What is Acceptable Color Variation from the Tile Sample Selected to What is Provided?


It took me awhile to find a tile I wanted in my kitchen since it was being remodeled. I ordered a porcelain white and gray tile from a sample at the store. When it came in, I was extremely disappointed that it had a very large percentage of BROWN throughout the tile. My question is, is this an acceptable variance in color? The retailer will not provide a refund.


ANSWER - What is called Shade Variation is normal in the tile industry, but what is considered reasonable variation depends...

In the industry we have what is called in ANSI A137.1 Aesthetic Classes, which is defined as how tiles may vary in color, texture, or appearance according to the tile manufacturer's design or intent.  V0 class is Very Uniform Appearance with a smooth surface.  V1 class is Uniform Appearance with minimal variations.  V2 class is Slight Variation that has clear distinguishable differences, but similar in color.  V3 is Moderate Variation where there are differences in color and texture within each tile that is consistent with the other tiles.  V4 is Substantial Variation where the color and texture differences are random within each tile and throughout the other tiles. There is a chart that goes with these classes that demonstrates what is meant in the respective variation.

It is up to the seller to make sure that they properly represent and convey how the particular tile series will vary, and the samples and descriptions they provide should be consistent with what they supply to the buyer.

On the other hand, it is up to the buyer to verify if the tile order is acceptable or not before they install the tile.  Once installed the tile cannot be replaced without substantial costs.

2 thoughts on “What is Acceptable Color Variation from the Tile Sample Selected to What is Provided?

    • Donato Pompo says:

      Depends on what is the terms of the purchase.

      If it is a housing development, they normally will schedule the buyers approval of samples of what is to be installed.

      With natural stone the variation is somewhat unpredictable, although the seller should show the substantial expected range of the stone in terms of color variation and other visual characteristics.

      If an installer is smart, he would do some sort of a layout of the tile to have the owner approve what he will be installing.

      Some buyers will ask to have the entire tile floor laid out before installing called a dry layout. This is an additional cost to the buyer. The buyer may choose to cull some of the tiles at their expense as they have to purchase additional material to make up for what they don’t want to use.

      In some cases this might expose a potential problem in that the wrong material was delivered and needs to be corrected. Or the buyer just doesn’t like what they selected. In that case they have to hope the material is returnable and if so there will be a restocking charge plus the cost of time and transportation for the return. It will then likely delay the installation of the tile and the installer might have other work that he is committed to.

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