If you're currently or soon-to-be in the market for tile, brush up on your tile terms before hitting the stores. Familiarizing yourself with the basics will help you make a more educated decision on the material that's best for you and your project!
Ceramic Tile A tile made from clay that has been permanently hardened by heat, often having a glazed finish (appropriate for wall applications only).
Color Body Porcelain Tiles are created with continuous colored stains from the glaze surface throughout the body of the tile. Synchronizing the color of both the glaze and body lessens the visibility of any impact chips that may occur. The color remains consistent throughout the tile, but any surface design does not continue through the tile body.
Dry-pressed Ceramic Tile formed from a finely milled body mixture and shaped in molds at high pressure, providing a very high level of strength (like porcelain)
Field Tile Refers to a tile that can be used in either a floor or wall application (any tile referred to as wall tile can only be used on a wall)
Glazed Porcelain Glaze is a wear layer that is applied to the surface of the tile prior to being fired in a kiln. After being fired, the glaze will take on either a shiny or matte finish and provide a high level of protection against staining.
Lappato An Italian term meaning buffed or semi-polished. Lappato or semi-polished tiles are buffed to a shine and do not feature a full polish. During this process, the top layer of glaze is what’s buffed and is intentionally not brought to a full polish. This is an industry standard way of camoflauging any flaws in the surface. In many cases, semi-polished tiles may have a crackled effect, pitting, or have areas which appear less shiny than others. This is normal and should not be considered a defect in the tile or in the polishing.
Non-rectified Tile Tile that has not been mechanically straightened after cutting, resulting in each tile having a plain, square edge and each tile not being the exact same size. Larger grout lines may need to be used in order to correctly fit tiles together, fill in gaps, or hide these minor differences in size.
PEI Rating PEI stands for Porcelain and Enamel Institute’s wear rating. PEI rates a glazed tile’s ability to resist abrasion. Only glazed tiles get a PEI Rating. Ratings range from I to V:
- I or II The tile has a low resistance to wearing and would best be suited for a wall application.
- III The tile offers a moderate level of resistance to wearing and would be suitable for most residential uses.
- IV The tile is highly resistant to wearing and would be suitable for all residential uses and some light commercial uses.
- V The tile offers the highest level of resistance to wearing and can be used in heavy traffic commercial spaces.
Polished Porcelain Polish is applied to the surface of the tile after being fired in a kiln. The polish gives the tile a shiny finish but does not provide the same level of stain protection as a glazed tile. (Note: the polishing of tile and the degree of shine is subject to tolerances and can change slightly from production lot to production lot.)
Porcelain Tile A tile made from porcelain clay, resulting in a tile that’s denser and more durable than ceramic tile.
Rectified Tile Tile that has gone through a mechanical process that ensures each edge is precise, straight, and uniform. The 90 degree edges make for a more level installation and aesthetically pleasing look. Grout lines can also be much smaller when using rectified tile.
Through Body Porcelain (or Full Body Porcelain) Tiles are produced using colored raw materials that permeate the entire tile, incorporating uninterrupted color and pattern features seen on the surface all the way through the tile body. The surface design is evident in a cross-section of the tile body, providing outstanding abrasion resistance and durability. Excellent for heavy traffic areas.
Variation Rating Shading and texture will vary from one piece of tile to the next within production runs. The variation rating system for ceramic and porcelain tile ranges from a V1 (which is very little to no change per piece) to a V4 (which represents a dramatic variety of shading and texture changes).