A truly good tile will last for years, probably decades, perhaps longer. So when you are investing thousands of pounds in your new bathroom, kitchen, or whatever, you want to be sure that your investment will last until you decide you want a change.
Therefore, it is crucial to find the best affordable tile when you are buying rather than change it after the purchase has been made.
To help you regarding this, here are some classic tips on how to differentiate good tile from bad tile.
When exploring different types of tiles, one of the most important characteristics to take into account is the hardness.
It measures the ability of the material to resist wear/pedestrian traffic as well as scratches. The assessments are issued by the Porcelain Enamel Institute and are based on rigorous laboratory tests. You can use this range to select a product that best suits the function of your room.
Class I: without pedestrian traffic. Only suitable for wall applications.
Class II: light traffic or inner wall applications. Ideal in areas with smooth traffic on a normal basis, without scratches. For example, bathrooms and bedrooms without external access.
Class III: light to modest traffic, as well as worktops and walls. Suitable for areas with normal pedestrian traffic and small amounts of dirt to be scratched. All the rooms in the house, except the kitchens, entrances, and other areas with heavy pedestrian traffic.
Class IV: moderate to intense traffic. It can be fitted in all areas of the home, counting kitchens, hallways, and entryways. These are the best tiles to use because they perfectly combine beauty and function
Class V: heavy to very intense traffic, as well as exposure to dirt due to scratches. It works well in any room of the house, as well as in commercial spaces.
Wear Classification and Scratch Resistance
The Porcelain Enamel Institute assesses tiles based on their ability to resist abrasions caused by daily wear and tear. The higher the Roman numeral next to “PEI” in the printed dimension, the better the resistance.
Class I or II tiles are not suitable for floor installation. The tiles must be classified III or more for residential use; The highest rating, IV, is recommended for high traffic commercial floors. The PEI classification only applies to glazed tiles.
Glazed and unglazed tiles are evaluated for their scratch resistance and tenacity thanks to the Mohs scratch test. Tokens have a rating of 1 soft, or Talc, to 10, or Diamond, the hardest token available.
A random choice of tiles is scratched with distinct testing tools, each with a different mineral hardness until the surface shows the scratch mark made. A rating of 5 or more is recommended for residential floors and 7 or more for commercial floors.
Another essential feature to differentiate the good tile is porosity. It is identified by the ratio of air holes to solids in a tile, which affects the amount of water it absorbs. If you are installing tiles in an area prone to moisture, such as a kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, mudroom, pay close attention to this note.
Here are the porosity indices:
Waterproof: water absorption of 0.5% or less. Suggested for use in the kitchen and especially in the bathroom.
Vitré: water absorption from 0.5% to 3%.
Semi-glassy: 3 to 7% of water absorption.
Non-glassy: water absorption greater than 7%. This category is not endorsed for floor use.
Coefficient of Friction
Most tile materials tend to be slippery, especially when water is presented into the equation. If you have children and the elderly in the house, it is very important to install non-slip tiles.
A bathroom is a privileged place where fall accidents can occur, especially in the shower area, so good slip resistance is recommended.
When you buy a shower tile floor, look for products with a high coefficient of friction (COF). It is better to install tiles of 4 × 4 or less. Avoid using those that are larger than 6 × 6.
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There are several options to consider:
Ceramic or porcelain: pick a product that has a specially textured surface. Ask about slip-resistant coatings.
Slate: this beautiful stone has a natural non-slip texture.
Pebblestone: It has a highly textured surface and has a unique visual aesthetic.
Small tiles (glass, mosaic, etc.): they have more grout lines, which makes the overall surface more textured and thus non-slip. Another beautiful design that provides enough traction is the Penny tile rounds. They usually come in a 2 × 2 size or smaller. As a result, they would be perfect as shower tiles.
If luxury and incredible durability are your priorities, the stone tile is second to none. Marble, granite, and travertine can enhance the look of any room in your home. Because no two stones are the same, you get a naturally beautiful floor that will be like no other.
The largest tiles, at least 12 × 12, are particularly impressive and help create a smooth uniform appearance, ideal for modern interiors.
It is imperative to note that, unlike other types of tile, the stone must be sealed to maintain its durability and remain stain-resistant. Unsealed stone can remain porous and therefore susceptible to water infiltration. In the worst case, it may even start to fall apart.
After it is initially sealed during the installation process, it should be closed every 5-10 years to maintain optimum appearance and quality.