Budgeting Tile – Cost Per Square Foot

I’m going to start doing quick blog posts on different things that need to be budgeted for construction/renovation. First up is tile. We went into a few tile stores to figure out price points we should be using for budgeting. Some were completely unhelpful when they heard we were just budgeting and not ready to buy, but others were great and told us what we should be thinking in terms of cost per square foot.

Studium in the A& D Building, and Kaleidoscope Tile in Chelsea were both extremely helpful and I’d recommend visiting both. Studium is pretty high end but has some surprising bargains. When we told the sales person we were on a budget his face dropped, there was an awkward pause for about 2 seconds, and then he picked right back up enthusiastically and showed us options that were perfect for people on a budget. Kaleidoscope Tile feels lower end, has good prices, and has some tiles that can deliver a very elegant look.

  • Low-end “builder’s grade” – about $4/sq. ft.
    • e.g. 4″ x 4″ glazed tiles (the ones you see in bathrooms from the ’50s and ’60s)
  • Nice, inexpensive tile – about $7-8/sq. ft.
    • Great for walls, may or may not be not be suitable for floors
    • e.g. large format porcelain tiles (12″ x 24″)
    • e.g. 12″ x 12″ stone tiles (common stone, nothing exotic)
    • e.g. 1″ x 3″ carrera marble (if you can find someone who handles them in high volume)
  • Better quality tile for floors, etc. – $15-20/sq. ft.
    • e.g. better stone in simple patterns
  • High quality for accents, trim, etc. – $30-35/sq. ft.
    • e.g. sheets of staggered thin strips of carrera marble
    • 1″ x 1″ ceramic tiles for floors
  • Crazy expensive stuff if you have way too much money – $80-100/sq. ft.
    • e.g. architectural glass

(Prices do not include tax, etc.)

Here are some of the price points we’re using:

Rental unit bathroom

  • Wall tile – $7/sq. ft.
  • Floor tile – $13/sq. ft.

Rental unit kitchen

  • Floor tile – $15/sq. ft.
  • Backsplash – $15/sq. ft.

Our kitchen

  • Backsplash – $33/sq. ft.

Parlor floor half bath

  • Wall tile – $15/sq. ft.
  • Floor tile – $35/sq. ft.

Master bath

  • Accent wall – $35/sq. ft.
  • Other wall tile – $13/sq. ft.
  • Floor tile – $35/sq. ft.

2nd full bathroom

  • Small accent area – $35/sq. ft.
  • Other wall tile – $9/sq. ft.
  • Floor tile – $33/sq. ft.

Of course, we’ll go under on some and over on others, but those prices should give us a realistic amount of money to work with. Of course it helps that our bathrooms will be relatively small – so less tile will be required, keeping costs down and letting us spend more per square foot.

2 thoughts on “Budgeting Tile – Cost Per Square Foot

  1. Maybe I’m just “slow” (it IS Monday evening…and what a Monday!), but I still don’t know if these prices include just the tile itself, installation materials and tile, labor & materials (as in “everything.”) This would make your research and the resultant findings much more useful. Sorry if I just glossed right over the answer to this riddle. Male Pattern Blindness affects people my age acutely. Clay

    • Clay – They do not include installation. People always underestimate installation. IMHO, it’s silly to spend $3/sf on tile only to spend $10/sf (or whatever it costs) on installation.

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