The kitchen- the one room in the house that has to be equipped for all sorts of culinary accidents. Spills and splashes are aplenty and the occasional utensil drop is inevitable. The floors and walls have to be able to handle these multiple hazards.
Tiles are a great option for kitchen floors. Tiles are also installed on kitchen walls and backsplashes to protect the wall from spills and stains. Tiles are hard, durable, water-resistant, and easy to clean as it is highly resistant to staining. Depending on the type of tile, they can withstand heavy traffic and can withstand odors and bacteria. With a wide variety of styles available in tiles, they can be mixed and matched to fit any decor theme that runs throughout a home.
What are the things to consider when choosing tiles for the kitchen floor?
When choosing tiles for the kitchen floor, a variety of factors come into consideration.
Durability is an important aspect of kitchen flooring. Keeping in mind that the kitchen is a heavy traffic area and also prone to utensils and other items dropping, the tile hardness has to be rated Class III or above on the Moh’s Scale of Mineral Hardness. Class III tiles are rated for moderate traffic and Class IV tiles are rated for moderate to heavy traffic. They are the simplest tiles as they can withstand abuse to a large extent while providing longevity and looking good at the same time.
As the kitchen floor is prone to spills and splashes, the porosity of the tile has to be taken into consideration. Since porosity is the ratio of air holes to solids in a tile, it impacts the amount of water a tile is able to absorb or dispel. For the kitchen, the porosity classification has to be impervious, with a water absorption level of 0.5 percent or less if they are unglazed tiles and 3% if they are glazed.
- Slip Resistance
Tiles that are prone to getting slippery when water drops on them are not recommended for the kitchen floor. A tile with good slip resistance will ensure that spills and splashes do not affect the amount of grip the tiles have. This ensures safety and comfort. Tiles with textured surfaces make the floor less slippery and go a long way in masking dirt, but can be substantially tougher to clean.
Although most tiles are glazed and easy to maintain, some tiles come unglazed and may require glazing. Other than this, grout lines have to be paid attention to while installation. Darker grout lines are recommended for the kitchen, as stains are less noticeable on darker lines. Grout lines have to be periodically maintained with a sealer to keep the tiles looking new.
Most kitchen tiles that are recommended by tile manufacturers will meet the above criteria. Floor tiles are thicker than ones manufactured for the walls and will be clearly marked by the manufacturer and dealer. Floor tiles are bigger than wall tiles as well.
What are the types of tiles to use for the kitchen floor?
There are various types of tiles that are available for installation on a kitchen floor that conform to the factors to be considered while choosing tiles for the kitchen floor. Some of the most popular options are:
- Ceramic Tiles
Ceramic tiles are the most popular option for use on kitchen floors. Ceramic tiles are called non-porcelain to clearly differentiate these from porcelain tiles. These tiles are made from natural clay. The clay is shaped, glazed, and then fired under extreme heat. By virtue of the manufacturing process, ceramic tiles are quite impervious to water and stains, with basic ceramic tiles achieving just over 0.5% water absorption rates.
- Porcelain Tiles
Porcelain tiles are often mistaken for ceramic tiles. The words porcelain and ceramic are often interchangeably used. Although they belong to the same larger category of tiles that are referred to as ceramics, porcelain tiles are clearly different from their ceramic cousins. The main difference between the two is that porcelain tiles are made from a special kaolin clay mixture, which results in them having a water absorption rate of less than 0.5%. Porcelain tiles are dense, fine-grained, smooth tiles that are more impervious than ordinary ceramic tiles.
- Natural Stone Tiles
Natural stone is a durable and long-lasting kitchen flooring option. It signifies luxury, and a kitchen with a natural stone floor is often a draw for buyers when it comes time to sell your home. Different types of stone will have different properties such as hardness, scratch resistance, and long-term durability. Stone tiles are naturally porous and this makes them susceptible to kitchen stains and spills. Because of this, stone tiles have to be installed with a stone sealant to make them resistant to water. This process of waterproofing has to be done periodically and thus makes this an expensive option in the long run.
Which are the best tiles for the kitchen floor – ceramic or porcelain?
While porcelain and ceramic tiles are largely used for the same applications and may look the same as both of them have high levels of glazing, there is a world of difference between the two. Porcelain tiles are made using a higher temperature as compared to ceramic tiles during manufacturing and are more impervious to water as well. While porcelain tiles are fired at temperatures up to 2500 degrees Fahrenheit, ceramic ones are subject to temperatures of 1650 degrees Fahrenheit.
Ceramic tiles, however, are softer as compared to porcelain, which makes them easier to install. Porcelain tiles, by virtue of being harder, are more brittle as compared to ceramic tiles. Modern porcelain tiles can mimic the look of various materials, and come in various colors, patterns, and finishes that look like wood grain and natural stone. Ceramic tiles mostly come in solid colors, and simulations like those in porcelain tiles are not common in basic ceramic tiles. Both are finished with high glazing.
For a kitchen floor, the most recommended tile type is porcelain tiles. Although slightly more expensive than basic ceramic tiles, they provide excellent value for the extra money spent. They are more impervious to water and come in designs that can be matched with any decor. Porcelain tiles are also more durable, and periodic maintenance of the grout lines ensures longevity.
Who should choose ceramic tiles?
Ceramic tiles are a good choice for people who are working on a budget for the kitchen floor. Ceramic tiles are a little more susceptible to moisture infiltration, although applying a glaze to them can make the difference minimal. Ceramic tiles also have excellent heat resistance. Ceramic tiles have only minimal maintenance needs – cleaning with a damp cloth or mop and periodic sealing of the grout lines.
Although a ceramic tile may be easier to install than a porcelain one due to it being softer, it comes with its drawbacks. When a ceramic tile is chipped, it is not uncommon to find a different color underneath the top glaze. This makes the chips quite visible. The clays used for ceramic tile are less dense than porcelain clays, which means ceramic tiles are somewhat more prone to cracking and breaking. Ceramic tiles that are unglazed may also require that a sealant be applied all over the tile.
Despite these disadvantages, ceramic tiles usually cost about 60-70% of their porcelain counterparts and can last as long with proper care and maintenance. So, look no further if you are on a budget.
Who should choose porcelain tiles?
Porcelain tiles can resemble different materials. Porcelain tiles are an excellent choice where the look of wood has to be attained without wood’s susceptibility to water damage. Porcelain tile is clearly superior when it comes to appearance. Porcelain tile is very easy to clean up. Similar to the ceramic tiles, they can be damp mopped with a mild water-soap solution. The cementitious grout filling the joints between tiles needs to be periodically sealed to guard against stains and mildew.
Porcelain tiles are denser and due to its through-body composition, it is considered more durable and better suited for heavy usage than ceramic tile. In the instance that a porcelain tile is chipped, the color continues all the way through. The damage is nearly invisible, while this is not the case in a ceramic tile. Porcelain is an easy material to maintain, requiring only period sealing of the grout lines.
Porcelain tile is harder and thus more brittle and requires an experienced professional to install. It is substantially harder to cut and install as compared to basic ceramic tile. Porcelain is more expensive to manufacture than ceramic tile, resulting in higher retail prices, but are the best tiles to install.
If budget is not a concern and having the best is paramount, porcelain tiles are the recommended tiles to install throughout the kitchen. With the advantages of better design, lesser porosity, and ease of maintenance, they make for a compelling choice when compared to basic ceramic tiles.