When it comes to buying tile and flooring for projects we’ve always struggled with where to go to see a variety of affordable, simple classic tiles that don’t have a 19 year lead time. Some of our clients want/need high end materials and don’t mind waiting but for many smaller more budget-y jobs we need variety and fast. Our options felt few and far between. So when Floor & Decor reached out and was interested in sponsoring a store tour/blog post, I said “yes” very quickly as it was on my list to check out their store anyway. But a tour of tile and flooring would be so much more fun if I peppered some opinions right? For instance am I or am I not ‘over’ subway tile? And when is glass tile ok? Would I, personally, ever use a laminate wood flooring? Jump on in… (and see our complete and SUPER DUPER BUDGET $666.11 bathroom design plan at the end).
First, the tour, Floor & Decor sells any hard materials for flooring or walls – marble, granite, stone, wood countertops, decorative tile, floor tile, porcelain, ceramic and clay tile. For flooring they have laminate, vinyl, bamboo, water-resistant wood, engineered and hardwood (plus large scale floor tiles as well). See? Variety. They have a small showroom that displays where everything can go and how they might look installed, and they sell materials to help with the installation. It’s a lot, and yet it’s not overwhelming.
The reason it’s compelling and worth the trip is that there are so many options in one place and the prices are very good. Almost everything is stocked, (no lead times) and lots of samples you can purchase (which you can return after you make your decision). At the higher end tile stores you can borrow a sample tile for 24 hours (maybe) but its really hard to make the rest of your decisions in that 24 hours so we end up spending so much time borrowing and returning and borrowing and returning.
I recently put in a tiny budget bathroom off of the guest suite downstairs and I wanted the least expensive bathroom possible – very run and gun and I wasn’t even going to blog about it. I was so sick of spending money on the house and even putting in the bathroom was already thousands so I wanted materials to be simple and affordable. At the time I was so crazy busy and things were happening fast, (I was 8 months pregnant with Elliot) that I didn’t really have time to pick out the finishes myself. I told Berto, my dude, to use subway tile and the leftover floor tiles from our master (we even moved a toilet down from the renovated bathroom upstairs instead of buying a new one. HA). Now, hindsight is 20/20 because if I had gone to Floor & Decor I know that I could have made it so much more interesting but still on a budget.
While I was shopping I took note of some of my favorite budget tiles and we pulled up mini roundups for you.
Honestly these online screenshots do not do them justice – you have to go look for yourself and there were way more options in person than i could find on the site.
1. Dual Lux White Ceramic Tile | 2. Oficiana Gray Porcelain Tile | 3. Le Terre Gray Porcelain Tile | 4. Unsealed Saltillo Tile | 5. Alaskan White Porcelain Tile | 6. Carrara Milano Polished Marble Tile
I know that subway has gotten super ubiquitious but it is classic. It’s a safe go-to but it isn’t going to make your kitchen stand out. Use it as an accent to a beautiful floor tile or a beautiful marble backsplash. But if you do subway tile with ceasarstone with a simple flooring and a white cabinet then yes, your kitchen may look generic.
Just remember that I personally think they play best in classic or traditional style homes. I like the tiles to match the era/style of the house.
I like subway tile in a more modern house stacked vertically or horizontally (on top of each other), but not if it’s bevelled – if you have a more modern home then just stay away from beveled subway tile. Also going for an elongated is a very good thing (like above). But if you want to re-imagine that simple tile then doing a herringbone like this is always a great option. It merges the classic with the modern and certainly feels fresh.
I have tried both light and dark grout with subway tile and find that dark is much busier and in a way looks like it’s dirty but light does get dirty fast. If it works for your design then think about a medium tone that is quiet but not too dark.
Now if you are bored by subway tile think about getting some that have the more handmade look like these:
They are slightly more expensive but so pretty. Also I love these elongated versions but I stray away from really oversized unless its a new/modern house. If you are going for the classic look then go for the classic size, too. Remember that there are exceptions to everything and also that these are just my opinions that frankly can and will change at some point. I even made a mistake in our master bathroom and made it feel too traditional so listen, I’m not perfect either. But good lesson – bullnose and tiling up to a wainscot height instantly makes a room feel more traditional. I still love that bathroom but I wish that I had done it just on the bathtub wall and skipped the wall under the window.
