By Sam Ferris

Forget death and taxes. If there’s one thing everyone must deal with at some point in their life, it’s buying new flooring. And more often than not, new flooring involves tile. 

Sure, buying tile is a bit intimidating at first. For starters, there’s a lot to consider, like whether or not you want porcelain or ceramic tile, and what the difference between the two even is. 

The good news: the difference really isn’t as much as it seems. Once you scratch the surface and learn the terms, you’ll know exactly what your home needs and what fits your budget. We did the dirty work for you and broke down the basics you’ve got to know before buying new tile floors, along with a rough (did we mention it’s really rough?) pricing guide.

$ = Less Expensive

$$ = More Expensive

With that said, here’s the nitty gritty on tile:
Ceramic tile with a red color body. Photo by Sam Ferris
Ceramic vs. Porcelain

Typically, ceramic is a red body tile made from red clay, and porcelain is a white body tile made from glass and silicon. That’s it, really. There are times when ceramic is a white body and porcelain a red, though. You’ll pay more for porcelain due to higher quality materials - it’s glass vs. dirt, essentially.

Certified porcelain will not absorb more than .005% in water or moisture. That’s why porcelain in outdoor settings is more resistant against breaks during freezing weather. If you live in an area where the winters are cold, doing porcelain outdoors is a given. South Texans don’t have to worry about that. 

Ceramic: $

Porcelain: $$

Marazzi USA's American Heritage in Saddle is rectified, creating a smooth and cohesive finish. Photo by Marazzi USA
Rectified vs. Non-Rectified

Think of it as the difference between accuracy and precision. Non-rectified tile is cut to size with accuracy; however, there will be slight differences in size among pieces. Grout lines need to be wider to ensure all pieces will fit.

Rectified tile, on the other hand, is cut precisely into certain dimensions. All pieces are exactly the same size, and as a result, create a uniform look when installed. You can also do thinner grout lines with rectified tile since you don’t have to account for differences in piece size. Thinner grout lines equal a more contemporary look.

Non-rectified: $

Rectified: $$ 

Marazzi USA's Soho line is a color body porcelain. Photo by Marazzi USA
Glazed vs. Color Body/Through Body

All ceramic tile is glazed, but not all glazed tile is ceramic. Porcelain can be glazed, too. A glaze is the textured, colored finish you see on top of the tile; it’s only applied to the surface. So what does that mean? If you chip a glazed tile, you’ll see the color of the material it’s made with, not the finish. So if you chip a beige ceramic tile with a red color body, you’ll see the red clay. 

Color body is just the opposite. The colored, textured finish you see on the tile’s surface exists throughout the entire piece. If you scratch or chip it, you’ll see the same color that is on the surface. Color body porcelain is more expensive because you’re paying for more color. It’s like scratch insurance. 

Ceramic tile cannot be color bodied due to the fact that it’s made from red or white clay.

Glazed: $

Color Body: $$ 

Wall tile from American Olean's Urban Canvas line. Photo by American Olean
Wall Tile vs. Floor Tile

Why is some tile suitable for the wall but not the floor? Resistance. All tile is tested for abrasion resistance and measured on a scale from I to V, with V being the most resistance proof (finding a tile rated at V is like finding a Spanish coin on the beach). Wall tile is typically a I or II. If a tile is less than a III, don’t put it on your floor.

When choosing between a III or IV, consider these factors: foot traffic volume, kids and pets. The less foot traffic, kids, or pets in your home, the lower you can go on the spectrum. Commercial properties should go with a IV.

Durability costs more, but you won’t have to replace your floors as quickly with a higher rated tile. It’s worth the investment.

Wall Tile: $

Floor Tile: $$

Still have more questions? The staff at Tukasa Creations would love to answer them! Send a tweet to @tukasacreations for immediate assistance, or visit with us in our showroom M-F from 8:30AM-5:30PM and Saturday from 10AM-2PM.