On a regular basis, we come upon finished tile jobs and I wonder, "How did this customer allow themselves to be had to this level?" The answer to that question, many times, is that low information sales staff sell an unsound bill of goods to said consumer or the customer simply did not get a proper consultation period with knowledgeable tile installers. Our perfect customer is one who allows us to employ or extensive consultation process and trusts our expertise in decision making.
We sometimes run into a client who buys a 12" x 24" extremely 'cupped' tile (see past blog entry on cupping) at say $2 a square foot (thinking they got a 'bargain') and they want us to install said tile with a 1/16" grout joint (smallest possible) with a 50% offset(brick set) The poor quality of the tile will make it so no matter what we do we can't get a flat 'lip free' install.
With the standards of tile production falling in order to decrease costs, the actual quality of the tile is falling to a point where the manufacturer will mandate that you don't install the tile with a 50% offset. The basic fact is with more variation in the substrate and the poor quality of the tile, the wider the grout joint has to become in order to ensure a flat install. Also, with low cost tile comes the reality that you won't be able to install it with a 1/16" grout joint. A lot of factors go into getting a perfect tile job and if the installer/builder isn't thinking ten steps ahead you are in danger or a low grade finish. Everything I am portraying here is also verifiable in the Tile Council of North America's handbook, which is the governing body of our industry.
Now when you don't hire principled tile guys and you get your basic production worker, the basic will just go with the old cliché "the customer is always right" as it pertains to grout size and layout. Then you wind up with a finished product like the one you see in the video below. Now if you are spending $10,000+ on a tile floor or shower would you want your finish to turn out like what you see below?
My main point is that our perfect customer is one that has the sense to know they don't know and trusts our expertise. We don't do what's not in the best interest of you and your home. There is value in this mindset. Our goal is 100% customer satisfaction.
To solve the irregularities you see in the floor in the video below, the consumer should have spent more money on floor prep because concrete pour standards are so low and the floors are rarely ready to accept tile. They would have also wanted to either straight set this floor or do the floor with a 1/3 offset. Also, increasing the grout joint size to 3/16" would have disguised the cupping of the tile. Notice the dips, dives and lips on the floor that are obvious to even the untrained eye. I know that stating 'the customer is not always right' may rub people the wrong way, but the world is so boring without a little controversy! I've had to do things I know are wrong in the past and nothing makes for a more miserable project!! With an attitude of abundance and being in demand like we are we can afford to lose jobs that don't allow us to follow the system we have developed for success. We don't put our name on jobs that aren't high standard. Watch the video below. This finished product was completely avoidable and it breaks my heart to see. Unfortunately, this is the new standard that we at Hamilton Tile do battle to break day after day. Please ask us about our first class, low cost consultation opportunities that will help ensure a tile install you will be happy with long into the future, not the tiling version of a triple homicide you see below...