Giving Floors a Hardwood Style with Porcelain Tile

January 22, 2015 Updated: April 23, 2016

If you’re looking for the perfect flooring material, porcelain might just be the answer. It’s extremely durable, which means you won’t find yourself scrambling to replace the floor in a few years… so it’s a good investment at $3 to $10 per square foot. Stains, bacteria and odor will be hard pressed to find a home in porcelain tiles. They’re also resistant to scratches and even fire.

Cleaning? Psh. Nothing fancy needed here. Just wipe up spills when they happen and sweep often. When it does need a cleaning, a simple mild floor cleaner and a mop will do just fine. Keep in mind that if your tiles aren’t glazed, they’ll need cleaning more frequently, though.

But while it’s durable and easy to clean, most people end up going with porcelain tile because of how easy it is to get just the right look. It’s far from a cookie cutter floor design that you could find in hundreds of homes as it would be with other types of flooring. The customization is endless.

Want your floors to look like hardwood floors without the cost that comes with them? Wood style porcelain tiles can fool most people. Textures, grains and distress can all be integrated into porcelain now. Plus, they can be cut to any size or shape, meaning you can have a truly unique floor that perfectly fits your vision and personality.

Why Choose Porcelain Over Ceramic?

Yes, both ceramic and porcelain tiles are created from clay and other materials. Yes, they’re both fired up in a kiln. But the clay that porcelain tiles are created from is much more purified and refined. It’s also fired up to a much hotter degree and higher pressure, which means it becomes super hard and dense.

Porcelain is also highly recommended if you live in an area that gets very cold. It has less than half a percent absorption rate, which means there’s less of a chance that it’ll crack.

Dealing with Grout Stains

Porcelain or ceramic, you’re still going to have grout between the tiles. Because porcelain can be cut to just the right size, your flooring professional can minimize grout, but it’s still going to be there. A lot of people will tell you bleach is the answer. But one, there’s a good chance you don’t like using strong chemicals like that. And two, if you get that on the porcelain, it could lead to pitting or discoloring. If you use it on colored grout, it’ll discolor that as well.

Instead, start simple (and more natural). Start with a stiff-bristled brush and water and scrub. If that doesn’t work, step up it a notch with a paste of water and baking soda, topped with a few sprays of vinegar. It will foam up some, which is a good thing. When it stops, scrub with your brush and rinse with water.

Tip: Spray the grout lightly with a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water to help prevent mildew. You can do this on shower curtains, too.

Tip: In bathrooms and other areas that are bound to get wet, look for tile that has a high coefficient of friction. Tiles are assigned a slip-resistant rating from one to ten. The higher the number, the more slip-resistant it is.

Image: Windell Oskay via Flickr