Choosing the Right Ceramic Tile for Your Installation

Friday December 12, 2008
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Choosing the right ceramic tiles based on the area of installation is key to lengthening the lifetime of the ceramic floor, as well as ensuring the safety of those who walk on it.

Ceramic tiles are one of the most commonly used flooring types in residential homes. Durable and stain resistant, ceramic tiles are an excellent choice in kitchens and bathrooms where spills are common. Since these areas do tend to get wet, you may choose either an unglazed or textured ceramic tile that can help prevent slipping. However, keep in mind that unglazed or textured tiles may be harder to clean. Unglazed tiles also tend to stain easier than glazed ones. For this reason, they are often sealed for added stain resistance.

Darker tiles with darker grout lines are also less likely to show stains. Unglazed tiles are usually the same color all the way through the tile, whereas glazed tiles are often one color on the surface and another color throughout the body. Because of this, deep scratches or chips are less likely to show with unglazed ceramic tiles.

There are several ways to assess the durability of a particular ceramic tile. Ceramic tiles are either single-fired or double-fired, with double-fired tiles usually being denser and harder. Another way to determine the strength of a tile is by checking its rating with the Porcelain Enamel Institute. The PEI rating is based on a scale of 1-5 with 1 only being safe for use on walls, and 5 being safe for use in most high-traffic commercial areas. Note: Ceramic wall tiles that have a PEI rating of 1 should never be used for flooring.

Another important factor in tile durability is its water absorption rate. Impervious tiles, with an absorption rate below .5% (commonly known as porcelain) are the least absorbent and can even be used outdoors in freeze/thaw conditions.

Whatever ceramic tile you choose, proper installation is extremely important. Whether you choose to hire a professional installer or take this project on yourself, has you covered. To find professional flooring installers in your area, simply search by your zip code using the locator tool at the top of the home page. If you need help with a do-it-yourself installation, check out our Tile Installation Guides or visit our forums for advice from some of the most experienced tile pros in the industry. Be sure to stop by and let us know how your tile installation turned out!

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