SHOP BY DEPARTMENT
Houzz Logo Print
frazzledfreda

Help! Where did the tile backsplash go so wrong?

frazzledfreda
7 years ago
last modified: 7 years ago

I returned home to find this backsplash job. I don't love it, and I'm ready to cry over it. It just doesn't look good. Biggest issues I see are that the tile does not lie flush; grout lines aren't spaced evening; grout looks very messy and rough; and many pinholes in the grout. What do you see?

Comments (47)

  • weezel
    7 years ago

    I know absolutely nothing about tiling but what if the grout was more even?

  • ImWithJoe
    7 years ago

    Wow. Was it expensive?

  • Related Discussions

    I'm so sad. My backsplash came in wrong!

    Q

    Comments (4)
    I'm sorry the tile wasn't what you expected, I love the colors you've picked though. You shouldn't give up your design choices just because their travertine didn't look right to you. There are all different colors/shades of travertine available, you just need to find the right one and see it in person first. :c) The Tile Shop has a huge selection online just to give you an idea. Here is a link that might be useful: The Tile Shop Travertine
    ...See More

    Backsplash advice - where should the tile go?

    Q

    Comments (4)
    Thanks for all the input so far! Suzannesl, yes, don't worry! The floor (and the layers underneath!) is already up. We are planning on putting tile down, likely beige. We are raising the existing cabinets but I'm planning on refinishing them with the Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations, likely in Espresso, and adding brushed nickel hardware. Hmm, interesting comment on the mix of colors - I didn't think about that and will have to take another look.
    ...See More

    Help! Need opinions - Marble Backsplash cut wrong

    Q

    Comments (8)
    mwrede: Did you make a decision and call them back the next day? I really hope not--it's too stressful to be rushed thinking this through! Let me first say that I've never done a remodel, and I tend to overthink things,even after I've made my decision. This is your personal space; it should look as close to your vision as possible. Your idea for the backsplash is better than their's--ditch the side pieces. Splashback isn't so great that they are needed. They really seem to me to be a waste of marble and $$. I wouldn't think mirrors all the way down would be the best look. The round mirrors will probably be too small for the large vanity, but I like the idea of mixing a round mirror over the shorter vanity and a rectangular over the longer one, but not splitting the longer into 3 pieces--too choppy, not as pleasing visually. (I don't know why, but picturing mirror/sconce/mirror/sconce/mirror makes me think of an old Italian style, maybe in a 70s Vegas hotel.) The photos show a sleeker, calmer bath taking shape--all those elements on the wall don't really fit that. (Oh, and yes--you must get some money cut off the bill. That's a given!)
    ...See More

    Backsplash? No backsplash? What kind of backsplash?

    Q

    Comments (25)
    didn't have time to read all the answers. I have no backsplash and have never regretted it...been over 6 yrs. It is painted with BM matte...which has ceramic in it. It is as beautiful now as it was when first painted. I love the fact that I can showcase other things ...art etc in my kitchen and no competition. Also if I ever want to change it is as quick as a paint brush...expense is minimal..paint only ! All in all I think it is serene as you point out . Here is one pick. Since I have a lot of high heat cooking in my kitchen..built in deep fat fryer as well as gas cook top I can definitely speak to the longevity of paint only. c ( more at this album )
    ...See More
  • romy718
    7 years ago

    I see the same thing that you see. I'm not sure what can be done to fix it - hopefully someone else can advise. I'd be complaining to whoever did that installation & try to get my money back.

  • mobuddy89
    7 years ago

    Could that be a thin set of grout with another layer coming tomorrow? If not, I would demand a re-do. Sorry but your gut is right -- it does not look good.

  • lharpie
    7 years ago

    Oh my. Agree the tiles are not flush at all and grout looks terrible. It does sort of look like there isn't enough grout? I'm so sorry! I like the tiles. Agree with a redo.

  • Paul In MA
    7 years ago

    I'm no expert but given the pictures it should not even be a question, it's screwed up - period. Rip it out and redo it. Hope you did not pay the full job in advance.

  • romy718
    7 years ago

    I also wondered if it had been grouted yet. Usually the tiles are set the first day & grouting the second day. If it hasn't been grouted, stop the job now. Whoever did that is probably not capable of doing this job. I am so sorry for you. It's a backsplash, it can be redone. Your countertops look lovely.

  • amg765
    7 years ago

    Is that even grouted? It kind of looks like they just didn't bother scraping the thinset out of the grout lines.

