If you’ve ever been tile shopping then you’ll know that the choice available is many and varied and that porcelain and ceramic tiles come in several different types, all suited for different applications. Some tiles are suitable for use on walls only, others are suitable for floors only, and some can be used on either. There are many other factors involved – aside from style and design – that determine whether a particular tile is suitable for a particular application and this can sometimes cause a headache for the consumer.
To make things a little easier though, the tile industry provides something called a PEI rating, which is kind of a score based on testing by the Porcelain Enamel Institute. Although not a regulatory body as such, this organisation gives its mission as being ‘dedicated to advancing the common interests of porcelain enamelling plants and suppliers of porcelain enamelling materials and equipment’.
PEI categorisation primarily defines the durability of ceramic and porcelain tiles tested. The process of designating a PEI rating however involves testing the surface wear layer of a tile’s enamel glazing only; it does not measure the fracture strength of a tile or assign any kind of slip-resistance rating (that’s done using an entirely different kind of scale – read our Slip Ratings Explained feature to learn more). If all this sounds rather confusing then fear not as here we bring you a rundown of each PEI rating category and explain what each means.
Tiles that fit into this category are technically unsuitable for floors. Both porcelain and ceramic tiles can feature a Group 0 rating but it’s predominantly ceramic wall tiles that are graded in this way. An example of a Group 0 tile can be found in the form of our Pierre Snow Rectified Wall Tiles.
Group 1 or PEI 1
These tiles are suitable only for locations where softer footwear is worn or where shoes are not frequently used (i.e. residential bathroom or other areas with light traffic). PEI 1 rated tiles can also be used for interior commercial and residential walls. Our Trinity Lux Black Wall & Floor Tiles fall into this category.
Group 2 or PEI 2
PEI 2 rated tiles are suited for areas subjected to general residential traffic – areas that are walked on by soft soled or ‘normal’ footwear with very small amounts of scratching dirt. Tiles classified as PEI 2 are not suitable for kitchens, entrance halls, stairs and other areas subjected to heavy traffic. Our Victorian Centro Budapest Décor Tiles are an example of a PEI 2 rated tile.
Group 3 or PEI 3
Tiles that are classified as PEI 3 are suited for all residential and light commercial areas such as offices, reception areas, boutiques, interior walls, countertops and residential bathroom floors. They are not however recommended for use in lobbies or entryways in commercial properties. Check out our Matt Extreme White Porcelain Floor Tiles for an example of a PEI 3 rated product.
Group 4 or PEI 4
Tiles with a PEI rating of 4 are suited for installations that are subjected to regular levels of foot traffic. Recommended for medium commercial and light institutional use, such as restaurants, hotels, hospital lobbies and corridors. Our Inverno Grey Marble Effect Rectified Floor Tiles are rated as PEI 4.
Group 5 or PEI 5
PEI 5 rated tiles are suitable for areas required to endure heavy foot traffic, abrasive dirt and moisture, and where safety and maximum performance are required. Tiles with this PEI rating are often found in shopping centres, public buildings, leisure centres, airports, and swimming pools. For an example of a PEI 5 rated product, take a look at our Doblo Rock Cream Porcelain Tiles.
If all that info seems a lot to take in then don’t worry as we’ve condensed it all into the useful ‘at-a-glance’ table below:
Hopefully this article should put you well on your way to choosing tiles with the right PEI rating to complete your installation, but if you have any further questions about then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly customer services guys either via the LiveChat function or by calling 01782 223 822 – they’ll be more than happy to help with any queries. For even more installation advice on all aspects of tiling then head over our Help Centre section – it’s packed full of help and advice and useful hints and tips!