What Is Porcelain Tile?
Apr 27, 2020
For centuries, cultures around the world have prized porcelain for its delicate shine, its silky-smooth texture, and its elegant, classical look. But today, porcelain’s uses go far beyond making dolls, decorations, or fine china. It has also become one of the most popular materials for residential flooring, with thousands of homeowners across America choosing porcelain tile for their kitchens, bathrooms, or entry foyers.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about installing a porcelain floor, including types of porcelain tiles, what porcelain tiles are made from, what to look for when purchasing porcelain flooring, and where to use porcelain tiles in your home.
How Is Porcelain Tile Made?
Despite their similar appearances, ceramic tile and porcelain tile are actually quite different. Porcelain tile is made by exposing clay to searing hot temperatures — anywhere from around 2,300 to 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit! Unsurprisingly, porcelain is sometimes called a “high-fire” material for this reason. Because it is made at high-fire temperatures, porcelain tile is stronger than ceramic and can withstand more elements, which is why it often makes a great outdoor flooring choice.
The finished product is hard and heavy like stone but also has some noticeable differences. For example, while stone is highly porous, porcelain contains no pores at all, resulting in superior protection against moisture and humidity.
What Are Different Porcelain Tile Types?
Not all porcelain types of tiles have the same characteristics, which makes it important to choose carefully. Porcelain tile is available in several different varieties, with three of the most common including wall tile, floor tile, and mosaics.
Porcelain wall tile is perfect for showers, bathroom walls, or even great for a fun accent wall in a living room. Wall tiles come in such a variety of designs that the design possibilities are endless. Porcelain tiles can mimic wood or stone with exceptional realistic visuals perfect for wall installations.
Porcelain floor tile is very popular due to its waterproof and pet-proof capabilities. It is an extremely durable flooring type. All durability aside, porcelain floor tile is diverse in design helping you achieve the bathroom or kitchen of your dreams!
Mosaic Wall Tiles
Mosaics are small pieces of porcelain tile laid out in a pattern on a mesh backing. The mesh backing keeps the design intact for installation. Mosaic tiles are eye-catching by design and are perfect for applications such as kitchen backsplashes or accent strips in showers.
What to Look For When Buying Porcelain Tile
Knowing what features to look for will help you select high-quality porcelain flooring. Here are some simple tips on what to look for when shopping for porcelain tile.
- Find the right “class” or category of porcelain. For example, Class 5 is the toughest and most durable category, making Class 5 porcelain ideal for heavy use and foot traffic. Class 1 porcelain, on the other hand, should never be used for flooring because it is prone to damage from wear.
- Find the right “grade” of porcelain. Not to be confused with class, which indicates resistance to wear-and-tear caused by abrasion or grinding, grade indicates the porcelain’s overall quality, which is linked to tile thickness. The best or highest grade of porcelain is Grade 1, which is also the thickest variety of tile (up to ¾”). Grade 3, being the thinnest variety (up to ¼”), falls at the opposite end of the spectrum. Grade 3 tile is not recommended for flooring, especially in high-traffic areas.
- Find the right color. When you say the word “porcelain,” most people immediately think of the color white. But did you know that porcelain is actually available in a huge range of fun, bold colors and patterns? Don’t feel like you have to restrict yourself to the classics!
Where Are the Best Places to Use Porcelain Tile?
Porcelain tile has a smooth, poreless surface that is ideal for blocking out moisture. This non-absorbent, waterproof quality makes porcelain ideal for use in bathrooms and foyers, where steam, water, rain, slush, and melted snow can collect and ruin other types of flooring. Porcelain tile is easy to clean which makes it an excellent choice for kitchens because it is effortless to wipe down and easy to disinfect. Just remember, be sure to choose the appropriate class and grade for your needs.
Find Glazed, Rectified, and Polished Porcelain Tiles at a Flooring America Location Near You
Whether you use it for flooring or backsplash tile, porcelain instantly elevates any room and it comes in a variety of styles mimicking everything from natural stone to hardwood planks. Give your bathroom, kitchen, or foyer a classy, classical accent by incorporating porcelain tile into the design. To see beautiful examples in action, explore My Design Finder, or start a chat with one of our friendly and knowledgeable team members.
Ready to take the next steps and looking to tile shop? We’re ready to help! Contact Flooring America online today, or visit one of our 500+ retail locations to see our products in person. With stores throughout the United States, it’s never been easier or more convenient to give your home a gorgeous style makeover.
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