The Porcelain Tile Difference

  • July 28,2017
  • in Useful Information
  • by MAA

The Porcelain Tile Difference

Many of us have grown up knowing ceramic tile is a premium choice for flooring and walls. However, Crossville tile collections are described as 'porcelain.' So, what's the difference? Here's what you need to know.

Porcelain Tile 101

Porcelain tile is actually a kind of ceramic tile. To be classified as 'porcelain,' a tile must meet certain standards of strength and moisture resistance. The body of porcelain tile is typically made from the same or similar raw materials as traditional ceramic but in different proportions. Also, porcelain is fired at higher temperatures. This powerful combination creates tile with heightened strength and minimal water absorption (less than .5%!), allowing it to outperform even real granite.

Because of its advanced durability and moisture resistance, many porcelain tile lines are strong enough for the most demanding commercial applications and outdoor use. That means porcelain offers more than sufficient durability for the average family's wear and tear with no problem. Porcelain withstands heavy foot traffic, is impenetrable to water and stains and holds up to extreme temperatures beautifully.

Tile Ratings & Terms

All tile products are tested and rated based on a variety of factors so that you are sure to find the right product to meet your needs.

• Abrasion (Wear) Resistance: This is the degree to which a tile's surface (often a glaze) will withstand the wear of foot traffic, measured in PEI ratings. These ratings range from very low (Class 0 = wall use only) to higher wear ratings such as Class IV for heavy traffic (suitable for all residential and most commercial applications).

• Breaking Strength: The strength of porcelain comes from unique clays, fired at extreme temperatures, which produce a harder, denser tile for unmatched durability and performance. Breaking strength is assessed by how much weight is needed to cause breakage. Porcelain tile surpasses the industry standard of 250 lbs.

• Mohs: This is a scale of hardness ranging from 1 (talc) to 10 (diamond) used to determine a material's scratch resistance. Porcelain tile often has a rating of 7, 8 or 9, while other, less scratch resistant non-porcelain tiles are rated at 5 or 6. In the Moh's scale, each rating is 10 times harder than the previous number. For a point of reference, natural granite is usually 6 or 7.

• Water Absorption: Water absorption is conveyed as the percentage of water absorbed by the body of the tile. Porcelain tile is ideal for wet-area applications such as tub surrounds, showers and any area where water may be present because it is "impervious" to water with a rating of 0.5% water absorption or less. Notably, the more impervious the tile, the more frost resistant, meaning it can be used outdoors. Be sure to check product specifications.

• Dynamic Coefficient of Friction (DCOF): Dynamic Coefficient of Friction is the latest, most reliable measure for indicating slip potential on a tile's surface. Porcelain tile must have a DCOF of 0.42 for "level interior floors expected to be walked upon when wet" (as stated on the Tile Council of North America website). This new measure replaces the 0.6 reference that was formerly the standard for the industry.

• Shade Variation: The color and details of porcelain tile may vary from piece to piece and from run to run. While manufacturers often have proprietary methods for conveying the anticipated variation for tile products, most reference terms such as "low shade variation" for very little color or design change from tile to tile and "high shade variation" to denote dramatic differences from tile to tile. It's important to be aware of shade variation prior to installation to avoid surprises. Likewise, it's recommended to work from multiple boxes of tile to achieve a favorable mix.

• Through-body: This refers to the presence of color throughout the thickness of a tile. Some tile only has color on the top surface glaze; others have partial through-body color.

Porcelain tile outperforms other tile types on tests of strength and absorption.

A New Day for Porcelain Tile

Tile isn't just for the kitchen or bath. Homeowners are embracing the durability and beauty of tile throughout the house and beyond. Crossville's selection of rich colors and decorative elements make tile a viable surfacing selection for living spaces, bedrooms, outdoor rooms and everywhere in between.

Indoor Air Quality

One significant reason tile is gaining popularity in use throughout the home is its superior cleanability. Tile promotes better indoor air quality, as it does not trap allergens (i.e. dust, pet hair, etc.) It cleans quickly with minimal special maintenance, making it an excellent choice for bedrooms and family rooms anywhere the family needs to breathe easier.

Custom Designs

Crossville porcelain tile collections offer countless customizable options. Our tile collections come complete with rich color palettes, an array of sizes and assorted decorative options. Tile's flexibility and modularity invite unique patterns and creative, fully custom installations that add ambiance, and value, to your home.

Tile for Exterior Use

Many porcelain tile products are suitable for outdoor installation, thanks to the advanced properties of strength and moisture resistance of their densely packed porcelain bodies. Picture tile on your patio, deck or walkway or even cladding the exterior of a building. The design opportunities are immense, as you can play with texture, colors and sizes to customize exterior spaces.

Wall Tile

Porcelain collections often give you everything you need to surround yourself in the beauty of tile. With trims and decorative accents, tile makes lovely and durable wall covering. Crossville offers a range of wall tile selections to choose from.

Mosaic Selections

Mosaic tile has been popular for centuries, and today is no exception. Use mosaics to cover walls in colorful, detailed sizes. Mix and mingle colors and finishes for truly custom looks. Apply mosaics with proper slip resistance properties to wet area flooring to provide more traction.

Style & Design Tips

Crossville porcelain tile collections reflect the latest in home fashion trends. Our products combine colors, sizes and decorative details to offer diverse installations opportunities. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Large Format Tile

Large format tiles are extremely popular in today's décor. Many of Crossville's products are available in large sizes up to 24"x24". The beauty of the big size is that it creates an open field with less grout line. Whether you're tiling a small bathroom or a sizable family room, consider using large format tiles to create a feeling of natural space.

Color Options

Today's tiles come in a diverse array of color palettes. Neutral and subdued or rich and opulent - no matter your color needs, Crossville has the right selection for you.

With more options than ever before, it's important to answer some key questions prior to selecting your tile.

• Does the space have natural, overhead or ambient lighting?
• Is this a heavy traffic area?
• What other elements exist in the room's décor? Is there wallpaper, lots of furniture or a dominant color scheme?

With these questions answered, select a tile color (or colors) that complements your overall décor. Softer, neutral tones may be the right contrast to busy patterns on walls or upholstery, to create a more open feel for the room. Deep colors may add warmth to a large space or help to showcase light wood furniture or fabrics.

Custom Patterns

Tile patterns mix colors and sizes to achieve clever designs that create an air of custom style. Create custom patterns using contrasting light and dark tiles or contrasting finishes. Frame the tile flooring with a border of mosaics or liners for an area rug effect. Mix modular sizes to add an unexpected touch of whimsy to a kitchen floor. The possibilities are endless.

Tile - Right for the Environment

Crossville porcelain collections are an excellent choice for a cleaner environment inside and out thanks to our companywide commitment to eco-friendly practices. For details, visit our Sustainability section.