Porcelain vs Ceramic Tiles: What’s the Difference?

It can cost thousands of dollars to replace your floor. This simple decision can impact every room in your house from its durability to its resale value. In fact, simply changing your flooring can potentially add thousands to your home’s value.

With so many options how do you know which flooring option is right? Well, we’re here to help. We’ve picked the two most popular tile materials and put them to the test.

Here, we’ve laid out the ultimate showdown between ceramic vs porcelain tiles, to help you make the right choice for your home.

Ceramic vs Porcelain Tiles What Are They Made Of?

Porcelain and ceramic tile are terms that are often used interchangeably when it comes to tile flooring. But what’s the real difference, is what they’re made of.

Though both porcelain and ceramic are part of a broad category known as ceramic tiles.

To understand the materials that makeup porcelain we need to look at its history. Originally porcelain was a dense semitransparent material that’s extremely durable. 

Although porcelain contains different things today, this reputation helps market porcelain and sell it at a higher cost.

Current porcelain contains sand, feldspar and finely ground white clay. These materials are then cooked at a high temperature that makes them dense and resistant to absorbing moisture. These tyles comes in 2 different types glazed and unglazed. 

The unglazed variety is also called full body and is less prone to cracking and chipping because the color is inside the tile rather than just on top.

Ceramic, on the other hand, is more straightforward. It’s usually made of either white, brown or red clay. The clay is then painted with glaze and fired in a kiln. The surface comes in a variety of colors and patterns.

Though they can both be glazed ceramic tiles are fired at a lower temperature making them more porous. The clay used to make it is often less refined and of lower quality.

The different types of material are the primary difference between porcelain and ceramic tiles. But to tell the difference most companies subject the tiles to a variety of absorption tests. 

Which is More Affordable?

In the battle of porcelain vs ceramic tiles, ceramic has one distinct advantage you can put it in yourself saving you thousands on installation fees. This also means you can put ceramic tiles in areas with a large amount of space with ease — making ceramic both time and cost effective.

There’s another sneaky way that porcelain is more expensive than ceramic. Porcelain is considered more high quality because of its connection to the porcelain in fine china.

Because porcelain is denser, it requires specialized tools to cut and install it correctly, making it more expensive both to buy and install.

Which is More Durable?

In short, if you looking for the tile that’ll last the longest, then porcelain tile is the best for areas that have a lot of foot traffic, or if you expect the area to see a lot of wear and tear. It’s also resistant to water and moisture making.

Because porcelain is much denser than ceramic tiles it can withstand heavy water and rain damage as well as being more stain resistant. For example, tiles used in subways used to come from porcelain.

Ceramic is more prone to breaking and cracking especially during winter. This, combined with its tendency to get stained, means it can’t be outdoors. 

Ceramic tiles are much cooler in winter, which is a plus in summer months when it’s warm, but can be uncomfortable when its cold in fall and winter. 

Where Should You Use Each Tile

Porcelain scores the most points for versatility.

It can be used in almost any environment and can easily stand up to traffic and wear. Porcelain can be used outdoors and still remain in good condition. 

This tile is the best choice for bathrooms, kitchens, patios and laundry rooms. It also works well for countertops.

These tiles can also be shaped to look like other materials like hardwood, concrete or stone.  

Ceramic, though not able to withstand every environment, is versatile in one way. It comes in a variety of colors so it can be used to blend into a different room.  

Maintenance and Upkeep

Because of its softer surface ceramic has much heavier upkeep. Spills and stains must be cleaned immediately. They also must be deep cleaned frequently about once per week rather than once per month. 

Though it usually isn’t as durable as porcelain it can be cleaned, which will preserve it and keep it looking good for a very long time.

To clean ceramic, you first have to sweep or vacuum the floor. Though ceramic can stand up to dust pretty well, its surface can still become dull and matted. When mopping the tile you should use a mild detergent and chamois mop or rag. 

Keep in mind that soap can also leave a residue that will damage your tiles if left on for too long.  

Remember to dry the floor with a clean lint free cloth quickly after washing and to prevent water stains.

Need More Help Making Flooring Decisions?

In the battle of ceramic vs porcelain tiles, the clear winner for versatility and durability is porcelain, but the winner for cost is ceramic. But no matter which you pick, both these options can improve the value of your home.

If you’re looking to upgrade your flooring then contact us today!

Hardwood vs Softwood: What’s the Best Option for You?

So you’ve decided to get rid of that worn or dingy floor and replace it with wood flooring.

Congratulations! Great choice.

Wood is classic, stylish and functional. But it’s important to know that not all woods are the same. Aside from having to decide how big the planks will be and what “color” wood you want, there’s an even bigger question.

