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Tile 101

Helpful information for choosing the right tile floor.

Ceramic tile is a time-tested flooring with exceptional durability. It is a great choice for families with children and pets, areas of the home that see a lot of traffic, dirt and mud and wet locations such as kitchens and baths. It is also an excellent choice for basements, cement floors and other areas where moisture is present. It resists shrinking, fading, dents and scratches better than any other type of flooring on the market.

Ceramic flooring does have its drawbacks, however. It can chip or crack if something hard is dropped on it. It is also a hard and sometimes cold surface underfoot.

Ceramic tile can be made from a variety of materials, but the main types used for flooring include ceramic and porcelain. The main factor you should consider when choosing tile is the hardness rating, size and finish.

Types of Tile

Ceramic tile is generally made from red or white clay fired in a kiln. They are softer than porcelain tile have a higher water absorption rating, making them suitable for areas with light to moderate traffic.

Porcelain tile is made with compressed porcelain clay, resulting in a dense, impervious, fine-grained and smooth tile. Porcelain has a very low water absorption rate, making them suitable for installation indoors and out and in very high traffic conditions including commercial and industrial spaces.

Hardness Ratings

Tiles are rated for hardness from 1 to 5 on a scale established by the Porcelain Enamel Institute (PEI), with 5 being the hardest. The PEI classes are suitable for use as follows:

  • PEI 0: Not suitable for foot traffic – wall tiles only.
  • PEI 1: Suited for light or barefoot traffic only.
  • PEI 2: Suited for light foot traffic in soft-soled shoes.
  • PEI 3: Good for use in most areas of the home.
  • PEI 4: Suitable for use in any area of the home.
  • PEI 5: Suited for use in residential, commercial and industrial settings.


You will have a range of grouts to choose from to complement your tile choice. Lighter grouts are harder to maintain over the long term.

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