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What Are The Differences Between Vitrified And Natural Tiles?

Updated: Oct 17, 2022


Choosing good quality flooring tiles is always difficult, considering the options we have in the market today. Many questions pop us when choosing the tile for your home-

  • Which type of tile should I choose?

  • Will it make a massive difference if I choose natural over vitrified or vice-versa?

  • How about I mix and match- use vitrified in some spaces and natural in others?

  • Will my choice affect how my house looks?

All of these questions are valid, and we are here to answer them for you.

The most pertinent question is what the significant differences between the two types of tiles are. Well, there are many.


Manufacturing and composition

Vitrified tiles have a similar manufacturing process to ceramic tiles in the fact that they are also made by firing natural materials at high temperatures, but the difference here is that vitrified tiles are made using a mixture of silica and clay where a lot more silica is used than clay.

During vitrification, an element that is similar to glass is formed in each tile, and this is due to the silica and clay melting together. This is what gives vitrified tiles their signature sheen or glossiness. The sheen does not fade even after years of use, as this is a property of the tile itself and not a polish or coating on the tile.


Price

Like ceramic and porcelain tiles, vitrified tiles can also be had in various finishes, colors, and patterns, making them suitable for use anywhere in the home. These tiles are also available as ones that mimic natural stones like granite and marble. The downside to these tiles is that due to the addition of silica and clay and the additional vitrification process required to finish them, they can be expensive than ceramic tiles.

Natural materials like marble and granite are more expensive than vitrified ones. The cost is dependent on the grade, color, and other factors like where the stone is mined. Italian marbles are more sought-after for their strength, sheen, and durability, while some marbles come with rare patterns.


Porosity

The property of vitrified tiles that sets them apart from the rest of the tiles available is that vitrified tiles have very low porosity. Since the ratio of pores is very low to that of the finished product, this makes vitrified tiles highly water and frost-resistant.

Different types of marble vary in the level of porosity. They may absorb a lot of water or sometimes be quite water-resistant. However, vitrified tiles are less porous than natural stones.


Slip resistance

Vitrified tiles are known for their high-gloss finish and can be mistaken for slippery. However, all tiles are slippery when wet; vitrified tiles can also be purchased with an anti-skid coating that will offer greater abrasion resistance. These anti-skid, coated vitrified tiles are suitable for installation in heavy movement areas. The durability of vitrified tiles justifies the additional cost that is spent as an additional investment in them.


Time-saving

Compared to other tiles, the compounds used in the installation of vitrified tiles are set faster than those used in traditional tiles. Because of this, vitrified tiles make more sense in a time-sensitive project, whether laying flooring in a new home or a renovation project.


Durability

Owing to the composition and the finish, vitrified tiles are more durable than natural tiles. This is because they are less porous and scratch-resistant.


Strength

The flexural strength of vitrified tiles is higher than that of ceramic tiles, at 35N/mm2. The breaking strength is also high (700N). This is quite high compared to that ceramic tiles, which is about 200 N.


Temperature resistance

Vitrified tiles are also great for different temperatures. They are highly water-resistant and do not show much wear and tear, even in frosty conditions. Ceramic tiles, on the other hand, are porous and absorb water quickly.


Stain resistance

Vitrified tiles are more stain-resistant than ceramic tiles. For example, if there is some spillage of curry on a ceramic floor, it leaves a yellowish mark on the floor even if it is mopped up quickly. However, vitrified tiles are non-porous. This makes them more stain-resistant than ceramic tiles.


Scratch resistance

Ceramic tiles do not have the same coating as vitrified tiles. Therefore, they are more prone to scratches than the latter. However, vitrified tiles retain their color even after they are scratched. Marble and granite are also not as resistant to scratches as vitrified tiles.


Which type of tile should I choose?

The choice between vitrified and natural or ceramic tiles is largely based on your needs. If you are looking for a naturally occurring material, natural stone tiles or ceramic tiles are the right choices. However, if you are looking for something like natural stone and comes at a lesser cost, then vitrified is your go-to option. The installation cost of natural stones like marble and granite is higher than that of vitrified tiles. They also require regular polishing, unlike vitrified tiles.

Depending on where the tile is being laid, you also need to consider porosity, strength and scratch, weather, and stain resistance. In all these, a floor laid with vitrified tiles emerges the winner. Cleaning is also easier on vitrified tiles. There is less chance of stains. So any tile cleaner and water will do the job of keeping your floor looking new. However, marble, stone, or granite floors require more care because they start looking dull in the long run.

If you choose tiles for the exterior spaces, stone tiles come with an anti-skid coating. However, many homeowners feel that natural stone tiles add to the rugged look, but they also prove to be more durable.


Can I mix and match?

Of course, you can. This is your dream home, and so, it is what you want. This choice, however, comes at a higher price tag. While vitrified tiles are cheaper to buy, install and maintain, natural tiles tend to cost more and are more expensive to maintain.

As far as design is concerned, there are more options when you choose vitrified tiles. Since they are artificial, these tiles come in myriad designs, patterns, and textures. Nowadays, vitrified tiles also mimic the natural patterns that we see in marble and granite. Moreover, they are constantly evolving with the times. So, we have more trendy patterns for the modern household.

However, for those who want the old-world charm or elegance of marble, it would be a great idea to choose marble for the main spaces, such as the living room, and opt for vitrified tiles in the spaces that are more prone to damage, such as the kitchen and bathrooms.

Since vitrified tiles have more visible grout lines than natural tiles, the opulence that marble gives a space will be slightly limited when you use vitrified tiles. Moreover, if not packed properly, these grout lines could slowly start to discolor over time. This is not something that you can see when you use marble or granite. Nowadays, vitrified tiles come without grout lines, but these are still in the nascent stage.


Will my choice affect the aesthetic of my house?

The overall look of your house depends on the colors you use, the paint, floors, drapes, and furniture. So yes, your choice of tiles does affect your home. First of all, the color of the floor makes a difference. If you choose light tiles, then the house looks spacious and airy. In addition, marble lends a certain elegance to your floors that vitrified tiles cannot give. Natural stones can also add to the rustic look if you are going for one.

Vitrified tiles can last for about 15 to 20 years if maintained properly. But if they are not installed properly, they can break easily. Ceramic tiles do not last this long because they have a different finish from vitrified tiles. Marble, on the other hand, is quite strong and durable. If installed properly, these can easily last for close to 25 years.

As for the walls and pillars, marble, ceramic, porcelain, and vitrified tiles are all options that you can choose from. While marble can be expensive to install and maintain, vitrified tiles are cheaper and are easier to maintain. In addition, they are not porous and do not stain as easily as marble or other natural tiles.

To conclude, the choice of flooring is largely based on your requirements. While choosing between vitrified tiles, the following check-list will hold you in good stead-

  • Design

  • Cost

  • Maintenance

  • Stain resistance

  • Porosity

  • Scratch resistance

  • Overall appearance

  • Purpose

While vitrified tiles score big on cost-effectiveness, strength, adaptability, and resistance to scratches and stains, the rustic or elegant looks that natural tiles allow cannot be matched by vitrified tiles. So, if you are looking for long-term, durable flooring that matches your décor, vitrified tiles are the way to go. But, on the other hand, if you want old-world charm, then natural tiles are your new best friends.

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