What kind of wood will you choose? Yep. It’s the whole hardwood vs softwood quandary. And it’s an important one because it will be the basis for the other choices.

The Battle of Hardwood vs Softwood

Okay, it’s not so much a battle as gaining a simple understanding of the differences. One is not better than the other. But one will be better for you.

It depends on your specific needs.

So let’s take a look at the differences.

Origin 

In terms of timber used around the word, softwood accounts for about 80% of it.

Softwood comes from gymnosperm trees. These are trees with needles or cones, such as pine or spruce. These are faster growing trees and some are expressly grown for the timber industry.

Meanwhile, hardwood comes from angiosperm trees which, in nature, outnumber gymnosperm trees. These trees have broad leaves and flowers. Examples of hardwood trees are walnut, maple and oak.

Density

The denser wood is, the stronger it will be. So how is density determined?

Not to go all technical on you, but the wood density – also known as specific gravity (SG) – is a physical property of wood that is a guide to the ease of drying the wood, as well as an index of weight.

It comes down to the ratio of the weight of a body to the weight of an equal volume of water. Wood density is usually based on the volume of the wood at some specified percentage of moisture content and its weight when oven dried to a moisture content of 12%.

It is assigned a numeric value which represents the wood’s density as compared to that of water, which is 1.0. Most softwoods have an SG of less than 1.0. That means they can float on water.

If that’s too confusing, then just remember this. Generally speaking, the more dense the wood, the slower the drying rate will be. In the past, this meant a higher likelihood of developing defects during drying.

But lumber manufacturers now kiln dry wood with an understanding of these different wood densities to ensure that the final product will perform to specifications. Even so, it’s important to understand that wood density can cause differences in flooring performance.

In general, hardwoods have a higher density than softwoods – which makes them stronger. Mahogany and teak are among the most dense. But one of the lowest density woods is balsa, and it’s considered a “soft” hardwood.

Meanwhile, softwoods tend to have lower density. Cedar is among the lowest. But just as there are soft hardwoods, so too are there hard softwoods. Softwoods like juniper and yew are fairly dense. For softwoods, at least.

So you can’t judge on density alone.

Durability

It would make sense, then, that the more dense a wood, the more durable it will be. And this is mostly true.

Hardwoods are typically considered more durable than softwoods. So if you’re looking for floors that will need to endure heavy traffic, you’ll probably want to go with hardwoods. Plus, they’ll last longer.

Then again, if you want something that’s going to be a little more forgiving underfoot, you may want to choose a softwood. Although they’re prone to scratches and dings, they are more resilient.

The finish you choose will also impact a wood’s durability.

If your wood floor isn’t going to see a lot of foot traffic, you could stain and seal a softwood to increase its durability. It’s still going to be prone to imperfections, but it will also last longer.

In the case of hardwoods, they typically come pre-finished.

Appearance

If you take a gander at a hardwood under a microscope, you’ll notice a lot of pores. This has to do with how water is transported through the tree.

Water transport is done in a completely different way in softwood trees. Thus, they lack pores.

Why are we telling you this?

Because it’s the pores in hardwoods that give them their prominent and well-defined grain patterns. They also boast a range of colors from dark browns and reds all the way to (almost) white.

Meanwhile, softwoods tend to have less pronounced grain patterns and generally come is yellowish of light red colors.

Installation

Hardwood floors are easier to install than softwoods. They also take well to sanding.

When installing softwood floors though, sanding machines can quickly create low spots, so the surface may only withstand a single sanding. Also, softwood floors are easily dinged and dented so anything that’s accidentally dropped or spilled during the installation process could mar the floor.

Now, it is possible to use softwoods as a subfloor beneath hardwood flooring top surface layers. This will result in floors that provide more spring in the step.

But this choice relies on expert installation. Installers must leave enough room between the softwood planks for expansion due to fluctuations in the subfloor’s moisture content. This is especially crucial when softwood plank subfloors are going to be sandwiched underneath ¼” plywood and hardwood flooring.

Cost

Since hardwoods are usually denser and more durable, they come with a higher price tag. But the beautiful grain, deeper colors and staying power are often worth it. Especially in rooms like kitchens, bathrooms, living rooms and bedrooms where the foot traffic is high.

Then again, if you’re making the investment for wood floors in a room that just doesn’t get as much use, then a softwood floor finished and stained could last just as long. And it won’t cost as much.

Which Choice Is Right for You?

As you can see, the hardwood vs softwood conundrum doesn’t have just one clear-cut solution.

