How much upcharge for subway tile sounds reasonable?

Mom23EsJune 8, 2012

Our builder has included level D tile for our master bath walls, whatever that means. We wanted to do basic ceramic white 3x6" subway tile instead. Apparently this is an upgrade to level G. Today we got word that just switching tiles (no chair rail, accent tiles, or shower niche) will cost over $800 more. I'm shocked. I didn't think basic subway tile was expensive like this. The shower is 4'x6' and the tub is 72". The tile does not go to the ceiling in the shower and only goes 16" above the tub deck. I don't think this is a giant area that we're talking about.

Does this sound reasonable? I feel like I'm being charged too much. :-(

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Tough to say as we have no idea what level D and level G means or costs.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 2:21PM
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Subway tile is cheap if you mean DalTile or American Olean basic stuff. About as cheap as you can get. Maybe there is an increased labor charge?

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 5:20PM
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Ugh, don't get me started about tile upcharges! We adore our builder and felt most pricing and subs were fair, but OMG, the tile guy! In our house we have tile in 4 baths (1/2 bath is wood), mud room, and on our backsplash. I was extremely boring (I thought) with my tile. Plain, white subways for tub/shower combo walls for secondary baths (I did go hog wild and do niches for all), plain white subways on master shower walls (again, another "extravagant" niche), plain white subways for backsplash (with a herringbone design and Lord forbid chair rail tiles framing it,) completely basic, slate -look 12x12 ceramic tiles in son's bath and mudroom. I put my foot down and got a pretty, vintage-looking mosaic for my master (again, though, just ceramic, not marble.) yeah, apparently my basic choices are insanely came out several thousand over budget for that allowance. I was p-oed. I was a very careful buildee...I knew all of my allowances, and I knew which ones I wanted to go over on and which ones I didn't. I was fine with plain ceramics because I had pretty marble, walnut, and granite c-tops in each of these rooms.

I made the tiler explain to me why subway costs more, labor-wise than 4x4 tiles, and why mosaics cost more as well. There was a lot of "um-ing" and "throat-clearing" and finally gave me sone gobbley-gook that I can't even remember. I honestly think most of our builder's clients don't question this stuff. We managed to get him to come down a little, but I had to give up my idea of a pretty hex for dd's and guest's bath.

I don't know if I answered your question...but I would MAKE them explain the cost to you, and shop around if need be. We told our builder we were unhappy with the tiler and would like to find another, more competitive. They knew that we weren't gullible to fall for the "we don't trust the quality of other sub's work" line. Right after that was when the price came down.

Sorry so long...this is still an annoyance to me every time I look at dd's 12x12 white floor tiles. Next bonus, it is coming out!

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 6:13PM
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The first part of your sentence:
"plain white subways for backsplash (with a herringbone design and Lord forbid chair rail tiles framing it,)"
doesn't match the second part...
"completely basic,"

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 7:30PM
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Lol, I just meant the actual tile wasn't anything know, not glass or marble. I freely admit the area behind the range was fancier than just continuing the running my naivite I didn't realize laying a small herringbone pattern in tile was akin to painting the Sistine Chapel for our tiler. ;) Our dear masons didn't have a lick of trouble doing an almost identical herringbone area in brick on our outdoor fireplace!

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 8:45PM
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Nini- If I didn't know better, I would think we're talking about the same tile shop!!! Your description is exactly what I'm dealing with. I was told that the upcharge was a combination of pricier tile and installing the tiles with the running bond pattern. I don't understand how plain white ceramic subway tiles can be this expensive. They aren't glass or marble. I can't believe it would cost $800 extra to do the running bond!!! Plus, we're being charged $150 per shower niche, and I'd really like a decorative tile chair rail around the wall tile. I'm having issues with $1300 over budget just on wall tile in one bathroom, especially because I don't feel like I'm picking out anything that is "THAT" fancy. :( BTW- I'm waiting to see how much the kitchen herringbone accent is going to cost. I used a print out of YOUR backsplash to show her what I wanted. ;) I picked out plain white subway tile and a basic white level A chair rail. I will hear back next week to see how many hundreds that costs.

It's frustrating to feel like I'm being taken advantage of. I thought picking white ceramic subway tile would be an inexpensive way to make the bathroom a bit different. I have no problems going back and picking out super cheap stuff to have replaced later. I'm sure our regular handyman can install subway tile just fine. I just hate to be wasteful.

I just wanted some perspective to see what other people thought of this price. I'm guessing we have about 100 square feet of wall tile to put in, and the $800 charge is in addition to whatever we have already been charged for what's included. It seems like too much to me, but I have absolutely no experience in buying/installing tile.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 9:21PM
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There 'should' be NO more labor installing subway tile from 4" tile, only the dif in tile price! Seems like the GC is using this as a change order and trying to make extra monies!

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 11:00PM
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I meant to add also, call several tile companies in your area and ask if there is an upcharge in labor for subway tile. Where are you? I wish everyone here would put in their home page what state they are in. Prices in the NE and in CA are considerablly higher than the SE and midwest.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 12:24AM
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Installation is more costly for subway than 4 x 4. Doing a stacked tile install is faster and easier than an offset/running bond. It's not (necessarily) the cost of the tile, it's labor.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 7:59AM
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Robin- I'm in Ohio. This is definitely not a high-cost area. ;)

Dlm2000- that's what I've been told. It's more expensive to do the running board pattern. How much more money should I expect to pay to have them do the running board pattern?

I'm going to confirm with the designer that we're really talking about the very cheap white ceramic subway tile. I hope this is a mistake because I just can't justify the cost. Not for the master bath. In my dream bath we would have marble, but we can't afford that right now. If it really costs this much, I'd rather skimp now and upgrade to the really good stuff later. KWIM?

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 7:28PM
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