Yup.

End of post.

Fine, I’ll elaborate . . .

To understand this you should understand what designates a particular tile as a ‘floor’ tile. A couple of different things determine this including the PEI Rating and Static Coefficient of Friction (that’s just fancy ass talk for how slippery a tile’s surface is).

Manufacturers do not necessarily determine the arbitrary term assigned to a certain tile, things such as a ‘floor’ tile. All they do is rate any particular tile following industry guidelines determined by the different institutions. In English that just means that the manufacturer doesn’t really call any particular tile a floor tile, they simply assign their tile the ratings.

Certain tiles are only called floor tiles because they meet certain criteria set forth by the different guidelines. For instance: if a tile has a PEI rating of 1 it is only suitable for walls and areas which do not receive foot traffic. This tile would not be called a floor tile.

If the same manufacturer creates a tile with a PEI rating of 3 along with a C.O.F. of 5 and a suitable Mohs scale number, etc., it may be ‘called’ a floor tile.

You can still put it on a wall. It will just be an extra durable wall.

Just about any 12 x 12 inch tile is commonly referred to as a ‘floor tile’ simply because of the size without taking any of the above into consideration. This is simply another example of misinformed dealers, stores, and installers. They don’t do it on purpose, it just happens to be common practice and they don’t know any better. Just because someone calls it a floor tile doesn’t mean that it is suitable for installation on a floor.  But I digress . . .

As long as a tile, no matter the size, meets a set criteria it will be suitable for your floor. It will also be suitable for your wall. This is also why you do not want to do it the other way around. You can use ‘floor’ tile on a wall but you cannot use ‘wall’ tile on a floor – it won’t last. It is simply not durable enough.

{ 155 Snarky remarks… add one }

Leave a Comment

  • Ora

    Elf, I may have blown it. Like another silly fella, I inadvertently bought wall tile to use on my bathroom floor. But I am hoping that I might squeak by because this decorative mosaic tile will only be used in a 4″ border around the edge of the shower and bathroom floor, in a guest bathroom. My thinking is that the tile won’t get stepped on ever, or rarely, since it’s at the edges. The tile is a glazed matte ceramic tile. Watcha think? Do I need to start looking for my receipt and lug the tile back to the store?

    Reply
    • Roger

      Hi Ora,

      It may be fine, it may not. It’s seriously a roll of the dice. The decision whether or not to install it depends on how confident you are that it will last in your given environment. Me – I wouldn’t install it. But that’s me…

      Reply
      • Ora

        Thanks for the reply and the great website! Keep up the good work, I’m sure you’ve saved countless of dunces like myself from making expensive mistakes.

        Reply
  • Mona

    I recently purchased Kensington Hexagon 12 in. x 12 in. x 8 mm Glass and Stone Mesh-Mounted Mosaic Wall Tile to be installed in our shower FLOOR. I just realized it’s “wall tile.” Is there anyway to still use this on the shower floor, or is it a really bad idea?

    Reply
    • Roger

      Hi Mona,

      Really bad idea. Wall tile does not have the density needed to be on a floor. It may crack over time, it simply cannot take the stress.

      Reply
  • Nick R

    Mr. Elf,
    great website, thank you! I am tiling my shower right now. Originally I was only going to tile to a little below the shower head as this is how much was tiled before. We won’t have a fancy glass door or anything, just a shower curtain on a rod going across.

    What are your thoughts on this? Are most bathrooms tiled all the way up to the ceiling?

    Do you have any tips for reaching up to the ceiling when you have a bathtub? I don’t know if it’s a good idea to be standing on the rim of the tub for a long period of time.

    Reply
    • Nick R

      I want to add one thing. I did not put cement board all the way up to the ceiling. I have cement board (and plastic) installed up to the old level, which is just below the shower head, and above that is the old drywall. Do you think it would be okay to tile over this drywall since it is at a level that should not get wet?

      If it is a big no-no to do this then I just wouldn’t tile that portion and would leave it as drywall.

      Reply
      • Roger

        Hi Nick,

        You’ll be just fine tiling over that.

