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The Cost of Tiles: Why Tile Prices Differ

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There are many factors that play a role in tile prices, from the materials used to the specific technology employed in their creation, their rating (slip rating, V rating, etc.), country of origin and the tile’s structure. It is also important to also keep the cost of labour in actually laying tiles as this can sometimes affect the decision making process in your next design project. We explore the different reasons why tile prices differ so much to help make the selection process more straight forward!

Breaking Down Tile Prices: Tile Materials & Manufacturing Processes

As one would expect, certain natural tile materials will cost more than standard ceramic or porcelain finishes. Natural stones such as marble, slate or terrazzo will all fall on the higher end of the pricing scale due to their extensive mining and preparation process as well as the product’s scarcity. Precious metals will also attract a higher price tag of course, with specialty materials such as yellow gold for example, being priced with respect to the current cost of the material on the market. 

Italian Carrara mosaicsOur luxurious natural Stone Hexagon marble mosaic tiles can be used as both a wall tile and floor tile, creating the perfect, elegant touch in your design. Being a natural product, marble will fetch a higher price tag than both ceramic and porcelain tiles however, their luscious beauty and charm offers a timeless appeal in any project. Photo credit- Building design by Glow Design Group, Interior finishes & styling by Ari Interiors, Built by Layton Homes, Photography by Jack Lovel

Man-made materials such as ceramic and porcelain tiles are generally much more cost effective than natural products, with ceramic tiles often being the most economical choice of the two thanks to their lighter density and weight. Ceramic pieces are most often used as wall tiles, allowing a less labour intensive finish thanks to their lighter and softer structure making them easier to work with, whereas porcelain tiles will fetch a higher price tag (both to purchase and to install) as they are much thicker and denser making them an ideal wall and floor tile choice thanks to their increased durability, longevity and strength.

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Handmade tiles will often incur an additional purchase cost with consideration to the added labour involved in their creation as well as the specific skill and artistic quality of the finished product. Our Casablanca wall tiles for example, are entirely made and glazed by hand right here in Australia and can be custom made to your specific requirements. Photo credit- Building design by Glow Design Group, Interior finishes & styling by Ari Interiors, Built by Layton Homes Photography by Jack Lovel

With strong advances being made in the creation of porcelain tiles especially, you will find a considerable price variation within different collections of porcelain pieces. This can be due to many reasons, from their country of origin to their manufacturing process, with specific qualities leading to an increase in price. 

Porcelain tiles that have been specifically created to simulate the look of a natural product (such as marble or timber) can often range in price as a result of the type of printing technology used in their manufacture. A screen printing process for example, will show some repetition in the pattern of the tiles as well as a sort of ‘picture frame effect’ where the screen printer has not come into contact with the tile’s edges. On the more costly side of the scale however, porcelain tiles that have been printed with the use of digital technology will allow for a much crisper, varied and overall more realistic finish, with digital printing allowing for a better quality result that manages to capture the depth and variations seen in natural products, thus fetching the higher price tag.

Tile Structures & Additives

Further exploring the manufacturing process of certain tiles, you will also find that many manufacturers will include specific additives that increase the strength and durability of the tile’s body, making them significantly less likely to chip or break both during and after installation. The tile’s surface colour will also run through the entire body of the tile, allowing for the streamlined creation of bullnose edges during installation as well as a more uniform surface finish that will be much less likely to show any significant signs of wear over time when compared with tiles that do not include these features, making these collections pricier than other options. 

porcelain tiles_tile prices

Stone or concrete look porcelain tiles will feature the organic nuances and pattern variations normally seen in natural stones and sleek concrete finishes. Italian made products are renowned for their incredible durability, longevity and overall high standard of quality which in turn will fetch a higher price tag than products made in other areas of the world. Photo credit- Building design by Glow Design Group, Interior finishes & styling by Ari Interiors, Built by Nardo Constructions, Photography by Jack Lovel

Breaking Down Tile Prices: Tile Ratings

Ceramic and porcelain tiles are often assigned a PEI (Porcelain Enamel Institute) rating which refers to an abrasion test that is performed on the tile to measure the degree of wear, scratching and marking that the glazed surface can handle. These ratings range from 1-5, with 1 being better suited to light wear applications and 5 being the most suitable for heavy duty requirements as well as being the pricier option.

Another rating system for tiles that can affect the final price of the product is its slip resistance (commonly referred to as ‘R’ – Ramp rating and ‘P’ Pendulum rating). A tile’s P Rating is measured by the Pendulum Test (ratings range from P0-P5) which includes a rubber slider mounted on a pendulum to simulate a shoe coming into contact with a wet tile. The surface is then assigned a P Rating ranging from 0 to 5, with 5 usually being a more heavy duty (and thus pricier) option. 

A tile’s R Rating is then determined by laying tiles on an inclined ramp that is treated with oil or water on the surface. A tester will walk across the surface in order to determine the specific angle at which the floor tiles become unsafe (or slippery), allowing the tester to assign a degree of slip resistance. 

Breaking Down Tile Prices: How Much Does it Cost to Lay Tiles?

After having a look at how the manufacturing process and overall quality of a tile can affect its price, it is also beneficial to understand the various factors that will influence the cost of installing your selected tiles. 

In Australia, you can expect to pay your Tiler between $60 – $150m² to lay your selected tiles, depending on the Tiler’s experience and the tiles themselves. The final cost can vary immensely due to several factors, ranging from the overall size of your tiles, to your selected laying pattern or the material of the tiles themselves and even the type of grout you plan to use.

handmade look subway tiles_tile prices

Humble subway tiles are transformed into a stunning work of art using a stacked pattern in this modern design. If you have a more intricate pattern your tiler will require more time and effort to create unique patterns, attracting an increased rate of pay to complete your project. Our contemporary Studio Subway Tiles are available in a vast array of stylish colours and allow for the creation of many different patterns, from the traditional brick formation to stacked and chevron layouts. 

As a general rule of thumb, the more intricate or labour intensive the tiling project is, the more it will cost to lay per square metre. For example, tiles laid in a specific pattern (i.e. chevron, herringbone, etc.) will incur an additional cost to lay, as will large format tiles that exceed 800mm in length due to the additional weight and expert skill level that is required to ensure a smooth, even and quality finish. You will also find that your choice in grout may also affect the final price of your project as specific types of grout require a higher level of skill to work with. Epoxy grouts for example, are extremely fast setting, requiring a precise and quick hand to use.  

In summary, there are many factors that will affect tile prices including the product’s density, slip resistance, the material it is made of, the manufacturing process and the tile’s country of origin. These factors can also play a role in the actual cost of laying your selected tiles so we would also recommend keeping this in mind when making your selections as well as ensuring that essential information is passed on to your Tiler for an accurate quotation of your project. 

Our team at Perini Tiles can provide expert guidance on selecting the perfect tiles for your next project, ensuring a selection that meets your expectations and budget – Visit our Richmond Tile showroom for a free design consultation!