What’s wrong with this tile?

Brandi Adams
11 days ago

The tile does not look smooth to me. This wasn’t a diy job. We hired someone that had done work for us previously, but he seemed rushed this time around. We used an epocry grout because we were told it would hold up better to mold and staining. Did he not apply it correctly or were the tiles not laid evenly?

There also seems to be some sloppy work around the inset. Is there any way to fix these things without completely tearing it out?

Comments (22)

  • PRO
    Beth H. :

    it's not the best tile work I've seen, but it's not the worst. (the tiny slivers in the corner show an inexperienced or poor tile worker)

    It looks like too much of the grout was wiped from the joints. like he wiped too deeply and removed too much.

    epoxy grout is diff than other cementious grouts. normally very little water is used during the wiping or cleaning process.

    what did he say after you mentioned to him?

    you also should NOT have grout between tub and bottom row, or grout in the vertical corners. those should be caulked w/100% silicone

    here's some errors I see. look at the arrows.

    are the shelves slanted downward to allow draining of any water trapped in the niche? they should be.

    the circles point to uneven tiles on the ends. slivers are a no-no and mean he didn't do a dry layout

    the protruding tiles are made more apparent by the overhead lighting. those tiles could be on 'high' spots. the wall prob wasn't perfectly plumb. A good tile setter will make sure walls are square and plumb before setting tiles.

    i don't know what you paid for this job, so I don't know if you got a bargain or were over-charged.

    Do you know what kind of waterproofing was done behind the tiles?

  • Brandi Adams

    We used the same grout on the mosaic tile floor and it didn't cure in certain areas. He said to give it more time. I called the supplier and they said it was either mixed wrong or applied incorrectly. He denied it. We have since stopped working with him and now have someone else fixing all of these issues. I know that most contractors would rather tear it out and start from scratch instead of fix someone else's work. I'm just hoping there are ways to fix these imperfections or at least make them much less noticeable. Is it possible to apply another layer of epoxy grout over the existing grout? He definitely grouted the tub/tile seam and corner seams. Do we need to remove that? Or can we caulk over those areas?

  • PRO
    Beth H. :

    it should be removed from the joints around the tub and in the corners and much as possible, then apply the silicone.

    as for the rest, he's bs'ing you. epoxy grout isn't like the cement grout. it dries quickly.

    I don't know which brand you used, so You'll have to contact the manufacturer (not the supplier. call the actual company and ask advice) and ask them their advice about re-coating what's currently there.

    did you pay the tile guy in full? he won't come back and fix anything?

    what about the waterproofing issue? how was that done?

  • Brandi Adams

    We paid $4000 for him to demo and retile the floor and shower. That covers the labor only and also includes some minor drywall work in the bathroom. He also laid heated floor mats for us. I feel sick that there are so many issues and we're out that money.

    A friend's husband mentioned red guard. I know that wasn't done prior to tiling. I believe it was just backer board. The niche does not have slopping. Since there are so any issues around the niche, is it possible to demo/retile those areas without demoing the whole thing? I also don't love how the Schluter edging turned out the cuts aren't square and there are notches in the tile. There are just so many errors and I hate to think about demoing it and having the waste and added cost of redoing it all.

  • PRO
    Beth H. :

    Have you brought up all these issues to him? by law, you're supposed to give him the opportunity to fix it. If he refuses (get everything in a text or email) then you could possibly have a small claims court issue. again, up to you.

    Does he have a contractors license? call the state licensing board and file a complaint if he fails to fix anything.

    Yelp page? put out your complaints there too.

    4K is on the low end, so I'd say you got your money's worth for that. Did you have any other estimates?

    Call in a reputable (check references, yelp, state board, etc) tile setter and have him evaluate what was done. Have him list the areas that he thinks are sub-par. Present these to the other tile guy and see if he will address them. if he refuses, then go forward w/above^

    I'm sorry, but we see this on here all the time. Poor homeowners pay good money and expect good work, and instead they're ripped off. I wish I had an easy answer for you.

    BTW, you don't have to use Redgard. If he used backer board but put a vapor barrier behind it (between the studs and the backer board) that is minimum requirement. you wouldn't want to use Redgard w/the vapor barrier as it would create a mold sandwich problem should water seep in behind.

    did he use thinset mortar to set those tiles? any idea? (if he used Mastic, it will all need to come out)

    removing those tiles will prob require new backer boards. and those should be properly set anyway so that the walls are level and plumb.

    go to the JohnBridge tile forum and educate yourself on how to waterproof showers. wealth of info over there. Plus, they will answer any questions on their forums.

