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What is PEI Rating: How to Choose the Right Tile for Different Areas

What is PEI Rating: How to Choose the Right Tile for Different Areas

If you are in the market for ceramic or porcelain tiles, you need to consider things other than just their looks. For your tile to stand the test of time, you need to consider its strength and durability. And this is where the PEI rating comes in.

So, what is the PEI rating?

PEI (Porcelain Enamel Institute) rating helps you determine the durability of ceramic and porcelain tiles. It is mainly used to determine whether a tile is suited for a particular area. It tests the surface wear layer of a tile’s enamel glazing. It also makes it easier for consumers to understand and determine the right tile that suits their requirements.  

So, what are the different PEI rating scales for tiles? How can you apply PEI ratings to choose the right tile? Let’s find out.

What is PEI Rating for Tile?

What is PEI Rating for Tile?

PEI rating tests the surface wear layer of enamel-coated porcelain or ceramic tile to determine its endurance and durability. It indicates whether a tile is ideal for a particular area. For example, you should use a tile that scores higher on the PEI rating scale for a high-traffic area. Most tile manufacturers will provide this information on the package or spec sheet. 

Porcelain Enamel Institute, headquartered in Norcross, GA, tests and provides PEI ratings for the tile industry. Founded in 1930, although not an authoritarian body, Porcelain Enamel Institute is “dedicated to advancing the common interests of porcelain enameling plants and suppliers of porcelain enameling materials and equipment.”

PEI rating applies to both porcelain and ceramic tiles. However, it is more commonly applied to measure the durability of porcelain tiles because of their innate hardness compared to ceramic tiles. It is noteworthy that the PEI rating tests the surface wear layer of a tile’s enamel glazing only. The PEI rating test does not measure the fracture strength of the entire tile or reveal any information on the tile’s slip resistance.

How are PEI ratings determined for tiles?

As mentioned previously, the PEI rating measures the surface enamel’s endurance to abrasion. A rotary abrasion resistance testing machine is used to measure the PEI rating of tiles. Steel ball bearings are worn down and rolled over the surface during the test, and the impact is observed. Depending on the results, the tiles are rated on a scale of 0 to 5, where five is the most resistant to scratches and scuffs, and 0 is the lowest.  

PEI Rating Scales for Tiles

PEI ClassUsage & meaning
0Light duty tiles that are not suitable for floors. They can be used on walls only.
1This group of tiles is not suitable for foot traffic. They are usually used on walls for commercial and residential applications. In some cases, these are used in light foot traffic areas such as bedrooms or bathrooms. PEI-1 tiles are commonly used in shower surroundings.  
2PEI-2 tiles can endure light foot traffic of indoor areas from regular footwear and negligible friction. Ideal for residential use in bedrooms, bathrooms, and guestrooms.
3PEI-3 tiles are general-purpose tiles for all residential applications. These can be used on countertops, walls, and floors that receive a standard range of foot traffic and weight load. 
4PEI-4 graded tiles are ideal for all residential purposes as well as commercial and institutional purposes with moderate abrasion and impact.
5These are the most stubborn and heavy-duty tiles typically used in commercial applications. They can endure heavy foot traffic, moisture, dirt, and harsh chemicals. PEI-5 tiles usually do not attract residential use cases due to heavy-duty finishes. Also, these aren’t ideal for walls as adhesives cannot support their weight and keep them in place.

Choosing the Right Tile According to PEI Rating

Choosing the Right Tile According to PEI Rating
Choosing the Right Tile According to PEI Rating

Before choosing tiles for residential or commercial purposes, paying attention to the PEI class for safety and longevity is crucial. For example, installing light-duty class 0 or 1 tile on floors can lead to cracks if used on floors. On the contrary, if you choose a class 5 tile for walls, you might face adhesive issues, as they can be pretty heavy. Additionally, the pricing of the tile depends on their PEI class which should also be a part of your consideration. 

For residential application, the following guide will help you determine the ideal PEI rating for each part of the house:

Bathroom: The bathroom is one of the busiest parts of the house. The flooring for this area should be able to withstand moisture and water. The bathroom tile should also be slip and stain-resistant. Porcelain and ceramic tile with a PEI rating of 2 or 3 are ideal for this area as they will withstand water-caused damages and will not get scratched easily. 

Bedrooms: Bedroom floors usually do not receive high foot traffic. Also, the furniture is typically lightweight, so the floor doesn’t need to bear heavy loads. Also, most people don’t tend to scrub this part of the area as regular cleaning is usually enough. You can use porcelain or ceramic tiles with 1 or 2 PEI ratings for your bedroom. 

Hallways and Entryways: Hallways and entryways floors receive very high foot traffic. Also, floors of these parts of the house will need to withstand debris that enters the house with footwear. The friction between the shoes and the floor tiles can lead to scratching the surface and dulling the tile. Go for sturdier tile options for these areas, such as PEI rating 3 or 4. You can also use PEI-5 graded tiles in the entryway, making it easier to clean as they are not sensitive to harsh cleaning materials.

Kitchen: The kitchen is another most frequented area that needs to tackle cooking spills. Also, the kitchen flooring tends to get very dirty, needing frequent deep cleaning using chemicals for tough spots. Flooring tiles with a PEI rating of 4 or above are a good investment for this area if you think long-term.

Living room: The sturdiness of your living room flooring might vary depending on use cases, such as how much debris and foot traffic the flooring might be receiving. However, on average, living rooms are typically moderate foot traffic areas. Tiles with a PEI rating of 3 or 4 should fit this area perfectly in sturdiness and aesthetics.

Budget and PEI Rating 

Budget and PEI Rating 
Budget and PEI Rating 

As the PEI scale goes up, so do the tiles’ quality, sturdiness, and thickness. Typically, the price of tiles also increases with their PEI rating. So, you also need to consider your flooring budget when choosing the right tile for your home. 

However, it’s crucial to keep in mind that you should always install appropriate flooring considering foot traffic and use cases. If you try to cut corners and save up by using a less durable material for busy traffic areas, it might end up costing you more in replacements. In this case, thinking in the long term is the best way to go. If you are unsure which tiles you should pick, we recommend consulting an expert to help you choose the best option that will fit your budget.

Do you have any flooring-related questions? Comment below and let us know!

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