Material Comparison

Comparing Ceramic Tile and Luxury Vinyl / Rigid Core

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Tile vs. Luxury Vinyl / Rigid Core

Rigid core luxury vinyl tile improves upon standard vinyl tile by providing lifelike replications of other materials, and therefore, is quite popular for use as flooring, countertops, and more. Where with vinyl tile you can distinguish between the real thing and the imitation on closer inspection, luxury vinyl is usually quite photo-realistic.



Luxury vinyl tile imitates the appearance of stone, tile, and wood with photo-realistic accuracy. The numbers of styles and colors available at this level of realism means there are a wide range of design options when using rigid core luxury vinyl.


Financial Differences

Luxury vinyl tile floors provide a relatively inexpensive imitation of other materials. The cost of the improved imitation over normal vinyl tile is reflected in a slight increase in price. It also carries the same short lifespan, significant health concerns, and ecological waste problems associated with standard vinyl tile.

Installing Luxury Vinyl / Rigid Core

The cost to install luxury vinyl tile comes to a cost-effective average:

  • $2.40-4.75 per square foot for material, averaging $3.60 per square foot.
  • $1.25-1.90 per square foot for installation, averaging $1.60 per square foot.

This means that it will cost an average of $5.20 per square foot to install vinyl tile, totaling $520 for a 100-square-foot space (for example). The initial cost of luxury vinyl tile is significantly lower than ceramic tile, but with drawbacks in maintenance costs, safety and environmental effects.

Installing Ceramic Tile

The initial cost for ceramic tile installation, providing that it’s the same visual quality and character of the luxury vinyl tile, is more expensive but offers benefits such as greater durability and lifespan. For ceramic tile installation, the cost is:

  • $5-15 per square foot for materials, averaging $10 per square foot.
  • $6-8 per square foot for installation, averaging $7 per square foot.

For a 100 square foot ceramic tile installation, the average cost will be $17 per square foot, resulting in a $1,700 investment.

Maintenance Costs

Cleaning a luxury vinyl tile floor is simple; regular vacuuming or sweeping followed by a gentle microfiber mopping with a vinyl-specific cleaning solution.

With that said, luxury vinyl tile only lasts about 10-30 years. Anticipate an average of 15 years before needing to completely replace your luxury vinyl flooring or countertops.

At (Lifetime) Ceramic Tile Luxury Vinyl Tile
Initial Cost $1,700 $520
15 years $1,700 $1,040
30 years $1,700 $1,560
45 years $1,700 $2,080


Health & Safety

Luxury vinyl tile contains the same two toxic chemical risks as standard vinyl flooring; PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and VOCs.  


PVC is a resin often used to increase the mechanical flexibility and heat stability of the materials it binds together. PVC contains both organotin and phthalates, both of which are toxic in high enough concentrations.

The health effects of VOCs include:

  • Damage to central nervous system, liver, and kidneys
  • Nose, throat, and eye irritation
  • Headaches, nausea and loss of coordination
  • Cancer

Ceramic tile, however, has neither of these health risks.


Environmental Sustainability

Rigid core vinyl tile – even luxury-quality – is one of the least environmentally friendly flooring materials you can choose. Its production, manufacturing, installation, use, and even the end of its life cycle, all has the potential to cause harm both to your personal living space and the larger environment.

Rigid core is loaded with carcinogenic dioxins. A common rebuttal from many vinyl producers is that dioxins are natural since they are found in forest fires and volcanic eruptions. But remember, just because something is natural does not make it safe – just like cyanide.

Vinyl is almost impossible to recycle and is not biodegradable. This means that it just sits in a landfill after it has outlived its usefulness.

Ceramic tile, by contrast, is entirely naturally sourced without the use of any dangerous natural or synthetic chemicals. Additionally, if maintained, ceramic tile can last for hundreds of years. There are still functional tile floors in England that are over 200 years old, today. Couple that with IgCC and LEEDv4 certifications and you know from beginning to end you are making the most environmentally responsible choice available with ceramic tile.

Extra Resources

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