Living Smart: How much does bathroom tile installation cost?

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Tile gives bathrooms an upscale appearance, and itís more durable than many other materials. But installing tile also costs more than bathtub surrounds or vinyl flooring.

Whether youíve decided on your products or are still gathering bathroom floor and shower tile ideas, hereís how much you can expect to pay.

Whatís the average cost to install bathroom tile?

In general, retiling a full bathroom, including shower walls and flooring, can cost $10,000 to $25,000, Costhelper.com says.

Jeff Veglia, owner of Jeff Veglia Remodeling & Tile Contracting in Lynnfield, Massachusetts, says most remodels cost $18,000 without fixtures, which add about $4,000 more.

"Most of them are about $22,000 to $25,000," Veglia says  "So it all depends on what the average person wants to do in their bathroom."

For tile, materials and installation, a tub surround costs about $3,000 to $4,000, says Carlos Martinez, first officer of C-Bek Tile & Stone Design in North Hollywood, California. Floor tile adds another $3,000 to $4,500 or more, depending on the roomís size. A walk-in shower typically costs between $2,500 and $5,000, but some companies charge more than $10,000, he says, adding that tile selections change the prices.

"It all depends on the size and the design that they want," Martinez says.

Do involved bathroom tile designs change costs?

While square footage matters, tile installers account for the complexity of the tile pattern and tile size when pricing a job, says Andrew Forsmark, owner of Nordic Tile in Minneapolis.

"A general rule of thumb is that the smaller the tile, the more expensive it will cost to install," he says.

Residential bathroom tile jobs almost always require a mix of tiles and patterns, which changes with each job, Veglia says. More complexity means higher labor costs.

"If Iím using a 6-by-6 (inch) ceramic tile, just plain, straight up and down, thatís very fast," Veglia says. "If I do a three different design shower, with a 12-by-12 staggered on the bottom, a border in the middle and a 6-by-6 at a diagonal on the top, Ö that just doubled my work."

Hire smart for your bathroom tile job

Planning proved important for Angieís List member Scott Carter of Highland Park, Illinois, when he remodeled his outdated master bathroom. He and his wife, Micheline, met with a designer to select tile and fixtures before Mahogany Builders in Chicago completed the job.

"We had been thinking about redoing the master bath for about one year before we began," he says.

Carter spent about $6,800 on tile and marble for the master bathroom remodel. He broke down the cost as $500 on porcelain floor tile, $900 on porcelain shower tile, $1,800 on accent tiles on the walls and shower floors and $3,600 on marble for the vanity top, shower accents and threshold. The remodeling quote lumped tile installation labor with the general labor price, so he didnít have a number.

The bathroom remodel went smoothly, unlike remodeling experiences some of his friends had, Carter says. "We were happy that we spent a bit more to get a quality job from a reputable contractor," he says.

Forsmark advises homeowners to do their research and be wary of the cheapest bid when it comes to bathroom tile installation.

"Good tile work not only looks good but will also stand the test of time," Forsmark says. "A lot of deficient tile setters take shortcuts in their prep work ó  not using the correct backer board, not waterproofing seams or not using the right materials to set the actual tile with."

To hire smart, get multiple bids and ask the installers questions about the methods and materials they will use to revamp your bathroomís tile style.