  • SJ McCarthy

    The biggest issue is the lack of proper water proofing. If you are not 100% sure the 'guy' used red guard (or any such moisture barrier) then you will need to have this redone. The lack of slope of the niche is a HUGE red flag. The grout failing to 'set' is another red flag.

    The $4K is a drop in the bucket compared to what WILL HAPPEN if you allow this shower to be used. Imagine finding $50K worth of water damage in 5 years time. That's when the cost goes up.

    Hire a professional tiler and have him/her come in and assess what is going on. Do you have photos of work in progress?

    The ONLY way you can SAVE this shower (yep...the whole thing) is if you can PROVE the 'guy' (not a professional tile setter obviously) PROPERLY INSTALLED a moisture barrier BEFORE setting the tiles. This proof is the one and only way you can 'save' this job.

    I know this is upsetting. There is nothing I can do from behind a computer screen that will help you. The only thing I can say is the crappy tile job has brought you to this forum where you can get advice. The bad tiling job has probably saved you tens of thousands of dollars in water damage - 5 years from now.

    If you have any before or during photos please post them. We will try to diagnose anything we spot.

  • Brandi Adams

    This is the only progress picture I have of the shower. And I’m guessing this is not right 😩

  • cpartist

    Unless he put some sort of moisture barrier behind the Durock, then it’s a complete tear out and redo

  • millworkman

    "This is the only progress picture I have of the shower. And I’m guessing this is not right "

    Not. Even. Close. Durock is not installed properly. Complete do over, now or when you have rot, your choice.

  • Brandi Adams

    We're going to have it torn out and done over. The previous gardenweb post had some good information and the person suggested reading books about tile work, but I don't know that we're in the position to study up on tile before we start over with someone else since we only have one bathroom. The post also said that the majority of tile installers don't waterproof correctly. This is quite frustrating, but maybe par for the industry. I don't study auto mechanics before I take my car to the body shop for work so I don't understand why it's so hard to weed through qualified workers when it comes to remodeling. I generally read reviews or use someone that is recommended by family/friends, which is what we did in this case. I guess it's pointless to stay frustrated and we need to be more informed moving forward. What's the best way to waterproof prior to tile? When we start interviewing new tile installers, I'd like to know what answers to look for this time around.

  • PRO
    Patricia Colwell Consulting

    I hate to say but this will be a gut job the waterproofing has to be done right before anything else and since it is being ripped out I would suggest larger format tile in the shower and no niche. Ask them how they waterproof and ask for references that you can talk to. I like schluter products for waterproofing but red gaurd is good too. BTW make sure you are home when work is being done . Either product is only as good as the installer.

  • live_wire_oak And dont ask

    for narrow grout lines next time. It’s against industry standards when you have wavy tile.

  • Brandi Adams

    @live_wire_oak What thickness of grout lines can we have with subway tile?

  • Brandi Adams

    @Patricia Colwell Consulting Do you have any recommendations for alternatives if we don't do the niche? It's our only bathroom for a family of 4 with 2 young kids, so we tend to have several types of shampoo/condition, bubble bath, etc. We thought it would be the best solution for holding these items.

  • PRO
    Dragonfly Tile & Stone Works, Inc.

    Brandi, You are getting some good information here but be careful. You do need a professional tile installer and I can assure you that the actual professionals know proper standards for waterproofing and all other aspects of the job, including grout joint, material selections, etc. You do not have to become on expert on tile installation. You just need to hire correctly. (And please don't assume that "Red Guard" should be included in a waterproofing system as, while if used properly it is an approved method, it is not the most common method for many professionals). Live wire posted a link to our certified installers by area. That's a good starting place. Keep in mind, that depending on your residing state, there may be some limitations on the ability of the trade to perform work right now due to COVID 19 work restrictions. There will also be other impactors regarding individual company policies, availability of the materials required, and more. Hopefully you have another bathroom to use in the meantime. If you have trouble locating a professional, you can repost your geographic area here for assistance. I might add that there are areas of the country with more unqualified labor than others, and this is a problem that our industry is continually working on, hence the growth of Certified Tile Installers (and there are many installers who are qualified but not yet certified although certification is growing exponentially). Another resource is to check for members of the NTCA (National Tile Contractors Association) as those members are likely more committed to training and professional standards.

  • PRO
    Beth H. :

    brandi, your bathroom should be ok to use for at least awhile.

