Commercial Tiles

Tile selection for commercial areas is a very important aspect to consider due to the increased level of traffic it will be exposed to compared to a residential area. There are two main factors to be considered here; one is the tile’s PEI & MOH’s ratings and the other is the nature of the product (i.e. porcelain vs ceramic).





PEI (Porcelain Enamel Indicator) rating

The PEI rating is a wear rating system that is used to help select suitable tiles for specific applications. The tiles are evaluated for wear/abrasion resistance on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest).

  • P.E.I. 1 – Tiles suitable only for residential bathrooms where softer footwear is worn.
  • P.E.I. 2- Tiles suited general residential traffic, except kitchens, entrance halls, and other areas subjected to continuous heavy use.
  • P.E.I. 3 – Tiles suited for all residential and light commercial interiors such as offices, reception areas and boutiques.
  • P.E.I. 4 – Suited for all residential interiors and moderate traffic commercial applications.
  • P.E.I. 5 –Group V Recommended for all interior residential and commercial uses.

MOH’s Rating Scale (Method of Hardness)

The relative hardness of glazed tile is an important issue that should be addressed when selecting a tile. The test is performed by, scratching the surface of the tile with different minerals and subjectively assigning a “MOH’s” number to the glaze.

The softest mineral used is talc (a # 1 rating if no scratch), the hardest is a diamond (a # 10 rating if no scratch). Other minerals that provide MOH’s values of five or greater are suitable for most residential floor applications; a value of seven or greater is normally recommended for commercial applications. Both abrasion resistance and glaze hardness should be addressed when considering using glazed tiles as floor products.

Porcelain v.s Ceramic


Traditionally, porcelain tiles have been employed in commercial areas due to their strength and wear resistance. This is typically because traditional ‘salt & pepper’ porcelain tile is a through-body product that has no glaze on top of it; the top of the product is simply polished or honed. ‘Through-body’ simply means that what you see on the top of the tile is what you see at the back, except the back is unfinished. As a result, there is no ‘glaze’ to be worn away over time thus making the product more visibly wear resistant.


Alternatively, a ceramic tile is a clay body with a ceramic glaze, therefore its wear resistance is completely defined by the strength of its glaze. If the glaze is worn away by traffic, then the clay body will become visible. The PEI & MOH’s ratings described above apply only to this glaze

Glazed porcelain:

Due to the design limitations of traditional ‘salt & pepper’ porcelain tiles, there are new glazed porcelain products that offer the same wide range of  designs as ceramic tile. However, it is important to note that these new glazed porcelain products do not have the same wear resistance characteristics as traditional ‘salt & pepper’ porcelain. Although the body of the product is still porcelain, the glaze on top is a ceramic glaze, therefore a glazed porcelain tile will only be as wear resistant as its glaze. For example, a glazed porcelain tile with a PEI 5 and a MOH’s 8 rating, is in essence no different than a ceramic tile with a PEI 5 and a MOH’s 8 rating; but the glazed porcelain will be significantly more expensive.

Commercial Wall Tiling

Traditionally, wall tiles were typically used mainly in bathrooms and kitchen areas, however, in recent years there has been quite an increase in commercial applications using wall tiles. Many shops, offices, malls, restaurants etc have been employing ceramic & porcelain tile to clad wall facings making them much easier to maintain and also giving them a more modern ‘feel’. Driven by new manufacturing technologies, the latest trends are to use large format, irregular and regular shaped porcelain/ceramic tile. Some manufacturers have also begun making extremely thin porcelain products specifically for these applications.

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