Floor tile needs to be more than just attractive – it needs to be strong and durable as well. After all, floors bear the weight of furniture, foot traffic, and the sudden impact of everyone and everything that falls on them. Floor tile is engineered to tolerate these stresses. Most floor tile is also suitable for countertops. And although it’s general ly thicker and heavier than wall tile, many styles of floor tile can be used on walls. The trim pieces necessary for counters and walls aren’t always available, though, which may limit your options.
When shopping for tile, look for ratings by the American National Standards Institute or the Porcelain Enamel Institute (see below). If ratings aren’t available, check with your dealer to make sure the tile you’re considering is suitable for your project. Before you start shopping, consider where the tile will be used and what you want it to accomplish. Will it be exposed to moisture? Should it be a focal point or a subtle background? Do you want the floor to establish the room s color scheme or blend into it? The range of options is truly mind-boggling, so establish some guidelines before you go shopping to simplify the selection process.
Floor Tile Ratings
Floor tile often comes labeled with water absorption and Porcelain Enamel Institute (PEI) ratings. Ratings indicate how a tile can be used and whether or not it needs to be sealed against moisture. Absorption is a concern because tile that soak s up water is susceptible to mildew and mold and can be difficult to clean. Tile is rated non-vitreous, semi-vitreous, vitreous, or impervious, in increasing order of water resistance. Non-vitreous tile is quite porous; semi-vitreous is used in dry-to-occasionally wet locations; vitreous tile can be used without regard to its exposure to moisture. Impervious tile is generally reserved for restaurants, hospitals, and commercial applications where sanitation is a special concern.
The PEI number is a wear rating that indicates how the tile should be used. Ratings of 1 and 2 indicate tile is suitable for walls only; tile rated 3 and 4 is suitable for al l residential applications – walls, counters, and floors. Most tile carries absorption and PEI ratings, but some, especially imported and art tiles, may not . Ask the retailer if you’re not sure.
Depending on the retailer, tile may also have other ratings. Some tile is graded 1 to 3 for the quality of manufacturing. Grade 1 indicates standard grade; 2 indicates minor glaze and size f laws; 3 indicates major f laws; use for decoration only. Tile suitable for outdoor use is sometimes rated with regard to its resistance to frost. Finally, coefficient of friction numbers may be included with some tile. The higher the coefficient, the more slip resistant the tile. A dry coefficient of .6 is the minimum standard established by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Floor tiles are thicker and almost always larger than wall tiles. Ceramic floor tiles are usually between 1/4 and 1/2″ thick.