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Bad tile job?? Please give input/advice asap!

14 years ago

This tile work was done by a sub contractor of our builder for a new home. We feel it's a bad job and voiced our concerns. Sub agreed he should have centered around kitchen window (started ripping down already), but is being resistant on some other changes. We need some back up! Do you think we're being picky? Do you think the "bad cuts" and large grout lines are acceptable?

Detailed descriptions on the pictures in the link. Thanks in advance for your help!

Here is a link that might be useful: tile pics..

Comments (22)

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I think you have valid complaints on some of the issues, on others I am not knowledgable enough on tiling. I would not be happy with the job on the points you noted, but as a whole your bathroom is quite beautiful. I just had 3 bathrooms tiled, and I am having the tile guy back to address a couple of issues that you are upset about. I have a bad cut in one, another they used a chipped tile (why????) and the other I found 2 chipped tiles. I think that perhaps posting on johnbridge.com where they are all tile guys, they could answer the question better.

    I hope it all gets fixed and you are happy. You are going to havea gorgeous new home!

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    It just looks like there wasn't a coherent plan going in. If there was, he disregarded it, or whoever drew the layout couldn't draw. Or plan.

    Basic tile mechanics? I see a couple of spots where he tried to incorporate a nice detail, then I see some of the most basic rules of tile layout repeatedly violated.

    The thins slivers could have easily been avoided, but it might have resulted in more waste. So whether it was a budget constraint that limited the amount of tile he had to work with or he was just squeezing on his own...who knows.

    When butting the wall tile into the door trim, yeah, walls are seldom perfectly plumb. And geometric tile will show those flaws. Instead of taking one measurement, cutting all the pieces off that one measurement and setting them, each piece should have been scribed to the door trim.

    This installation is so boogered. It appears there was no layout plan from the start for him to follow. If there was the plan was poor or your tiler did not adhere to the plan. Regardless, the installer showed little regard on his own for creating a nice installation. It's either through money, in that he wasn't paid enough to care, or apathy, in that he just cuts em and slaps 'em up on the wall.

    You mentioned you have a "builder", make sure you're corresponding with the builder. It's really up to the builder to handle the sub. Sure you need to step on the brakes and wave the red flag, but if YOU deal with the tile sub without bringing the GC into the loop, the GC can legally step away and say that all these "corrections" that the tiler is making are change orders put in effect by you, and LEGALLY you could be forced into paying to have the work done twice. Or thrice.

    You need to coordinate a walk-through with you, the builder, and the tiler. Grout lines can be a little wavy with non-rectified tile. The layout can be what it is, there really are no hard fast rules about layout. But this needs to be hashed out all at once or you'll be piecemealing your way through this for weeks.

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  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Whereas the layout in some places are not well thought out- it should have been, the thing that really jumped out at me as completely unacceptable are the uneven grout lines, 4 corners not meeting up in places, wide grout lines.

    An amateur could have done what they did- the reason you pay someone is so that all of the issues you brought up are not present.

    As a total amateur myself, I made some layout mistakes (not thought out) and some calculated "mistakes" that are lesser of 2 evils for my taste- but had I paid someone, I would have expected none of those things.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Some of the cutting you've shown is bad, especially around outlets where the tops and bottoms of the outlets and switches don't have enough to be able to sit on the face of the tile. But you showed a couple of pics where bullnose was backed up with small 1" or 3/4" pieces. He didn't have a choice there. The bullnose pieces come in that size, and he had to fill the rest of the area. As for the backsplash, that's a no brainer, and I can see why he agreed to take that down. In pic DSCN0841, what's with the two floors, and the 4" strip in the middle of the one?

    Above the pink tub, I agree-- that sliver was definitely avoidable, and SHOULD have been avoided.

    For pic DSC09098, your comment is:
    grout line to left of socket is thin, then becomes thicker-bad tile cuts

    It took me a second to see what you were talking about, and then I saw it by the wood door trim (didn't realise at first the pic was sideways! :-) ) My concern would be more about the cuts around the plugs. Those are horrendous, and won't work when you go to put the cover plates back on.

    In DSC09092, you're right. The sheetrock needs to be replaced. If it were just small spots that had gone down to the "meat" of the sheetrock, that'd be fine. But thinset will not stick to raw gypsum, and with open spots like that, you'll have problems later.

