Ceramic Tile Flooring Review: Pros and Cons

Ceramic tile is one of the most popular flooring options for homes today. With its durability, easy maintenance, and stylish design options, it’s no wonder ceramic tile floors have become a go-to choice for many homeowners. However, while ceramic tile offers some stellar benefits, there are a few potential drawbacks to consider as well. In this comprehensive ceramic tile flooring review, we’ll break down the pros and cons of installing ceramic tile in your home so you can make an informed decision.

What is Ceramic Tile Flooring?

Before diving into the pros and cons, let’s quickly review what exactly ceramic tile flooring is. Ceramic tile is a type of hard surface flooring material made from natural clay materials and water. The clay is shaped and fired at high temperatures in a kiln to harden it into tile. Glazes or finishes can then be applied to the tile surface to add color, texture, and design.

Ceramic tiles used for flooring are generally thicker and denser than ceramic wall tiles to withstand foot traffic. The two most common types of ceramic floor tile are porcelain and natural clay tile. Porcelain tile is more durable and water-resistant while natural clay tile offers more variety in colors, patterns, and textures.

Ceramic tile comes in a vast array of sizes, shapes, colors, and patterns, making it easy to create a customized flooring look. The most common sizes for floor tiles are 12″x12″ or 16″x16″ square tiles, but planks, hexagons, and mosaics are options as well.

Now that we’ve covered the basics of what ceramic tile is, let’s look at some of its best features and biggest drawbacks.

Ceramic Tile Flooring Pros

Extreme Durability

One of the biggest advantages of ceramic and porcelain tile floors is their extreme durability. Made from clay fired at high temperatures, ceramic tile is harder and more durable than many other flooring materials like vinyl, laminate, or wood.

A quality ceramic or porcelain tile installation can last 50 years or longer with proper care and maintenance. The dense, water-resistant qualities of porcelain tile make it especially long-lasting in high-traffic areas. Durability also means scratched or damaged tiles can often be replaced individually without needing to replace the entire floor.

Ceramic and porcelain tiles stand up well to heavy foot traffic and are resistant to cracking or warping from furniture legs and appliance pressure. Their hardness also resists scratches, dents, and gouges better than other flooring options. This extreme durability is ideal for active households with kids or pets.

Easy Maintenance

Along with durability, ceramic tile floors are also very easy to clean and maintain. Their impervious surfaces resist stains, spills, and moisture. A simple sweep or mop is all that’s typically needed to keep ceramic tile looking like new.

Unlike carpeting that can harbor allergens and odors, the smooth, nonporous surface of ceramic tile does not absorb spills or trap dirt. Bacteria and allergens can be washed away, helping provide a healthier indoor environment.

Occasional deep cleaning with a tile floor cleaner can keep floors looking their best. Resealing grout lines every 1-2 years will help prevent stains in the joints between tiles as well. But overall, ceramic tile is a low maintenance, simple to clean flooring option.

Design Versatility

Ceramic and porcelain tile floors provide endless possibilities for creating a customized flooring look. Tiles come in a huge range of sizes, shapes, patterns, colors, finishes, and textures to fit any style. Mixing and matching tile layout patterns, sizes, and colors allows creating a unique flooring design.

Both porcelain and ceramic tiles can mimic patterns and textures of natural stone, hardwood, cement, fabric, and other materials with today’s digital printing technology. Wood-look and stone-look ceramic tiles are very popular choices. Or you can use mosaic tiles and decorative borders to add interest.

The design options for ceramic tile are only limited by your creativity. Durable and easy to clean ceramic tile can be installed on floors, walls, countertops, backsplashes, and more for a seamless, stylish look.


Unlike many other flooring materials, ceramic and porcelain tile offer an excellent return on investment. The upfront material and installation costs are reasonable, especially for basic white or neutral colored tiles. Stylish high-end porcelain tiles are still often cheaper than natural stone, hardwood, or luxury vinyl flooring.

And thanks to the long-lasting durability of ceramic and porcelain tile, you won’t have to replace the flooring anytime soon after installation. The lifespan of 50 years or more means ceramic tile floors are one of the most affordable options in terms of long-term cost and durability.