If you want an alternative to subway please consider the 4×4 square tile for a new sort of vintage go-to. I saw it in this restaurant in Sydney and was convinced:
I’ve noticed a huge uptick in square tiles recently. It’s sort of a throwback style but its popping up all over in boutique hotels and restaurants and I’m convinced its the next subway tile. Twelve Cents each at Floor & Decor. Not bad (keep scrolling for a bathroom we mocked up with that tile).
Here they are staggered which feels more classic.
And when you stack them they go a bit more modern.
The more decorative tiles at Floor & Decor were so pretty as well – some made of marble, ceramic or porcelain and a TON to choose from.
I didn’t even have a project I was shopping for but I wanted to hoard so many of these classic tiles. I started pulling and playing and made myself at home very quickly.
I love all of these below. If your house is traditional, tudor, cape cod, etc these are your no-fails. There are more of course, but any of these will always look beautiful and these are so classic that they can go in a newer house, too. Glue-gun to my head out of all of those right now I would choose the top left although I love a basket weave and that diamond pattern, too.
Carrera marble is certainly having a big revival right now and in the form of a tile it is upping the elegance. Am I worried that every house designed in 2016 is going to have carrera marble and that we are all going to become sick of it? Yes. But I still love it so much (scroll down to hear about my opinions on marble countertops).
I like these smaller scale tiles on floors of bathrooms or backsplashes – I wouldn’t put them on the kitchen floor due to durability and I don’t see why you can’t put them in a shower surround, but its not my first instinct. Splurge on them for a smaller area and mix with a subway or square to create balance with the scales and keep the price down.
1. Caribbean Green Mini Chevron Marble Mosaic | 2. Caribbean Green Hexagon Marble Mosaic | 3. Penny White III Porcelain Mosaic | 4. Framed Thassos Marble Mosaic | 5. Thassos Herringbone Marble Mosaic | 6. Carrara White Clipped Diamond Marble Mosaic
They had a good assortment of tumbled tile and glass tile if that’s your jam. Both of these tiles are controversial and will probably ignite some sort of very friendly comment battle below, but here it goes:
Glass tile re-emerged in the 90’s and its mostly appropriate for contemporary houses built in the 90’s. As a good rule of thumb – if your house is from before the 90’s then I personally would not recommend glass tile as it’s incongruous with the style/era of the house. If your house is post-90’s I’d also be careful as it could date it.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some out there that are beautiful (see below) and I’ve seen them done well, but I think they are best in contemporary style home. Generally when I hear ‘glass mosaic tile’ I get nervous. Geez, being diplomatic is so hard sometimes. But I have seen some really pretty ones where the colors are right and the scale is good and if they fit the style of the house then i’m a fan. I personally like them more when they are a brick or a square of the same color, less so when its a mosaic with small vertical pieces of different colors.
Tumbled tile is a popular choice for houses that are meant to look or feel old world. It, like many things, took off and became ubiquitious in the 90’s and 2000’s in new builds in the suburbs and is very popular among the flipping crowd. I’ve seen it work, but I’ve seen it not work way more often – like so. Essentially they are stone tiles that look old, with the edges being worn a bit and are typically beige or clay colored, although they can come in gray, too.
I love these two which I realize are much more large scale, but they feel better to me than the smaller backsplash that we are used to seeing.
If you are going for that look old world look (Mediterannean, Spanish, English/French Country) I would recommend cement tiles (we did an amazing cement tile roundup here).
On to countertops – again, they had a huge selection of classic/basic stones to choose from and it’s a heck of a lot easier than sitting through traffic, to go to deep valley to a stoneyard in 95 degree heat. Plus those stone yards are really intimidating, with lots of rules and few people to help you. Not the case here.
Ready for some countertop suggestions/opinions?
I like quartz most of the time. FYI quartz is a composite of ground stone and resin – its man-made. It comes in a wide variety of colors. I prefer simple, non-textured ones like white, black and gray (we have white in our kitchen). I think it can work in a variety of homes, for sure, but if you have a really old home (pre mid-century) consider a natural stone instead.
