.
Good quality ceramic floor tiles will not wear out easily. Porcelain can be considered as providing the same esthetics of stone without the problems. Stone’s ability to be trouble free depends a lot upon the end users initial choices, honed will be more trouble free then polished, granite will be more trouble free then a soft marble. The maintenance issues of stone products are relative to the end user’s expectations and understandings of the material and how it will be used.
Stone can range from moisture resistant to moisture sensitive. Ceramic tile tends to have a moisture gain from between 3%-7% of it’s weight. Porcelain by contrast is considered impervious to moisture, meaning it is limited to a moisture gain of no more than 1/2 percent of it’s weight. This impervious nature is one of the factors that make it more expensive to install than ceramic tile, porcelain with hardly any pores and thinsets work by bonding to pores makes porcelain installation a less forgiving process.
Not an often thought of factor and for many not an option. However, a stone floor can easily be reground in place, honed or polished again and look brand new. A through body porcelain can go through this process also. Ceramic has no option.
Ceramic and stone are on opposite ends of this scale. Stone is a natural product and variations in color, texture and appearance are what gives stone it’s natural appeal. If you like stone, you better be a fan of natural variation. Porcelain will straddle this line depending upon the style of porcelain you are looking at. Some porcelain is made on purpose to have a lot of variation and some is made to have more consistency. Ceramic will be the most consistent of all. After all a box of 4 inch white ceramic tile is the pinnacle of consistency.
Stone definitely has the potential for the most problems in this regard. Stone isn’t manufactured in a factory but quarried and resold, which always opens the door to problems of quality when new quarries are being bought from usually from the other side of the world.
Stone if often considered the superior material for outdoor applications, however certain grades of porcelain are just as advantageous if not more. Ceramics are not suitable.
Yes, there are people who choose materials for many reasons and there is nothing wrong with it. Stone has no equal in this department. It is considered the finest material so it leads the pack. Stone is considered a one-of-a-kind material, no two projects will be identical, each will have it’s own character and be uniquely different, exotic and beautiful, stone will age gracefully and change with time. No matter how close porcelain comes to mimicking stone, it is not ever going to be stone. The fact that people often choose porcelain based on how well it mimics stone should tell you that stone is the material used to judge all others.
How To Choose The Right Tile:
Ceramic & Porcelain
The ceramic tile industry rates wear using the PEI scale, which classifies tile surfaces from 1 to 5. PEI 1 is least resistant to abrasion and PEI 5 most resistant. Most tile can be used on walls, but floor tile needs to withstand greater wear and tear. For light residential use, Class 2 or greater is a good choice. For high traffic areas such as kitchens and entryways, Class 3 or greater will hold up best.
Natural Stone is not man-made and therefore does not follow the same scale for ceramic and porcelain. However, stone has been used for thousands of years and remains a classic look. Our knowledgeable Design Consultants will provide you with options to choose a long lasting, durable floor with the timeless beauty and character you can only get from natural stone.
Every day we explore new materials that expand your floor and wall options. Accentuate ceramic, porcelain, or natural stone with our extensive selection of glass, mosaics, and metal. Mix these styles and textures to create custom designs that match your vision!
For information on Dynamic Coefficient of Friction (DCOF) and DCOF AcuTest protocol, please refer to the Tile Council of North America’s (TCNA) Technical Bulletin.
Choosing A Size:
Best Tile offers an array of sizes, from tiny 3/8″ mosaics to an astounding 5’x10’ porcelain panel and everything in between. Specializing in American and European products, we carry forward looking trends like large format tile and broad selections of traditional sizes. When sizing tile to a room, you will capture a proportional look by fitting at least 3 pieces of the same size in a row across the floor. By using larger tile you can limit pattern effects of grout, making a space appear larger.
The Rules of Color:
Of course, only you can decide what color is right for you, but here are a few basic rules:
While tile can appear identical from piece to piece, each tile will have color and shade variation to give the overall look depth and character. Both man-made tile and natural stone vary each time they are produced or quarried. Laying out a few pieces to understand the true design is a good idea. Any questions or concerns about your tile or stone selection should be clarified prior to installation.
Generally speaking, tile with textured or matte finishes are less slippery than smooth or shiny ones. Keep this in mind when choosing floor tile, especially in areas prone to moisture like kitchens, bathrooms, and entryways. With that said, many people use polished marbles and porcelains in these areas and feel the look achieved outweighs a lack of slip resistance. While many products can be shopped online, tile is a product that you need to literally come in to touch and feel.
Selecting A Style:
A Stone look tile is extremely popular because it fits with any decor and wears well. Several of our porcelain collections are created using innovative digital inkjet technology to recreate the look of natural stone. You can hardly tell the difference!
Wood look tile is designed to withstand high traffic spaces and wet areas unsuitable for traditional wood floors, while offering a natural appeal.
Tumbled marble is a timeless look that fits with many different styles. Marbleized tile lends a more formal look.
White “subway” tile is still as popular as ever. Newer products such as glass and metal tile are frequently used in conjunction with ceramic, porcelain and natural stone to create a unique and striking installation.
Choosing A Grout:
Grout is available in a wide variety of colors. Using a grout that matches the tile tends to make grout lines disappear. This is the recommended method for a clean and cohesive aesthetic. Using a contrasting color makes individual tiles stand out for a more dramatic look.
Don’t forget to ask a Best Tile Design Consultant about stain proof grout for those hard-to-keep-clean areas and grout colorants to rejuvenate old or dirty grout.