Tag Archives: tile

All About Tile: Ceramic vs. Porcelain

All About Tile: Ceramic vs. PorcelainToday starts a new series here on the blog… All About Tile.  I mentioned this series way back on one of my blogaversary posts.  This series will explore as the title suggests “All About Tile”.  Tile, as defined by Wikipedia, is “a manufactured piece of hard-wearing material such as ceramic, stone, metal, or even glass.”

Tile is used in all sorts of applications in residential design.  Scroll through your Pinterest feed and you may see tile used on the floor, walls, counters, back splash, shower, and possibly outside.  Installed correctly tile looks amazing and will hold up for years (possibly centuries) but how do you know what type of tile to use for each application?  Great question!  Today we are going to take a look at two common types of tile used in residential settings, ceramic and porcelain, and break down the differences between the two.

My plan is to keep this as simple and straight forward as possible.  I want you to “get it”.  To understand the difference between the two and in the end have the knowledge to know wether ceramic or porcelain would be best for your next project.


All About Tile: Porcelain vs. Ceramicsource

  • 5% or less water absorption rate (prevents staining) – Even if porcelain doesn’t have a glaze it’s still excellent at not absorbing a lot of moisture. Which makes it an ideal choice for bathroom flooring and shower walls.
  • Certified by Porcelain Tile Certification Agency – This certification is important because it prevents just any Tom, Dick, or Harry company from calling their product a porcelain tile.
  • Some can be used outside – It is extremely important to refer to the specifications of each specific tile to understand the tile’s recommended applications.  Obviously, not all tile is intended to be used the same.  Check with your tile supplier or local tile representative to see if a certain tile can be used in an exterior application.
  • Denser, less porous, and harder than ceramic –  Ok. Let’s break this down nice and simple. Porcelain is hard… extremely hard and it doesn’t absorb much water.
  • More durable – This one seems pretty self-explanatory.  Porcelain is fired at a higher temp than ceramic. With a higher firing temp plus the three properties in the bullet point above… porcelain is more durable than ceramic.
  • Color body – This is one of my favorite properties of porcelain!  Porcelain tile is colored all the way through.  Meaning if the tile becomes chipped there won’t be a big white spot glaring up at you from the floor.  A tile rep once explained it this way to me.  Porcelain tile is like a tomato.  The exterior is red… and if you slice it the interior is red also.  The same is true for porcelain tile.
  • More expensive – Don’t let this fact about porcelain tile deter you from using it.  Yes it is more expensive but there all different price points for porcelain tile.  Price points vary depending on the printing process used, texture if any, and colors used in the tile.  Shop around until you find a tile that fits in your budget.
  • Special tools needed to cut the tile – The same tools used to cut ceramic more than likely can’t be used to cut porcelain because of how hard it is.  Again check with your tile supplier or tile representative to see what tools will be best for your project if you are planning on doing the installation yourself.
  • Can be polished like stone –  This is a cool feature because porcelain tile can be designed to mimic pricier stones.  Meaning you can really bring the cost of a project down by choosing porcelain over a natural stone.


All About Tile: Ceramic vs. Porcelainsource

  • Not for exterior use – Ceramic is not recommended for exterior use.  Some installers will install it outside but check quadruple check to make sure this does not go against the manufacturers recommendations and warranty of the product.  Check the Tile Council of North America’s guidelines for tile installation recommendations. (See link below.)
  • If chipped the tile is a different color under top glaze – Unlike porcelain if a ceramic is chipped the color will not be the same.  Another food example for you… ceramic tile is like a radish.  Red on the outside but if you cut it the interior is white.  That’s what it looks like when you chip a ceramic tile.
  • Easier to cut… especially for a DIY project – Because it is a softer tile and less dense material it is easier to cut.
  • Cheaper – This is why we chose to use ceramic tile for the back splash in our kitchen.  In instant wow factor without breaking the budget.
  • Higher the glaze the more brittle and scratchable the tile is. – Keep this in mind when selecting your application.  Your probably wouldn’t want a ceramic tile on your kitchen counters where you will be moving and placing heavy pots and dishes.
  • Do not use glossy, smooth tile where there is a consistant presence of water, oil, or grease. – Your tile will become a slipping hazard if you do! Case in point our bathroom floors.  It used to be standard design practice to install smooth, glazed ceramic tiles on bathroom floors.  Step out of the shower too quickly and see what happens… you fall and hurt yourself.  Not the best place to install a glossy, smooth ceramic tile.

Like Smokey the bear enlists you to help prevent forest fires you can help prevent falls.  When selecting a tile surface to walk on pay attention to the COF rating.  COF stands for coefficient of friction and refers to the smoothness of tile.  COF is measured on a scale of 0 to 1.  Rating of .6 and higher are considered non- slip surfaces.  This is especially important when designing for the disabled and/or elderly but also for any of us because lets face it none of us want to end up with a broken hip from falling on our beautiful new but poorly selected floor tile.  Ceramic and porcelain tiles are available that meet these ratings.  Just check before you buy.

Update: According to the Tile Council of North America it looks like the recommended COF rating will be changing in 2014 to <.42 which will be determined by new and better testing methods.  

I know that’s a lot for one day and if it’s too overwhelming visit your local tile supplier and/ or representative for any additional help you may need when selecting a tile for your next application.  That’s what they are there for… to inform you the buyer about their product.

I’ve also listed a few helpful links below that go into way more detail than I did about the differences between ceramic and porcelain tile.

