HELP - Herringbone Glass Tile Install Problems
theskip
January 14, 2014
Hello everyone.

We are building a new construction home and are installing white glass tiles in the family bathroom above the tub in a herringbone pattern. Each tile is an individual piece (not on mesh).

The installer we have just completed the job for us. It looked great until he grouted it. Now the corner small pieces (triangles) on the very end of each row look much darker than the rest of the tiles. It is very noticeable. It almost looks as though grey tiles were placed in the corner instead of white.

He claims it has to do with the amount of light able to get into that corner. That it "is the nature of the herringbone pattern."

I am beside myself because this is expensive tile, we are already a month over our projected worst-case-scenario deadline for a moving in date, and we already had a previous issue with this tile that he had to correct (it had to do with the border).

Can anyone shed some light (ha! no pun intended) on this for me?

Thank you SO MUCH in advance for any and all help!

- Shannon
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PRO
Incite Design
I can't really tell from the drawings, but is that triangular space in the corner filled with grout? This could be why its reading as darker than the field tile. Cutting very small pieces to fit in there would be quite difficult and would require digging out the grout of every single one of the vertical spaces.
Is it the same on both corners?
3 Likes    Bookmark   Thanked by theskip    January 14, 2014 at 11:17AM
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theskip
It is completely grouted. Not the same on both corners since the herringbone starts on the other side with a full tile.
    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 11:19AM
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theskip
The triangular space IS a piece of tile that he cut to fit. Then grouted over just as the rest of the tile is. It's not an empty hole, but that's how it looks. That's the problem. When the lights are off it looks hollow and with the lights on it just looks really dark (grey vs white) on those pieces. I am beside myself.
    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 11:28AM
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PRO
Renostralia Pty Ltd
Did you plan your tile layout before starting tile installation?
3 Likes    Bookmark   Thanked by theskip    January 14, 2014 at 1:03PM
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theskip
Did I? No. Did the installer? He was supposed to.
4 Likes    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 3:16PM
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Renostralia Pty Ltd
I would fix this with a border.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 4:40PM
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gypsyrose17
Perhaps he didn't sponge off the excess grout properly. We need to hear from a professional tile installer on this one....hopefully one will post soon.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 4:57PM
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msp1tzer
I wonder if there is a tile version of a quarter-round that would fill that corner?
    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 5:04PM
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PRO
Cancork Floor Inc.
This is going to be one nasty fix...if that is what you wish to do. A border will do it...but you are looking at more product (of some sort) and more time - both for removal and for installation. A border will require removing and cutting tiles (full tiles already in place) with reinstallation.

A hand laid tile is a tricky thing. Even a perfectly mapped out setting will have a millimeter or two worth of "something" by the time you get to the end of a row. It looks like it was all supposed to work out to plan...but then it just didn't happen. This could be due to a slight over statement of tile size by the manufacturer (which is allowed) or the pattern was laid so tight (not a bad thing...but still) that the 4mm the tilesetter assumed would "disappear" because of grout/mortar/etc in the setting simply did not come about. And there he was at the end of the row with a 4mm sliver of tile needed to finish the pattern.

The boarder has already caused you a delay. I would say the same time will be required to fix this issue as it did to fix the first issue.

I guess the question becomes which is worse (worse for you...everyone is different) the visual appearance of the corner of a shower (which has been done to technical perfection...but not visually appealing) vs. the extra few weeks it will take to remedy this problem (allowing for cure times, etc) and the extra cost it will take to make the fix happen.

Therein lies the answer.
3 Likes    Bookmark   Thanked by theskip    January 14, 2014 at 5:11PM
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gypsyrose17
Guess you can always pretend it is the design you chose...
    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 5:14PM
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theskip
Does this look like an acceptable solution? He would be applying this glass bullnose around the perimeter to create another border to hide those little dark triangle pieces. Sadly, the grout lines won't match up. I don't think this is acceptable ... I think it looks really bad. But the only other option is to rip it all out, re-drywall and retile the whole thing. ($$$) :(
    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 6:04AM
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anitanazar
No. The bullnose looks like patch-work. I would border the herringbone tile wall. It would look intentional as you have a border on the other stacked tile wall. Good luck!
3 Likes    Bookmark   Thanked by theskip    January 15, 2014 at 6:12AM
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PRO
ASVInteriors
I agree with Cancork. Sadly the best laid plans (sorry about the pun) don't always go to plan. He seems to have done meticulous work apart from that. No to the bullnose.
Anitanazar's proposal to place a border around it is not a bad solution. Do you have enough tile? Bear in mind that you will have water catchment at the base if you do a border on all 4 sides.
    Bookmark   Thanked by theskip    January 15, 2014 at 6:18AM
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theskip
He said in order to apply a border the whole herringbone wall needs to come down and be redone.
    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 6:23AM
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PRO
TILE SUPPLY SOLUTIONS LTD
Shannon , would it be possible to get a closer (close up) picture of the corner - difficult to see at the moment.
    Bookmark   Thanked by theskip    January 15, 2014 at 6:24AM
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theskip
Yes I am going to the house in an hour and will take more photos. Thank you!
    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 6:44AM
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PRO
Should You Sell Or Should You Stay
This is a case of not considering every possibility before starting a job or lack of experience. In your third image you can clearly see the shadows in the tiles. That's what is happening in the little triangles. The installer should have laid out the tiles prior to installation just as you would do for a floor. This way you can make sure that you don't end up with miniscule pieces or slivers.

