All Tile Is Not Created Equally

 

Q: Why is there such a wide range in tile prices?

A: For most of us, shopping for new ceramic or porcelain tile is a once in a decade experience, so even for the savviest of shoppers, the wide range can be confusing. The short answer is, there are marked differences between branded and generic tiles. Continue reading to find out what these differences are.

 

porcelain tile

 

The truth is that many factors affect the price of tile products, including where you buy it. If you’re wondering why tiles can range in cost from $1 to $100 per square foot, there are four main variables that affect the price: material costs, production processes, brands and customer service.

 

Material Costs

While all ceramic tiles are essentially made of the same ingredients, the quality and color of those ingredients can make a dramatic difference in the price. For example, to make a tile with a pure white body requires white clay, which is much harder to find than the red or beige clays found in most tiles. To achieve bright blue and red glazes requires minerals that are much more expensive than cream, brown or even green colors.

Modern digital printing techniques allow for tile that looks like other materials such as wood or natural stone. Higher quality tile will use as many as 36 different patterns to replicate the look of wood or natural stone so that you will not get a repeating pattern that ruins the realism of the tile. Lesser quality tiles will use far fewer patterns and will not come close to the realism that more patterns provide.

 

Production Process

The simplest form of ceramic tile consists of one body color and no glaze, and requires a single firing. But there is a wide variety of production options, so prices for ceramic tiles can vary greatly.

Applying glaze or an additional surface color to the body, cutting down the original pressed size into modular sizes, polishing the surface or straightening the edges to accommodate tighter grout joints are all additional processes that add value to the finished product, but also increase the price. There are a host of tile attributes that affect its price and are very important to know before installing your tile. These important attributes are things like durability, texture and color.

 

wood look porcelain tile

 

Branded vs. Generic Tile

Tile has both branded (often referred to as first quality) and generic versions. Branded-tile manufacturers create beautiful brochures and catalogs that show room scenes and full installations in a variety of formats. This may not seem important but it’s really the only effective way to visualize how tile may look in your room.

More importantly, they also test the materials for qualities such as slip resistance, breaking strength, suitability for exterior or submerged environments, and stain resistance. Generic tiles do not go through that kind of testing and are not suitable for many types of installations such as wet areas, outdoors or high traffic areas such as your kitchen or entryway. The real problem with generic tile is you won’t often find these things out until after it’s installed.

 

porcelain wood look tile

 

Customer Service

 Another cost determinant is the customer service you receive both before and after your purchase. You may find a very good deal on tile at a big box store, for example, but there will likely be no design support, limited or no technical knowledge or installation recommendations.

More importantly, should anything go wrong with the project for any reason, you may not receive the necessary support to back up your claim.

At full-service showrooms like Tiles Unlimited, the tile may carry a higher price tag, but the price will include a showroom designer to help you make your selections, and a knowledgeable staff who can handle a claim if there are concerns with tile quality and/or installation.

Furthermore, a tile installation is more than just the tile you select. Selecting the appropriate thin-set and grout is as important as the tile, as there is a big difference between different thin-sets and grouts and the types of tiles they are meant to be used on. See an earlier story on how grout affects your tile installation by clicking here.

 

Four Ways Subway Tile Can Transform Your Space

 

subway tile

 

The possibilities for installing subway tile are virtually endless because of the diverse selection of products and the new design trends that are emerging every day. Subway tiles are no longer just the classic 3×6 white tiles you grew up with.  Today, you can get subway tile in virtually any color imaginable as well as dozens of different sizes and textures (three dimensional, crackle finish). Here are four ways to use subway tile to accentuate your home. (Click each picture below to see more photos from the collection.)

 

Classic Wall Treatments

The most popular way to use subway tile is for a traditional wall treatment. For an authentic New York look, stick with white, standard sized tiles and slim grout lines or go upscale with a natural stone look like the Marble Expressions collection. This simple design is timeless and creates a uniform finish that requires little maintenance.

