tub surround tile contractor nightmare [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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03-03-2007, 02:50 AM
I made a very stupid mistake by hiring one of my son’s roommates who said he was a tile and flooring installer to replace the tile in a 1978 bathroom. The floor area is 7 x 7 and the tub surround is 5’long x 30 “ wide x 5’ high. I already had the 12 x 12 porcelain tiles for the floor, leftover from another job. I’m 6 weeks into a “1 – 2 week” job. The guy has been a real flake, only showing up for about 3 hrs. per week, unanswered phone calls, etc. Material costs have skyrocketed from an initial estimate of $1100 to a current total of $1500 paid to him. Labor was an additional $2000. The only tile he had to buy was for the tub surround: A porcelain tile 12x12, that costs just over $2 per tile, plus brushed copper slate tile ($8.95 per 12x12 tile) for a 6” wide accent strip. Bullnose edging for the edges of the tub wall and around the soap box were $4 a linear foot. A week ago, I told him I wanted to suspend work and settle up. The floor is done, with a new sub-floor (Durarock?) and grouted joints. The tub surround is only about ½ - 2/3 done. I can see that he used Durarock, with some seams which appear to have been mortised with Acrylpro tile adhesive, which he was also using to secure the 12x12 tiles to the tub surround. It’s been a week since he failed to show up, as promised, to retrieve his tools, provide me with receipts and tiles purchased, and remove construction debris. I’ve been taking a closer look at the tile work, and see the seams don’t match in the soap box, and there is a 1” gap between the tile and the outside bottom edge of the tub. My biggest concern is the references on your site to Acrylpro problems in wet areas. Also, whether the Durarock seams sealed with Acrylpro are sufficient. What shall I have the next (carefully screened and researched) tile installer do? Does the tile in the tub need to be torn out? What about the Durarock? Am I likely to have problems with the floor tiles popping up, as time goes by, assuming he used Acrylpro there?

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03-03-2007, 08:03 AM
Hi there!

Do you have a first name that you can go by?

1. Cut your losses. Pay whatever you owe this guy and do it yourself. This guy is not a handyman nor a professional, IMHO. If I can do a bathroom job just like yours, you can too. Everyone on this site is extremely helpful and will guide you through.

2. I have a question. You said your subfloor is Durock. You probably mean that he put down Durock for the floor on top of the plywood that is there. Did you check the deflection of the subfloor? Did he put down some unmodified thinset betweek the plywood and durock on the floor?

3. If he used that pre-mixed thinset, you will probably get about 2 years from your shower at most. My opinion, rip it out and do it over. Shouldn't take you long to get up to this point.

4. 1" gap!??! WOW. I thought my gap was big but thats pretty big. Unless you put a nice deco tile down there, caulk would look ugly.

5. Durock seams. On the floor or walls? I guess on the floor is ok with the pre-mix but on the walls, that a no no. Get the thinset in a bag and mix it yourself. I don't have to tell you but everyone here frowns on the pre-mix in wet areas.

If you can, toss this dude out and do it yourself. Its really not that hard. Just post some pics and we're here to help out.


Scottish Tile and Stone
03-03-2007, 09:11 AM
Premix on the floor is a BIG NO NO. You want a good modified thinset under the cbu. If he used premix on the floors, go ahead and tear it up now, and soak the tiles in hot water to loosen the mastic and scrape off.

03-03-2007, 11:56 AM
Thank you, Scott and Andrew. (My name is Marilyn). I appreciate your taking time to share your expertise with me. I wasn't home when the guy tiled the floor, so am not sure of what was done. It was stripped down to the wood sub-floor, and he told me he installed something over that, to stabilize the floor, and then added the tile. I'm assuming he used Durarock and Acrylpro because that is what he used in the shower. He hasn't provided me with any receipts, and says he didn't keep them, so I can't be sure. I was resigned to tearing out the tub surround, and starting over, but hate to think of having to do the floor, too, since that looks good. Since he hasn't been back to claim his tools, I've moved sorted them out from the debris and tile scraps, and see that he has a box of roofing nails and 2 boxes of coarse thread drywall screws. Does that provide any clues to what he did, and the extent of work that needs to be done? The 2 attached photos show the tile gap by the tub and the mis-matched seams in the soap box.