When it comes time to sell the home, potential buyers tend to favor ceramic tile flooring over outdated carpeting or laminate. So quality tile installation can add resale value as an added bonus.

Water Resistance

Porcelain tile is virtually impervious to water, making it an ideal option for bathrooms, laundry rooms, and other damp areas. The dense composition of porcelain resists water absorption even better than regular ceramic tile.

Ceramic tile is also reasonably water-resistant as long as the grout lines between tiles are properly sealed and maintained. Avoiding excessive moisture is key to the longevity of any tiled surface. But porcelain and ceramic tiles provide superior resistance compared to vinyl, laminate, hardwood, or carpeting.

The water-resistant properties and easy cleanability of ceramic tile also make it a great choice for kitchen backsplashes and around sinks. Just wipe up spills and moisture promptly to avoid any issues.

Hygienic Surface

Unlike carpeting or grouted tile, the nonporous, smooth glazed surface of ceramic and porcelain tile does not absorb stains, allergens, or odors. As a result, ceramic tile provides a hygienic flooring surface that’s easy to disinfect.

Bacteria and allergens can be simply washed away with routine cleaning. Popular unglazed ceramic tiles made of natural clay also have inherent antimicrobial properties to inhibit bacteria and mold growth.

Compared to grout, the impervious tile surface does not retain moisture that can allow mold development. Properly sealed and maintained grout minimizes this issue in tiled surfaces. But overall, ceramic tile floors provide a hygienic flooring option ideal for kitchens and bathrooms.

Ceramic Tile Flooring Cons

Now that we’ve discussed the many excellent benefits of ceramic and porcelain tile floors, let’s look at a few of the disadvantages and drawbacks to consider as well.

Hard, Cold Surface

A common complaint about ceramic and porcelain tile flooring is its hard, cold surface. Unlike wood or carpet, ceramic tile does not feel soft and warm underfoot. The inflexible tile surface transmits sounds and offers little cushioning or comfort.

For some homeowners, the hard surface is uncomfortable and tiresome to stand on for long periods. Using area rugs can help provide softer zones of flooring. But the innate coldness and lack of cushioning of tile floors is something to consider, especially for kids playrooms or elderly household members prone to falling.

Grout Maintenance

While the ceramic tile itself requires minimal maintenance, keeping the grout lines clean and in good shape takes regular effort. Sealants help protect grout from stains and moisture but still need reapplying every 1-2 years.

Without proper sealing and cleaning, the grout will quickly get dingy looking. Discoloration, cracks, and mildew in the grout lines can be an unsightly issue. Keeping the grout sealed and regularly scrubbing it with a specialized grout brush helps maintain its appearance and minimize staining.

Installation Cost

Hiring professional tile installation adds to the total cost of a new tiled floor or backsplash. While the tile itself may be relatively affordable, the labor costs for proper prep work, layout, precise cutting, and grouting can add up, especially on larger projects.

Compared to peel-and-stick vinyl tile or DIY floating laminate installation, ceramic and porcelain tile typically require hiring a qualified tile installer and contractor. This adds to the overall expense of the project and requires greater upfront investment.

Can’t Easily Replace Individual Tiles

Unlike vinyl tiles which peel up easily, removing and replacing a single cracked or damaged ceramic floor tile can be tricky for DIYers. The durable mortar and grout holding each tile in place makes it difficult to swap out just one tile without damaging neighboring tiles during the process.

While professionals can replace individual tiles, there’s the cost of hiring a contractor. Often the entire surrounding section of flooring needs re-grouting as well when tiles are replaced. So any damage usually involves a repair project rather than a quick tile swap.

Not Ideal for Structurally Unsound Floors

Tile floors require a perfectly flat, structurally sound subfloor to adhere to. Any flexing or movement in the subfloor will cause grout and tile to eventually crack. Yet many existing floors have minor sagging or deflection.

