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Unread 07-13-2012, 09:11 PM   #1
EJ Flooring
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Columbia, Missouri
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Customer Question regarding a shower

I have a customer who recently fired their tile installer and contractor. The tile job is bad (Laticrete roll on product for waterproofing shower, extreme lippage on adjacent tile, border recessed and not spaced properly, etc.).

The homeowner finished setting tile last weekend because I was too busy to get there, but now they want me to grout the job. The shower is a pre-made pan with a seat about 20" high and tiled about 5 feet above that. Under the tile is sheetrock (possibly backer board) with laticrete waterproof membrane painted over that. Setting adhesive is mastic. The part the homeowner installed is still wet today, five days later, and I could almost have troweled the old mastic on a couple of tiles I had to replace.

How would some of you handle this? I don't think it's a good idea for me to do any work in the shower, and I cannot talk them into replacing anything. There is a lot of work left to do in the home, and I could certainly use the work, but is this a situation where it may be better to cut my losses early?

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Unread 07-13-2012, 09:23 PM   #2
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I'd walk away.
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Unread 07-13-2012, 10:42 PM   #3
Tile and remodeling contractor
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definitely don't mess with that hornets nest.
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Unread 07-13-2012, 10:47 PM   #4
Tool Guy - Kg
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Tough spot, Eric. But I wouldn't walk away from the customer completely.

To quote Dave Gobis, mastic and waterproofing are a contradiction in terms. Mastic isn't to be used over roll on waterproofing as you describe. If this shower is an unknown variable...or not up to standards, I'd avoid completing this part of the project. I'd nicely let them know that you aren't able to complete a job that you understand to contradict manufacturer's or industry standards.

But if you don't make a big fuss over their inadvertent mistake, you might still be welcome to bid on the other projects needed in this house. I'd be sympathetic and understanding to how and why they are in this position, but be politely firm that you legally need to guarantee your work and completing this part of the job would be asking too much of you.

Treat them professionally and with respect. Stay calm. Offer solutions on what you can do for them. If you can't help on the shower, avoid the shower altogether. While it doesn't always work, sometimes turning down a job you feel won't have long lasting durability earns you respect. I politely turned a job down once because I felt it would fail a few years down the road (after the warranty expired). And I ended up being awarded the largest job of my career from that very customer a year later. It was only a year later that they confided in me that my refusal to do the previous job helped them understand how I cared more for their interests than my immediate profit.

Good luck.
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Unread 07-14-2012, 07:45 AM   #5
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I recently had an architect that I have done work for in the past ask me to "fix" a water damaged home he was trying to sell, but he said he did not get enough insurance money to do what I told him needed to be done.

It's a tough market here and I was very tempted to bend the rules, but instead opted to kindly explain that I could not in good conscience do the job wrong and told him I would answer any questions he had if he wanted to tackle the labor himself. He called back this week with more work. Saying no can be done in a way that doesn't burn bridges

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Unread 07-14-2012, 07:46 AM   #6
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Staple your business card to the inside of the vanity so when the shower fails, they will know how to contact you.

For when DIY isn't such a good idea...
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Unread 07-14-2012, 11:07 AM   #7
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Mmmm...mastic. I've torn out a few of these that never made it to the first use. What a shame.
Jack Hamilton


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Unread 07-14-2012, 12:53 PM   #8
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Just explain to them that when you sandwich mastic between tile and waterproofing, it's just like leaving it in the bucket. Then tell them that you would be happy to complete the work even though it was not done correctly, as long as they don't expect any sort of warranty.
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Unread 07-14-2012, 01:32 PM   #9
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What they'all said. Especially Nate.

"the road to hell is paved with osb, mastic, pre-mixed latex 'grout' or 'thinset', "
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Unread 07-14-2012, 09:14 PM   #10
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I wouldn't want my name on that failure waiting to happen either... Maybe when you politely say no, that'll sway him to redo it now before it gets used and causes any damage. Heck, you can prolly re-use the tile at this point!
Brad Bressler
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Unread 07-14-2012, 10:12 PM   #11
Levi the Tile Guy
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Originally Posted by Jack
Mmmm...mastic. I've torn out a few of these that never made it to the first use. What a shame.
I have too Jack, and a number of them that were complete disasters. The problem is I have actually torn out 3 mastic over drywall showers that held up for 20+years. Those customers are the hard sells on the correct way.
Levi The Tile Guy

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Unread 07-14-2012, 10:16 PM   #12
Brad Denny
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Unread 07-15-2012, 06:41 AM   #13
EJ Flooring
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Thank you everyone. I will try to speak with them tomorrow about replacing. I may even show them pictures of what is likely to happen if they don't replace the tile now. I will post an update after I speak with them.

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