How To Choose Tiles - PEI Rating And Tile Hardness

We think you’ll agree that picking your new tiles is rather good fun. It’s pretty easy to forget about the chores and while away an hour or two online, ‘pinning’ away those visual Victorian floors and gorgeous garden rooms. And whether you’re planning a quick bathroom update or a full house refurb, one thing’s always the same – your choice of tiles will have a big impact on the room.

When choosing tiles, most of us tend to focus on the style and colour, before thinking about size and cost. First and foremost, it’s important that the final choice works within your larger design scheme, right? Well yes… but it’s also vital that the tile you pick is suitable for your room and the amount of foot traffic you’d expect. After all, the last thing you want is for your shiny new kitchen tiles to start looking tired or cracked six months down the line.

You see, when it comes to wear, tear and general hardness, not all tiles are born equal. Naturally, our pretty crackled walls tiles would squeal at the thought of being used on a busy floor but even when it comes to sturdy porcelain, there’s different degrees of durability. And to stir things up a little, there’s also ceramic wall and floor tiles to thing about.

So, if tiles are actually like apples and oranges, how do we know if a particular tile is suitable?

**Image 1 of crackle tile on wall being happy, image 2 of busy restaurant floor, tile would be unhappy there**

Introducing The PEI Rating

Thankfully, the boffins at the Porcelain Enamel Institute have done the hard work for us. Their whizzy machines mimic varying levels of traffic and footfall onto a particular tile, to assess how ‘resistant to abrasion’ the surface is. We won’t bore you with the exact details but suffice to say, they’ve produced a very handy scale for comparing Tile A to Tile B.

Naturally, this is called the ‘PEI Rating’ and by ranking tiles from 1 to 5 you’ll be able to determine the right tiles to suit your project.

PEI 0 – Wall Tiles Only

Tiles rated PEI 0 like to be kept high and dry and are only suitable for walls.

PEI 1 – Light Footfall

These tiles can be used on walls, worktops, and floors subject to infrequent footfall, such as bedrooms and ensuites. Ideally, you’d only wear softer footwear such as slippers with no abrasive heel.

PEI 2 – Moderate Footfall

Group 2 tiles are suitable for the above and less busy areas of the home, such as bathrooms.

PEI 3 – Regular Footfall

Tiles with a PEI 3 rating can be used throughout your home, including busy areas such as kitchens, hallways and living spaces.

PEI 4 – Intense Footfall

These tiles are perfect for residential use and can also be laid in ‘light’ commercial spaces, such as offices, bars and restaurants.

PEI 5 – Heavy Footfall

Tiles with a PEI rating of 5 are tough, very tough. Perfect for busy public spaces such as shopping malls and airports, where they’re subject to extremely high levels of foot traffic.

On A Final Note

It’s important to note that the thickness of a tile and it’s price don’t necessarily affect how hard it is. For example, our Oslo White wood effect tiles are 8 mm thick, but they’re rated much higher than many ceramic floor tiles which might be 12 mm thick. And some of our smaller ceramic tiles tend to be a little more expensive than porcelain floor tiles, even though they’re rated for wall use only.

To help you make the right choice, we’ll soon be adding PEI information to all of our products. However, in the meantime if you’re a little unsure simple contact us and we’ll happily point you in the right direction.