Ceramic tile has been around for centuries and with good reason. It is made by taking clay from the earth and firing it at a high temperature to create a very sturdy and break-resistant tile. Even the ancient Greeks and Romans used ceramic tile to adorn their homes and cities. It is easy to color so it is available in hundreds of hues and it can even be given individual textures to mimic natural stone like marble, granite and more. The big advantage is that it much more durable and stain resistant than natural stone tiles.
There are different qualities of ceramic tile. Some ceramics are denser than others, but all are quite suitable for almost any home application. Ceramic tile is glazed to protect it. Glazing is the process of spraying or pouring liquid glass onto the tile. It fuses permanently to the surface of the tile during the firing process. Ceramic and porcelain tend to both be very durable. It is also rated on the PEI (Porcelain Enamel Institute) scale. The only advantage porcelain has over ceramic is that it is very dense and therefore better suited for outdoor areas where moisture and temperature could have a negative effect. Porcelain won’t chip with the freeze/thaw cycles. Otherwise, if the PEI rating is similar, ceramic and porcelain will give you about the same performance level. Below is a chart explaining the different PEI ratings.
PEI 1: Tiles that are suitable for walls, but not floors
PEI 2: Tiles that are suitable for light residential foot traffic, but not heavy, continuous traffic
PEI 3: Tiles that are suitable for all residential and some light commercial
PEI 4: Tiles that are suited for residential, medium commercial, and light institutional
PEI 5: Tiles that are suited for heavy traffic both residential or commercial.
N/A – Tile made of natural products that are not glazed and therefore, not rated.