How Much Does It Cost to Install Tile Floors?

Updating your kitchen or bathroom can be as simple as replacing worn out flooring with new ceramic or porcelain tile. The cost to install new tile has many variables; which include: type and design of the tile, square footage, and surface preparation.

There are many styles of tile to choose from

Ceramic or Porcelain?

How do you decide whether to use ceramic or porcelain tile? What is the difference? There are three main differences between ceramic and porcelain -- also known as vitrified -- tile: construction, moisture-resistance and durability. Porcelain tile is extremely dense and brittle, and the color goes through the tile, making it less noticeable when chipped. A process of heating the tile during production at extremely high temperatures makes tile vitrified and highly moisture resistant. Porcelain tile is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use, but it can be more difficult to cut without a wet saw and diamond carbide blade. Porcelain tile is also a good choice for bathrooms due to its durability and moisture resistance.

Ceramic tile is not as dense or brittle as porcelain. The surface of glazed ceramic tile is highly moisture resistant, but the unglazed core of the material makes it unsuitable for use outdoors. Chips are more noticeable on ceramic tile because the color and/or design is only on the surface.

Cost Per Square Foot

There is little difference in the cost between ceramic and porcelain tile. Both can be purchased for as little as $0.89 per square foot and as much as $6 or more per square foot. Both ceramic and porcelain tile are available in multiple styles and sizes.

How Much Tile Do You Need?

Measure the square footage of the room area to determine how much tile you need. Square feet is calculated as length multiplied by width. Measure the floor in both directions. A 10-by-15-foot room is 150 square feet. Add 10 percent to your calculation for waste (broken tiles and unusable trim). Tiles can and do break during cutting and installation. You will also need thinset mortar, grout, and spacers. A common size of tile spacers are 1/4-inch, but there are smaller and larger widths. The size you need is based on the size of the tile you choose, and the recommendations of the manufacturer.

How Much Will It Cost?

Should you choose to install the tile yourself, your only cost is the materials, tools, and your time.

Tile installation tools consist of a trowel to spread the thinset, a float to spread the grout, a tile saw, and grinder with diamond carbide blade. A trowel and float will cost approximately $10 together. Grinders can be purchased for as low as $29, and the diamond carbide blade $15. Grinders and saw also can be rented. A tile wet saw starts at about $35 for a half day, or $50 for a full day.

Labor for tile installation varies by the area in which you live and how much prep work is involved. Basic installation can start at $2 per square foot for clean installations with no prep work, such as removal of existing flooring. Skilled labor can be as high as $18 per square foot for intricate patterns and designs.

One common extra cost for floor tile installations is adding a layer cementboard or other suitable underlayment. Cementboard typically is mortared and screwed to the wood subfloor, then the seams between sheets are taped and mortared before the tile is laid. Cementboard material costs about $11-$14 per 3-by-5-foot sheet and should be fastened with special cementboard screws.