Selecting tile for your home

HOUSTON - The versatility and durability of tile makes it a go-to fixer-up project when it comes to renovations. It is also one renovation, contractor David Rhodes told Local 2, that can send a budget souring.

"The most common, porcelain and ceramic tile, you'll see pricing range on the low end of 65 cents a square foot on up to $5 to $6 per square foot," said David Rhodes, a renovation contractor.

If a homeowner goes for a natural stone like granite, marble or slate, Rhodes said it can jump to $20 to $30 a square foot.

Angie Hicks, the creator of the website Angie's List told Local 2 this is one home upgrade where do-it-yourself can quickly lead to doing it all wrong and quickly ruin any home renovation budget.

"Installing tile isn't for the inexperienced because you can have problems if it's not done properly. If the grout isn't dried all the way, if it's not sealed properly or if you have loose tiles, it can lead to damage and problems with the actual tile," said Hicks.

Hicks said homeowners need to think about what the area is used for -- will it get wet or does it get a lot of foot traffic? Different tiles are better for different uses for example, wall tiles are not as thick or durable as floor tiles.

If it is just not in the cards to afford a full tile redo, you don't have to go all in.

"If you are looking to freshen up your tile, but don't have a big budget, consider redoing the grout. Taking the grout out or changing the grout color can give your tile a whole new look while keeping within a fixed budget," Hicks said.

And once you get it right, you don't want to mess it up.

"You want to stay away from bleaches and ammonia-based products. Those will tend to make the tile fade or break down the grout, but then the most important thing is maintaining a tile. Have it sealed. The sealer is really important to extend the longevity and the durability and the color and the sheen," Rhodes said.

When it comes to keeping within budget, knowing how much you need is important so multiply the width times the length of the area then add 5 percent and that is the amount of tile needed for the project. Be sure to get a few extra tiles for later repairs, because a professional can replace one or two broken tiles without having to replace the whole area.

When settling on a tile choice make sure the lot number and shade number are the same to ensure all the tiles are from the same batch.

Tips for selecting tile:

· Determine its use: Tile is very versatile. What surfaces are going to be covered - floors, counters, and/or walls? Consider the visual effect you want to accomplish.

· Evaluate the space: Consider the amount of wear and tear the tile will endure. Is it in a major traffic flow area? Will the tiles get wet?? Different tiles are made to withstand varying levels of impact.

· Select the material: Tile is available in many shapes, sizes, colors, and textures. Although tiles for the wall may look similar to floor tiles, they are not as thick or durable. Material affects the appearance, durability, and maintenance requirements of the tiles. Finish and texture are important, as well.

· Determine how much you need: To determine the amount of tile you will need, multiply the width times the length and add about 5 percent. Buy a few extra tiles to keep on hand in case some are damaged in installation or down the road.

· Shop around: Visit a few tile stores as the same tile from different batches can look very different. When you settle on a tile, make sure the lot number and shade number are the same to ensure all the tiles are from the same batch. Remember that tile prices vary and are not always representative of the tile's durability.

· Don't forget grout: Select a grout color and width that will blend in your tile. Stay away from stark white as it will be noticeable and show dirt more easily - unless that is the effect you're going for.

· Factor in maintenance: Consider the amount of maintenance that will be required when purchasing the tile. Keep in mind that some porous tiles will need annual sealing. Also, textured tiles and light colored grout will require more scrubbing to clean. Use only cleaning products that are specified for tile and grout cleaning - using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners can lead to damage.

Angie's List Hiring Tips:

· Consider the project: If you have never installed tile before, it is easy to ruin the look you are going for. Installation can be complex and is not for the inexperienced. It's usually wise to find someone qualified for

· Installation is key: Ask the company about their experience installing tile. Problems can occur if the grout is not fully dried and sealed; if it's not mixed properly according to the manufacturer's instructions; or if tiles are too loose, which can cause grout joints to crack. It's important to have a strong subfloor, the proper underlayment and to use a quality mortar.
· Get written estimates: Obtain at least three bids to ensure you are getting a fair price. The contractors should provide an on-site estimate so they

can measure the space for the tile installation. Don't forget to check whether the company offers a guarantee on materials and labor.

· Consider costs: The cost for adding tile is determined by square footage, material, layout, and design. There will typically be an additional cost if the contractor has to remove old tile and/or materials.

· Check out past work: Ask the contractor for references and ask for a portfolio of past jobs. Look at current and past jobs so you can see how the tile has held up over the years.

· If you don't want to replace your tile: Often times, people think that if one tile is broken they must replace the entire job. If you have extra tiles, or can find the same tile, most tile professional can replace a single tile and save you a lot of time and money. If you can't stand the way your existing tile looks but you don't want to replace it, you can clean or change the grout color - it's an easy way to revamp the look of your tile.

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