Back at it again, with a real doozie this time around. This one was a rescue, in that it was completely done by another tile guy, Chattahoochee Glass came in to install the glass door, and they weren’t able to because of the mediocrity (to say it kindly) of the tile job. They recommended a flood test, the customer did so, and surprise surprise, it LEAKED!
So, the homeowners called us and we went out to take a look. Man, was it awful! One of the worst examples of atrocious craftsmanship I’ve ever seen. The homeowner had said she had been reading my blog, and said they had broken every rule in my The top mistakes homeowners make when hiring a tile installer: How to not be a victim of construction malpractice. Here are some before pictures to give the situation context:
The photos say it all! I’m constantly telling people on my websites to beware of hiring the cheap guy, beware of the “cult of personality hire” beware of the builder business model or as I like to call it, The blow and go, minimum standard builder special. I advise: LOOK FOR CONTENT! Photos, videos, credibility, reviews! Bathroom remodeling is a skilled proposition, so don’t be afraid to judge harshly!
We booked this job and here’s what we produced:
Pretty easy to see the difference!
We steered them away from natural stone. Unless you’re ready to spend BIG BUCKS on quality material, most natural stone is junk! It’s brittle, cheap and packed with filler. The maintenance is a nightmare and you’re better off always, always, always going with porcelain.
I like having the before pictures so blatantly awful. The main thing that I say regularly, in private, is if I could bring a customer to one of our jobs and then bring them to the competitions jobs they would 100% of the time hire us, for more money. This contrast proves my point.
I would also like to proudly display our Five star Review:
I can’t say enough wonderful things about Jason and Ben at Hamilton Tile. They were professional, friendly and extremely knowledgeable! Our master bathroom looks amazing! Would recommend to anyone and will use them for any other tiling jobs we have!
What more to say. This is our bread and butter, a customer that has been bamboozled and jerked around by another company and we come in to clean up the mess. That’s who we are. I’m not surprised by anything these days. It’s a throw away world, things are perceived as ‘easy’ so our trade has lost value in the eyes of the masses. When I do talk to potential clients though, I know exactly what our people sound and look like with a very small margin of error.
If you are here, if you have read this article…you care about quality, longevity and functionality. You are a person who values what our small company has to offer. I would like to directly say to you, we want to work for you. We want to exceed your expectations, we want to guide you through this process and ease your mind in knowing you will get a far above standard finish product that will last the life of your home, something you can be proud of, we can be proud of…that will provide you years of comfort and impress your friends and family alike. That’s what we’re about, if you value substance above style, tangible craftsmanship over volume and production…call us today, we would love to book your next bathroom remodel.
My main intention with this blog is to provide value for all interested parties. Today’s advice is a real humdinger because, in my experience, it’s surprising how many people don’t think of it.
So you have a a leaky shower, your first call is to a tile company or re-modeler to see about getting it fixed. Instead of making that call, I want you to make a call to your home insurance provider. Find out what their policies are, get the tear out done, and have an adjuster come out to see the extent of the damage. This is traditionally our first recommendation to our clients who call us for leaky showers. Why not? You pay for the insurance for moments like an unexpected leak.
You may say, “Impossible, insurance doesn’t pay for shower leaks.” Well, I’m here to tell you that a hand full of our clients this year have been able to attain a significant amount of money towards their bathroom remodel from insurance. It’s not a sure thing, because each company has different standards and practices, but more than likely you’ll get a small chunk towards paying for the damage.
It’s difficult to get modern humanity to read, but if you have a leaky shower and you read this blog post…your curiosity could really pay off!
If you work in construction (or you’re a hobbyist) and you care even a little bit about your health and safety, you know how important ear protection is. If you do monotonous activities that involves loud noise, you know how important entertainment is.
The 3M Worktunes Connect hearing protection w/ Bluetooth tech combines both ear protection and the entertainment of your liking at a $50 price point.
This review isn’t going to go into sound quality, it’s good enough for my needs…I mostly listen to podcasts during the day when I’m working alone. This review is more about the longevity and functionality of this product.
