Understanding Porcelain Tile Abrasion Resistance In 2021

January 3, 2021
Sol Farahmand

One of the questions many people have about tiles is in regard to its abrasion resistance. The reality is that the last thing you want (or need) is to pay a lot of money for some tiles, for its installation, and just a couple of months later you see that they are getting scratches.

Fortunately, there is a way to measure the likelihood of a til to be scratched – the Mohs Hardness Scale.


Understanding Tile Abrasion Resistance With Mohs Hardness Scale

When you are looking to understand tile abrasion resistance, you need to have some sort of scale or measurement that allows you to know if a tile is easily scratched or not.

The Mohs Hardness Scale was created by a mineralogist name Frederick Mohs back in 1812. The truth is that this is a very easy scale that most manufacturers use to determine the tile abrasion resistance.

Simply put, Frederick Mohs took 10 different minerals and gave them a value between 1 and 10 according to their hardness. While this scale may seem difficult to understand, the reality is that it is fairly simple.

All you need to keep in mind is that each mineral on the scale cannot scratch the mineral that is above it. For example, a mineral that is rated 4 on this scale can scratch a mineral that is rated 3 but it cannot scratch a mineral that is rated as 5.


The Mohs Hardness Scale includes the following minerals:

Scale #1: talc

Scale #2: gypsum

Scale #3: calcite

Scale #4: fluoride

Scale #5: apatite

Scale #6: orthoclase

Scale #7: quartz

Scale #8: topaz

Scale #9: corundum

Scale #10: diamond


It’s important to keep in mind that you don’t need to know this scale. In fact, manufacturers use it as a way of determining the tile abrasion resistance. They just go through the entire list of minerals starting on one and working their way up to 10, and they will scratch the tile. The mineral that ends up scratching that tile is the rating this tile gets.


What Does This Scale Mean In Real Life Settings?

As we mentioned above, you don’t need to know this scale. You just need to understand it. However, since we are not all mineralogists, let’s check some real life examples:

  • The human fingernail is rated as a 2.5 on this scale. So, it would be equivalent to somewhere between gypsum and calcite.
  • Gold or silver would be rated as a 3.
  • Copper penny would be considered a 3.5.
  • Iron nail is considered a 4.
  • Window glass is considered a 5.5.
  • Aluminum and abrasive would be considered an 8.


So, whenever you are choosing tiles, you need to think about the environment that the tiles will be exposed to. For example, if you think about glazed tiles, glazed ceramic tiles, these would be around 5 to 6 in what comes to the abrasion resistance. If you look at the minerals, it would be between the apatite and the orthoclase. If you think about the real life now, you would say that an aluminum abrasive would definitely scratch these tiles but an iron nail would not necessarily scratch them.


Abrasion Resistance Of Porcelain Tiles

In what concerns to porcelain tiles, these are a bit more difficult to evaluate. After all, porcelain is manufactured very differently as well as it’s much more dense. Glazed porcelain tiles would receive a value of 7 but unglazed porcelain tiles would receive a value of 8. Because the glaze on that tile is a little more prone to scratches than an unglazed porcelain tile.

So, when you are putting tile in our home or commercial setting, make sure you consider the environment that is going to be exposed to that tile.



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