This article comes from The Spruce.
Vinyl Tile vs. Ceramic Tile Comparison Guide
For environments where the flooring is likely to be subject to moisture or staining agents, homeowners are often faced with deciding between vinyl tile and ceramic tile, both of which are excellent at shedding moisture and good at resisting stains. This choice most often comes into play for kitchens and bathrooms.
However, despite the fact that vinyl tile is often designed to mimic ceramic tile, these materials are entirely different substances and they have much different characteristics when it comes to installation, maintenance, and real estate value. Learning about their differences will help you make the right choice.
Vinyl Tile vs. Ceramic Tile: Major Differences
Vinyl tile is essentially the same material as is used for sheet vinyl flooring—a very thin, manmade product made from PVC plastic with a felt or fiberglass backing layer and covered with a printed design layer and clear wear layer. For the tile form of flooring, the vinyl is simply cut into squares that range from 9 to 18 inches across. Some forms of vinyl tile, called composite tiles, include some amount of pulverized stone dust in their manufacturing process. This gives them somewhat more realism than plastic-only vinyl tiles.
Yet another form of vinyl tile is luxury vinyl, a much thicker form of vinyl flooring that joins together with click-lock edges rather than being applied with a troweled-on mastic. Luxury vinyl is available both in plank form and tile form; the tiles are generally known as LVT, or luxury vinyl tiles. These have a bit more prestige than standard vinyl tiles and are also more expensive.
Ceramic tile is made from natural earth clays mixed with other materials, covered with a surface glaze, and fired in ovens to harden them. Porcelain is a particular category of ceramic tile; porcelain tiles are made from finer clays and are fired at higher temperatures to make them harder and more durable.
Ceramic tile can be used other on floors, or for countertops, walls, or showers, while vinyl tiles are used only as a flooring material.
While vinyl floor tile is often designed to look like ceramic tile, the mimicry is rarely very convincing; most everyone can tell the difference between a vinyl floor and a ceramic or stone tile floor. However, vinyl floor tile does come in a huge array of colors and styles. From a pure design view, you will have every choice you could possibly want.
Ceramic tile is also available in a wide array of colors and styles, though you will pay quite a bit for the more designer forms of tile. Ceramic tile provides a lot of prestige as a flooring material. Porcelain tiles, in particular, come in many very attractive choices as a designer flooring material.
Best for Appearance: Ceramic Tile
Few people would dispute that ceramic tile has the edge when it comes to appearance. Vinyl tile, after all, generally aims at mimicking ceramic tile and it is usually easily identified as the imposter.
Water and Heat Resistance
Both vinyl and ceramic tiles are comparable in terms of resistance to water, since both are entirely waterproof materials. However, both have joints between tiles that create the possibility of moisture seeping down to the underlayment and subfloor.
As a wholly synthetic, manmade material, vinyl tile is entirely immune to water damage, but the many seams between tiles can allow water to seep down between tiles. Thus, vinyl tile is not quite as impervious to moisture as sheet vinyl. Vinyl can be damaged by intense heat, which will melt and scorch it. Further, vinyl can release toxic gases if it ignites in a home fire.1
Luxury vinyl planks or tiles can be a little more problematic in terms of moisture penetration since the joints do not fit as tightly as they do with standard vinyl tiles. However, the vinyl itself is perfectly waterproof, and problems are not likely provided that spill and puddles are wiped up.
As a material, ceramic tile is also impervious to water damage. The flooring surface has good resistance to penetration by water if the grout seams are well maintained are kept sealed. Ceramic tile is also completely impervious to heat damage.
Best for Water and Heat Resistance: Ceramic Tile
Both materials have good inherent resistance to water damage, but they also have seams that can allow moisture to seep down to the subfloor. However, ceramic tile is virtually impervious to heat, while vinyl tile is easily damaged by heat.
Care and Cleaning
Both vinyl tiles and ceramic tiles are very easy to clean materials. Regular sweeping with periodic damp mopping using a mild soap solution is really sufficient to care for both flooring materials.
Vinyl tile is one of the easiest of all flooring materials to keep clean.
With ceramic tile, grout lines can get dingy if the seal coat is allowed to degrade. When this happens, a good scrubbing with a grout cleaner containing bleach is necessary.
Best for Care and Cleaning: Vinyl Tile
Because it has no grout lines to collect stains or mildew, vinyl tile is the easier flooring material to keep clean.
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