Grades of Ceramic Tile

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Q: I would like to know the different grades of ceramic tile. I was told that they are graded from 1 to 5, 5 being the best. Is this true?

A: Thanks for your question. The 1-5 rating applies only to one aspect of tile: Visible Surface Abrasion Resistance (how readily scratches show on the surface) with 5 being the toughest in terms of standing up to scratching, dirt and traffic. Thus the different grades would be appropriate (more or less) for use in the following areas:

  • Grade 1: Wall tile
  • Grade 2: Residential Bathroom
  • Grade 3: Residential Kitchen
  • Grade 4: Light Commercial (doctor's office)
  • Grade 5: Airport

You could use a higher grade than recommended in any application, but it's not wise to use a lower grade. A lower grade of tile would likely not hold up well enough.

More commonly, tile is divided into Standard grade and Seconds. Standard grade means the tile meets all American standards when evaluated from three feet away. If surface defects are visible when evaluated from three feet away, they are re-evaluated from 10 feet away. If they pass, they are labeled and sold as seconds. If not, they are rejected. Imported tiles may not be rated by American standards, so you would have to rely on your tile supplier's or tile setter's experience and recommendations with those.

This should help you pick out the appropriate tile. To find a reputable tile setter or any other kind of home improvement specialist, visit Home Advisor, join as a member (it's free) and let us help you locate the ideal service professional in your area!

by Kathy Maynard, reprinted courtesy of

Chipped Tile

Repairing a Door