Best Practices

Avoiding Pitfalls. Getting the Job Done.

Shopping For Tile

1. Your Budget

It’s helpful to have an idea of your “per square foot” budget before you go shopping. San Diego Marble & Tile applies an A-H sticker price scale to field and mosaic tiles. This makes it easier to browse, select, and stay within your budget. Even a rough estimate of your square footage will help you calculate a ballpark idea of the total tile materials cost.

2. Make Your Tile Selection Early

Give yourself enough shopping time to select the tile you really want, obtain samples if not readily available, and keep a scheduling cushion in case there is a delay in any component of your design (bullnoses, matching shower pan mosaic etc).

San Diego Marble & Tile displays tile lines from over 90 vendors. Though most material orders can be obtained within a week, obtaining samples not on hand may add a week to the pre-order lead time. Some vendors freight materials to us while we maintain a weekly or bi-weekly truck pickup schedule with others. While we do our best to get the materials you need in the schedule you need them, delays may be unavoidable.


Order enough tile to finish the job – don’t skimp.

With your “minimum” square footage determined, generally, 10% overage can be expected for straight-set installations, 15% for diagonal-set installations. You also want to keep at least a couple pieces on hand for any later damages that may occur.

A greater than 15% overage may be recommended by your installer based on the material type, its size, and the number of expected cuts-such as for glass tile.

In some cases, material overage of more than 20% may be recommended to compensate for “culling” material – such as natural stone – which does not meet color or pattern expectations.

“Inching up to the finish line” usually costs more in time, expense and aggravation for all parties. Worst case scenarios include:

– Later orders (especially with regards to natural stone and handmade tile) not matching the color (or size in the case of handmade tile) of prior material lots.

– The material or your installer are not available when you need them in order to finish the job.

Planning Your Installation

1. Review Your Design and Selected Tile Materials with the Installer

With your samples in hand, review materials and material thicknesses with your installer.

In this same review, the installer should discuss the need for matching trim types, i.e. quarter rounds versus single bullnose (SBN) trim pieces and make suggestions about details and areas for decision that people don’t normally consider. Most porcelain tile lines today do not offer matching “quarter rounds.” The most commonly offered matching trim is a SBN (one softened edge), commonly sized at 3×12”.

2. Select Grout Colors

With the exception of natural stone orders, grout selections can usually be made when the tile is selected. Discuss whether or not “Power Grout” is more desirable or appropriate to your installation. At approximately three times the price of sanded grout, power grout is a no-seal, no-care, anti-microbial, anti-bacterial acrylic-based grout that is cracking and shrink-resistant. Power Grout is easy to work with, is available in the same colors as sanded and unsanded grout, and is an excellent grout material for glass which can be scratched.

3. Scheduling Your Installation

Try not to schedule your installer until you are in possession of ALL of the tile. Relative to #2 above in “Shopping for Tile,” installations and timelines go much more smoothly when all materials being installed are on hand. You also don’t want to face a situation where the installer is already committed to starting another job while yours is unfinished due to material unavailability.

After Pickup and Prior To Installation

Even if your installation date is long off, verify your tile order is “capiche:”

  • Take a few minutes now to do a final “box count” of your materials, verifying the quantity matches your order.
  • Porcelain or Ceramic Wall Tile: Confirm “dye lots” (glazes or color) from each tile size being utilized in the design, is an acceptable match
  • For natural stone or handmade tile: pull a few pieces from random locations in each crate or box and carefully lay them out on the floor to see that the “blend” is as expected.
  • If you’ve got a special feature being installed such as a range-feature or feature wall in a shower, review the planned dimensions, drawings and tile elements with the installer. An installer will usually cut tiles and create a layout of that feature prior to installation. Any last-minute adjustments may be able to be made at this point.


1. Don’t Install Tile You Have Doubts About

Since installation constitutes acceptance and installed tile is not refundable, prior to installation, confirm:

– Each size of matching ceramic tile materials in use in the same installation location are of acceptable color and glaze consistency

– Natural stone orders are of the expected range and pattern variation

2. Always Randomly Mix Natural Stone or Ceramic Tile Lots

Mix stones from each pallet or handmade ceramics from each box to ensure a consistent blend appearance. NEVER pull and install stones in order, one by one, pallet by pallet. You could end up with an installation that appears to be a different color at each end of the room.

3. Follow the Manufacturer’s Installation Instructions

Verify your installer follows any unique installation instructions included with your tile items. Materials typically issuing specialized instructions:

– Glass tiles and mosaics

– Crackle glaze ceramics

– Stone Impressions decorative imaged natural stone tiles

4. Setting Materials and Requirements

Verify sure your installer is using a thinset color and specialized mix appropriate to the tile type and size being installed. Some examples:

– Transparent glass tile and mosaics require a white thinset

– Light colored materials, especially ceramics or marbles, often require a white thinset