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How to tell the difference between ceramic and porcelain tile (and which is better!)

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


November 21, 2019 - Karl Yeh

Debating whether to put porcelain or ceramic tile in your home? What are the best uses for each? In this episode, we discuss the difference between porcelain and ceramic and where the best places to put them in your home. We also explore how to clean, maintain and if they need to be replaced. 

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What we discussed:

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

Remember, if this is your first time on this channel and want to get latest strategies from the experts, hit the subscription button below, hit the little notification bell so you don't miss [00:00:30] anything.

So today I'm joined by Rebecca Hotchkiss, interior designer with Brookfield Residential.

The question we're going to answer is:

What is the difference between ceramic and porcelain tile?

So Rebecca, what is the difference and when would you use one or the other?

Rebecca Hotchkiss:          

So there are a few differences. Both of them are probably your most popular tiles you're going to see around the home.

They're both quite durable.

They're both available in lots of different colors.

Right off the bat, we have a porcelain here. The porcelain is [00:01:00] a little bit more durable, a little bit more dense.

The ceramic being a little bit more porous. It's something you may not want to put in areas where you'll have something like water sitting a lot.

Having said that, you can even use a porcelain outside because it's nonporous.

You don't have to worry about freezing, that kind of thing, where something like this with the temperature changes, you don't want to get it too cold, too hot, that kind of thing.

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Karl Yeh:             

So would ceramic be something that you'd more put inside your home rather than outside?

Rebecca Hotchkiss:         

Yeah, for sure. You would not put this outside at all. Both of them are very common within your home though.

Karl Yeh:              [00:01:30] In terms of maintenance and ease, I guess, to clean, same?

Rebecca Hotchkiss:       

Yeah. I would say they're both pretty similar. I mean you can get different finishes of each tile being kind of a matte.

This one here has a little bit of texture.

This one here is very polished.

So polished, I mean it's just a little bit more finicky.

You see fingerprints, footprints, that kind of thing. So keeping it clean, they're both pretty much the same. It really just depends on the finish that you have.

How to clean and maintain

Karl Yeh:              Is there a special way of cleaning one or the other or is it just simple mop?

Rebecca Hotchkiss:       

Yeah, I would say it's the same, very [00:02:00] simple. You don't have to worry about kind of sealing or anything like that.

Low maintenance. We recommend them for kids, pets, that kind of thing, all over the home.

Karl Yeh:             

Is it easier to scratch one or the other?

Rebecca Hotchkiss:      

Not necessarily.

I think some of it does boil down to the finish that you have, so I mean, you would see a scratch a lot more on this sort of polished finish than you would on this.

It's not that it's scratching it easier, it's just what you can notice a little bit more.

Karl Yeh:             

What you put on, yeah. Do you need to, I don't know, reseal it or refinish it?

Rebecca Hotchkiss:         

No, you don't have to worry about refinishing it. No.

[00:02:30] This is your kind of your final finish that you see, so you don't have to worry about that, especially ones with textures and patterns.

You wouldn't want to do anything to them.

Karl Yeh:              Which is better for I guess bathrooms and kitchens or could you do both or?

Rebecca Hotchkiss:        

Like I said, I mean, if you have water sitting in a shower floor, something like that, you may not want to use something like a ceramic.

Karl Yeh:              Ceramic? Okay.

Rebecca Hotchkiss:        

You may want to stick more to the porcelain just because of that nonporous aspect.

Karl Yeh:             

Could you do anything to keep it from scratches? It's just the type of finish [00:03:00] or?

Rebecca Hotchkiss:      

Again, the type of finish I think would be your biggest component there.

You wouldn't really want to drop something big on either of them. They are a tile.

But this one having a little bit more durability and rigidity, I would say that you'd be a little better off with this one if you did want to prevent scratching and that kind of thing.

Karl Yeh:              How about for walls versus floors? Same kind of-

Rebecca Hotchkiss:        

Same thing. I mean, walls you don't get nearly as much wear and tear as you do on the floor, so sticking with something polished.

You can definitely do that on the wall. I wouldn't do that on the floor. [00:03:30] But again, both are just fine for either application.

Karl Yeh:             

So when you want to put some, I remember you said porcelain probably better for outside because ceramic probably doesn't do well with the weather.

Where would you put porcelain?

Rebecca Hotchkiss:      

I mean some people do it on back patios, inside, outside spaces. You can even see one here. It's kind of got a little bit of a pattern.

Some people like to do that to make a space a little bit more fun.

Karl Yeh:              Got it, yeah.

Rebecca Hotchkiss:        

This one even has an aged look. Porcelain is a tile that's been around for a very, very [00:04:00] long time.

So back in the day you used to see kind of with wear and tear, you'd get sort of a patina look, which is kind of a representation of what we have here.

Karl Yeh:              Perfect. Do you have anything else to add in terms of porcelain versus ceramic?

Rebecca Hotchkiss:     

I think a lot of it boils down to how much you want to spend for a specific area. Both will look beautiful at the end of the day.

Karl Yeh:              Oh, I forgot to mention.

How often do you need to replace one or the other?

Rebecca Hotchkiss:        

You don't really have to worry about replacing them unless you damage them in a specific instance. But then again, you can always do your best to pull up a tile [00:04:30] and replace it as you need.

Question of the Day

Karl Yeh:             

Perfect. So the question of the day I have for you is:

Did you use porcelain or ceramic in your home and why? Did you notice any pros and cons with the different material?

Let us know in the description below. So if you want to know more about tiles, we've got a great playlists here as well as other videos on interior design right here. I'll see you in our next video.

Karl Yeh:                   


Your turn:

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

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