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Advantages & Disadvantages of Slate, Ceramic & Porcelain Tile

Updated March 23, 2017

There's a certain appeal to using tile made of materials such as slate, ceramic and porcelain when remodelling a countertop, shower or floor. Each of these materials is attractive, durable and, with proper care, long-lasting. Still, nothing is perfect, and slate, ceramic and porcelain each have their own advantages and disadvantages.

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Advantages of Slate

Slate is water-resistant, tough, durable and easy to care for. It comes in the traditional colours of grey and black, but is also available in a range of more subtle tones to match most interior designs. The ability to use slate in bathrooms, kitchens, living spaces and even porches makes it a versatile decorating tool. When it's manufactured with a tumbled or honed finish, slate also provides good traction.

Disadvantages of Slate

Slate is a relatively expensive material to buy. It's sometimes rough to the touch and can peel. Glossy finishes must be polished regularly, and tumbled or honed slate must be sealed regularly. Slate is a heavier option than most flooring, and a reinforced subfloor may be necessary.

Advantages of Ceramic

There is a huge variety of shapes, sizes, patterns and colours to choose from when it comes to ceramic. Ceramic is less expensive than most hard-surface materials, and is water- and stain-resistant and easy to clean. Ceramic tiles are easy and affordable for do-it-yourselfers to install, and they also provide a myriad of creative decorating options.

Disadvantages of Ceramic

Glossy ceramic tile can be quite slippery when wet, grout lines are labour-intensive to keep clean and ceramic is cold and hard on the feet. Low-quality ceramic tiles can chip, and tiles that have been laid on a less than perfectly flat and smooth underlay can crack.

Advantages of Porcelain

Glazed porcelain tiles are moisture- and stain-resistant, easy to maintain, comparatively affordable and available in a wide variety of colours and sizes. As with ceramic tiles, porcelain tiles are easy for do-it-yourselfers to install. Porcelain tiles are the same colour throughout the body of the tile, making it less likely that scratches will show.

Disadvantages of Porcelain

Porcelain tiles are hard enough that anything fragile that falls on them is likely to break. Porcelain, as with ceramic, is prone to cracks and chips. It's also difficult to repair. Grout lines can discolour and can be frustrating to keep clean.

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About the Author

Dana Sparks has been a professional writer since 1990. As a staff reporter, she has written hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles, and she is also the author of two published novels. Sparks holds a Bachelor of Arts in business.

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