Know Your Tile: Ceramic Tile Classifications

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Jan 01, 2011 | Networx Team
Ceramic tile
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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 how they are classified.

Ceramic tiles are made for different applications and whether or not they can withstand weight, heat, water and more. Backsplash tiles are usually not made for the weight that a ceramic floor needs to withstand. Therefore, make sure you double check any tile you purchase to ensure that it is right for your project.

Although there are no industry 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). PEI ratings measure the wear resistance of the tile surface.


  • Class 1 – No Foot Traffic: Ceramic tile 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. 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 residential and commercial heavy traffic areas such as in 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 check with a reliable tile installer to ensure the proper tile selection.

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