I’ve owned three sets of blue tooth headphones at over $50 dollars apiece. All of them were too flimsy to stay on my head during a long day of work, moving around, up and down, etc. Two of those headphones were a victim of the water bucket…adjusting my hat, going to take them off and losing grip, they fall into the water bucket and, DONE.
The best thing about the Worktunes is that THEY STAY ON YOUR HEAD and they are extremely tough. I’ve dropped them on accident, multiple times and they still work very well. They are also simple to operate and connect to the blue tooth on your phone. One button on the side, that’s it. I also purchased an optional case that Amazon recommends, that has worked out great.
In the past, I’ve used inside the ear head phones. Talk about discomfort after a few hours having them in! Couldn’t do it! Also, when you turn on your saw, you can’t hear what you’re listening to. That’s a great part of the Worktunes, you can hear what you’re listening to if you’re using your saw or your lawn mower.
They’re not noise ‘cancelling’ head phones. They muffle the sound of my wet saw, mixer, etc. I bought these mostly because I wanted a better set of head phones, but I killed two birds at once, because I received ear protection as well. At this point I find myself using them even if I’m not listening to anything. If I hear a loud noise now I wonder, “where’s my Worktunes?” Funny how that worked, bought them for music…Keep them to preserve my hearing!
I would also like to mention how long the battery lasts. When you turn them on a voice pops up that says “battery high” I’ve never, not once, after an eight hour day of wearing them and having them on, drained the battery past medium. That’s pretty impressive compared to other headphones I’ve had. They charge with an Android charger. I’m extremely happy with that feature. It’s almost like they were designed for the worker! 3M hit it on the head!
Now that I have them I notice them being sold everywhere. 3M is a big company, so they sell them at Home Depot and Tractor supply to name two.
Now that I’ve had these for over six months, I want to give them my full-throated endorsement. These are worth the money and they’ll last. Listen to your tunes or podcasts, and also protect your ears…Think about how lucky we are, even if your have a completely asinine job to do, you can still listen to something to keep your brain occupied. What a world we live in.
In the photo below, we used the same tile, but edged the inset box in a different manner. As the title of this blog post states, it changes the whole look!
My goal here is to let you know you do have options!
On one side of the photo is an inset box ‘picture framed’ with the ‘bull nose’ tile on the outside of the box.
On the other side is an inset box with the ‘bull nose’ on the inside of the box.
Everything else is the same!
What looks better to you?
Ah, the everlasting question! Mirrored or wrapped.
I want YOU to decide, because ultimately it is personal preference and it is YOUR shower, so YOU should make the decision rather than leaving it up to us. Mind you, sometimes we have to do what works best for the lay out, trying to minimize small pieces, but if it is possible I like to let my customer have the final word.
Hypothetically, if you are working with a 12” tile and your corner tile works out to be 8” on one wall, the corner tile on the corresponding wall will be 4” to give the illusion of the 12” tile “wrapping” around the corner.
If you want to “mirror” the corner, if the tile in the corner works out to be an 8” tile, the corner tile on the corresponding wall will be 8” to “mirror” the corner tile next to it.
A small detail, and very esoteric, but something to pay attention to. I’ve illustrated photos below to help visualize. Neither one is right or wrong, better or worse. Just personal preference.
A recent master bathroom made with a experts touch. This was an enjoyable collaboration between Jason and the homeowner. We were all on the same page for the entirety of the project. We try to keep our process simple. From the first phone call, I asked a few questions to determine if we were a good fit for the homeowner’s needs. This particular client found us on Google and looked at our online content pretty extensively. I loved that so it was a great start to the relationship. We had a couple meetings, sent a detailed bid, figured out what we were going to do and put them on the schedule. They ordered their cabinet and tops, they handled the painting and we took care of the rest. That’s the advantage that we offer. Jason is a four year trade school grad, so he can handle pretty much anything we run into and not to a minimum standard, fly by the seat of your pants style, “good enough from my house” but by the book. Above standard, built to last. So, as a tile company, we seek to guide you. These people trusted our expertise and we listened to their needs. In cooperation we were able to put the pieces together and attain an amazing finished product at a great value for their money, adding distinction to their greatest investment and most personal space, their home.