    Either way it looks like a screwup to me :(

  • practigal
    7 years ago

    Be polite, but firm and do not let them proceed with the job. I am concerned though that you should have picked out both the tile and the grout color so that you should know whether this is done or partially done with the correct color.

  • Kimmy_MA
    7 years ago

    FWIW, I agree with the folks that think this is NOT grouted. Having done three backsplashes of my own, if they did the tile today, it will get grouted tomorrow. That being said, I too respectfully submit that you stop this before it gets any worse. Grout can make it look a little better, but it won't fix the awful tile setting job. That must've been really hard to see!

  • Gabbi Rose
    7 years ago

    I can't really tell from your pictures. Some of the edges look chipped. I can see some tiles do not lie flat. I don't see any spacers. The job looks very amateurish. I don't think they put the grout in yet. Talk to whoever did this and get it fix.

    Your tile and countertop combination are very pretty.

  • nosoccermom
    7 years ago

    What looks of concern to me (in addition to the unevenness and crookedness) is that the tile edges look chipped and kind of scraped off at an angle. What does the original tile look like? Is that normal for tiles?

  • pippabean
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    So sorry to see this. It's a totally unacceptable job. It does not look as if it was grouted yet....thank god. All of it will have to come out. The spacing is uneven and there is horrible lippage. They might tell you that once it's grouted and the tile cleaned that it will look much better. Do not let them grout this. Grout hides many things, but not this disaster. The faster it comes off the wall the easier it will be, since once the thinset has totally cured it will be much more difficult to remove the tile without damaging the drywall underneath. Do not give whoever is responsible a chance to redo this, they haven't got a clue of how to set tile.

  • _sophiewheeler
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Poor quality uneven spaced tile and a poorly prepared non flat substrate combined with careless handyman level work in the application means that it all needs to come out and start over. You need a different better quality material. You need a contractor to address the waviness of the wall itself. And you need a real tiling mechanic, not a $5 a square cheap Charlie handyman.

  • mrspete
    7 years ago

    I see messy.

  • ci_lantro
    7 years ago

    I see a four-year-old's 'art' project.


    Without the charm.

  • Carrie B
    7 years ago

    Agree. Looks very bad. Usually, too, when I see such small tiles 1"? 2"? They're on a mesh backing. Looks like these weren't.

  • practigal
    7 years ago

    Looking more closely, they don't actually look like they were created as separate tiles they look like part of a larger tile cut apart.

  • lukkiirish
    7 years ago

    Pippa is spot on. Grouting will not fix crooked tiles; in some areas, it looks like they didn't even use spacers. I too would remove it and hire someone else but understandably, this may not be an option for you. If that's the case, stop the job and get who ever is in charge to fix it immediately at his own cost with nothing less than a tear out and redo.

    Not to lecture or make you feel badly but this is a prime example as to why a homeowner needs to be aware of the basics of what the job they are hiring for entails. You don't need to know it all but educating yourself a little prior to a job like this and being an active participant in the process does help ensure the job will be completed to your satisfaction. Your gut is telling you something is wrong and it is, but if you had prepared and were there watching it be installed, you would have known when to speak up and been confident about your concerns. I'm not saying to hoover over the installers shoulder but during all of our renovations I made sure I was home and able to occassionally take a look at the progress. Even though our contractor was excellent, there were still times I questioned what was being done and made changes accordingly.

    That tile is so pretty, I love the shape and color. I really hope you are able to get it worked out to your satisfaction.

  • lenzai
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I'm so sorry you had to come home to this. I would be livid and would be yelling and not crying. Breathe and move forward.

    This doesn't look grouted. I second everyone else, stop now!! don't let them grout over this and take it down as soon as possible. Start over with a new tiler. The spacing should be even between each tile. and each tile should be flush. when the tile comes off make sure the wall behind it is smooth and even.

  • Beth Jerome
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Is it individual tiles or a mosaic? I got a sample of mosaic tiles once that were very unevenly spaced. As bad or worse than that.

  • lharpie
    7 years ago

    Lukkiirish - I really don't think that's a fair standard. Would things end up better if you checked up on the work daily? Yes, certainly. But that's why many of us are trying to hire a good GC - so there is quality control without us having to oversee everything. I work full time and can't possibly pop in during the day to see how things are going. We were lucky when we were able to check in with the subs or GC in the morning before work started, and there were certainly things we had to call them back to do. I would have ended up just as surprised as frazzledfreda.

    Anyway, let us know what happens! Hope all is set right in the end.

