When choosing tile for your project there are a couple of things you should take into consideration. Noting the following will ensure you have a better understanding of which tile is correct for your particular application and why.
The most important thing to consider is the location of the tile. Where are you installing the tile? Will it be installed on a floor, a wall, in a shower, on a countertop? Certain tiles are made only for certain applications. While tiles made specifically for floors can be used on a wall the reverse is not true.
After you’ve determined where the tile will be installed you must make sure the surface of the tile you’ve chosen is durable enough for that area. This is determined by what is called the PEI wear rating of the tile. PEI stand for Porcelain Enamel Institute. This is a scale of 1 – 5 with a rating of 5 being the most durable. This is a measure of the durability of the ‘face’ or glazed surface of the tile.
For most indoor flooring applications you want a PEI rating of 3 or higher, although a rating of 2 may be used for light traffic areas. Ensuring a proper PEI rating will guarantee you’ve chosen the proper tile durability-wise. .
Another thing to consider is the absorption rate of your chosen tile. Absorption rate is the amount of water a particular tile will absorb and is defined by a weight percentage. Porcelain tile has the lowest absorption rate which is why it is usually the preferred type of tile for wet areas such as showers. In fact porcelain tile is simply a ceramic tile with a particularly low absorption rate.
The last factor I’ll discuss is what is called the static coefficient of friction, the SCOF or simply COF. This is a measure of the friction, or slip resistance of a particular tile. This is (usually) a number between 0.1 and 1.0. The higher the number the less slippery it is. Every tile has two COF numbers – one for when it is wet and one for dry. This number becomes important in applications such as shower floors or on a porch.
While it is absolutely possible to simply walk in somewhere and pick your tile without taking any of this into consideration, for purposes of durability and practicality it is always best to choose the correct tile for your application. I will always check the above points to ensure the tile my client has chosen is acceptable for the area in which it is being installed. By doing this I make sure there are no surprises or disappointments lurking down the road.
On a closing note don’t forget to consider the most important factor – does your wife like the way it looks?