    IF there is a vapor barrier behind the Durock, it's minimum requirement for waterproofing. As stated, you don't do a vapor barrier behind the Durock, and then do Redgard on the front of it. that's a no-no. It's one or the other, not both. Redgard is not always mandatory. Although, for that niche, it might have been a good idea. (niches can trap a lot of water, especially if they aren't sloped)

    this is a vapor barrier behind the Durock. This is perfectly acceptable. People freak out if they don't see Redgard but this is fine to tile.

    My concern w/yours is that he didn't mud over all of the joints, I don't see any proper tape for those joints, and I don't know if he used the right screws at the right spacing.

    As Dragonfly stated, a real tile professional will know all of this.

    The mesh tape I was referring to. I don't know if he used this on yours. also notice all of the screws and proper spacing. this tape will then get cover w/a thin layer of mortar and skimmed smooth.

    I've had my shower done just like yours (with the vapor barrier behind it) and it was fine for over 10 years. ( it would have gone longer but we remodeled and pulled it all out. there wasn't once ounce of water damage or mold to anything behind the cement board.)

    other methods for waterproofing include a Kerdi membrane (diff names for it, but it's the orange waffle looking thing),, Cement board with vapor behind it, or Redgard on the front of it, or old school mud walls. That's what I had w/mine. The advantage to old school mud is that they can get your walls almost perfectly level and plumb.

    But, a good tile setter can also hang cement board and skim it properly so that it is also hung level.

    (notice how my end tiles are all symmetrical and not slivers. your tile guy should do a dry layout in order to determine the best pattern and where to start.

    you might also want to go w/larger tiles rather than a 3x6. less grout joints to clean for you.

    Do your research w/the next guy.

    (and, if you don't find proper vapor barrier behind your walls when you remove it (take a video while you're doing it) you may be able to get compensation if you go to small claims court. just document everything and get things in writing from the new tile guy.

  • PRO
    Patricia Colwell Consulting

    IMO niches are usually the first spot to see water damage just do an over the wall holder and really how many types of shampoo and body scrub are needed.

  • kudzu9


    Regarding your question about niches... I've had showers with them and showers without. I've come to prefer showers without and use an alternative method of storing shampoo, etc. The reasons I don't like them are:

    1. They are annoying to keep clean as soap and dirt tend to impregnate the grout lines over time.

    2. They are a complication in tiling because the location of the space they are built into and the dimensions are additional factors for the tiler to deal with and still make everything look balanced.

    3. They can be an additional source of leaks, especially if they are not sloped properly.

    I know people like their niches, and a good tile person can make everything look balanced and great. But I'm done with them. There are many options that I think are cleaner-looking, easier to keep clean, and less potentially problematic, such as a:

    Corner shelf, or Glass shelf

    Or, if you have room, you can opt for a small teak table that can sit in the corner and be removed if you want: Teak shower table

  • PRO
    Beth H. :

    Brandi, think about putting the niche on the far back wall. If you have multiple people using this bathroom, that's a lot of products for a few shelves. There's no reason a niche has to leak or get slimy if it's done and positioned correctly.

    I have a tub/shower combo w/a niche in the back. it doesn't get a lot of water spray and it's easy to keep clean.

    In my master shower, I put the niche in the front wall. It rarely gets wet, believe it or not. It solid marble too. no issues with it in this position.

    this was a shower I designed for a client. this niche is in the far, back wall. With the stud placement, it was one of the few areas available. tiler used a pre-molded niche insert.

    they don't leak.

    BTW, these are the tiles I was referring to. 3x12 This layout is a stacked layout. a bit more modern looking than the standard brick pattern. You'll also need to have bullnose tiles if you will be using them at the edges (like above) if not, use a metal Schluter strip for outsides or niches edging.

    I don't know what you guy used to edge the tiles on the outer sides

    this one is also a front placement. pre-molded niche insert. these tiles have a handmade look to them but are a 3x12 (or possibly a 4x12) size.

    1/16" grout spacing. (if you have a good tile setter, you can do thin joint lines w/these types of tiles)

    quarter round molding was used for the border edging.

  • catbuilder

    A lot of misinformation above. The diytileguy diagram is wrong. You should never have a vapor barrier behind the cement board and a waterproof membrane on top. One or the other. I don't know why people are saying the seams aren't taped, they look taped and mudded to me. Well, mudded at least. I can't see through the mud to see the tape, obviously. I also see what appears to be the correct spacing of screws. It's perfectly acceptable to put the vapor barrier behind the cement board, BUT the niche has not been waterproofed. Just adding RedGard to this assembly would not cut it. Kerdi membrane does not have waffles. That's Ditra, which is a totally different product. The time to plumb the walls is before the cement board goes up, not after.

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