Not all tiling is the same. Some tiles are made for floors, others for walls, and some are made for both. A tile’s use and suitability are often determined by its finish, design, and surface texture.

However, aside from what the tile looks like, its surface strength and durability are essential. To make it easier to categorize tiles based on their surface durability, the Porcelain Enamel Institute developed a rating system. The rating system is referred to as the “PEI Rating.”

What Is the PEI Rating?

The PEI rating is a system that is used to rate and categorize ceramic products based on their hardness and durability. For tiling, this durability is only based on its surface and how abrasions can affect it. The fracture strength of the tile is not a factor in these ratings.

How Do They Rate the Tiles?

Using a rotary abrasion resistance testing machine, steel is being pressed down and rotated against the tile. The rating is determined by the number of rotations done before scratches and abrasions start to appear on the surface.

What Is the Scale of the PEI Rating System?

The PEI rating system is a 5-point scale that begins with 0. Each classification has its meanings depending on how each tile performed during the rotary abrasion test. Below is the PEI rating classification:

PEI Classification Usage

0 – Light-duty and for wall usage only in residential homes. Not for underfoot use.

1 –  For wall use in residential and commercial spaces. Not meant for underfoot. Typically used in shower rooms.

2 – For walls and light-duty as flooring in residential homes. They are often used as bathroom tiles.

3 – Used for countertops, walls, and floors that are walked on regularly. However, it is only meant to be used for residential spaces.

4 – Can be used for all types of residential applications. It may also be used for medium commercial applications and light institutional spaces.

5 – Can handle all kinds of foot traffic in residential, commercial, and institutional areas. Usually only meant for flooring and design is often inappropriate for residential spaces.

Why Is the PEI Rating System Important?

The PEI rating for tile flooring is critical because it shows how durable a tile would be. If you do not refer to the scale when purchasing tiles, you will have cracked floors and too thick or heavy wall tiles.

The PEI rating system makes it easier to search for tiling. Whether residential or commercial, the PEI rating system has considered this. Without this rating, some commercial and residential spaces will end up toppling over and pose a risk for those using these spaces.

The PEI rating system allows for safety and precautionary measures to come in place. It also ensures that the proper tiles are used in each structure, making it safe and durable overall.


Tiles are not just picked out randomly, and there is more to them than just designs and colors. Some tiles have specific uses, while others are meant to be used all-around. With the PEI rating system, the classification of these tiles has been made more accessible, making it smoother for buyers to know what tiles to use for their spaces.

For tile shopping, you can shop with Miconi. We have been operating since 1994, providing the best and highest quality tiles for all your needs in San Rafael, California. Get in touch with us today to get the best choices.