To fix this properly will cost money. The solution offered in the third image is unacceptable.

The way I see is to install a cement board over top of the tiles on the wall to the right and tile again. The build up will cover the triangle tiles.

Or.......maybe, just maybe you can find a paint (think craft store) that will adhere to glass in a wet area in the right colour and painstakingly paint the little triangles. Do test this in a very similar setting.

Note; when you enlarge the third images you can see a triangular corner of a full tile to the left of the cardboard - same thing happening there. It is the nature of a glass tile.

As mentioned earlier, a border can be another solution, but if you choose to take that route, I would also install one over top of the tile walls on both sides of the herringbone wall. Cut a strip of the tile border going on last so that they appear of equal width.
1 Like    Bookmark   Thanked by theskip    January 15, 2014 at 7:02AM
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santoslhauper
What does the corner at the other end of the wall look like? I agree with others that this appears to be poor planning by the installer. Will know for sure after seeing the other side. On the last vertical course, that tile should either be cut from the top corner at a 45deg angle (preferable), or should be a whole tile. I assume he started at the other end, so if you look at that end, see how that side was started. He should have had the ability to 'push' the tiles on the other end so that he ends up with the proper cut on the corner tiles, eliminating that little triangle. If you look at the herringbone pattern you posted with the bullnose, you can see how that last course should look.
1 Like    Bookmark   Thanked by theskip    January 15, 2014 at 7:47AM
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PRO
Incite Design
I've been on job sites before where the tile job doesn't turn out to specifications and I have to side with the owner on it. Even though it was hard for the contractor, I've had them rip out entire backsplashes in kitchens and redo the job because I don't want the client to look at the job and think "That really bugs me and I wish we did something about it back then." It is a difficult decision to be sure...
5 Likes    Bookmark   Thanked by theskip    January 15, 2014 at 7:58AM
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sunnydrew
The tile is so beautiful otherwise. I think that it can maybe be from the back buttering of the small triangles as well. If they were not completely covered with thin set, then the glass edges show up as dark. I think that after a while you won't notice as much. if you have not paid for it all, do not until you are completely satisfied.
I have just tiled my back splash and saw every minute imperfection during the process. I have scratches on my 4 x 12 glass tiles and a cloudy haze remaining. I am awaiting a decision on what is to be done. Since I paid in full, there is no urgency on the part of the installer. If I owed them still, they would be more responsive.
They replaced one badly cracked tile by the outlet gladly, but the extreme mess and slight damage to a freshly painted wall, made me realize I can't imagine having it all re-done. I am stuck. I wish you resolution to your problem, but maybe it is not really so bad.
1 Like    Bookmark   Thanked by theskip    January 15, 2014 at 8:18AM
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architectrunnerguy
I'm with Should You Sell.

I'm not a professional tile guy but over the years have built three houses and done all the tile work in them myself. I've done bathrooms (showers, baths and floors), kitchen floors, fireplace surrounds, counter back splashes, etc. Installed Mexican tile, glass tile, ceramic tile. So, while I haven't done any work for any one else, I do have a far bit of experience.

Your tile guy should have figured out where the pattern lines would fall prior to construction. The way this is done for a tricky pattern on a wall is to "dry lay" it all out on a floor.

I did this exact thing for a complicated fireplace surround (photos). I laid it all out on the floor so I knew the tile would not only be centered around the three piece band in the center but leave me no small pieces in the arch with whole pieces going all the way and ending at the fireplace edge perfectly and the center of the arch was exactly tangent with a horizontal tile joint so my three square tile band at the top lines up with the running bond tile . Same thing with the dark border on the hearth. That was all "dry laid". Joints adjusted so it came out even.

All this planning takes considerable time but in this wacky world we live in, that's usually what the best result demands.

