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Porcelain Tile vs Engineered Hardwood: 6 Differences [ Revealed]

Porcelain Tile vs Engineered Hardwood

Last Updated on July 26, 2023

As a homeowner, one of the most significant decisions you’ll make is the type of flooring to install in your home. Two of the most popular options are porcelain tile and engineered hardwood. 

While both have their advantages and disadvantages, it’s crucial to understand the differences before making a final decision.

Porcelain tile is a type of ceramic tile that is made from dense clay and fired at high temperatures. It’s known for its durability and resistance to water, making it an ideal option for high-traffic areas such as kitchens and bathrooms.

In contrast, engineered hardwood is made of layers of wood glued together in a cross-grain construction. This type of flooring offers traditional hardwood beauty and warmth but also adds durability due to its construction.

We’ll explore all the differences between porcelain tile and engineered hardwood so you know what to choose for your home.

Porcelain Tile vs Engineered Hardwood: Know the Differences

Porcelain Tile vs Engineered Hardwood Know the Differences

Porcelain tile and engineered hardwood differ in the following ways:

1. Durability

2. Installation

3. Maintenance

4. Moisture Resistance

5. Temperature Sensitivity

6. Sound Transmission

Let’s look at the differences in detail.

1. Durability

Porcelain tiles score high on the Mohs hardness scale, and engineered hardwood may not be as hard. But both materials are durable and can withstand various levels of foot traffic.

Here are some important pointers to consider when comparing the durability of porcelain tile and engineered hardwood:

  • Porcelain tiles are highly resistant to scratches and impact due to their hardness. They are less prone to wear and tear and can withstand heavy foot traffic, making them suitable for high-traffic areas.
  • Engineered hardwood flooring is made of multiple layers of real wood veneer stacked together with a plywood or high-density fiberboard (HDF) core. The durability of engineered hardwood depends on the thickness of the top hardwood layer. Thicker top layers allow for multiple refinishing treatments over the floor’s lifespan, making it a long-lasting option.

The choice between porcelain tile and engineered hardwood ultimately depends on personal preference, budget, and the space’s specific needs.

2. Installation

If you’re looking for an option allowing more installation flexibility, engineered hardwood might be the way to go. Unlike porcelain tile, which requires precise measurements and careful subfloor preparation, engineered hardwood can be installed using several methods, including glue-down, nail-down, and floating.

Each method has its own benefits and drawbacks, but the floating installation method is the most popular as it doesn’t require nails or glue, making it a good fit for areas with concrete subfloors.

The installation process for engineered hardwood involves applying adhesive to the subfloor and securing the planks with nails or interlocking them without using any fasteners.

While professional installation is recommended for optimal results, engineered hardwood can be a more DIY-friendly option compared to porcelain tile. It’s important to note that the subfloor must be level and free of debris before installation, regardless of the chosen method.

With proper preparation and installation, engineered hardwood can provide a durable and aesthetically pleasing flooring option for any home.

3. Maintenance


Regular sweeping or vacuuming, followed by damp mopping with a mild detergent, is usually sufficient for porcelain tile to keep the floors clean. But, it’s essential also to clean the grout lines occasionally and reseal them to prevent discoloration. This is especially important in areas with high traffic or where spills are likely to occur.

Engineered hardwood, on the other hand, requires more frequent attention to avoid damage from excessive moisture and water spills. Regular sweeping or vacuuming is necessary to remove dirt and debris.

Occasional damp mopping with a hardwood floor cleaner is recommended to maintain its appearance. Also, engineered hardwood can benefit from periodic refinishing to restore its original luster and address any surface scratches or wear.

4. Moisture Resistance

Maintaining moisture resistance is a must for ensuring the endurance of your floors. Porcelain tiles are highly resistant to moisture and water, making them an ideal choice for areas that are prone to moisture, such as bathrooms, kitchens, and basements.

The low water absorption rate of porcelain tiles, which is typically less than 0.5%, ensures that they provide a waterproof surface that protects the underlying subfloor from water damage.

Conversely, engineered hardwood is more susceptible to moisture compared to porcelain tile. While the plywood or HDF core adds some dimensional stability, it’s still vulnerable to water damage.

