Cement Vs. Ceramic Tile: Why We Chose Ceramic For Our Bathroom

I started this process with my heart (naively) set on putting cement tile in the main house bathroom. I didn't really have a particular justification for this, other than the fact that it seemed like all of the tile that had caught my eye in the last year or so was encaustic cement.  I particularly fell in love with the halfmoon pattern from cle tile. The only problem, as with most of the cement patterns I liked, was the price tag. At $15.50 per square foot, we would be spending quite a bit on the floor tile alone. Then, since we did the nicer floor, we needed to do the nicer tub...and a nicer vanity...the typical OVERrenovation trap that we've been warned so much about. 

The one I really loved also had black in it, but they don't seem to carry it anymore.

The one I really loved also had black in it, but they don't seem to carry it anymore.

Despite my overspending anxieties, we decided to move forward with the halfmoon because we really didn't like anything else quite as much. And then I went to "check out" and realized that shipping would be $250. And that was the end of that.

I searched around locally for the next couple of weeks trying to find a similar pattern for a reasonable price, but came up empty handed. 

I ended up having a conversation with a very helpful woman at Castle Flooring here in Austin, and she spelled out for me all of the reasons (in addition to the price) that encaustic cement most likely wasn't the right choice for us. 

Cons of Cement Tile

  • Difficult Installation: we plan to install this flooring ourselves and we were advised that, even for professionals, cement is very difficult. With the already high price tag, getting professional installation is not an option for us.

  • Sealing: Cement is very porous and needs to be thoroughly sealed. Over and over and over. This was a wake up call that, as a rental, we would be setting ourselves up for extra work, and/or extra stress worrying about protecting the tiles from stains etc.

  • Thickness: Cement tiles are verrrryyy thick in comparison to porcelain or ceramic. If you aren't gutting your bathroom like us, you can run into some pretty wonky height differences installing cement tile, such as your toilet being significantly higher than before. For us, the biggest concern is that our bathroom butts up to the wood floor in the living room. It would be quite a step up into the bathroom with the thickness of cement.

Cool porcelain tile at Castle Flooring. Looks so similar to cement!

Cool porcelain tile at Castle Flooring. Looks so similar to cement!

It became clear that all signs were pointing to my cement dreams coming to an end. I started going down the porcelain and ceramic tile rabbit hole and was really pleasantly surprised with how many patterns I liked.

After looking at literally every result under my many queries for "geometric pattern tile", we finally decided on the Merola Tile Twenties Diamond from Home Depot. Yes, my search of specialty tile stores near and far led me all the way back good ol' home deeps. It's funny how that works. 

Low cost, easy (fingers crossed) installation, low maintenance, durability-- ceramic tile just made a whole lot of sense for us. Seriously, you guys, we ended up paying around $3 per square foot. Plus, i'm a fan of the classic tumbling block pattern, but also love that the other orientation offers a completely different alternative.

Cement Vs. Ceramic Tile: Why We Chose Ceramic For Our Bathroom
Cement Vs. Ceramic Tile: Why We Chose Ceramic For Our Bathroom

Of course, with more choices, comes...more choices. And thats where you guys come in. Please help us end the bathroom tile decision saga by voting for which pattern you prefer on our most recent instagram post!

Alright, that's it for me. We will be reporting back as to whether ceramic tile is really as easy to install as they say it is!

-Em O