The Five Star Google review:
“You owe it to your project to consider Hamilton Tile. Out of all the companies that we received quotes from, the professionalism, experience, and cost effectiveness provided by Hamilton could not be beat.
Our master bathroom remodel turned out absolutely perfect, and Hamilton Tile exceeded our every expectation.”
We've been busy building showers for CreatingSpace.com. A basement bathroom is something one can think of as unimportant. "It's only a basement." I hear it all the time. I'd like to convince people to think of their basements as extensions of their living space, something that adds considerable value to their home.
I received news that a recent client for Creating Space sold their house for a considerable wind fall partly because of the amazing design features and improvements in, you guessed it, the basement.
No one lives in their home forever. On average Americans stay in their houses for 7 years. If you're putting money into your house, think of the future sale. Put in the extra money, do it right, think about design. It will pay off.
These showers are amazing, and will impress everyone that sees them. You'll never regret improving a bathroom, and if you do them right by hiring professionals, you can have the centerpiece that will prove to be a game changer.
A Woodlands neighborhood in Woodstock, GA time lapse bathroom remodel.
This one had the added heated floor for good measure. If you've never experienced a heated floor, let me tell you, they are AMAZING.
Read the 5 Star Google Review of this project:
"Hamilton Tile did an excellent job on our master bathroom -- new shower, heated floors, toilets, and tub surround. We had a shower leak and searched for a company that could do it right. They went above and beyond every step of the way -- even doing a leak test pre-tile. They were friendly, professional, and we will use them again for any future projects."
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the people who have called me about their new home, just purchased, that has shoddy tile work, or a shower that is leaking. I’ve been putting myself in their shoes and contemplating what it would be like for me to make the biggest purchase of my life and a year later discovering that I have to drop another $10k to have the shower (that is no better than a cesspool) removed and replaced. What a nightmare!
Who’s responsibility is it to check these things? Some would say the home inspector. Some would say the real estate agent. Some would say the builder has an obligation to build a water tight bathing area.
1. A home inspector does no better than a visual inspection. I’ve experienced them making a fuss about a bead of caulking, but ignoring serious structural issues. Don’t depend on a home inspector alone. Much of what they do is arbitrary and based upon which way the wind is blowing.
2. A real estate agent is trying to sell you a house. They’ll advise the home owner to make esthetic changes. Things like a back splash, counter tops, carpet. They’re not getting into structural stuff and if they do decide to, they’ll do it on the cheap. Real estate agents are notorious price shoppers and you know what happens generally to price shoppers in relation to construction. Quality is ignored, things are built to please the eye and not to last.
3. Builders are much like real estate agents in the fact that they are largely profit driven. Whatever is cheapest and the most economically expedient, they will do. From hiring illegals to cutting every corner imaginable in the construction of the house…builders are guilty. They will call me for short notice work, promising that everything is “ready to go!” I will arrive finding that things are far from ready. Their pay scale is so far below what it takes to run a legitimate business, that it is a miracle the material even gets put on the wall. Their attitude is “good enough.” Craftsmanship and quality take a back seat to speed and volume. Not all, Not all, not all, but generally, builders don’t vet their subs and it is rare that they have long term relationships with them or hold them accountable. This is particularly true in the tile business. When you hire a tile man, in order to get the long-term benefits of tile, you need to trust that the tile is put in to a high standard. You need to trust the person who is doing the work and that person must have a high degree of consciousness and be very scrupulous. Getting those types of people on a builder job is next to impossible, because in Georgia at least, the pay just isn’t there. It’s a race to the bottom. This is why showers are invariable swamps upon purchase of a new home.
So, who is ultimately responsible for the condition of the house before purchase? Who is responsible for knowing the problem areas that could cost big bucks before the purchase? Not the home inspector, not the real estate agent, not the builder, IT’S YOU!
