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Porcelain vs. Ceramic vs. Natural Stone: How to Choose the Right Tile for Your Home

Tiles can beautify and transform living spaces in your home (and outdoors), giving it flair and functionality that is timeless. Naturally, tiles often come to mind when we think of modern bathrooms or kitchen splashbacks, for example, but they can look fantastic in a hallway, a lounge, or outdoors.

There are so many colours, textures, and patterns to choose from, that the choice may feel overwhelming, yet choosing the right tile is essential for achieving a classic, beautiful result in your home. One of the biggest considerations, however, is the type of material as many of the colours and patterns available will stem from the type of material used. Between porcelain, ceramic, and natural stone, three of the main types of tile material, which is the best for your home?

Consider the following before making your purchase:

Porcelain vs Ceramic vs Natural Stone

First and foremost, it’s essential to define these three types of tile material so that you have a better understanding of what to expect from a particular product.

  • Porcelain: a ceramic tile made of clay, fired at high temperatures. Porcelain tiles are dense and tough as well as being highly resistant to moisture. This makes them a great choice in bathrooms, especially in shower areas and for the floors.
  • Ceramic: another type of tile made of clay fired at high temperatures in a kiln, ceramic tiles are highly versatile and can be used in a wide array of styles. Ceramic tiles are typically mixed with water and are shaped to specified sizes and can be an ideal choice in kitchens as well as for decorative purposes.
  • Natural stone: made of quarried natural stone such as granite, slate, marble, and limestone, natural stone offers superb durability and timeless, classic beauty. Depending on the type of stone used, surface treatments may be necessary, e.g. kitchen countertops.

Toughness & Durability

The durability of your tiles should be an important consideration, especially since they are a great investment and you should ideally want them to last you for many years to come. Generally, the three types of tile material can be characterised as:

  • Porcelain: highly durable and resistant to scratches and chips, porcelain is a hard material that is quite dense, making it highly applicable in high-traffic areas including bathrooms and kitchens. Porcelain can last just as long indoors as outdoors if well cared for, roughly 50+ years.
  • Ceramic: although durable like porcelain, ceramic tiles tend to be a little softer due to their water content and more porous nature. This makes them slightly more prone to cracks or chips as well as wear and tear. For this reason, ceramic tiles tend to do better on walls and in decorative applications. If used outdoors, make sure that the tiles are glazed and treated.
  • Natural stone: depending on its usage, natural stone can be immensely durable and offer a lifetime of longevity, but some types of stone are known to be softer and more prone to wear and tear. For countertops, make sure that the stone is properly treated and sealed. Some natural stone can last 50 years or longer, and in extreme cases such as slate (e.g. for roofing) can last well over a century.

Moisture Resistance & Applicability in Wet Environments

One of the most damaging elements in nature to structures, both interior and exterior, is water. Water and moisture resistance are important factors to look for in good tile, particularly if the tile will be exposed to them.

  • Porcelain: as a highly non-porous material, porcelain is superior at repelling water and moisture. This makes them highly suitable for bathrooms, flooring, and kitchens, as well as being superb outdoor tiles such as around patios.
  • Ceramic: although similar to porcelain in many regards, ceramic tiles are more porous and thus less resistant to water or moisture if unglazed. High-moisture areas such as outdoors or in bathrooms, however, ceramic may not be the best choice. In these circumstances, choose glazed/treated ceramic tiles or simply opt for porcelain instead.
  • Natural stone: depending on the type of natural stone, moisture may or may not be much of a problem. Granite and slate, for example, naturally are quite moisture repellent, but even these stone tiles should be sealed and treated. Marble and limestone are more porous and should be treated.

Beauty & Aesthetics

Of course, how beautiful one tile is compared to another is ultimately a subjective choice. Having said that, some types of tile are timeless classics that can be highly versatile and bring out the best appearance in your bathroom, kitchen, or wherever you have them. Draw inspiration from some examples of our bathroom concepts.

  • Porcelain: the highly versatile nature of porcelain tiles makes them a great choice for complementing just about any aesthetic in your home. Porcelain tiles can be printed to mimic natural elements such as wood, stone, and much more, or simply be glazed in an egg-white or off-white colour for standard bathroom tiles with ease.
  • Ceramic: again, like porcelain, ceramic is highly adaptable and can be made to just about any style one prefers. Classic examples of inspirational tiles include azulejos (Portuguese tiles) famous on churches in cities such as Porto, Portugal, as well as Delftware (from Delft, Netherlands), the Dutch tilework famously known for its intricately designed blue and white designs. These types of tiles are treated ceramic, and while today’s ceramic tiles may not be manually hand-painted as much as they were centuries ago, modern designs can certainly impress.
  • Natural stone: although not nearly as versatile as porcelain and ceramic, natural stone simply looks timeless in its own, raw form. Pure natural stone makes for an impressive focal centrepiece and can complement kitchens and outdoor areas well.

Ease of Cleaning & Maintenance

Low-maintenance tiles are ideal for practical everyday reasons, such as cleaning your shower or kitchen splashback. It’s one thing to see splashback concepts, for example, in their ideal picture-perfect state, but consider that some grease or grime might accumulate on the surface.

  • Porcelain: almost no maintenance is required other than superficial cleaning with a mild detergent. Porcelain naturally resists stains and looks great after a simple cleaning.
  • Ceramic: just like porcelain, ceramic tiles are quite easy to keep clean although they can crack somewhat easily, so use caution when cleaning ceramic tiles.
  • Natural stone: a little more care is generally needed for natural stone. Avoid using harsh detergents or acidic substances near natural stone, and ensure that the stone is sealed and treated on occasion as it is known to absorb stains otherwise.

Cost & Complexity of Installation

Cost and installation are certainly important considerations to make when shopping for tiles in Australia. Make sure to pick up accessories for working with tiles to facilitate the entire installation and to reduce difficulties.

  • Porcelain: generally, porcelain costs more per tile but can last longer. Porcelain can also be harder to work with as it is a dense material that’s difficult to cut.
  • Ceramic: compared to porcelain, ceramic tiles tend to be easier to cut to size as they’re lighter and less dense. They also tend to be more affordable per tile, but they may need more frequent replacement if damaged.
  • Natural stone: often relatively expensive, natural stone also tends to be more complex to install.

Porcelain vs Ceramic vs Natural Stone: Which is the Best for Your Home?

There really isn’t a one-size-fits-all tile for every single homeowner, and each of the three main types has its unique advantages and disadvantages. Consider the above factors when shopping for tiles and then branch out into your preferred styles and designs once you’ve decided on the most appropriate material.

Make sure to shop for quality tiles above all and to purchase them from a reputable supplier such as Get Tiles Online.

Get Tiles Online

Shop for quality porcelain, ceramic, and natural stone tiles and accessories from Get Tiles Online today.