4 Things to Know Before You Visit Your Tampa-Area Tile Store


Before you go off to visit your local tile stores, Tampa residents need to know some facts about tile. Our handy guide will help you be able to better read tile packaging and become an informed shopper. Knowing what to look will help you to find a tile that works for your home’s needs in addition to your aesthetic preferences.

Tile Composition
Tiles are made up of many different materials, from ceramic tile to porcelain, natural stone, brick, cement, and many more. Each tile type has applications that work better than others. Ceramic, porcelain and natural stone are among the most versatile, with tiles that are suitable for walls, floors and shower floors.

Tile Grade
A tile’s grade will help determine the tile’s overall quality. Tile grade ranges from 1 (highest grade) to 3 (lowest grade). Grade 2 is similar to Grade 1 but will likely be less expensive. Both Grades 1 and 2 can serve as flooring tile, while Grade 3 is only suitable for wall use, as it isn’t heavy-duty enough to withstand foot traffic.

PEI (Wear) Rating
There are five ratings given to glazed tile by the Porcelain and Enamel Institute, which rate how resistant that particular tile is to wear. This rating system rates glazed tiles only, so unglazed tiles will not feature this rating. Be sure to note that, like Tile Grade, some ratings indicate that a tile is not recommended for use as flooring, however, the numbering system works in reverse of tile grade, with I being the lowest rating and V being the highest.

  • PEI I – For wall use only. These tiles cannot withstand foot traffic.
  • PEI II – Can withstand light abrasion and some light foot traffic. Suitable for residential bathrooms, as well as residential and commercial interior walls.
  • PEI III – Able to withstand residential foot traffic. Can suitably work for residential flooring, as well as walls and countertops.
  • PEI IV – Can withstand moderate to heavy foot traffic. These tiles can work for flooring or any use in residential spaces, as well as medium commercial spaces.
  • PEI V – Heavy duty tiling which is suitable for all home use and heavy commercial applications.

Water Absorption (aka Porosity)
You may see the acronym W.A. on the tile packaging or displays, which indicates how much water that tile can absorb. There are four classes of water absorption in tile, measured by the percentage of the tile’s weight the tile can absorb. A tile’s W.A. class will greatly affect where and for which purpose that tile should be used. The lower the absorption, the denser and more versatile the tile.

  • Non-Vitreous – Absorbs 7% or more moisture. These tiles are suitable for indoor use only.
  • Semi-Vitreous – Absorbs moisture at a rate between 3% and 7%. These tiles are best suited for indoor use only.
  • Vitreous – Absorbs moisture at a rate between 0.5% and 3%. These tiles are often classified as frost-resistant, though in colder conditions which have freeze-and-thaw weather can lead to ice damage in Vitreous tiles. Central Floridians shouldn’t have this problem as often.
  • Impervious – Absorbs less than 0.5% moisture. These tiles are your best bet for outdoor use and will hold up against any rare frost conditions. Vitreous and Impervious tiles also work great for entryways in homes, as they face the elements more often than most rooms in the home, without constant exposure.

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