 

marble expressions subway tile

 

Attractive Accents

Whether you are remodeling your bathroom or your kitchen, bright accent tiles draw attention to your existing decor and can provide a great pop. For a more cohesive design, choose an accent color that complements the lighting, furniture, or finishes in the room. One of our favorite collections is The Hamptons that features a larger format (2.5”x10”) and nine cool, clean colors.

 

the hamptons subway tile

 

Modern Designs

Another emerging trend is using unique or larger sized subway tiles. This modern concept provides additional visual interest and can increase the artistic flair to the room. Our Serenity collection meets both those criteria featuring a large-format 4×12 subway tile and the beauty of natural stone (3 colors) in a contemporary style. The collection also features matching large-format (12×24, 16×32) floor tiles.

 

serenity subway tiles

 

Mesmerizing Patterns and Colors

With the variety of subway tiles, it is possible to mix and match different colors, finishes, and textures. This is easiest to do this within the same collection but also possible with different tiles, as long as you pay close attention to the thickness of each tile. Meet Oriental Ceramics, a new wall tile collection rich in colors, format and its metallic-like sheen. The collection also features absolutely stunning mixed-colored mosaics.

 

oriental ceramics subway tile

 

In the end, Tiles Unlimited has everything you need to keep up with recent trends such as wood-look tile, tile that looks like bricks or water jet mosaics . If more traditional designs are your thing, we have those too. Our team of tile consultants can provide detailed information to help you choose a product that is perfect for your project.

 

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Calculating How Much Tile to Buy

We receive many questions each week from homeowners looking for advice on purchasing and installing tile. This week, we’re going to tackle the most frequent question we receive, how much tile do I need to buy?

You’ve put in all kinds of time designing your new tile floor or wall, now it’s time to get serious and talk numbers. How much tile do you need exactly? And how is that affected by the size, shape, and type of tile you choose? All those aspects, and more, influence how much tile you’ll need to purchase. Whether you are ready to buy or you are planning the budget, use these four steps to determine how much tile you’ll need.

Keep in mind that once you calculate the necessary square footage, it is recommended that you purchase 10-15% more tile. This is due to breakage, accidents when cutting tile and to make sure you have tile in case a repair is needed down the road.

 

 

Think About the Room Shape

The general layout of the room is a good place to begin when calculating how much tile you need for your floor.  Most rooms are not perfectly square or rectangle. “L” shapes or “T” shapes are common, but even these are rarely that straightforward. There is always some corner that’s nipped off or a wall that isn’t completely straight. All these elements make an accurate measurement difficult. But if you start with the general shape of the room, you can easily add or deduct for the unique elements of your space. Take the measurements of every angle of your room. Measure everything twice to ensure accuracy.

 

 

Measuring the Room

The next step is to calculate the square footage of your room. Once again, the little quirks can complicate this, but for now just get the basics. For square rooms, measure the length and width of the room then multiply them together. For “L” or “T” shaped rooms, split them into rectangles that can easily be calculated then add them together.

You haven’t accounted for the quirks of the room, but keep in mind that overage is not a bad thing when installing tile. In fact, we recommend that you get 10–15% more tile than you need to cover for cuts and mistakes.  Keep a box or two of leftover tiles around just in case it goes out of stock or is discontinued–you never know when you’ll need to make a repair. Don’t forget to measure any closets or pantries that you want to include in your calculations.

 

Calculate for Angled Walls and Non-Tiles Areas

Like we said before, no room is exactly square. If you have angled walls or specific areas that will not be tiled, you don’t want to calculate for those spots. The easiest way to account for this is to deduct them from your earlier, general measurements. The easiest way to do this is to draw your room on some graph paper. Let each square represent 12 inches or one foot. With careful measurements, draw in where the angled walls are. You’ll be able to see how much to deduct from the area you calculated earlier.

 

Selecting Your Tile

Now it’s time to determine how much tile you need to cover your room. Several things are important to consider at this phase:

  • Pattern or layout of tile
  • Size of tile
  • Border or accent tile

The pattern and size of the tile are the key influencers in determining how much tile you need. In general, a diamond pattern will require more tile than a grid. See below for some common tile patterns. A word of caution, not all tiles can be installed in various patterns. Before you decide on your installation, check out what the manufacturer recommends.

