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HELP! Contractors did a bad job with the backsplash. What do I do?!

C Vltrz
December 6, 2018
Hello all, I’m a first time homeowner and I hired a reputable company to do a complete kitchen remodel. We are about 7-8 weeks in and it’s finally coming together! Unfortunately, I do not like the way they installed the backsplash. (See pictures attached) It’s uneven in some parts. From afar you CANNOT tell. But when I’m standing in front of the sink washing dishes...my OCD starts kicking in. This was almost a 25k job...which we paid 20k already. Before they finished. Which I now know, was a bad idea. My question here is...if I complain about it, what can they possibly do? They are not going to remove it and start over I’m sure. Does this happen often?? What should I do in this case? Thank you!!
Comments (30)
  • mark_rachel

    Ask for a complete redo with different tile. If they absolutely refuse then don't pay them.

  • Lynn

    Inform them that the tile job is not acceptable. See what they say, but Rachel (post above) is right..it's a complete redo

  • HU-864795587

    I wouldn't be happy with it and would push for a discount. That said, the pattern of the tile is rather forgiving in precision of tile placement IMHO. I would live with that.

  • Fori

    Ask for a complete tearout and redo, or ask them to discount your final bill so you can have a pro do it. The tiles might have to be reset on the mosaic sheet as they go up, and the last guy didn't bother.

    I don't see a reason to get another tile if you like this one (but installation will be smoother if you do).

  • PRO
    Debbi Washburn

    We have a tile very similar to that in our showroom - roughly the amount shown in your picture and it took him over 2 days just to install it and bags of spacers! I don't think I would be happy with that...

    so sorry

  • Skil367

    Don't give them another dime until this mess is torn out and replaced.

  • PRO

    I'm assuming you were not there when it was installed because if you were there you could have stated your objections or reservations at the time of the install.. Elements that are important to an install. have to be supervised. No matter how you decide to proceed, ( the faulty tiiles should be able to be removed and replaced because tearing it all out make create bigger issues) make sure you are there during any future installation.

  • PRO
    Distinction Tile

    Do you have any leftover by chance? I would set them on the counter and see how they come on the sheets. Sometimes tile is mounted very accurately on sheets and sometimes not. Then I would have a chat with the Installer or General about your next step. I would also not be timid about saying anything when your getting a project done, communication is absolutely key for both parties.

  • PRO
    Beth H. :

    hang on everyone. a lot of times it's the way those tiles are mounted on the sheets. were they individual tiles or were they glued to a sheet? if the latter, it's not his fault. My hex tiles in my shower had the same problem. not all of the tiles were cut exactly the same, and not all of them were perfectly placed on the mesh sheet. Other then removing each one and placing them one by one w/multiple spacers, it's hard to get equality in all of the grout lines.

    I might also add, you're looking at it from 2 inches away. from normal distance, it looks fine.

    do you have any more sheets of the tile? lay them flat and look at them,,,lets see if

    A. the tiles are all equally the same size. and

    B. they are all equally spaced on the mesh.

    now,,,in the first pic, it does look like he got a little sagging. that he should have taken care of by attaching something at the top to hold the mesh sheet in place.

    this is not a complete tear out. these hex mosaics are a PIA to get perfect. and if you aren't starting w/perfect to begin with, it just goes downhill.

    he can remove those crooked tiles are reset them one at a time. not a big deal. call the tile guy back and show him your concern.

  • Lyndee Lee
    If the fault is in the quality of the tile, then the installer should have brought up the issue as soon as it was noticed. I can handle uneven grout lines but not to the extent of a nonexistent grout line. Plus, that first picture should not have the void between the edging and tile. I don't know if it should have been grout or caulk, but it darn well should be present and relatively even.

    One of my pet peeves is contractors/installers installing products and them blaming poor quality materials for bad results. Nope, the time to have concerns with the materials is before installation, when the effects could be minimized, even if it does cause a delay. If being behind schedule is already causing a problem, when will there be time to redo the work? I do not find pressuring a homeowner to accept poor work because it is already finished or behind schedule a poor practice. I am definitely not accusing this contractor of anything shady, just commenting on how often underlying issues are ignored. If someone is attempting to pass off substandard work as acceptable, suddenly the work was impossibly difficult due to poor materials or site conditions...how coincidental...
  • PRO
  • PRO
    Beth H. :

    Lyndee,,,you read all of that into my comment? I said sometimes they aren't set perfectly spaced. That's because you have humans who glue the tiles to the sheets.

