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Ceramic vs Porcelain Tiles for a Shower

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Ceramic and porcelain are the two most commonly used tiles for showers. Both of these types are durable and water resistant, which makes it difficult to prefer one over the other.

In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about ceramic vs porcelain tiles for showers in detail. It’ll help you understand which type of tiles matches your needs the best.

Ceramic vs Porcelain Tiles for a Shower

Porcelain and ceramic tiles are two of the best options for shower walls and bathroom floors. If you can’t decide which type of tiles to use, consider reading the following factors. It’ll allow you to choose the best tile for your shower depending on your needs.

Water Resistance

Water resistance is probably the most important factor to consider when it comes to selecting tiles for a shower. The water absorption level of porcelain tile is less than 0.5 percent, making it an excellent option for shower construction.

Ceramic tiles are also water-resistant with a water absorption level of 0.5 to 3 percent, which is higher than porcelain tiles. So, if water resistance is your biggest concern, then porcelain tiling will suit you better. 

It’s important to note that modern showers don’t rely only on the waterproofing capability of tiles. There are waterproofing membranes available to make the shower area 100 percent waterproof. So, if you’re planning to opt for such a solution, you can go with any of these types of tiles for your shower.

Hardness

Both porcelain and ceramic tiles are extremely hard and you can use them for high foot traffic areas, including showers. However, porcelain tiles are ranked higher than ceramic tiles on the PEI chart.

Porcelain tiles have PEI ratings between 3 and 5 and ceramic tiles have 3 and 4. It means that porcelain tiles are harder and offer more durability.

Aesthetics

Ceramic tiles are easier to shape than porcelain tiling because they’re less hard. You can use them to create complex yet attractive designs for your shower area. Therefore, ceramic tiles make for a better option if you want to make your shower aesthetically more appealing.

Lifespan

Both types of tiles can easily last a lifetime with proper care and maintenance. Generally, a well-built shower made with sealed porcelain or ceramic tiling can last more than 50 years.

However, porcelain tiles can last longer because of their better PEI ratings and they’re also less likely to get scratched with time.

Cleaning

The process of cleaning both ceramic and porcelain tiles is the same. You can clean them with a sponge or microfiber cloth using mild household detergent. It’s important to rinse these tiles properly after every shower session to keep them clean.

Most manufacturers recommend users not use any oil-based cleaners and abrasive scrubbers to clean these tiles. They can damage the glazed finish of ceramic and porcelain tiles. As a result, their surface will become porous and start absorbing water in high amounts.

Cost

In terms of cost, ceramic tiles are more affordable than porcelain tiles. So, if you’re on a tight budget, you should go with ceramic tiles. Not only are they cheaper but their installation is also more budget-friendly. That’s because they’re easy to cut and need less time to install.

Stain Resistance

The stain resistance of ceramic and porcelain tiles is great. These tiles are made of dense materials, making them impervious to most liquids. They don’t allow liquid spills to seep down and create a stubborn stain.

It means you’ll be able to use your shower steamers and bath bombs with artificial colors without worrying about stains. However, porcelain tiles perform better in terms of stain resistance. That’s because they’re more impervious than ceramic tiles.

Pros and Cons of Ceramic and Porcelain Tiles

The following tables contain the pros and cons of both ceramic and porcelain tiles. Read and understand these pros and cons before you select one type of tile over the other.

Ceramic Tiles

ProsCons
More affordableMore porous to water
Can be used for complex designsSofter and can crack or chip
Available in a wide range of finishes and colorsNot all tiles have a slip-resistance coating
Better option for DIY enthusiastsSlightly shorter lifespan

Porcelain Tiles

ProsCons
Better water-resistance ratingsMore expensive
Less likely to crack or chipHard to cut and install
More durable and long-lastingNot available in a wide variety of styles and colors
Better suited for high-traffic areasNot a good option for DIY enthusiasts

Tips to Differentiate Between Ceramic and Porcelain Tiles

Once you have decided the type of tiles you want to use for your shower, the next step is to purchase them. That’s where the following tips will come into place. They’ll allow you to differentiate between the two types of tiles easily so that you can buy the correct one.

  • Looking at the seal of your tiles is the easiest and quickest way to determine whether they’re porcelain or not. All manufacturers need to get their tiles tested, under the PTCA certification program, to get the ASTM seal. The test makes sure that the porcelain tiles meet 0.5 percent water absorption criteria.
  • You can also look at one of the sides of a tile to determine whether it’s porcelain or ceramic. The sides of a porcelain tile have a uniform color. But ceramic tiles can have different colors as the color of their glazed part doesn’t run all the way through.
  • Another way to differentiate between the two tiles is to tub your fingertips on one of the sides of a tile. Ceramic tiles will feel rough but porcelain tiles will have smoother sides. That’s because porcelain tiles are made of denser and finer materials.

Final Words

Both porcelain and ceramic tiles are excellent options for showers. But you need to choose the one that suits your unique needs the best. If you’re on a tight budget and need tiles that are easy to install and cut, you should go with ceramic tiles.

However, if budget is not the issue and you want an overall better option in terms of water resistance, durability, and longevity, then porcelain tiles will suit you best.

Allen Michael is the Founder and Editor of Home Viable, a website that he started to provide readers with tips on home efficiency and automation. He draws on his engineering background combined with his family-of-four experiences for his articles.