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Ceramic vs. Porcelain vs. Cement tile: Which one is better for your home?

“Always pick your yard based on your Summer lifetstyle.”


December 3, 2018 - Karl Yeh

Deciding between ceramic, porcelain or cement tile for your home? In this episode, we discuss the differences between the three, cost of each and installation as well as their durability. We also explore if they can be stained or coloured, and if they need underlayment. 

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Karl Yeh:

Hi, everyone. Karl Yeh here and welcome to another Homebuyer's School video, a channel where you get the latest strategies, tactics, and tips from home buying experts.

And remember, if this is your first time on this channel and you want to get the latest strategies from the experts, hit the subscription button below, hit the little notification bell so you don't miss anything.

Today I'm [00:00:30] joined by Deborah Armstrong, Senior Interior Designer with Brookfield Residential. And the question we're going to ask her today:

What's the difference between ceramic tile, cement tile, and porcelain tile?

Deborah, let's start with what are each of the three? Let's start with cement tile.

What is cement tile?

Deborah Armstrong:         

Cement tile is a tile that's with/from sand, cement, some color, pigmentation, and then usually a bit of grounded marble added to it. [00:01:00] It's a very strong tile.

Karl Yeh:           And what do you normally use cement tile for?

Deborah Armstrong:              

 Oh, cement tile can be used for floors, walls, counters. The most important thing is in certain areas you want to make sure that that is sealed.

Karl Yeh:           Okay.

Deborah Armstrong:                 Yeah.

Karl Yeh:           Okay.

And how about ceramic tile?

Deborah Armstrong:                

Ceramic tile is made out of clay, either red, brown, white clay. It is not as strong as cement tile.

Karl Yeh:           Okay.

Deborah Armstrong:                

However, you can use a porcelain tile, [00:01:30] which is very much made the same way, in the same products, as is cement tile is. 

Or ceramic tile, I'm sorry.           

But it is fired at a much higher temperature. So therefore, it's much denser and less porous. Usually those tiles are glazed as well. And so then that adds a barrier for water protection.

Karl Yeh:          

Are all three types of tiles glazed?

Deborah Armstrong:                

No. Your cement tile is a saltillo [00:02:00] tile, your Mexican tile. That's ... sometimes it's glazed, sometimes it's not.

Karl Yeh:              Okay. And then ceramic tile and porcelain tile are all glazed?

Deborah Armstrong:                 Yes. They're fired in kiln and usually glazed, yes.

Karl Yeh:           And glaze again is just to make sure it's waterproof.

Deborah Armstrong:                

Yeah, and it's the type of paint that's on it. It's the kind of glaze. It just fires up almost like a glass surface.

Karl Yeh:          

And so what are the costs to install each?

Deborah Armstrong:                 

For the ceramic ones and the porcelain ones, you're looking at maybe anywhere [00:02:30] from $2.00 to $7.00.      

Again, and then of course the cement tile, that ... you're looking at around $9.00 to $13.00 or more. Again, it all depends on the grade of the tile. And then if you get into designer series.

Karl Yeh:           And that's ... are you talking square foot?

Deborah Armstrong:                Per square foot, yes.

Karl Yeh: 

And then each of these types of tiles you can change the color, the stain I guess, or no? 

Deborah Armstrong:                

Yep, they're produced in all different kinds of colors right from the [00:03:00] factories.

The cement tiles are very, very popular right now. A lot of them hand painted. So you're going to see the cost get way high.

Because they're all hand done, but they're very popular right now.

And I know one of the most important questions that when I was researching this topic was

Can cement tile be actually used in the shower?

Deborah Armstrong:             

It can. I don't know if I'd advise it 100%. You want to make sure it's sealed. And it's going to have to be resealed often.

 If it is an unglazed tile [00:03:30] But I would probably, if it was my shower, I'd probably stick to a definitely a glazed ceramic or porcelain-

Karl Yeh:           Ceramic?

Deborah Armstrong:                Tile.

Does cement tile crack?

Karl Yeh:           One question for cement is does it crack?

Deborah Armstrong:              

Not if you use a proper underlayment, it won't crack. And it is much stronger than your ceramic or porcelain tiles. It's usually thicker-           

As well. All tile can crack, depending how it's laid or what's dropped [00:04:00] on it, but I would say it's one of the harder tiles.

Karl Yeh:          

And how durable is each of these tiles? I guess, first of all how durable, and second, how often do you need to replace them?

Deborah Armstrong:                

Well, tile can last forever if you take good care of it.

Again, it's depending on the grouting, the way the grout was laid, the underlayment-

So that you're not getting cracking of your tile, and sometimes the wear and tear on the tile. In a high traffic area a ceramic tile can be resealed.

That's [00:04:30] a really good thing.

Whereas a ... oh, I'm sorry. A cement tile can be resealed. A ceramic tile and a porcelain tile-          

The glazing wears off, there's not much you can do.

Karl Yeh:           You have to replace them?

Deborah Armstrong:                

You're going to have to replace your tile. They're going to wear.

Karl Yeh:          

And remember, if you want to know more about tile underlayment, watch our video above.

As we're talking about tile underlayment,

Do you need an underlayment for each of those? All three?

Deborah Armstrong:               

Yeah, you should.

To prevent cracking and again, if it's in the shower, you definitely need a rubber or [00:05:00] a waterproof membrane to avoid any sort of leaks.

Karl Yeh:           Okay, perfect. Do you have anything else to add?

Deborah Armstrong:        No, I think we've covered most everything.

Karl Yeh:           Perfect. Well, thank you very much for joining us.

The question of the day I have for you is:

What type of tile do you use? Ceramic, cement, or porcelain? And what was your experience with that?

Let us know in the comment section below. Thank you very much for joining us, and we'll catch you next time.


Your turn:

Let us know if you have additional interior design questions that we can answer by submitting them in the comments section below. 

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