    I see what you're saying, but we don't know if that happened here.

    as I stated,,,the first pic looks like sagging. or how your wrote it, "void in between the tiles". yes. that is his fault and I also said he should be called back to redo those.

    Did the installer buy the tiles or did the homeowners? If the latter, it's her responsibility to also check them. Was she there during install? was he able to to tell her, "Hey, a few of the tiles are off, I'll do what I can"?

    All i'm saying is before we jump this guys butt, how about we garner a bit more information? This was not a poor install. Even your best tile setters make small mistakes here and there.

    Let's let them have a chance to remedy the mistake before we burn him at the stake.

    Beverly posted the possible culprit. Home Depot. There ya go. I guarantee they are askew. (if that's what she used) and yes, even in the pics the grout lines aren't even. that's just the way these tiles are.

    should he have told the homeowner?? Ok, yes. I'll go along w/that

  • townlakecakes

    Wow. If the pictures on the website are that bad, how can you expect a contractor to do much better? That photo from HD website is full of uneven grout lines, but also looks like chips.

  • C Vltrz
    Thank you guys for all of your advice!! So we have a project manager who helped us pick out this backsplash that looked FLAWLESS at the Studio 41/Tileroom. The contractors and team are the ones who picked up all of the tile. I was not home for the installation so I couldn’t say anything till now. There was a few leftover sheets and I went ahead and inspected them....looks like they came out of the box like that. Some closer than others. In that case, like someone stated above..I think at that point they should have stopped what they were doing and ask for my approval. Am I wrong?? I spoke to the project manager right after posting this and she told me that I can let the contractor know which tiles I don’t like and he can replace them?? I have no idea how that’s going to work.
  • PRO
    Beth H. :

    they will cut out the tiles, clean out the thinset and reset new tiles. hopefully the grout will match up. You will have to ask the installer why he didn't think to inform someone that the tiles were askew. I can't answer that.

  • PRO
    Beth H. :

    cynthia,,,that sample that you saw at the studio showroom were probably taken off the mesh and handset one at a time. I mean, if they put up a sample w/the uneven spacing, no one would buy the tiles, right? And that's exactly what your tile would have had to do. remove the crooked ones and place them one at a time. Much more work. but I agree, they should have discussed it with you right off the bat.

  • Hillside House

    The first mosaic tile I ever installed (as a DIY homeowner) had the same issue with wonky spacing. I figured out, even then, that I needed to cut out the crooked ones and hand-set them.

    I cannot believe someone would seriously install it like that.

  • Lyndee Lee
    @Beth, I stated very clearly that I was not accusing this contractor of anything shady. I don't know the circumstances but, as I commented, I have a pet peeve about contractors who set high expectations for their performance and then blame materials or jobsite conditions for poor results. I believe the customer should have been told if she picked poor quality or otherwise unsuitable material long before the job was finished.

    Homeowners are not professionals and should not be expected to know all the pitfalls which are common on a particular type of install. A good contractor is going to discuss materials as part of the process, because some materials are more difficult to install and the labor price should increase accordingly.
  • PRO
    Beth H. :

    and I agreed w/you on that. they should have informed her that the tiles were not evenly set before proceeding.

  • PRO
    Studio Ten Interior Design Ltd.

    I totally agree with Lyndee. The contractor is ultimately responsible for the quality of the tile setter's work. If any of our projects were installed that way, it would be ripped out and redone at the contractor's expense. We have run into this a couple of times, and the tile setter usually flags it to the contractor, and the material is either returned or installed piece by piece. If it is like that on the sheet it is possible that the tiles are just not a consistent size and therefore might be impossible to install nicely - in that case it should have been returned. Either way you have the right to reject this, and the contractor is likely going to be understanding - I can't see anyone standing behind an install like that.

  • mark_rachel

    @Beth Even if the tiles were not glued to the the mesh correctly a good installer would fix that problem. I have 2" hex flooring in my master shower & my installer cut MANY out & hand placed them. Just because the installer is too lazy to do that doesn't mean they are off the hook.

  • flopsycat1

    Very cool tile. Certainly looks great at a distance. Let us know how this is resolved.