Adding a new layer of structural plywood over an old wood subfloor can provide a suitable surface for thinset mortar and tile. But extra time and materials are required, adding cost. In some cases, the subfloor may be too unstable for new tile installation without completely replacing it.

Heavy and Hard to Modify

The heavy weight and permanent installation of ceramic tile make it more challenging to modify or update the flooring once installed. Taking out tile usually means breaking or scraping it up, then adding new mortar and tile. The mess and expense to remove large sections of tile can be prohibitive.

While area rugs can update the look, the flooring itself cannot easily be changed or taken out. So ceramic tile lacks the adaptability that vinyl, laminate, or wood floors provide when remodeling or redecorating a room.

Can Crack or Chip

Although durable, ceramic and porcelain tiles can chip, crack, or break from an extremely heavy impact or dropped object. When a microwave or appliance falls directly on a tile floor, cracking is quite likely. Broken tiles usually require calling in a tile repair pro to remove and replace them.

Natural stone tile is even more prone to cracking and chipping than porcelain. Terra cotta and handmade artisan tiles also have a higher chance of breaking if heavy items are dropped. While not common with routine use, ceramic tiles are still vulnerable to cracking from major impacts.

High Noise and Echo

Due to the hard, reflective nature of ceramic tile, noise and echo can be an issue. The sounds of furniture sliding, shoes walking, things dropping, and voices bounce easily off the hard tile surfaces. This is especially problematic in multi-level homes where tile transmits noise to rooms below.

Using area rugs and eliminating gaps where the floor meets walls or vertical surfaces will help dampen noise and echo. Soundproofing underlayments beneath the tile can also minimize transmitted noise but increase project costs. Effective noise reduction requires proactive flooring design.

Ceramic Tile Flooring Review: Pros and Cons

To recap our main discussion points, ceramic and porcelain tile offer a long list of excellent advantages that explain their popularity in today’s homes:


  • Extreme durability and long lifespan
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Highly water-resistant
  • Design versatility with endless style options
  • Affordability and added resale value
  • Hygienic surface

However, some disadvantages are important to weigh as well:


  • Hard, cold surface lacking comfort
  • Grout maintenance required
  • Higher installation costs
  • Can’t easily replace individual tiles
  • Not ideal for structurally unsound subfloors
  • Heavy and hard to modify
  • Potential for cracked or chipped tiles
  • Increased noise and echo

Ultimately, the pros seem to outweigh the cons for most homeowners considering ceramic or porcelain floor tile. The durability and low-maintenance benefits paired with budget-friendly options for basic neutral tiles make ceramic hard to beat for kitchens, baths, and light-use living spaces.

More than any other flooring, ceramic tile provides the most design flexibility to create a customized look reflecting your unique personality and style. Just weigh the cooler surface and noise considerations for bedrooms or basement spaces that get frequent, prolonged use.

Ceramic Tile Flooring Costs

Beyond the pros and cons, cost is often a deciding factor when choosing new flooring. Let’s look at the purchase price as well as total installed costs of ceramic tile floors.

Ceramic and Porcelain Tile Material Cost

Ceramic and porcelain tiles range tremendously in cost from less than $1 per square foot for basic tiles to over $50 per square foot for high-end handmade ceramic or porcelain tiles. According to HomeAdvisor, here are some average ceramic tile material costs:

  • Basic ceramic tiles: $0.50 – $2 per sq. ft.
  • Mid-range porcelain tiles: $2 – $7 per sq. ft.
  • High-end porcelain tiles: $8 – $20 per sq. ft.
  • Handmade artisan tiles: $25+ per sq. ft.

Of course, cost depends heavily on the type, size, color, pattern, and quality tier of the tiles selected. But in general, porcelain tiles cost a bit more than basic ceramic floor tiles of the same size and color.

Location also impacts material pricing, with coastal areas typically having the highest ceramic tile prices. Shopping sales at big box stores or tile distributors can save up to 20% on tile costs.