        Reply
    • Roger

      Hi Nick,

      All the bathrooms I do are tiled to the ceiling, I just think it looks better. You can stand on the edge of the tub as long as you need to, it won’t hurt anything at all.

      Reply
  • Ann

    Is there any other material that works to correct a tile thickness difference other than Ditra?

    Reply
    • Roger

      Hi Ann,

      Any proper tile substrate will work just fine, it just depends on how thick you need it. You can use kerdi-board, ditra, backerboard of any thickness, wedi, etc.

      Reply
  • Deb

    I am redoing travel trailer is there a good lite weight tile I can use in bath floor and wall. Also is there a special way to keep tile from breaking if and when we move it from where we are?

    Reply
    • Roger

      Hi Deb,

      You can use regular clay-body ceramic on the walls, and a floor grade ceramic on the floor, but that’s about as light as you’ll find. A good installation is your best option, it does not guarantee that it will fully survive a move like that, though.

      Reply
      • Candace

        What do you think of putting travertine tile in an entryway and kitchen?

        Thanks

        Reply
        • Roger

          Hi Candace,

          I have no problem with it at all provided one is willing to put in the amount of maintenance necessary for such an installation. Since that one would be you – what do you think about it? :D

          Reply
  • Glenn Powell

    Does the thickness of the tile matter? I’ve been looking for a mosaic to use for shower floor and some I’ve found were only 3mm or 5/16″ thick. Will these be strong enough for this use or am I better off looking for something 1/2-3/4″ thick which was one recommendation I’d seen?

    Reply
    • Roger

      Hi Glenn,

      It doesn’t matter provided they are properly installed. Many mosaics for shower floors are that thin.

      Reply
  • Candace

    Hi,
    I want to install 12 x 12 Carrara marble tiles in my shower. Will they be too heavy?

    Reply
    • Roger

      Hi Candace,

      No, lift with your legs. :D

      They will not be too heavy for your wall either…

      Reply
  • Mary

    Hi bought 60×60 porcelain tiles for my kitchen but think they are more suited to my bathroom can I use these tiles on the bathroom wall ?

    Reply
    • Roger

      Hi Mary,

      Yes. And I hope you mean 60cm, not 60 inches. :D (You can still use them…)

      Reply
  • Donna

    I want to tile my walls is it done the same way as u do the floors and what do you recommend because I have big tiles already on floor so should I go with small or medium or large and should I go with a neutral color because the floor has gray grout and gray and burgundy on the tile very light colors thanks

    Reply
    • Roger

      Hi Donna,

      You’ve asked three questions that don’t have a definitive answer – they are all subjective. I like large tiles everywhere, but that’s me, not you. Color is the same deal. :D

      Reply
  • amanda humble

    I have bought some natural river stone pebble mosaic tiles for a shower wall (2.6 x.2.5m). The existing wall is a stud wall covered in plaster board and a plastic sheet. Will the wall need to be re-enforced or will a stronger board be required to take this extra load ( I had hoped that vertical loading would be OK)

    many thanks Elf dude

    s-l140

    Reply
    • Roger

      Hi Amanda,

      Vertical loading is just fine. It still needs to be waterproofed. :)

      Reply
  • Lisa Azbill

    Hi Roger,
    Im interested in knowing if we can use floor tiles on our shower stall wall. It currently has a cheaper paneling type stuff thats supposed to be waterproof. I’d like something better but don’t have a lot of cash at the moment. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Roger

      Hi Lisa,

      Yes you can.

      Reply
  • Teresa Bekker

    Hi Roger
    you talk about the rating in south africa advertised as a floor tile. Glenwood grey ceramic floor tile 430x430MM A-Grade UGL209218A.
    is this a proper floor tile?
    Thanks
    Teresa

    Reply
    • Roger

      Hi Teresa,

      If it is graded according to industry scales yes, it is a proper floor tile.

      Reply
      • Teresa Bekker

        Thanks so much
        Teresa

        Reply
  • Kari

    Hi Roger,

    Are there any building/construction codes to enforce these tile specifications? We are interested in a new construction home in which we are 100% confident they installed 12×24 glossy wall tiles on the floor of 2 large bathrooms.

