Cheap Tiles vs Expensive TIles: A closer look

A closer look into the discrepancies between tiling prices and their reasons.



When you do decide to get tiles, for flooring purposes or even to install on your walls or other surfaces, one of the things that will surprise you is the vast discrepancy between price points for tiles. Several factors determine the cost of tiles. In this write up, we will try to give you a better understanding as to why this discrepancy exists in the first place and try to help you make a more informed decision on what tiles to get. 


One of the basic first things to know is that if you are planning on getting tiles of the cheaper variety is to know that you should not be getting cheap tiles for your floors. That is a very fundamental basic to know, specially do not get cheap tiles for floors that are likely to get wet on a regular basis. You would be better off in getting tiles that have a proven track record when it comes to durability in areas that are prone to getting wet. Another advice we often give out is to not go for any tiles that are trendy.


Installing tiles is an investment into your homes. Trendy tiles may be just that but remember that trends can go out of fashion very quickly. It is an extremely costly and hard job to replace tiles. So, you would be better off with getting tiles that have the classic factor in them and won’t become untrendy in a few years time. Save yourself the hassle of reinstalling and get tiles that are more classic and have proven to have stood the test of time. 

Study up on Tile Vendors & Manufacturers.

When you are getting tiles, you will quickly realize that there are an infinite number of tiles to choose from and also that there are a very large number of tile vendors and manufacturers. Some of these vendors include specialty tile stores, internet vendors, Big Box or getting them through professionals. 


One thing you have to know about your tiles is the Dynamic Coefficient of Friction score of the tiles. This may not be the biggest thing to consider when you are getting small mosaic tiles but this is one of the most important factors that should be influencing your decision when choosing large format tiles. This score is an indicator of how slippery the tiles get when they are wet. 


While you may be able to get cheaper tiles at big box and discount stores, this should not be the primary factor that influences your decision. Tiles are a long term investment and you should not skimp on the budget and get the wrong type of flooring that may not well suited to your needs. For example, you do not want to get cheap tiles for your bathroom floors that are not slip resistant. This is not only a safety hazard but also can be a foolish financial decision as you may soon find them to be inappropriate and have to get new tiles again -  a very costly venture. 


Stores that are specialty stores for tiles may be the preferred destination to get the tiles that you need. These stores have better knowledge about their products as tiles aer the only things they are selling. This makes them a better choice than say for example a big box store. 

Familiarize yourself with the lingo


Some lingo that you should make yourself familiar with when purchasing tiles are listed below. 


Tiles for walls v Tiles for floors-


This is the first important lingo to get yourself acquainted with. This matters a great deal if you do not want to have inappropriate tiles in your homes. The general rule of thumb is to never use wall tiles on your floors. This small differentiation has to be accounted for. 


Textured or Shiny Tiles- 


Once you have gotten over the first phase of inspection, this is an extremely important 2nd round of inspection to put your probable tile purchases through. Polished tiles, in general, use a finishing step that tiles of the less shiny variety do not go through. These are less expensive regardless of what material they are made out of. 


You then have to choose between porcelain, ceramic or natural stone tiles. Natural stone tiles are the most expensive variety as they are not man made but are quarried from the earth.


The Real Cost of Tiling


Tile Units


Tiles are not sold on a per piece basis but are rather priced and sold by the box. You do need to put in a bit of work to know just how much tile units you will need. If you do not do this, you will end up buying either too much or too few. How do you calculate the number of tile units needed? A good rule is to buy 10% more than what your calculations show when doing a straight bond pattern. With any other type of patterns such as hexagonal the recommended amount is 15% over the calculations.



Labour plus supplies


What extra supplies do you need? If you are replacing tiles, you will need to remove the ones you are looking to replace and then proceed to install the new ones. A self leveler is needed in this scenario. Thinset mortar is also required as this is applied in between the layer of tile and floor. Other materials you will need is grout. The cost of all these extra supplies need to be factored in when calculating the real cost, plus you also have to add the cost of labour. 


So, as we have discussed in this article, there are quite a few factors that will influence your tile purchasing decision. In most cases, tiles of the more expensive variety outperforms cheaper tiles. This is an investment into your home and needs to be viewed and treated as such. 

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