    In DSCN0857, you complain about the little square. That's a valid beef, but I'll tell ya, once again, I'd be more concerned about the bullnose on the tubdeck that overhangs the face by what appears to be almost an 1/8", when the edges should be perfectly flush to the face of the countertop. With respect to the little square, what should've been done was cut pieces that would line up with the bullnose.

    In DSCN0855, if you're talking about that little "nub" that comes over the top of the sill, that's not really right, but it's not something I'd really be up in arms over. Depending on the tile and the equipment he's using to cut it, that cut might be close to impossible to make. Once grouted, you would probably be the only one to see it. What WOULD bother me in that pic is how out of alignment the tile above it is.

    DSCN0853 speaks for itself. You're right-- that grout joint is totally unacceptable.

    For DSCN0849, your comment is:

    see to the left - tiny piece of tile used on the end - not consistent - should have used a longer piece and patched the small piece at the bottom. looks unprofessional when lacking consistency.

    I'd be willing to bet the bullnose might be just a hair bigger than the tile (usually is, either bigger or smaller, but when smaller it's still easy to line up with tile). Although I think I would've run the bullnose on the saw and shaved a hair off each piece, what he's done there- breaking the joint in a centered brick joint, is also acceptable. I see nothing wrong with it, if the bullnose is what you're talking about.

    In DSCN0848, This whole detail is as ugly as it gets. It looks way too pieced together. I'd have to see a shot from a little further back before I could say any more about it, but I agree-- this looks like crap.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Wow, I just really studied everything Bill said and wow, what a crummy job. I didn't think it "looked" right but seeing how Bill tells it, wow, it is really bad. I am so sorry, I hope it get fixed.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thank you to everyone, especially Bill V, for your detailed feedback. I will try to add some more pictures from further away later on, i'm going over the house to take some more pics. This is very disappointing. I doubt anyone else is going to be coming in to fix this, and I dont trust that this guy can finish it properly. not sure what to do! have to talk to builder about this.. thanks again!

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Bill

    Regarding pic 0841, itÂs just some cardboard layed out on the ground, the tile is done properly underneath. The floors actually looked pretty good, which is why we didnÂt question his ability on the backsplashes/tub until it was too late..

    For the sliver above the tub, IÂm going to upload another picture of a drawing I sent to the builder  please let me know if you think this is a reasonable solution?
    For pic DSC09098, I didnÂt realize the issue with cutting around sockets. sorry for not rotating
    Question-for pic 0789, showing the tub surround, do you think itÂs okay to have this thin strip in the corner? I like how the bullnose ends centered under the window, so working from there using full tiles, he ends up with a thinner piece of tile in the corner-I know the next tile starting on that back wall is going to be partial, so maybe it will look like a continuation of that tile?
    Regarding pic 0849, the bullnose issue, thank you for explaining  so you donÂt think itÂs silly to have it with the small piece up top (kind of like brick layout), and on the opposite side of the tub start with a bigger piece? I donÂt really have the knowledge and I only want to be picky with the things that really matter here..
    I will try to take another picture like 0848 (unfortunately I didnÂt realize this one is upsidedown), I will post it later when I get back. I need to take a picture of the shower stall area to be critiqued, I think it is way too pieced together as well.
    Thank youÂ

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    For the sliver above the tub, Im going to upload another picture of a drawing I sent to the builder please let me know if you think this is a reasonable solution?

    Absolutely. There are always two ways to centera tile layout-- you can center a tile, or you can center a grout joint. If one gives you slivers, then you use the other.

    Question-for pic 0789, showing the tub surround, do you think its okay to have this thin strip in the corner?

    Let me put it this way- it IS acceptable, because of the fact that he's coming off a piece of bullnose in the layout. Personally, I would've done one of two things-- either talk you into starting the tile a couple of inches more to the right, giving a full tile in the corner, or I would've recommended starting with a cut next to the bullnose, and using equal cuts by the bullnose and in the corner. Both his way, and my two ways are all acceptable because of the bullnose, but I think my ways (especially the first one) are better.

    I know the next tile starting on that back wall is going to be partial, so maybe it will look like a continuation of that tile?

    With a standard square layout, each wall gets laid out independent of the others, unless there's some sort of accent pattern, and then that gets carried around.

