​Disaster tiling job

82 Replies

I hired two professional tilers to tile one of my properties.

Their quote was $500 more than another estimate I received but I felt like they were professionals who I could trust to do a good job.

Indeed they have been reliable and professional in conduct, so I've been satisfied from that perspective. I was going to give them a massive project after this but now I'm hesitant after seeing the shoddy work.

The job is almost done and I've inspected it and it's some of the worst tiling work I've seen.

Firstly there is meant to be a pattern maintained and the pattern has been abandoned. Every second tile is meant to line up however it's completely freestyle.

There are huge gaps in various areas and some tiles are crooked.

I messaged the tilers when I saw this and he said the gaps and crooked tiles were caused from foot traffic by other contractors. I don't know the validity of this claim.

I'm extremely disappointed and upset and I want to rip it up and have it redone properly but I don't have the time or budget for that.

Here are some pictures. Am I being over the top or is this poor workmanship? Do I have any other choice but to simply move on?

That is absolutely, hands down, the worst tiling job I have ever seen. You didn't happen to find these "pros" at the end of Home Depot's parking lot or on Craigslist did you? This is about what I would expect from either of those scenarios. 

A good tile setter is more of an artist than a laborer. I never hire one without seeing lots of pictures of previous work and when I find a great one, I hang on to him as long as possible and pay extra to get him to go to jobs out of his area.

I definitely would not pay for this mess.

I have already paid Aaron. I may take the matter to small claims court.

I learned that lesson a long time ago. Now, when I need tile work done, I go to a tile store and have them sub it out. It may cost more, but I get a professional job. There is the old saying about the getting what you pay for...and there is a reason for that.

@Nat C.  That's just a bad tile job...much beyond being caused by premature foot traffic.  If you want it to look nice, you'll have to start over.  I would not use them on any other projects.

I'm sorry if this sounds harsh but, ultimately you are responsible for the final finished product on your projects.  Saying that you have neither the time nor budget to correct this or produce good work in the first place, is unacceptable and unprofessional on your part. 

It is worth the effort and money to find and use true professional tradesmen.  

Nat,

Did the "contractor" use tile backer?  From the pictures it looks like they laid it directly over the subfloor.  I don't see any spacers used either ( another indication of amateur workmanship).  Tile can move like that if you walk on it before the thin set is hardened but you would see the movement follow the traffic pattern.  Unless you had a dance dance revolution competition in the first 12 hours after they set the tile, they're just rookies.  

You can probably salvage the tile materials if you're careful.  Not sure how much money you sank into the tile, but at least you can have that.  A careful carpenter usually can pop the tiles up and clean the backs off for reuse.  

Sorry about your luck, new subcontractors are hit or miss.  Hope your next one has some talent.

Geez...i can't say it's a bad tiling job. It appears that they had no clue or didn't care. I'll say they didn't care and ran with your money. I would definitely go after them in small claim court.

Good Luck.

Don't let them grout this work before they make the repairs - it's only going to make it more difficult to look good.  You mentioned earlier that you already paid for the work.  This probably seems obvious, but don't pay for a job until the work is completed per the original agreement.  I'll pay for materials ahead of time, but I never pay for labor until the job is done.

That is one of the worst jobs I have ever seen. If they will not fix it you may have to bit the bullet and hire another contractor to fix the tile. Then I would take them to court for the bill from the new contractor. good luck!

This is another reason why you should not pay the contractors ahead of the work. I know there are GCs and contractors here on BP who's angry at me for saying this but if you pay them ahead of the work, they might get your money and just run. Or, you get shoddy work like this and now you can't get your money back.

Pay them a little bit of money but only after they buy the materials out of their own pocket and the materials are delivered on site (and you've seen them). As they do the work, pay them in stages but always behind the work (and only after inspecting it and being happy with it). For instance:

Once contractor has done 50% of the work --> you pay them 40% of the budget

Once they've done 75% of the work --> you pay them 60%...

Once they've done 100% --> you pay them 90% 

You keep 10% retainage and you have a punch list for them to complete. Once they complete everything, you release the last 10%.

If you pay them ahead of the work, you lose control and you might lose money. Having said that, not all contractors are bad and will steal you blind. Not all contractors (in fact many contractors) won't agree to the above payment scheme. However, as much as reasonable, you have to be in control and by paying them behind the work, you are in control.

I agree with what everyone said, except I don't think you can salvage those tiles. This job is poor quality. If you are flipping this house, and don't fix this floor, the comment you get from buyers most often will be "the tile looks terrible." It will cost you far more in concessions and holding costs than to redo it now. 

It stinks that you have to redo it, but you do. I wouldn't try to get them to fix it, either. I'd take a load of pictures, and take them to court.

And absolutely do not let them grout this. 