Additional Materials Costs

Beyond the tiles themselves, additional materials like mortar, grout, sealant, trim pieces, and underlayment add to the project budget. Most tile installations require:

  • Thinset mortar to adhere tile to subfloor: $5 – $50
  • Grout: $10 – $30
  • Grout sealant: $7 – $20
  • Cement board underlayment: $.50 – $2 per sq. ft.
  • Tile edging/trim pieces: $.50 – $4 per linear foot

Always calculate at least 15% extra for cuts and waste. For a typical 12×12 tile floor, budgeting $3 – $5 per square foot for materials is realistic. High-end tile with decorative borders or mosaics costs even more.

Ceramic Tile Installation Cost

While DIY installation is possible for small tile projects, professional tile installation is recommended to ensure proper subfloor prep, layout, thinset application, grouting, and sealing.

The national average cost to install ceramic tile is $7 – $15 per square foot. However, many factors influence installation pricing:

  • Tile size and thickness
  • Layout pattern – diagonal layouts cost more
  • New subfloor prep work needed
  • Regular or premium grout
  • Basic square room or complex floorplan

Be sure to get multiple bids and ask tile setters for an average per square foot installation estimate. Additional costs apply for tear out of old floors or demolition.

Overall, a new ceramic or porcelain tile floor costs $10 – $25 per square foot installed when you include materials and professional installation. Basic 12″x12″ ceramic tile starts around $10 per square foot, while premium porcelain tile runs $15 – $25 per sq. ft. fully installed.

Shopping for Ceramic Tile Floors: What to Look For

If you’ve decided on ceramic or porcelain tile flooring for your home, here are some important factors to consider when shopping for tiles:

Tile Grade

Tile quality is graded based on durability, thickness, water absorption rate, and recommended use. Porcelain tiles rate highest, followed by ceramic, then terra cotta. Check manufacturer grades and ratings to assess quality. High traffic and wet areas demand higher grade tiles.

Coefficient of Friction

The tile surface traction rating, known as COF, is vital for floor tiles. A COF above .50 provides slip resistance for level floors, while .60+ is best for inclines. Textured surfaces improve traction.

V0 vs V3/V4 Color Consistency Rating

A V0 color rating means tile colors match the sample batch very consistently. Lower V3-V4 ratings can have greater variation between tiles, potentially giving the floor a mottled look.

PEI Wear Rating

This rating indicates the durability and abrasion resistance of the glazed tile surface. PEI Class 0 is decorative only while PEI Class V supports heavy residential/commercial use.

Water Absorption Rate

Look for low water absorption below 3% or 0.5% for porcelain. Higher rates make tile vulnerable to efflorescence mineral deposits, mildew, and breaking.

Country of Origin

Tile quality can vary based on manufacturing standards and raw materials in different countries. Well-regulated European, U.S., or Japanese tile often offers more consistent sizing and durability.

Shade Variation

Does the tile color appear uniform or have high variation? Subtle differences between tiles provide a natural look. More variation potentially causes a busy appearance but creates more dimension.

Size and Thickness

Larger tiles have fewer grout lines but can be more prone to cracking or needing a flat subfloor. Mosaics have more grout. Thicker tiles withstand weight and traffic better.

Finishes and Textures

Consider slip resistance and reflectiveness. Textured surfaces improve traction but show more dirt and wear. Glossy finishes enhance colors but show imperfections more.

Smart Ceramic Tile Installation Tips

To maximize the longevity and appearance of your ceramic tile flooring, proper installation is key. Here are some top tips for a successful ceramic tile flooring installation:

Prep the Subfloor

Tile needs a perfectly flat, structurally sound, and level subfloor. Use floor leveling compound to flatten slight variations. Replace loose sections or install cement board over questionable areas.

Follow Layout Lines

The installer should snap perpendicular layout lines on the floor and wall to align the first row. This prevents tile rows from drifting off course and looking crooked.

Mix Thinset Thoroughly

Premixed thinset mortar works fine, but powdered thinset should be thoroughly mixed with the proper ratios and consistency for best adhesion strength. Don’t spread too far ahead to prevent thinset from drying out.

Check Tile Spacing

Consistent spacing between tiles makes the floor look crisp. Uneven gro