“Home Building Guide”: Flooring

Ceramic vs. Porcelain Tile

“Porcelain is generally denser than most ceramic tile and has a lower absorbtion rate” says Chris McCormick with A.G. Strobel, Inc. “The extra density make porcelain less likely to chip or scratch.”

An important thing to look for, when comparing different tiles, is the PEI rating, especially at discount stores. The PEI rating will tell how resistant the tile surface will be to scratching and chipping. This rating scale is from 0 to 5, with 5 being the most resistant.

In a typical residential application, porcelain and ceramic will endure comparably provided they have the same PEI rating. In terms of functionality, porcelain and ceramic will work for most residential and many commercial applications. Some porcelain tile can be used for exterior applications because it is frost resistant.

Porcelain tile tends to cost more than ceramic tile, but with an increase in demand, the price of porcelain has come down. From an installation standpoint, porcelain tile is harder to cut and bond than ceramic tile.

Porcelain and ceramic are both easily maintained. We recommend vacuuming the surface of the tile to remove dirt and dust, followed by a wet mop and a mild cleaning solution, such as vinegar. Vacuuming is key to long term maintenance becuase “wet mopping only” tends to build up dirt on the face of the tile and grout joints.

Hardwood Floors

“Wood floors have been around for years and years and will be around for years and years more,” says Jim Brogan, president of Creative Hardwood Floors. He offers some facts about wood floors:

  • The top seller is oak, normally red oak.
  • The newest trend is red birch. “It’s the heartwood of the yellow birch tree, and its color depends on grade which is the mix of red and white.” Red’s grade is 90 percent; 75 percent denotes yellow or white.
  • The most popular areas to put wood floors are foyers, hallways, kitchens, dinettes and half-baths.
  • Wood flooring comes in pre-finished and unfinished versions. The unfinished, which gets sanded and finished after it’s installed, is the favorite among buyers. “You can see how it looks in your house with your decor and lighting and then pick a stain color or natural.
  • Hardwood floors add to the value of a house, and upkeep is easy.


“Choosing carpeting should be easy and fun,” says Carpet One salesman Jeff Gibson. And he offers some tips so it will be. Begin by deciding which room is most important and select carpet for it first. “Start with one area and just keep it going.” Be prepared when you shop. “Bring in fabric swatches, paint colors, a blueprint, and pictures from magazines so we can be more helpful.” Pinpoint your preferences. “There are so many choices, but you can eliminate some. If you don’t like Berber, for example, you narrow down your choices.” And the trend in carpeting? “Friezes have heavily twisted fibers — twisted like a rope — and the tighter the twists, the stronger the carpet. Friezes now feature softer yarns and a softer feel.”

Copyright 2010 Rochester Area Builders, Inc. No part of the Builder’s Corner articles may be reproduced or printed without written permission from Rochester Area Builders. 108 Elton Hills Lane NW, Rochester, MN 55901. Phone 507-282-7698.