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Ceramic Tile Flooring Cost - In-Depth Installation Process Guide

Whether you bought a new home or are looking to make a few changes in the one you have, the kind of flooring you choose matters.

There are different kinds of options from laminate, hardwood flooring, vinyl and tile. Whichever option you settle on will depend on your personal preferences and where the floor is to be installed.

Ceramic tile flooring is one of the best options available. It is affordable to install, easy to clean and doesn’t take much in terms of maintenance. 

All you need for cleaning is any of the premium tile mops or steam mops since steam mops will make your tiles shiny again after cleaning. 

It can be installed in high moisture areas like the bathroom, kitchen, basement and garages without worrying about moisture damage as you would with other floors like laminate and hardwood. 

What Is Ceramic Tile Flooring

Ceramic flooring is a kind of tile that is made from white and red clay and can be installed in almost all rooms in the house. The tiles are made of clay that is fired in a kiln. It is similar to porcelain tiles and, while there are companies that use the terms interchangeably, they are quite different. 

They aren’t dense like porcelain and have a higher absorption rate. As such, they aren’t frost-proof and tend to get damaged easily. Despite the differences, however, ceramic tiles are more popular and a better choice for walls and countertops. 

They are coated with a specialized glaze that helps protect and seal them. This ensures that the tile doesn’t absorb stains and at the same time improves its durability. 

The glaze is also what gives this tile its pattern as well as color. The tile comes in a variety of designs and sizes. There is ceramic that mimics real wood, brick or natural stone and the fact that the tiles can be installed anywhere is just the icing on the cake. 

Benefits of Ceramic Tile Flooring

When it comes to choosing the best flooring for your home, you can’t go wrong with ceramic tiles. They are cheaper than hardwood and also easier to install and maintain.

Here are a few benefits that you should be aware of before you make a purchase:

Never Go Out of Fashion

Ceramic tile has been in existent for decades and its popularity keeps growing as an affordable flooring option. A majority of developers go for this solution due to its availability and the many options they have to choose from. 

Highly Durable

One thing about tiles, whether ceramic or porcelain, is that they are very durable and you can be assured that your floor will last you long without chipping or getting damaged. Compared to hardwood and carpet, ceramic flooring doesn’t trap allergens and is ideal for homes with kids as well as people who suffer from allergies. 

Ceramic Tile Flooring Benefits - Highly Durable

Easy to Maintain

Besides the no impact quality of the ceramic tile, maintenance is easy compared to hardwood or laminate. 

Easy to Clean

When ceramic tiles are installed, the cleaning process is usually hassle-free. All you need is to sweep all your floors often to remove surface dust or perform a quick cleaning with a microfiber mop

Affordable

In addition to being easy to clean and maintain, ceramic tile is easy to install and doesn’t cost a lot. They are also affordable and there are no maintenance costs that you will incur in the long run. 

Versatility

One of the things that any homeowner looks for when it comes to flooring is adaptability and it’s one thing that you get with ceramic tiles. They can be installed anywhere from the bathroom, kitchen, garage, living rooms to basements. 

They can also be installed on different surfaces like kitchen ledges, countertops, walls and high traffic areas like hallways. The tiles can be cut and molded into any shape and pattern that will suit your décor. 

Pros and Cons of Ceramic Tile Flooring

Just like any durable and versatile laminate floor, ceramic tile flooring has its advantages and disadvantages:

Pros

  • Highly durable and can be installed in high moisture areas like bathrooms and kitchens as well as high traffic areas like hallways.
  • Impervious to standing water and you never have to worry about water damage like with other floors.
  • Resistant to stains.
  • Come in a wide variety of styles for different tastes.
  • Manufactured from natural ingredients.
  • Don’t emit hazardous VOCs and they are safe for homes with little kids and those who have allergies.
  • Resistant to scratching and can, therefore, be installed comfortably in homes that have pets and little kids.
  • Easy to install, clean and maintain. All you need is to clean tiles thoroughly with a vacuum cleaner or any of the upright vacuums that really work.

Cons

  • One of the major complaints that most homeowners have is the hard and cold quality of the floor. Standing on the floor for long can be hard on the feet as well as the back.
  • Although they are easy to clean, the grouts tend to get stained over time.
  • Since tile flooring is hard, it is bound to crack if a heavy object is dropped on it.
  • Inconsistency in quality and color.

