The Differences Between the Grades of Porcelain Tile
Tile floors and walls create a distinctive look for a room that no other material can match. This material captures light and provides a sense of place that defines the space. It's also easy to clean and is water-resistant, making it a popular material for bathrooms and kitchens.
However, not all porcelain tile solutions are created equal. Some porcelain flooring is of a lower quality than other options. Telling the difference between these different porcelain floor options can be challenging.
Tiles are rated on their resistance to abrasion, sometimes known as PEI which stands for Porcelain Enamel Institute. Porcelain typically start with an abrasion wearing of at least 3.
Fortunately, you don't have to do this alone! We'll provide you with tips for distinguishing between cheap and expensive porcelain tiles in the guide below.
Tile Grades 1 and 2
These tiles are often the cheapest options on the market. They're also the least durable and should only be used on walls.
They're often a popular choice for backsplashes and bathroom walls as they provide benefits of water and stain resistance, even though their wear rating is low. These tiles often include appealing patterns and colours, making them popular solutions for some settings. Grade 2 porcelain tiles come in a similar quality.
Porcelain Tile Grades 3-5
Most residential floor tiles fall under the Grade 3-4 category. They can withstand moderate foot traffic as well as common wear and tear. Some commercial settings, such as offices or small stores, may use them as floor tiles.
These tiles often find their best usage in kitchens, hallways, and countertops. Alternatively, you may use them as outdoor porcelain tiles. They are also great for steam showers.
Grade 4 tiles are often best for commercial installation. These tiles hold up against heavy foot traffic, making them popular for restaurants and stores. Most homeowners use them for spaces that need extensive strength, such as laundry rooms, kitchens, hallways and countertops.
Finally, there are Grade 5 porcelain tile options for places with high levels of foot traffic. These tiles often find their use in schools, medical facilities, grocery stores, and industrial settings. Grade 5 porcelain tiles can resist harsh chemical contact as well.
Glazed vs Unglazed Porcelain
In addition to a wear rating, the other just as important quality in porcelain tile is whether it’s unglazed or glazed. Unglazed porcelain are full bodied which are the most dense and durable of all. These can handle the most abuse a floor can take. Also can be used exterior.
Glazed Porcelain tile have many more options in colors, patterns and finishes. They’re also very durable and can be used on floors and walls just like unglazed porcelain.
How to Distinguish Tile Quality
The grades listed above determine your tile’s resistance to wear. Grade 1 tiles are the thinnest, while Grade 5 are typically the thickest tiles. Usually, you'll use thicker tiles for places with significant levels of foot traffic. Looking at the edge of the tile can show the amount of glazing on the tile. If no glazing, then the porcelain tile is most likely an unglazed full bodied porcelain, with the same material right through the tile.
Most tiles provide resistance to staining, regardless of their thickness. They also provide water resistance in varying degrees.
Italy is still known for making some of the best porcelain tiles in the world, so check out the back of the tile which can tell you where it’s made.
Find the Best Tile Store in Your Area
Once you know how to tell the best quality porcelain tile, find a store that sells it. We humbly suggest that you check out our inventory today!
We sell some of the finest quality Italian porcelain tiles on the market. Plus, we provide expert installations to ensure your tile is installed properly and creates the look you want. Contact AB Tile & Stone today to request a quote or visit our local tile store in Edmonton. You can also shop our floor tile and wall tile products online.