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Ceramic Tile Walls and Floors

(© Copyright 2011 Shawn Cole. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

The Different Types of Tile

There are many types of tile available at the stores from which to choose.  The following is an over-all description of the different types of tiles.

Quarry Tile

Quarry tile comes in a variety of colors such as orange and red with varying thicknesses.  These tles are manufactured with or without a glaze on the top surface.  They are impervious to grease, liquids, and easy to care for.  They are extremely durable.

Ceramic Tile

There is a wide variety of designs and tile finishes.  Some tiles have very little texture while others have a deep design impressed into the tile.  These tiles are made from clay or a mixtue of clay and other materials which are then kiln-fired.  Tiles referred to as "ceramic tile" are suitable for very light to moderate traffic.  They hae a high water absorption rating making them not suitable for outdoor use.  Ceramic tiles are more prone to wear and chipping than porcelain tiles.

The tiles are available in three basic finishes

Porcelain Tiles

Porcelain tiles are also classified as ceramic tiles.  They are made by pressing dust from porcelain clays into a tile.  This results in a dense textured tile which is impervious to liquid and has a fine grain with a smooth texture on the top surface of the tile.  These tiles are frost resistant and uphold well in cold areas such as unheated porches and outdoors in milder climates than Illinois.  Porcelain tiles are available in matte, unglazed, glazed or a high polished finish.  Some basic characteristics of porcelain tiles are:

The PEI Tile Rating System

Manufacturers make tiles with 5 different classifications known as the PEI Rating System.  The classifications are not a rating on the quality of the tile but only used to help categorize which specific tile should be selected for a particular use known as  a "wear rating".  This rating system explains the mystery of why porcelain tiles that look the same vary so much in price.  Some tiles are manufactured for light traffic areas while others are manufactured to hold up under extreme heavy traffic and abrasions.

The building owner can use this rating system to determine which tile should be purchased for the area the tiles are to be installed  Purhasing a tile with a Class 1 rated for light traffic would not be suitable to use in an entrance which receies heavy traffic.  The higher the durability  to wear explains why some tiles will cost more even though they may look identical to the less costly tile.

Class 0
No foot traffic
Use these tiles for wall tile only.  These tiles should never be used as floor tiles
Class 1
Very light traffic
Walk on these tiles with bare feet only.  Used in master bathroom floor tile
Class 2
Light traffic
Walk on these tiles with soft-soled shoes or slippers.  Use in bothroom flooring
Class 3
Light to moderate traffic
These tiles are used in any area of residences but ar enot suitable for entrances or kitchens where there is more traffic in that area
Class 4
Moderate to heavy traffic
These tiles are excellent for entrances and kitchens and where dirt and abrasive substances clinging to shoes may be encountered.  This rating is also good for counter-tops
Class 5
Heavy traffic
This is the tile rating for tiles to be used in entrances, high traffic areas, and commercial buildings subject to heavy foot traffic.

How to Determine the Quality of Tiles

Since tiles are manufactured by many different companies, it is important for the building owner to be able to determine the quality of the tiles.  While most tile stores and large stores such as Menards, Lowe's and Home Depot should only stock quality tiles, it is still the responsibility of the purchaser to determine the quality of the tiles you are purchasing.  The following information will take the mystery out of choosing quality tiles.

First determine the PEI rating of the tile for which are you are interested.  Be sure the PEI rating matches where you are installing the tile based on the durability and traffic area to be installed.

Other Considerations

Gypsum (or a fingernali)
Calcite (or a copper penny)
Apatite  (or window glass)
Feldspar  (or a steel file)