How do I Choose the Best Porcelain Tile?

Autumn Rivers

Though porcelain tile is most often found in bathrooms and kitchens, it can be used for any room of the house, and is known for being hard, strong, and of generally high quality. If you have decided to go this route in your home, there is much to think about when choosing the best kind of porcelain tile. One of the details to consider is the hardness rating, as there is a unique system for determining this feature. The finish of the tile also varies, so consider whether you want it to shine or keep the luster to a minimum. The overall appearance should also matter, as shape, color, and design can all vary radically.

Porcelain tile can complement a porcelain toilet nicely.
Porcelain tile can complement a porcelain toilet nicely.

The Porcelain Enamel Institute uses a measure of hardness, called the PEI Scale, to rate how hard porcelain is. Typically, harder tiles are consider the most durable, and are therefore more expensive than softer tiles. The PEI Scale goes from zero to five, with five being the hardest available. Therefore, if you want porcelain tile that will likely last several years, even with high traffic, you should look for tiles that have been rated high on this scale. On the other hand, tile with softer ratings tends to be cheaper, and may be perfectly acceptable for lower traffic areas.

Porcelain tile with a matte finish should be used on floors in order to prevent falls.
Porcelain tile with a matte finish should be used on floors in order to prevent falls.

You should also consider whether you want the porcelain tile to stand out easily by shining, or stay lusterless in the background. Keep in mind that it is usually best to put tile with a glossy finish on a wall, such as in a shower or kitchen backsplash. This is because gloss tends to make tile quite slippery when water is present, making porcelain tile with a matte or textured finish typically best for floors that may get wet, such as a bathroom floor.

Tile shape should also matter in your search for the best porcelain tile. You can typically find tile in a square shape quite easily, though rectangular and even triangular tile is also usually available. The latter shape is particularly good for tile that features designs, as it can break up the typical look that square tile presents. Just like any other types of flooring, porcelain tile can be found in various colors, which is especially good for those who do not want the typical white walls and floors in their bathroom. Of course, you can also usually find tiles with interesting designs, including the appearance of stone, hardwood, or marble.

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