The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Buying Tile Online vs Brick-and-Mortar

In our era of online shopping, home decor has radically evolved. With the global concern about Coronavirus (COVID-19), it makes even more sense to stick to online shopping options from the safety of your own home. Luckily there is a wealth of options available online these days! From online interior design services to building Pinterest boards, the possibilities are endless when it comes to planning your tile concepts. Long gone are the days where brick-and-mortar hardware shops are the only way to go (thankfully!). So no longer do you need to slug your way through the never-ending aisles and confusing options. If you’re a newbie to online tile shopping, have no fear! Here’s everything you need to know.

We’ll take a detailed look at today’s consumer needs, and examine the ins and outs of shopping online versus retail stores like Home Depot, Lowes, or Floor & Decor for tiles. Whether your concern is cost or convenience, we’ll go over all the aspects of consumer experience, so you can weigh the pros and cons. Let’s dive in, shall we?


Based on a survey by thebathoutlet.com, 57% of consumers between ages 30-44 prefer online shopping over physical stores for home renovations. We identified three key reasons behind this growing trend: convenience, comparative shopping, and affordability.

Online Shopping Keyboard


Easy User Experience

People love the fast and easy experience of online tile shopping. First off, browsing is a breeze. Most eCommerce tile stores have search bars, so you can input the keywords that best describe the style of tile you need. Once the designs and materials that match your search are uploaded to the screen, you can click on the thumbnail images to get more details about the product such as size, finish, and weight.

Happy Woman with iPad


There is no need to go back-and-forth with the sales rep to ask questions because all the information you need is available right there online. And, it’s way less of a headache than dragging your spouse to Home Depot, forcing them to decide between pearl and eggshell ceramic tiles. Instead, the selection process is much more immediate. You can scope through tile options quickly with a few swipes and a click of a button, even on your mobile device.

This convenience factor works for those who prefer making big creative decisions from the comfort of their own home. Shopping for tiles online can be a huge time-saver!


Who doesn’t love comparing prices for the best deals? The feeling of knowing you got a hot deal is one of the sweetest highs of online tile shopping. If you like a particular tile design, you can check out other online tile stores for the most affordable price on the same or similar model.

Online Shopping

With brick-and-mortar shopping, on the other hand, you won’t always get the price match guarantee. Certain sellers or brands do not qualify for price match-- and unfortunately, they are usually the premium designs.

Tile Club Advantage: We price match! Contact us for more info.


Shopping for tiles online will almost always be cheaper than a physical retailer. Not because the quality is better, but because of one main reason: overhead costs.

The big business retailers have to jack up prices on merchandise to cover the cost of operations. Think about it-- there’s the cost of rent, repairs, supplies, staffing-- the list goes on. Due to the enormous amount of expenditures, buying tile at the brick-and-mortar stores tend to be more expensive than online stores.


The eCommerce platform can keep prices on tiles lower because there are fewer operational costs. With zero overhead for rent, less advertising and fewer staff, the online stores can offer more affordable prices on tiles.


Although the pros of online shopping outweigh the cons, there’s one main concern among most consumers: the look and touch experience. Having an in-person inspection of the merchandise can be more reassuring when remodeling a home.


At the brick-and-mortar store, shoppers can get close and personal with the tiles. On the other hand, in virtual space, you might not get a full-scope impression of the tiles, especially with all their tiny details such as color consistency. This consideration is important for tiles like marble or wood when each individual slab is unique with subtle variations in the design.  Also, in a physical store, you can see how the natural light reflects onto the tiles and how that changes their appearance before making a decision.

Flooring SamplesPhoto credit: Wooden Earth Ltd https://www.woodenearth.com/ 

Fortunately, however, that’s why most online stores offer a satisfaction guarantee-- for the rare possibility your expectations don’t meet reality. Plus, online stores are taking increasingly impressive strides toward using high def image technology.

Tile Club Advantage: You can order affordable samples on TileClub.com of any tile you are interested in before making a big purchase. Samples arrive to your door in just a few days or less.


Having a touchy-feely moment with the tiles in a retail store can be important when making remodeling decisions. When searching for stone tiles, for instance, being able to physically interact with them is helpful to understanding their unique texture and composition. Since each stone tile may have little disparities in their shape and coarseness, shoppers want to examine their consistency first before purchasing. 

Most online stores compensate for this problem by offering a zoom-in feature for thumbnail images. This way, you can get a closer look at things like pattern and smoothness to help make your decision. 

Tile Club Advantage: If you don’t feel like waiting around for your sample to arrive, we can send you lot pictures from our on-site warehouse same day during business hours. We can take pictures outside or inside to show off the natural textures. Easy peasy.


While we can’t quite pinpoint anything “ugly” about online tile shopping, there’s one problem that most consumers agree is the most frustrating: the waiting.

Waiting Dog


Unlike the brick-and-mortar store, online shopping means your tiles won’t be at your home immediately. Then again, this matter depends on the shipping options available and whether you’re willing to spend extra on expedited shipping. Otherwise, you might be waiting a few weeks to receive your tiles.

If you’re on a tight schedule with your contractor, the waiting factor might complicate your remodel plans.

Tile Club Advantage: We ship orders placed before 1 pm PST the same day and most orders arrive in 3-7 business days. And the best part? Shipping is always free. If you need your tile sooner, we do offer expedited shipping at an additional cost.

Even though about half of today’s shoppers still prefer brick-and-mortar stores, the trend is gradually slanting towards an eCommerce world. Are you ready to take the plunge? Consider shopping for tile online for your next home design project.

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