Struggling to Pick Kitchen Floor Tile? We Compare Ceramic vs. Porcelain

Choosing new flooring for a kitchen renovation or remodel can be an exciting yet daunting process. With so many options to pick from, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when trying to select the perfect tile for your kitchen.

Two of the most popular kitchen flooring tiles are ceramic and porcelain. Both offer versatile and stylish options for kitchen floors, but each has unique properties better suited for certain applications and budgets.

Should you go with traditional ceramic or durable porcelain? We’ll compare the pros and cons of ceramic vs. porcelain tile for kitchen floors to help you make the best decision for your needs.

Ceramic Tile for Kitchen Floors

Ceramic tile has been used for kitchen floors for decades. Made from natural clay and fired at high temperatures, ceramic tile comes glazed or unglazed in a vast array of colors, shapes, textures and patterns.

Here’s an overview of some of the benefits and downsides of choosing ceramic tile for your kitchen floor.

What is Ceramic Tile?

Ceramic tile is made from clay minerals, feldspar and quartz fired at temperatures between 1000degF to 1200degF. The firing process hardens the clay and creates the tile structure.

Ceramic tiles are more porous than porcelain. When fired at lower temperatures, the clay does not vitrify completely, leaving microscopic pores in the finished tile. This makes ceramic a bit less durable and prone to absorbing water and stains.

Due to their porosity, ceramic tiles are typically recommended for walls and backsplashes. But there are durable ceramic options suitable for flooring as well.

ceramic or porcelain tile for kitchen floor

Benefits of Ceramic Tile Floors

Here are some of the advantages of choosing ceramic for kitchen floors:

  • Cost – Ceramic tiles tend to be less expensive than porcelain. This can make them a budget-friendly flooring option.
  • Variety – Ceramic tiles come in a limitless array of colors, designs, textures and finishes. Great for adding style.
  • Easy Maintenance – Ceramic is fairly easy to clean with warm water and tile cleaner. Re-sealing it periodically will protect its appearance.

Downsides of Ceramic Tile Floors

Some potential downsides of ceramic floor tile include:

  • Durability Issues – Being more porous, ceramic can be prone to chipping, cracking and scratches over time.
  • Staining – The porosity also makes it more prone to staining from spills.
  • Slip Resistance – Glazed ceramic can be slippery when wet if not textured.

Ceramic tile ranges in quality, durability and water absorption. So it’s important to select a tile rated for flooring use.

Porcelain Tile for Kitchen Floors

Porcelain tile has surged in popularity in recent years as a durable and attractive option for kitchen floors. Made from denser clay fired at higher temperatures, porcelain offers some advantages over ceramic.

What is Porcelain Tile?

Like ceramic, porcelain tile starts out as clay. But it undergoes a more intensive manufacturing process to make it denser and less porous.

The clay is pressurized and fired around 2200degF. This increased heat vitrifies the clay completely, fusing it into an incredibly dense, water-resistant end product.

Being less porous means porcelain tile is more suitable for high-traffic flooring areas than ceramic and many other flooring types.

Benefits of Porcelain Tile Floors

Here are some of the top benefits of porcelain tile floors:

  • Durability – Porcelain is harder and denser than ceramic, making it very durable and scratch-resistant.
  • Stain Resistance – The dense fired clay resists water absorption and staining.
  • Easy Maintenance – Porcelain is easy to clean with warm water and gentle tile cleaners.
  • Style – It comes in a vast array of styles from stone and wood looks to vibrant colors and patterns.

Downsides of Porcelain Tile Floors

There are a few potential disadvantages to consider with porcelain:

  • Cost – Porcelain tiles tend to cost more than ceramic due to the production process.
  • Slip Resistance – Like ceramic, porcelain can be slippery when wet if not textured.
  • Harder to Cut -Dense porcelain is difficult to cut without the proper tools.

Being aware of these factors will allow you to make the most informed choice for your specific kitchen.

Key Tile Considerations for Kitchen Floors

When evaluating ceramic and porcelain tile for kitchen floors, make sure to look at a few key specifications that impact durability and performance.

Tile Quality and Rating

Pay attention to the tile’s ANSI and PEI ratings, which indicate durability and suitability for flooring:

  • ANSI A137.1 – Measures water absorption. Look for tile rated Class 0 or 1.
  • PEI Rating – Assesses abrasion resistance. Choose a PEI Class 4 or 5 tile.

