What recourse do I have if I was sold a wall tile for a floor application?


We purchased a new manufactured home in 2005 and ordered ceramic tiles in the kitchen and bathrooms. Within a few years the tiles started breaking up around the refrigerator, sinks, bathtubs, and toilets. Wanting to repair the floor, we took a piece of broken tile to the local tile retailer and was astonished to learn that the manufacturer had installed "wall tile" on the floors. We called two contractors and got the same opinion. Wall tile is very smooth and presents a slip and fall hazard. Replacing the floor is several thousand dollars.

My question: Do we have any recourse with the manufacturer?


ANSWER - There are smooth floor tiles as well as smooth wall tiles.  Often floor tiles are used on walls as well as on floors.

On shower floors they should be using a tile that is either small with a lot of grout joints, or for larger tiles a texture tile to give some slip resistance.

You can't necessary say that a tile is a wall tile without testing it.  There are talc white body tiles that are clearly meant for walls, but otherwise it can be difficult to determine if the tile is suitable for floors without testing it.   Although those types of tiles are recommended for light duty bathroom floors.

There are test protocols for classifying tiles for various applications and level of use.

If the tile is breaking, it is more likely due to an improper tile installation, than the tile being that weak.

Even if you can prove that the supplier of the tile misrepresented what they sold you, because it has been over 10 years and beyond the statue of limitations for many states, it is unlikely that you have any recourse.

5 thoughts on “What recourse do I have if I was sold a wall tile for a floor application?

  1. James T says:


    I have a similar problem. I was sold a polished porcelain tile by a retailer and a week after installation noticed that there were scratches. I found out that manufacturer changed the tile from a floor tile to a wall tile a few years back.

    They didn’t list all the ISO standards/test results. The ones that they did seem to be ok for floor, but I’m worried about the PEI rating/abrasion test results. The manufacturer doesn’t seem to list some tests for wall tiles, so I’m not sure why they changed the classification. The retailer keeps insisting the manufacturer misclassified and that it is fine for the floor. Is this a cause for worry? Would the enamel for the tile be weak so it is easily scratched? I’m trying to get a hold of the manufacturer, but I haven’t heard back so I’m worried.

    • Donato Pompo says:

      Polished porcelain tiles are typically very durable and rated for floor applications in dry applications. It wouldn’t be recommended for exterior floors or interior wet floor applications due to the low slip resistance that is inherent of polished tiles.

      There is no enamel on the surface of a polished porcelain tile. The porcelain material is very dense like a granite and can be polished.

      Any polished tile can scratch if it is subjected to a sharp and aggressive enough force, but porcelain tiles are normally fairly scratch resistant.

      • James T says:

        Ah so it’s possible that the manufacturer misclassified. Thank you.

        And sorry, would a “glazed porcelain tiles” have an enamel (or layer on top)? Not sure if glazed means an enamel. Sorry and thank you for answering. I appreciate it.

        • Donato Pompo says:

          There are a lot of different types of porcelain tiles these days. There are unglazed, also known as through body, porcelain tiles where the material is the same from top to bottom. There are glazed porcelain tiles where a glass-like substance is fired on to the porcelain body. They are normally very durable. There are hybrid porcelain tiles where they are kind of a combination of both.

          There are porcelain tiles with an inkjet glaze coating where I have seen where it appears the surface is pealing off in a way. The inkjet technology can replicate natural stone and wood finish so they look very realistic. The only time I have seen what appeared to be pealing it was on a wood looking tile surface. We tested the other portion of the tile and couldn’t get it to peel so maybe it was a contaminate under the glaze…

          The tile can be tested and compared to the manufacturer’s data sheet describing their tile to determine if there is a discrepancy.

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