But regardless of which you choose, you simply can’t go wrong with adding wood flooring to your home. So if you want some additional expert flooring advice, please contact us today.

We’ll point you in the right direction.

6 Tips to Choose the Best Types of Floor Tiles for Every Room of the House

When you update a room’s flooring, it can feel like you’re getting a whole new room. If you make the wrong choice, though, the excitement of a new look will fade in a hurry.

As popular as tile flooring is, there are countless types of floor tiles to choose from, from ceramic tile to porcelain and more. While that gives you the selection to choose the perfect tile for each room, it means you’ll need to take more shopping time to make the right choice.

So how do you find that one tile that fits your room like a glove? Start with these tips:

Tips for Choosing Between Types of Floor Tiles

Getting up to speed about various types of floor tiles can help you narrow your search. Start with these tips:

1. Read Up on Hardness

Floor tile might be decorative but it also has to stand up to your home’s activity. One easy way to find tiles that are up to the task is to check their tile hardness rating.

The Porcelain Enamel Institute, or PEI, has an easy-to-use rating scale. It ranges from 1-5. Tiles with a PEI rating of one are the least durable, and they’re only suited to walls rather than floors. The higher the PEI rating, the more traffic a tile can withstand.

It’s also important to think about the type of traffic your home has. If you have kids or pets, it’s best to go with a higher PEI rating for your tile. While twos and threes may be fine for your home’s bathrooms, a four or five is best for busy areas like kitchens and hallways.

2. Find Out How Porous Each Tile Is

On top of hardness, each type of tile also has a different amount of water it will absorb. If a tile absorbs too much water over time, it may not last as long.

Think about where your tile will and how much moisture it may encounter. In bathrooms, in particular, you should use tile with as little porosity as possible.

Keep in mind that how porous a tile is will also impact how stain-resistant it is. Porous tiles will stain in a hurry because they’ll absorb some of the spill. This tends to make them a poor fit for kitchens and dining rooms.

3. Consider Your Tiling Plan

A great way to customize your flooring is to create a design with your tiles. Perhaps you’ll lay them in diagonal lines or have a unique pattern. As you shop for tile with a design in mind, ask yourself: how many tiles will I or an installer need to cut for this pattern?

As durable as harder tiles are, they’re more difficult to cut. This is a key consideration as you decide between porcelain and ceramic tiles, for instance. Porcelain tiles are far harder than ceramic.

As you shop, you should discuss your plans with a knowledgeable professional who knows what the job will entail.

4. Look At a Sample In the Room

If possible, get samples of the tiles you’re considering. Bring them home and put them in the room where they would be laid.

In many cases, it’s hard to envision how a material or a color will look in the room. The lighting will affect the tile’s appearance as well. Looking at samples will help you find the perfect tile that complements your walls, furniture, and more.

5. Learn About COFs

The Ceramic Tile Institute has a way to measure how much friction a tile has. This is called the coefficient of friction, or COF. You might see a specific number or you may see a term alone.

The CTI has three categories: slip-resistant, conditionally slip-resistant, and questionable. A slip-resistant tile has a COF of 0.6 or higher. A questionable COF is 0.5 or less.

In general, of course, the more friction a tile has, the safer it will be in your home. It’s most important to pay attention to COFs in bathrooms and other rooms with high moisture, though.

In some cases, a tile may not have natural slip resistance but you can get a coating that adds some friction.

6. Consider Less Traditional Tile Looks

The world of floor tile has opened up to include a larger variety of looks and styles. One popular option is to choose a tile that looks like hardwood. It tends to be more durable than hardwood and easier to keep up as well.

Another common choice, especially in modern homes, is a tile that looks like concrete. It offers an urban, industrial look with the easy upkeep of tile.

7. Keep Your Budget in Mind

Of course, every home improvement needs to fit into your budget, and some tiles are more economical than others. For instance, while they’re less durable, ceramic tiles are often less expensive than porcelain tiles.

Make sure you find out the square footage you need before you start shopping. Ask about any installation fees and the costs for grout, backer board, and other materials. This lets you gauge how much you can afford to spend per square foot of tile.

As you shop, don’t forget to look for flooring specials as well. You might be able to get a higher quality of tile within your budget.

8. Factor In the Maintenance

Another important factor to consider is how easy a tile is to maintain. For instance, the more porous a tile is, the more often you’ll need to clean it. If your cleaning time is limited, be sure to ask a professional for low-maintenance types of tile.

Finding Your Perfect Floor Tiles

It’s always exciting to make improvements to your home and take pride in the way it looks. Don’t let an overwhelming selection of tile take the wind out of your sails. The tips above can help you understand the different types of floor tiles, narrow your search, and end of up a beautiful result.