Higher numbers in both ratings reflect better performance and longevity. Be sure to verify the tile you select is floor-rated.

Tile Thickness

Thickness affects the durability of floor tiles. Here are recommendations per tile type:

  • Ceramic tile should be at least 1/4″ thick for flooring.
  • Porcelain tile should be at least 1/2″ thick for floors.
  • Larger format tiles 12″x12″ or bigger should be 3/8″ to 1/2″ thick.

In kitchens, aim for thicker tiles that can better handle dropped pots, pans and other impacts.

Tile Flatness

A tile’s flatness impacts how level it sits on the floor, which is key for proper installation. Check the tile’s flatness rating:

  • For larger tiles, look for under 0.5% warpage or better.
  • Smaller tiles 1″ x 1″ should have under 0.75% warpage.

Flatter tiles prevent uneven surfaces and lippage issues between tiles.

Porcelain vs. Ceramic: Which is Better for Kitchen Floors?

For high-traffic residential kitchen floors that see heavy daily use, porcelain tile is generally the better option over ceramic.

Here’s a brief overview of how porcelain and ceramic stack up for key kitchen flooring considerations:

Direct Comparison

ConsiderationPorcelain TileCeramic Tile
DurabilityVery durable and scratch-resistantProne to chipping and cracking over time
Stain ResistanceDense nature resists stainsMore prone to staining from spills
CostMore expensiveTypically more affordable

While both offer pros and cons, porcelain excels in durability and stain resistance, which are crucial kitchen flooring considerations.


Here are some recommendations on when to choose porcelain or ceramic tile for kitchen floors:

  • Porcelain is the best option for high-traffic areas like cooking zones where spills are common.
  • Ceramic can work well for perimeter floors, low-traffic zones and decorative accent areas.
  • For vintage or farmhouse style kitchens, ceramic provides a classic look.
  • Porcelain offers greater versatility and matches any kitchen style.

Be sure to select floor-rated tile with proper PEI and ANSI ratings regardless of type.

Ceramic and porcelain tile both have unique benefits that make them suitable options for kitchen floors. However, porcelain generally performs better in high-traffic kitchens.

Key takeaways when comparing ceramic vs. porcelain tile:

  • Porcelain tile is denser and more durable than ceramic tile due to higher-heat manufacturing.
  • Ceramic is more prone to chipping, cracking and staining over time.
  • Porcelain costs more upfront but offers greater longevity.
  • Ceramic provides a timeless, traditional look at a lower price point.
  • Porcelain works better for cooking zones and areas prone to spills.
  • Be sure to verify durability, thickness and flatness ratings when selecting either tile type.

Knowing the pros and cons of ceramic and porcelain will allow you to decide what best suits your specific kitchen flooring needs, lifestyle and budget.

With proper tile selection and professional installation, both ceramic and porcelain tiles can create a beautiful, durable kitchen floor for years to come.

Durability and Maintenance: While both ceramic and porcelain tiles are durable, porcelain tiles are generally more durable and less porous, making them less susceptible to stains and moisture damage. This can make them a better choice for high-traffic kitchens or areas prone to spills and moisture. However, porcelain tiles can be more prone to chipping and cracking, while ceramic tiles can be more susceptible to scratches and wear over time. Maintenance for both tiles involves regular cleaning and sealing every few years, but porcelain tiles may require more frequent sealing due to their higher absorption rate.

Design Options: While both tiles offer a wide variety of design options, porcelain tiles tend to have a wider range of colors, textures, and patterns. This can make them a better choice for clients who want a more unique and customized kitchen floor. However, ceramic tiles can offer a more traditional and classic look, making them a better choice for clients who prefer a more timeless and classic design.

Cost: As mentioned earlier, ceramic tiles are generally less expensive than porcelain tiles. However, the cost difference can vary greatly depending on the brand, style, quality, and retailer. In general, porcelain tiles range from $2-$6 per square foot while ceramic tiles average $1-$5 per square foot. However, you can find ceramic tiles on the premium end around $8 per square foot and basic porcelain tiles for under $2 per square foot. The price difference tends to be more noticeable with larger, higher-end tile. Always compare material, quality, rating and thickness rather than just the ceramic vs. porcelain designation.

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