Thats a rip it out and start over job now .  Since you say they were professionals , they should have been licensed and insured , make a complaint to the licensing board .  Unfortunatly by the look of the work , I doubt they were contractors , but guys looking for a quick buck .

Originally posted by @Kevin Mizell :

Nat,

Did the "contractor" use tile backer?  From the pictures it looks like they laid it directly over the subfloor.  I don't see any spacers used either ( another indication of amateur workmanship).  Tile can move like that if you walk on it before the thin set is hardened but you would see the movement follow the traffic pattern.  Unless you had a dance dance revolution competition in the first 12 hours after they set the tile, they're just rookies.  

You can probably salvage the tile materials if you're careful.  Not sure how much money you sank into the tile, but at least you can have that.  A careful carpenter usually can pop the tiles up and clean the backs off for reuse.  

Sorry about your luck, new subcontractors are hit or miss.  Hope your next one has some talent.

 Kevin, part of it was laid directly on subfloor where there was plywood. Where there was vinyl, they put down cement board and laid the tiles. I did buy tile spacers and they clearly decided not to use them.

Originally posted by @Rob Myers :

Don't let them grout this work before they make the repairs - it's only going to make it more difficult to look good.  You mentioned earlier that you already paid for the work.  This probably seems obvious, but don't pay for a job until the work is completed per the original agreement.  I'll pay for materials ahead of time, but I never pay for labor until the job is done.

 80% is already grouted unfortunately. In Miami it is impossible to find someone to work without upfront payment. I'm sure it's different in other cities but Miami is a very 'special' place. 

Originally posted by Account Closed:

This is another reason why you should not pay the contractors ahead of the work. I know there are GCs and contractors here on BP who's angry at me for saying this but if you pay them ahead of the work, they might get your money and just run. Or, you get shoddy work like this and now you can't get your money back.

Pay them a little bit of money but only after they buy the materials out of their own pocket and the materials are delivered on site (and you've seen them). As they do the work, pay them in stages but always behind the work (and only after inspecting it and being happy with it). For instance:

Once contractor has done 50% of the work --> you pay them 40% of the budget

Once they've done 75% of the work --> you pay them 60%...

Once they've done 100% --> you pay them 90% 

You keep 10% retainage and you have a punch list for them to complete. Once they complete everything, you release the last 10%.

If you pay them ahead of the work, you lose control and you might lose money. Having said that, not all contractors are bad and will steal you blind. Not all contractors (in fact many contractors) won't agree to the above payment scheme. However, as much as reasonable, you have to be in control and by paying them behind the work, you are in control.

 This is a great payment system Wendell.

I simply can NOT believe anyone is capable of such a poor tile job. I would do a better job with a blind fold on and one hand tied behind my back!!!

When I was reading the post I was thinking "Oh it's probably not going to be that bad". Pictures usually make things look a little better than they are, so I'm assuming this looks even worse than the pictures.

Where are the spacers? and how is there so much tile mortar on the actual tile? I'm in shock!

I think you have to remove the tiles and start over. Removing tiles is also not all that easy. 

I'm so sorry this happened, I know it must be extremely stressful. I sure hope everything works out.

Looks like they got sloppy or someone was walking on the tiles before they dried.  You could have some areas repaired where it is noticeable and then grout which is probably what I would do.  Alternatively, you could put tile or floating floor over the tile in order to cut costs since they will probably not correct the job nor pay for someone to come redo it.

Probably going to need to rip most of it up and redo it.  You can't lay tile right on plywood subfloors either, it will end up cracking and popping loose pretty quickly.   I'm guessing you found this "contractor" on craigslist?  

You can put tile over plywood, it says so on the bag.  I'd go with the modified mortar if you do it though.  It could last just as long as with using durock or hardiebacker.  I think it has more to do with how much abuse the tiles get and how well the mortar is mixed along with how much deflection there is.  If it's a rental property, the tiles will most likely get ruined eventually anyway.  If it's a flip, it will be the next owner's problem if something happens because of the route chosen to install the tile.

Originally posted by @Nat C. :
 80% is already grouted unfortunately. In Miami it is impossible to find someone to work without upfront payment. I'm sure it's different in other cities but Miami is a very 'special' place. 

@Nat Chan  I remodeled four properties in Miami so far and none has required upfront full payment. Three of those have required about 30% upfront and the last one I was able to negotiate a 20% upfront and 40% upon full finishing with a payment in the middle at 75% progress which I decide fairly "liberally".

Like any contractor, I had my issues with quality and timing but the retention of  funds always made the discussion cordial and allowed me to reach good resolution.

I can provide a couple of contacts offline. One contractor is OK, the other is quite a bit more professional. Both need strong management.

Oh, and sink the money and redo the work NOW. don't wait for later.

That's an ugly tile job unless you are an abstract artist! 

You can't salvage this work.  Joints are too tight to get grout into the them to seal them up.