porcelain vs ceramic tile cost

Porcelain Tile Overview

Porcelain tile is actually a type of ceramic tile. Both are made from a mixture of clay and other materials that is kiln fired. The only difference is that porcelain goes through an extra refinement and purification process, making it stronger and denser.

Porcelain tiles are often found in commercial buildings, but they’re growing in popularity for residential applications. They are available in several finishes: unglazed, matte or polished.

Porcelain Tile Flooring Costs

Most porcelain tile costs $4 to $8 per square foot – slightly more than ceramic tile. However, keep in mind that if you’re looking for custom tiles, the price skyrockets to as much as $25 per square foot.

Installation generally runs another $4 to $8 per square foot, depending on complexity. The price quickly escalates if the tiles need to be cut to fit around oddly-shaped corners or objects.

Pros of Porcelain Tile Flooring

  • Strength – Porcelain is so tough and durable that it widely used in commercial buildings with high foot traffic, including airports. It is stronger than most ceramic tile.
  • Density – Porcelain is extremely dense, so it absorbs less water than ceramic tile (although ceramic doesn’t absorb much either). It also absorbs less dirt and stays cleaner over the long term.
  • Suitable for outdoor use – Porcelain’s density allows it to withstand even harsh weather conditions. It is frost resistant, so it can be used for outdoor patios, even in cold climates.

Cons of Porcelain Tile Flooring

  • Difficult to install – Porcelain’s hardness makes it more difficult to cut. Installing porcelain tiles is rarely a do-it-yourself project. Special tools and prior experience are a must.
  • More expensive – Porcelain tiles are slightly more expensive, usually an extra $1 to $2 per square foot.

Ceramic Tile Flooring

Ceramic Tile Flooring Overview

Ceramic tile has been used for thousands of years and is popular for its strength and durability. It is similar to porcelain in many ways: Both are made from kiln-fired clay. Both are long lasting and easy to clean. Neither will absorb orders or bacteria.

Like porcelain, ceramic tile is given a hardness rating of 0 to 5 on the PEI Scale. For residential use with at least moderate foot traffic, look for a rating of 3 or higher. Anything below that is only suitable for wall tile or floors with very light traffic. For commercial use, opt for a 4 or 5.

Ceramic Tile Flooring Costs

Ceramic tile generally costs $3 to $7 per square foot. Occasionally, you can find it as cheap as $1 per square foot, but you won’t be purchasing a high-quality product. As with porcelain, any custom tile work will be significantly more expensive.

Installation is priced similarly to that of porcelain tiles. It usually costs about $4 to $8 per square foot, depending on complexity.

Pros of Ceramic Tile

  • Easier to install – Ceramic tiles are softer and easier to cut. Installing ceramic tiles is a popular do-it-yourself project.
  • More affordable – Ceramic tiles cost about $1 to $2 less per square foot than porcelain tiles.

Cons of Ceramic Wood

  • Not as strong – Generally, ceramic tile doesn’t hold up as well to heavy foot traffic. However, it is still an extremely durable material.
  • Not ideal for outdoors – Ceramic tile can be used outdoors, but it won’t hold up as long as porcelain. If you’re tiling a front porch or patio, porcelain is a better option.

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