Types of Ceramic Tile Floorings

Types of Ceramic Tile Floorings

Ceramic tiles come in a variety of forms as well as finishes. They include glazed, quarry, porcelain, terracotta and mosaic tiles. 

Porcelain

Porcelain is usually a subset of ceramic tile, although the former is made of feldspar that is fired at extremely high temperatures. This results in denser and finer textured tiles that are different from ceramic tiles and way better quality. Porcelain is resistant to water and includes a different coating. 

Terracotta

Terracotta has a natural and earth-toned look. It, however, requires to be sealed so that it can be stain-resistant and to extend its life. 

Glazed Tiles

Glazed tiles can be single or double fired. Single fired tiles are sturdier while the gloss finished ones are attractive, although they scratch easily. 

Mosaics

Mosaics are stain as well as moisture resistant. Additionally, they don’t chip as easily as other tiles. 

Quarry Tiles

Quarry tiles are meant to be installed outdoors where the temperatures are moderate to high but don’t reach freezing point. They are meant to be durable even when exposed to the weather outside.

Ceramic Tile Flooring Cost Breakdown

Despite the growing popularity of other options like hardwood, laminate and vinyl, ceramic tiles are still preferred as a flooring option. The glossy look and feel when installed and the fact that they can be installed anywhere makes this flooring option one of the best.

However, before you commit to a purchase, it is important to have a breakdown of the costs that you are likely to incur should you decide to go in that direction. 

Tiles

Standard ceramic tile is usually reasonably priced going for $3 per square foot but the more elegant designer tiles are more expensive. Porcelain is also more expensive but it’s worth every penny since it is durable and requires very little maintenance. 

Subfloor Installation or Repair

Before installation, you need to ensure that the subfloor is sturdy and level. In older homes, contractors, a majority of the time, have to install an additional plywood sheet that can cost you $28 per 4’x8′.

In some cases, a pourable underlayment may be used if the floor has any dips and this costs about $40 per bag. 

Supplies

The tools and supplies that you will need like trowels, thin-set tile adhesive and crew are usually included in the cost. 

Labor

If you need a complex design or if the subfloor needs to be replaced or reinforced, this will add to the cost you would have incurred during the installation.

Cleanup

Most of the time, the contractor’s estimate includes a cleanup. However, the removal of existing flooring and demo is an additional cost you will need to incur. When you sign a contract for the project, it is important that you specify who will be paying for that. 

Estimate

When you are starting out, the estimate includes onsite measurement and most of the time it is free. 

Factors That Determine Ceramic Tile Flooring Cost

Factors That Determine Ceramic Tile Flooring Cost

When it comes to the installation, here are a few factors that will determine the cost:

Size of The Area to Be Tiled

Knowing the size of the area that you want to be tiled will come in handy in estimating how much the whole installation will cost. Measure the area of every floor in the house that you want to tile and then add to get the number of tiles you will need a budget for. 

Tile Shape and Size

When it comes to ceramic tiles, the standard measurement is 6″ x 6″ to 24″ x 24″. Big tiles are easier to install and they take less time, but they require a lot of modification so as to fit the space you have. 

As for the shape, they come in a variety of forms from triangular, octagonal, square to hexagonal. Installing different shapes requires experience as well as a lot of labor. The shape that you choose will determine how much you will spend installing them. 

Tile Layout

Whether the tile is laid out in a straight manner, balance matters. Additionally, you need to consider any quirks in the room like tight corners or odd edges. 

Design Details

In terms of design details, one thing you need to consider is whether special details, like inserts and borders, are part of the floor design. This is because such features add to the beauty of the floor when the installation is complete but they also require a lot of labor. 

Condition of Subfloor

Ceramic tiles are supposed to be laid over a smooth subfloor so that tiles don’t split when installed. If the subfloor is damaged or uneven, you will need to replace or fix it which will add to the cost of installation. 

Grouting

Another critical factor to consider is proficient grout fixing as well as an installation because they affect the outcome of your floor in the end. 

Your Location

This will determine how much contractors charge you. If you live in a remote area, they may charge more. In terms of locations, also, it is normal for the home improvement process to be high in some upscale areas. 

