Explaining PEI Ratings

The Porcelain Enamel Institute is a volunteer organization providing technical, marketing, and industry support and information to participating members.  They are also responsible for the P.E.I. scale, a standard for consumers to gauge wear resistance and how well a porcelain product will hold up when it comes to scratching in a floor installation.  It’s a quick reference to help you figure out which tile is right for the way you intend to use the space.  Paying attention to this factor will maximize the life of the tile and help maintain the look you want.

It’s worth noting that the P.E.I. scale doesn’t measure a tile’s performance- it just indicates how much wear the tile can withstand before scratching. Keep in mind that these are base standards.  When you’re picking out your new tile, really think about what kind of conditions it will be up against and use that as a way to figure out the type of tile you specifically require.

Every glazed tile has a P.E.I. rating on a scale of 0 to 5.  The higher the rating, the more scratch-resistant the tile is. Here’s a more detailed breakdown of each rating:

  • PEI 0: No foot traffic at all; these are strictly for wall installations. A good example is our Cosmo Bubble Black.  Also ideal for your zero gravity room. People have those, right?
  • PEI I: This rating designates a tile for low-traffic residential areas where the footwear is limited to socks (or bare feet).  The product can’t handle abrasive dirt, so it’s not suitable for any entryway, but would be excellent for a small powder room.
  • PEI II: This is for tile that can hold up to light-duty residential traffic, but nothing too heavy-duty.  For example, it’s not recommended for kitchens or stairs, but it’s fine for bathroom floors, and other areas subjected to foot traffic with normal footwear.
  • PEI III: Tile that can withstand medium-duty residential applications, including kitchens, will get this rating.  A rather common find for this type of use is our Metro Octagon Matte White with Cobalt.
  • PEI IV: Products with this rating are suitable for heavy-duty residential use and commercial areas that are subject to some dirt conditions and prolonged food traffic, such as restaurant kitchens.
  • PEI V: This can be used in pretty much any setting, commercial and residential alike (such as our Montana tile).  These products maintain their aesthetic over sustained periods of heavy pedestrian traffic.

The Porcelain Enamel institute comes up with this rating once a finished piece is sent to them by the manufacturer and they subject it to a durability test.  It’s probably preferable to finding out yourself by tiling your floor, wrapping your shoes in sandpaper, skidding across and then looking back, so be sure to check the PEI Rating on your next tile purchase!

Sources: Here, here, and our resident experts.

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