Scottish Tile and Stone
03-03-2007, 03:45 PM
IF the floor looks good and no visible problems just leave it and see what happens. The only way I can see to eliminate that gap would be to move the bullnose back off the wall inline with the edge of the tub.

Scottish Tile and Stone
03-03-2007, 03:47 PM
Just pop those bullnose off around your niche and re-cut them. It looks like a tubsurround and not a full shower? If so I would probably just leave the tiles up and finish the job. Make sure you keep up on the caulking in the corners and where the tub meets the tile. That way you should get quite a few years out of the shower if it was set with mastic.

03-06-2007, 12:11 AM

Thanks, for all the great advice. I will follow it to the letter. What a great web site this is! Everyone is really helpful.


03-06-2007, 05:43 AM
STOP NOW, remove everything with AcrylPro, it WILL FAIL, my 600 sq ft floor had to be totally replaced and we just settled out of court with Custom Bldg Products/AcrylPro mfg.

03-06-2007, 07:48 AM
Will you go to the UserCP above and under edit signature put your name in? :)
Aside from using AcrylPro, and maybe a few other things we can't see now, it looks like the kid did a fair job - aside from taking way too long.. If this was a college kid, I can see him not havin time to work on it every day, if not what does you son say? It was he that recommended this guy - right?

The 1" sliver cut when grouted will look ok at the base of the tub..
Looks like he started with a full tile at the tub instead of a cut. I start with the second row and set the first row the following day..
He used a Recess-it niche.. $25 - 35.
The floor: It's in... From what I can see it looks ok too. Him taking a long time to work on this project may have helped you a little in that it gave the Mastic more time to dry out... If you take it out now, you bear the full cost, or wait till it fails and ask Custom Building Products to assume some responsibility - your call...
The real issue is that the AcrylPro has been used in the "Wet area" of the shower and this is a problem.. A modified thinset should have been used.
If you have more questions please feel free to axe, we are here to help you through this... :D

Scottish Tile and Stone
03-06-2007, 02:54 PM
I can only assume that since he took so long, that maybe the mastic under the wall tile has dried out enough. I would document everything, and have a wait and see attitude.

03-08-2007, 11:46 PM
Thank you, all, for the great advice. This has certainly been a learning experience. The floor looks good, so it will stay, until it fails, then I'll contact the Acrylpro manufacturer.

Regarding the half-completed tile job in the tub surround, the guy who installed my granite countertop today used to do tile work. He said I won't be able to use the slate accent tiles I paid the contractor to buy and cut. They are quite a bit thicker than the rest of the tiles. So, another $300 down the drain... on top of the cost of dealing with the Acrylpro and sloppy tilework in the soapbox area problems. If I'm real lucky, the fired contractor may eventually deliver the remaining supplies I previously paid for. In either case, I just need to learn what I can from it and move on.

No, he wasn't a college kid, rather, a 45 year old who was averaging 3 - 5 hours a week on the job, and was holed up in his bedroom the rest of the time. At least, he is out of here, and no longer my problem...

Can anyone recommend a good licensed tile person to get things back on track? I live in the suburbs, a few miles west of Portland, Oregon. Thanks again, for all the great advice.

03-09-2007, 06:13 PM
When I took everyone's advice and popped the tiles off the soap box, I discovered that the (fired) contractor had only buttered the center of each tile, not to the edges. And... (this was the most shocking thing) the Acrylpro was still very wet and goopey 2-1/2 weeks after the tiles had been set. No wonder you all are warning people about failure in wet areas. The Acrylpro is trash, as far as I'm concerned. Thank you, very much, for posting the warnings on this site. I would have never known, if it had not been for your great words of wisdom.