Shopping For Tile For Your Bathroom Remodel

May 27, 2020 | Starr Tingle

Shopping for Tile for your Bathroom Remodel

Shopping for tile is a super fun activity for me, and if you prepare correctly, it can be for you too! Lucky for you, I’m going to tell you exactly how to prepare in this week’s episode of remodeling your bath series.  

This post is all about buying tile for your bathroom remodel. 



Before You Go:

  1.  Schedule enough time so you won’t be rushed.
  2.  Dress for comfort.  
  3.  Organize yourself with measurements and inspiration photos.
  4.  Schedule and confirm appointments.

Decisions You Have To Make:

  1. What architectural elements are you incorporating that you’ll need components for?
  2. How are you going to cover the edge of the tile?
  3. Field Tile
  4. Floor Tile
  5. Accent Tile
  6. The pattern for installation includes shower wall, shower floor, bathroom floor, etc. have a plan for installation of all of it.  
  7. Grout color

 Questions to Ask When Shopping for Tile:

  1. What is the lead time if you are special ordering?
  2. Will the store help you with layout/design and quantities? (note: usually workers at big box stores like Lowes and Home Depot do not reliably have this skillset)
  3. Be aware of the components you will need, such as bullnose, and make sure what you are selecting has those options available.
  4. Does the store offer delivery?
  5.  Will the store you are buying from allow returns?  
  6. Does the store offer discounts to installers or designers? Or if you open an account with them? Is the discount significant enough to warrant the hassle?
  7. Tile is made in lots. They are called dye lots. The color of your tile can vary slightly, from dye lot to dye lot. Therefore you need to make sure you get all your tile from the same dye lot and that you order more than enough to do the installation in one go. If you have to reorder more tile to finish, it could be from a different dye lot. But always keep all the dye lot information from the original boxes in case you do need to reorder. I either cut the label off of the box and keep it in my binder, or I take a photo with my phone and print it out for my binder.
  8. Natural tile has to be sealed. Will the sealing process change the color of the tile? Does it need to be sealed before grout? You need to understand all of these things, and the people selling you the natural tile should be able to answer these questions.  

Things to Keep In Mind:

  1. Natural tiles such as marble and travertine cost more to install because they require more steps and more care.
  2. When you order natural tile, you may have to add quite a bit extra if there is a chance you won’t like some of the colors that appear in the tile. For example, I have marble in my master shower. I noticed a small orangish splotch on one when I was fondly looking at all the samples available in the store. I asked the sales associate about it, and she told me it didn’t happen very often. Still, that particular marble would have those spots pop up every so often. While I loved the marble, I did not like that orangish color. I knew I didn’t want to look at it forever, so I ordered extra, and when the tile came in, I laid every bit of it out on my garage floor and then pulled out the ones with that spot. I kept them until after the shower had been installed, in case the tile guy ran short on some smaller pieces, perhaps he could cut out the spot I didn’t like and use the rest of the tile. Once the tile was installed, I returned the whole pieces of tile I had leftover.  
  3. Natural tile, especially travertine, has organic imperfections. You need to understand them and be okay with them. Talk to your sales associate about this.
  4. Natural tile can be harder to care for. I mentioned we have marble in our shower. I have to be very careful about what kind of cleaners I use on it. When I have people come in to clean, I have to be diligent about checking what cleaners they use and making sure they understand that marble can be easily damaged.
  5. Very large format tile can be more expensive to lay. Due to the size, there can be warpage of the tile, and it isn’t always possible to hide. Talk to your sales associate and your installer if you are set on using large format tile (usually this is larger than 12” x 12”). Be aware.
  6. Very small tiles can be tedious and get very expensive to lay if they are not on a mesh mat.
  7. The more square and “sharp” the edge of the tile is, the smaller your grout lines can be.
  8. Man-made tiles are made out of fired clay that fall into two categories, ceramic, and porcelain. Porcelain tile is made from more refined clay and is fired at higher temperatures; thus, it is more dense and durable. Porcelain is often a little more expensive, but, in my opinion, worth it.
  9. Cement tile has gotten super popular lately. I don’t have much experience with it; however, I do know it has to be soaked before installation. If you choose, make sure you completely understand how to install and care for it. You need to make sure your tile setter understands too.

Starr’s Advice:

  1.  Keep grout lines as small as possible – I prefer ¼” or less.
  2. If you are special ordering, order up to 20% extra for waste – even if you can’t return in. Breakage is hard to predict. Some tiles are more brittle and break easier than others.  
  3. If you run short of material in the middle of an installation and our installer can’t finish, you should pay them more, even if they don’t ask for it. It wreaks havoc on their schedule, plus they have to make more trips back to your home, costing them time and money. You want the installers on your team, looking out for your best interests. Not disgruntled and willing to cover up potential problems.
  4. Make your tile selections with your endgame in mind. If you are planning to sell your home in the near future, then make decisions based on that and not just personal preference. If you are working on your forever home, then make yourself happy.
  5. Tile is a great place to incorporate a beautiful Wow feature for your bath.  
  6. As soon as you get the tile to your home, open it all to check for damage and lay all the tile out on your floor to make sure there are no shade variations or tiles you don’t like the look of. Remember the story I told you about the orangish flaws on my own tile? This is what I’m talking about.  
  7. Finding a good tile setter is the key to having a great looking finished product. Getting references from the place where you buy tile is an excellent way to find a tile setter.  

If you are thinking about remodeling your bathroom and are going to incorporate tile, I hope my tutorial on buying tile motivates you to get out there and start! If you would like some ideas on how your tile could look in your shower and on your floor, visit my Pinterest board, where I have posted images I love and want to incorporate into future bathroom remodels for my clients.  

Don’t struggle with the design piece of this. Find a photo of a bathroom that you really like, print it out, and take it with you to pick out tile. If you go to a tile specialty store, their sales staff will help you recreate the look. If you can’t get comfortable with working with the sales staff, ask about an interior designer. The point is to ask for help!!

This post is all about buying tile for your bathroom remodel.

Wrap Up

If you have questions about the cost of a bathroom remodel, take a look at this post where I broke down e v e r y t h i n g. For a step by step guide to planning your bathroom remodel, go here to download it for free.

In the past few weeks, I have looked at laying out a bathroombath vanitiesbath lighting, and bath faucets to help you prepare for your upcoming bathroom remodel. Please check them out to make the best decisions for your home and your budget.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook @Sanctuary Homes, Instagram at @sanctuaryhomes, and Pinterest at Sanctuary Homes. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR TIME!! Chow for now!