Tile 101

About Porcelain Tile

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. Porcelain withstands heavy foot traffic, is impenetrable to water and stains and holds up to extreme temperatures beautifully.

Tile Performance Ratings

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. Here are key ratings for your reference.

  • 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% 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 for details and recommendations for use.
  • 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 COF of 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 use 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.

Crossville offers products suited for indoor and outdoor, horizontal and vertical and wet and dry applications for the full gamut of commercial environments, including exterior cladding. Specifications and recommendations for use vary; be sure to consult each product page for details.

Design & Environmental Advantages of Porcelain Tile

Tile is a surfacing material with a rich history. For centuries, artisans and builders have chosen it for its natural durability and beauty. Crafted from the simple combination of clay, fire and water, tile has proven its lasting appeal into the modern era.

Today, the tile industry employs advanced manufacturing processes to transform clay, fire and water into the surfacing material we rely upon in our design projects. Crossville’s responsible product development, efficient manufacturing and eco-friendly practices ensure tile’s innate, natural advantages are maintained while constantly achieving more varied, versatile looks, styles and sizes.

Indoor Air Quality
Tile promotes better indoor air quality, as it does not trap allergens (i.e. – dust, dirt, etc.). It cleans quickly with minimal special maintenance, making it an excellent choice for commercial environments—hotels, schools, healthcare facilities—anywhere there’s heavy traffic and the need for ongoing cleaning.

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 design projects.

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. Tile with proper performance qualities are great for use on patios, decks or walkways or even cladding for the buildings’ exteriors. The design opportunities are immense, as designers can play with texture, colors and sizes to customize exterior spaces.

Wall Tile
Porcelain collections often provide all that’s needed to surround spaces 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 design 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 x 24. 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 large space such as a lobby or school dining hall, 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.
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 nearly 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.