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Tile Countertops Cost Estimator

Tile countertops offer a classic, elegant look that’s much more affordable than most other countertop options, such as granite or marble. However, like any home upgrade, opting for tile countertops has a price, and understanding the cost of the materials needed is important when considering whether or not tile is the right choice for your counters.

Are you ready to install tile countertops in your home? Use our free lead generator and get in contact with pros in your area who can help you design and install the ideal tile countertops.

Table of Contents

  1. Tile Countertops Costs
  2. Tile Costs vs. Other Countertop Options
  3. Types of Tile
  4. Advantages of Tile Countertops
  5. Disadvantages of Tile Countertops
  6. DIY or Hire A Pro?
  7. How to Install Tile Countertops
  8. Find A Pro

Tile Countertops Costs

The total cost of your tile countertop materials depends on two major factors: the size of your counter and the quality of tiles that you use for it. Ceramic tile costs vary widely on average from as little as $1 to as much as $30 per square foot. In addition, hand-painted or artisanal tiles can cost even more, up to $225 per square foot. Therefore, an average kitchen with 30sf of counter space may require anywhere from $30 to $6,750 worth of tile, plus the cost of other materials such as grout, caulking, fasteners and sealants, which cost between $60 and $70 for a counter of that size.

Therefore, all told, the material cost for a 30-square-foot tile countertop ranges, on average, from $90 to $6,820.

Tile Costs vs. Other Countertop Options

Tile Costs vs. Other Countertop Options

Even with such a huge range of prices, tile countertop materials are considered some of the most affordable in the industry. The table below compares the average material cost of the countertops alone (not including other supplies) between ceramic tile and other common countertop options to further illustrate this point.

Material Type

Average Cost per Square Foot

Average Cost for 30sf of Countertop

Ceramic Tile









Butcher Block









Types of Tile

In building terms, a tile countertop refers specifically to countertops formed of ceramic tile. This type of tile is manufactured through a process that mixes clay and other materials and forms them into a mold. The durability of the materials and the methods used to manufacture these tiles lead to a grading system, wherein Grade 1 is the weakest and most likely to show surface scratches and Grade 5 is the most durable and scratch-resistant. Other than grade, the most important designation of ceramic tile is porcelain vs. non-porcelain.

Briefly, the main difference between these ceramic tile types is the addition of a substance known as white dust or sand known as feldspar. Composed of up to 50% feldspar, porcelain tile has a more glass-like appearance because the substance melts in the kiln and bonds all the materials of the tile together in a more uniform manner. The addition of a glaze on top of the tile, which is available on both porcelain and non-porcelain options, further magnifies this glass-like effect. Glaze creates a shinier surface and increased levels of stain and scratch resistance. It also makes them less water-absorbent.

Advantages of Tile Countertops

There are many advantages to choosing tile countertops for your home. Not only is tile one of the most cost-effective material choices, but it’s also incredibly diverse. The manufacturing process of ceramic tile as well as the porcelain and glazing options create a veritable rainbow of color and design options that are easy to personalize to your home and your style. In addition, treatments to the surface of the tile, including glazing, leave you with a smooth, stain-resistant and water-resistant surface that mixes well with kitchen and bathroom use where there’s a lot of moisture and condensation. Compared to large slab countertop options, ceramic tile countertops are also much easier to install as a DIY project.

Disadvantages of Tile Countertops

There are two main disadvantages to tile countertops when they’re actually in use in your home. First, all tile is subject to cracks and breakage. Especially if you choose lower-graded tiles, a falling object can easily crack or shatter a single or group of tiles on your countertop, which you then must replace. Repairing cracked tile is nearly impossible and usually aesthetically unpleasing. In addition, maintaining the grout between the tiles is a bit of a chore. However, regrouting the counters regularly and allowing for larger spaces — which are easier to clean — between tiles is a good way to avoid too much work in terms of maintenance.

Advantages of Tile Countertops

DIY or Hire A Pro?

Installing your own tile countertops is a doable DIY project if you can muster up a little extra patience. Unlike large slab countertops, such as marble and granite, tile countertops go in one tile at a time, making the process easier in terms of logistics. You also only need to cut individual tiles as they go in to ensure a good fit, making errors in measurement less expensive in this DIY project.

On the flip side, laying tile is an exact and incredibly tedious job that can take the pros upwards of 1–2 days to complete. As a DIY and novice, the time it takes to lay out, put down and grout your tile countertops can easily double or triple. A layout error can also cause a lot of waste, which is especially expensive when you’re dealing with high-end or artisanal tiles. That's why professional countertop installation may be your best bet if you want a clean, timely tile countertop installation.

How to Install Tile Countertops

Installing your own tile countertop isn’t a small, weekend warrior DIY project, even though the skills you need to complete it are about a moderate level of handiness. This is a time-consuming project that involves all the typical steps you take to install a counter, more thoroughly outlined here, plus the details you need to lay and grout tile. Take a look at what this means in real terms. Briefly, here are the steps needed to install tile countertops in your home:

  1. Remove old countertops and prepare the back wall for tile installation.
    This includes any repairs you need to make to the cabinets below as well as the wall behind your counter in order to make sure the new countertop is secure.
  2. Measure and install a plywood base.
    You need to have a solid foundation for the tile. Unlike slab counters, this means measuring and placing boards beneath the countertop surface that you see.
  3. Choose and install tile underlayment.
    The tile needs a friendly surface to adhere to. Cement board, bonded to plywood, is a popular choice, and it’s extra durable for use in areas where there’s a lot of moisture present.
  4. Review the tile layout and begin to tile.
    Use a framing square to draw the lines of your tile design right onto the cement board, kind of like a roadmap. Then, begin in the corner and work your way out, accounting for grout space, decorative borders, backsplashes and end caps.
  5. Seal porous tiles before grouting.
    This an important step that makes the tile more scratch- and stain-resistant. Use a standard foam roller and allow the sealant to dry overnight.
  6. Grout the tile.
    It’s important to grout all the way into the joints of the tile from several different directions. Work in areas of about 6sf - 8sf at a time, and then wipe the excess grout from the surface of the tile.

Find A Pro

Having a professional contractor or tiler install your tile countertops is a really smart way to save time and frustration. Check out our free lead generator tool today and get in contact with qualified pros in your area who can advise you on the details of this project and give you free quotes.

Last updated on Sep 28, 2016

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