If you have engineered hardwood floors, you need to be careful about spills and moisture build-up. You should also ensure that the floors are properly sealed to prevent moisture from seeping in and causing damage to the core.

5. Temperature Sensitivity

Porcelain tile is an excellent choice for areas with varying temperature conditions because it remains stable and does not expand or contract significantly.

This makes it particularly suitable for outdoor patios or rooms with underfloor heating systems.

Meanwhile, engineered hardwood can be sensitive to temperature changes. It can expand and contract with temperature and humidity fluctuations, leading to warping or gaps between planks.

To minimize this risk, it’s crucial to properly acclimate the flooring material and maintain a stable indoor environment with controlled temperature and humidity levels.

6. Sound Transmission

Sound insulation isn’t the best with porcelain tile. Due to its hard and dense surface, it does not have sound-absorbing properties and can result in a hard, echoing sound in rooms. This can be especially problematic in large open spaces or rooms with high ceilings.

But there are solutions to this problem. One option is using area rugs to absorb some sound and reduce echoing. Another option is to install an underlayment specifically designed for sound insulation, such as a cork or rubber underlayment.

On the other hand, engineered hardwood offers better sound insulation compared to tile. The wood material absorbs and dampens sound, reducing echoing and creating a warmer, quieter environment.

This can be especially beneficial in areas with high traffic or in multi-level homes where noise from upstairs can be heard downstairs.

Porcelain Tile and Engineered Hardwood Quick Comparison Table

AspectPorcelain TileEngineered Hardwood
DurabilityHighly durable, resistant to scratchesDurable, can withstand moderate traffic
InstallationRequires professional installationCan be DIY-friendly or professional
MaintenanceLow maintenance, occasional grout cleaningRegular maintenance, periodic refinishing
Moisture ResistanceHighly resistant, suitable for wet areasModerate resistance, avoid water exposure
Temperature SensitivityNot affected by temperature changesSensitive, requires stable environment
Sound TransmissionHard surface, can result in echoingProvides better sound insulation
Comfort and Underfoot FeelHard surface, not as comfortable as woodWarmer and more comfortable underfoot
Design OptionsWide range of colors, patterns, and texturesNatural wood grain, variety of species

Is porcelain tile more expensive than engineered wood?

Is porcelain tile more expensive than engineered wood

Porcelain tile is generally more affordable than engineered wood flooring options. While both options offer long-lasting durability, porcelain tile requires minimal maintenance and does not require costly sanding or refinishing.

Also, porcelain tile is highly moisture-resistant, making it great for bathrooms and kitchens.

With its easy-to-clean surface and lower price point, a porcelain tile is a great option for those seeking a budget-friendly flooring option that doesn’t skimp on style or function.

How many years does porcelain tile last?

Porcelain tile can last 50 years or more when installed and maintained properly. This type of tile is extremely durable and resistant to wear and tear, making it a great, long-lasting flooring option.

Its high resistance to elements like water, debris, and stains means that it maintains its quality and appearance over time. Ultimately, the lifespan of porcelain tile depends on factors such as maintenance, installation, and usage, but with proper care, it can last for decades.

What type of flooring is less slippery, porcelain tile or engineered hardwood?

Engineered hardwood flooring is generally less slippery than porcelain tile. Porcelain tiles can become very slippery, especially when wet, due to their smooth and glossy surface.

Engineered hardwood, on the other hand, has a more textured surface that offers better traction and slip resistance. But, keep in mind that the specific slipperiness of each flooring type may vary depending on the finish, texture, and maintenance.

Porcelain Tile vs. Engineered Hardwood: Choose the Best Option for You

After weighing the pros and cons of porcelain tile and engineered hardwood, you can now decide which option is best for you.

Porcelain tile is extremely durable and long lasting, making it a great choice for high-traffic areas and places exposed to moisture.

Conversely, engineered hardwood has a warm and inviting feel that can add a touch of elegance to any space. When it comes to cost, it’s generally more affordable than porcelain tile.

But the lifespan of porcelain tile can far surpass that of engineered hardwood, making it a more cost-effective option in the long run.

Ultimately, the decision between porcelain tile and engineered hardwood comes from personal preference and specific needs. Both materials have their benefits and drawbacks to consider.

Porcelain Tile vs Engineered Hardwood: 6 Differences [ Revealed]

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