    Regarding pic 0849, the bullnose issue, thank you for explaining so you dont think its silly to have it with the small piece up top (kind of like brick layout), and on the opposite side of the tub start with a bigger piece? I dont really have the knowledge and I only want to be picky with the things that really matter here..

    I think that with all you have, if you want to get anything accomplished, you want to pick your battles. This is one you wouldn't win. Let me ask you, though- where the splash hits the tubdeck in that same picture-- how big is that joint? Is there a sliver at the bottom of that wall? Tough to tell.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I posted new pics - picture 9112 shows a close up of where the splash meets the tubdeck..its pretty close to the 1/8th I believe.

    In the kitchen to make it work on the half wall and get full tiles all the way across (originally 1/8 left huge grout lines at edges), he is going to be doing 3/16 instead of 1/8, so now we feel all the kitchen backsplash including that wall should be done at 3/16 - do you agree?

    Is there anything we should be concerned about regarding the sheetrock replacement, anything specific they need to do to make sure the drywall is sufficient for hanging tile? This is a tricky area between the wall and the granite and we want to avoid further issues..

    For pics 9122 & 9124, do ou agree that full tiles should have been used from the granite up and the cuts should have been done at the top? This is how it is in our current kitchen. Thought it looked very bad under the kitchen window (previous pics) because there were 2 cuts between window sill and granite (such a small area for 2 cuts). We are planning to have this re-done with full tile starting from granite up for the whole kitchen.

    I attached more pics of the shower stall and bath#2. See pic 9106, the left corner joint is huge and visible, he said this wall wasnt straight and it was the best he can do - thoughts?

    Lastly, please give feedback on shower stall pics, if you think it's okay to have the small piece on the left patched in with longer ones, and to the right the bullnose is being added from the bottom so when he puts the rest on we're going to end up with a small piece at the top (would have preferred all cuts at the bottom-consistency..)

    I appreciate the help very much!

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    see new link-sorry for the inconvenience (prior one makes you log into snapfish)

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I forgot to address this before - we have bought all of the materials, from the tiles to grout to spacers, so materials shouldnt be an issue. We made it clear that we will buy more tiles if needed to replace any chipped tiles or bad cuts, etc..

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I take it in 9109 he just hasn't finished putting the bullnose up yet?

    In the kitchen to make it work on the half wall and get full tiles all the way across (originally 1/8 left huge grout lines at edges), he is going to be doing 3/16 instead of 1/8, so now we feel all the kitchen backsplash including that wall should be done at 3/16 - do you agree?

    Whatever the grout joint is in one area, it should be the same throughout. That said, rather than rip down the rest of the tile on the other wall, is there a reason it HAS to be full tile all the way across? Granted it would look nicer, but I'll tell ya-- If it were me, and I screwed up laying out one of the walls and took it down to redo it-- if you were to ask me to then change the joint size and rip down the other wall to redo and match it.... well lets just say I might be less than amicable. :-) As for the sheetrock, when he cuts it out, he wants to either make sure that he cuts it back to a stud on both sides, or screw a piece of wood into the back of the sheetrock on the end so that the patch matches up nice and flat to what's there, and is well supported.

    For pics 9122 & 9124, do ou agree that full tiles should have been used from the granite up and the cuts should have been done at the top?

    I guess this makes what I said about ripping down the other wall a moot point. That's garbage, putting that small a sliver on the bottom like that. He certainly should've spent more time with his layout. There's absolutely no reason for that.

    See pic 9106, the left corner joint is huge and visible, he said this wall wasnt straight and it was the best he can do - thoughts?

    No, it's NOT the best he can do. If it is, send him packing now. Don't even give him the chance to fix this. All it takes is making that cut on an angle, and if he's too big a moron to figure that out, get him the hell out of your house. Now I'm starting to get mad.

    Lastly, please give feedback on shower stall pics, if you think it's okay to have the small piece on the left patched in with longer ones, and to the right the bullnose is being added from the bottom so when he puts the rest on we're going to end up with a small piece at the top (would have preferred all cuts at the bottom-consistency..)

    Why can't he figure out what the cut is going to be and start out with that at the.....

    Nevermind. If he can't grasp the concept of angling a cut, laying out is going to be WAY beyond his level of comprehension. The more I see, the more I'm ready to say tell this guy to go screw and get someone else in there.

