Tile is a great choice when updating almost any room in your home.

Tile is beautiful, but not a DIY project

TAMPA - Kitchen and bathrooms are popular rooms in the home to remodel. If you need to replace your floors, countertops or backsplash, you will likely consider tile as an option. "Homeowners really like tile for countertops, backsplashes, and flooring because it's versatile and durable," said Angie Hicks, founder of the consumer group Angie's List .

Tile is low maintenance and can be a great flooring option for people who have allergies. Angie's List asked highly rated remodeling companies about the types of tile and tips for selecting the right one for you.

Types of tile:

  • Ceramic and porcelain tiles usually are similar in durability and quality, but porcelain is made from a harder material and can withstand cold temperatures, making it more suitable for an enclosed porch, for example.
  • Marble and granite are made of natural stone and offer a more polished look. Because they are a natural stone, they have to be sealed periodically.
  • Glass tiles are a popular choice for backsplashes and have a shiny or matte finish. Iridescent options are also available.
  • Metal tiles also add shine to any backsplash and come in many finishes, like stainless steel and burnished bronze.

Remodeling Contractor, David Rhodes, breaks down the cost of some of the most popular tile choices. "The most common, porcelain and ceramic tile, you'll see prices range on the low end of 65 cents a square foot on up to $5-$6 per square foot. Then when you get into the natural stone - the marble, the granite, the slate – you can get real pricey, up to $20-$30 per square foot."

Angie's List offers these tips for selecting tile:

  • Determine its use: Tile is very versatile. What surfaces are going to be covered – floors, counters, and/or walls? Consider the visual effect you want to accomplish.
  • Evaluate the space: Consider the amount of wear and tear the tile will endure. Is it in a major traffic flow area? Will the tiles get wet?? Different tiles are made to withstand varying levels of impact.
  • Select the material: Tile is available in many shapes, sizes, colors, and textures. Although tiles for the wall may look similar to floor tiles, they are not as thick or durable. Material affects the appearance, durability, and maintenance requirements of the tiles. Finish and texture are important, as well.
  • Determine how much you need: To determine the amount of tile you will need, multiply the width times the length and add about 5 percent. Buy a few extra tiles to keep on hand in case some are damaged in installation or down the road.
  • Shop around: Visit a few tile stores. The same tile from different batches can look very different. When you settle on a tile, make sure the lot number and shade number are the same to ensure all the tiles are from the same batch. Remember that tile prices vary and are not always representative of the tile's durability.
  • Don't forget grout: Select a grout color and width that will blend in your tile. Stay away from stark white as it will be noticeable and show dirt more easily – unless that is the effect you're going for. Hicks adds, "If you are looking to freshen up your tile but don't have a big budget, consider redoing the grout. Taking the grout out or changing the grout color can give your tile a whole new look while keeping within a fixed budget."
  • Factor in maintenance: Consider the amount of maintenance that will be required when purchasing the tile. Keep in mind that some porous tiles will need annual sealing. Also, textured tiles and light colored grout will require more scrubbing to clean. Use only cleaning products that are specified for tile and grout cleaning – using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners can lead to damage.

Installation is key. If you have never installed tile before, it is easy to ruin the look you are going for. Installation can be complex. It's usually wise to find someone qualified for tile installation. "Installing tile isn't for the inexperienced," Hicks said. "You can have problems if it's not done properly. If the grout isn't dried all the way, if it's not sealed properly or if you have loose tiles it can lead to damage and problems with the actual tile."

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