    This is unsafe and slippery as well as poor workmanship when they crack and break. However, do we have any grounds to demand they replace the tiles or get a credit? Will wall tiles on the floor pass an inspection? or do we just need to suck it up and pay full price for a new construction unit that was done improperly?

    What is the point of all these tile specifications if there is no enforcement?

    Thanks,
    Kari

    Reply
    • Roger

      Hi Kari,

      Building codes vary wildly from area to area. Enforcement is up to the local building department – you’ll need to contact yours. There are specifications set forth by the TCA, what they do is tell professionals the proper methods for tile installation. Local codes determine whether or not they are enforced, but in a court of law they are always the last say. Unfortunately, in many areas, it needs to get there before they are even brought up.

      Reply
      • karin

        ok, thanks for the response Roger!

        Reply
  • JOHN

    Can I install sheet vinyl on my bathroom shower floor in my basement. Stall has been built directly beside floor drain and I want to avoid digging a drain in the stall. It won’t be a high usage shower.

    Reply
  • Joseph Doyle

    Ayo Roger,
    You mention in your “Kerdi shower waterproofing” download that Kerdi will not adhere to green board. Why is this? I have green board currently installed in my tub surround (planning to use Kerdi method) and would very much like to keep the green board in place.
    Thanks,
    Joe

    Reply
    • Roger

      Hi Joseph,

      You may want to re-read that. I never said it won’t bond to greenboard. I said greenboard should not be used anywhere near a shower, it feeds mold. However, you can use kerdi over greenboard if it’s already installed.

      Reply
  • Michele

    Hi Roger,
    Do you recommend using pebble tile to finish your shower floor? If so, do you basically install it the same way you would regular floor tile?
    Thanks a bunch!

    Reply
    • Roger

      Hi Michele,

      I do not recommend them. I actually HATE them. They are also very uncomfortable on bare feet, which is what you will be stomping all over them with. But yes, you install it the same way.

      Reply
  • Joe F

    Hey Roger,

    I made the mistake of putting 2″ x 2″ tiles on my shower floor of a tile that is hard to match. This being my first tile job, I didn’t plan properly. Finally, I’ve found the floor/wall tile from the same series, but it’s at a store 1.5 hours from my home in NYC(I’ll make the trip if I can use them). Yet they only have them in tile in sizes of 8×16 and 8×32. Problem is the widths of my shower walls are 39.5″ by 35.5″ by 39.5″. Is there any way I could arrange those tiles on the walls so they would look ok? Or can I cut them into 8×8 tiles and then put them on the walls. The manufacturer says it’s a “porcelain tile that looks like marble.”

    The tile is: Gardenia Orchidea Varenna beige.

    Thanks!
    Joe

    Reply
    • Roger

      Hi Joe,

      You can cut them down to any size you want and use them. I once cut 12×24 tiles down to 2×2 for a shower floor (True story). Not saying it doesn’t suck, just saying it can be done. :D

      Reply
  • Mark

    Hi Roger,
    Selecting a heavy floor tile (encaustic/cement tile) that’s 5/8″ thick but to be used on a 4′ x 9′ (wxh) wall section. Can special order same pattern in 3/8″ thickness instead, if necessary. I know ‘normal’ floor tile can be set on walls, but this is really beefy stuff (8×8″ tile = 2-1/2#). Any feedback, precautions, particular thinset?
    Thanks, Mark

    Reply
    • Roger

      Hi Mark,

      While it would likely be fine, I would order the thinner stuff for that application.

      Reply
  • Janelle

    Hi Roger,
    The flooring in my bathroom doesnt go all the way to the wall, it leaves about 1″ is there something to fix this,like a trim flooring tile that is self adhesive, and what would that be called and where can it be purchased?
    And my counter by the sink is wood, and I wanted to use vinyl tile to make it more durable to being wet, so wall tile and floor tile only differ by their durability? Would it then be ok to use floor vinyl tile or wall vinyl tile for the counter?

    Reply
    • Roger

      Hi Janelle,

      Vinyl tiles are completely different than regular ceramic or porcelain tile. I don’t really know if it would work for what you intend. And you didn’t say what type of flooring you have. There are self-adhesive vinyl tiles sold in home depot and the like in the flooring section.

      Reply