(Make sure to read Essential Tile Tips first)

ORDERING DIRECTLY: Most of our clients, whether builders, architects, designers, or homeowners, prefer that we purchase and provide the tile so we take responsibility for calculating, ordering, inspecting and delivering all tile, grout, caulk, sealer, sealants and trim pieces. If you prefer to purchase your tile and related products directly, please read onward so you are aware of what goes into the tile ordering process.

TILE VENDORS AND TRADE PRICING: Note: when we order the tile for you from a DC, MD, or VA local tile vendor or a national vendor with whom we have a trade relationship, we often receive a trade discount (this does NOT includes mass warehouses like Home Depot, Lowes, Floor & Decor, etc. who do not offer trade pricing). We extend our trade discount to our client before adding our mark up, so the client still benefits when discounts apply to us. Our mark up includes taking responsibility for the tile and associated products, as well as doing quantitative take-offs, calculating overages, and ordering the other tile-related products plus freight, tax, and white glove delivery. Many vendors may only offer curbside delivery if you order directly from them. If you opt to take responsibility to order your own tile products, but want us to deliver them for you, please advise us and we can add white glove delivery to our labor estimate. Labor estimates will include only labor-based installation materials such as Ditra, Durock, thinset, waterproofing membrane, drains, subfloor heat (when specified).

CALCULATING: Order quantities include the actual square footage plus tile overage necessary based on surface area (floor vs. walls with multiple planes), cuts, layout, tile size, tile-specific attributes (some tiles incur higher waste factor), and the size and format of your space. If you are ordering, you can consult your vendor for product-specific details. Make sure to also include overage for future attic stock. After all the tile is cut and installed, you should have a little bit of leftover tile from the same lot so if there’s ever an issue (like flooding, storm or personal damage, moving an outlet or cabinet or appliance) you won’t have to retile the whole space. Most builders, especially for larger and/or commercial jobs, like a minimum 3-5% attic stock remain for the client.

EXPECTATIONS: If you are the one ordering your own tile, especially custom or special order tile, we advise that you purchase or order a control sample to keep (and later compare) to the actual tile you will receive. If your tile sample looks significantly different than what you received, don’t worry yet! Take a deep breath! Often tile has a vast range of color and shade variation. Try to view several tiles from different cartons before assuming the whole “dye lot” is wrong. Most importantly, open your mind to the lot you get. One of the most desirable qualities of natural stone and hand-glazed or hand-crafted tile is its shade and texture variation. If, after sorting through it, the tile genuinely looks like the wrong color, it may well be. Have the salesperson at your tile vendor check the material, so if there’s an ordering error, they can correct it as soon as possible.

ORDERING ERRORS: With so many local and online vendors, ordering mistakes do happen. If you discover an error with your order, please notify us immediately so we can adjust our installation schedule. We will prioritize you once your correct tile arrives. We are accustomed to dealing with scheduling surprises in the construction industry.


LOCAL DELIVERY & STORAGE: We pick up from most local vendors, and charge a white glove delivery fee of $200 – $300 per truck load per vendor, depending on circumstances and vendor.  If you need your tile stored by us or your vendor, please advise us as this will entail a storage fee. Our delivery fee is based on anticipated time for wait, loading, checking inventory, and on current fuel prices. We offer delivery as a courtesy, but encourage our clients to check with their vendor to see who provides the best delivery and storage option for them. Please remember, an average car can hold up to about 150 SF of tile in the trunk. If you order tile directly and your order is less than this, you may consider picking it up yourself, but make sure you have a place to store the tile and ability to carry it in.

FREIGHT & BREAKAGE: Don’t confuse “freight” with “delivery.” If you see a “freight” fee on your invoice from your local tile vendor, this means you purchased something they do not stock. “Freight” refers to the transport (usually by truck) from the vendor’s supplier to the vendor’s warehouse or showroom. Most local brick and mortar vendors will not drop ship the tile directly from their supplier to your home, ad they must inspect each order before you (or we) can pick it up. For online vendors, they will generally drop ship directly to you, but make sure to let them know if your tile is going to a residential address, and not a warehouse. You must check for breakage, as it is extremely common when shipping direct to consumers. Some online vendors use common carriers who are not trained in how to pack, ship, and handle fragile products like tile, even when the vendors pack and pad their tile cautiously.

INSPECTING FOR ACCURACY: Occasionally, even your local tile vendor may overlook a broken or inaccurate tile order. Furthermore, nobody is familiar with each and every piece of inventory in the warehouse. This is why it is so important that you inspect your order before it’s installed. Only you will recognize and know what you ordered and anticipated. The warehouse personnel will not. Try to have your control sample available to match up to your tile order when it’s in. The warehouse will only check that the order matches the packaging on the box (most of the time). If you feel your order is wrong or the “lot” does not match what you had ordered, let the vendor’s order department know immediately. If you didn’t order a control sample, ask to compare a piece of tile from your order with a sample tile or sample board from the tile showroom (preferably the same one you were shown when you ordered). When ordering from online companies, always request a sample prior to placing order.

ACCEPTANCE: Remember to keep your mind open if your tile does not match your original sample. It is much more important that your tile order matches and coordinates with the area where it’s going to be installed, than it match exactly to the control sample. Try not to cling too tightly to what you thought you were getting. Tile is art. Of course, you should make sure you are fully satisfied with your order BEFORE it gets installed. Just make space for acceptance and openness. We’ve been doing this for decades, and have seen many “unexpected” or “erroneous lots” of tile turn out to be better suited than the original selection!


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