I don't know what the condition is like at the other corner but what's damning here is it's soooo close. It appears only about a quarter inch from the tile corner touching the wall corner and thus no small triangle. If that leaves a similar small triangle at the other wall then the whole could have slid over more so to have bigger tiles at the other end. And looks like there's a lot of play in that the horizontal distance between "points" is six or seven times the width of the triangles.

I think your guy screwed up.
2 Likes    Bookmark   Thanked by theskip    January 15, 2014 at 8:56AM
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theskip
Just got back from the house. Here are the photos:
    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 10:10AM
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saratogaswizzlestick
I would make him rip it out. The corner bead looks odd.
2 Likes    Bookmark   Thanked by theskip    January 15, 2014 at 10:17AM
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architectrunnerguy
I agree about the corner bead. The resolution is lousy but like I noted above, it looks like if he just slid the whole thing over an inch it would have worked out with no small pieces at either end. Tile work is mostly about planning.
3 Likes    Bookmark   Thanked by theskip    January 15, 2014 at 10:29AM
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PRO
Adrian J. Naquin Interior Design L.L.C.
If you were my client and the tile guy had not brought this to my attention I would have had a problem with this resulting problem, but since no one keep an eye on him during install not much ground to object. I know this won't sound good but often an owner won't take a look at the total project visual once completed and they really should especially in regards to $ . I would be careful not to obsess about the corner condition remember that the shower curtain will help distract from this element and rather than spend the money , I would use the money to upgrade the other areas in the project . It is easy to obsess without all the actual finish elements being in place. Sorry for my pragmatic approach to the problem.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 10:42AM
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theskip
The shower curtain won't hide anything - the curtain panel will hang on the other side - the one without the little triangles. And it certainly won't help draw your eye away from the glaringly poor work in that corner. I am having him re-do it.
    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 12:01PM
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lucindanyc
I had a related issue with a poor quality tile install that I am still negotiating through. If you don't mind my asking, who is absorbing the cost of the redo?
    Bookmark   Thanked by theskip    January 15, 2014 at 12:54PM
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architectrunnerguy
Yeah, like lucindanyc, I'm curious as to that question too. And feel entirely free to show him my post above about the importance of planning.
1 Like    Bookmark   Thanked by theskip    January 15, 2014 at 1:05PM
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gypsyrose17
i.e. not keeping an eye on the tile installation....you are paying a professional, you should not HAVE to keep an eye on him/her.
7 Likes    Bookmark   Thanked by theskip    January 15, 2014 at 1:08PM
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theskip
Exactly. I can't babysit everyone. And I certainly cannot be an "expert" in all fields. What would happen if we were not able to visit the home as often as we can? (We just moved from Canada to the US but construction began when we were sill in Canada). I said that I would pay for the new tile but NOT the labor costs. I wanted to make it as easy and painless as possible for everyone involved. The builder said that was more than fair.
    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 3:12PM
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theskip
He wants to tile right over the existing wall. Thoughts?
    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 3:16PM
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grobby
Don't have a fix for this problem, but have worked with many professionals - tiling, painting,
etc. I think it's always a good idea to ask the installer if they have experience with the exact product you're planning to install and if they foresee any problems. Can see where herringbone would be a challenge to anyone less than the most experienced.
1 Like    Bookmark   Thanked by theskip    January 15, 2014 at 3:21PM
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architectrunnerguy
Since it's glass tile, I don't think that will work as the tile is transparent. The texture below may show through. One clue should be in instructions for glass tile it always says to use white mastic if the grout is white. That's because the color of the mastic will show through.
2 Likes    Bookmark   Thanked by theskip    January 15, 2014 at 3:24PM
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my1gmail
I am no expert, and on the face of it, it doesn't sound like a good idea to me, but a quick google of "can you tile over tile" would indicate that you can. But you should educate yourself before agreeing to this.
    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 3:26PM
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theskip
He said it won't be an issue. Should I press to have it all ripped down and re-drywalled and then tiled? Will that affect the side walls? (We are leaving those as is and just redoing the herringbone wall). So upset.
    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 3:26PM
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gypsyrose17
i.e. tile over existing wall...you mean over the titles he just installed incorrectly? rather than removing them? All at once I feel impending doom...sounds like a heck of a "fix" for something installed "new"...any future leak or plumbing issues will be a nightmare...makes me think of water seal integrity, etc... Couldn't hurt to bring your photos to your local Home Depot/Lowe's or even tile store and share the situation with the tile guru there to see what they would recommend...at least it wouldn't cost anything except your time.
1 Like    Bookmark   Thanked by theskip    January 15, 2014 at 3:31PM
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architectrunnerguy
I think I'd insist on getting it back to normal tile backer. same as would be there without the screwup. Interesting that he's taking care of all the labor but is looking for ways to REDUCE the labor.

