We believe in quality flooring here at Floor Coverings International of Hillsborough, Flemington, and Princeton, NJ, and that means using quality materials. But how do you determine the quality of the materials? That’s why flooring material regulatory bodies are so important in the flooring industry. From the North American Laminate Flooring Association, to the Tile Council of America, the organizations that create and monitor standards of quality for flooring materials are very valuable to those of us in the flooring industry. One of these regulatory bodies, the Porcelain Enamel Institute, has created a hardness scale against which ceramic floor tiles are measured. The PEI Rating is a very important scale, which helps to determine the durability and appropriate usage of various ceramic tiles. Here is an introduction to the PEI Rating and how it relates to your tile floors!

The Porcelain Enamel Institute

The Porcelain Enamel Institute, based in Norcross, GA and founded in 1930 is a trade association that is, “dedicated to advancing the common interests of porcelain enameling plants and suppliers of porcelain enameling materials and equipment,” according to their website. Working in tandem with other similar trade organizations such as the International Enamellers Institute, PEI actively promotes the porcelain enamel industry through its voluntary membership.

The PEI Test

The actual testing process, by which the hardness of a tile is tested, is accredited by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). A special machine is used to test the tile and the glaze. A carbide wheel is placed on the surface of the tile, and weights are placed on top of the wheel in order to maintain even pressure. The carbide wheel is then turned and turned until it penetrates the glaze on the surface of the tile. The number of wheel turns it takes to accomplish this determines the tile’s PEI rating. It is important to note, though, that the rating measures only the hardness of the tile, not necessarily its overall quality.

PEI Ratings: One to Five

The actual PEI rating scale is very helpful for determining where and how a tile should be used. Not all tiles are created equal, and a backsplash tile would not hold up well to frequent and heavy foot traffic. The PEI Rating ranges from one to five and measures the hardness, and corresponding durability of a tile. Five is the hardest rating, while one is the lowest. Here is a breakdown of each tile grade:

  • PEI Class 1 Rating: Not suitable for flooring, should only be used on walls.
  • PEI Class 2 Rating: Can handle very light foot traffic such as in residential bathrooms.
  • PEI Class 3 Rating: Normal foot traffic, such as residential hallways.
  • PEI Class 4 Rating: Moderate to heavy traffic. All residential applications as well as medium commercial and light institutional flooring, such as in restaurants or lobbies.
  • PEI Class 5 Rating: Can handle the heaviest foot traffic. Suitable for any sort of residential application, as well as commercial and institutional use. Can be used as flooring in setting such as airports, malls, and hospitals.

Certain tile types are generally harder than others. Porcelain, which is ceramic that has been fired at incredibly high temperatures, is always rated at a 5, meaning that a porcelain tile can stand up to over 10,000 turns of the carbide wheel we mentioned above.

To learn more about the durability of various tile types, visit Floor Coverings International of Hillsborough today!