Ceramic Tile Grades Explained

By HomeAdvisor

Updated January 20, 2021

Grades of Ceramic Tiles

Ceramic tile ratings are set up in a grading system of 1 to 5, based on the tile’s toughness and durability. It’s a good thing to educate yourself on the different tile grades, as choosing the right ceramic tile for a specific application can be make or break when it comes your tile lasting as long as possible.

An Explanation of Ceramic Tile Ratings

The 1 to 5 tile rating applies only to one aspect of tile: visible surface abrasion resistance, which is fancy talk for how readily scratches show on the tile’s surface. A tile rating of 5 is the toughest in terms of standing up to scratching, dirt and traffic, one is the easiest to damage. See below for a quick breakdown of the 1 to 5 ceramic tile ratings system:

Grade 1: This is the weakest of all standard grade ceramic tiles. It’s really only suitable as a wall tile.

Grade 2: This is best for light traffic areas. Again, a great product for wall tiles, but it will also work in residential bathrooms, where foot traffic is minimal.

Grade 3: Where ceramic tile ratings are concerned, grade three is most common in residential building, and perfect for light to moderate traffic. This makes it a very sensible choice for residential kitchens, countertops, residential flooring, and all areas that receive lighter wear and tear (i.e., grade 1 and 2 areas).

Grade 4: This grade is a step up from grade 3 tile grades. It’s still a good choice for residential uses, such as tile floors and countertops, but it can also take the heavier abuse of light commercial foot traffic, such as you’d find in a doctor’s office.

Grade 5: This stuff is as tough as it gets. When it comes to standard grade ceramic tiles, grade 5 is built to take a beating. It’s mostly used in high traffic commercial areas such as shopping malls and airports.

Which Grade Is Best for You?

There are two questions to ask yourself, here. The first is how much money you have to spend? The second is how paranoid you are about the toughness of the tile you’re purchasing?

If you’re the kind of person who buys a Rhino truck liner for your pickup even though you rarely haul more than the family dog, then maybe you want to get Grade 5 tiles for your kitchen floors and countertops. But, truthfully, these ceramic tile ratings are pure, so you’re best bet is to look at where they’re going to be installed, and go with the lowest grade possible. They’ll hold up, and by not overdoing it, you’ll be saving yourself costs when it comes to materials as well.

Talk to a contractor experienced in installing ceramic tile about which tile grade is going to best for your particular project.

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  1. Josephine formosa, September 14:

    Please advice which ceramic tiles are suitable for a sauna in a residential building.
    The floor in the sauna gets wet and is slippery.
    Kind regards

  2. Victor Vella, September 24:

    Hi Josephine,
    I would use a tile with an RH Value of 12 or better, this is also good for external areas.

  3. Chris Jordan, December 4:

    How am I able to determine the grade of each tile? Should I just rely on the info provided by the salesperson?

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