 

 

If you plan to include a border or accent tiles, you’ll need to calculate separately for each type of tile you are using, especially if you are using different sizes or patterns as an accent.

If you are having difficulty figuring out how much tile flooring you need or you want to double-check your calculations, run them through a tile calculator or collaborate with one of our expert Tile Consultants or your contractor.

Selecting Your Grout Color Should Not Be an Afterthought

So now that you’ve picked out your tile, what grout color should you choose? Grout is often an overlooked design element when tiling floors, walls or backsplashes. Choosing a specific grout color could change the overall color appearance of the tile and the way that your entire project looks! The picture below is the same mosaic tile with three different grout colors (white, black, grey). Note how different the tile looks with each grout.

 

There are three general approaches when it comes to selecting grout: blending with the tile, contrasting with the tile, or neutral colors aka matching the grout. Let the selection of your grout be as important as tile selection and you’ll be able to achieve the perfect design. Make sure you choose the grout color and don’t leave such an important decision to your tile installer.

 

Blending Grout

Blending is the most common approach and what we recommend for most projects. This involves choosing the grout color that matches with the color in your tile. For example, you can blend by using white grout with our Frost collection.

 

 

Contrasting Grout

 

Contrasting your grout can be a bold but beautiful choice. If you’re looking to make the tile stand out, select a contrasting grout color to your tile. This frames each tile and draws attention to them. You will also want to look at using a thicker grout in this instance to really highlight your tile selection. This is a good choice for more decorative tile patterns.

 

 

 

Matching Grout/Neutral

 

If you’re looking for what some feel is the safest choice, select a “neutral” grout color from the beiges or greys. If you want something that will have mass appeal, a neutral matching color is the most widely recommended approach.

 

Other Grout Considerations

 

The selection of your grout color is important to achieve your desired look; however, you still need to consider the type of grout being used. Grout functions to bond tiles and stone edges together and prevent chipping so it is important you or your tile contractor understand the types of grout available.

You should also consider traffic patterns in the room where your tile and grout will be used when selecting a color. A very light grout is probably not a good idea for a busy kitchen, but could be ideal for a less used guest bath.

Ceramic Tile Offers Lowest Total Cost of Ownership

When you begin the onerous task of researching a flooring project, it is easy to see the initial costs in front of you and walk away. However, in these situations it usually pays off to look a little deeper. When it comes to choosing what type of flooring you want to install, price is going to be a major factor in the decision process. This is where being shortsighted can come back to bite you.  Some questions that should come to mind are the scope of the project, your short terms and long term budget and how long the flooring needs to last.

 

If these questions resonate with you in any way, you might want to consider engineering your project for a life cycle value.  By value-engineering your project you can perform a Life Cycle Cost Analysis, also known as a Cradle-to-Grave Analysis, to realize your full investment in terms of how your decision can affect your budget over the life of the floor.  To perform a Life Cycle Cost Analysis, you need to take into consideration all the costs for owning, operating, maintaining, and disposing of the product.

 

Many factors affect the total cost of ownership in addition to the cost of the flooring material. Other factors you should consider are installation materials, labor, contractor overhead and profit, maintenance and removal and disposal costs.

 

The Tile Council of North America, Inc. recently performed a Life Cycle Cost Analysis on 12 of the most popular flooring options, including everything from carpet to porcelain ceramics.  The results are listed in the table below and also shown visually in the chart below.

 

 

As you can see from the results of the test, ceramic and porcelain tiles have the longest expected lifespan with 50 years, driving the cost for its overall life cycle ($0.33 – $0.39) significantly lower than carpet ($1.26) and vinyl ($1.41 – $1.85) products, which need to be replaced periodically.

 

Because properly installed tile can last a lifetime, it is no wonder it is one of the greenest, most sustainable ways to build. By contributing to various credits, ceramic and porcelain tiles can help you attain LEED Certification for your project, while at the same time lowering the overall expenses over the lifetime of the project.

 

According to these results you can see how important it is to plan your project based off its complete life cycle value, rather than the initial cost. Just because something might cost more upfront doesn’t mean it will be less expensive over the lifetime of the floor.