PEI Rating

PEI rating is simply the Porcelain Enamel Institute rating and it’s used to assess how well the tile handles foot traffic and the ratings range from I through IV+. Tile with III ($) and IV ($$) are used for residential flooring. The PEI rating is usually listed on the box or on the product information section if you buy online. 

Water Absorption

The level of glazing determines just how water resistant it is thus dictating where it can be installed. Resistant tiles, also known as vitreous or semi-vitreous, are more expensive than non-vitreous ones and they are best used in high moisture areas like bathrooms. 

Floor Preparation

Ceramic Tile Floor Preparation

If the subfloor is damaged and you have to install another one or repair the existing one, the cost of installation will go up by about $2 per square foot.

Size of The Job

Naturally, large jobs will cost less per square foot than smaller ones hence this is something you need to keep in mind when budgeting. 

Job Difficulty

The difficulty of the job will add to the installation cost in the end. Things like multiple objects, tiling stairs, bathroom fixtures and confined spaces will end up costing you more. Laying tiles diagonally will also increase the labor cost. 

Old Floor Removal

If there is old flooring that must be removed before you install another one, the cost ranges from less than a dollar for laminate, vinyl and carpet floors to $2 for tile, wood and other materials. 

Cost of Living

The cost of tiles, as well as that of installation, are to a large extent affected by the cost of living, just like any other product and service. In large metropolitan areas, the cost of living is higher and it’s lower to average in small towns and rural areas. 

Mosaic Work

While mosaic work is not common during tile installation, creating some mosaics as well as other complex designs will end up costing you more. 

Cost of Ceramic Tile Flooring Installation Supplies

Cost of Ceramic Tile Flooring Installation Supplies

If you would rather do the installation by yourself rather than hiring a professional, there are supplies that you will need and you also need to know how much they will cost you. 

  • Ceramic tiles: Ceramic tiles will cost you about $1 to $5.75 per square foot while porcelain will cost you from $1.50 to $2.50 more.
  • Cement backer board: The cement backer board is made specifically to act as a subfloor for tile and is sold in sheets measuring 3’x5’ which will cost you around $1 per square foot which adds up to $11 to $15 per sheet.
  • Thinset tile mortar: This one is sold in 50lb bags with one bag covering about 50 square feet which will cost you from $15 to $22 depending on how you will spread it.
  • Other accessories: These include a backer board, caulk, tiles spacer and more. These will cost you around $1 to $2 per square foot.
  • Safety and hand tools: They include hearing protection, safety goggles, straight edge, gloves, notched trowel, tape measure, buckets, sponges, manual tile nippers and grout float. Such accessories cost from $50 to $150.
  • Drill and mixing paddle: You can rent these but if you would rather buy yours for future use, you will need to spend about $55.
  • Powered tile saw: You will need a powered tile saw that has a tile blade. While the saw can be rented, the blade cant’ and you may end up spending $185.

Permit and Installation Cost

Most of the time this will not incur you any costs since you don’t require any permit for this kind of work. However, if, by any chance, you end up removing the toilet or any other electrical and plumbing fixtures, you may be required to have them replaced by a professional. 

While materials will still cost you, the installation costs outweigh what you will spend on materials since the process is time-consuming. 

Ceramic tiles need to be laid on a flat subfloor and necessary repairs need to be made. After that, you need to install the backer board and then lay out the tile field ensuring that every row fits perfectly and is straight. 

Tile spacers come in handy during placement of each tile so as to determine the width of the spaces between the tiles. The mortar is then mixed and spread and individual tiles are set. 

The next step is to mix the grout and spread it between the tiles and then proceed to clean with a lightweight and portable carpet cleaner, the best shop vac or a specialized cleaner for shag carpets. All this will cost you between $4.50 – $8.00 per square.

Installation time

You can expect the floor to take anywhere between a day and a week to finish. It will take you 2 to 4 hours to remove old flooring as well as the subfloor if it exists. 

You will then take 3 to 6 hours installing the backer boards, 2 to 4 hours laying out the installation and then 1 to 3 days installing the tile, grout as well as doing the cleaning. 

Costs of Ceramic Tiles According to Strength and Thickness

Costs of Ceramic Tiles According to Strength and Thickness

Besides the installation supplies you will need and the labor cost, the other factor you need to consider is the strength and thickness of the ceramic since that affects the buying price. 

Glazed porcelain comes in tiles measuring 12” x 24” that will cost you $2.49 per square foot, while the same size of polished marble will cost you $18.31 per square foot.

