The Pros and Cons of Porcelain Tile

This all-purpose tile is durable, reasonably priced and comes in a wide array of colors and textures.

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Actually a subtype of ceramic tile, porcelain is "the most popular tile going now," says Daniel Dixon, a California-based tile construction expert. But don't be too quick to jump on the bandwagon.

Porcelain bears a perception of high quality, but for residential applications, its particular toughness is unnecessary. "Porcelain is designed for, say, airports," says Dave Gobis, executive director of the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation. "Plain ceramic tile is all you need for residential uses. However, the manufacturing process of porcelain provides unlimited design potential, making it popular in the residential market."

The problem is that do-it-yourselfers typically install it with setting material designed for ordinary ceramic tiles, but porcelain's low porosity means it requires a special compound for setting. "Don't ask the salesperson how to install it," Gobis cautions. "Ask the manufacturer."

Install Yourself? Yes
Best Uses: All-purpose; also commercial installations
Pros: Toughness, variety of design
Cons: Requires modified setting material to anchor it to substrate
Price Range: $3–$6

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