Where To Find Free Ceramic Tile Samples Online

The dream of Internet commerce wakes up to a sorry reality whenever it comes to returning vast quantities of heavy items. It's one thing to return a book or scarf; it's another thing to have, languishing in your basement, 850 pounds of ceramic tile that you don't like. Now what?

Some tile manufacturers and retailers combat this problem by offering free ceramic tile samples. It's not a perfect solution because often you're receiving only tile slices, not entire tiles. But it's a start and I like it.

To that end, I am listing tile companies that offer tile samples with no catch. These are perfectly free tile samples, including shipping and handling ("S&H").  Additionally, I list the most expensive free sample*, a cautionary note, and a surprising bonus.

  • 01 of 04

    Fireclay

    Fireclay Basil Tile
    Fireclay Basil Tile. © Fireclay

    Fireclay produces gorgeous handmade artisan tile in California, which usually translates to: "Free samples? Are you kidding?" Up to 5 samples are available.

    Most Expensive (Per Sq. Ft.)

    $35 for the pictured Basil with Black Patine.

    Watch Out For

    Sample sizes are small--about 1.5" by 3". Even though no sample is ever quite big enough to visualize how an entire floor or wall will look, these barely make the cut. But still: it's free, so how can you argue?

    Nice Surprise

    Samples arrived in a neat little box 2 days later. The best surprise is that a small- to mid-sized tile company that offers artistic tile has a free sample operation. I am not sure how long this will last, but I love it while it's still in place.

  • 02 of 04

    BuildDirect

    BuildDirect Boardwalk Salerno Tile
    BuildDirect Boardwalk Salerno Tile. © BuildDirect

    BuildDirect is an online retailer of all sorts of home improvement items, tile being just one item. BuildDirect offers up to 5 samples for free.

    Most Expensive (Per Sq. Ft.)

    $21.70 for Takla Italian Porcelain Plank Tile.

    Watch Out For

    Be careful of going over your limit of free items or you will get dinged with high costs. Adding just one extra item will cost you $12 and 2 extra items will cost $32. 

    Nice Surprise

    Only 2 days later, I received a huge bundle of 6" square floor tile samples.

    BuildDirect's definition of "tile" is stretched to include Pedra Granite Modular, which is arguably more kitchen counter than tile.

  • 03 of 04

    Florida Tile

    Florida Tile Aventis Series
    Florida Tile Aventis Series. © Florida Tile

    Florida Tile is a huge tile manufacturer and distributor located in Lexington, KY, of course (you were thinking Florida?). 

    Most Expensive (Per Sq. Ft.)

    Cannot be determined, as Florida Tile does not list prices. However, Florida Tile tells me that the company's entire catalog of field tile (but field tile only) is available for free samples.

    Be Careful

    Florida Tile's online ordering system for samples is difficult. Evidently, they prefer you to call a salesperson rather than order online.

    Plus the sample program is more geared toward industry pros (architects, designers, etc.) than for consumers, though consumers are still eligible for this program.

    Since you cannot see images of the tiles you are ordering, I recommend opening 2 tabs on your browser: one tab with the part of the site showing the tiles, another tab with the above-linked sample request form. Then, match the desired tile in the first tab with the drop-down lists in the second tab. As I said, this one is not easy.

    Nice Surprise
    A Florida Tile representative assures me that the full-size sample tile will be sent out. 

    Even though this one is a toughie, it's worth the effort.

  • 04 of 04

    Not Free, But Noteworthy

    Home Depot sign
    " Home Depot" ( CC BY 2.0) by  JeepersMedia

    The tile world is littered with companies that will sell you one tile or a section of a tile. They may charge for the tile but make S&H free, or the reverse. In fact, not only are these tile not free but on a per-square-foot basis they are exorbitantly priced, as you will see:

    Two that I like:

    • Home Depot: A lesser known part of Home Depot's website offers ceramic tile samples. You pay for the tile itself, but S&H is free. For example, you can get one tessera from the larger Sand Beach Pelican Glass mosaic. That tessera, individually $5.00, works out to be $180 per square foot.
    • Builder Elements: The item is free, but you pay for S&H.  With one tile that is normally about $14/sq. ft. (Porcelain Pebble Glass), my payment for S&H would have been $7 for a 4" x 4" tile slice. This works out to $63 per square foot.

*Notes

Most expensive tile is listed only to determine whether the tile company is offering only unwanted bargain-basement tiles for free. Please be judicious when ordering samples.