Make Your Tiles Look Showroom New

Impossible Marks on Your Porcelain Floor?

Porcelain tiles are the most frequently used materials for floors, because they are very practical, but if not adequately maintained, they could easily get dirty. The tiles often have a fine layer of residual grouting or concrete, which can only be eliminated with specific products that do not harm the material. Ordinary, often harsh, household cleaners are not up to the task. Tiles Unlimited recommends DETERDEK and CR-10, from Fila Solutions; the ideal products for cleaning floors that were not thoroughly cleaned after installation or that have only recently been installed.

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Thanks to its acid-based formula, it effectively removes building site dirt without harming metal profiles. Let’s take a look at how to use it properly: first wet the floors, then dilute DETERDEK in water and apply this solution a few meters at a time, waiting 2-3 minutes and then rubbing hard with a flat brush. At this point, the floor can be rinsed with plenty of water.

If your surface has tiles with epoxy grouting, use FILACR10, the cleaner for epoxy residues ideal for walls and floors in porcelain and glazed ceramic tiles as well as glass mosaics. Its viscous formula makes it the ideal product for washing vertical surfaces and it also works on larger, old residues.

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DETERDEK can also be used to combat efflorescence or ‘white spots’ on your outdoor tile. The white substance forms a powder-like coating made up of soluble salts and moisture, which migrate to the surface, evaporate and leave a salt deposit behind. As well as affecting porous masonry, efflorescence can also migrate through a grout joint, so it’s a problem that can affect both natural stone and ceramic installations.

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Sealing and Enhancing Stone Floor Tiles

When a newly installed stone floor doesn’t look up to scratch, the tiles are often blamed. Many mistakenly believe that the tiles are inferior in some way, or that there is an issue with the installation. More often than not, it comes down to one small thing; a poor initial cleaning. After a stone floor has been installed, it should always be cleaned thoroughly, using a quality pH-neutral detergent – like FILACLEANER – not just with a bucket of warm water! It takes a bit longer but it can make or break an installation.

If you use water alone, you’ll effectively be sloshing manufacturing dust, dirt and grout residues across the surface of the tiles. Once the floor is dry, the film of residue – or grout haze – will become visible. Then, when you seal the tiles, this residue will become sandwiched between the tile’s surface and the sealant. As well as ruining the look of the installation, it will also store up problems for the future: The sealant won’t be able to absorb properly into the tile, so its performance will be compromised. Dirt will be built-up on the surface more quickly, making the problem even worse.

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To avoid these problems, always ensure that the floor is cleaned properly after installation with a pH-neutral cleaner such as FILACLEANER as it is safe to use on all natural materials including stone.

How to Select the Best Tile For Your Project

When you’re redoing a room or other part of your home, selecting porcelain or ceramic tile is one element you can really have fun with. But, while shopping around and seeing all the different types and styles of tile that are available are exciting, the amount of choices you have can also make it an overwhelming endeavor. Here are some basic guidelines that will help you narrow down your choices and ultimately select the best tile for your home remodeling project.

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Durability

If the tile will be placed in a high-traffic area, such as a kitchen floor or entryway, you’ll want to be sure to get a floor tile that is highly durable and can withstand the wear and tear of everyday use. You may have heard about PEI ratings for porcelain and ceramic tile. While not required to do so, any respectable tile company will publish PEI ratings.

PEI Rating Uses
PEI-0 Tiles technically not suitable for floors. These are generally used as wall tile.
PEI-1 Tiles suitable only for locations where softer footwear is worn or where shoes are not frequently used, for e.g., residential bathroom or other areas with light traffic. Also for interior commercial and residential walls.
PEI-2 Tiles suited for general residential traffic. For areas that are walked on by soft soled or “normal” footwear with very small amounts of scratching dirt. Not for kitchen, entrance halls, stairs and other areas subjected to heavy traffic.
PEI-3 Tiles suited for all residential and light commercial areas such as offices, reception areas, boutiques, interior walls, countertops and residential bathroom floors. Not recommended for commercial entryways.
PEI-4 Tiles suited for regular traffic. Recommended for medium commercial and light institutional use, such as restaurants, hotels, hospital lobbies and corridors.
PEI-5 Tiles suitable for areas with heavy traffic, abrasive dirt and moisture, and where safety and maximum performance are required. Examples are shopping malls, public buildings, building entrances, or swimming pools.

