porous tile soaking up water

Porous

Originally contributed by Jeff Butler • last updated 3/15/2021

Whether you’re taking on a big project like renovating your kitchen or considering a smaller job like painting a bedroom, understanding the materials that you’re going to work with is an important step to a successful final product. There are many factors to consider, but one that sometimes gets overlooked is whether a material is porous or non-porous (solid). The difference between the two could have a major impact on both the way you work with your materials and the final outcome of the project.

Definition

If the material you’re working with is considered porous, its composition is full of small holes and pockets instead of being formed solid. A non-solid material, like marble or wood, is considered permeable and absorbent, making it less resistant to liquids, stains, and wear than other solid materials, such as slate or glass. These materials are often easier to work with because they tend to be lighter and more pliable but this is not always the case. Porous materials, such as unglazed tiles, are often used for flooring, especially in areas with water. They are common in kitchens, entrance ways, and mudrooms because they are often more slip resistant and provide more grip.

What Are The Best Uses For A Porous Material Around The Home?

Depending on the project, the materials you end up working with will often come with different options in regards to their composition. It’s important to understand how the materials will perform under certain conditions before making any big purchases. Here are a couple things to keep in mind when choosing between a porous and a non-porous material:

  • Non-porous materials (or solid materials) tend to be easier to clean and maintain. This makes them a great option for kitchen counter surfaces and other highly trafficked areas that could be exposed to stains and other elements. Because they are easier to clean, they are considered to be more sanitary.
  • Porous materials tend to absorb liquids and other deposits. As a result, they often need to be sealed to prevent moisture and stains from ruining the surface. Typically, it is easier to apply paints, adhesives, and other finishes to these types of surfaces, such as wood.
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