Water/tile/backing/later problems is something you don't want to deal with after he's long gone.
2 Likes    Bookmark   Thanked by theskip    January 15, 2014 at 3:42PM
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PRO
Should You Sell Or Should You Stay
Board and tile over existing right side wall or rip the right side wall out, build it up and redo the right side wall - the wall that has the taps and shower head in it - as long as it works with the tub below. This will cover the little triangles. The corner bead looks like a fixed up job. I don't think you have that bad of an installer, because it looks like he/she went to great lengths to protect the tub. Don't be too upset (I get it though) count your blessings instead. Don't wait for something way worse to put it in perspective. Just saying. Call me crazy, but I have resorted to nail polish for a fix on glass tiles before. Read my earlier comments.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 3:46PM
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theskip
It's a shame he was more interested in protecting the inexpensive tub and not overly concerned about the outcome of his tile installation. Sorry ... I am just so irritated with all of this. It is $1200 in tile and labor was exceptionally high since each tile was individual and not on a mesh background. It took a week for completion. If we redo the herringbone wall it will be approx $600 out of my pocket for the new tile - something I am okay contributing to have it done properly. I am nervous because he is doing all of the tile work in the home and this is the inexpensive tile. If things go wrong on the other projects we are in serious trouble. :(
    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 3:58PM
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theskip
And it's sad because I like him - he is a genuine nice guy who wants to see us happy. I just don't trust his methods any more and feel sick over potential doom ahead.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 4:00PM
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lucindanyc
I completely understand how you are feeling. In my situation, the tile installed was not the tile I selected. Unfortunately, my designer did not catch this. She admitted it was her mistake, but was only willing to cover the cost of tiling over the wrong tile. I felt uncomfortable with this and absorbed the cost myself to have all of it ripped out so I could be confident in the installation. I did discover that everyone paid much more attention to the quality of the future tile work in the other areas after this BIG mistake. Your tile is beautiful!
1 Like    Bookmark   Thanked by theskip    January 15, 2014 at 4:21PM
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vkilpatrick
Theskip-this is so upsetting! That beautiful tile and all your planning. :-(. I just feel sick for you.
We just built a house too and I spent a gazillion hours on houzz looking at pics and sorting through samples-so I totally sympathize. Picking the tile was BY FAR the most difficult for me.
I think the trim might look better if you put it all around. What looks unbalanced to me is that it is two "posts". But if it trimmed out the wall-ceiling space on all three walls I think it would look a lot better. I think it would be a HUGE mistake to tile over that tile with a glass tile--I saw that done on HGTV once and it was a helluva mess. Every grout line and texture showed through. They had to rip out everything and redo it.
We put herringbone around our fireplace and the tile is laid so the cuts are symmetrical all around.
I really hope you get this resolved-thinking good thoughts for you and your home.
Vicki
Kingston, Ontario
2 Likes    Bookmark   Thanked by theskip    January 15, 2014 at 4:28PM
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vkilpatrick
I'm just re-looking at the bead. I think the bead put all around the top would look great and not just like a patch job! It really does bring the size of the tiles in the corner to be very close to the same (visually anyway). It's an interesting detail, and I like it. Sarah Richardson uses that type of trim all the time, and she's Canadian so you just KNOW she's smart.
;-D
    Bookmark   Thanked by theskip    January 15, 2014 at 4:45PM
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vkilpatrick
Here is kind of what I was talking about--I love this look. It looks so finished. Not sure how the horizontal would meet the vertical though-maybe there is a corner block available?
    Bookmark   Thanked by theskip    January 15, 2014 at 4:58PM
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theskip
This is what the corner bead looks like up close. Terrible. See how it cuts the vertical border tiles in half? Now you have all these different width lines all over. Not an option.
    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 5:01PM
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theskip
Oh ... and the horizontal seams in the bullnose won't match the horizontal seams in the border pieces. So that option is out.
    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 5:02PM
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theskip
That looks better because the tile is an exact match. The "bullnose" in our case is darker/more opaque than our field tiles. :(
    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 5:02PM
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gypsyrose17
Perhaps something along the line of a strip of round beads in lieu of the strips of columns...though I would still worry about water getting in behind there if not grouted/sealed properly.
    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 5:04PM
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theskip
A better view.
    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 5:08PM
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vkilpatrick
Yeah, you're right. It wouldn't work. The bottom line is he screwed up and needs to make it right. No patch jobs, no cover ups, and no money out of your pocket in my opinion.
Ugh. You must be sick over this--I totally remember that feeling of finding mistakes and dreading having them fixed.
I just feel so bad for you!
1 Like    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 5:21PM
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theskip
I am going to tell him to rip it out, re-drywall and retile the herringbone wall. It's a brand new construction home so it seems absolutely absurd to be tiling over tile. I will still stand by my offer to pay for the tile but I am not paying anything for the necessary labour. Thanks everyone!
4 Likes    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 5:24PM
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gypsyrose17
Been discussing with hubby ripping out our spa tub (which I hate that came with home) and installing a walk-in shower...now I am unsure if I am up to that right now...keep us updated to completion of the re-do!
    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 5:30PM
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alwaysdesigning
In our new house the tile man did not look at the carefully drawn tile layout of our guest tub wall and installed the tile horizontally on all 3 sides instead of vertically, to match the direction of the matching floor tile. I had them rip it out and do it over. It's their mistake and they paid for it in supplies and labor. Have him do it over and have someone lay it out for him. It appears from other pics I see online that the corner tiles all need to be cut at an angle in half, and not laid in full size or you get those gaps. Take some pictures and show him. He may just be clueless in how this is done? Good luck.
    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 5:37PM
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PRO
Renostralia Pty Ltd
This is how we work before tiling starts or even choice of tiles: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=311874145582599&set=exp.311873558915991.unitary&type=1&theater

