There are a few questions to ask yourself before you purchase ceramic or porcelain tiles. Follow our guide below, and you'll have the perfect wall and floor tiles in your home in no time:
Ask the Right Questions - Choose the Right Tiles:
- Do you need wall or floors tiles? This short article explains the difference between the two.
- Do you prefer ceramic or porcelain tiles; it's your choice which to go with. This short article compares the two, and why one might be more suitable than the other in specific circumstances.
- Do you favour tiles with a matt or a gloss finish? It's a purely personal decision, but some spaces are better complemented by one more so than the other. This first article compares matt and gloss tiles. Our second article covers the pros and cons of each in various settings. Once you've seen a few, you'll know which will look better in the room you're remodelling.
- You might not care whether your tiles are glazed or unglazed, but remember that tiles will last a lifetime in your home. In this article we explain the difference between glazed and unglazed tiles, so you can make your decision in confidence. It's best to have all the information to hand, before your tiles are bonded to your floor for good.
- Are you looking for tiles with a specific design? With modern manufacturing techniques, wall and floor tiles can both look and feel like natural products. The most popular styles are marble effect tiles, wood effect, slate effect and sandstone effect. Or perhaps you prefer a simple, classic solid colour? Spend some time looking at the various options available.
- Choose a colour. Sophisticated inkjet technology allows for almost any colour you can think of to be applied to ceramic and porcelain tiles. Creams and greys are very popular in the UK, but even those two colours come in a multitude of subtle shades. Only you will know what's right for your home. If looking for inspiration, it's best to view a wide variety of floor tiles or wall tiles to see what's available, and what takes your fancy.
- Do you have a passion for rectified tiles? This one is a little technical, and will be irrelevant for most people. Rectified tiles have had their original edges ground off, so that each tile has 4 perfect corners and each tile in a batch is precisely the same size. We discuss rectified tiles, along with helpful images and video, here.
- Do you want all tiles to be the same size, or might you prefer a more dramatic modular approach with a mix of sizes? Note that you'll be limited to the finishes and colours available in that particular style.
- Get some tiles samples, and view them in the privacy of your own home, by both day and nighttime lighting Don't rush your decision.
What's Your Tile Budget - How Much Will It Cost?
Tiles are priced per square metre. The following factors influence the price of wall and floor tiles:
- Porcelain tiles tend to cost £3 - £5 more per square metre than ceramic tiles. This is because porcelain tiles contain extra expensive additives, and are fired in a kiln at much higher temperatures, and for longer, to achieve their robustness.
- The larger the tile, the more it costs per square metre. This might sound counter-intuitive, because whether there are 2 tiles per square metre or 10 per square metre, there is surely the same quantity of materials involved? Correct. However, it's more expensive to produce larger tiles for two reasons:
- Under a microscope, no tile is absolutely flat; there is always an imperceptible bow or slant. On a small tile, say 15 cm in length, such a variance is irrelevant, the imperfection could never be seen with the human eye. However, on a tile with a length of, say 75cm, the small variance over such a length could mean the tile would sit proud by over 1mm to its neighbour, and thus be a tripping hazard. Thus when producing large tiles, more of them fail quality control testing before leaving the factory, which pushes up the overall production cost of those tiles.
- And related to the above, it's obviously far more expensive in terms of materials wasted for the manufacturer to be forced to discard a large 75 x 75 cm tile than a 30 x 30 cm tile.
So what's a reasonable price to pay?
- For mid-sized tiles (50 x 50 cm approx.), you'd expect to pay less than £22 per square metre.
- For tiles up to 75 x 75 cm, you'd not expect to pay more than £30 per square metre.
It's important to realise that there is not necessarily a direct relationship between tile quality and price. As as example:
- Floor Tile A is made in Spain of porcelain, is 10mm thick, 60 x 60 cm in size, and has a cream, glossy marble effect pattern. It's sold by retailer A for £18 per sq.m. and is named "Cream Marble."
- Floor Tile B is made in Spain of porcelain, is 10mm thick, 60 x 60 cm in size, and has a grey limestone effect pattern. It's sold by retailer B for £41 per sq.m. and is named "Sorrento Whisper."
Each of the above tiles is as good as the other in terms of quality, robustness, and appearance. The production costs are the exact same; it's just as complex to put either finish on a tile with modern ink jet technologies. The price difference is based solely on the invented name and the perceived value.
What Other Costs Are Involved?
You'll need adhesive to bond your new tiles to a floor or wall. Often your tiler will provide the adhesive, and may have a preference for working with a particular brand. However, it's no harm to understand the quantities and prices yourself. We like the Evo-Stik Flexible Adhesive.
A £20 bag will cover approx 4 sq.m.
This is a liquid applied to the surface being tiled, to ensure that the adhesive adheres correctly and creates a perfect bond. Some surfaces need a primer to seal them and prevent moisture from the adhesives absorbing. Other non-absorbent surfaces, such as well bonded paint, need a primer to create a grip coat for the adhesive. Your tiler will be the best person to advise in such a situation. Your tiler will probably have a favoured brand that they are comfortable working with. Here's an example of a primer.
A 5 litre container costs £25 and will cover approx. 50 sq.m. But note that expected coverage will vary greatly depending on the condition of the surface to be tiled.
Grout is a cement based filler used between tiles. There are a wide variety of grouts available. They deliver the final touch in creating a perfect tiled finish. We discuss grouts in more detail here. A brand we like is Botament's Base Grout.
Calculating how much grout you'll need is a little bit complex:
- The smaller the tiles you install, the more tiles you will have per square metre, and thus the more grout that will be required.
- The thicker your tiles are, the more grout that will be required to fill into the gaps between each tile.
- And of course, there is the questions of how close your tiler can fit the tiles to each other, taking aesthetics and the contours of the living space into account. The further apart the tiles are, the more grout that will be required.
Luckily, the team over at Botament System have provided a great online calculator to do the calculation for you. Just fill in the numbers required, and they will display the number of kilograms of grout that you require for your job.
Tiles are very heavy. A pallet of 50 sq.m would weigh over 1,000 kg, which is a metric tonne. Add in a dozen bags of grout and adhesive, and it's a very large load. Some retailers may offer free delivery, others may charge up to £70. But either way, you definitely don't want to be doing multiple runs in your car transporting such a heavy, yet fragile, product.
How to Find a Good Tiler:
The Tile Association has a list of tilers on their website. Their list can be searched by postcode, and you'll find it here. Selecting a good tiler is not an area in which to cut corners. It's a highly skilled job. A master craftsman, with an eye for detail, and who takes pride in their work will deliver the best results. The Top Tradespeople website has a list of questions to ask a prospective tiler, and tips to help you select one.
It's difficult to give a definite cost range, as it will depend on the job in question. Does an old floor have to be ripped up and disposed of? Is the substrate on which the tiles are to be fixed so uneven that a screed is required to level it off first? Do any kitchen appliances have to be moved? Is the bathroom a warren of nooks and crannies, which will require intricate planning, cutting, and shaping by the tiler? Get quotes from 3 different tilers if unsure.
Note that VAT at 20% will be charged on the tiler's services.