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When you’re thinking about updating the flooring in your home, you have plenty of options. One of the more popular flooring choices is porcelain tile. With a variety of colors, styles, sizes, and textures available, it might feel overwhelming trying to decide if tile is right for you. These are the important questions you need to ask when you start shopping for your new flooring.
What Is Porcelain Tile?
When you begin tile shopping, you’ll immediately discover that you can choose from ceramic tiles or porcelain tiles. Although these two types of tile are similar, they do have some important differences to keep in mind. Ceramic tiles are typically made of clay and have a glazed surface. This makes them ideal for areas that deal with a lot of moisture, such as bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, and basements. Although porcelain tiles are also made using clay, they’re baked at much higher temperatures. This process makes porcelain tiles denser and harder than ceramic tiles.
Where Can I Use Porcelain Tile?
Since porcelain tiles are difficult to stain or scratch, they’re incredibly versatile and make an ideal option for a variety of areas around your house. Porcelain tiles can stand up to plenty of foot traffic, so you can use them in kitchens, hallways, bathrooms, outside patios, and laundry rooms. They also add extra style to a room, so they look good in living rooms and bedrooms. Additionally, porcelain tiles come in both matte and polished finishes, which lets you choose one that matches your tastes.
Are There Different Tiles for Floors and Walls?
It’s important to remember that while porcelain tiles are a good option for a variety of rooms, they also come with different Porcelain Enamel Institute (PEI) ratings. The PEI rating determines how well a tile can stand up to wear and tear, which makes it an important tool for deciding which tiles are good for use on walls and which ones are ideal for the floor. As you’re shopping for your porcelain tile, keep the following PEI ratings in mind.
- PEI 0 – Tile is only suitable for wall use
- PEI 1 – Tile is suitable for walls and floors with light traffic
- PEI 2 – Tile is suitable for any area with light to moderate foot traffic
- PEI 3 – Tile is suitable for any residential area and light commercial use
- PEI 4 – Tile is suitable for any residential area and light to moderate commercial use
- PEI 5 – Tile is suitable for all residential and commercial areas
Along with PEI ratings, you should also consider the finish of the tile when you’re selecting one for your wall or floor. While polished tiles offer a sleek look, they can also get slippery when wet, so they’re not ideal for bathrooms and kitchens. On the other hand, textured porcelain tiles provide good slip protection, so you can use them in areas that see a higher amount of moisture.
What Color Should I Get?
Once you’ve picked out the finish you want for your tile, your next big decision is the color you want. Porcelain tiles come in an incredible variety of colors, so finding the shade you have in mind shouldn’t be a problem. While choosing a tile color ultimately comes down to personal preference, you can keep a few design tips in mind to make your decision easier.
Lighter tiles can make a small room feel more open, while darker tiles can make rooms feel warmer and smaller. Additionally, light tiles show dirt more easily, and dark tiles do a good job of hiding dirt. Cool colors like green and blue help make rooms feel serene, and rich colors, such as red, orange, and yellow, bring a feeling of warmth to a room. Finally, if you like to frequently change furniture or accessories, consider a neutral color that will always work with your latest choices.
What Size Tile Should I Purchase?
The next choice you have when you’re shopping for porcelain tile is the actual size of the tile. Just as with color, there are a variety of porcelain tile sizes, and deciding on the size you want is mostly about personal preference. To narrow down your options, keep a few design guidelines in mind. Smaller tiles can make a room appear busier, and you’ll see more grout lines with small tile. On the other hand, larger tiles can make a room look bigger, and you won’t see as many grout lines.
Are There Tile Trends I Should Consider?
As with everything else in design, porcelain tile has several trends you can think about if you’re interested in a modern look. One of the latest trends you’ll find in porcelain tile is stylized pieces designed to look like wood-effect planks, stones, or bricks. Some homeowners choose to use the brick tiles in the kitchen, and others like the wood-effect planks throughout the house for a contemporary feel.
How Do I Take Care of the Tile?
One of the advantages that porcelain tile has over other flooring options is that it’s easy to clean and maintain. For the most part, you can keep your tile floors looking nice by sweeping or vacuuming them once or twice a week. When they start to look dirty from foot traffic, you can either clean them with a damp sponge mop or use a solution that has a 1/4-cup of white vinegar for every two gallons of water.
While most porcelain tile is impervious to liquids, it’s still possible for some surfaces to stain. Additionally, unglazed tiles can sometimes take on the color of the cleaning solution. As a result, you might want to purchase a cleaner created specifically for use on porcelain tiles.
Can I Add Upgrades?
For some homeowners, one of the only downsides of porcelain tile floors is that they’re sometimes cold on the feet. However, porcelain tiles are ideal to use with underfloor heating systems, which can add a luxurious touch and eliminate the problem of chilly tiles.
When you’re getting ready to shop for porcelain tiles, making sure you know the answers to these questions can help you get the right option for your home.