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Tile Progress

 
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Old 05-20-2018, 03:05 PM   #1
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Tile Progress


I have an ongoing project that we had to let our tile guy go after he repeatedly did not show to complete the work, delaying the job weeks – he had a history of this, not to this extreme, but he did great work at very reasonable prices, so we put up with his occasional lapses.

We found a very nice guy with decades of experience who is now in his sixties. We are tiling a 5’ x 7’ bath with marble on the floors and 3x6 subway tile on the walls. The tile around the tub goes to the ceiling and we have a 52” wainscoting – all together about 130 sf of tile. All of the substrate was installed and waterproofed by the previous contractor. We are paying the new tile hourly (he does not have contractor’s license, so he’s on payroll), and so far he has taken 7 days (56 hours) and he’s about 90% complete. He says it will take another day to complete the tiling and another day to grout.

Honestly, despite having been on hundreds of jobs with tile, I’ve never really paid attention to how long a tile job takes – they are all different/mostly custom – but tile guys often tell you an approximate number of days. Our problem is we have an additional bath in this project that has a shower with about 85 s.f. of wall tile and the floor, including the shower floor, is another 82 sf. We also have to put Kerdi backer and shower pan in. He has told us it should take about two weeks to complete. This seriously pushes our scheduling. My question is not about money so much as time. When he started, we were still waiting for some chair rail tile, and he said he would need that in three days, but six days later he finally got part of that in. One bath wall takes him about a day and quarter – does that sound reasonable? Any feedback on whether we should drop him and get someone else for the next bath would be appreciated.
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Old 05-20-2018, 04:55 PM   #2
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Re: Tile Progress


Slow for 3x6 subway unless the substrate is in really bad shape and he's making it perfectly flat.

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Old 05-20-2018, 05:32 PM   #3
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Re: Tile Progress


Whatís more important to you the time it takes or the quality of the finished product?


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Old 05-20-2018, 06:07 PM   #4
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Re: Tile Progress


Who cost you more the unreliable guy that didn't show delaying the job for weeks or the guy that seems to be doing a great job and showing up every day that may be a little slow?

You said you have no idea how long tile takes despite being on hundreds of jobs so how does your question even come to mind?

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Old 05-20-2018, 06:22 PM   #5
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Re: Tile Progress


Seems a tad slow but it sure likes a nice install. He may not want to rush it since you already are having problems with the progress. I am typically a slower tile setter so may not be a good judge of time.
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Old 05-20-2018, 08:53 PM   #6
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Re: Tile Progress


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Originally Posted by avenge View Post
Who cost you more the unreliable guy that didn't show delaying the job for weeks or the guy that seems to be doing a great job and showing up every day that may be a little slow?

You said you have no idea how long tile takes despite being on hundreds of jobs so how does your question even come to mind?
Avenge, you've hit the dilemma precisely - quality/reliability vs. speed. And, he appears to produce a better finished product in general than our previous contractor. However, at the rate he is going, he's going to cost us over $1k to $1.5k more than the original bid. For the size of the job, we can swallow that. I'm worried that he is just glacially slow. The steel tub was almost perfectly level, and, remarkably, parallel to the ceiling above. The walls are flat and corners straight (I framed them, so I took extra effort there), however, the existing floor was quite out of level on one wall and he did a great job there too. We now have another licensed contractor tile guy we can potentially bring in whose more expensive. But perhaps he's not more expensive, especially if he gets the job done faster - we need to get our painter into the two baths.

So, you are right, I have no way to judge whether he is fast or slow, I was simply looking for someone with lots of tiling experience to chime in with an idea of how long it takes them to tile, say, the three standard bath walls with subway tile and using the spacing nubs on the Daltile for 1/16th" grout lines - took our new guy four days, and he is still not finished with the tub walls. The floor took two half-days, and each of the two wainscoting walls he has almost finished took one day each. The question of whether he is fast or slow comes partially form the tile guys own assessment of when he'd need the chair rail tile, the last component needing to be installed, which he said we need by three days after his initial start.

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Old 05-20-2018, 09:52 PM   #7
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Re: Tile Progress


I can refer you to a tile guy who probably produces higher quality work, essentially perfect in every way, 2-3 times faster. Also probably more expensive. And by faster, I mean when he's actually available.