Serge

Renostralia.com.au
1 Like    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 5:37PM
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PRO
Renostralia Pty Ltd
Send us precise (and accurate) dimensions of the area, the dimensions and photo of the single tile and we'll send you the best layout(s).
2 Likes    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 5:46PM
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theskip
This is the tile (in white) http://annsacks.com/common/resources/Jute_Tearsheet.pdf
Size of tile: 2”x 6”x 5/16”
Tub is 5 feet so wall is also 5 feet wide.
    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 5:52PM
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santoslhauper
As frustrating as it is to deal with this, nobody's perfect all the time. Hopefully your installer is a good one and just had a bad day. If he is a good one, he should understand it should be fixed right - rip it out and start again.
    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 5:56PM
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theskip
I don't expect perfection all the time. But I do expect an installer to do a dry run before placing the tiles OR to say something after the first "row" was completed so we could have addressed the issue then (border or change scale).
    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 5:59PM
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saratogaswizzlestick
I Was the GC for my house and quality control is key. If you accepted the bead you would always regret it. Tiling over what is there does not make sense with a glass tile but I don't know enough to make an educated call on that. I love the tile you are picking, gorgeous.
1 Like    Bookmark   Thanked by theskip    January 15, 2014 at 6:07PM
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architectrunnerguy
"I am going to tell him to rip it out, re-drywall and retile the herringbone wall."

Good. I think you're being more then fair agreeing to pay for the tile. While the problem now is readily apparent, if there's a problem with a non standard backing, that won't be apparent for some time. Don't think there's been a lot of testing of adhering tile to glass!
2 Likes    Bookmark   Thanked by theskip    January 16, 2014 at 2:18AM
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theskip
So now he said he wan't just rip out and redo the back herringbone wall because the tiles are connected into each other on the side walls? He said he would have to rip it all out and retile all three walls
    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 6:49AM
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santoslhauper
He probably tiled the herringbone wall first, then the other walls, so in the corner, the other walls' tile sit over the herringbone tile. Seems like it at worst he'd just have to uninstall the last course on the stacked tile wall. It appears we can throw out the good installer having a bad day theory.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 7:34AM
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anitanazar
@theskip - I wouldn't think about it too much. Have him re-do the whole thing.

You have one chance to get this right, and if it's not it will forever annoy you (I know it would annoy me immensely!). Even if I had to shell out the full cost to do it again I would. Although you should negotiate to split the costs with the tile guy. You want to be fair so he can do a good job the second time around. Good luck!
1 Like    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 7:35AM
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gypsyrose17
Sounds like your installer is having a snit fit...like he just doesn't want to fix it properly.
    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 1:33PM
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PRO
TILE SUPPLY SOLUTIONS LTD
It is simply not very good.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 9:53AM
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architectrunnerguy
So what happened here? How did it turn out?
2 Likes    Bookmark   March 6, 2014 at 2:45PM
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vkilpatrick
Yes, I'd love to know too! How did this end up?
1 Like    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 1:26PM
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tree_monkey
Surprised no one caught this. The cut glass tile is picking up the thinset color. I would have used a white thinset material. Place a cut tile against something colored and you will see the color transfer. Uncut tiles don't do this for some reason. My personal not professional experience!
    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 2:04AM
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