Rigid core luxury vinyl tile measuring 12” x 12” costs $2.59 per square foot, an encaustic ceramic that comes in tiles of 17 5/8” x 17 5/8″ costs $6.70 per square foot and 7” x 20” glazed ceramic costs $0.87 per square foot.  

Ceramic Tile Flooring Professional Installation Cost

The pricing of professional tile installation is tedious. This is because as soon as you choose the tile you want to be installed, you need to find someone to do the installation and you might have to deal with lots of contractors in the process of finding the one who is within your budget. 

On average, you can expect to spend from $1.50 to $6 for the tiles if you would rather handle the purchase yourself rather than leaving it to the contractor. 

How much they will charge you to install is dependent on the type of tile as well as the materials required to get the job done.  

Ceramic tiles are cheaper to install than porcelain. With contractors, you get what you pay for. You need to be very careful with contractors whose charges seem too good to be true because chances are that they are going to do a shady job.  

Additional Costs Associated with Ceramic Tile Flooring Installation

When installing ceramic tiles, there are additional costs that you will incur that you should be aware of:

Sub-Floor Preparation

Depending on the nature of the subfloor, you may have to pay extra if there are any damages. In older homes, most of the time a sheet of plywood needs to be installed and this can cost you $28 for a 4’x8′ sheet. 

In some cases, you may need a pourable underlayment if there are any dips in your flooring and that will cost you about $40 per bag. 

Complexity of The Job

This will be determined by how the room is configured. If the room has a lot of angles, jogs and angle changes, the cost may go up by $1 to $3 per square foot. 

Tile Costs

Ceramic tile costs about $3 per square out which is within the budget of a lot of people. 

How to Install Ceramic Tile Flooring by Yourself (DIY)

Step 1 – Repair the subfloor

If your subfloor is damaged, you need to repair or replace it since ceramic tiles need to be installed on a flat surface. 

Step 2 – Install the backer board

Once the subfloor is leveled, you can then proceed to install the backer board and then lay out the tile file making sure that the rows are straight. 

Step 3 – Mix the mortar

Mix the mortar and then spread it and make sure that individual tiles are set. 

Step 4 – Mix the grout

The next thing is to mix the grout, spread it between the individual tiles and then finally, you can proceed to clean the room. 

 

Does More Spending Mean More Quality

With ceramic tile flooring, more spending does mean more quality. There are so many costs you will incur if you want to install this kind of flooring and as mentioned earlier, you get what you pay for.

If the contractor you get has no idea what they are doing, you may end up spending even more, replacing the floor or buying new tiles. At the same time, avoid buying cheap tiles because chances are that they will chip and break easily when installed. 

Do’s and Don’ts With Ceramic Tile Flooring

  • Do hire a contractor who has the right experience even though it means spending more so that your floor can last long.
  • Do use small grout lines rather than large ones for easy cleaning and to minimize staining.
  • Do repair the subfloor or replace it if it is damaged before you install ceramic tile.
  • Don’t drop heavy objects on the floor since this flooring is prone to chipping.

Quick Tips on How to Save Money on Ceramic Tile Flooring Cost

  • Minimize coverage of the tiles if you want to save money.
  • As much as you don’t want to compromise on the quality of the tiles, try to buy inexpensive tiles as long as they are of good quality.
  • Reduce the cost of labor by doing the installation yourself.
  • Enquire about the warranties and under what conditions you can make a claim in case of unavoidable damage before the warranty period is over.

FAQ About Ceramic Tile Flooring

How much does it cost to install ceramic tile per square foot?

The average cost is between $7 to $14 per square foot. 

Is ceramic flooring expensive?

No, these tiles cost between $5 to $10 depending on the quality of the tiles. Porcelain, on the other hand, is more expensive. 

Conclusion

Ceramic tile flooring has been around for decades and continues to be a popular choice for homeowners despite the existence of other options like laminate, vinyl and hardwood. The floor is versatile and you can either install it on your own or have a professional do it. Additionally, it is not only easy to clean but to maintain as well and it can be installed anywhere and on any surface.

Photos from: lightkeeper / depositphotos.com, wabeno / depositphotos.com, offscreen / depositphotos.com, -Taurus- / depositphotos.com and jentara / depositphotos.com.