Porcelain tile is a popular choice for bathroom floors. Porcelain is a denser, more porous, and harder option that offers greater stain and water resistance than ceramic tile. Plus, it's suitable for radiant in-floor heat to keep feet toasty on cool mornings. Porcelain offers unmatched design versatility. Tiles can mimic natural stone varieties, such as granite and limestone. Newer designs draw inspiration from exotic locales and fashion runways, with surfaces that evoke leather, fabric, even animal prints.
There are two basic types of porcelain tile:
Through-bodied. The color and texture run all the way through this type of tile, disguising chips or scratches. Strong and durable, it contains no glaze that can wear off. It's suitable for floors, walls, and countertops.
Glazed. This tile is completely covered in a wear layer or hard finish that is typically colored. It is strong and dense and offers the widest range of colors and designs.
Considerations When Choosing Porcelain Tile
Tough Enough? Porcelain tile stands up to heavy foot traffic, splashed water and will last for years.
How to Clean: Porcelain is easy to clean. Wipe up water immediately, sweep or vacuum regularly, and damp mop weekly. Avoid abrasives such as steel wool and scouring pads. Unglazed porcelain requires more frequent cleaning.
Underlayment. Porcelain tile should be installed on a subfloor that's smooth, flat and rigid. It can go on a concrete slab, cement-based backer board, underlayment-grade plywood, and existing tile if it's in good condition.
The Lowdown. Porcelain is crafted from a mix of fine clays and minerals fired at extremely high temperatures, making it harder and denser than ceramic tile. Porcelain resists staining, water, bacteria and odors. It's difficult to scratch, resists fire, and comes in a variety of shapes, colors and styles. Keep in mind that without radiant heat underneath, ceramic tile can be cold on your feet, and it can be uncomfortable to stand on for long periods. Also be aware that the tiles can crack and the grout can become stained.
At a cost of $3 to $10 per square foot, porcelain is fairly difficult to install. As such, installation is usually best left to professionals.
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