    Percentage wise, how much more money do you owe him?

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Percentage wise, how much more money do you owe him?

    She has a builder and the builder hired the tile sub. She pays the builder the agreed upon amount, the builder has to ensure that the job gets done to her satisfaction for that amount of money.

    If the builder hires a crappy sub and the work needs to get redone, it's up to the builder figure out what nickels get split which way. If it cost extra, it's out of his pocket.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    That was why I was asking. Without leverage, there's no way to really compel the installer to get the work done.

    I'd talk to the builder about getting someone else in there. That's terrible work, and the comment about the cut being the best he can do leads me to believe that it's not a matter of trying but not being up to the work. He's just lazy and doesn't give a crap.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Wow, you've given us a lot to think about.

    You are right in 9109, no he is not done with the bullnose yet, we had to buy more, ran short. But it's going to end up partial piece at the top, which will not match the other side of the shower (not sure it has to?)

    Regarding the half wall, I see what you're saying-we can keep the tight joints (1/8) and have the partial piece end up at the corner. last time it was a huge join (i uploaded pic) so hoping he can get it right this time.

    Thanks for the feedback on 9122, 9124, and 9106...good to know that we are not being too picky and these things really were incorrect.

    Mongoct is right about the situation that it's through the builder. Builder has been very helpful with this project and all sub-work has been done great so far until this - i am confident he will remediate the situation.

    I'll be keeping everyone posted on here and posting pictures of whatever the finished product looks like.

    I would like the builder to get someone else in there to finish but I'm not sure if it's possible..

    One more question-I was going to see if the builder could get another tile guy in for a consult-to come up with the plan and then this guy can follow that - is this reasonable? Somehow, I'd like someone involved that knows exactly what they're doing. this is so frustrating!!

    Thanks everyone for your help/input/support!!!!!

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    "One more question-I was going to see if the builder could get another tile guy in for a consult-to come up with the plan and then this guy can follow that - is this reasonable? Somehow, I'd like someone involved that knows exactly what they're doing. this is so frustrating!! "

    I'm a builder, but I also do everything from framing to finish work. So I've seen this from both sides of the issue. Now I don't know your tiler, but after years of seeing pretty much all there is to see, and hearing all there is to hear, I'm more concerned with end results rather than assuaging tender personalities.

    The problem is not that he's working with tricky materials or with a tricky layout. You have a basic layout and a basic tile.

    The problem is not that "something just doesn't look right" and it's so minute, so buried within the overall aesthetic that we just cant pick it out. It's not a proportion that could have been tweaked. It's not that the golden rectangle could have been honored and it wasn't.

    Your installation has repeated flaws. They are all obvious. The layout is bad. Grout lines are uneven. Tiles were cut without being measured for the individual space they will fill. That's why having your builder bring in another tiler as a consultant probably won't help.

    This guy is ether having a rough go of life at this time, or he's simply ignorant and apathetic.

    His inadequacies are now a part of your house. In your bathroom. Is this what you want to wake up to and go to bed to each day?

    If you want to nurse him along and offer him yet another chance at redemption, it's up to you and your builder.

    Honestly? I'd cut the guy loose and bring in a competent tiler.

    From the builder's point of view, unless he's enamored with this tiler for some reason, the builder wants to get the job done in as few hours as possible. He wants to pay for the job once. Not twice, or four times.

    I'd put it on your builder. Simply tell your builder that based upon what you've seen, for whatever reasons, the current tiler is not up snuff for executing this job. If your builder insists that this guy be given a second chance, hey it's on your builder. But then when an outside guy needs to be brought in, that'll be on your builder too. Your concern is that the job be done properly. It's up to the builder to bring in people that do competent work. Your mantra that you need to repeat to the builder is that you want it done right; to industry standards and in a workmanlike manner. If you agree to give this guy another chance, legally you've seen the level of his work and you're accepting it.

    That's why your sole concern is to demand a certain quality of work, and it's up to the builder, not you, to bring in a technician capable of producing.

    When you agree to a certain person doing the work, you're accepting that person's ability. If they have a good day, you're fine. If they have a bad day, you're stuck. If you agree that the work be done to a certain quality level, then that's what the builder has to provide, whether it take him one try or forty tries.

