Lessons Learned: Size of tile matters. When I worked as a carpenter’s apprentice for a remodeling company, I was helping tile a master bathroom floor and shower. It was a long arduous process and over budget. The following is what I learned from this job.
Lesson 1: Know the exact design layout. A custom shower with tight angles and recessed alcoves increases the material and labor costs which increases the budget.
Lesson 2: Plumb and square are vital for a tile shower. Bowed walls do not bode well with the tile. Shimming tile with thin-set mortar and cutting tile due to unevenness adds labor hours and material costs. Take the time to build the shower correctly.
Lesson 3: Know your tile. Size of tile matters. Obtain finished material quotes before quoting labor. This tile job was quoted for 80 hours of labor but took over 120 man-hours. The reason? Tile size. Their wet saws’ maximum cutting capability was 10″x20″. The tile that the clients chose was 10″x24″ porcelain tile. This meant that it took double the time to make cuts since the tile had to be turned around and recut. Cutting large porcelain tile is a slow process, unlike 3″x6″ ceramic tile which cuts like butter.
Lesson 4: Stick to the same brand name grout color and type: We ran out of grout so the foreman bought more at a different store. Even though it had the same name, the color and brand were different. The original grout was bright white but this grout was sienna. I brought this to his attention but he told me to use it and he would fix it later. This mistake added labor hours to the job.
Moral of the story: I’m a firm believer in doing things right the first time. If this was my job I would have had the clients pick out the tile first. I would then give the tiler a sample of the tile and the color and type of grout, so he could give me an accurate labor cost. Know your materials before you quote the labor.