When I was at the store I found some Quartz and marble that I like but I don’t remember FOR SURE if these were them, so I encourage you to go for yourself and not order these online.
Granite is a natural stone and it has won ‘most popular’ in the last 30 years of kitchen design. But just because one is popular doesn’t mean that its right for everywhere. I think marble is quickly usurping granite due to its oversaturation.
But marble gets a bad rap when it comes to staining and durability. We are in the middle of trying to convince a client to go for marble over quartz right now because she has an old house and we found the most BEAUTIFUL slab ever. She was scared and we had to make a really good case in order to convince her. Yes, marble is porous, but if sealed properly and you clean up after yourselves then you are fine. Also if you have an old house it ages soooo well and looks more integrious to the house even when slightly stained.
I found their selection of wood countertops to be particularly illuminating as previously we really just shopped at Ikea or had to go to the valley, so its really nice to have a new source with a lot of options.
Onto flooring. Floor & Decor had a lot of wood flooring options, all fairly inexpensive and in stock. First – engineered. Now 3 years ago I was going to write a big post about engineered versus hardwood but well, that never happened (I think its still a draft that I should absolutely finish). But here is the gist of it – some engineered flooring looks SOOOO good and is way more dent and scratch resistant than wood. But some is less good and doesn’t look as real so it really depends on the product. Generally I’d shy away from ‘hand scraped’ but we recently did a project and used some handscraped from Floor & Decor because that is what the landlord of the client wanted us to use and it looked good – it was barely noticeable. There are definitely good options out there.
We used hardwood in our home and while I do love it, it sure dents easily. But it can always be refinished and it is beautiful but if I had to go back I would have used the engineered version of the real stuff.
Floor & Decor had a new product that we found very interesting – water-resistant “wood” flooring (the brand below is called NuCore). Now this product isn’t technically wood as it is water-resistant but it is made to look like wood with the ability to use it in a wet area. Now this is not for your living room unless you are going to DIY it and are on a crazy low budget. But for a mudroom, laundry room or a basement – this could definitely work. (By the way for Secrets from A Stylist once we replaced disgusting carpet with white faux wood linoleum in a rental and for the very low price is cost it made things better and sometimes better is worth a few hundred dollars).
We have a client who has a basement that tends to flood a couple times a year and right now they only have cement down there, but it’s so cold and sad. Something like this would absolutely work. So yes, this is an option we are considering and hoping they go for it. It is a great faux-wood/wood look product.
Last weekend I watched a ridiculous amount of HGTV’s Flip or Flop (I mean, that show … ) while I was cleaning out my closet and in every episode they were putting in laminate flooring and sometimes it looked great and sometimes less great. It is a substitute for wood and it’s really really durable, and good for budget jobs. I like some and don’t like others and wouldn’t use it a too high end space but for a budget you get good style with a ton of durability.
Here are some picks of mine from their laminate wood options.
When it comes to the real thing we have options, too. There is a new trend of really wide planks which I’m into if it’s right for your house. But, what I think is more important is making sure that the length of the planks is long enough that it becomes easy to lay them so they look random. If too short they look choppy and busy.
Stay away from anything too shiny, “espresso” or hand scraped. Again, we have used hand scraped before and if it’s really shallow you can’t even tell but I personally don’t like the really deep grooves.
As I was in the store I was so shocked by how cheap some of these simple/classic tiles were and got inspired (by our recent popular budget series) to see how low could we go to design a full bathroom. Now if you’ve ever renovated before you might know that the labor costs far more than the materials so I usually encourage people to not skimp on boring materials if you are actually hiring someone that is expensive (the logic being that it cost $3k to put in tile regardless if its $40/square foot or $2k a foot – so be sure you are not going to regret spending more in the first place).
BUT if you are doing it yourself and are really trying to do a quick, budget upgrade as cheap as possible then do I have a bathroom plan for you:
We calculated the bathtub surround to be 72 square feet and suggested the penny tile, and 35 square feet of flooring which we gave to the square tile (most smallish bathrooms are 5×7).
A huge thanks to Floor & Decor for partnering on this post/tour. It certainly gave us a huge new resource for many tiles that our clients love and were annoying to track down.