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Aside from finding the perfect pattern, shape, and color of tile to go in whichever room you’re redoing or updating, there is a ton more information that is important before these criteria are met. For instance, there’s a difference between a bathroom and kitchen related tile, as well as a tile that is going to go on a landing. With the numerous options for tile, especially tiles such as the wood look tile, this material can go nearly anywhere in the house. Every tile that is created has a specific use that is designated by a code. While it isn’t a super secret code, cracking it will make tile shopping much more enjoyable, in addition to giving you better results for the final project.
The Tile’s Ratings: On every box of ceramic tile that is sold, there is a range of four or five categories that the tile is graded on. Four categories denote unglazed tile, while five categories mean that you’re dealing with glazed tile. There isn’t a difference in how these tiles are created, but their finishing process sets them apart. A glazed tile has a layer of non-porous glass that is added over the top of it. This tends to prevent staining and often allows for many more design options. An unglazed tile is beneficial in areas of high traffic, as they are thicker and denser, and can hold up to more use. Unglazed floor tiles can offer their own appeal aesthetically, giving off an earthier and more natural look.
The Tile’s Grade: Once you’ve determined whether you’re dealing with glazed or unglazed tile, the next category is the grade of the tile. Spanning from one to three, with one being the highest, this category rates the quality of the tile. Both grades one and two are ideal for floor use, but grade three is restricted to use on walls and more decorative areas.
The Tile’s Wear and Tear Rating: Next up is the wear rating category, determined by the Porcelain and Enamel Institute. The PEI rates a glazed floor tile’s ability for abrasion resistance and how suitable it is to be used as a floor tile. This rating will not apply to an unglazed tile, and won’t be on the box. Both PEI ratings of one and two designate wall tile only, as they cannot handle the foot traffic. PEI three will work for most residential projects, while a PEI four graded tile is durable enough to be used on the floor in all residential homes, and in some cases, even commercial areas. PEI five is most commonly found in heavy commercial areas.
The Tile’s Water Absorption Rate: Since tile has now been formulated to be used throughout the home, knowing if the tile absorbs water or not will tell you if it can be used in the kitchen or bathroom, or other common wet areas, or if it should be regulated to a bedroom, for example. There are four different subcategories for tiles within the water absorption category.Nonvitreous tile, semivitreous tile, vitreous tile and impervious. These labels look at how much of the tile’s weight it will absorb in water and thus determine where it can be used.
Slip Resistance, Frost and Tone: These are the last few categories you’ll find to describe tile. This deals with how slippery a tile gets when exposed to moisture if it can withstand very cold environments and if the tile has undergone treatment to make it closely resemble natural stone. This last part is fairly specific to glazed tile but can be observed on unglazed as well.
When searching for tile, it is easy to get caught up in the pretty designs, colors and shapes abundant in the market. Know what kind of tile you need for whatever area is being redone in your home, first.