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Unread 07-07-2014, 08:55 AM   #1
vvesper
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Hiring pros but saving money?

I have had a tile failure in my fully tiled master bath shower. This is probably due to poor installation by the previous owner/builder, at least based on what I can tell. The tile has been discontinued, so to make things right, it appears we will have to re-tile the entire bathroom (shower, bathroom floor, walls and surround on whirpool tub).

We both work full-time, plus have a child in the house, so our time is limited for such projects (we also already have another large project we're doing ourselves). With a child in the house, I also don't want to extend the time with sharp pieces of broken tile around from demo, etc. Plus I'm worried about not having the expertise to really do a good job ourselves even if we had the time. All this to say that I don't think tiling the entire bathroom ourselves is a great option for us.

However, as with most people, our budget is not unlimited! I am trying very hard to find a really good tile setter who will do this properly. Not interested in having it done again in a few years. I understand this will cost me more in labor than hiring a hack. This is a cost I must pay for the job to be done properly, and I'm good with that.

But given that I'm working hard to learn about this so I can hire someone good - what are reasonable ways to reduce our total project costs without sacrificing quality and durability?

Tile price is an obvious way - what do I need to know about choosing a tile in a lower price range without having it cause me (or the tile setters) issues?

What else? We intend to re-paint the room ourselves and a few small things like that. I just think the tile demo and setting are beyond us for considerations of time, expertise, and safety. (I managed to cut myself on a piece of broken tile from a project done in our old house that was totally done by pros!)

Other ideas from the pros of ways to moderate the cost somewhat without sacrificing quality?

I appreciate any suggestions you can give me and will be asking the same question of the tile setters I get estimates from.

Thanks!

Valerie
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Unread 07-07-2014, 10:36 AM   #2
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Valerie~One thing you might consider is starting a thread in "The Professional's Hangout" asking if there are any "Pros" in or around your location...something like "Looking for a Pro in (your fair city)"

Most of us on this Forum would be happy to meet with you to discuss your options....
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Unread 07-07-2014, 12:59 PM   #3
JTile
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I for one, will use the same waterproofing, thinset etc for all my showers regardless of a customers budget. If they can afford it great, if not, I'll pass.

You can save in your tile selection though, as you have already noted. $2 sq tile or $30 sq tile can be a big difference. Most tile guys charge more for really small stuff like mosaics as well as large stuff like 12x24. Probably somewhere in the middle will get you the best price install wise.

Any custom designs, benches, niches etc will add to the cost. If you can forgo those, that should save you some money. A couple of corner shelves are much cheaper than a custom niche.

Also consider a shower curtain instead of glass if it helps your budget. Glass doors can get very expensive and are not a neccessity to use your shower.
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Unread 07-07-2014, 03:02 PM   #4
vvesper
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cost savings...

Thanks, Laz and Justin. I did check for people on the boards in east Tennessee. No luck. There was an earlier post in the pros section asking for someone in this area, and the recommendation was to check with Bob Battles in Knoxville, as he was at that time the east TN rep for CETF (hope I have that alphabet soup right!). His is one of the firms I'll be getting an estimate from.

I also appreciate the feedback on very large or very small tiles requiring more labor - that makes sense to me. I can definitely live with shelves instead of a niche. Absolutely aiming for the $2 tile!

While I'd like to have glass doors eventually, that could also be something for later. We could temporarily use a tension rod and shower curtain. I'm assuming doors can be put in any time?

This just comes at such a bad time. We're getting ready to shortly replace kitchen floors and counters---tile issues on the floor in there, too! (Big surprise - same DIY previous owner.) But we're going with wood in there, so finding a tile setter wasn't a concern.

What about different waterproofing systems? I gather Kerdi/Shluter is the Cadillac. But I presume there are other systems that should also last 50 years or more. Would they cost me less but still be durable, assuming that's what that tile setter is experienced with? I don't want to cut corners where it will harm the long-term durability.

Thanks!
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Unread 07-07-2014, 03:19 PM   #5
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Valerie,

I'm just a DIY guy but. Yes, you can do the shower doors at a later time. But.... At this time, prep for the doors. Make sure the opening is plumb and square. Also make sure there is adequate framing behind the wall board. Not a bad idea to make the opening a somewhat "standard" size either. Most frameless doors do not allow for any adjustment, so either its a custom made door, or you better get the opening just so. As waterproofing goes... since you are on a budget, who isn't, I would recommend going the traditional mud pan, CBU walls and a liquid applied membrane like RedGard or similar.
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Unread 07-07-2014, 04:22 PM   #6
Lazarus
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I have to respectfully disagree. A "traditional" shower pan really isn't that much cheaper than a Schluter Kerdi System. You eliminate the double mud bed, the rubber liner, the rubber corners for the curb, the lathe and the mud work to "top" the curb, you use drywall instead of cement board and so forth.

