The South African tile market is very cost conscious, with many retailers competing for your business by discounting prices. As the saying goes “bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten”. This certainly rings true in the tile industry. Before purchasing we have some tips for better understanding of tile pricing. This is to ensure you get what you pay for and are not taken for a ride by a discount or bargain sale price.
Make sure you know where your tiles come from
Generally, it’s perceived that European tiles are better quality than Chinese or Indian tiles, which isn’t always the case. For this reason, many tiling stores are full of Italian flags and Spanish-sounding tile names and collections. This tactic is to try and convince you that they are buying first-grade tiles from Europe and charging as such. These tiles more often than not are from China. It does not mean Chinese tiles are bad quality and won’t deliver similar results to European tiles. The main difference would be the price and this is why we place emphasis on tile pricing.
You may buy tiles from China which are cheaper to manufacture and import than European tiles, yet pay the same price. Most Italian tiling companies get tiles manufactured in China to bring down costs. This is to make them more competitive with Chinese produced tiles. Only by picking up the waybill as the tile boxes stand stacked in the yards, will one see the true origin of the tile. Be sure to check that the next time you buy “European tiles” that are not from Europe.
No prizes for buying second grades – why tile pricing is important to consider
iTILE does not stock second-grade tiles. It is important to know that most retailers use them as ‘loss leaders’ to entice you in store with a low price or under the guise of a tile sale offer. There are numerous reasons why a tile could be categorised as ‘second grade’. Sometimes the flaw may not be an issue. More often than not you will not pick up the flaws until it is too late and tile’s performance is compromised. Colour variations are common with second-grade tiles and may only become evident once tiles are laid. Colour shift is common with all manufacturers, and will be labeled as seconds, but doesn’t mean retailers will.
Blotches and blemishes are often seen in second-grade tiles. This will only become apparent when it’s too late as we can’t unpack every box before purchasing. Edges and thickness of second-grade tiles are frequently an issue. Variations become evident when you lay tiles using smaller spacers which are trendier these days. If you do not see variations initially, you will once tiles are grouted and imperfections become visible.
If the glaze or finish of tile is compromised, so will longevity and durability especially if they are laid in high traffic areas. Tiles may look fabulous initially, but within months you will see a deterioration or variation in finish or colour of the tiles. Customers will return to the retailer only to find out there is no guarantee on second-grade tiles. Now the cheap price becomes brutally expensive. as the tiles need to be lifted and replaced, hence why we place emphasis on tile pricing up front with regard to the tile grade.
So for peace of mind, do your homework and always buy first-grade floor and wall tiles.