Porcelain tile is a desirable and timeless flooring choice for any residential or commercial property. With its appealing qualities like durability, water resistance, low maintenance, and a nearly infinite list of style choices, porcelain offers a promising return on investment and an opportunity to increase your property value. These traits make porcelain tile a popular and coveted flooring materials – both indoors and out.
Advantages of Porcelain Tile Flooring
Porcelain tile flooring is highly acclaimed for its strength and durability. With very few air pockets, porcelain has a denser, more uniform thickness, which creates an overall harder tile.
Porcelain’s hardness is ranked using the Porcelain Enamel Institute’s PEI scale between 1 and 5 (5 being the hardest). Predominantly, porcelain tiles typically rank closer to a PEI 5 rating, making them one of the strongest tile flooring options on the market.
Porcelain tiles are naturally resistant to everyday wear and tear, high-volume foot traffic, scratching, chipping, and cracking. For these reasons, porcelain tile flooring is highly recommended for both home and commercial uses.
Ultimately, porcelain provides excellent performance and will assuredly outlast other tile options when used either in businesses like stores, restaurants, and hotels and in residential settings like rentals, vacation homes, or homes with children and/or pets.
Porcelain tile is notably one of the least absorbent flooring options available. With absorption rates lower than 0.5%, porcelain tiles can be used in a wide array of spaces – both indoors and outdoors.
Unlike most other tile materials, porcelain is nonporous and highly recommended for humid, moist, water-prone areas indoors (such as entryways, bathrooms, kitchens, mudrooms, and laundry rooms) and outdoors (like garages, porches, patios, walkways, around pools, and pool decks). What’s more, porcelain tiles are also frost-resistant, adding to the list of benefits of using porcelain tiles outdoors.
- Low Maintenance
Porcelain tile flooring is exceptionally easy to clean and maintain. With a regular routine of sweeping to collect dirt and debris and as-needed mopping to wash away surface stains and grime, porcelain tiles can easily retain the same sleek and elegant look as the day they were laid.
Porcelain tiles do not require any special, porcelain-specific cleaning agents. A simple combination of either water and mild soap or a pH-neutral cleaning solution is all that is needed to make your porcelain tiles shine.
What’s more, porcelain tiles do not require any polishing, waxing, buffing, or refinishing to maintain their natural sheen and finish.
- Vast Design and Style Choices
With a seemingly endless variety of colors, patterns, and styles, porcelain tile floors can be used to match any style or design aesthetic. If it’s a look like hardwood, marble, or granite that you’re after, porcelain tiles can be made to replicate those textures and patterns, but with the added benefits of durability and water resistance that the aforementioned materials cannot. Not only that, porcelain tile is often available at a much lower long-term cost than the higher-end finishes it can simulate.
As an added benefit, porcelain tiles are created with color throughout each tile, which means that even over time – with any degree of wear and tear – the color and design will remain unchanged.
- Health Benefits
Porcelain tile’s nonporous nature means that it is resistant to bacteria and mildew growth. The non-absorbent qualities resist sponging up harmful chemicals and air pollutants.
Porcelain tile is also the perfect flooring solution for people and pets with allergies, as porcelain tiles do not attract dust, dirt, dander, or any other allergens. This helps keep air quality high and itching and sneezing to a minimum.
- Return on Investment (ROI) and Increased Property Value
Porcelain tile flooring is classified by realtors as luxury flooring, and as such, always promises a solid return on investment (ROI). The fact that porcelain is an affordable and durable flooring option that is also considered “high-end” makes it a highly desirable option to consider from a financial perspective.
Disadvantages of Porcelain Tile Flooring
As with any flooring option, there are always some disadvantages that consumers must weigh against the advantages before making decisions about project purchases. To help property owners properly discern if porcelain tile flooring is the right choice for their space, we have compiled a list of negatives worth considering, along with a few ideas of how to mitigate those issues.
- Time-consuming and Challenging Installation
Porcelain tile is not an easy flooring material to lay unless you are an experienced DIYer. Porcelain tile is exceptionally heavy and dense, which makes laying each tile a laborious job. Additionally, its hardness makes cutting tiles quite difficult without the proper tools or experience.
For those who are prepared to undertake the task, it is imperative that the proper tools and materials are used to follow specific installation steps in order to ensure that the porcelain tiles are laid properly on top of a solid and level base that can handle the weight of the porcelain tiles. This venture can be time-consuming and challenging – particularly if there are significant surface preparation needs.
- High Professional Installation Costs
For the same reasons that porcelain tile can be a DIY challenge, laying porcelain tiles correctly is typically a more labor-intensive process for professionals than some alternatives. As such, porcelain tile projects tend to attract higher installation costs, which can be attributed to the added weight and thickness of the porcelain. In addition to the cost of porcelain tiles and installation, a subfloor in need of reinforcement can add to the overall installation cost.
As a matter of course, the more intricate the job or complicated the surface, the higher the professional installation quote can be expected. However, when installed by a professional, property owners can expect their porcelain tile flooring to last for decades.
- Unglazed Tiles and Grout Require Sealing
Sealing unglazed porcelain tiles and grout is critical to keeping porcelain tile floors protected against surface stains or scratches.
Applying a sealant can be a DIY project, as long as the proper tools and materials are used and specific steps are followed to guarantee a proper seal. Once sealed, porcelain tiles and grout are just as easy to clean and maintain as glazed porcelain tiles.
Naturally, opting for sealed porcelain tiles can help reduce or eliminate this need.
- Hardness and Cold Can Be Uncomfortable Underfoot
The degree of hardness that is most often touted as a major benefit of porcelain tile floors can also be considered a negative for those who either have to stand for long periods of time or for those who suffer from joint pain.
To minimize or eliminate this issue, area rugs can be utilized to provide a buffer of padding to cushion feet and joints – particularly in places where people tend to stand the most (such as in front of the kitchen sink, bathroom sink, or stove).
Porcelain tiles are also naturally cold, which can be welcoming in warmer climates, but uncomfortably cold in cooler climates – especially during the winter months.
To mitigate the coldness of porcelain tile flooring, radiant heating can be laid underneath to warm the tiles and make them comfortable to walk on in any climate or season.
- Can Be Slippery
Porcelain tile flooring has the potential to be slippery when wet; how slippery porcelain tile is all depends upon the finish that is chosen.
Every porcelain tile’s finish is tested prior to distribution and assigned a relative Coefficient of Friction (COF) or a Slip Rating by the manufacturer. The COF/Slip Rating specifies the level of grip and friction of each tile’s surface, so considering the porcelain’s Slip Rating is essential when deciding which finish of porcelain to choose.
Still not sure if porcelain tile is the right solution for your flooring project? Contact one of our experts for a free consultation and get professional answers to your lingering questions and concerns.