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Clay Tile Flooring Cost Guide

Each type of clay tile has a unique set of advantages and disadvantages and presents a different aesthetic appeal. Porcelain is particularly durable and comes in just about any shape, color and size a homeowner could desire. Ceramic tile is slightly less durable and easily as varied. Although it's tedious and time consuming to install, ceramic tile does not require any particular expertise, and the adventurous do-it-yourselfer can save costs by laying it. Read below to the see the costs associated with all clay tiles.

The Costs 

  • Closeout Quality: 500 Square Feet - $700 to $900
  • Builder Grade: 500 Square Feet - $1,150 to $1,500
  • Value Grade: 500 Square Feet - $1,300 to $1,700
  • Premium Grade: 500 Square Feet - $1,600 to $2,000
  • Designer Sourced: 500 Square Feet - $1,700 to $2,200

Installing tile is somewhat labor intensive. For approximately 60 hours of work on 500 square feet of flooring, the costs range from a low of $3,500 to a high of $4,200. Off-season installation may save money. It is possible for a first timer to lay down his own tile, but it is fairly arduous work. Supplies for installation of the tile range from $500 to $750 in addition to the cost of the tile itself and labor. Porcelain tends to be a little more difficult than other types to install. Labor costs will increase if there are complicated patterns or room shapes involved such as curving walls, U shapes or L shapes.

Types of Clay Tile

Clay tile refers to a wide range of products, all man-made and with clay as the basis of their composition. The common varieties of clay tile are: 

  • Porcelain
  • Non-porcelain
  • Ceramic
  • Terracotta

Ceramic tile is made from white, brown or red quarried clay that is prepared in a mold. Porcelain is similar to ceramic and is, in fact, considered a type of ceramic. However, porcelain tile has 50-percent feldspar, which forms a glass-like bond with the clay during the firing process. Porcelain is fired at higher temperatures, and because of this as well as the feldspar, it is more durable than non-porcelain ceramic.

Terracotta is a red clay tile, which is the same material used to make the common, red clay pots. It is less durable and needs to be sealed for indoor use. However, it is still durable and many works of art made from terracotta have withstood centuries such as the famous terracotta soldiers of an ancient Chinese emperor’s tomb. When used outdoors, weathering creates a unique and rustic look. Saltillo tiles are a type of terracotta made from a very specific clay in Central America and are considered one of the highest-quality types in the world.

Advantages of Clay Tile

Glazed tiles are more durable and repel water, although the sheen may be undesirable to some who want a more rustic look. Clay tiles are beautiful for rustic decors and are appropriate for a wide range of styles from an Italian villa to a southwestern American ranch house. Clay tiles are also resistant to bacteria, very low maintenance and easy to clean as well as being moisture and stain resistant. They can be installed almost anywhere, including as baseboards that extend the tile floor up the walls. Clay tile can last many years. Unglazed clay actually looks aesthetically pleasing for a longer period of time than glazed, though it is harder to clean. Damaged tiles can also be taken up and replaced if matching tiles can be found or extras were saved from the initial installation. 

Disadvantages of Clay Tile

Despite being extremely durable, clay tile can crack or chip, especially in the case of very heavy objects falling to the floor or when the tiles have not been installed properly. The tile can also become slippery when wet, especially glazed varieties. In addition, standing on them for extended periods of time can be tiring, and homeowners who have placed them in kitchens have been known to complain of how fatiguing they can be. Clay tile can also grow particularly hot or cold and be uncomfortable to bare feet.

Final Verdict

Clay tile is one of the most varied and broadly appealing types of flooring available. Its use around the world and over many centuries makes it an ideal candidate for fitting just about every type of decor. Because it is a man-made product, a nearly endless variety of shapes and colors can be used to create patterns, mosaics and attractive designs. Lastly, its durability and the ease with which it is maintained make it a favorite of homeowners the world over. Few other flooring materials have the versatility, durability and sustainability of clay tile.

Last updated on May 19, 2016

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