Blog/School of Hard Knocks: The 2 Best Tests for Minimizing Abrasion, Maximizing Hardness
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School of Hard Knocks: The 2 Best Tests for Minimizing Abrasion, Maximizing Hardness

A designer’s reputation may be only as enduring as their spaces. Considering the cost of renovations of any space, the materials used must be able to endure over time – often for decades. The American aesthetic, unlike that of Europe and some other global places which value a time-worn patina, prefers that finishes remain looking the same as the day they were installed. Sourcing porcelain that is wear-resistant is key to satisfying this requirement. Whether the concern is office areas with chair-drag, public high traffic areas or stair treads, using the right porcelain tile will mean a worry free installation. More important, however, is how well it will fare in terms of surface integrity. Abrasion and scratching can be gateway issues for bigger problems down the road.

There’s a simple way to check whether the tile you are specifying will resist surface abrasion over time. Check the manufacturer’s literature for the material’s ASTM C1243 rating. ASTM C1243 measures surface wear over time. The lower the value, the higher the resistance to abrasion. Consider this especially for areas where floors are at risk for things like scuff marks and surface wear such as staircases, landings and high-traffic hallways. Mosa maintains a rating of 88 cubic millimeters, while the key number to look for is the minimum standard of less than 175 cubic millimeters.

Another way to ensure great surface integrity is to choose a material that is very hard. This comes in handy if you are trying to choose from a variety of finishes. You may recall the Mohs test from a college Geology course, where it is often used as a way to identify various minerals by testing their scratch resistance versus other minerals. The Mohs test is a classic that still holds up, having been developed in 1812 by mineralogist Freidrich Mohs. The Mohs scale is a good way to judge the relative scratch resistance that various types of surfacing materials will have. Here’s where discovering the differences in hardness of various porcelain products may be useful, and where you can use a qualitative measure to explain to clients why porcelain may in fact be a better choice than many natural stones.

A diamond rates the highest, or 10 on the Mohs scale, and is used to test other minerals for scratching. Of course, nobody is specifying diamond floors! Granite, known to be a very dense and hard stone usually rates around a 7, while softer stones such as limestones, slates and sandstones rate around 2.5 to 4 on the Mohs scale. This makes porcelain a good alternative for places where you want the look of limestone, slate or sandstone but need something harder. While many porcelains rate around a six, some Mosa products can go as hard as 8 on the scale – a great indicator that it will be quite scratch resistant. So check with your tile professional and find out the Mohs measurement of any porcelain you’re considering. These simple standards will ensure your walls and floors are both sleek and tough, and that your project will stay gorgeous and new looking for years to come.