Find out what the numbers mean in the two main ceramic tile rating systems. Also learn why laminate is an ideal type of flooring to stand up to humidity and moisture.
LESLIE: Next up, we’re going to take a call from Maryann in Florida who has a tiling question.
Maryann, how can we help?
MARYANN: I want to do my whole house in ceramic tile  – I’d say approximately 2,000 square feet – and get rid of all of the carpeting and linoleum stuff. And a friend of mine did this same thing a couple years ago and she’s trying to tell me that she had a tile rating of 5 and she wouldn’t have anything less. Then when I go shopping for the tile, they’re telling me that that’s not true for residential tile.
LESLIE: OK. Well, there are a couple of rating systems for ceramic tile and the first one is the number system, which is 1 through 10. And this is, of course, for their hardness and scratch resistance and 1 would be the softest and 10 would be the hardest. And 5 or more is suitable for most residential floor tile applications; 7 or higher is normally acceptable for commercial applications or an area in your house that might be heavily trafficked.
MARYANN: So you said 5 to 7?
LESLIE: Well, 5 and higher is suitable for residential; 7 and higher is better for commercial or high-traffic areas in your home.
MARYANN: Well, because when I go shopping, they’re trying to sell me this stuff like 3, maybe 4, and I keep telling them that I’ve had this friend tell me that I don’t want that any lower than 5 and they say, “No, you’re not going to drive a car on it and park it.”
LESLIE: Well, there’s also a second rating system and that’s for wear rating and that’s done as PEI 1 through 5, so this may be what they’re talking about.
LESLIE: And the PEI 1 would be light traffic and PEI 5 is heavy traffic plus, which is like major commercial areas; and a 3 would be a medium-heavy traffic. So you need to figure out which rating system they’re talking about.
MARYANN: I think it sounds like the PEI because what you’re describing, that’s what they’re talking about.
LESLIE: And that’s from the Porcelain Enamel Institute, which is what the PEI stands for. So try to clarify which rating system they’re going for. If it’s the PEI, 3 you’re fine.
MARYANN: That answers that question. At the same time, I was wanting to do perhaps some wood laminate  maybe in the bedroom but I’m kind of afraid to do that. I’m in Florida. I’m in the Clearwater-St. Petersburg area where we get a lot of heat and humidity and moisture.
MARYANN: And the other thing I just happened to think of, I have, seems like, an ongoing southern carpenter ant problem.
TOM: Well, in either case, laminate floor is a great choice. Laminate floor is going to stand up, among all the flooring products, probably the best to moisture and humidity, so you have no worries there.
As far as your carpenter ant problem , you need to have that professionally treated. If you have a pest-management professional apply a product called Termidor – T-e-r-m-i-d-o-r – it’s applied to the soil at the foundation perimeter and it’s undetectable to insects. So what happens is they go through the Termidor, they get it on their bodies, then they take it back to the nest where they pass it to all the other ants. And in doing so, it completely wipes out the population.
So that’s the way to get rid of the ants and the laminate floor is a good choice for that flooring at home.
MARYANN: OK, so I don’t need to worry about all the humidity?
TOM: Not in the least.
MARYANN: And if I get rid of the ants – I was worried that the ants would get into the wood, even though …
TOM: Well, they can’t eat laminate floor even if they did. But for all the other reasons – there are other things in the house they can eat, so go ahead and get rid of them as well.
MARYANN: Right. Now this Termidor, it’s not toxic to humans or pets?
TOM: Absolutely not. If it’s put on by a professional and as long as it’s done in accordance with label directions, there’s no worries. It’s been used in over 2 million homes.
MARYANN: Oh. And you do it just outside. You need not do it inside? I think I know where they’re nesting, in one of my cupboards, but I …
TOM: I’ll tell you what you do. You go to this website, TermidorHome.com – T-e-r-m-i-d-o-r-Home.com – you put in your zip code and BASF, who makes Termidor, will refer you to a pest management professionals in your area that are trained and certified in the use of the product and they’ll know how to do it properly.
MARYANN: OK, TermidorHome.com .
TOM: OK? Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.