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How is Porcelain Tile Rated for Hardness?

If you’re like most casual DIYers, your main considerations when picking out ceramic or porcelain tile are cost, color, and size. In fact, if you’re like most DIYers, you probably haven’t heard of a PEI rating — but this should actually be one of your top considerations when selecting tile for your next home improvement project.

Not all ceramic and porcelain tiles are equally strong and durable. Some can withstand heavy foot traffic, while others are only suitable for decorative wall installations. Most reputable lines of porcelain tiles are rated for use by the Porcelain Enamel Institute (PEI) abrasion test. This test is recommended by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). PEI ratings will tell you which tiles are best for different uses in the home.


Considering PEI ratings will help you achieve a beautiful, lasting installation. (Salerno Micro Crystal Porcelain Tile – Glacier White Polished)

What are PEI Ratings?

Known as the PEI Scale, it is the standard consumers can rely on and refer to in order to determine which tiles to buy according to purpose and location. The PEI rating indicates the tile hardness, and these ratings are valuable to help in tile choices for different projects. The scale ranges from one to five, with five being the strongest and most durable.

How Do PEI Ratings Differ?

Each tile rating, or class, includes recommendations for use and installation. Most tile manufacturers list the PEI rating on the tile’s tear sheet, and most re-sellers include the rating in the product description in their catalog or website. The ratings are as follows:

Group 0: Tiles technically unsuitable for floors. These are generally used as wall tile.

Group 1 or PEI 1: Tiles suitable only for locations where softer footwear is worn or where shoes are not frequently used, for e.g., residential bathroom or other areas with light traffic. Also for interior commercial and residential walls.

Group 2 or PEI II: Tiles suited for general residential traffic. For areas that are walked on by soft soled or “normal” footwear with very small amounts of scratching dirt. Not for kitchen, entrance halls, stairs and other areas subjected to heavy traffic.

Group 3 or PEI 3: Tiles suited for all residential and light commercial areas such as offices, reception areas, boutiques, interior walls, countertops and residential bathroom floors. Not recommended for commercial entryways.

Group 4 or PEI 4: Tiles suited for regular traffic. Recommended for medium commercial and light institutional use, such as restaurants, hotels, hospital lobbies and corridors.

Group 5 or PEI 5: Tiles suitable for areas with heavy traffic, abrasive dirt and moisture, and where safety and maximum performance are required. Examples are shopping malls, public buildings, building entrances, or swimming pools.

A Final Note

The PEI rating only refers to a tile’s strength and suitability for a particular application; it is not an indicator of the tile’s overall quality or value. In many cases, some of the most beautiful and costly tiles have a PEI 1 or 2 rating. The PEI rating is simply a guide to help you choose tile that will hold up to the demands of the environment in which it will be used.

If you’re doing a tile shower surround, for example, the PEI rating isn’t such a big deal, but when you’re choosing tile for counters and floors, check the PEI before you buy.

What PEI rating will work best for your space?

Browse our elegant yet practical selection of porcelain tile here. Find the right tile for your installation!


(4) Comments

  1. Had a tile floor put in our kitchen /dining room. We suspect our little 16 year old Yorkie might have urinated on some sots and turned it dull. Is this possible? If so what can we do? Don’t know the P
    EI of the tile. Thank you for any info you might have. Hoyt

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Hoyt,

      Thank you for getting in touch with BuildDirect!

      Why the tile is going dull depends on the type of tile you have. If it is porcelain it should just be an issue of finding a cleaner that works as porcelain already has a built in sealer. If you have natural stone you will most likely need to seal the floor as any natural stone will absorb moisture. Once you figure out what type of flooring you have you should be able to deal with the dullness issue.

      Please let us know if there is anything else we can help out with!

  2. Pingback: Advantages Of Porcelain Tile Flooring

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