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Ceramic Floor Tiles: A Guide to Determining their Quality

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Used in a multitude of different high traffic spaces, ceramic floor tiles have been a top choice for flooring solutions since the ancient Roman era. Fast forward to the present, ceramic tiles are still being used in ultra-modern contemporary spaces – it’s safe to say that ceramic floor tiles have stood the test of time. When installed properly, quality ceramic tiles, can last a lifetime. Here we share with you what to look out for when purchasing ceramic floor tiles, in order to guarantee tile quality.  

1. Ceramic Tile Grades

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Check the tiles' durability using the PEI rating system.

The first step to checking the quality of a ceramic floor tile is to check the tile’s grade. Ceramic tile grades are used to measure a tile’s durability and resistance to scratches. Known as the Porcelain Enamel Institute (PEI) rating system, used for both ceramic and porcelain tiles, this test was created in order to efficiently categorise and grade the ceramic and porcelain tiles available on the market.  

Using a scale of 1-5, PEI I tiles are the least durable and mainly used for walls and backsplashes. PEI II tiles should ideally be used for walls and light-traffic floors e.g., bathrooms. PEI III tiles are recommended for residential spaces however, they should not be used for commercial areas due to heavy foot traffic. PEI IV rated tiles are sturdier and more durable. Therefore, these tiles are very versatile in terms of space applications – everything from walls to residential floor use and even in some commercial spaces. Lastly, PEI V rated tiles are the most durable, hence these tiles are ideal for high traffic and commercial spaces.  However, these tiles are rarely visually designed for residential use.   

2. Water Absorption Rates

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Ensure you're purchasing the correct tiles for your space with the AMSTM system.

Another important factor to determining the quality of ceramic tiles is by their resistance to water. By AMSTM standards, there are 4 different categories; non-vitreous, semivitreous, vitreous, or impervious. A water absorption test is carried out by boiling a tile in water then weighing its water absorption weight and comparing it with its weight when dry. The difference is then converted into a percentage and the tile is then categories depending on the percentage. 

Tiles with an absorption rate of 7% or higher are categorised as non-vitreous, whilst tiles that absorb between 3% to7% fall within the semivitreous category. Therefore, non-vitreous and semivitreous tiles are not recommended to use in high moisture spaces such as bathrooms and outdoor areas. Vitreous tiles carry an absorption rate of between 0.5% to 3% and impervious ceramic tiles carry an absorption rate of below 0.5%, making these tiles ideal for high moisture environments. 

3. Coefficient of Friction Ratings (COF)

The COF rating is essential, especially for high moisture areas.

The coefficient of friction rating is essential for floor tiles, especially for bathroom and outdoor tiles. This rating is used to identify and categorise how slippery the floor tiles are. The COF rating represents the relationship between two surfaces: the force necessary for a surface to move horizontally across another and the pressure created between the two.  

Categorised as values between 0 and 1, lower numbers indicate that the tile in question is more slippery and vice versa. Therefore, for residential use, it is recommended to purchase ceramic floor tiles with a minimum rating of 0.5 whilst, a minimum of 0.6 for commercial use is recommended.  

4. Trust What You’re Seeing 

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Carry out a visual analysis of the tiles you're about to purchase to guarantee quality.

First off, check that the floor tile is a perfect square/rectangle with sharp edges at an exact right angle. Next put the tile on a perfectly flat surface and ensure that there’s no warping or curvatures. Follow up by examining the tile well to ensure that there are no cracks and that it’s not chipped in any way. Finally, ensure that there’s uniformity with regards to colour and texture.  

There you have it, 4 essential aspects needed to ensure that you’re purchasing quality tiles.

At B&M Supplies, we house an unparalleled selection of Imola Ceramic tiles that are of high quality and not only look fantastic but are also built to last with the best quality materials. Whether that be marble, ceramic, stone, or concrete, these tiles are durable and will stand the test of time.

Expertly crafted in Italy for the past 146 years, Imola Ceramica tiles have become a benchmark of quality for the ceramics industry.

Have a look at our tile collections here or get in touch to learn more.

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