If you’re ready to start shopping, reach out to our flooring experts for professional guidance.

8 Tips for Choosing the Perfect Carpet Pile For Your Home

Choosing the right carpet pile can be a little tricky. There’s a surprising amount to think about.

You need to find the right balance between comfort and appearance, appearance and functionality, and functionality and price.

On top of all that, there are loads of different types of fiber arrangements that affect how a carpet looks and feels. Oh, and there are synthetic and natural fiber types too.

That might be more than you thought, right?

Let’s walk you through a few tips so you can pick the best option for you.

1. Is a Loop Pile for You?

Loop pile is one of two very common carpet pile types. With this type of carpet, the fibers are bent into loops, which makes it a pretty resilient piece of fabric.

So this type of carpet can be a good choice for hallways, stairs, and other places where footfall is high. They’re also popular among landlords who don’t want to recarpet their rented homes too often.

Let’s compare it with the common type of pile — the cut pile.

2. How About a Cut Pile?

Cut pile, unlike loop pile, is cut straight – there are no loops. This means it’s less resistant to wear and tear but is normally softer underfoot.

There are lots of different sub-types in the ‘cut’ group.

For example, the textured cut pile has yarn cut unevenly to create a slightly cushioned texture, but the shag pile is thick, luxurious, and deep. Cable cut pile is also very long and comfortable to walk on.

3. Mixing the Two

Many homes use a mixture of cut and loop pile carpet flooring in different rooms.

That’s totally fine, and it can make practical sense to make sure the carpet in high-use areas doesn’t need replacing quickly. But you’ll need to consider how it will feel and look as you step from one room to another.

Let’s talk about those aspects in a little more detail.

4. How Does It Look?

You want your carpet to look great. But, when you mix different types of carpet from room to room, stepping over the threshold can feel a little strange.

On the other hand, having one type of carpet throughout an entire home can feel a bit boring. You need to mix it up, but always use complementary shades that don’t clash.

Remember when choosing colors that certain shades will look duller or more vibrant depending on the time of day. In the same vein, you also need to think about the position of the windows in each room and the direction they face. Choosing carpet probably feels like a science at this point!

5. How Does the Carpet Pile Feel?

Let’s back away from the technical thinking and visit something more human.

How does that new carpet feel?

Carpet pile needs to look great, but let’s face it, you don’t want to sacrifice underfoot comfort for the sake of looks. After all, you’re going to be walking on it pretty much every day!

The feel is down to the type of pile, but also to the density of the carpet. When fibers are packed closely together, the carpet is more dense, more durable, and in most cases, feels better. When they’re loose, the carpet is more prone to becoming threadbare over time.

6. Natural or Synthetic?

There are plenty of natural fiber carpets available, so don’t think you have to go synthetic if you’re on a budget.

Synthetic carpets do tend to be cheaper, but that’s not always true. And the style of carpet – and the pile type – will also affect the price.

Natural fibers used include wool and cotton, as well as some more exotic ones such as jute and seagrass. Popular synthetic fibers include nylon, polyester, and acrylic.

To be fair, the synthetic ones can feel pretty great to the touch – we’re a far cry from the early days of synthetic fibers. But

7. Testing Durability

We’ve talked a bit about how various things can affect a carpet’s durability. But it’s not an easy thing to work out without having every single detail to hand.

Thankfully, it’s an easy thing to practically test.

Just sink your thumb into the carpet pile and see how quickly it springs back out. If it’s slow to recover, this is likely down to the material being softer, and the carpet being less dense.

If the indent pops immediately back out, that’s a pretty dense carpet. But you’ll need to balance this density with comfort – as very dense short-cut pile carpets can be rather tough.

8. Will It be Easy to Clean?

Cleaning a carpet isn’t just a case of running the vacuum cleaner over it every so often. There are some tricks you can use to help keep any carpet clean. But eventually, it’ll be time for a full deep clean that’ll take far longer.

Thick carpet pile can present a challenge here, as you’ll need to scrub into every nook and cranny. But while a thin carpet might be easy to clean, it may not suit your home.

It’s always a balance, and to be frank, a high-quality thick pile is worth the extra effort. But do keep cleaning in mind when picking your pile.

More on Carpets and Flooring

We hope this guide helps you to find the right carpet pile for your home.

If you want to find some more inspiration on what to choose, or you’re looking for tiles, laminate flooring, or even hardwood flooring, we’ve got loads of options.

Come and take a look through our catalog and discover your next gorgeous carpet.

