Your quick guide to buying porcelain kitchen and bathroom tiles

Your quick guide to buying porcelain kitchen and bathroom tiles

wood effect bathroom tiles interior design ideas

When it comes to home renovation, kitchens and bathrooms tend to be the most expensive to upgrade. So no wonder home owners spend hours hunting for deals, discounts and special offers to lower the overall cost of the renovation. However, when we talk about searching for the right tiles, especially floor tiles, the ‘offer hunters’ are often missing one important fact: the lowest price bathroom tiles or kitchen tiles does not necessarily mean the best product suitable for their project.  Why is that? Remember that we hope for the tiled floor and walls to last in a good condition at least 10-15 years. Therefore the cheapest and lowest quality products can be a short-term ‘money saving’ solution but then you will need to invest in another upgrade much sooner. What you should be really looking for is a good quality product for your bathroom or kitchen at the right price (so affordable and fair) rather than the cheapest option. Before you start comparing tiles suppliers’ and their prices make sure you read this guide first.

lowest price DOES NOT necessarily mean the best product for you, so look for

the Right Kitchen & Bathroom Tiles for the Right Price

While selecting the product your attention should not only be focused on qualities such as style, colour or structure. Of course you want to choose tiles that you like but do not forget they need to last long and in a good condition too! Consider the quality first and then choose the style you want from the best quality tiles – not the other way around. The most important criteria that should be taken into account while making the final a decision are discussed below.

Tiles surface durability class

bathroom-wood-effect-porcelain-tiles-irelandThe technical measurement for tiles durability is called PEI and it is the first parameter which you should consider when choosing kitchen or bathroom flooring products. It indicates where the tiles should be used and their resistance to mechanical damage. The greater the class of the tile is, the lower the possibility of damaging it; for example as a result of the usual wear and tear caused by walking, dropping items on the floor etc.

In short they are four main PEI classes:

  • PEI Class 1– not recommended for  floors, only for walls
  • PEI Class 2 – only for light foot traffic and where soft footwear is used
  • PEI Class 3  – for small and medium traffic, where shoes with soft soles are worn. You must not use these tiles in premises exposed to high traffic volume as well as premises where abrasive materials can be carried in, e.g. bedrooms.
  • PEI Class 4 –from normal to heavy traffic e.g. bathrooms, living rooms, kitchens or where normal shoes are worn
  • PEI Class 5 –from heavy to extra traffic, especially for commercial projects e.g. public places, shops, etc.

The best choice for your home will be PEI Class 4 and this is the tile class Deco Stones offers to its clients.


Slip resistance

The next step is to find tiles with an anti slip surface.  This is especially important if you want to use them in a kitchen or a bathroom, and the porcelain anti slip tiles are best choice for rooms with a lot of moisture in them. If you decide to go for ceramic tiles (keep in mind they are less durable than porcelain tiles) make sure you get non-glazed ceramic tiles that have greater slip resistance than glazed ceramic tiles.

Floor Slip ‘R’ Ratings classes R9 – R13 specifications:

R9 – recommended only for low risk internal applications, e.g. customer reception area

R10– recommended for internal applications, can be used in bathrooms or a toilet

R11– cold stores, dish washing areas

R12 – liquid spillage areas, commercial kitchens

R13 – perfect for high risk of spillage spaces, a lot of moisture, bathrooms, kitchens and even external applications (e.g. garden patios)


Surface hardness

High abrasion resistance helps maintain the tiles their aesthetic value, even after many years of use. High resistance to breaking and bending prolongs the use of the tiles even where standard tiles would long have worn down. Surface hardness is one of the elements of PEI tile testing. The higher the rating  the harder the tile’s surface.

Heat resistance

Are you thinking  about underfloor heating in your home? Then choose tiles with a low thermal expansion measured by a co-efficient rate (COE). COE measures the reversible volume or length change of a ceramic material with temperature. The bigger the expansion of the material while heating up the higher possibility of cracking of the tile when it is cooling down. Porcelain tiles are made at a much higher temperature than ceramic tiles and therefore they are better at resisting the heat. Make sure you consult your choice with the seller and notify them about the underfloor heating, so they can help you choose the right tiles.

Frost resistance

When you want to use a tile in a place where temperatures may drop to below zero, a porcelain tile is your only real option. Unlike ceramic tiles, porcelain tiles are impervious to water penetration. If we use them inside, even sudden changes in the temperature will not adversely affect  this products.

Water absorption rate

The categories are:

  1. Non-vitreous – Tile with water absorption of more than 7% of its body weight.
  2. Semi-vitreous – Tile with water absorption of more than 3% but less than 7% of its body weight.
  3. Vitreous – Tile with water absorption of more than 0.5% but less than 3% of its body weight.
  4. Impervious – Tile with water absorption of less than 0.5% of its body weight.

Properly installed and grouted ceramic tiles are an excellent choice for wet areas.  While the glaze of ceramic tiles is nonporous, a glazed tile may absorb water through its body.  Any glazed or non-glazed ceramic tile that absorbs more than 3% of moisture is unsuitable for wet areas or outdoor use.  As we discussed above , porcelain tiles are impervious to water penetration. Porcelain tiles have a water absorption rate of less than 0.5% so they are perfect for bathrooms and kitchens.

Thickness and surface

If tiles are very thin then they can crack under certain pressure. Never use tiles of less than PEI 4 or 5 class on your kitchen and bathroom floors. Consider using thinner tiles on the walls and cut the cost this way. When it comes to the surface think not only about the visual aspect of the tile but also about practicality – most of tiles with intricate designs or a coarse surface will most likely trap and accumulate dirt over time making bathroom or kitchen cleaning process a real nightmare.



As you can see there are many things to consider before you are truly able to evaluate the price of a floor tile. The cheapest option may not be the best choice after all. Obviously when you compare a thin ceramic tile with low PEI class and anti slip rating and a porcelain floor tile PEI class 4 and high anti slip rate you are going to see a difference in the pricing. However, keep in mind that you hope that your floor will last a good few years before you need to upgrade it again, so see the choices you have to make in investment rather than simply ‘spending’ money category. Better quality products always pay off in a longer term.


If you need advice from our friendly and experienced staff contact us: or phone us at: 021 4876963 


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