slate tile floor, oahuTile flooring has been used for centuries, and continues to be the hallmark flooring material for kitchens and bathrooms even today. It’s not difficult to see why though; tile flooring is durable, water resistant, versatile, and timeless. What’s not to like? It used to be that you were fairly limited in your tile choices though, with plain ceramic tile being the go to choice for most homeowners. These days there are nearly endless tiling options for your floors though. From travertine to glass, porcelain to slate, glazed vs. unglazed ceramic, it can be hard for a flooring layman to know where to start and what material will be best for their home. That’s why Floor Coverings International of Oahu and Honolulu, HI put together this post, to help you explore just two of your tile flooring options, porcelain tile vs. slate tile flooring.

What are Porcelain and Slate Tile Flooring?

While porcelain is often talked about as if it is a wholly different material than ceramic, porcelain tile is actually a ceramic subset. Porcelain is fired at incredibly high temperatures, 1200 to 1350 degrees Celsius, which result in a super hard and super water resistant ceramic that we know as porcelain. On the PEI scale, which measures the hardness of ceramic, porcelain tops the list, while regular ceramic sits in the middle range. Porcelain is formally classified based on its water absorption rate. If a ceramic tile has an absorption rate lower than 0.5%, it is technically porcelain. Slate on the other hand is a natural stone flooring material. Slate is a metamorphic stone that is formed over long periods of time under heat and pressure in the earth. It is quarried from the sides of mountains, and its color and density will vary based on the mineral composition of the soil from which it was formed.


Both porcelain tile and slate tile flooring are incredibly durable materials. This is due to how hard they are, as they both have very high levels of hardness in comparison to other flooring types. As we mentioned, porcelain ranks at a 5 on the PEI scale, the highest level of hardness available for ceramics, and slate is known for being quite hard, although brittle. This means that both materials are resistant to scratches and scrapes. Porcelain is even recommended for commercial use in structures such as airports and shopping malls. While both porcelain and slate are water resistant, porcelain uniformly has a water absorption rate less than 0.5%, while slate has varying levels of porosity depending on the quality of the stone. Denser, less absorbent slates will have accordingly higher price tags.


porcelain tile floor and backsplashSlate and porcelain have very different merits when it comes to appearance. Slate is valued primarily for its natural and distinctive look. While it can be honed smooth and made to look more simple and monochromatic, many people value slate tile flooring because it looks so unique and rustic. The texture of natural slate comes from when the tile was cleft from larger stones after being quarried, and slate comes in a wide range of distinctive colors. Porcelain tile flooring on the other hand is valued instead because of its versatility. The design options with porcelain are nearly endless, with the ability to have nearly any color or pattern on dyed in or glazed tiles. Porcelain’s special trick though, is to mimic other flooring types, you can get porcelain tiles that look like marble, and in fact, you can even get porcelain tile flooring that looks just like slate.

Now that you know a bit more about these two tile flooring options, you should be one step closer to deciding which tile flooring material is the best for your project. For more flooring info and advice, or for a free in-home consultation, call Floor Coverings International of Oahu and Honolulu today!

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Photo: Monkey Business Images, Jokerpro