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Buy Cheap Buy Twice - An Adage Which Applies to Tiles Too

It's always difficult to resist something that looks like a bargain, and when you are shopping around for tiles, the opportunity to save money can be very tempting.

However, cheap goods are often cheap for a reason... and that's because they usually aren't what they are supposed to be.

This is particularly the case for tiles; buying cheap stone tiles often means you will be getting inferior “commercial grade” tiles. Quite often people end up paying twice as they find themselves having to prematurely replace the lot.

Of course it's great to grab a good deal, and there's no reason why you can't find some high quality tiles at a competitive price. But there's a very big difference between saving some money and paying rock bottom prices for something which isn't going to measure up. Here at StoneSuperstore, we guarantee you will not be able to buy better for less. We don’t pass off commercial grade products as “premium” quality. We invite ALL customers to come to our warehouse to check the tiles in stock for themselves, and then visit our competition and do the same to really appreciate how much difference there is between real premium grade and poor quality “commercial grade” tiles.

Unfortunately, as a customer you won’t always be able to see another supplier's “stock” as some of our competition (who claim to be direct importers) don’t have any stock and buy everything in the UK from specialist “commercial grade” wholesale suppliers. That’s the only way they can maintain their prices. Only a direct importer like StoneSuperstore has total control over the quality of what they are selling.

Always get a sample

No matter who you are buying from, if you are purchasing online it's always recommended to get a tile sample before placing a full order.

Getting a sample provides you with a much better idea of what you are buying, and allows you to touch and feel the quality.

Images can be very easily manipulated to present tiles in their best light, but when you get the product in your hands, it may feel thin and fragile and look poorly finished. It's far easier to judge the quality of a tile once you can hold it, so getting a sample is a great way to ensure that you are paying for something substantial.

Another very good reason to ask for a sample is to colour-match the tile more accurately. There are lots of factors which can influence the colour in a computer screen image and the actual colour may vary significantly. Real stone tiles will always have a natural variation in their colour and design but a sample will give you an idea of the approximate hue you can expect – what is commonly known as the “base colour”

Providing tile samples is a standard service within the industry and is not an unusual request to make. Beware any tile provider who baulks when asked to provide you with a sample: ask yourself what are they trying to hide?

Know your ratings:

Not all tiles are suitable for all purposes; as you would expect, those that need to be more robust are normally more expensive. Therefore buying a cheaper tile may mean that you are purchasing something which is not fit for the intended purpose.

A trustworthy retailer should always be able to explain to you whether the tile you want to buy is suitable for what you want. However, rogue traders may try and convince you that buying cheaper tiles from them will perform equally well.

Don’t buy tiles which won’t suit your purpose – StoneSuperstore sales staff will always determine what you are planning to use your tiles for and make recommendations based on your choice. We’d rather lose a sale than sell you something we don’t think is suitable for the application. Ultimately if a customer chooses to take their own path and not follow our guidance, we will respect their choice.

Ceramic vs. Porcelain:

Ceramic is absolutely not the same as porcelain. Ceramics are generally cheaper than porcelain tiles. While they can look identical, they certainly won't be as durable and can get wrecked very quickly if used incorrectly. Ceramic tiles are much weaker than porcelain tiles and do not possess the same scratch resistant surface.

There are a number of different ratings for ceramics, making it a bit of a minefield to determine suitability. Below, there is an industry rating scale devised by the Porcelain Enamel Institute which sets out the suitable uses:

PEI score:

• Class 1: no foot traffic, recommended for wall use only
• Class 2: light traffic, recommended for wall use and bathroom flooring
• Class 3: light to moderate traffic, suitable for countertops, walls and places where a normal level of foot traffic is anticipated
• Class 4: moderate to heavy traffic, recommended for all types of residential use as well as light institutional or medium commercial applications
• Class 5: heavy to extra heavy traffic, recommended for all types of residential use as well as heavy institutional and commercial applications.

Porcelain does not normally come with a PEI rating because it is naturally super-strong and automatically falls into Class 5, making it suitable for all types of use.

Cheaper ceramic tiles are more likely to fall into the lower end of the PEI scale, which as the above ratings show makes them unsuitable for many uses. Stone and porcelain tiles are naturally stronger making them a far better choice long-term.

Beware cheap glazes

No matter how good the quality of the tile is, a chipped surface exposing a contrasting colour underneath can ruin the whole appearance.

Stone tiles are a constant colour throughout meaning that in the unlikely event of the naturally-hard surface getting chipped or scratched; it will be far less noticeable as the same colour will be on show.

Porcelain tiles are mainly manufactured with what is known as a 'full-body' colour. This means they are the same colour on the surface as underneath, again providing some protection in case of damage or chipping.

Ceramic tiles look nice on the surface but beware, chip them and they can look awful

Ceramic tiles are often glazed; this normally involved a liquid glass being baked onto the surface. The array of colours can be stunning but if chipped, the contrast between the surface and the tile underneath can be startling. Ceramics usually have a “red body” or “white body” – unless your tiles are the exact same colour as the body, they you will see a scratch or chip as a red or white mark.

For this reason, glazes are usually best avoided unless you can be certain than the risk of chips or damage is minimal. Natural Stone or full-body porcelain tiles offer a higher quality finish and mean your bathroom walls or kitchen floor won't look worn and tatty if it gets a knock.


Whether you are tiling a bathroom or replacing a kitchen floor there will be considerable upheaval whilst the work is being completed. Don't risk having to pay out twice and go through all the hassle and heartache just for the sake of saving a few pounds; a poor quality tile will never stand the test of time. Be sure you are getting the right product for the right application and really do your research.

Come and visit us at StoneSuperstore if you would like to discuss your requirements and physically see what you will be getting in our warehouse.


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