Commercial Vs. Residential Tile: What’s the Difference?

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Have you ever wondered what sets residential and commercial tile apart? Today, we’ll dive into the differences between these two tile types and explain classifications like PEI rating and Dynamic Coefficient of Friction (DCOF). Knowing these tile stats can help you make the most informed decisions, whether you’re shopping for a home improvement project or searching for the perfect tile for a large commercial space.

The Differences Between Commercial and Residential Tile

Several factors set commercial and residential tile apart.

Tile Thickness

Commercial tile tends to be much thicker than residential tile because it’s expected to stand up to much heavier foot traffic.

Style Options

Residential tile comes in unlimited colors, textures, shapes, and sizes. Every homeowner has their own personal style, and there’s a variation of residential tile for them all. Commercial tile, on the other hand, is typically very simple and neutral. There are fewer choices when it comes to the tile’s appearance as there’s more of a focus on utility than beauty.

 Classico Marquina 12x24 Glossy Porcelain Tile

This Classico Marquina 12x24 Glossy Porcelain Tile is rated PEI 3, making it ideal for most residential applications and some light commercial applications.

Slip Resistance

When tile is chosen for use in commercial spaces, there’s always a concern for potential injury and liability. Therefore, commercial tile usually has much better slip resistance than residential tile.


Going along with the slip resistance mentioned above, commercial tile often has many features that aren’t always available for residential tile. For instance, you may be able to find commercial tile that’s moisture-repellent or waterproof. Other features may include heat resistance, corrosion resistance, and soundproofing. Meanwhile, residential tile’s primary focuses are its appearance and comfort underfoot.


Residential tile is generally the cheaper of the two options because it has fewer special features and often covers a smaller space. Commercial tile comes with various features and is used to cover large public spaces. However, quality and durability are typically the most notable determiners of price.

Tile Ratings: When Is Tile Rated for Commercial Use?

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When determining which applications a particular tile is suited for, you can look at its PEI rating and DCOF rating.

PEI Rating

A Porcelain Enamel Institute rating, or PEI rating, indicates the durability and hardness of a ceramic or porcelain tile’s surface wear layer. It’s determined by testing the abrasion resistance of the tile’s surface enamel.

As a general rule, the higher the PEI rating, the harder and more durable a tile is. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that PEI 5 tiles are of higher quality than PEI 1 tiles; the two types of tiles are simply best for different applications.

Often, the tile used in residential settings has a PEI rating of two or three, while commercial tile is typically rated at PEI 3 or higher.


Tile with a PEI rating of zero should only be used on walls and is not suitable for foot traffic of any kind.

Belize White Lines 8x8 Porcelain Tile 

This Belize White Lines 8x8 Porcelain Tile is rated PEI 4 and has a DCOF of >=0.42. It’s suitable for all residential and most commercial applications.


Similar to the PEI 0 rating, tile with a PEI 1 rating is only suitable for walls and shouldn’t be used on floors. Many types of shower surrounds and bathroom wall tiles have a PEI rating of one. Tiles of this rating are often beautiful but very fragile.


With this rating, tile is generally suitable for use on walls and floors that don’t get much foot traffic. You might see tile with a PEI 2 rating in residential bathrooms and bedrooms, for instance. Still, tile with a PEI 2 rating is not suitable for entryways, hallways, or kitchens in residential spaces, and it shouldn’t be used for commercial applications.


Tile with a PEI rating of three is suitable for most residential applications, and most floor tiles meant for residential use are rated PEI 3. Tile of this rating can be considered a general-purpose floor tile for homes, and it’s often used for walls, countertops, and floors that get a moderate amount of foot traffic.

In some cases, tile with a PEI 3 rating can also be used outdoors in residential settings. 

Tile rated PEI 3 is also strong enough for light commercial use. It could be used in reception areas, offices, small shops, and hallways.

Flake Terrazzo Black 30x30 Porcelain Tile

This Flake Terrazzo Black 30x30 Porcelain Tile is rated PEI 4 and can be used in residential and commercial spaces.


A PEI rating of four means that tile is suitable for any and all residential applications, as well as most commercial and light institutional applications. Tiles with this rating can be used in businesses, restaurants, offices, schools, and homes. Areas in homes that may benefit from this tile’s strength include mudrooms and laundry rooms.


If a tile has a PEI rating of five, it can be used in any residential, commercial, or institutional area, regardless of the amount of foot traffic. However, in most cases, this tile is not especially visually appealing, and its value lies in its strength and durability. PEI 5 tile is popular for hospitals, schools, and grocery stores, which all receive heavy foot traffic on a daily basis.

Dynamic Coefficient of Friction (DCOF)

A tile’s DCOF measures its slip resistance. The higher the DCOF, the more slip-resistant the tile is. When shopping for tile to be used in bathrooms, kitchens, and other areas that may be slippery, look for tile with a high DCOF.

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Glass tile usually has the lowest DCOF, while textured natural stone, like terracotta tile and quarry tile, has a higher DCOF.

Tile meant for commercial and industrial spaces requires a much higher DCOF than tile used in residential settings.

According to the Tile Council of North America, tile used for level interior spaces that will be walked on when wet needs to have a minimum DCOF of 0.42. You’ll often see this written in tile descriptions as “DCOF >=0.42”.

Simple Antique White Skinny Herringbone Ceramic Mosaic Tile

This Simple Antique White Skinny Herringbone Ceramic Mosaic Tile has a DCOF of <=0.22 and is ideal for wall applications only.

Find the Ideal Tile for Your Home Improvement Project at!

Whether you’re looking for a laundry room floor tile with a suitable PEI rating or you’re in search of a slip-resistant bathroom tile with a high DCOF, has what you’re looking for. Our wide selection is filled with porcelain, ceramic, glass, and natural stone tiles in all shapes, sizes, colors, and patterns. Once you find a tile you love, be sure to scroll down and look at the “Details” and “Specifications” sections if you’re interested in stats like PEI rating and Dynamic Coefficient of Friction.

Click here to view our full range of tile options, or head over to our blog for more informational articles and interior design inspiration posts.

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