    There's a bit of subtlety in that language, and I hate to bring it up, but I've done construction arbitration, I've been a witness in legal cases, and sometimes the minutiae is important. Not that you;re headed in that direction, but I'm tossing that out for consideration.

    I highly recommend that these things be put in writing. email is fine. Just get written communication going so you have a record of your concerns.

    The builder will probably drop the "well you know, getting someone else to come in and do the work might cost us a couple of weeks on the timeline" to try to scare you. Just give him a deadpan reply of "well you better get on the phone and start dialing now".

    Two day, two weeks, it seems like an eternal stoppage at the moment. But when the job is done properly, it'll have been worth it.

    Remember, this is business. It's not your job to coddle the incompetent. Or pay them YOUR money for work that will raise the hairs on the back of your neck for the next 20 years.

    If you plan on selling in a few years, it's more important. Do you want potential buyers seeing this bathroom and saying oooooohhhhhhh! or do you want them saying Ugh. You'll make money with oooohhhh. With "Ugh" you'll pay for this tile again when you have to drop your selling price.

    Brevity is not my strong point,

    Mongo

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thanks Mongo... well, my husband spoke with the builder and we are meeting with him tomorrow night and showing him exactly how we want it so there are no surprises. However, with your point of the workmanship, even if it's layed out as I want it (e.g. start with full tile here, center here, etc.) it might still be poor workmanship as far as uneven grout lines and corners not meeting up. This is very upsetting. I dont mind the move being delayed by this if it's done right, so that's not an issue. I will post back later. Thanks Again...

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I wish you luck with this.

    Just stick to whatever guns you need to in order to get a result that you're happy with.

    FWIW, sometimes people need to be hit over the head with a financial hammer before they understand.

    A couple of weeks ago I had a crowd over for a football game. One of the guys was an HVAC sub, he bills me for around $80-90k a year. He told this story to the crowd:

    I demand that all ductwork be sealed, either with mastic or with aluminum tape, then it gets insulated. It's in the contract. Materials and methods are specified. On one job his guys were repeatedly "forgetting" to seal the ductwork.

    We went around and around for a couple of days, when I found them still "forgetting" I took the claw end of my framing hammer and destroyed all the ducting that was improperly installed. Dents, holes, I ripped it all out and left it where it fell.

    That's the level of communication it took to get them to understand. From the next day on their work was impeccable.

    I'm not at all encouraging you to do that. I'm just telling you that you have to clearly communicate the level of work that you'll find acceptable.

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I see your point, I will definitely stick to my guns and demand professional-level results. (and wow you do not mess around!)

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Once I took a sawzall to the four tires on a sub's truck after he sawzall'd things (load-bearing beams, etc) that he wasn't supposed to. In that singular moment he understood how important it was to follow already drawn plans and not hack through a job on his own.

    I'm just educating these guys so they can do better work in the future. It's the nurturing side of me showing in examples like these, you know? ; )

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Wow. So, I am just thinking here, I am basically meeting with them tomorrow and telling them how to lay the tile - but I am not an expert! The guy should know exactly how to do it and what would look best. This is very frustrating.

    In following up to Bill's comment on the half wall, I dont think it has to be full tiles across, but with the size of the wall, and the 1/8 join, it was coming just short and causing there to be a HUGE gap in that corner. I think I posted the pic last night. So, would you suggest changing it to 3/16 to get full across, or maybe just having 2 partials - one at each end? I am so confused, we are paying for this and I AM THE ONE DECIDING THIS? This is why we're paying!!

    I am at work now but later on might go through and try to see which things to ask for changes on and which ones not to. I want to pick my battles here but also having it look the best it can, under the circumstances.

    Thanks again...

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    In following up to Bill's comment on the half wall, I dont think it has to be full tiles across, but with the size of the wall, and the 1/8 join, it was coming just short and causing there to be a HUGE gap in that corner. I think I posted the pic last night. So, would you suggest changing it to 3/16 to get full across, or maybe just having 2 partials - one at each end? I am so confused, we are paying for this and I AM THE ONE DECIDING THIS? This is why we're paying!!

    After this comment, did you read the very next one? Beyond this, I have nothing else to say. Mongo, once again, has very eloquently said everything I was thinking.