  • mayflowers
    7 years ago

    That has to be on mesh. Who's going to set individual mosaic tiles with spacers? I remember reading that the average tiler isn't going to make sure every mosaic tile is perfect so you need to pay a premium if that's what you want. I love mosaics but I think I'd have to be okay with crooked tiles, and I'm not.

    I'd switch to a 4" or 5" hex or an elongated hex so spacers can be used. However, I don't see perfection in any of the geometric shapes when I'm admiring tile in photos. But Sophie thinks your wall is wavy, so that needs to be confirmed first.

  • blfenton
    7 years ago

    If this were individual tiles and the OP just came home, the spacers would still be there for setting before grouting.

    Google the tile that you bought and see if you can find some pictures of it on a backsplash. I'm wondering if it's some sort of rustic tile and the edges are deliberate. having said that, it doesn't look like it's been grouted yet.

  • nosoccermom
    7 years ago

    I'm speechless.

  • FinnNova
    7 years ago

    diddo nosoccermom

  • lyfia
    7 years ago

    I think I would cut my losses on the cost of the tile and then not pay for the installation and find somebody else to do the backsplash. That is the worst tile job I've seen and I honestly don't think even if the same person re-did it that it would be much better. I think I would have responded that the other 8000 may have looked fine, but this 8001st one is unacceptable and I'm more than willing to have a tile expert come and look at it in case I have to take it to court.

    I'm so sorry you have to deal with that kind of response and such a horrible tile job.

  • lenzai
    7 years ago

    speechless here too especially when you said this is with grout!!!

    This is all diy jobs:

    http://justagirlandherblog.com/choosing-kitchen-backsplash-tile/

    http://www.bowerpowerblog.com/2012/12/a-backsplash-bash/

    And yes they used spacers in between some of the tiles that were off mesh.

    Don't re-grout. take it off, smooth the wall, it is an extra expense but you'll be glad you did in the end.

  • Beth Jerome
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I think he may be right about the natural stone. Have you looked closely at one of the pieces of mesh mosaic? I did an onyx mosaic myself once and those pieces were not at all consistent. I did need to do the grout twice because of that.


    I agree that it doesn't look grouted, but, contrary to the others, I think with a good grouting it will look fine.

  • weedyacres
    7 years ago

    -he says that natural stone backsplashes are not perfectly flush
    because the thickness with each hexagon varies a bit, and that if I
    wanted it perfectly flush, I should have chosen glass, ceramic, or
    porcelain.

    He's either ignorant or trying to mislead you. Do you have any extra tile? Test his hypothesis with an unset sheet. Hmmm, no lippage. Also, point out that some tiles are slanted (one side further out than the other). That's not from the factory, that's a bad install. Yes, smaller tiles take more care to ensure they're level and lippage-free. He obviously didn't take said care.

    -regarding the uneven spacing, he says that the tile is pre-spaced
    from the factory, and "that's how they go on the wall." (hello, what
    about the spacing between sheets? that could be the main source of the
    spacing mess).

    Sometimes the factory spacing isn't great, but a good tiler resets that bad ones in the field. And yes, spacing between the sheets is typically the culprit. It's hard for me to tell if the bad spacing is between sheets or not.

    -he tells me that they plan to grout a couple of times to fill in
    missed spots because with natural stone "it is difficult to grout in one
    shot."

    Huh? He's completely making stuff up here. It's no harder to grout natural stone than ceramic. Are you sure he did grout, or is he just saying he did? Those gaps are emptier than I'd expect from a too-deep wiping. You'd really have to dig the grout out to make them that empty.

    You could always take Palimpsest's approach: tell him if he's willing to post close-up photos of your backsplash on his website/facebook page, as an example of his finest work, you'll pay him for it. :-)

  • Carrie B
    7 years ago

    i think someone else asked this - do you have leftover pieces of meshed mosaic? Do they look evenly spaces and flush to you?

  • lharpie
    7 years ago

    Ugh. What a crappy situation. I understand the dilemma - we definitely had a few things (much more minor thankfully!) we just let slide because it would have been too difficult to fix. And even if you do redo I would think you would be out the cost of the tiles at best. It would look *a lot* better with a few of the more egregiously placed tiles reset to be more flush, and with grout that, say, comes to the edge of the tiles. We have tiles from Puebla that are similarly quite irregular as they are hand made and the grouting lines aren't perfect as the tiles just aren't the same size - it has a certain charm and has never bothered me.

  • romy718
    7 years ago

    Please don't pay him a dime for that. He owes you money for new tile. Show him all our posts if he doesn't believe you.

