Guide to the correct tile wear group

The abrasion group plays an important role in the search for the right floor tiles. This is because it shows how well the product can withstand daily stress. In the following article you will find out into which abrasion classes tiles are classified and for which areas they are therefore suitable.

Whether in private living areas, for commercial use or outdoors – tiles are generally regarded as extremely robust and hard-wearing. Provided, of course, that they are actually able to cope with the daily stress in the respective area. The decisive criterion in this context is how much abrasion tiles produce – and there are sometimes quite big differences.

Glazed vs. unglazed tiles: Abrasion depends on the surface

Unglazed tiles are usually indestructible even under the highest stress and strain. The special manufacturing process makes the material as hard as diamonds and therefore resistant to surface damage and wear. In addition, unglazed tiles also score points in terms of slip resistance due to their rough surface. This means that they can be used in any area and in all rooms without any restrictions, without having to pay particular attention to slip resistance or abrasion resistance.

In contrast, abrasion is much more relevant for glazed tiles. The glaze makes the surface much more sensitive to external influences. This can not only lead to reduced slip resistance in wet or damp conditions, but over time also to wear and tear. These traces of use are often visible in the form of a loss of shine in the affected areas, particularly in the case of scratching dirt and grinding or rubbing movements when walking on the floor with shoes. And this in turn sometimes leads to limitations in the possible areas of application. Not least for this reason, ceramic glazed tiles are also assigned to an abrasion group according to DIN EN 10545-7.

Quality criterion abrasion class: Tiles in endurance test

In order to be able to assess the resistance of the surface to wear and tear, glazed tiles are therefore tested for their resistance to abrasion in a standardised test procedure. A machine produces artificial abrasion by rotating steel brushes with the addition of water and abrasives until the surface of the tiles visibly changes. Depending on how many rotations this is the case, the tiles are divided into abrasion groups 1 to 5 according to DIN EN 10545-7.

Which abrasion group tiles should have

The abrasion of glazed tiles depends both on the glaze itself (hardness, thickness, degree of gloss, etc.) and on the frequency of foot traffic, the degree of soiling and the type and intensity of use in the area in question.

All these factors are also taken into account in the abrasion class, which is why it is a decisive quality and selection criterion for tiles. In order to find out whether the tiles are suitable for the planned location, it is therefore worthwhile to pay attention to these classes when buying. The following overview shows what the respective tile abrasion class means in detail.

Abrasion groups at a glance

Abrasion group 1:

Tiles in this class are only suitable for very light use. The surface rubs off quickly and is extremely sensitive to scratching dirt. The recommended use for these tiles is in principle as wall covering. As floor coverings, they are only suitable – if at all – for rooms that are mainly walked on barefoot or only with very soft soles, such as slippers, when there is little foot traffic (for example bedrooms or bathrooms). Due to their low resistance and limited application, however, tiles of abrasion group 1 are generally only rarely offered by the tile manufacturers.

Abrasion group 2:

Group 2 tiles are already somewhat more robust: they can be used for rooms with light traffic. The surface resists minor scratching dirt and is therefore basically resistant enough to walk on with normal footwear. However, the inspection frequency should not be too high. Tiles of this abrasive group are therefore suitable for private living spaces, with the exception of heavily frequented and stressed areas, such as kitchens or stairs.

Abrasion group 3:

Class 3 tiles are most commonly found in private homes. They withstand medium loads well and are therefore suitable for most rooms with average foot traffic and dirt (e.g. living rooms, hallways, corridors). If the tiles are in principle approved for outdoor use, they can also be laid on balconies. Tiles of the abrasion group 3 can also be used in hotel rooms.

Abrasion group 4:

For rooms that are frequently entered with normal footwear or that are exposed to heavier loads, tiles in abrasion group 4 are recommended. they remain resistant to abrasion even under heavy loads and score points for their correspondingly long service life. Not only can they be used without restriction in the entire private living area, both inside and outside, but they are also resilient enough for public or commercial use. Tiles of this class are suitable for stairs, kitchens, terraces, offices, hotels, entrance areas etc.

Abrasion group 5:

Class 5 tiles are mainly used in commercial areas. They have maximum durability and abrasion resistance, which is why they are convincing even under the highest loads, foot traffic and dirt. Tiles of Abrasion Group 5 are mainly relevant for shops, restaurants and hotel lobbies, but also for garages, industrial halls, schools or railway stations. Such robust tiles are generally not necessary for private households.

For the sake of completeness, however, it should be mentioned again here that unglazed tiles can always be assigned to the highest abrasion class by default. Especially for highly frequented areas they are therefore sometimes the better choice. Particularly in the case of extreme stress, it is therefore advisable to rely on the material, which is by nature extremely abrasion-resistant.

Attention: Do not forget the anti-slip protection!

To ensure that tiles not only optimally withstand loads but also have the necessary slip resistance, attention should be paid to the anti-slip class of the tiles in addition to the abrasion group when selecting the tiles. This is particularly important for use in bathrooms, showers or outdoors. This is because the glaze of the tiles often tends to turn into a slide when wet or damp.

The classification of the slip resistance R9 to R13 shows the coefficient of static friction of glazed tiles and the angle of inclination up to which the surface can be walked on without risk. The suffix A, B or C also indicates how non-slip the tiles are in wet areas where bare feet are present (e.g. bathrooms, showers, swimming pools, etc.)

Extra tips against abrasion

The selection of the appropriate abrasive group already has a significant influence on the service life of glazed tiles. However, to ensure that the tiled floor remains free of visible signs of use for a longer period of time, the colour or brightness of the tiles should also be adapted to the use. For example, it is advisable not to use tiles that are too dark in areas subject to heavy traffic, as any changes in colour and gloss will be more noticeable on them. In addition, you should always use a chair pad under desks, for example.

Furthermore, it is of course important to clean the tiles regularly and properly. Due to the pressure and friction when walking on the floor, dirt and dust particles otherwise have a similar effect to sandpaper – and sooner or later this can have undesirable effects on the appearance of the tiles.

In areas with particularly heavy traffic, dirt-trapping mats or doormats can also be laid out to remove the coarsest dirt from street shoes and thus additionally protect the tiles.

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