How to Buy Tile

There are endless options of tile and it can seem overwhelming when you start shopping for it. However, like any new material for your home, there are helpful tips to consider that will help you figure out what you need so you can pick out the perfect tile.

The best way to start the tile shopping process is to identify the room and where the tile will be installed (floor, wall, shower, etc.), measure the space, select the type of tile, color, pattern and size. Once you figure those out, you should then consider the tile ratings and grades, so you know for sure that it’s the best for your space. The final steps, now that you’ve chosen your favorite style tile, are getting samples and figuring out how much tile to order.

These might seem like a lot of things to consider and go through, but we’re here to help and lay it all out for you so you can understand and enjoy the entire process.

Location of Tile

Essentials in mixed colors, available at Avalon Flooring

The process for how to buy tile begins with the room itself. Even though tile is a great, strong choice for flooring, different types of tile may work better for your project depending on the location. So, your first consideration should be the specific room that you will be renovating with tile. For instance, if you’re doing work on your shower, a textured tile would be better than a smooth tile that gets very slippery when wet. But in a space like your entryway, a textured tile will be harder to clean than a nice smooth tile. For high traffic spaces in your home, a durable porcelain that resists scratching and chipping is a great choice. When it comes to ceramic tile, make sure it’s kept indoors since they’re more porous than porcelain and won’t last very long against the weather – you get the idea. To find out what the best tile is for outdoors, check out our other blog here.

Measure the Location

The next thing to do is then measure your space, as this will help the last step of the process – that is, determining how much tile to order. For each area you want to tile, measure the length and width of the area in feet, then multiply those two numbers to get the actual square footage of your space.

Color & Pattern

patterned tile available at Avalon Flooring
Maiolica in gray, available at Avalon Flooring

Color influences the overall attitude of your room, which makes choosing the color very important. Dark tiles add warmth, but make sure you have an open area with good light to keep the tile color from overwhelming the palette of your space. To make a room seem larger, stick to lighter hues. And for heavy traffic spaces, consider using a variation of shades; using a slight contrast on your floor will help mask any dirt (a nice helpful hint for you!). Also, your floor or wall tiles don’t have to be one solid color. Selecting an attractive pattern for your surface can be the next ideal step for either your floor, wall, backsplash or bathroom.

And today, tiles are available in many different kinds of patterns to complement your home’s décor style.

Tile Ratings & Grade

Tile is rated using a grading system and is solely based on the tile’s durability and resistance to surface damage. An easy way to think of it is that a rating or grade 1 means that the tile is more likely to be prone to scratches and or dents where as a grade 5 is considered a more durable tile and resistant to surface damage.

Here is a breakdown of all 5 rating levels and their suitable applications:

Grade 1 – No foot traffic. These tiles should be used for walls only.

Grade 2– Light traffic. Good for interior residential and commercial walls. These are for areas where little abrasion occurs, like bathrooms!

Grade 3 – Light to moderate traffic. Use these in residential settings with normal foot traffic. They are also great for countertops and walls.

Grade 4 – Moderate to heavy traffic. These tiles are acceptable for all home spaces, in addition to medium commercial spaces.

Grade 5 – Heavy to extra heavy foot traffic. Approved tile for all residential applications and heavy commercial spaces.

Water Absorption Rate

Another important category to consider when shopping for tile is its water absorption rate or W.A. This rating will tell you if a tile is the right tile to use in a wet area or even outdoors. There are four categories in the W.A. rating and they’re expressed as a name and percentage of water absorbed by the tile.

Slip Resistance

A tile’s slip resistance is another important rating. What the rating is actually called is coefficient of friction, or C.O.F. This refers to a tile’s natural resistance to slipping and it’s measured by the force required to slide an object across a surface divided by the object’s weight. A lower C.O.F. number indicates less friction, so the floor will provide less traction. A higher C.O.F. number indicate that floor will be less slippery.

 Request Samples

tile samples available at Avalon Flooring
Island Stone, Spindrift Collection available at Avalon Flooring

Samples are a must have! The color of a tile in our stores compared to your home could be very different because of the difference of lighting. It’s always recommended to order samples through your sales associate  to give you a better idea and feel of how it will look in your home.

How Much Tile to Buy – And When to Order It

Now that you’ve chosen your tile and know the measurements of your space, it’s time to figure out how much tile you need to order. Each style of tile comes in different size cases, so it’s important to find out how many square feet are in each case for your chosen tile. Once you determine that, then it’s always recommended to add about 10-20% of extra tile to your order. This is because it’s not unusual to find some tiles in cases broken or damaged. It’s also worth buying some extra in case any mistakes are made or some are broken during installation.

Now that you’ve gone through and learned about all of these steps, it’s time to stop at one of our 14 locations and begin the fun of tile shopping!


At Avalon Flooring, we want to make sure you’re happy from your first step in our showroom to your first step on your new flooring—and as your partner in home design, we’ll be there every step along the way. Consider us your “One-Stop Shopping” destination for all things flooring…(and window treatments)!

Our design consultants are equipped with the knowledge to guide you through the wide selection of products we offer, and our expert installation team is professionally trained to make sure everything gets installed the way you envision. We know your home is an expression of your sense of style, and we’re here to make sure you’ll be proud of it for years to come.

If you have any questions, please email us.