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How Much Do Ceramic Tile Countertops Cost?

If you are looking for an elegant and classic countertop look for a fraction of the typical cost, than ceramic tile may be your best bet. Saving even more money, installing ceramic tiles is a common DIY project, especially compared to other countertop materials. Before you jump the gun, make sure you know all the costs that go into a ceramic tile countertops.

The Costs 

  • The average minimum cost is $4.60 per square foot.
  • The average maximum cost is $7.14 per square foot.
  • The average cost is $5.60 per square foot.

The cost for ceramic tile material is relatively inexpensive. The price for labor, tools and materials, however, is what accounts for the bulk of the expense in installing ceramic tile countertops. Labor is expected to take 10 hours. Low-end costs are $34.14 per hour while high-end costs are $40.60 per hour. Even at the low-end cost, labor ends up being more than the cost of the material. Supplies and tools run between $200 and $230, bringing the total cost for around 50 square feet to between $800 and $1,000. Ceramic tile countertops are still more inexpensive than other countertop choices, considering that natural stone countertops such as marble and granite cost more than twice as much on the low end. Additionally, homeowners may save on the cost by installing ceramic tile countertops themselves. This is easier to do than with other countertop choices.

Ceramic tiles can also be installed directly on top of a typical laminate countertop, which saves the cost of tearing out the old countertop before installing. Solid color tiles are the least expensive option, while custom-designed tiles can be twice as much per tile or square foot. Grades of tile also contribute to the cost of the countertop. Heavy-duty tile grades will cost more than the lower-grade tiles, for example.


Ceramic tiles are graded in terms of their durability. The tiles are rated from one to five, with five being the most durable and one being the least durable. Tiles are graded on only one basic criteria: the visibility of their scratches. In technical terms, this may be called visible surface abrasion resistance. Grade one tiles are more likely to be damaged by heavy use and other hard surfaces and show scratches or cracks. Grade five tiles are much harder to damage, and this is the type used in commercial spaces such as airports and malls. Here is a breakdown of the five tile grades:

Grade 1: This is the weakest type of standard ceramic tile available. It should only be used for tiling walls.

Grade 2: This works well for wall tiles but can also be used in low-traffic areas such as a little-used bathroom in a residence.

Grade 3: This is probably the most common grade of tile purchased for use in a single-family home. It can be used for walls, countertops and flooring for areas that are light- to medium-traffic.

Grade 4: This is a step up in durability from grade three and can be used in kitchen countertops, especially those that are well-used. It can also be used in the same spaces as the previous three grades.

Grade 5: This is the most durable tile available and can be used in any heavy-use or high-traffic areas.

The cost per square foot of tile increases with each grade. Grade three tile is a good choice for most homeowners, especially if they are remodeling on a limited budget. In most cases, it is not practical to use grade five tiles for a typical residential kitchen countertop. However, consumers remodeling on a higher budget or who require the most durable tile available might consider the highest grade.

The only major subtype of ceramic tile is porcelain, although quarry tile, paver tile and glazed wall tile are sometimes included in the same category. Quarry tile is a typically unglazed clay tile. Paver tile is made of clay or concrete and is also unglazed. It is used in areas where aesthetics are not a concern. As the name suggests, glazed wall tile is generally only used for walls.

Porcelain and ceramic are made from essentially the same material, but they are manufactured using different heating methods. However, the important differences among tiles lie largely in their branding and certification. Porcelain tiles are more expensive than ceramic for various reasons. The first is that porcelain tiles have a water absorption rate of .5 percent or less. This means they are less susceptible to water damage. The second reason is that porcelain is denser than ceramic, which ultimately makes it more durable. The third reason is that the density of porcelain makes it more difficult to cut, which makes it less attractive to the DIY homeowner.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Ceramic Tile Countertops 

Ceramic countertops have a number of advantages and disadvantages that primarily relate to specific situations and personal preferences. Here are the basic pros and cons.

Pros of Ceramic Tile Countertops

The positives of ceramic tiles may outweigh the negatives for many consumers. Overall, they are very durable and resistant to heat and acid. They are inexpensive as previously mentioned and can recreate the glossy, elegant look of stone without the higher price tag. Ceramic tiles come in a wide variety of styles and colors and can easily be customized to match the colors and look of any kitchen or bathroom. Finally, they are the easiest type of counter to install without professional help.

Cons of Ceramic Tile Countertops

Cracking is the primary disadvantage to ceramic tiles. They can crack or even break if impacted by a falling object or if they bear too much weight. This is more likely to happen if the countertop is made of weaker tile than is necessary. Once a tile is broken, it must be replaced and cannot be repaired.

The grout joints are also notoriously hard to maintain. These are the areas between the tiles that sealed with grout. In kitchens, liquids and food can easily get stuck in these areas and make the counters difficult to clean. The grout can also become discolored for this same reason. One solution to the grout issue is to create wider spaces between tiles, so that it is easier to clean.

Last updated on May 19, 2016

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