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What is Meant by Frost Resistance for Ceramic Tile?

Ceramic tile frost resistance is defined as the ability of ceramic tile to withstand freeze/thaw conditions with minimal effect. The frost resistance of ceramic tile is dependent on the tile’s porosity and water absorption levels.


Frost damage can occur when ceramic tiles absorb moisture through their pores, causing the water to freeze internally when temperatures drop. Since water expands when it freezes, tension is then exerted inside the body of the ceramic tile. This internal pressure may become high enough to cause cracks in the ceramic tile.

For locations characterized by below zero temperatures at any time of year, you must ensure that you choose ceramic tiles with frost resistance for outdoor installations.

If a tile is not listed as “passed” or “resistant” under one of the following standards, its performance in any area with freezing weather is questionable.

  • EN 202 Passed: Tile is chilled to -5 degrees C (23 F) and then rapidly heated to 5 degrees C (41 F). Tile must survive 50 freeze/thaw cycles.
  • ISO 10545-12 Passed: Identical test to EN 202 with tile subjected to 100 freeze/thaw cycles.
  • ASTM C1026 Resistant: Tile is chilled to -18 degrees C (-0.4 F) and then rapidly heated to between 10 to 16 degrees C (50-60 F). Tile must survive 15 cycles of freeze/thaw.

A ceramic tile intended and warranted for outside applications is always tested for frost resistance. The water absorption percentage (WA%) of each ceramic tile is listed under the tile’s specifications.

It’s important to note that choosing the perfect tile is not the only thing required. Suitable materials for the bedding layer and the grout joints are also an important aspect to provide an inclination that prevents water from pooling. Similarly, frost damage is often caused by a number of other factors. Only a combination of a suitable tile, grout, and other accessories can make ceramic tile surface frost resistant.

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