If I were purchasing a new home, even if the tile work looked “new” I would look for a few things. These items will be a signal to you that the tile work is mediocre and may need to be replaced.
1. Creaking and groaning when walking on floors are a sign of movement. Tile does not last when it moves. Walk around the place. Jump up and down! If you see itmove, if you feel movement, that tile work will not last.
2. Cracked grout joints and fractured tile are an indicator of an improper tile installation. When tile has full thin set coverage and no movement in the substrate, it does not crack. Tile is a permanent finish and if it is installed to a high standard it’ll last forever. A cracked floor or wall is not “fixable” you won’t be able to match the tile and it won’t be worth it because the installation is done to such a low standard you’d be putting lipstick on a pig.
3. Turn on the shower…heck, plug the drain hole and do a flood test of the shower pan. Look for wet spots in the room underneath the shower pan. It is of the utmost importance that your shower pan holds water. When you fill up the pan, measure the level when you initially fill it…wait one day come back and measure the water again. If it’s not the same the shower pan is leaking water. If you drain the pan and wait for everything to dry out, and the grout inside the pan looks like it stays wet and will not dry, the shower pan is holding water. That is also a really bad sign.
4. If the homeowner recently had the bathroom redone, (this is a big one) ask them by who. Ask for receipts, find out if the company they used is credible and legitimate or an unlicensed, uninsured, unidentifiable, lowest price, fly by nighter. I get so many calls from people who are wanting to redo their bathroom, but they “don’t want to pay to much because they are moving.” Do you think these people are going to be willing to pay for quality and thorough builders? Or do you think they paid for “just good enough” because they won’t be living in the house in 2 months and it doesn’t really matter. Just because tile looks good or it’s new doesn’t mean it’s done well and it’s going to last. If the tile work is new, find out how it is water proofed. Call the construction company and ask for details about the remodel. Ask for pictures of the remodeling process! Maybe get a signed document from the homeowner in regard to the quality of the remodel. Wood and water don’t mix, and this is extremely important.
5. Look for new caulking or any irregularities in the grouting. Grout and caulking should last a very long time. If caulking is molding (black) that is an indicator of structural issues BEHIND the tile. Showers rot from the inside, out. Be aware of the quick fix! Be aware of the repair that is made just good enough to sell the house.
Now if you’re buying a house and the tile work is old and needs to be remodeled and you are aware of it, that is one thing. Be prepared for a $20k-$50k dollar master bathroom remodel. If you’re prepared for it, that’s fine. Don’t think that a bathroom is good to go out of the box though. There is a lot of shoddy work out there and be aware that the number one priority of the homeowner is to sell the house and maximize profit. You are a potential victim and it is your responsibility as a consumer to understand that the shower, the tile work, is generally a problem area in homes and can be a very costly repair.
My intention is not to trash home sellers. My intention is to convince you that your money has value and you should not have to pay for things twice. You’re buying a new house. The hope is to make the initial investment and to not be forced into an unexpected repair bill.
Another hope of mine is to convince people who are building homes, who are selling homes to not be unethical in their behavior before the sale. Hire people that will do a good job. Pay craftsman who provide a high-quality project. Be aware that consumers are wizening up and accepting their responsibility for their own fate. Know that people are educating themselves. Understand that bathrooms sell houses! Pay the extra money to have it done right! Tile is supposed to last forever, not just long enough for you to cash the check.
I'm a tile guy, so I regularly sing the praise of, you guessed it, TILE. I love tile because it is a permanent finish. Long after wood has swollen and rotted, tile will still be standing tough, ready for whatever you throw at it. No where does that ring more true than when you have tile base.
Tile base is an added feature that we always recommend to our customers. Why not? You have us at your house installing a bathroom or a floor, you mine as well go all the way and have us install the creme de la creme. Most homeowners never think of this added feature and here are my reasons why you should!
1. The ease of cleaning. No matter how tough they say paint is, nothing cleans as easily as tile. If you splash something on it, wipe it off! We all know about the ugly black scuff marks on wood baseboard from your shoes, with tile...you just buff it off!
