The cost of tiling a bathroom can vary massively, but this article will help you to understand how tile choices affect fitting costs.
Introduction
Tiling costings

Material costs – the tiles, and the trims.
Cheap ceramic tiles start from £10/m2, and plastic tile edge trims (to finish tile edges around window reveals etc) may cost £5 each (you may need 3 or 4.)

So a 20m2 wall tiling project (all the walls in a typical small bathroom in a 3 bed semi) would cost £200 for very basic tiles + £20 for trims = £220.

Labour costs – the money you pay someone to lay the tiles (this figure often includes the adhesive, grout & silicon)

This rate depends on the area in which you live, how much the fitter charges (normally related to the quality of his work), the quality of the adhesive & grout he uses and the guarantee he offers.

My rates start at £30/m2, and include high quality cementious adhesives (rather than tubbed acrylic adhesives), flexible & colour co-ordinated grouts and anti-mould silicones for a guaranteed long lasting installation.

So the same 20m2 wall tiling project as above would cost £600 for labour, adhesive, grout & silicon.

The combined total of this particular project would be £220 (materials) + £600 (labour & fitting materials) = £820

It would take 3-4 days depending on the particular layout, tiles etc.

Implications of various tile choices on price
Introduction

As outlined above tiling prices are directly related to the material cost and the labour cost.

Higher material costs (ie porcelain tiles vs ceramic tiles) will necessarily result in higher overall fitting costs.

Tiles that take longer to fit (e.g. mosaic tiles or complicated layout patterns with small tiles) will incur higher labour costs as they take longer to fit and are generally more expensive to buy as well.

Please see below for cost implications of various tile types and layout options.

Ceramic – £10/m2+ (tiles excluding fitting)
  • These tiles are the most widespread and are easy to source, cut with a manual (and wet) cutter and drill.
  • Unless otherwise stated, tile fitting costs will normally assume ceramic tiles:
When providing a bathroom installation quote that includes tiling I quote to fit large format ceramic tiles with no border and plastic trims, with colour co-ordinated silicone & grout.I price for this option as standard because tile fittings costs vary based on the type & size of tile required, but this is the majority of the work that I do – mainly because ceramic tiles are the quickest and most affordable tiles to supply & fit, and there is masses of choice.Any deviation from this format will push the labour and / or material costs up as you will see below.

Brick pattern

  • Brick pattern tiling may cost more than traditional bonds as tile layouts are trickier to do (more labour costs) and there may be more tile wastage (more material costs)
  • Also, large format brick pattern tiling may not be suitable for very uneven / warped walls as this tile layout cannot follow slightly curving walls without lipping:

Complicated bonds

  • Time is money for any tradesmen so doing a job that covers the same area but takes twice as long will cost more in terms of labour.
  • Basically, any tile pattern that is not like a chessboard would fall into this category e.g. herringbone, diamond etc as above. This is because a custom made jig had to be made to tile these examples:

Including border tiles (mosaics)

  • Mosaic sheets can be cut down & used as a border tile for much less money than buying actual border tiles.
  • However, adding a mosaic border tile will add time to the job as mosaics are tricky to fit (see below)
Mosaic tiles – £100/m2+ (tiles excluding fitting)
  • Mosaic tiles are tricky and time consuming to fit and achieve a good finish especially if walls aren’t absolutely perfect (level, flat, plumb, square etc) PS They never are!
  • Cleaning up mosaic tiles prior to grouting (to ensure a good finish) takes time as adhesive can come through the grout lines.
  • Mosaic mesh helps to achieve this but is a cost that has to be factored in.
  • Stone mosaics will also need to be sealed prior to fitting.
  • Mosaics often come on a backing though sometimes they can be glued onto this backing out of square so they need to be individually fitted which obviously takes masses of time as above. This is a nightmare!!!!
Very small tiles
  • Very small tiles will take longer to fit than larger tiles so may incur a higher labour fitting cost.
Very large tiles
  • Tiles bigger than 600mm may need to be cut on wet cutters and subsequently can cost more to fit as they take longer to cut and shape.
  • They may also need a different type of adhesive.

Top tip: When considering tile size you should take the size of the room into account: Large tiles are normally better suited for large rooms.

Feature tiles – £25/m2+ (tiles excluding fitting)
  • Feature tiles can be used in conjunction with surrounding tiles and are often large format tiles made to look like individual tiles or mosaics once grouted.
  • They have the benefit of looking like mosaics but are much quicker (cheaper) to fit.
Marble tiles – £30/m2+ (tiles excluding fitting)
  • Marble tiles normally need to be sealed with a couple of coats of tile sealer prior to fitting so labour costs are higher (this can be done by the customer prior to the contractor arriving to save money)
  • They also need cutting on a wet cutter which takes longer than a manual cutter so labour costs are higher
  • Drilling marble is fairly easy so there are no additional costs in fitting toilet roll holders, shower screens, bath screens etc
Porcelain tiles – £30/m2+ (tiles excluding fitting)
  • Porcelain tiles are very / very very hard.
  • Most can be cut with a high quality manual tile cutter but can be difficult to cut with a wet cutter, or require a decent wet tile cutter blade – that will need replacing regularly.
  • Due to the limited porosity of porcelain tiles, specialist adhesives need to be used to ensure good adhesion.
  • Drilling holes in porcelain tiles is nearly impossible to do with standard tile or masonry drill bits as they are so hard.

As a comparison, you can drill a hole in a ceramic tile with a £4 tile drill bit in 5 seconds with no degradation of the drill bit, whereas it may take at least 5 minutes to bore a 6mm hole in an equivalent porcelain tile with a £40 drill bit which may need replacing after a few holes)

  • Multiply this by the number of holes you will need to drill into your tiles at 2nd fix (normally by your plumber rather than your tiler) and you will soon see costs mount up (labour for increased time and materials for expensive drill bits)
How many holes need to be drilled in the wall / floor tiles in a typical bathroom?
Shower fixing bracket – 4-8
Shower riser kit – 2
Shower enclosure – 6/8
Bath screen – 3
Toilet cistern – 2
Toilet pan – 2
Basin – 2+
Radiator – 4
Wall mounted extractor fan – 4
Toilet roll holder & towel ring – 4
Mirror / wall cabinet – 4TOTAL 37 (in this example)
Trims – material & colour

Plastic trims are included in costings as standard and provide a neat edge to tiles around window reveals etc.

Colour co-ordinated trims are available and these come in a few colours – ivory, black & grey usually. Please see here for more info.

Chrome trims are available at extra cost.

Trims – profile

All trims, regardless of material & colour, usually come in a couple of different profiles (shapes)

Round edge profiles are common and require inserts for external corners (where 3 trims meet).

Square edge profiles also require inserts for external corners (where 3 trims meet).

L shaped profiles are very minimalist and do not require inserts for external corners.

Summary

As you can see there are many factors affecting tiling costs but hopefully this will give you a basic understanding of how costs are calculated by contractors and tilers.

Thanks for reading, please get in touch if you would like a quote.

Chris

PS All images used in this article are from Ukbathroomguru jobs in Leeds (apart from the bad tile lipping one!)