At Commercial Floor Services, we know that whether you’re building, renovating, or just updating the flooring in your home, making the right material choice is the first step in a successful and long lasting installation. While there are many options for flooring in general, tile is one of the most versatile options, and there are several types of tile with key differences that should be considered to determine what is best for your project.
Here, we’re breaking down the major differences between vinyl vs ceramic tile so that you have everything you need to make the right decision for your tiling project.
Vinyl Tile vs Ceramic Tile
Vinyl tile is made of very similar materials to vinyl sheet flooring. The main section is made up of PVC plastic with a printed design on top covered by a clear layer to protect it from wear and tear, and a backing typically made of felt or fiberglass.
Ceramic tile is made from clay and other natural materials that get granulated and covered in a glaze, then fired in an oven until hardened. Ceramic tile is often used on floors, counters, walls, and showers, while vinyl tiles are typically used exclusively for flooring.
Vinyl flooring may be seen as the imposter when looking at quality flooring, but the improvements that have been made to vinyl tiles along with the accessibility that it offers and the wider selection of colors and styles means that vinyl flooring may be the perfect choice for you depending on the project and where the tile will be going.
Ceramic tile came first and vinyl tile was designed to imitate the look, but ceramic tile has more limitations in terms of colors and styles. While ceramic tile does have a myriad of different styles available, it is much easier to find and much more accessible to use the variety of styles and options available with vinyl flooring.
Heat and Water Resistance
Vinyl tiles are completely waterproof, however the seams between each tile are not, so it’s possible for water to get under the tile. For vinyl, how snuggly each tile fits together will determine the water resistance of the tile. Vinyl is not heat safe, and will be damaged or melted if exposed to high heat. Also, if vinyl is involved in a fire it can release dangerous and toxic gasses as it melts.
Ceramic tile is also completely waterproof and the grout between each piece of ceramic tile, if installed correctly, is waterproof as well. It’s also impervious to heat damage, so it’s completely safe to use if it will be coming in contact with high temperatures.
Vinyl only has an expected lifespan of around 10 years, and is a softer material that is more susceptible to dents or gouges. Since vinyl flooring is easier to remove, if damage is inflicted to one area of the tile, it is much easier to replace it than ceramic tiles.
Ceramic is a harder material and has an expected lifespan of several decades, but unlike vinyl, it’s susceptible to cracking or breaking if anything heavy is dropped on it. Once ceramic tiles are installed, they can be extremely difficult to remove or change, so if just one tile is damaged, it’s harder to repair the area.
Vinyl tile is typically installed with a glue down bond that is applied to the floor before the tile is pressed down on top of it. There are also self adhesive vinyl tiles that have the adhesive already on the back of the tile. With vinyl tile, there is no need to wait for the tiles to dry or cure, so you can live and walk on it right away.
Ceramic tiles are installed with a thin layer of adhesive used to glue down the tile over a cement underlay. Once the adhesive is dry, the joints between the tiles are filled with grout, left to dry again, then sealed. Ceramic tile is more permanent than vinyl tile, but also more labor intensive to install.
One of the biggest appeals of vinyl tiling is that it is a cheaper alternative to ceramic tile. In addition to the tile itself being cheaper, the installation is much less labor intensive and fewer materials are needed for the installation, especially with the self adhesive options.
While there are many different options and price points for ceramic tile, even the cheapest ceramic options are more expensive than most vinyl tiles. The tools needed to install and cut the tiles to size also add to the cost, especially if you are contracting out your tiling project.
Vinyl flooring may be commonly known as an economy flooring, but that is becoming less and less true as higher quality options become available. The appeal of the ability to change it out more easily, have access to more styles and colors, and the quick and easy application is also becoming more and more popular.
Ceramic tiles are traditionally favored by realtors and home buyers because of the long lasting installation and the higher resistance to heat and water. This being said, the popularity of vinyl tile is increasing as more options become available.
Regardless of which type of tile you choose, Commercial Floor Services has the experience and materials you need for a successful and high quality tiling project.