  • PRO
    Debbi Washburn

    I had the pleasure of watching our tiler install the backsplash in our display that looks just like that. He did have to cut some tiles off the mesh and sometimes just cut a row of mesh just to move things around. He said it was a bit fussy and just takes more time and patience, but it wasn't any harder than any other tile install.

    Hopefully they can get out the bad ones and just replace the pieces that really bother you..

  • mimimomy

    I understand the desire for an A+ grade, not necessarily perfection.. I recently put up some similar tile... took hours longer than expected because they are not equidistant on the mesh ...

    My takeaway is that these small tiles are not for perfectionists (including me). Either that, or expect to pay more for hand placing each tile/removing from mesh where necessary.

    I love your tiles! I would probably live with them because in a way they look more hand-made than manufactured (although I'd have a tiny bit of grout added where that air bubble is). Unless there are a lot of bad tiles that you haven't photographed

    Sometimes there is beauty in imperfection :) I have finally evolved to not worrying quite so much about perfection, because face it, nothing is... When I buy a new car I'm almost relieved once that first scratch happens... I know it sounds silly, but then I don't have to worry about "perfect" anymore!

    As wise people have said "Perfection is the enemy of good."

  • PRO
    Beth H. :

    mama-rachel..and if you read what I wrote, you'll see that's exactly what I said he should have done. Where did I say they are 'off the hook' ? all I said was, don't be so quick to string this guy up when what he started w/were the sheets he was given. A lot of these tile installers work for reputable companies but aren't the sharpest tool in the shed. they basically install what they are told to install without concerns for design or malformed tiles, or whatever else. in their mind, if they were given them to install, that's all they do. I'm not saying it's right, just telling you like it is sometimes.

  • mark_rachel

    "hang on everyone. a lot of times it's the way those tiles are mounted
    on the sheets. were they individual tiles or were they glued to a
    sheet? if the latter, it's not his fault."

    His job is to install properly, no matter if the sheets were poorly constructed.

  • PRO
    Beth H. :

    meaning, it's not his fault the tiles were glued on the mesh incorrectly. everyone that commented up top said what a horrible job he did installing them because they were crooked. that's why I said, "Hang on". I was letting everyone know that these sheets of mosaics often come crooked. that's what I meant by not his fault.

    and for the fourth damn time, yes, the installer should have done a few of them by hand. However, should he have taken each and every tile off the sheet and done them one by one??? uh, no. That's the meaning of, "not his fault". Do you actually expect him to do that? Who is in charge of this project? Why didn't they pay attention to how screwed up the tiles were on the sheet? why didn't that person know enough to catch it, advise the homeowner or give instructions to the installer to do what needed to be done?? You're faulting the wrong person.

    OP hired a company to do the entire kitchen. they are using one of their 'tile guys' on staff. Sometimes you luck out and get someone who's good. Most times you get someone who doesn't speak English and only installs what they're given, without thinking outside the box. they just figure, "this is what boss gave me to put up, i put it up. not my fault if they were crooked".

    OP said this was a 25K job. how much of that went to the tile install, I do not know.

    I also think, overall, it's a decent job. there are a few tiles that are off and should be fixed, but if that's all there is, then I wouldn't do a tear out. The way everyone was acting about his install was a bit much. We've all seen horrible tile jobs on here and this is not one of them.

  • jenwen

    You can't see it at a distance. Fine. The tiles are pretty, and I'm not a perfectionist in any way. I probably would not even have noticed, until six months after everything was done! Then I would chalk it up to human error - nobody is absolutely perfect, and that's the beauty in the world. You say your OCD kicks in while standing in front of the sink doing dishes....since it's not even finished, have you even done dishes yet? And when you do, you will be focusing on the dishes not the tile. I say cut your OCD off, and find the beauty in imperfection.

  • acm

    You can't see the spacing issues at a distance, but there are some unfortunate pattern issues, like the two sets of four brown tiles in a line near the paper towels...

  • Lyndee Lee
    While there are lazy people in every profession, just because a person does not put maximum time and effort possible into a job does not make him lazy. If the installer is an employee, his boss has probably scheduled that task for a certain amount of time and if the employee takes double or triple the length of time expected to complete the job, there is a problem. Somewhere along the way, someone has had a mismatch between expectations and reality and, most likely, there are multiple factors contributing to the problem. Rarely is it fair to put the blame squarely on one set of shoulders. It is a grand leap from having issues with the results to concluding the installer has serious character defects, based on a single participant's viewpoint.

    Judge the work, not the worker.

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