Why Using Porcelain Tile is Better than Ceramic Tile in Outdoor Kitchens

Maryland sunshine is upon us and it’s great to be outdoors. Especially before the bugs and humidity of summer are in full swing. Still, we Marylanders love spending time in the fresh air. So it comes as no surprise many Maryland homes have outdoor living spaces. This includes bonfire pits, outdoor kitchens, and patios perfect for cornhole! And when it comes to building these areas, the material we use is important.

It comes as no surprise that tile is a popular material to use in outdoor kitchens and living spaces. It’s easy to clean, relatively low maintenance, and isn’t susceptible to bug infestations. However, contrary to popular opinion, ceramic tile does not perform well outside. Read on to learn why porcelain tiles are better options for outdoor kitchens.

The Basics: Ceramic vs. Porcelain Tile

While ceramic and porcelain tiles can look and feel the same on the surface, there are a few key differences. The distinction boils down to composition and manufacturing processes.

  • Ceramic tiles are red, brown, or white clay pressed at moderate pressure limits and then fired at relatively high temperatures. The final glaze yields unique pattern designs that define the tile’s aesthetic appeal.
  • Porcelain tile uses specific types of white clay. The pressure applied is usually higher than that of ceramic, resulting in a denser end product. Additionally, the kiln fire is also hotter making porcelain especially hard.

These manufacturing differences affect porcelain or ceramic tile application outdoors. Here are some of the top reasons you should choose porcelain over ceramic for your outdoor kitchen.

1. Porcelain Tiles Are More Durable

Maryland weather experiences everything from heavy winter snow to very hot and humid summers. A porcelain tile is typically harder and denser than a ceramic one. These properties make porcelain a longer-lasting option for the outdoors. If using porcelain tile for flooring you want to also consider foot traffic.

The Porcelain Enamel Institute (PEI) rating is a standard measure for determining which tile grade to use depending on foot traffic. The hardness grades include PEI 1-5:

  • 0 for zero footfall areas
  • 1 for extremely light footfall areas
  • 2 for light footfall areas
  • 3 for light to moderate footfall areas
  • 4 for moderate to heavy footfall areas
  • 5 for heavy footfall areas

Porcelain tiles typically have a rating of PEI 4 or 5. Ceramic tiles often have a PEI rating of 2 or 3. This means that the harder porcelain lasts longer outdoors than ceramic.

2. Porcelain Tiles Are Less Porous

The Tile Council of North America defines porcelain as an impervious tile with less than 0.5% water absorption. Manufacturers have to test their porcelain tiles to ensure compliance with the set standard. Water seeping through the ceramic tile can increase the risk of tiles cracking during the freeze-thaw cycles. Additionally, a porous surface may support mold and mildew growth that can damage your tile over time.

3. Porcelain Tiles Are Stain & Scratch Resistance

Porcelain’s low water absorption rate makes it easy to clean and maintain in your outdoor kitchen. Impervious to liquids and chemicals, porcelain tile can resist staining agents much better than ceramic.

Ceramic’s less dense and porous surface increases its susceptibility to chips and cracks. A porcelain tile is tougher due to its high density and hardness. A chip on a glazed ceramic surface tile can be more visible. Some porcelain tiles are throughbodies, meaning the color runs all the way through, making any damage harder to detect.

4. Porcelain Tiles Can Handle Low Temperatures

Both porcelain and ceramic tiles can withstand extremely high temperatures of up to 1200°C. These tiles are fireproof, producing no toxic fumes or smoke if burns occur. However, ceramic tiles tend to crack in extremely low temperatures. With this in mind, homeowners often find that an outdoor kitchen is better off with a porcelain tile that withstands colder environments.

Need Tile for Your Outdoor Space?

Across all measures, porcelain is preferable to ceramic tiling for your outdoor spaces. The tiles are tougher, less porous, and have better resistance to scratches and stains. They are also less likely to crack in extremely low temperatures.

Are you looking forward to building an outdoor kitchen? Reach out to the team at Atlas Marble & Tile to guide you as you choose the right porcelain tiles for your project.

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