Armchair Builder

Tile Floor Installation Cost

The other day I was asked by a family member to help get a tile floor installation cost for a sunroom.  Actually, the request was to review the pricing already obtained for the project.  The process reinforced just how important it is to get at least three detailed bids for any work you are having done on your home.  In this case, we saved the owner fifty percent off the original bid for the tile floor installation cost.  Let’s take a look at the scope of the project and discuss how getting detailed bids will help you get the best price.

Tile Floor with Brick Pattern

Brick Pattern Tile Floor, Photo by Holly Kuchera

Project Details

Location:  Sunroom (14.67′ x 9.67′) = 141.86 square feet, rectangular room with four square walls = easy install.

Work to Complete:  Install 18″x18″ tile over existing vinyl flooring and install transition strip to adjacent hardwood.

The First Bid

I was asked to review the bid for the tile floor installation cost…which was actually the first bid for the project.  Unfortunately, the company bidding the work did exactly what 99% of the companies out there do…they only gave a single dollar amount to complete the work.  To say the bid lacked detail was an understatement.  Other than listing the type of tile to be installed, no other details were given.  I had a list of questions that needed to be answered including…

  • Existing Vinyl Floor – Will the vinyl floor be removed prior to installing the new underlayment?
  • Underlayment – What type of underlayment is going to be used?
  • Tile Pattern – What will the orientation of the tile be?  (i.e. straight, brick pattern, diagonal…etc.)
  • Grout – What will the width of the grout lines be and what color grout is to be used?  Will the grout need to be sealed?  If so, is this included?
  • Shoe Molding – Will the floor require shoe molding after installation and if so, are you supplying and installing it?  What kind of shoe mold will be used and will it need to be painted?
  • Transition – What type of transition will be supplied and installed to match up with the adjacent hardwood flooring?
  • Warranty – How long is the warranty and what does it cover?

The items above are the scopes of work and specifications for the project.  Basically, they give the details of the work to be done.  We wanted the grout spacing to be 1/16″, which is the closest you can place these tiles together.  What if the installing company assumed 3/8 inch grout spacing and went ahead and installed the tile?  What a mess that would be.  Or what if they installed the tile straight, instead of in a brick pattern as desired.  A brick pattern is where every other row of tile is started with a partial tile to stagger the vertical grout joints (see photo above).  These items would totally change the look of the installation…so it’s very important to make sure everyone agrees to the details, they are put in writing, and both parties sign them.

Price Breakdown

As a professional builder, I always hate to see bids with no price break down.  There’s no reason a company can’t list out the cost of labor and materials.  This allows you to  better understand what you are getting.  Here’s a shameless plug…if you haven’t seen our Bid Sheets, be sure to check them out.  Each sheet identifies the important items to break out for the major building activities from tile…to roofing…to carpentry, and can be used for remodeling, new construction, repairs,…etc.  You give these to the companies you want pricing from, and then you can easily compare prices.  So for our tile floor installation cost, we wanted the company to break down the pricing as follows…

  1. Tile material cost
  2. Underlayment installation and material cost
  3. Furniture moving cost (moving out and back into the room)
  4. Tile floor installation cost
  5. Shoe Molding material and installation cost
  6. Adjacent floor transition strip material and installation cost

This break down for the tile floor installation cost provides us with so much more information than the single dollar amount they originally gave us.  Once we got the breakdown, it was apparent the price was way too high.  The cost of the tile was just $400, while the total project bid was $2270.  Local tile installation costs are somewhere in the neighborhood of $4 per square foot.  This would give us a total tile floor installation cost of about half of the first bid received.  So by getting three bids, we will save the owner over a thousand dollars on this project.

Remember, this savings is for just one small project.  Imagine if you were building a new home or remodeling your existing place…the savings could be huge!  So be sure to get three detailed bids for any work you plan to have done.  And if you don’t want to purchase our bid sheets at the ESTORE, be sure to create a spreadsheet detailing out how you want the pricing to be broken down prior to talking to companies to do the work.

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