Choosing Between Porcelain or Ceramic Tiles for Your Heated Floors

Green Wave Distribution ~

Tile flooring is practical, functional and beautiful. It works well in nearly any room, but is a particularly popular flooring option for bathrooms and kitchens. While tiles can be purchased that perfectly complement the décor and suit the purpose of the room, these same tiles are also very cold to the touch. As a result, many people are finding that heated floors are the perfect upgrade for these spaces. 

If you are renovating a room in your home and considering radiant floor heating for the space, then you are likely going to have to make a decision about which flooring material to use. As you consider your options, it’s important to understand the difference between porcelain and ceramic tiles. 

Ceramic vs. Porcelain Tiles: What You Need to Know

Ceramic and porcelain tiles are very similar — so much so that many people would not realize that there is a difference between the two. However, it is important to be aware of these differences, particularly when you are investing in a radiant floor heating solution. This will allow you to choose the best tiles for your heated floors. 

As you consider porcelain and ceramic tiles for your floors, bear in mind that both of these tiles are created with baked clay. However, ceramic tiles are made with darker clays while porcelain tiles are created using white clays and strengthened with other materials, such as quartz or sand. Ceramic tiles sometimes offer more versatility, because their design is adhered to the surface, while any finish applied to a porcelain tile will seep through the materials. Some facts to keep in mind about porcelain and ceramic tiles include:

  • Porcelain tiles absorb more moisture while ceramic tiles absorb less moisture.
  • Porcelain tiles are harder and stronger than ceramic tiles, which are softer.
  • Porcelain tiles cost more than ceramic tiles.
  • Porcelain tiles offer some flexibility, as they can be used both outdoors and indoors. Ceramic tiles are only suitable for indoor environments.
  • Porcelain tiles are more difficult to cut than ceramic tiles.

Keep in mind as well that tiles are only considered true porcelain if they have been certified by an outside agency. The agency will consider the absorption levels of the tile when determining if it upholds the standards of true porcelain material.

Should You Choose Electric Underfloor Heating for Your Tile Floors?

Most people who are considering heated tile floors for their home will find that there are two options — a water-based underfloor heating system or an electric underfloor heating solution. The best option for your tiles is an electric radiant floor system, such as the STEP Heat system offered by Green Wave Distribution. An electric underfloor heating system is the best option for your ceramic or porcelain tiles because:

  • It is the safest way to distribute heat to the tiles. A low-voltage system that relies on innovative technology will heat up the floors quickly without any risk of overheating. In addition, electric underfloor heating systems are safe and effective in wet rooms, where tiles are commonly laid.
  • It is the most efficient and affordable way to heat floors. Electric systems cost less to operate than their water-based counterparts, and they also are more efficient, giving you the results you need in a shorter amount of time.
  • It is a durable solution that requires little to no maintenance in the future. When you invest in an underfloor heating solution like the STEP HEAT system, you can feel confident knowing that you are going to get the results that you want without the maintenance issues and costly repairs that are associated with other heating solutions.

It’s worth noting that underfloor heating can be used as both a primary and supplemental heat source. This makes it one of the most versatile heating solutions on the market, giving you freedom to design the space as you see fit, choose the flooring materials that you prefer and make the room as comfortable as possible. 

STEP® HEAT Radiant Heating

Which Type of Tile Heats Up Faster? 

One of the most important factors to consider when you are choosing tiles for your underfloor heating system is the thermal conductivity of the flooring materials.

Fortunately, tiles heat up easily — regardless of which type of tiles they are — and they retain that heat for a long period of time. This makes them an ideal option for your heated flooring system. 

When trying to decide between porcelain and ceramic tiles, and while considering their thermal conductivity, you will want to keep the following in mind:

  • The thickness of the tile itself will have a significant impact on how long it takes to heat up the floors to your desired temperature. When a tile is thicker, it is going to take longer for it to heat up. A thinner tile is going to heat up quickly, but it may not retain the temperature for as long. 
  • All tiles have a maximum temperature that they can be heated to. Both porcelain and ceramic tiles can safely be heated up to 84 degrees Fahrenheit.

You will want to consider heated tiles in a room that suffers from high heat loss. A bathroom, sunroom or garage may be ideal rooms for an electric underfloor heating solution.

Choosing Tile Materials for a Wet Room

In many cases, people are considering heated tiles for a room where there is significant moisture, such as a bathroom. If you are considering heated bathroom tiles, then you might be wondering which type of tile is safe for use along with an electric underfloor heating solution in this room.

Both porcelain and ceramic tiles are created from natural materials, which means that they are porous, and they absorb water. However, when it comes to heated bathroom floors, it’s best to stick with porcelain tiles. Porcelain tiles are more water-resistant than ceramic tiles, and they tend to be more durable in wet rooms that have an underfloor heating system in place. While these tiles may cost more to purchase and install, it’s a worthwhile investment because they protect the radiant floor system that lies beneath the tiles. For further protection, you can consider applying a silicone sealant to the tiles and also having other waterproofing features installed on your underfloor heated system. Your contractor can provide you with detailed information about the best solutions for the electric underfloor heating system that is being installed in your bathroom.

What is the Best Underfloor Heating System for Ceramic or Porcelain Tiles?

When selecting a radiant floor heating system for your home — regardless of the flooring material that you intend to use — it’s important to partner with an industry expert. At Green Wave Distribution, we are considered the leaders in the radiant flooring industry. Our innovative STEP® HEAT system relies on low-voltage electricity, making it one of the safest underfloor heating systems on the market. Using self-regulating carbon polymer heating technology, this system is safe, durable and efficient. It will allow you to quickly heat up your ceramic or porcelain tile floors and evenly distribute heat throughout the room, making your space more comfortable and enjoyable for anyone who is using it. 

For more information about heating ceramic tiles and choosing the best underfloor heating system, contact Green Wave Distribution today or explore our radiant heating products below:

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