Planning your project

When you are planning to have tile installed there are several important factors to consider:   material choices, care and maintenance requirements, overall cost, and working with a licensed tile contractor.

Choose your materials:

Your choice of tile should be guided by where the tile will be installed and what the tile will be exposed to.

Porcelain, ceramic, glass and natural stone are among the most common types of tile. They are the best at resisting stains and the easiest to maintain, therefore making them a popular choice for high use areas like the bathroom and kitchen.

Porcelain tile is available in a wide variety of styles and colors. Porcelain styles now offer tile that has the appearance and beauty of natural stone or wood and the durability you get from tile.

Stone tiles offer a unique appearance due to veining, natural imperfections, and variation of color palate. Some examples of natural stone include marble, granite, travertine, limestone, slate, and sandstone. These tiles are often easily stained and require a sealer application and routine maintenance of cleaning and resealing. Stone tile such as slate or sandstone are susceptible to a change in their appearance when applying a sealer. Many stone tiles can be sculpted onsite by your tile contractor to have a finish edge, eliminating the need to purchase a bullnose tile. Your tile professional can also guide you in maintaining your tile for beauty and durability.

Grout is an integral component of your tile installation. The three most common are cement, epoxy, and urethane grout.

Cement grout is available in a wide variety of colors. Non-sanded cement grout is used for small grout lines typically 1/8″ in width or less and used with natural stone or glass tile that is susceptible to scratching. Sanded grout is used for wider grout lines from 3/16″ or more in width. Applying a sealer to cement grout is required to help resist stain and water absorption.

Epoxy and urethane grouts are very durable, non-porous and offer excellent stain resistance. They are necessary for use when your tile will be exposed to heavy chemical cleaning agents. They are not however recommended for use in a steam room due to the vapor transmission properties of steam. Epoxy and urethane grouts are expensive compared to cement grout. However, the increased cost offers value in eliminating the need for sealer and continued maintenance of resealing your grout.

I prefer to use urethane grout for a majority of tile installations as it is easy to work with, is available in a variety of colors, requires no sealer application, and is stain resistant. Keep in mind that if you have a natural stone tile you will need to periodically clean and reseal the tile according to manufacturer recommendations.



Choosing your substrate material is as important as choosing your tile. Material choices vary depending on the installation needs. Today’s industry offers better options than ever before for the foundation of your tile project to ensure durability and to provide a proper barrier to moisture.

Purchasing tile:

How you obtain your tile is an important consideration in the cost and overall planning of your project. The best way to purchase tile is through your licensed tile contractor. Many tile suppliers offer special pricing to the tile contractor, and savings can be passed to the client. If you are viewing tile in a showroom that sells only to the contractor I recommend inquiring about the manufacturer’s suggested retail price of the tile to assess how it may fit your budget. Your contractor may be able to make alternative suggestions. Most tile is sold by the square foot with the exception of high end glass, handmade tiles and bullnose tile. These tiles are most often sold by the piece. Be aware that some tiles are required to be ordered in a minimum quantity or by the box.

If you are purchasing your tile without the aid of a contractor it is recommended that you purchase a percentage amount over the square feet needed to complete your installation. Typically 5-10% over is recommended for tile layout, cutting waste, and having tile left over should you need in the future to replace any tile that becomes damaged after the installation has been completed. Your tile contractor can work with you to provide calculations and estimated material needs.


Choose a licensed tile contractor to partner with you on your project. Working with a licensed, bonded and insured contractor provides a level of insurance and protection should there be a problem with the installation. An experienced contractor will be able to offer you the best choices for your project’s requirements and provide solutions to common project challenges such as attaining a level surface for installation and working with tiles of varying sizes and depths. Many contractors get preferred pricing when it comes to purchasing tile. This could help in keeping costs down and staying within a budget. All work is guaranteed with Terrapin Tile.

Contact Terrapin Tile today to discuss your project ideas!