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Oct 08 2015

How to Shop for Flooring Tiles for Your Rental Home

When choosing tile flooring for a rental home, it’s important to consider all of the factors that could affect its appearance over the years. Tiles will alter in color and texture due to regular day-to-day traffic, environmental conditions and the hustle and bustle of rotating occupants. You want flooring that’s easy on the eyes, but it also needs to be sturdy and long lasting.

While browsing flooring options, you may notice that tiling comes with a code. This code lets you know about its quality, durability, resiliency and resistance to wear. Here is a breakdown of the different codes to help you choose the best tiling for your rental home—and save money while you’re at it.

Grades Matter
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Just like your parents told you in high school, grades matter. This is true for tile, too. The grade of the tile indicates its quality on a scale of one to three. Grade One tile is high quality, while Grade Two is comparable in quality but often less expensive. Grade Three tile should only be used on walls due to its weakness and inability to bear weight.

When comparing grades of ceramic tiles, you have two options: glazed and unglazed. Glazed tiles are the kind most people are familiar with—those that glisten on kitchen and bathroom floors and are commonly reduced to being called “ceramic.” Unglazed ceramic tiles have a more natural, earthy tone and texture to them, almost as if they are unfinished.

What Are You Wearing?

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Another code to pay close attention to when choosing tiling is PEI—otherwise known as the Porcelain and Enamel Institute’s wear rating. This is a fancy way of describing the tile’s ability to resist abrasion. This is an important consideration for your rental home. You want a tile that is highly resistant to the wear and tear of the various tenants occupying your rental. Some residents may frequently invite guests over, resulting in heavy foot traffic. Others could have pets (if your policy allows them), meaning the tile has to be scratch-resistant.

The PEI rating goes from I to V, with V being the highest quality. We recommend choosing PEI III or IV for moderate to high resistance. PEI V is actually intended for commercial spaces, which makes it more than durable enough for residential use.

H2O Pro

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Another important rating in tiling options is its ability to withstand moisture. Water absorption (W.A.) measures the tile’s rate of water intake, which is critically important to consider when selecting tiling for an outdoor area or a room where water gets splashed around, such as the bathroom or kitchen.

W.A. is rated in four categories. Nonvitreous tile is the least applicable for damp areas because it can hold more than 7 percent of its weight in water. Semivitreous tile is just a step down at roughly 4 percent. Vitreous tile absorbs around 3 percent of its weight. The last grade, impervious tile, only absorbs 0.5 percent or less of its body weight in water, making it the best choice for areas with extra moisture.

Impervious tile is classified as porcelain. Vitreous tiles are generally ceramic tiles. Ceramic and porcelain are both great at sealing out water, but can be on the pricey side. Opt for a vitreous tile that is around 3-3.5 percent for best results without clearing out your bank account.

Slip ‘n’ Slide

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Getting even more technical, the next grading system is the tile’s slip resistance, measured as C.O.F. (coefficient of friction). A lot of math goes into determining the C.O.F., but what you need to know is that lower C.O.F. ratings mean that the tile is more likely to have your tenant slipping and sliding, while a higher rating will keep him or her safely on two feet. A C.O.F. rating of greater than .50 is recommended for standard residential applications, while a rating of .60 or higher is required for commercial applications to meet ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) guidelines.

Tone It Down

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Tone grading matters when you’re looking at natural flooring like stone tiles. It explains whether or not the visual tone of the tiling is consistent. If you’re looking for flooring that is even throughout, don’t look for high tone. However, if you’re looking at individual samples, select tiling with higher tone for interesting intentional variation.

Now that you’re a tiling expert, you should have no trouble roaming the aisles of your local home improvement store. Instead of letting your eyes glaze over the informative codes, use your newly developed sense of tiling to get a better grip on making your rental home the coziest vacation spot around.

How to Shop for Flooring Tiles for Your Rental Home
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About the author

Kerrie Kelly

Kerrie Kelly is a professional interior designer who is an expert on flooring materials renovation and design. Kerrie writes about her flooring expertise for The Home Depot. To view Home Depot's selection of flooring tiles, including styles discussed by Kerrie, you can visit the company's website.