Glazed tiles after increasing levels of wear testing.

Not all glazed tiles will withstand the same amount of traffic, or wear. For this reason, glazed tiles are wear tested and given a “wear rating” to help the end user know if a particular glazed tile could be used in a desired floor application. The ratings for glaze wear resistance are part of the recently-revised ANSI A137.1 specification, the tile standard that outlines performance criteria and testing of ceramic tile. The ratings, also called “classes,” for resistance to surface abrasion are as follows:  

• Class O: Not recommended for floors

• Class I: Light residential floors

• Class II: Residential floors

• Class III: Light commercial floors

• Class IV: Commercial floors

• Class V: Heavy commercial floors

(See ANSI A137.1 for expanded class descriptions and application examples.)  

A floor tile’s proximity to an entry from the outside, due to greater exposure to abrasives, and the amount of traffic the tile will be exposed to are the most important factors when considering resistance to glaze wear. Commercial spaces will see more traffic and abrasives than residential spaces will. Entryways (residential and commercial) require tile with greater abrasion resistance than tile in other areas within the same building, again, due to greater exposure to abrasives. Entryways near beaches need special consideration. These are just examples. Because of the variables, the classes listed above should be considered guidelines to aid in floor tile  selection rather than hard and fast rules. The parties responsible for making an appropriate floor tile selection must account for the variables. Many tile distributors provide the tile wear classifications on the backs of their sample boards. If not, typically the classifications can be found in the manufacturer’s catalog, on their web site, or by calling the manufacturer.