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Unread 07-22-2017, 07:40 PM   #1
uscpsycho
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Tile installation isn't great, what should I do?

I had 24"x24" tile installed in a large room. It hasn't been grouted yet but from the looks of things it isn't a great job. There is a lot of lippage and the grout lines are not consistent.

When I say there is a lot of lippage, I don't mean that the lippage is extreme. It's not heavy lippage it's just that there is a lot of lippage in general; he did not use any kind of leveling system. And even though he used 1/16" spacers the grout lines are not a consistent width.

The tile is beige so I know that without grout the black gaps between the tiles are accentuated because of the contrast. I will be using grout to match the tile as closely as possible which will soften the imperfections. But I happened upon this tile contractor's work in a retail store -- 12"x24" beige tile with matching grout -- and the way it looks is how I fear mine will turn out.

The thing is, I don't know if this is only bothering me because I'm so dialed in to the details while I'm remodeling. Or if it's a bad job that will be noticeable to others. And I wonder if it will be that noticeable after the room is furnished (it is empty right now). I know that the store owner I was referring to is not happy with the way the job turned out either. But like me, perhaps he is also obsessing because it is personal to him.

Should I just have the tile grouted and live with it or tear the whole thing out and start over? Tearing the whole thing out is going to be a giant mess with a ton of waste to dispose of. The original floor was not level and had a lot of issues so I imagine the float will get mangled up in demo and have to be done again, is that so?

Before remodeling I don't think I ever EVER would have noticed or cared about what someone's grout lines looked like. But now I notice everything and everything matters because it's my house and my money. If it is not ideal am I going to be upset for as long as I live here or will I get over it?

I'm asking these questions here because I want your honest opinions as tile pros. Looking at this objectively wearing both hats, what would you do?

tldr; At what point do you make a tile guy tear out the tile and start from scratch? How bad does it have to be to make it worth the headache? What's the litmus test?
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Unread 07-22-2017, 08:21 PM   #2
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could we get some pictures?
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Unread 07-22-2017, 09:22 PM   #3
Tool Guy - Kg
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Litmus test can be answered with: Is the work being installed below industry standards?

There are multiple things to look at. But you're most concerned about lippage, so we'll start there. Tell us how much warpage is in the tiles and how much lippage you are measuring from tile-to-tile.

Next, we might ask what kind of mortar coverage percentage is supporting these huge tiles?

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Unread 07-23-2017, 08:58 AM   #4
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Also, you say you fear the float may be mangled if you need to demo. This sounds like there was surface prep of some sort. What was done?
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Unread 07-23-2017, 09:30 AM   #5
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How warped are the tiles and what offset was used? 50%? 33%?
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Unread 07-23-2017, 08:33 PM   #6
uscpsycho
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I can't take photos of the tile because we've got it covered up to protect it from all the traffic going through the room while remodeling. I'll see if I can find any photos of the floor right after the tile was set.

Yes, there was surface prep done before setting the tile. The entire room was floated. Did not use self leveling cement. Used lots of float strips. That's about all I know. It's on a slab foundation. I assume that demo of the tile would ruin the float and it would have to be done again, is that right? Or can tile be exhumed without hurting the float?

No offset for the tile, it's a straight lay. The tile is not warped. I mean, it might technically have minimal warpage but nothing noticeable. It's good tile.

I know all about TCNA standards and the credit card/dime tests. The tile passes in parts and doesn't pass in parts. I'm not asking for the technical standards (it fails) I'm just trying to get some guidance as to when it makes sense to tear a job out and start from scratch. That's no small task and I'm not sure it's bad enough to justify.

I don't want to be a pain in the ass customer and be super anal. It's possible that if I let it be it will stop bothering me and probably nobody else will ever notice. My fear is that it will bother me for as long as I live here. Can someone please take a look into the future and let me know?
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Unread 07-24-2017, 04:59 AM   #7
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What material did your installer "float" the floor with?

Also, how large an area are we talking?
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Unread 07-24-2017, 06:14 AM   #8
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Same question as Greg, what did they float with and how thick is it?
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Unread 07-24-2017, 07:01 AM   #9
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If the tile pattern is all aligned then there shouldn't be an excuse for heavy lippage. A couple of spots here and there could be let go but not in the middle of the room and not in major walkways. A good tile installer will know where they can get away with a little more.
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Unread 07-24-2017, 11:42 AM   #10
uscpsycho
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I don't know what they floated it with but I can tell you that in some places it's quite thick because the subfloor had major issues. I do not think they skimped on materials though.

Let me backtrack a second here and put this a different way.

It is quite possible that this won't look as bad as I'm afraid it will be once it is grouted. Should I go ahead and let him grout and see how it turns out, then decide whether I want to tear it out? I guess that is really the litmus test I am asking about; other than technical TCNA standards, is there some other factor I can use to help me decide if it's going to look unacceptable after it is grouted? That's really the decision I have at the moment, either reboot now or grout and make the decision based on how it turns out.

Does the demo get a lot harder after grouting?

As a tile setter, would you rather I give you a chance to grout the tile before I make the decision, even if it might ultimately be more work for you? Or would you rather just start over at this point?

Thanks guys.
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Unread 07-24-2017, 12:56 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roy
I don't know what they floated it with but I can tell you that in some places it's quite thick because the subfloor had major issues. I do not think they skimped on materials though.
Roy, that's why we need to know exactly what material your installer used, and how he applied it. Not every material is designed for that kind of prep. If your installer used the wrong material for that application, it could spell trouble down the road.

Also, it sounds to me like your installation looks bad, and you're trying real hard to convince yourself it doesn't.
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Unread 07-24-2017, 07:18 PM   #12
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Hi Roy. We kinda need to know a little more about the floor. You said it is a large room. To some folks a 10x10 room is large, other folks think a gymnasium is a small room. How many sq ft are we talking about? Also, you're saying the mud was quite thick in places. Is that 3/4 inch or 4 inches?

I will say that the floor will be harder to tear out once the tiles are grouted. How much harder is hard to say. A lot depends on the thickness of the mud and if lath or chicken wire was used under the mud.
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