Our industry trade journals have been filled lately with professionals and manufacturers talking about the importance of using a “quality tile installer.” We’re thrilled that this conversation has finally come to the forefront, so we take a step back to ask –what does ‘quality’ mean and why does it matter to you?
No doubt every tile installer will tell you he or she does a ‘quality’ job, so how is a consumer or contractor to know? How much does ‘quality’ matter anyway, since HGTV makes it look like anybody can install tile with some rented tools and those plastic-spacing gizmos?
For most, the finished look of a tile project would define its value, but, for true ‘quality’ two other things MUST be considered:
–How long will the installation last?
will it move when the structure breathes? how much use can the surface withstand? are you sure the setting material will keep the tile in place when water seeps through? how challenging will it be to maintain the surface?
–What are the consequences of a project’s failure?
grout coming up or ‘crunching’ heard each time you walk across a floor? tiles popping loose and creating a trip hazard? down-time and money to re-do the project; or water seeping through the downstairs ceiling?
The Tile Council of North America (TCNA) is updating its handbook this year to include specification language that will help architects and design professionals recommend a level of installation quality, but, in the meantime, homeowners can follow the direction of TCNA executive director, Eric Astrachan:
“The Tile Council of North America strongly recommends using installers who have demonstrated their commitment to their craft and taken the time to stay current with the latest materials and methods. There are excellent programs to help you find those installers: the NTCA Five Star program and the CTEF Certified Tile Installer program are two… For a tile installation with permanence and artistry, find installers who are passionate about their craft. For a permanent finish, the issue should never be who is cheapest, but rather who is best.”