How long should I expect my new tile job to last, and can I do anything to make it look newer and longer?
In Europe, you can see tile work that is 1000 years old or more. The longevity of a sound installation should not even be a questionable issue. This would, of course, require that no corners be cut along the way. Unfortunately, much of the expense of a proper installation cannot be readily seen with the naked eye. The cost of premium setting materials and the unseen steps in labor contribute to a job lasting forever or failing before its time.
One of the advantages of being in business for almost 42 years is the knowledge gained over the years. I have demolished thousands of jobs in my time. This has given me a genuine advantage to see what works and, even more importantly, what doesn’t.
In today’s economy, many tile contractors are willing to cut corners to be competitive. And many homeowners are looking for the cheapest bid as well.
This is not a good combination when such an expensive investment is on the line.
You get what you pay for. There could never be a more accurate statement in today’s day and age. First and foremost, my conscience could never allow me to exchange integrity for a quick buck. My reputation and good name are far more important than doing a substandard job for a builder or homeowner.
The best deal is not going to be found in the cheapest job.
What can I do about dirty and stained grout on my floor?
Your local home improvement store sells many different “grout cleaners”. I like products made by Miracle Sealants.
After following the instructions on the cleaner let your grout dry a few days. Once dry, I use a 511 impregnator by Miracle Sealant. Buy a cheap 1″ throw-away paint brush and paint the 511 impregnator onto the grout. Use liberally, and return a second time in about 5 minutes to do an additional coat. What we’re trying to do here is saturate the grout with the sealer. Before the sealer dries, take a dry Terri cloth and buff the surface dry. Do not leave any standing sealer on the tile or stone. The puddles will dry into a milky haze if left standing.
How do I figure out how much tile I need for my job?
Great question. This question has a few different layers, so let’s look at some of the various answers.
Generally speaking, it’s always better to have a little extra than needed for several reasons. The first is that it’s always a hassle to go back and get more because it delays the critical path to finishing the job on time. That is especially important when other trades are involved in scheduling, or a deadline is looming.
Occasionally, even tile purchased from the same vendor and manufacturing facility will have slight shade variations from one production run to the next. No one is happy when only a couple of pieces are installed to find that the re-ordered pieces appear different than what’s already installed. This is especially true with natural stone. Some quarries run consistently in the personalities of the stone, while others will, at times, change over time as they cut deeper into the mountain to remove the stone.
It’s always a good practice to have a few pieces left over to store away in case unforeseen damages occur.
Lastly, the cost will also dictate how close to exact you need to be. There is no reason to have ten pieces of expensive glass tile left over at $40 per sheet when two are more realistic. Compare that to having ten pieces of tile left over at two bucks a piece.
So here is the rule of thumb for most applications. The larger the tiles, the more waste you should expect to incur. Most of the time, when measuring the dimensions for flooring of a job, you should round up the nearest foot in your length and width to get your square footage and then add 10%.
The same would hold valid with walls. Do this with each wall treated separately from the others. Smaller tiles would be the same, except you can usually round up when measuring to the nearest half a foot. Then totally and add 10 % for wastage.
How do I distinguish between a sound installation and a not-so-good one?
Tile and marble are very demanding and not very forgiving. If one knows where to look, it’s easy to see some telltale signs of a less-than-perfect job.
Several things might be obvious, and others that may not be so.
Let’s start with the obvious. Most hard goods should be the same size as well as square. That should provide good lines as far as the grout joints are concerned. If a layout is imperfect, instead of seeing perfect intersections at each cross-section, you will notice that the corners do not line up continuously. The corners of the grout joint should make a perfect +
It’s pretty easy to get out of the square, and the + will not line up well once that happens.
Secondly, if you stare down a continuous grout joint, the entire distance of the floor or wall should be perfectly straight without any deviation.
Along the same lines, if you look where one wall meets another, the horizontal grout joints should all align at the same height instead of one wall being set higher or lower than the other.
The surface should be flat without lippage from one piece of tile to the next. Outside corners should be square. This may only sometimes be possible depending on the framing underneath the substrate.
The job should look and feel balanced. Many guys will start on one side with a full tile and end up with small cuts on the other. Usually, one should be able to balance that to have equal-size cuts on both sides unless the layout would dictate differently for some reason.
The cuts should all be the same size unless a layout detail would ask for something different.
Grout should be smooth and uniform in width and look like a piece of sandpaper without sponge marks and pock marks left behind. They should also look crisp and clean instead of fuzzy. The grout joints should also be packed up to the tile’s surface rather than recessed more deeply into the surface.
All of the above require more time spent with a detailed eye. These may seem small and insignificant, but the total sum of all these line items can make a big difference to the overall appearance when applied correctly.
Why should I hire you instead of another contractor or a tile store person?
This is subjective, but I will give my best honest answer.
I don’t want to sound proud here, so this combines confidence and old-fashioned straightforwardness.
The very first thing apparent when dealing with me is my experience level. I have over 43 years of full-time experience, primarily in multi-million dollar custom homes. This kind of experience is priceless and can only be earned by working in the trenches year in and year out. My experience will ensure that nothing will be overlooked or unanticipated. By seeing the whole picture, I can address potential snags in the critical path so that once the project is underway, it will commence to a timely finish without interruption.
I treat people right. I have always tried to treat folks as family. My business is built on reputation and word of mouth, which is why I am still here after almost three decades.
I am in this for the long haul, and a good name is better than ill-gotten riches. I do every installation as if it were in my home. In my trade, there are many ways to cut corners to save time or money. Being able to sleep at night is crucial, so I follow my conscience and do things right, even if unseen in the final look of the installation.
I am given to detail and perfection. I’m not saying I am perfect, but I intend to be the best I can be. I put my existence and livelihood on the line whenever I start a new job. I take ownership of your job and invest in it. Even though it’s your house, it’s still my work. It’s my pride, it’s my feelings of accomplishment, and this is my reward for giving you the best service possible. Not only will I get in and out as best able, I will treat your home respectfully while I’m there and keep the intrusion to a minimum.
I am clean-cut and honest. You won’t feel uncomfortable giving me access to your home and belongings while you’re at work and I am in your house.
I’ll still be around 10-20 years from now. I have had the same phone number since cell phones first came out. I’m not going anywhere and certainly not hiding from anyone.
I want to finish by saying that I do not believe in, nor participate in, the concept of the “lowest price equals the best deal” mentality. I thoroughly believe that you get what you pay for. I understand the need to stay competitive in today’s economy, but I am not interested in competing in price wars. I hope you can appreciate someone who has pride in their ability and is not interested in doing well enough to get paid for the job. This mentality is what’s wrong with America. If you desire to work directly with a person whose good name is at stake rather than someone who is just earning a paycheck, we need to talk.