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Ceramic vs Porcelain – Tiling Throughout an Apartment

June 26, 2020

All tiles are created the same, right? Not exactly. Porcelain and ceramic may belong to the same family, but they are slightly different. One tile may have more advantages on its side than the other depending on where you’re installing it. Although ceramic and porcelain are manufactured with different types of clay, the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) defines porcelain in terms of water absorption. To be more specific, porcelain tiles absorb less than 0.5 percent of water. Ceramic and other non-porcelain tiles absorb more than 0.5 percent of water. Below, we will be going over some places where each type of tile fits each room.


It’s important to remember that porcelain absorbs less than 0.5 percent of moisture. Why doesn’t porcelain absorb much moisture? According to the TCNA, porcelain is a naturally dense title which means that it’s much harder to penetrate. In more simple terms, it’s almost waterproof. This “almost waterproof” property makes porcelain an easy choice for bathroom installations as well as other areas of the space that are exposed to moisture. Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean that choosing ceramic is a bad choice for bathrooms. Actually, many homeowners install ceramic in their showers and on their bathroom floors. However, porcelain’s near-waterproof property will ensure that you have the best protection against moisture. Kitchens are also a great consideration for porcelain due to the liquids encountered during food prep, clean up, and in the areas surrounding the sink and dishwasher. Choosing porcelain for these areas may make you feel more comfortable in the event of unexpected leaks and protecting from water getting onto surfaces it shouldn’t.

High Traffic Areas

When planning to title out a high traffic area, such as a lobby or foyer, ceramic and porcelain tiles excel in comparison to other flooring types (hardwood, carpet, or laminate). As we previously mentioned, porcelain is a denser title, and because of this, it offers a better long-term resistance to scuffs and scratches. Through-body porcelain, where the color on top of the glass goes all the way throughout the tile’s body, is especially scratch resistant. Hallways and living rooms are also potential hot spots to lay out porcelain tile. Units with children and pets will appreciate the porcelain’s durability. 


When it comes to choosing patio flooring, the great outdoors can be unforgiving. This is another round that is won by porcelain’s impermeability. When ceramic tile freezes, it absorbs moisture. This absorbing of moisture causes the ceramic to expand and break. This could cause you to look into flooring replacement much sooner than expected. Take into consideration where your complex is located. If the complex is located in an area that is prone to hard freezes, ceramic tile is out of the question for an outdoor space. If the complex is located where occasional or uncommon, ceramic tile would be risky at best. Of course, the choice is all up to you and what you would want for your dream apartment units. 

Interested in placing tile throughout your apartment building units? Alterra Construction Services is a multifamily interior renovation general contractor available to assist you! Contact us by visiting our website or calling 615-438-5734.