Buying Guide: Tile

BUYING GUIDE: TILE

The many shapes, sizes, colors and textures of ceramic tile make it easy to create custom, one-of-a-kind patterns. Cost varies widely, and you’ll find tile priced anywhere from $1 to $100 per square foot. Complimentary decorative trim pieces and mosaic inlays quickly raise the total price of a tile installation. Expect to pay experienced tile-setters $4 to $12 per square foot.

Ceramic tile is made from a mixture of clay and shale that is baked and hardened in a kiln. Dry pigments added to the mixture gives the tiles earthy tones that range from ocher to deep red. Be sure to purchase tile that is only rated for use on floors.

Ceramic flooring tile comes as one of four basic types:

  • Glazed ceramic has a glass-like coating that is applied prior to firing. The coating gives the tile an unlimited variety of colors and textures and makes the material virtually maintenance-free.
  • Quarry tile is unglazed ceramic tile. Colors come from pigments added to the clay mixture. Quarry tile has a slightly rough texture that provides better slip-resistance than glazed tile.
  • Porcelain tile is fired at extremely high temperatures. The result is a tile that’s especially hard and durable. Porcelain tile is resistant to staining and is a good choice for exterior applications. It’s available either glazed or unglazed.
  • Terracotta is an unglazed tile with earthy colors and rustic appearance. It is not as durable as other tiles and must be sealed periodically to prevent staining.

Some ceramic floor tiles come with an anti-slip finish that provides excellent traction even when wet. Choose tiles that meet the slip-resistance standards of the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Pros: This classic material tends to resist wear, moisture, scratches, dents, and stains.

Cons: Tiles can crack and some grout can stain. Dropped cups and dishes break more easily. Tile is also relatively expensive and hard to install. While some can now be floated without the usual cement and grout, that makes replacing cracked tiles more of a challenge.
Waterproof – so it’s good for use in kitchens, bathrooms, and basements

  • Low-maintenance
  • Natural stone tile increases a home’s value for improved resale
  • Natural stone tile offers consistent color throughout the tile, not just on the surface
  • New styles, colors, and textures, like wood-look tile, make it an attractive option for every room
  • Relatively easy repair – only replace damaged pieces, not the entire floor
  • Easy installation
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