Ceramic tile vs. Natural stone: Which is best in the bathroom?

Answered by Brett ~ December 8, 2010 ~ Comments

I would like to install a new bathroom floor and have not decided if it will be ceramic tile or natural stone. Although I'm impressed with some floors I have seen of both, my main concerns are longevity and safety. Which do you recommend? The dimensions are fairly clean cut at 9x15. Since the home is older, built in the late 70's, should I strengthen the sub-floor using 3/4 inch thick tiles even though no problems are present?

Chris ~ Dayton, Ohio

Brett Kulina

Chris, both ceramic tile and natural stone tile are durable flooring products, and either material would be suitable for your bathroom remodel. Regardless of which type of tile you select, keep in mind that you may need to install a plywood underlayment on top of the bathroom's sub floor to help support the additional weight of the new tile floor. I don't think it is necessary for you to install 3/4-inch thick tile, especially if you are assuming that doing so will increase the strength of the floor. While floor tiles do act as a durable and washable surface, they do very little to increase the overall strength of the floor system.

There are many styles and sizes of granite and ceramic floors tiles available for you to choose from, as well as several different surface textures. If slippery floors are a safety concern for you, then I would avoid polished granite tiles. A better option for you would be to choose a textured ceramic tile or a rough faced granite tile. I really like how natural cut granite floor tiles look in a rustic home, although I would suggest you choose a ceramic tile if your house is more contemporary looking .

When you are choosing a floor tile, keep in mind that the thickness of the tile will effect the height of the finished floor, which can cause uneven threshold transitions between the new and existing floor surfaces. If your new floor is too high, it may also interfere with the door's ability to open and close. In a perfect world, your new bathroom floor will have the same finished height as the old one, but if the installation of the new tile, the needed cement backer-board, and a plywood underlayment(if needed) causes the new floor surface to be higher than the existing floor, then you will have to craft a sloped threshold to deal with the uneven transition. Good luck with your project and I hope you enjoy your new bathroom!

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