What’s under your feet (or how you get around) is as important as anything when it comes to the house. That’s why this fall, we collaborated with The Home Depot on an A-to-Z guide that will give you the confidence to make the flooring choices you’ll love. Read the manual from A to Z here.
Beauty and durability can sometimes be at odds when it comes to interiors. Heritage wool armchairs with hand-embroidered peacocks? Beautiful, but easily damaged. Rubber workout tiles in your home gym in the basement? They do the job, but not exactly what you would put in the living room. Find that rara reviews of product design that combines pretty and practicality is exciting, and porcelain tiles are both.
Made from a finer, denser clay and fired at a higher temperature, porcelain is naturally harder and less porous than other types of ceramic tile. This makes it ideal for sinks and other bathroom fixtures, as well as flooring – and The Home Depot offers hundreds of styles, from simple white and subtle square tiles to exciting patterns and elegant marble imitators. But style isn’t its only special quality – here are four reasons why it falls in a league of its own.
A humid environment is not a problem
Fine-grained and ultra-smooth, porcelain is much more waterproof than other types of ceramic tile. While the bulk of ceramic tile receives a glaze which acts to repel water, porcelain is the only type that must have a water absorption rate of 0.5 or less as defined by the American Society for Testing and Materials. This means it’s a clear choice for bathrooms, mud rooms, or any space where a more porous surface could be damaged by repeated exposure to water droplets, splashes, or wet towels left on the floor. ground. (Hey, it happens.) Porcelain is also the strongest option for any outdoor tiling situation – if you’re in a climate zone favorable to outdoor tiles, that is. (For more on exterior floors, see letter o!)
It is more resistant than other tiles
Since porcelain is one of the hardest types of tile, it is a must-have for high traffic areas. Its superpower can withstand anything life gives it without showing any signs of wear and tear, from attempted scratches, stain incidents and battered dishes. If a sheen does appear, the porcelain has a consistent color throughout the tile, minimizing the visibility of damage. Most other ceramic tiles, on the other hand, have a different color under the visible glaze. (The encaustic tile is an exception to this, and to learn more visit letter E.)
Of course, being the strongest tile in the block has some drawbacks. It’s especially heavy and a bit more difficult to cut than regular ceramic tile, so it can be tricky to install (but easier than natural stone if that’s the look you want). And although it follows the same grouting and tiling protocol that we described in letter Git is important to ensure that the underlayment can support the weight of the tile itself (especially if you are working on an upper floor of a building or in an older house).
There are so many patterned options
If you have decided to use porcelain tiles, but also want a geometric pattern for more interest, Jessica pleasants, project manager at Godwin Residential Construction in New York City, warns against getting too wild with your Escher-like creation. “It’s important to consider what the design will look like in four or five years,” she advises, noting that the designs can look old-fashioned in a short period of time. “If you want to use a geometric pattern, go for something a little more subtle that has that geometric feel but isn’t too bold.”
It is a chameleon-like material
Porcelain is also very popular because it can reflect virtually any type of natural stone, or even a wood grain, while providing durability and longevity.
“I think porcelain stoneware is a good alternative to marble because it is less porous and easier to maintain,” says interior designer Laura Umansky, who loves the ease of maintenance of porcelain with a simple mop and spot treatment with soap and water.
General contractor Joe truini used porcelain tiles that look like fallen granite in one of its bathrooms. He says the difference between natural stone materials and porcelain imitators comes down to the ease of installation, even tile cut, and durability. “The downside to natural stone is that Mother Earth made it a billion years ago and someone carved it out of the earth: it has flaws,” he says. And yet, he points out, natural stone is often much more expensive than porcelain. “The [porcelain version] is uniform in strength, thickness and size. This facilitates the installation.