Ceramic Tile FAQs
What is the difference between ceramic and porcelain tile?
Ceramic tiles, or non-porcelain tiles, are usually made of red or white clay, are fired in a kiln and coated in a glaze that gives it color and wear resistance. Ceramic tile works for both wall and floor applications, but is usually softer and easier to cut than porcelain tile making it less durable. It is generally suitable for most residential interiors and can stand up to light or moderate traffic but is more prone to chipping, cracking, scratches and wear than porcelain tile.
Porcelain tiles are made from finer porcelain clays and are fired at much higher temperatures which make them more durable. True porcelain has a very low water absorption rate making it frost resistant. That means most porcelain can be used outdoors throughout the continental US. (I wouldn’t recommend it for Alaskan winters though.) Not only can it be used in outdoor spaces, but the same porcelain tile can literally go from indoors to outdoors - imagine for a moment a porcelain kitchen floor that extends beyond the doorway of the house and to an outdoor patio.
Some porcelain tiles are glazed with color while others are referred to as “through body,” which means that the color runs through the entire thickness of the tile body, making it impervious to wear and therefore appropriate for high-traffic areas. Most true porcelains have an abrasion rating (PEI Porcelain Enamel Institute) of 5 and can be used in heavy-duty traffic.
Does ceramic tile work for every décor?
Yes, there are so many different shapes, sizes, colors and floor patterns to choose that you can certainly find a match for any décor in your home.
Where can I use ceramic tile?
Ceramic tile can be used in every room of the house, above and below grade. It can stand up to water and traffic and wears extremely well so you won’t have to worry.
Does ceramic always crack?
Ceramic can withstand a lot of abuse. What it doesn't stand up to are falling heavy objects. A large can of soup that hits the floor just right could end up cracking even the strongest tile. Most often, however, your ceramic won't crack under normal wear.
Can I protect my floor against cracks?
There are subfloor preparation treatments for crack suppression that can mitigate damage to the floor. They can be pricey and are probably unnecessary for most residential applications. However, if used, they have to be embedded under the tile during installation. These systems are good at mitigating cracking due to an uneven subfloor, but few that can prevent cracks as a result of a direct blow.
Where can I turn to for design inspiration?
Look no further that MyBeautifulFloor.com’s inspiration gallery. There you’ll find the latest in product and styling as well as a bunch of ideas on how to install your floor to make it as beautiful as you imagine.
What do the hardness ratings from the Porcelain Enamel Institute (PEI) actually mean?
The Porcelain Enamel Institute rates tile for hardness which is a good measure of how it will stand up to traffic. The higher, the better. Those ratings are:
Group I/Light Traffic: Residential bathroom floors where bare or stocking feet are the norm;
Group II/Medium Traffic: Home interiors where little abrasion occurs (not for kitchens or entryways);
Group III/Medium-Heavy Traffic: Any home interior;
Group IV/Heavy Traffic: Homes or light to medium commercial areas; and,
Group V/Extra-Heavy Traffic: Use it anywhere.
What is Coefficient of Friction and why does it matter?
Wet tile can be very slippery and is why ceramic tile carries a coefficient of friction (CoF) rating that measures slip resistance. Those ratings are:
Class I is not recommended for floors but can be used on walls. Very slippery when wet;
Class 2 can be used as a floor product but can still be quite slippery. It is recommended for walls and residential bathrooms only;
Class 3 has more abrasion thereby making it safer for use through any residential application including kitchens;
Classes 4 & 5 are for heavier traffic and can be used in industrial and commercial applications such as airports or supermarkets (think the produce aisle) with little chance of slippage.