The PEI rating only refers to a tile’s strength and suitability for a particular application; it is not an indicator of the tile’s overall quality or value. In many cases, some of the most beautiful and costly tiles have a PEI 1 or 2 rating. The PEI rating is simply a guide to help you choose tile that will hold up to the demands of the environment in which it will be used. If you’re doing a tile shower surround, for example, the PEI rating isn’t such a big deal, but when you’re choosing tile for counters and floors, check the PEI before you buy.

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Texture

The texture of tile is an important consideration, particularly when you’ll be using tile for flooring in areas prone to moisture, such as kitchens, bathrooms, entryways, and pool areas. For example, kitchen tile flooring with a textured or matte finish will be less slippery than tile with a smooth or shiny one. However, if you’re heart is set on a certain tile, don’t let this one factor deter you from choosing it. Many homeowners love the look of polished marble or porcelain tile and feel the beauty outweighs the lack of slip resistance. Keep in mind that textured tile may be more difficult to clean.

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Color
While color is a very personal choice, there are a few general rules to keep in mind. Lighter colors make a space appear larger and are an excellent choice for smaller rooms while darker tones can add warmth and make a space more inviting. Neutral colors give you more freedom in selecting and changing accessories and other décor while bright colors can add character and create a cheerful atmosphere. Much like the PEI scale, manufacturers rate the color variation of their tile.

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Within each style, and even within each production run, color shades can vary to differing degrees between each tile. While many products have little to no variation, there are options that display a moderate to dramatic range of variation – each is a stylistic choice. Here’s a breakdown of how ceramic and porcelain tiles are graded for color shade variation.

Color Rating Description
V1 Uniform Appearance – differences among pieces from the same production run are minimal or none at all.
V2 Slight Variation – Clearly distinguishable differences in texture and/or color.
V3 Moderate Variation – While the colors present in a single piece of ceramic tile may indicate the color patterns to be expected on other tiles, the amount of colors on each piece might vary significantly.
V4 Random color variation from tile to tile, so that one ceramic tile may have a totally different color from that on other tiles. Thus, the final installation will be unique.

One Final Note
While tiles can appear identical, each piece will have color and shade variations that come together to create a distinct look once completely installed. This is true for both manufactured tile and natural stone slabs. If you’re able to, get a few sample pieces of the tile you’re considering and lay them out in order to get a better idea of how it will actually look in your home.

You can buy with confidence at Tiles Unlimited. With Queens’ largest selection of tile, 101 five-star reviews in 2016, an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and the winner of the Best Tile Store in the 2016 Best of Long Island competition and 2017 Best of the Boro competition, you can be sure the experts at Tiles Unlimited will help you realize your renovation dreams. To find out more about selecting the best tile for your project, stop by Tiles Unlimited to speak with one of our professionally trained design consultants.

Preparing for a Visit to a Tile Store

Choosing the perfect ceramic tile for your home can seem like a daunting task, and many people are unaware of the vast selection of products available to them. Beyond selecting the right tile, there are a number of options regarding installation, care and maintenance that deserve consideration based on the unique characteristics of your home project. The best advice one can follow is to visit a tile showroom where the sales staff is specially trained to listen to your ideas and help you make the selections that are right for you. To get the most of your showroom visit, we offer advice for how to prepare for it, as well as what to expect when you get there.

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Before You Go
Before your visit to a tile store, it is best to be prepared. When shopping for tile, being prepared means having the tools required to communicate your ideas effectively to the showroom designer or Tile Consultant. It is a good idea to take photographs of the area to be remodeled, as well as rooms and furnishings. A picture is worth a thousand words, and the photos will tell the designer a lot about your personal style and existing home décor. Sometimes colors don’t accurately translate to a photograph, so we recommend bringing actual samples of your color scheme (things like a cabinet door, countertop sample, fabric sample). A color sample could be a piece of fabric, a paint swatch, or a piece of broken tile to match.