7 Reasons a Carpeted Floor is Better than Hardwood

The American public has fallen in love with hardwood flooring over the course of the last decade or so. Studies have shown that about 90 percent of real estate agents believe that homes that have hardwood floors in them end up fetching more money in the end.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should go ahead and install hardwood in your home simply because it’s become so popular. There are actually more than a few reasons to consider installing carpeting in your home instead.

There are a ton of benefits that you’ll get to enjoy when you have a carpeted floor installed in your home. Let’s check out the 7 reasons why you should consider carpeting over hardwood flooring today.

1. A Carpeted Floor Will Add a Sense of Style to Any Room

If you flip through the pages of just about any home design magazine these days, you’ll no doubt come across lots of photos of hardwood flooring. Hardwood flooring is viewed as the most stylish flooring option at the moment.

But it’s important to remember that a carpeted floor can also add a sense of style to a room. You can make a room feel more elegant simply by choosing the right carpeting. You can also make it feel more comfortable by adding carpet to it.

There are even all kinds of patterned carpets can make a room feel luxurious if you play your cards right.

You shouldn’t just assume that installing hardwood flooring in a room is going to make it look better. You should also think about how carpeting could potentially bring out the best in it.

2. It Will Prove to Be Plenty Comfortable When You Walk, Sit, or Lay on It

Hardwood flooring will look great when it’s installed in your home. But how will it feel?

Chances are, you won’t always feel comfortable when you’re walking, sitting, or laying on it. Hardwood floors won’t provide you with much cushioning at all, which will leave you feeling stiff and sore if you spend a lot of time on it.

A carpeted floor, by comparison, will be exponentially more comfortable than hardwood floors. Whether you’re walking around on your carpeting or laying down on it to watch a movie, you’ll be impressed with the comfort level of a carpet.

You will get to spend a lot of long days and nights basking in the comfort that your carpeting will provide for you and your family.

3. It Will Make Your Home Feel Warmer

Does your home always feel cold in the wintertime? If you have hardwood flooring, it could be because your floors aren’t providing your home with the insulation it needs.

Carpeting, on the other hand, will give your home’s insulation a boost and trap warm air inside more effectively than hardwood flooring will.

Both carpeting itself and the carpet padding underneath of it will insulate your home and make it feel warmer than it would without carpeting. It’s just another reason why installing a carpeted floor makes perfect sense.

4. It Will Trap Allergens That Could Cause Respiratory Issues

There is an ongoing debate taking place over whether hardwood flooring or carpeting is better for those who suffer from respiratory issues. Some people say carpeting makes those issues worse, while others say it can actually cut down on the side effects of the issues.

The truth is that it really all depends on how effectively you clean your carpets.

Carpeting can trap allergens from the air that would otherwise cause you respiratory issues. By doing this, they can eliminate those issues and help you breathe better.

You just need to be sure to clean your carpets on a regular basis to prevent those allergens from making their way back into the air. As long as you do this, a carpeted floor can actually be better for those with respiratory issues than hardwood flooring.

5. It Will Quiet Your Home Down and Make It More Peaceful

If you don’t have carpeting in your home, it can get very noisy. Sounds can bounce off hardwood flooring and make your home noisier than it has to be.

You won’t face this problem when you have a carpeted floor installed. Carpeting can actually muffle sounds and prevent echoing from taking place inside of a home.

By putting a carpet down, you can make your home more peaceful overall and prevent noise from taking a toll on it.

6. It Will Make Your Home Safer for Everyone

Do you have kids who are constantly running around inside of your home? If so, carpeting is going to prove to be significantly safer for them than hardwood flooring.

All it takes is one fall on a hardwood floor for a child to sustain an injury. When a child falls on carpeting, though, there’s a good chance they’ll be back up and on their feet again in an instant.

Carpeted floors are also safer for the elderly and those who have mobility issues. They can stop people from injuring themselves badly in the event of a fall.

7. It Will Typically Cost You Less to Install Than Hardwood Flooring

There are some types of carpeting that can actually cost you more to install than hardwood flooring.

But in general, you’ll save a lot of money when you choose carpeting over hardwood flooring. The carpeting itself will cost less than hardwood flooring materials, and the installation will usually be just a fraction of the price of hardwood installation.

If cost is a major concern of yours, you’ll get a much more affordable price on carpeting than you would on hardwood flooring.

Install a New Carpeted Floor in Your Home Today

Does a new carpeted floor sound like the right move for your home?

We would love to show you some of the carpeting options that you have. You will quickly see why carpeting is still popular among many homeowners in spite of the rise of hardwood flooring.

Read our blog to find out some of the other differences between all of the different types of flooring.