It's a challenge for sure.
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Old 05-20-2018, 10:42 PM   #8
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Re: Tile Progress


What’s up with the lip between the shower wall and rest of the bathroom?
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Old 05-20-2018, 11:17 PM   #9
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Re: Tile Progress


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What’s up with the lip between the shower wall and rest of the bathroom?
I believe they put the bullnose in to end the top cap against it. Hard to get glass in against that top cap.

Eventually it will run all the way up, finishing off the shower tile edge.

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Old 05-21-2018, 12:36 AM   #10
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Re: Tile Progress


By myself, I think I'd be at about 6 days total including layout time and grout.

There are variables, too. Is he cutting close by? Does he have physical limitations being in his 60s? Doesn't sound like he has a helper to do all the little crap that takes up more time than you expect.

Have you asked him why it is taking the time it is? Just having a helper who knows how to cut can half the amount of time needed

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Old 05-21-2018, 05:22 AM   #11
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Re: Tile Progress


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I believe they put the bullnose in to end the top cap against it. Hard to get glass in against that top cap.

Eventually it will run all the way up, finishing off the shower tile edge.

Tom
Thatís what I see too but Iím wondering what caused the condition. Iím sure it will look good when itís all done.
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Old 05-21-2018, 08:46 AM   #12
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Re: Tile Progress


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Thatís what I see too but Iím wondering what caused the condition. Iím sure it will look good when itís all done.
Just how it got designed. At least someone considered what to do to end the cap.

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Old 05-21-2018, 04:23 PM   #13
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Re: Tile Progress


Op has literally tried slow cheap good. First tile guy was good slow and cheap. Second guy was slower better and cheap. Third is supposed to be faster cheaper and.... better?

Good, fast, cheap. Pick two.

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Old 05-21-2018, 05:31 PM   #14
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Re: Tile Progress


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Thatís what I see too but Iím wondering what caused the condition. Iím sure it will look good when itís all done.
The tub walls are mud walls so they are thicker than a standard Kerdi, Durock or other tile substrate job. They require a bull nose tile to finish the transition.
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Old 05-21-2018, 05:39 PM   #15
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Re: Tile Progress


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Op has literally tried slow cheap good. First tile guy was good slow and cheap. Second guy was slower better and cheap. Third is supposed to be faster cheaper and.... better?

Good, fast, cheap. Pick two.

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The engineers triangle isn't always true.

Cheap is relative and subjective.

Slow is also subjective. Slow compared to what?

Good is fairly easy to measure cosmetically, but method and practice, almost impossible unless you are watching them like a hawk.

I would say that someone with his experience, he should have been in and out in 3-4 days max. The mud job was already done so that means everything was flat and plumb. Once the layout is determined you can cut the long wall in mass and then set the other walls pretty fast. A small snapper would make quick work out of those tiles (most likely a ceramic)

The floor would have been a pita. That basket weave junk is a nightmare to work with.

But to the OP, you can't really complain that you found someone at the 11th hour that can complete the job, even though he is taking longer than you had budgeted. Get this one in the books and move on with a better game plan.
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Old 05-21-2018, 09:52 PM   #16
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Re: Tile Progress


As a GC I sub out most construction/renovation tasks - except tiling, which I have been doing myself for over 25 years. I've just seen too much lousy tile and grout work over the years to entrust it to anyone else.

As for timing, I think four days to tile three standard 30" - 60" - 30" bath walls - with tabbed 3x6 subway tile, no less, which is effortless to install - is crazy. Starting at 8 am I can usually tile a tub alcove with tabbed subway tile by early afternoon if the walls are plumb and flat. If I make it a long workday, and the bathroom is small, I can sometimes even get the bathroom floor done as well, with leveling clips. So one full day should be plenty for a tub alcove.

Here is a link to pix of a bathroom I tiled a couple of weeks ago. I recall the tile work took exactly two and a half days - tub walls, floor and wainscoting. 10x30 ceramic tiles on the walls, 12x24 porcelain tiles elsewhere.

https://www.houzz.com/photo/11931356...throom-toronto

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Old 05-25-2018, 11:01 PM   #17
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Re: Tile Progress


Thanks for all of feedback. JBH, your pace of working seems to correspond to my vague memories of seasoned professionals.

