It is no secret that porcelain tile is lauded for its premium qualities: durability, water-resistance, stain-resistance, and low maintenance. While many consider porcelain tiles an obvious flooring choice, porcelain tiles are also an exceptional choice for walls – specifically in areas that can easily sustain damage from moisture or stains – such as bathrooms, kitchens, laundry-, and mudrooms.
But, can porcelain floor tiles also be used as wall tiles? Well, that depends.
Porcelain Floor Tiles vs. Wall Tiles – What’s the Difference?
Cutting right to the chase, the main difference between porcelain floor and porcelain wall tiles are their respective levels of hardness, slipperiness, and overall size.
Hardness Rating Using the PEI Scale
The rating of hardness of porcelain tiles is based on the Porcelain Enamel Institute’s PEI scale, which categorizes tiles into classes between 1 and 5 (5 being the hardest and most suitable for heavy foot traffic). Porcelain tiles created for flooring typically rank closer to a PEI 5 rating, making them one of the strongest tile flooring options, able to withstand heavy foot traffic. A PEI rating of 3 to 5 is needed to qualify as a “floor tile.”
However, porcelain tiles created for walls are ranked much closer to a PEI 1 rating. This is because porcelain wall tiles are crafted to be much thinner since they are not exposed to foot traffic or expected to support heavy weight. Therefore, any PEI rating is considered suitable for wall tiles.
To make things less confusing, manufacturers will often label their tiles as “wall tiles” along with the tile’s PEI rating to help consumers distinguish between floor and wall tiles.
Slipperiness Using the Coefficient of Friction (COF) Rating
The level of slipperiness of porcelain tiles is based on a Coefficient of Friction (COF) or a Slip Rating, which ranks the tile’s level of friction – this is used to determine the level of grip and friction of the tile’s surface. A COF rating of 0.50 or greater is needed to qualify as a “floor tile.” This rating is critical when choosing porcelain tile flooring, but inconsequential for porcelain wall tiles. Therefore, any COF rating is acceptable for wall tiles.
Other than the two aforementioned differences between porcelain floor and wall tiles, the only other distinctions are aesthetic.
When it comes to tile dimensions, floor tiles tend to be much larger (up to 18” x 18” squares) and wall tiles much smaller. However, that doesn’t mean that larger tiles can’t be used on walls if larger tiles match the look and design that you’re after.
As far as texture is concerned, floor tiles generally have a rougher finish in order to provide much-needed grip for walking. Porcelain wall tiles are usually much smoother – oftentimes with a close resemblance to glass – but, again, the finish and texture for wall tiles is entirely up to the consumer.
Porcelain Tiles for Bathroom Walls
Porcelain tiles are an ideal material to use in bathrooms due to their naturally water-resistant and durable qualities. Porcelain tiles are exceptionally easy to maintain and, when properly cared for, outlast and outperform other tile options.
While porcelain tiles are a popular choice for bathroom flooring, they are also a highly acclaimed material for bathroom walls. Porcelain wall tiles add protection to your walls, acting as a shield against moisture damage that drywall or other materials would not be able to endure. Porcelain’s impermeability makes it the best option for shower walls and bathtub surrounds.
As a design element, porcelain tile’s seemingly limitless options for colors, textures, patterns, and designs allow consumers to create a space that matches their style both on their floors and their walls. In fact, many consumers often have the same or similar porcelain tiles installed both on their bathroom floors and walls to create a seamless look between surfaces.
As previously mentioned, typically, smaller porcelain tiles are used for walls; the smaller tiles make application and installation much easier since smaller tiles are lighter and easier to manipulate and cut. However, that does not inhibit consumers from using larger tiles on their walls; as long as the tiles are not too heavy for a proper installation.
No matter the style choice, using porcelain tiles for your bathroom walls can instantly upgrade your bathroom to a look and feel of luxury and comfort with the added bonus of minimal maintenance to keep it looking clean.
Porcelain Tiles for Kitchen Walls & Backsplashes
Highly acclaimed for durability and water-resistance, porcelain tiles are also stain-resistant, making them the perfect option for use on kitchen walls and backsplashes. Unlike other tile options that can be naturally porous and, therefore, susceptible to water damage and stains, porcelain tiles can withstand heat, moisture, and even the worst of food or drink splatters and spills.
Porcelain tiles are a great option for any or all of your kitchen walls, but they are the best option for backsplashes behind sinks, counters, and stoves. The fact that porcelain tiles can be easily cleaned and maintained is key. A wipe with a damp cloth can remove nearly all surface stains with minimum effort.
From an aesthetic perspective, porcelain’s vast array of colors and design choices means it can be made to match an existing floor material, or create an entirely new look to upgrade your kitchen.
Porcelain Tiles for Laundry and Mudrooms
Like bathrooms and kitchens, laundry- and mudrooms are spaces that are extremely susceptible to moisture damage and stains from dripping clothes on a line, splashes from a slop sink, wet dogs, dirty boots, or mud-covered children. installing porcelain wall tiles in these areas that are most prone to damage will offer protection to your walls that cannot be matched by other materials.
In addition to the inherent quality of porcelain tiles, the versatile appearance options means that you can not only protect these areas, but you can also transform these often-ignored rooms into beautiful spaces and entryways that will both dazzle the eye and endure any and all messes with very little effort.
No matter how you plan to use porcelain tile in your home or business, the experts here at Revest Construction are ready to talk you through the various options to ensure you make the best choices for your project. Contact us!