The Pros and Cons of Ceramic Tile

Respected for its durability, ceramic tile comes in a variety of colors and is available at a reasonable price.

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Ceramic tiles are thin slabs of clay or other inorganic materials, hardened by oven firing and usually coated with some kind of glaze. Ceramic is best known for its durability: "There are still intact installations in the ruins of ancient Rome and Egypt," says Dave Gobis, executive director of the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation. "Pompeii has many examples of beautiful ceramic tilework that are still pristine after 2,000 years."

Ceramic tile is a great choice for kitchens and bathrooms because it's easy to clean and doesn't harbor germs. It is manufactured in production runs; because of variation between lots, Gobis says, make sure the caliber number (indicating size) and lot number (indicating color) are the same throughout your order.

Ceramic tile is rated from zero to five based on hardness; zero through two is suitable for wall tile, three is good for most residential uses, and four and five are hard enough for commercial applications.

Install Yourself? Yes
Best Use: Floors, walls, countertops, backsplashes
Pros: Durability, versatility, low maintenance, easy installation, low cost
Cons: Can vary in size and color from lot to lot
Price Range: $3–$7 per square foot

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