5 Words You Need to Know When Tile Shopping

Guys, I am having so much fun designing our new house. It's seriously a dream come true. And I've been so busy with it all that I haven't had much time to share here on the blog! Well, here we go. Let's start with one of my favorite elements in a house: the tile. Maybe I'm the only one out there, but when it comes to picking out tile for our new house, I feel a little clueless. In fact, before I started the shopping process, I Googled "how to shop for tile" like a crazy person. Besides the obvious "pretty" factor, there are just so many different ratings and numbers and factors to take into consideration! How do you know where to begin?! Especially when you're shopping for an entire house full of tile! So, I did a little research, conducted some field studies (ie. an afternoon spent among beautiful tiles with my friends at Floor & Decor... if you twist my leg!) and have put together the ultimate source for tile shopping: five words you need to know when tile shopping!

1. STYLE: This one's easy. In fact, it's the only thing I knew about tile before I started this process. Style is essentially the design of the tile. Is it contemporary? Is it polished? Is it a stone look? Are you going for a wood look? Speaking of, if you spend any time on Pinterest, you'll know the "wood look" for tile is in. Totally hip. Major cool. Super awesome. Too legit to quit. Okay, I'm done. One look around the Floor & Decor store and I was hooked... their wood look tile selection is for realz!

2. TONE: Essentially, tone is the variation in the tile. With natural stone, tone details the general character of the tile- is it warm? Earthy? Cool? If you're looking at other tile, tone is really set by determining the print quality. At Floor & Decor, they've got their tile categorized by high-quality inkjet printed, roto color printed and screen printed tiles. Can you believe this is just a porcelain tile with a stone look that's inkjet printed?

3. EDGE: I honestly never knew this about tile- there are different types of edges for each tile! I guess I knew there was beveled versus straight edge, but really that's it. There's so much more to tile life than that, ha! The two main edge types are pressed edge, which is basically rounded edges that allow for smooth transition from tile to tile and makes grout lines more prominent, or rectified edge, which is a straight edge which sets narrower grout lines (which is easier to clean!). I tried to capture the difference here, but you have to look closely.

This Carrera marble tile has a rectified/straight edge.

This porcelain Venetian stone tile has a much more rounded, pressed edge.

4. PEI: This is a big one... the PEI grade is one of the most important things you need to know when purchasing new tile! Basically, it's the Porcelain and Enamel Institute's wear/durability rating. The lower numbers (categories I and II) are not durable and are basically only meant for wall tiles. The higher grades (categories III and IV) are more durable and can be used in residential flooring. The highest grade (V) is extremely durable and can be used in high-traffic and commercial flooring. Boom. I'm a PEI expert. No diggity, no doubt. 

For example, check out this beautiful faux brick tile. You'll have to forgive me, because I'm slightly obsessed with this tile and it's rustic look, perfect color and HIGH PEI RATING. WOOT!

I know, the herringbone lay really works its way into my heart, too. So this amazing tile has a high PEI grade of 4. 4! It's the perfect tile for something like an entry way or mudroom (which is where we were thinking about putting it). It looks like our mudroom will be all hardwood like the rest of our first floor, but if that changes, the first tile I'll look for that space is this one. Here's looking at you, pretty tile with your high PEI grade.

5.  POROSITY: Last, but not least, we need to talk about porosity. Or water absorption. Basically this rating justifies whether or not your tile can go indoors or outdoors. You can also look at the coefficient of friction rating (COF) to determine whether or not the tile will be slippery or not. Safety first! These ratings will help you determine if your tile fit for outdoor use? Or a wet space, like a shower, bath or kitchen sink area? These are important things to note!

This pretty faux wood tile is only eligible for indoor use, so it's likely made of a more porous material like a ceramic tile.

But this bad boy (also a beautiful wood look tile) can be used indoors or outdoors, as it is a less porous material (likely porcelain). Hello, screened-in porch makeover?!

Alright, class. Repeat after me. Style. Tone. Edge. PEI. Porosity. You nail those words and you will nail tile shopping for your next project! Luckily, the folks at Floor & Decor are extremely helpful. In fact, they've even got a few signs and stations in every store which highlight these words and some of the key phrases/concepts. Like a cheat sheet! Thanks for the CliffsNotes, Floor & Decor!

Now that we're all schooled in tile shopping, let's get to the even more fun stuff: actually picking the tile! I can't wait to show you guys what tile selections I have going for the new house. Here's a peek!

Thanks to Floor & Decor for allowing me to shop one of your local stores and for sponsoring this post. All opinions and facts presented are my own.


  1. LOVE floor and decor! They have so many options for great deals! :) good picks!! Can't wait to see it all come together.

  2. Also important is COF, Coefficient of Friction, or "slip resistance." There are usually two measurements, one for the dry tile and one for when it's wet, as in outdoor applications, bathrooms and kitchens. Some tiles get very slippery when wet and would be downright dangerous on a floor.


Thanks for stopping by! I'd love to hear what you think. I ♥ comments.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...