Essential Tile Tips

  1. *ORDERING: Your tile installer’s goal is to ensure you have enough tile, and some attic stock leftover. Most field tile is ordered by the carton in increments of around 8 -12 SF. Don’t forget to purchase grout, caulk, (and sealer for stone.) Always expect to have some leftover tile, referred to as attic stock. You won’t be able to get the same lot in the future, and many tile lines are discontinued regularly. Remember: people have floods, breakage, damage, and appliance or layout changes over time. Having that extra tile available is the difference between a small fix and a complete redo. 
  2. * INSPECTING YOUR ORDER: Tile is susceptible to variation in color, shade, and thickness, and tile vendors encounter ordering mistakes from all parts of the supply chain. Inspecting your order is the best way to catch ordering errors before tile is installed. The sooner you know about an ordering problem, the sooner it can be resolved. Please ensure you’ve inspected your tile before installation. 
  3.  *IRREGULAR TILE: Irregular and hand-crafted tiles are very popular due to their natural and artistic appearance. Given the variation in color, shade, and thickness, some tiles may be asymmetrical and often NON-RECTIFIED. No installer can change the attributes of the tile, so make sure you are aware of them before you finalize your selections.
  4.  *HAND-SELECTING: If you plan to hand select only certain tiles or remove any tiles from your order, that should be done prior to installation. Your installer will then install only the tiles you have selected. Removing tiles after installation requires a lot of labor and risk. If you plan to hand-select, your installer will need to know in advance in order to advise you as to how much extra tile you should order.
  5. *DRY LAY:  If you want to take control over tile layout, and want the installers to hand-lay all individual tiles on an unused horizontal floor surface in your home (so you can then hand-select unwanted pieces,) you can request a DRY LAY. Dry Lay is generally a time consuming process for the installer because your own subjectivity and decision making are involved. Dry lay involves an additional labor fee, often per hour, so installers can lay every piece and let you cherry pick. It’s important to understand that once you start to “manipulate” the tiles and cherry pick only certain ones, it will change the overall flow completely. You need to cherry pick throughout the whole layout, or it will appear splotchy. A lot of excess will need to be ordered, and if it’s special order tile, understand it cannot be returned. Be aware of the return policy form your vendor before ordering. 
  6. *CRITICAL LIGHTING EFFECTS: When natural or artificial light shines on walls and floors from a distance of less than 12” from surface or at an angle almost parallel to tile surfaces, normal and acceptable inconsistencies in the tile work are highlighted by shadows that exaggerate these conditions and can magnify the effect of natural variation in the materials. Allowable lippage and warpage can be accentuated by critical lighting. All inherent imperfections will be more visible. Remember to coordinate your lighting as you finalize your tile selections.
  7. *LIPPAGE: Lippage is a condition that is inherent in all installation methods and may also be unavoidable due in part to the way tile is manufactured. For the least lippage, request highly gauged tiles from vendor when purchasing. We can install beautifully, but we cannot change the attributes of tile.  Having wider grout joints, minimizes lippage where tiles are less gauged.  To minimize lippage with long rectangular tile, sometimes we must avoid 50% offset layouts (like a brick lay) as the midpoint and end point will be adjacent to one another in these instances.  This is where lippage becomes most notable for less gauged tiles.  Stacking tiles or offsetting at 33% will minimize lippage in such circumstances. Remember; lighting can also accentuate the visibility of lippage.
  8. *GROUTING: For multi-color grout or deep-pigment colored grouts (some of which require taping), bag applied grout, and EPOXY grout, an additional fee will often be charged. Notify your installer in advance. Porous stones often come with pores pre-filled+. If the pores are not filled, standard recommended procedure is to fill pores with grout. Upon prior request, the grout can be bag applied BETWEEN tiles only, using a pastry bag or similar process. 
  9. *THRESHOLDS / TRANSITIONS: Tile vendors often sell standard door thresholds and sometimes even curb tops, but generally only in limited colors. For custom thresholds, we recommend you purchase from a slab fabricator. For minimalist transitions (when adjacent floor is level to new tiled floor), you may opt for a slim 1/8″ metal trim like Schluter Jolly or similar products. 
  10. *CHANGE ORDERS: Demolition or unknown conditions may reveal extra work needed. More often, additional work may be requested while we are installing, and can extend the scope of work. This additional work after a contract is signed is called a CHANGE ORDER. To avoid unexpected change orders, advise your installer if you believe something is missing from your bid like an unseen condition you may know about your home that the installer couldn’t foresee.
  11. *SEALERS: Your tile vendor should specify whether your tile requires a sealer. Usually, the grout they sell will include a stain resistant additive, so usually only natural stone tiles will need to be sealed, not glazed ceramic or porcelain. Penetrating sealers provide protection against staining, while color-enhancing sealers protect and bring out natural tones of stone. Please advise us if you have natural stone, so we can include sealing of your tile. Sealers need to be maintained! ALL SEALERS must be re-applied in the future accordance with the tile manufacturer’s recommendations.
  12. *HAND-CRAFTED TILE ATTRIBUTES – These tiles are very popular due to their artistic appearance. Some tiles may have varying or crackled finishes, be asymmetrical or irregular. Please be aware of tile traits before tile is ordered. You may want to see a grouted board of photos from vendor.
  13. *NATURAL STONE ATTRIBUTES – Unlike man-made porcelain and ceramic products, natural stone has unique organic qualities. With over 20 years experience installing natural stone, we’ve learned that every client views the variation differently.
  14. *VARIATION: Variation occurs within and between tiles, and includes diverse color, shade, veining, fissures, pores, thickness, and edges. Non-rectified tiles (with edges that are NOT right angles) are common, and require bigger grout joint, and may be visibly irregular. Preference of each tile’s characteristics is subjective. Handcrafted or stone tile are specifically for those who can embrace these unpredictable and exciting characteristics.
  15. *STONE REACTION TO MOISTURE: Natural stone, especially light marbles, may discolor during and after installation. Temporary change may occur while mortar is drying, especially over waterproofing which slows the process. Permanent effects may remain also because natural stone is made of minerals such as calcite, pyrite, silts, sands, organic matter, ferrous material (iron), chlorite 3, and epidote 4 among many other elements. “Reaction” or discoloration is most common in wet/moist areas due to exposure to wetness. Sealer does not block absorption of steam particles, and reactive stones can still oxidize and yellow after being sealed thoroughly. Ask your tile vendor before ordering natural stone to understand expectations. An excellent installation cannot change innate characteristics of stone which are considered “normal” due to the unpredictable nature of stone. Also, ask if your natural stone or marble requires a special rapid-set thinset. This is sometimes required with green marbles or special products, and is a labor upgrade! 


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