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Online VS in Store: Which is Better When Buying Tile?

Shopping online is so convenient, especially when you can do it from the comfort of your bed while in your pajamas. On the other hand, visiting stores and showrooms to get a physical view of the product can give greater peace of mind in your purchases. So, which method is best for your tile upgrade? Here are some of the pros and cons to consider when deciding where to buy tiles for your home projects.

Delivery may increase chance of breakage

When you purchase tile online, you may or may not be familiar with the company or the delivery avenue the seller chooses. If the product is too heavy to pack in large containers, then it could break. The same thing could happen when enough packing materials are not in the box with or between the tiles. This is where online reviews become extremely important. When buying online, check the reviews relating to the company to see if there is a history of broken tiles arriving. You can also check to see if the tiles are shipped with a guarantee or warranty should the tiles be broken during delivery.

When your purchase materials in person, you’re the one in charge of transporting the materials safely, or else the shop will have it sent with the designated contractor to install them for you. When sent with a contractor, the tiles are typically under warranty to be replaced if something happens during transport or installation. If you transport them yourself, then you’ll want to bring plenty of packing material and probably an extra pair of hands to help load it safely to and from your vehicle.

Whether the product is everything the website advertises

Sometimes, when you order products from the Internet, you may not get what you expect. For example, the color of the veining in a ceramic tile made to mimic granite might look fake in person but look amazing in the pictures online. Again, this is where you’ll have to rely on reviews if you’re purchasing online. Search reviews with specific keywords relating to your concerns, such as “cheap” or “fake looking.” People will also often take their own pictures of how the finished tile looks in their own home projects, which can be a great resource.

If you buy a tile in the store, what you see is generally what you get. Unless you’re shown a sample with the rest of the tile to be installed later, you’ll be able to see the exact tile and even handle it before you decide to purchase it. Even if you’re just looking at a sample, being able to handle the tile in person allows you to make your own judgements on if it suits your purpose in terms of color, texture, and style.. You can also often take samples back to your home to see how the tile matches up to the color and lighting your home provides.

How the tile fits

When buying online, there’s a bit of risk that comes with the physical size of the tile. Once again, reviews are your main resource in this case. Despite what the measurements are listed as on the website, there can sometimes be a slight amount of give or take in the exact size of the tile. This isn’t much of a problem if you plan to have a few millimeters of grout in between each tile anyway but can be troublesome when working with smaller tile patterns or when you want tiles to fit snuggly together. IF you’re buying online, check the reviews for any mention of sizing discrepancies, and when buying tiles that are smaller than three inches in any direction, consider buying an extra couple in the even that the give or take adds up to more space than you wanted.

When visiting physical store locations like an NJ tile showroom, you can see and even measure yourself for any discrepancies in listed sizes. You can look at the size and lay out a few of the tiles to see how they fit together. This is especially helpful when using multiple sizes and shapes of tile to create mosaics or other patterns. If you are creating a pattern, then you can ask the flooring specialist if they have a demo model with your chosen design. You can also look around the store if you are not sure what design you want. The store will have showroom areas with examples of tiles in a natural setting so you can see the way it looks and feels.

More Options

When buying online, you generally don’t have to worry about whether something is immediately in stock. There are endless numbers of tile styles, shapes, sizes, and textures to choose from. You can also get a lot of unique design ideas by browsing the internet and seeing what combinations of tiles other people have used in their own projects. When doing this, a great way to find working combinations is to find review blogs featuring designs that others have used that include links to where they purchased the tiles.

You will find many common styles and patterns at the tile shop like herringbone or chevron. While it’s generally true that you can depend on physical stores to have the more common and popular styles, there is the drawback that their options are limited to what is immediately available. When looking at tiles in person, you’ll want to browse a variety of shops in your area. Some shops carry a wide variety of materials and styles, though these shops don’t often have much variety within those different materials. Other shops may specialize in a certain material or two, such as stone or glass, and will have much greater variety in style and color options within those particular materials.

Choosing which method for purchasing your tile is a personal choice. There are benefits and disadvantages to both methods. The key is to figure out which purchasing method is more beneficial for your situation and to then pursue it wisely. Whether buying in person or online, however, take plenty of time to look at multiple options and sellers to compare pricing, quality, and services.

Author: Meghan Belnap

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