When money for a bathroom remodeling job is tight, ceramic tiles are the most economical way to redo a bathroom shower and counter tops. Standard 4-inch-by-4-inch ceramic tiles can be purchased new for around 10 to 15 cents per tile, especially when purchased in bulk and in either white or off-white. You can purchase boxes of leftover tiles at garage sales for even less or even for free.
Ceramic Tiles Cost Savings
Bathroom shower and counter surfaces need to be waterproof for obvious reasons. Materials like stone, concrete, synthetics, glass and ceramic tiles are all waterproof but some are quite expensive or require professional installation. Ceramic tile is the most economical material because of its low cost and easy DIY installation. Price comparisons make this abundantly clear. A single 12-inch-by-12-inch marble tile that covers 144 square inches of surface inside a shower can cost nearly $8 at a home improvement store like Home Depot. The cost to cover the same area with 4-inch-by-4-inch ceramic tiles can be as low as $1.35 for nine plain white tiles at 15 cents per tile.
Covering a counter top surface with a product like polished granite can run from $25 to more than $80 per square foot. One square foot of ceramic tiles costs about $4.05 per square foot (nine 45-cent "designer" tiles).
A tempered glass shower surround that covers 2,160 square inches of surface can cost more than $400 and requires professional installation, while the same coverage with ceramic tiles costs about $200 for premium designer ceramic tiles at $1.50 per tile. Materials used to install ceramic tiles like thinset, grout and grout sealant are also inexpensive compared to the special thinsets and mastics needed for other types of products.
Restore or remodel a bathroom shower or tub surround using white or off-white ceramic tiles, which are available in many discount home improvement stores. White tile work is always a good color for a bathroom and coordinates well with any other color. If you want to introduce a little more color into the shower surround, spend a few cents more per tile for a special border or trim tile that is colored or features a special pattern like triangles, a “Greek key” design or roping.
Another option is to punctuate a field of mostly white tiles with random colored tiles. This is a very economical approach if you have tiles that have been scavenged from garage sales at bargain prices (or for free) providing tiles in lots of colors. You can make this mixture of white and colored tiles work as long as 75 percent of the tiles are white and the remaining 25 percent of the tiles are colored.
If you use mostly white tiles, lay in a line of white grout an eighth to a quarter of an inch wide between the tiles. Use an off-white grout if the tiles are mostly off white. Avoid installing white or off-white tiles with darker colored grout lines.
A ceramic tile counter top can be beautiful and quite inexpensive compared to solid surface materials like one-piece stone or laminate counter tops. A typical 6-foot-long bathroom counter top covered in inexpensive white ceramic tiles may cost about $25 including all materials, while a fancier tile design (which typically costs about 50 cents per tile) can run about $65. The same counter area done in a laminate material could cost as much as $180.
Be sure to seal the grout on any counter top ceramic tile installation to prevent staining on the grout lines. Keep grout lines on counter tops very tight—an eighth of an inch wide—to make it easier to clean the counter top.
- "Bathroom Remodeling For Dummies"; Gene Hamilton; 2003
- "Design Ideas For Bathrooms"; Susan Boyle Hillstrom; 2009
- "Ceramic Tile Art For The Home"; Deborah Goletz; 2001
- Photo Credit ceramic tile image by Karin Lau from Fotolia.com
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