Know Your Tile: Ceramic Tile Classifications

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Jan 01, 2011 | Networx Team

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Not all ceramic tiles are created equal! Make sure you don’t ruin your project by using the wrong type of tile. Instead, learn about the different types of ceramic tiles and tile classifications.

Ceramic tiles are made for different applications and have varying levels of resistance to weight, heat, moisture, and more. For example, backsplash tiles are usually not made to hold up to the weight a ceramic floor needs to withstand. Make sure you double check any tile you're planning to purchase, to ensure that it is right for your project.

Although there are no industry-wide standards, most ceramic tile is rated for use by the Porcelain Enamel Institute (PEI) abrasion test and is recommended by the American Society Testing Materials (ASTM). Learn the following PEI ratings, which measure the tile surface's wear resistance:

Ceramic Tile Classifications

  • Class 1: No Foot Traffic: Ceramic tile recommended for interior residential and commercial wall applications only. Class 1 tile is also sometimes used for bathroom floors.

  • Class 2: Light Traffic: Ceramic tile for interior residential and commercial wall applications and for residential bathroom floor applications. Some use Class 2 tiles for small utility room floors, but for the longest and most durable use, it is best to use Class 3 or 4.

  • Class 3: Light to Moderate Traffic: Ceramic tile for residential floor, countertop and wall applications. The most common residential floor tile. The glazing on these tiles is most often very durable, and the strength of the tiles can handle the stress of most traffic areas.

  • Class 4: Moderate to Heavy Traffic: Ceramic tile suggested for flooring in residential and commercial heavy traffic areas such as kitchens, offices or stores.

  • Class 5+: Heavy to Extra-Heavy Traffic: Class 5+ is good for exterior areas, shopping centers, airports, hotel lobbies and public walkways.

Always hire a reliable tile contractor to ensure the proper tile selection and installation.

Updated March 5, 2018.

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