I have not watched him work for clues as to why he is so slow, but everything he does appears to be completely professional and well thought out, and the end results are above average. Perfectionism may be at play - I looked into the bathroom when he was working on the chair rail, and he had a level across the window and was muttering about the two sides of the rail not being level, and I thought, they are stacked from the bottom up three rows down, why on earth would it matter and who would ever notice such a difference. Still, awareness of such details is what often separates the pros from everyone else - later, I put his level across and they were indeed a little less than a 1/16th out!

Ultimately, we decided it would be too much hassle to find someone new and untested, especially in such a short time frame. When pressed, tile guy simply would not acknowledge whether or not he was slow, but at some point he said he would charge at least $2k for the labor on a job this size, but I don't believe he realized that for us, we will have spent just under $3k for the small bath, with taxes and comp for his time as an employee. He has agreed to do the second bath in no less than four days. We'll see if he can hold to that or give us free labor - it's slightly larger, but simpler without the wainscoting. He thinks he can get the tile on the floor in one day, the walls of the shower in two days, and do all of the grout in one more day.

Our previous tile guy liked to do the Kerdi system with drywall, but this guy insists on the Kerdi board (actually, he wants metal lath and mud, but I see no reason to step back that many decades!), so we are already having to pay for more material, but I believe him when he says it will save time in the end not having to put up both the drywall and the Kerdi membrane... that debate has been beaten to death elsewhere, so we'll just take the path of least resistance.

As to the offset with radius tile edging: The existing wall was quite out of square relative to the tub, so it was simply where I furred out the wall to cover the tub flange below - the radius trim was a elegant resolution and, as someone mentioned, also a way to resolve the chair rail at the shower.
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Old 05-25-2018, 11:19 PM   #18
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Re: Tile Progress


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Thanks for all of feedback. JBH, your pace of working seems to correspond to my vague memories of seasoned professionals.

I have not watched him work for clues as to why he is so slow, but everything he does appears to be completely professional and well thought out, and the end results are above average. Perfectionism may be at play - I looked into the bathroom when he was working on the chair rail, and he had a level across the window and was muttering about the two sides of the rail not being level, and I thought, they are stacked from the bottom up three rows down, why on earth would it matter and who would ever notice such a difference. Still, awareness of such details is what often separates the pros from everyone else - later, I put his level across and they were indeed a little less than a 1/16th out!

Ultimately, we decided it would be too much hassle to find someone new and untested, especially in such a short time frame. When pressed, tile guy simply would not acknowledge whether or not he was slow, but at some point he said he would charge at least $2k for the labor on a job this size, but I don't believe he realized that for us, we will have spent just under $3k for the small bath, with taxes and comp for his time as an employee. He has agreed to do the second bath in no less than four days. We'll see if he can hold to that or give us free labor - it's slightly larger, but simpler without the wainscoting. He thinks he can get the tile on the floor in one day, the walls of the shower in two days, and do all of the grout in one more day.

Our previous tile guy liked to do the Kerdi system with drywall, but this guy insists on the Kerdi board (actually, he wants metal lath and mud, but I see no reason to step back that many decades!), so we are already having to pay for more material, but I believe him when he says it will save time in the end not having to put up both the drywall and the Kerdi membrane... that debate has been beaten to death elsewhere, so we'll just take the path of least resistance.

As to the offset with radius tile edging: The existing wall was quite out of square relative to the tub, so it was simply where I furred out the wall to cover the tub flange below - the radius trim was a elegant resolution and, as someone mentioned, also a way to resolve the chair rail at the shower.
Check the framing before the Kerdi board goes up, wet shim the board if necessary. The flatter/truer the wall the faster the rest of the job goes.

If you can mix the mortar for him and keep a trowel clean that will really speed things up.

Tom

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Old 05-26-2018, 09:08 AM   #19
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Re: Tile Progress


Always square and plumb the framing. You eliminate so many common issues. Wet shimming would be our back up.

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