  • amg765
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    So he grouted the same day as setting the tile? That's probably against the specs for the thinset, unless he used a rapid set variety. Most require 12 to 24 hours before grouting. So crappy tiling job aside he didn't even use the materials as specified by the manufacturer. You can also ask him to show you where the instructions or technical data sheet for the grout permit applying multiple layers (hint: it won't)

    if you need more specific ammunition against this guy you might try posting your situation on the john bridge tile forums to get some pro opinions:

    http://www.johnbridge.com/vbulletin/

    EDIT: don't let him offer to redo the backsplash himself, he's not going to do better the second time around.

  • silken1
    7 years ago

    Very poor spacing and levelling, but I would say it has NOT been grouted yet.

  • nosoccermom
    7 years ago

    OP's intermediate posts disappeared.

  • rebunky
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    What happened frazzledfreda? I hope you are okay. :-(((

    You had every right to question this job. I see your posts have been deleted too. Why? You poor thing!

    If you are still reading, I just want to reassure you that the unprofessional way in which you have been treated will no doubt come around to bite this guy in the 'back side' someday... My heart goes out to you!

  • oldbat2be
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    As others have said, I don't think it was grouted. The tile not laying flush is perhaps the biggest issue, other tiles can be chipped out and re-set as needed otherwise (I only see one which looks bad). I'm a huge hex fan here and the tile looks fabulous with your backsplash. I hope very much you get this resolved to your satisfaction and post pictures of it completed.

  • frazzledfreda
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Hi everybody. I'm okay, and I think we will come to a solution soon with the tile. :) got others from the business involved to mediate and also review the tile. They assured me it is important I am happy with all the work. That is much better than hearing "you guys are killing me for calling me out on this." Excuse me?!

    i will post an update in the next few days.

    Aside from all the recent trouble, do y'all know how excited I am with my new kitchen? Gray marble tile, copper sink, unlacquered brass pulls and sconces, ginger jar accents, beadboard ceilings, dark wood floors, layout 100x better... I will post a pic when the project is done in about a month.

  • millworkman
    7 years ago

    I as well as others I am sure are still curious why you deleted your posts?

  • funkycamper
    7 years ago

    I'm glad your install issue is being resolved without a battle. And your kitchen sounds lovely. I look forward to you sharing your reveal photos. Best wishes.

  • frazzledfreda
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    I deleted some of my posts because A) I generally don't like having much posted online, and B) I thought maybe my contractor found this thread (because of something he said), and didn't want further escalation. (I'm most interested in finding solutions and moving forward, not tearing the guy down.) He probably didn't see the thread, but I don't think I'll take the time to repost the details.

  • blfenton
    7 years ago

    If you come back - this is only a decision you can make based on your ability to be happy with the installation of the tile. Don't be guilted into accepting this job by the handyman if you're not happy with the job or can't live with it. Your handyman doesn't live there, you do and you will be doing yourself a disservice by accepting this IF you can't live it.

    I never will understand those who try to appease the trades when it isn't the home or the money of the trades.

  • rebunky
    7 years ago

    I am glad to see you back Frieda. Don"t even worry about deleting the posts or explaining everything again.

    But I did want to mention something I forgot to say earlier. You may have already addressed it. But, I noticed when you had the other photos posted, there were two very dark brownish black hexagons right next to each other. While he is at fixing all the other crooked tiles, please consider having him replace those 2 tiles. You can get two tiles that are more the grey color to blend with rest from an extra sheet. Those 2 black ones really stood out because the rest were the greyish tones on that whole run. All I kept thinking was that it looked like a big blob of black "mud" (or something else that I would not want in my kitchen) was flung onto the back splash. Maybe put something in front of it? Sorry, if it does not bother you, just ignore me. ;-)

    Best wishes sent your way and please do a reveal when everything is fixed. It really is a gorgeous tile with your countertop!!! I am dying to see the whole kitchen with all the other finishes you chose with it.

  • HU-151441492
    2 years ago

    Freda, can you let me know what you did? We just had the same tile put up and the same thing has happened to us. We’re not sure what to do what did you end up doing? Did you tear the whole thing down?

  • frazzledfreda
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    Hello HU-151441492. What a walk down memory lane! It was awhile ago, but I think what happened is that the tiler took out the bumpy, uneven tile portions and redid them. The whole thing was re-grouted. It looked much much better after the fact. It was still not perfect, and there was indeed some natural variation to tile depth. But with proper grout, and the worst of it getting fixed, we felt much better with it. (I am looking for pictures of the finished product.)