Types of Different Tiles

Flooring is one of the most important choices when renovating or building a new home. Whether its the bathroom, kitchen or external area the correct tile choice can have significant impact.

The two main types of tiles are porcelain and ceramic. Both types of a wide range in colours, textures, patterns and sizes. Porcelain and ceramic both have advantages and disadvantages when using them in a particular area.


Ceramic tiles are made mostly from clay that are pressed into shape. They can have glazed or unglazed surfaces. Next they are fired in a kiln at very hot temperatures. The glazing becomes hard and non-porous, which has several advantages:

  • Moisture and stain resistant
  • Hygienic – resists bacteria and allergens
  • Lasts for a long period of time (if looked after)
  • Easy to clean
  • Available in a wide range of colours, styles and sizes

If the ceramic if glazed, the glaze is only on the top of the tile. So if the tile was to be chipped, there would be a noticeable colour difference between the glaze and the ceramic base. Also ceramic tiles can crack if they are not installed correctly or subjected to enough force.


Porcelain tiles are made of a blend of fine clays and a mixture of other minerals to produce a very dense body and is fired at a much higher temperature than a normal ceramic tile They have a moisture absorption rate of below 0.5%. Porcelain is the most durable tile available. The average PEI rating of a porcelain is 4-5.

Porcelain tiles are available in a variety of finishes which include matte, unglazed or highly polished. Sizes can also vary from 25mm x 25mm – 600mm x 1200mm or larger. Most commonly tiles in areas such as living areas and kitchen are laid in 600mm x 600mm for a highly sought after look.

The main benefits of using a porcelain tiles include:

  • Being more dense than ceramics will allow tolerating higher loads
  • Virtually non-porous – water absorption 0.5%
  • Frost and fire resistant
  • Will last for a very long time due to its durability

PEI Rating

This scale used to indicate the surface resistance to visible wear. The Porcelain Enamel Institute (PEI) developed the test. The rating ranges from 1 to 5 classifying them based on levels of foot traffic.

  1. PEI 1 = Suitable for floors that are walked on with soft footwear or bare feet
  2. PEI 2 = Suitable for floors that are walked on with normal footwear
  3. PEI 3 = Suitable for floors such as kitchens and halls
  4. PEI 4 = Suitable for heavy residential or light commercial floors
  5. PEI 5 = Suitable for all applications. Heavy commercial areas including shopping centres or any other high traffic areas. Suitable for any residential areas.