Porcelain and ceramic tile has thrived for thousands of years in all kinds of uses and locations. Here’s how to choose the right tile for the job.
Let a little rain fall
Installing outdoor tiles is a very similar process to installing indoor tiles, but the choice of tile is a key component of your project’s success.
The primary difference between indoor and outdoor tiles is the amount of water that they can bear without warping or cracking. Depending on the location, outdoor tiles may be subjected to standing water. This means that it is critical to ensure that air under the tile is minimized so that standing water cannot seep in and weaken the adhesion to the underflooring.
Indoor tiles also need waterproofing, however, if they are being used in a kitchen or bathroom where frequent water splashes are likely.
In both cases, tiles can include ceramic, porcelain and stone, but for outdoor areas choose tiles rated for exterior use if you want to avoid problems over the long term. It is common for outdoor patio tiles to be unglazed in order to minimize slips. For indoor use in wetter areas of the home, choose unglazed or stone tiles for safety’s sake, and make sure that you grout carefully and use a sealant to protect your underflooring.
Although thinner tiles will work on walls for decorative value, floor tiles need to be thicker and denser to handle foot traffic. To choose the right tile, look at its Porcelain Enamel Institute rating scale, or PEI, class. Each class has been chosen to represent the amount of foot traffic that your tile can handle. While decorative tile may have a rating of between 0 and 2, heavier grades that can handle more traffic on a daily basis may be rated between 3 and 5.
Porcelain & ceramic tile PEI ratings
Here’s how to think about PEI classes.
Class 0 – No Foot Traffic: Wall tile only. Should not be used on floors.
Class 1 – Very Light Traffic: Use with stocking or bare feet, such as in a master bathroom.
Class 2 – Light Traffic: Use with slippers, such as in an upstairs bathroom or bedroom.
Class 3 – Light to Moderate Traffic: Any residential area except, possibly, foyers and kitchens.
Class 4 – Moderate to Heavy Traffic: High foot traffic in the home, and areas where abrasive or outside dirt could be tracked.
Class 5 – Heavy Traffic: Ceramic tile suggested for residential, commercial and institutional floor subjected to heavy traffic.
Explore what’s underneath
Exterior floor tiles need a solid concrete base for installation, and tiles for other outdoor areas will require a firm substrate such as backer board or concrete block walls.
Inside, radiant heating systems are an option for your tiles. Underfloor heating can add warmth and value to your home with safe, reliable and energy efficient technology connected to your electrical system. Floor sensors and thermostats can ensure that your floor temperature is consistent, which can drive down overall heating costs. Prime areas for underfloor heating are bathrooms and kitchens, where tile is more common.
Where are you thinking about installing a new tile surface?