Tile Council of North America

Daltile: Selecting the Right Tile

Home Depot’s Tile Buying Guide

P.S.  Don’t miss out on the fabulous giveaway going on here at Color Transformed Family. Friday is the last day to enter for your chance to win $55 worth of jewelry!

Spiral Notions Giveaway Instagram

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Winter Pinterest Challenge… In Progress

If you have been following Color Transformed Family on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook you might have noticed that we have been up to something these past few days.

winter-challenge winter-challenge-headshots

What is the Pinterest Challenge?

A challenge decreed by Katie (Bower Power) and Sherry (Young House Love) along with two guest bloggers, Megan (The Remodeled Life) and Michelle (Decor and the Dog) to actually follow through with your DIY pins on Pinterest.

We received the notification of the Challenge last Wednesday.  At first I was in the dark about what to do.  Not because I didn’t have plenty of pins that I would love to follow up on but because I wasn’t 100% certain if we were going to be in town this past weekend.

By Friday afternoon I pretty much knew we would be staying home for the most part of the weekend so I started gathering supplies and prepping.

Prepping for what?

Prepping to paint the walls and tile the back splash of our kitchen! That’s a lot for one weekend right?  Especially, when that one weekend really only consists of Saturday since we planned to be out of town on Sunday.  Which leads me to preface the rest of the post with…

we didn’t finish.

We did partially finish though and we do have progress pictures to show.  But before I do I thought I would share where I got my inspiration from.

First, here is a reminder of where we stood with our kitchen prior to this last weekend.


I realize a lot of people like the red.  I’ll admit it’s not terribly bad… it’s just not the color I would have selected plus the paint is scratched up in several places.  After finding several inspiration kitchens on Pinterest I was in love with the idea of yellow kitchen.


I felt that a pale yellow would really open up our small space as well as give the room an inviting feeling.  Yellow was a little scary for me though because before Noah’s room was Noah’s room it was a yellow bedroom.  Ugh.  I just couldn’t stand the color in there but somehow I felt like it would be different in the kitchen.  Thankfully it was.


Besides wanting to paint the walls yellow we also felt like tackling the tile back splash at the same time would be a great idea.  I would paint and ML would install the tile.  We chose a simple and classic white subway tile for our back splash.  I was sold on the idea after seeing several beautiful installation pictures.


We bought all our supplies Friday and were ready to start Saturday morning… sort of.  ML was ready to start but I had a quick jewelry party and brunch to hit up first. It was lots of fun and a great chance to hang out with some girls for a while but definitely set us back in our day.

While I was gone he watched Noah and somehow managed to get the entire back splash area sanded.

kitchen-backsplash kitchen-backsplashIf you live in a typical house with a typical kitchen you wouldn’t need to do this but because somebody somewhere down the line decided to basically apply plaster to our walls we needed to sand them down. Let me just say if you haven’t ever texturized your walls then don’t.  It really makes things a lot easier to leave them smooth.

While I was gone ML not only managed to get the wall area sanded but also to cover the entire first floor of our house in a blanket of dust.


So for the better part of our afternoon we were vacuuming and wiping down all the surfaces before any painting or tiling could begin.  In hindsight it would have been a great idea to have put up a dust partition.  We’ll know next time.

Finally, late Saturday afternoon I managed to start painting the walls while ML read a few Young House Love posts on installing tile. Thanks John!

By the time I took Noah to bed ML was finally able to start installing the tile.  We were both a little surprised that it took this long before officially beginning but life happens.


Two nights into the tile installation things are still moving a little slow for us but we are super excited by how it’s beginning to look.


I am so thankful that I have a patient husband who is willing to keep moving forward with this project and is just excited about the end result as I am.


Yay!  I’ll be back later to share the finished tile installation and more details of how we got it done.

Meanwhile… except for a few inconspicuous places things are wrapping up on the painting.

For the color I chose Sherwin Williams Lemon Chiffon in Sherwin Williams SuperPaint Paint and Primer in One.  I thought Lemon Chiffon was an appropriate name for the color of a kitchen.


It is a really light yellow.  Like I was hoping, it really makes the kitchen feel larger which is great because its a wee bit on the small side. I’m thankful for my kitchen though.  Because it is a light yellow and not super saturated it doesn’t give off too much energy or leave you feeling restless and angry like some yellows do.  This yellow is calming and rejuvenating… exactly what I wanted.



See how nice it works with our new counters!  Oh, and see all that texture on the walls.  That stuff is not easy to paint over.  You definitely have to come at it from every angle just to get it covered well.

kitchenI tried to stage the kitchen as best as possible around the working progress of the back splash.


If you squint real hard though you can imagine what it will look like with the rest of the back splash installed and the cabinets painted gray.  It’s going to be lovely.  I feel like I have a brand new kitchen.

After we finish up the tile we still have a few things left to do in our kitchen renovation.

Operation Bring Sunshine to the Kitchen

  • new countertops
  • paint upper and lower cabinets
  • under cabinet lighting
  • new refrigerator
  • new above range microwave oven
  • paint walls
  • tile backsplash
  • add cut out to pantry door
  • clean grout in tile floor
  • new hardware for cabinet doors and drawers
  • replace ceiling fan and light

To view our inspiration board click here and for a project breakdown click here.  I’ll be back later to bring us up to speed on where we stand budget wise (hint: it’s looking pretty good).

Have you had any projects that you have tried to complete in a weekend but just didn’t manage to get it done?  Do you have experience installing wall tile?  If so, what advice do you have to keep the spacers in place while the mastic dries?

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