If you have an eye for a deal, buying clearance tile is a fantastic way to save money. Stores will often clear out lower volumes at sell-out prices to make way for new products. Tiles increase in price based on material, colour and the intricacy of design. My advice is to search for bargains and then mix in higher quality tiles as accents. In all of my projects, I try to keep tiling jobs down in price because you can get a lot of impact for a small investment.
If you’ve ever bought tile, you’ll know that it’s classified into different grades based on the suggested application. There are five grades of tile: Grade I to Grade V. Grade I tiles are thin and are only used for walls because they crack easily if walked on. Grade II tiles are good for walls and floors with lighter traffic. Grade III tiles are a bit sturdier, thicker and would be my choice for heavier traffic areas. A Grade IV tile is used more commercially and a Grade V tile is almost exclusively used in industrial settings.
Selecting which tile to use for your job really depends on the size of your pocketbook. Tiles are priced per square foot so you should have a rough estimate of the size of the space you’re working with. Tiles can range from a couple to a few hundred dollars per square foot. If you’ve got champagne tastes on a beer budget, don’t worry, you still have choices. Ceramic and porcelain tiles are usually the most budget-friendly, whereas quarried stones, such as marble, slate and granite, are more costly. There are some great inexpensive options in glass and mosaic tile if you’re after a more decorative look for a backsplash or a welcoming front entryway.
The size of the tile you want will dictate your pattern choices. For subway tiles in a kitchen backsplash or bathroom, the brick pattern or running bond is the most popular. If you’re tiling an entrance, you might choose a checkerboard pattern with two contrasting colours. If your tiles are smaller, a pinwheel or basket weave pattern might appeal to you for a tinier space like a shower. Before you set things in stone, so to speak, play around with the shapes and designs until you know the look you want, because once they’re down, they’re down!
All tiles need to be grouted and some need to be sealed. There are three types of grout: unsanded, sanded and epoxy. Unsanded grout is for smaller grout lines, sanded grout is for lines larger than ⅛" and epoxy can be used for pretty much any project. Epoxy prevents stains, repels moisture and is stronger, but it does cost more and sets faster, so you need to know what you’re doing. The colour you tint the grout can either blend with the colours in the tile, or make a design statement on its own (if you use a darker grout with a lighter tile or vice versa). When it comes to sealing, tiles that are more porous, such as slate and marble, tend to require sealing to prevent staining, moisture, mildew and cracking, so be sure to ask about maintenance and upkeep when you purchase your tile.