Neuse Tile is all about customer satisfaction, and we’ve often laughingly said, “we’ll install tile upside down and backwards” if that’s what the customer wants,” but, with this story, we’ll have to modify that when it comes to glass tile.
An out-of-state relative hired a local contractor to renovate their master bathroom. They went to their home show, interviewed prospective contractors, reviewed their references, and selected one that gave them great confidence. We went up to visit, gave them some tips on selecting the tile and some things to look for as the process moved along.
The first text message asking about the adhesive being used in the shower was a little concerning, but not all that unusual. We gave some online references and told him to hold firm with his general contractor that he expected the tile subcontractor to adhere to industry standards.
However, the text which said “we were awakened at 2 a.m. by the sound of falling tiles” was startling. When we got on the phone and he began to describe the issues with his glass accent liner, we realized the tile setter who had been subcontracted to do the work had installed the glass backwards. Sometimes glass tiles are what we call ‘paper-faced’ meaning the factory rolls an adhesive paper over the front of the tile sheets (usually mosaics) before boxing and shipping. This keeps the individual pieces aligned (for the most part). The intent is for the exposed glass tiles (which sometimes have small holes in them to absorb some of the setting material) to be laid into the troweled mortar and then the adhesive paper peeled off before grouting. However, this tile guy had laid the paper-side of the sheet into the mortar and gone home for the day. As the mortar dried and the tiles broke free from the adhesive paper, the small glass mosaics dropped off one-by-one. Thus, glass tiles hitting a newly tiled shower floor at 2 a.m.
This was the last straw for our relative, and he insisted the contractor hire a different tile installer and re-do the job. When the new – and more qualified- tile installer came, he determined that the whole shower had to come out and be started over. The accent tiles were obviously an issue, but the shower pan had been sloped by doubling up sheets of backerboard- clearly not an industry-approved method!
After 9 weeks, our relatives now have a great, new master bath and further appreciation for all the technical know-how that goes into our everyday work. And, we’ve contacted our national association to see if they can do something about getting more certified tile contractors in that part of his state.
In the Triangle area, you are fortunate to have some well-qualified tile contractors to choose from. Know what’s under your tile – hire a professional and make sure your tile is installed right side out!
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the choices and the beautiful tiles when you first go to a tile showroom, so we thought we’d give you a few tips to consider as you’re making your selections.
— Large tile is very popular right now, and it’s getting larger. We’re glad to install it for you, but it does require upgraded mortars and more time to ensure the substrate is appropriately flat and that patterns flow with the maximum full tiles possible. Therefore, your price will be a little higher for large-format tile (anything larger than 15″). Because most large tiles have some degree of curvature, we can’t install large tiles with anything less than a 1/8″ grout joint.
— Glass tile and sheeted materials also require different setting materials (and tools in some cases), so there is usually a higher level of skill needed to install these materials. Many sheeted materials may not line up the same way non-sheeted materials will (grout joint widths will vary from one sheet to the next). The nature of the material will usually mean a little higher installation price for sheeted or glass products.
— Natural stone has a honed surface and will need to be sealed prior to installation (as will some that have polished surfaces). If the stone is pitted, grout will fill any holes and won’t be removed. Filled stones are not a good choice for floors where high-heel traffic may impact these weaker parts of the end-product. Sheeted pebbles/ river rocks will be grouted, and we’d like to make sure you like that look as much as you like the ungrouted version you might see in the showroom. (You might want to see a sample mock up for approval.)
— Accents and liners should be similar in thickness to the tile being installed. A good tile designer will steer you to products that line up well, so it’s important to take advantage of the talented showroom designers we have in our area.
— Grout joints are routinely 3/16″, so if you want a different width, please discuss it with the designer and your installer. Some tiles require specific types of grout and joint sizes, so it’s important to be specific in what finish look you want.
— Patterns, accents, and borders can add pizazz to a tile installation, so they are worth including in your plan. They do take more time to install, so your labor cost will increase each time you add an accent or extra feature.
— Standard heights of showers are 7′, and tub surrounds are generally 5′ off the tub. If you want a different finish height, be sure to let your designer and installer know that.
— Niches are more popular than soap dishes these days, and most showers now contain a shelf or foot prop, so be sure to specify which of these you’d like to add to your project. Waterproofing is needed behind that niche, and the best installers will be sure your design flows seamlessly through the indentation. There’s a little extra charge for these items, but having an easy place to keep your shampoo and soap is priceless!