2. Great for in a wet area. Wood and water do not mix! Tile will always be superior to wood in a bathroom or a laundry room. It's just common sense.
3. As mentioned above, you're already having tile put in, go the extra mile! If you have tile installers at your house, buy a little bit more tile, pay for the extra labor and while they're on site, have them install tile base.
4. The ascetics and individuality of tile base. Your friends and neighbors have wood base, be different and get the ultimate finish.
We like to top ours off with Kerdi Profiles to protect and cover the raw tile edge. As always we fill our bottom gap where the plane changes (between the floor and the base) with silicone sealant. Use a single component grout, like Mapei's Flexcolor for stain resistance and color consistency!
So, on your next tile remodel --- If you aren't presented with the option of tile base, you aren't getting a Hamilton Tile finish! Think about forever and request tile base for that one of a kind, functional finish!
Chameleon tile vent register. Now that's what I call custom.
When we are putting tile in a tub surround we focus on problem areas that we have seen traditionally have problems with water penetration and moisture resistance. Where your tub meets the backer board and along the edge on the outside corners of the tub are problem areas. In your minds eye imagine using this tub, imagine a child playing in the tub, the splash, the waves...there will be a lot of water action in those spots. We mitigate these issues by installing waterproof Kerdi band and also using a water proof sealant to manage the moisture in these areas. This is a full Schluter Systems product, we're not just throwing up cement board or sheet rock and calling it good. Don't skip out on the water proofing even though "it's just a tub surround." Tile is forever, so think like a rain drop!
It's quite difficult for us to book tile floors. It's more than likely because our prices are not competitive compared to the basic builder grade special. To do a floor to a high level, to a lasting finish...the most important aspect is before any tile is even set. Our prices are higher than the competition because of the amount of time we put into floor preparation. Making sure old finishes are ground off, making sure everything is flat. In this particular video we put an uncoupling mat down as a crack suppression. I have to say 80% of companies would have installed right over the concrete. Our business model is long term though, so we're going for 50 years down the road. Let's face it, you pay for that.
My main message to you while you watch this video is, if you've seen tile work done before, do you notice a difference? I could sit here and with skillful rhetoric have you believing wow, those guys are the best there ever will be! That's not what I'm trying to do on this web site. Our world is full of empty words and slogans...I want you to see it with your own eyes and convince yourself. My favorite customer remains the one who takes in some of our content and decides to take the plunge with us! One of my very first qualification questions when people call me is, "Have you researched my company?" It's almost a signal that that particular person cares, and a weight is off my shoulders and they've invested some brain power into the process. A client like that, we can work with!
So, thanks for being here....I value that fact that you've chosen to put some mental juice into your project ----and I want to be the guy who builds you a lasting, beautiful space.
I also received my CTI certification. It was a 9 hours hands on test and I failed it the first time! The first time around I was over 300lbs. Put on a lot of weight during my wife's pregnancy and my body and mind just couldn't hack the brutal test! So I lost 50lbs with the help of Cross Fit 3 days a week and a healthy diet ---and passed it my second go around.
In the tile world this certification is a big deal. There are only 1500 certified tile installers in the whole United States. The hands on test is extremely difficult, not to mention the extensive written test as well. It's a huge accomplishment for me and one that I am very proud of. I could have just gave up the first time, but I chose to come back and try it again.
We're trying to separate ourselves from the pack. I want credibility in this business, I want people to know they're dealing with a serious tradesman and not a basic laborer. There are a lot of the basics in this business and it hurts us all...I'm hoping to see the tradesmen valued again, like a doctor or a lawyer, because we are quite rare in a throw away world, in a "just get it done" world.
We are both certified, ask the competition --- "Are you certified?"
Learn more about the Ceramic Education Foundation and what it means to you by click HERE.
Here's a hot take from my Twitter account where I'm constantly posting about the trials and tribulations of a professional tile guy. If you're a trades person, you know what I'm talking about with this post!