The downside? You have a $100 custom drain with Kerdi as opposed to a PVC/FHA $9.00 drain. YOu ALSO have a shower that is waterproofed on the surface as opposed to one that water wicks thru the cement board. In other words, it dries out faster!

You "pays your money and you takes your chances." Ultimately, it's about the same price....but even if it's a hundred dollars or so more, if it outlasts the other shower by three or four times....that's a good deal.
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Unread 07-07-2014, 04:38 PM   #7
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Mmmm, I'd like to see the evidence relied upon for the claim that a Kerdi shower will outlast a properly built traditional shower by three or four times.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Valerie
I gather Kerdi/Shluter is the Cadillac.
Well, I'd say it's one of the Cadillac line, Valerie, but there are others. In an apples to apples comparison, my current favorite is the USG Durock Shower System.

If you're not paying for labor, I believe the traditional shower construction would be the hands-down winner in the cost category, but I do think the direct bonded waterproofing shower systems are a distinct improvement.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 07-07-2014, 04:50 PM   #8
Lazarus
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CX~I'm "judging" that by the number of shower failures that I see and fix as a result of NOT properly using corners on the curb, NOT properly mudding with lathe the curb without penetrations....etc, etc, etc.

I agree that a "Properly" built shower with two mud beds and dotting all the I's will last a long time but still, if the water stops at the surface...that's definitely a plus.

FWIW, I will charge more for a "traditional" shower than a Kerdi one. More time spent to make it right.
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Unread 07-07-2014, 05:25 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Valerie
Absolutely aiming for the $2 tile!
Just remember there is usually a good reason why it only costs $2 per foot and that reason usually means you don't really want it.
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Unread 07-07-2014, 07:58 PM   #10
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I'd say many more than 4 times CX. Often I see 6 or 7 year old showers, built well with a traditional liner, that are failing due to moisture wicking.

This shower pictured below is 4 years old, with mudded walls. The marble is sucking up water like a sponge. You can see the water line right through the marble.
Attached Images
  
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Unread 07-07-2014, 08:05 PM   #11
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Paul, it is wicking but not because it's a traditional pan liner and mudded walls. It's wicking because the weep holes are blocked. Any of the methods mentioned has to be installed correctly to last and work properly. I have pictures of the same marble, same liner and mudded walls that aren't wicking, so I wouldn't blame the method when apparently something wasn't done right.
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Unread 07-07-2014, 08:23 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul
...that are failing due to moisture wicking.
Then they weren't actually built properly, were they?
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Unread 07-07-2014, 08:28 PM   #13
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The one pictured was. The water in Houston has high limescale which takes about 6 or 7 years to clog the weep holes, gravel or no gravel. Once the weep holes clog, the water in the upper mud bed has no where to go but up through the tile, over the curb.....
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Unread 07-08-2014, 12:20 AM   #14
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I tell customers not to get hung up so much on tile costs. It is true that there is a great difference between $2 and $20 tile, but unless you have an unusually large bathroom to tile, the difference between $2 tile and $5 tile is not that much given the cost of the entire project.

If you want a bench in the shower but don't want to do it right away, you can put the blocking in the wall for at after the demolition, then add a Better Bench later down the road.

I would seriously consider the surface-applied membranes over the conventional installation. Showers with surface-applied membranes dry out faster and clean up easier.

Talk with your prospective installer(s) about what size tile would be the least expensive to install. Steer away from any natural stone. You might also check with local tile suppliers to see if they have any discontinued tile that they want to get rid of a greatly discounted price.
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Unread 07-08-2014, 05:55 AM   #15
jcsa
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Paul,
I agree that the weep holes could be clogged, but there is another issue that is not being addressed. The lighter stones have a tendency to absorb water. There are a lot of these that are water sensitive. We have put in a lot of theses stones and it seems as if a lot of them are changing color and never drying out. When we get a spec that requires a lighter colored marble, I go through great lengths to tell them about the possibilities of what your picture indicates. We do all mud showers. I think there is no equal period. I get into nice debates with architects when they say mud or equal. There is no equal ( when done correctly) but we follow the installation procedures. I am with CX. There are places where other systems may work, but it won't be on my jobs.

The main culprits of a pan holding water are improper pre-slope and also weep holes clogged. But here is an example of the water staining on a shower that had never been used. I just went to a parade of homes and there was a shower with white Carrera with water staining the stone around the drain. This shower has never been used and there was a nice puddle looking effect. I will try to post a picture.

So I say there should be caution exercised when using water sensitive stones.
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