1. *EDUCATING OUR CLIENTS: Our goal is to educate clients as well as decision-makers, builders, architects, designers, fellow tradespeople to make the tile installation process seamless and painless for all parties involved. This page is written specifically for the client or homeowner.
  2. *ORDERING: As your installer, our goal is to ensure you have enough tile for us to install skillfully. Most field tile is ordered by the carton in increments of around 8 -15 SF, and decos and trim are ordered by the piece. Mosaics are ordered by sheet (not necessarily per SF) and sometimes by the carton. For our clients who opt to order their own tile and take responsibility for the ordering process, please read Ordering Tile after you read this page so we can educate you about the process. Most builders for whom we work, prefer we order and take responsibility for your tile. Your tile order should include grout, caulk or sealant, trim pieces, transition pieces, and sealer (if applicable for your product.) Our intention is that you have some leftover tile, referred to as attic stock. You won’t be able to get the same tile 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. 
  3. * INSPECTING AN ORDER: Tile is susceptible to variation in color, shade, and thickness, and ordering errors occur from all parts of the supply chain. Having you (or your decision-maker or designer) inspect your order is the best way to catch ordering errors before tile is installed. We will always check for damage and accuracy of tile compared to order sheet, but we don’t know what the tile specifier was expecting. The sooner we know about an ordering concern, the sooner it can be resolved. When we provide the tile for your project, we bring it on site so it can be seen and inspected by the decision maker or specifier prior to installation. When we work with builders, often the foreman or project manager is the only representative on site, and this person may not have been the original decision-maker familiar with the expected tile products. Their goal is rather to keep the job moving smoothly. We recommend that the homeowner, designer, or specifying party be available to inspect the tile for accuracy before installation. If there is any discrepancy or concern with your tile before we install, please advise us immediately. Removing installed tile is laborious, time consuming, and costly. 
  4.  *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 please make sure you are aware of these traits before you finalize your selections with us (or your builder or designer if they are the ones providing us with bidding information).
  5.  *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. Our installers 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, we will need to know in advance in order to advise you as to how much extra tile you should order.
  6. *DRY LAY:  If you want to take control over tile layout, and want the installer to hand-lay all individual tiles on an unused horizontal floor surface in your home (so you can then hand-select unwanted pieces,) please request a DRY LAY. Dry Lay requires extra time from the installer and decision-maker because your own subjectivity and decision making are involved. Dry lay extends the installation process, so depending on the job, we will charge a flat fee or per hour fee for dry lay. Our installers will lay the tiles on a surface to let you cherry pick. It’s important to understand that once you start to “manipulate” the tiles and eliminate some, it will change the overall flow completely. It becomes important to cherry pick throughout the whole layout, or the outcome will appear splotchy. A lot of excess will need to be ordered, and if it’s special order tile, understand it cannot be returned. Most vendors with whom we work will not accept return of open boxes of tile. 
  7. *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 with your design team.
  8. *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% or smaller will minimize lippage in such circumstances. Remember; lighting can also accentuate the visibility of lippage.
  9. *GROUTING: When grout type is not specified or when there are no product-specific or surface-specific grout requirements that conflict, we recommend high-performance stain-resistant cement grout (such as Laticrete Permacolor, Mapei Ultra Color Plus, TEC Power grout, Custom Polyblend PRISM). Minimum grout joint size will be based on TCNA standards and product-specific installation instructions. We cannot make joints smaller despite design preferences when tile attributes do not allow for small joints. For multi-color grout or deep-pigment colored grouts (some of which require taping), bag applied grout, and epoxy grout, additional labor and fee will apply. It is important to notify us in advance of bidding your project of such requests or make sure this information is included in bidding documents and/or RFIs (requests for information). 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. For clients who opt to order your own tile and grout; you will also need acrylic caulk or silicone sealant in a matching color to grout. Note: sealant is different than sealer (see SEALER info below). Sealant is a silicone product (that looks like caulk and also comes in a tube.) Caulk is an acrylic product. Multi-plane installations and installations requiring movement joints require caulk or sealant to match your grout. Make sure if you are ordering directly, to order matching caulk or sealant when you order your grout. 
  10. *CAULK & SEALANT: Caulk or sealant is used with grout in matching colors. Caulking compound: is a soft, plastic material consisting of pigment and vehicle, used for sealing joints in buildings and other structures where normal structural movement may occur. Sealant: is an elastomeric material that is used to fill and seal the expansion joint. This material prevents the passage of moisture and allows horizontal and lateral movement at the expansion joint.
  11. *THRESHOLDS / TRANSITIONS: Tile vendors often sell standard door thresholds and sometimes even curb tops, but generally only in limited colors. We generally install these solid surface transition pieces. For custom-made thresholds or curb tops, jambs, headers, niche tops and sides, we recommend a slab fabricator provide the materials. Most clients choose them from the fabricator who is supplying their countertops. For minimalist floor transitions (when adjacent floor can be level with the new tiled floor), you may prefer a slim 1/8″ metal trim like Schluter Jolly or similar products instead of solid surface thresholds. Please make sure to make these decisions before we finalize the bid or estimate for your project. Note Schluter (or similar) trim pieces cover the side of the tile and wrap under the tile, so these pieces must match thickness of the tile you select, and will need to be ordered with the tile. 
  12. *CHANGE ORDERS: Demolition or many other unknown conditions may reveal extra work needed after work has commenced. More often, additional work may be requested by you while we are installing, and can extend the scope of our 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 we or our installer could not anticipate.
  13. *SEALERS: The tile vendor should specify whether your tile requires a sealer. If you are ordering your own tile, make sure to advise us of this. Stain resistant grouts do not require sealer, although grout joints can be sealed as an additional service, which should then be maintained. Unless pre-sealed, natural stone tiles generally need to be sealed, but glazed ceramic or porcelain generally do not and sometimes can often not absorb sealer. 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 tile manufacturer recommendations. 
  14. *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.
  15. *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. For more info on natural stone, please read our blog post.
  16. *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 joints, 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.
  17. *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! 
  18. *QUESTIONS: If you have any questions, please call our office M-F 9am-5pm at 301-881-8483 or email us at so we can help. 


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