We all have heroes in life ---My tile hero is a local guy named Kris Nardone. Be sure to follow him on Instagram @k_nardonecustomtilework . This guy is the real deal! Visit his website at knardonecustomtilework.weebly.com/ He's a fellow certified tile installer and if all tile installers were like him, it'd be a better industry. Guy inspires me! Here's a picture of me wearing his hat in the Smokey Mountains! I'm a bit of a fan! :P
So, you weren't able to hire us for your big shower build. You weren't willing to wait three months for the craftsmen, the specialists at Hamilton Tile. You had another one of those "tile emergencies" we always hear about... That's fine, but be sure to have the alternative company building your shower do a flood test!
A flood test is when after all the waterproofing is done, you fill the shower pan with a couple inches of water, take a measurement or make a mark, and wait. After 24 hours retake the measurement and see if the level remained the same. Simple as that!
Why do a flood test? The reality is, you shouldn't go backwards once tile work is done. Better safe than sorry, before any tile is set, find out if your pan holds water...
We like to take an opportunity to have some fun and do a photo shoot with floating toys as verification for our customers. This flood test day isn't necessarily expedient for a tile guy, so it often gets skipped. At Hamilton Tile, we do what is in our customers best interest, not what is easiest for us! We've never had a leak, (knock on wood) but you never know!
Hold your installer accountable, be proactive....MAKE THEM DO A FLOOD TEST!
Subway tile can look incredible when your installer uses the little details that come along with professionalism. A lot of curbs I see have a full piece at the front of the curb and a small sliver where it meets the floor. Often time, people will want their curb top trimmed with bull nose which adds a lot of different pieces and many different grout joints. I am opposed to that because of the amount of action the top of your curb sees. That's where your shower door will sit and a ton of water will be hitting that spot, so I want as few pieces as possible!
The best option is a hard surface curb (like a piece of granite) but when you may be on a budget or a time crunch, I believe the best option are White Schluter PVC profiles as edging. I also plan ahead and cut the curb to size so there are full pieces on top of the curb. For the front of the curb, instead of a sliver at the bottom where the curb meets the floor, I'll split the distance and use two full pieces.
Doing this takes PLANNING! That's why I always say a good tile guy thinks 10 steps ahead and 20 years in the future....
Great to see new products, meet some old/new friends and have a day at the Georgia World Congress Center immersed in TILE!
If you've read my blog before you already know that I'm not a fan of bull nose. Stylistically dated, inconsistently manufactured, addition of unnecessary grout lines to name a couple inherent hindrances of this antiquated edging method.
In the past when we showed profiles many people would say that they didn't like the metal look of profiles. Well, Schluter has solved that opposition with their new TRENDLINE PROFILES (yes, you can click the link!) which are a series of colored profiles to match your tile. They come in Quadec, Jolly, and Rondec and they really are a more contemporary look for your shower. Not only that, they serve the same function as bull nose, but do it much better! Less grout lines for dirt to build on leading to a more sanitary space, better quality control coming from the factory leading to a better finished shower! Also, less expensive than bull nose! Who doesn't love that???
Ask your installer about using them on your next shower and add a detail that is sure to impress your neighbors.
I've been having a lot of fun lately creating short videos. This is my second one! Working on my commentary!
This is our latest shower remodel in Marietta, GA. Attached are the before and after pictures, (which I love) a video explanation, as well as our Five star customer review. Enjoyed this project a lot!
We're building our reputation based on these three words:
The Five Star Review:
Project Date: March 2018
Project Price: $10,000 - $49,999
Jason and Ben were a delight to work with. They listened to what we wanted, gave relevant advice (including how to care for our new tiles), and clearly communicated each step of our shower & bath replacement. They were diligent in not creating a mess outside the bathroom, and totally cleaned up the debris and dust from inside the work area. We recommend them highly, and would use them again, if we needed additional tile work. Listen to what they tell you, they know what they’re doing!
Take a moment and feel free to watch my over view video! Lots of information on what makes this installation different from your usual basic, builder grade blow out special...
What other company will provide you with a time lapse video of the most important part of your shower installation, the waterproofing. Here, we love transparency. We are proud of our work and we want you to know what we do will last the life time of your home.