After you have your photographs and color swatches, it’s time to find out the coverage area of your renovation. Draw a quick diagram and mark the measurements of the space on the drawing.

As a final preparation, spend time researching tile ideas by browsing home improvement magazines online or websites such as Houzz or visit our Inspiration Gallery. If you don’t have a design in mind, collect images that you like and bring them along with your photographs to the tile showroom. Even if you have already decided on a design, coming across a new idea or tweaking a design at this stage is ideal. Although appointments are usually unnecessary, calling ahead to set an appointment is not a bad idea.

Your Budget
If you haven’t already, now is a good time to decide on a budget for your project. The salesperson will consider your coverage area and your budget to show you products that fit within your price range. Even the most high-end tile showrooms have products for any budget.

Tiles Unlimited offers tile at all different price points and for every budget range. We pride ourselves on affordable luxury. Knowing your budget allows us to focus on tile and designs that will meet your needs and stay true to your design wish list. To make the most of your budget, check out the Tiles Unlimited Year End Clearance Event.

The Visit
On your visit to a tile showroom, present your ideas, photographs, magazine clippings, color samples, measurements and budget to a showroom representative. Doing so is the most effective way to communicate your vision, and will streamline the process of selecting products. Visiting our showroom and seeing all the possibilities for your space can be a very exciting and enjoyable experience especially when you do a little preparing. We’ll see you soon.

What Are Rectified Tiles?

If you have recently purchased a property in Queens, or are looking to conduct renovations on your home, one of the ways to boost your home’s aesthetic vale is to integrate rectified tiles. Rectified tiles are typically made from ceramic or porcelain materials. These tiles are unique in that they are mechanically engineered to meet precise measurements. As such, any single rectified tile will have the same dimensions as another.

The uniformity and precision that is unique to rectified tiles, has made them extremely popular among contractors and homeowners within Queens. One of the most common problems that renovators face when conducting tiling projects is integrating tiles, keeping in mind, the amount they expand and contract. With tiles that have varying dimensions, it can be quite difficult to ascertain the shrinkage and expansion factor. With rectified tiles though, this is no longer a problem. However, keep in mind that rectified tiles are only in uniform in terms of their square dimensions, and not their thickness.

When to use rectified tiles?

If you are considering integrating rectified tiles onto your property, it is important to take two factors into consideration. The first of these relates to the grout joints on a tile. With rectified tiles, grout joints are extremely small, giving your floor a smooth and continuous surface. The second factor to consider is the size of tiles required. It is unlikely that you will find rectified tiles with dimensions lesser than 12” x 12”. More often than not, rectified tiles are used on larger surface areas, rather than small spaces.

Allow for 5% to 15% of Waste Tiles When Installing Tiles in Your Queens or Long Island

So, you have decided to tile your floor. You go to one of the many floor dealers in Queens or Long Island and order crates of fancy tiles. But have you ordered enough? Not having enough tiles means that you might have to compromise on your floor’s appearance. Designs are generally exclusive, and you can never be sure of getting tiles of the same design if you run short.

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It is a common tendency to be thrifty about the tile procurement. Considering the care you’ve vested in picking the designer floor tiles after surveying endless showrooms in Queens or Long Island, you should plan pessimistically to cover your bases.

No matter what kind of flooring you are installing, you first need to estimate how many tiles you may need. An easy way of doing this is to multiply the length and width of the area and then separately add the corner pieces that don’t require a full tile. Sliced tiles used for edges are called waste. The actual waste incurred depends upon factors like the size of the tile, floor space, tile layout and pattern.

It is wise to allow for a waste ranging from 5 to 15 percent. Confine yourself to a minimum 5% if the tiles are being laid by a professional, 10% if you intend to lay the tiles yourself and 15% if you want to lay the tiles diagonally or if the floor area has many sharp cuts and corners. In this way you are ready for unexpected requirements. It’s better to have slightly more than less and the extra tiles can always be used as spares for a later date if necessary. For more inquires about waste tiles, visit or call Tiles Unlimited in Queens, New York and we’ll be sure to further assist you with all your tiling needs.