Ceramic tile installation comes with a lot of wastage. Industry standard puts this wastage at 5% for professional floorers. Typically, homeowners who attempt this installation by themselves suffer as high as 10 to 15 percent wastage. This loss may become very significant where tile installation is needed for a large area or the whole house. Hiring a professional ceramic tile installation contractor is a cost-effective and safe option. Safe because more people suffer from musculoskeletal disorders working on flooring, including ceramic tile installations. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 87 floorers in every 10,000 had such injuries between 2003 and 2007.
While you must take into consideration recommended tile installers near you that can help you save cost and eliminate possible casualties, here are some questions you need to ask to ensure you hire the best fit.
Ceramic tile installation contractors are required to be licensed in states like California, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, and Virginia. However, tilers do not need such a specialized license to operate in Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wyoming.
Irrespective of your state’s requirement, it is advised that you use a licensed contractor for your ceramic tiles installation. Licensed ceramic tilers possess the experience and qualification to complete your job neatly, safely, cost-effectively, and to the industry standard. Typically, qualified ceramic tilers have passed the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) or the Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT) certification.
Professional ceramic tile contractors belong to one of the six leading industry organizations, including the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF), the International Masonry Institute (IMI), the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (IUBAC), the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), the Tile Contractors' Association of America (TCAA), and the Tile Council of North America (TCNA). You can confirm the license status of your ceramic tile installation contractors by contacting one of these relevant agencies they belong to.
If you live in a state, county, or city where a tiler requires specialized license you can contact the area's contractors licensing board or local consumer protection office near you to verify your ceramic tiler's license. In areas where a specialized license is not required, contact these agencies to confirm the status of the home improvement license of the contractor.
Annually, one in every five US workers deaths is in the construction sector. Small construction firms, like ceramic tile installation contractors, account for nearly half of these fatalities. The United States Department of Labour recorded about 1,061 construction workers fatalities in 2019 alone. Hence, it is important to ensure your ceramic tile installation contractor holds an updated insurance plan. Such an Insurance plan must protect you from the financial responsibilities of injuries or fatalities that may occur during the ceramic tiles installation. Generally, professional ceramic tile installers should carry general liability insurance, and a workers’ compensation insurance if the firm is more than one-man operation.
Asides being insured, it is also advisable to hire a ceramic tile installation contractor near you who holds a surety bond. A surety bond guarantees that whatever the situation, the tile installer must fulfill their end of the contract. If they fail to do so, the bonding company compensates you. The bond also protects you from financial liability if the tile installer neglects to settle the financial debts to subcontractors or suppliers.
Note, the requirements for bonding vary depending on the state where you reside. In Alabama, a contractor working on a job between $2,500 to $10,000 is required to hold a construction bond, in Ohio, it ranges from $5,000 to $25,000, above $20,000 in Maryland, and between $25,000 and $200,000 in New York. To find out what these requirements are in your area, check with the consumer protection agency.
The tile installation contractors may have subcontractors or coworkers who handle some aspects of the work. Therefore, it becomes necessary to know who and who exactly will be handling your ceramic tiles installation. The rationale for doing this isn't far-fetched. The quality of the work depends on the expertise of the person doing the work. It's also possible to incur extra costs if these coworkers are not adequately insured. Ensure that everyone working on the project is licensed, bonded, and insured.
There are three major types of ceramic tiles, each having its specific use and installation technique. The types of tiles include porcelain, glazed, and unglazed.
Glazed ceramic tiles are more suitable for interior walls and floors because of their wide range of styles, weight, stain resistance, and extra coating to afford slip resistance. Unglazed tiles are denser, lack extra finishing, and are less aesthetically pleasing, they are typically installed on exterior walls. Glazed ceramic and porcelain tiles are best for kitchens, bathrooms, foyers, and living rooms. Porcelain tiles do not have the water retention capacity of glazed and unglazed tiles, therefore they require a different type of adhesive. Certified tilers nearby are knowledgeable about the best installation techniques for any type of ceramic tiles. Therefore, confirm your installer can handle the appropriate ceramic tile you have selected.
Asking the prospective ceramic tile installer for references helps to ascertain the quality of their service. On request, professional tile installers would be ready to provide a list of former clients as well as a portfolio of work. When going through the work portfolio, search for completed works that match your project. You can always proceed to call the references and ask questions about the previous jobs done.
You may also find reviews of customers near you for some local contractors from popular review sites like Google Review, Yelp, or Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Most problems encountered during ceramic tile installation projects are caused by inexperienced installers who install ceramic tiles on surfaces that were not properly prepped for the installation. Sometimes, they may be unaware of the ideal material to use in different kinds of conditions. Some of these common ceramic installation problems include:
- Hollow/Loose Ceramic Tiles: When installing ceramic tiles, subsurface preparation for the slab is key and must be done correctly. The installer needs to ensure that there is no drywall mud or paint on the slab which can result in a lack of adhesion between tile and slab. Therefore, they must mechanically remove any drywall mud or paint by either sanding or scraping the floor. Failure to do so will cause the tile to go hollow.
- Inadequate Expansion and Contraction: The expansion and contraction of ceramic tiles are mostly affected by curing concrete and the chemical reaction process. If the installer fails to instal proper joints, particularly against adjacent surfaces or materials, it can result in the tiles popping into the air.
- Cracking: Ceramic tiles are brittle and can crack without anyone noticing. Although tiles could crack due to excess weight placed on them, more often than not, these cracks are a result of faulty installations.
- Lack of Cleaning: When a ceramic tile is not cleaned properly before installation, it is likely to affect the bonding between the adhesive and the surface on which the tile is being placed. This leads to loose-fitting tiles that come off sooner than later.
- Poor Grouting: If the grout is not mixed properly, it will crack or dip. Also, if the ceramic tile installer fails to place enough grout between the tiles, you may begin to observe dipping after some time.
- Wrong Underlayment: The choice of underlayment is important when installing the ceramic tiles. A good one not only enhances the strength of the tiles but also improves their longevity. For instance, when working in an environment that has a high amount of moisture content, it's advisable to use an impermeable grout with a waterproof underlayment to ensure that the tiles’ surfaces don't get wet and encourage the growth of mold.
- Wrong Mortar Mixing: Most people are unable to mix the mortar properly and this usually results in the tiles shifting which in turn ruins the desired layout of the tiles.
Ceramic tiles come in various sizes, shapes, colors, and makes, these attributes affect the cost of installation. Popular makes of ceramic tiles include handmade, machine-made, retro mosaic, mosaic, penny tiles, and large format. The cost per square foot of these makes are:
The national average for installing ceramic floor tiles for a 200 square-foot room ranges from $300 to $8,000. The charges for tile projects per square foot starts from as low as $13 and may go as high as $83. Other key factors that influence the total cost of installation include the size of the area to be covered, the kind of materials required, and man-hours needed to complete the job. The cost may also include charges for removing old surfaces and prepping the area for the new installation. The average costs, per square foot, for these items are:
Various factors affect the cost of ceramic tile installation ranging from the size of the area to the type of tile you’re going to use. Some of these factors include:
- The size of the installation area: This is a major determinant for the cost of the installation. Tile installation contractors generally charge more for larger projects than smaller ones.
- The size and quality of ceramic tiles used: Ceramic tiles come in several types, sizes, and quality. This affects the prices of the tiles and in turn the cost of ceramic tiles installation.
- The type of material: The final price you would spend on tile installation would be affected by the type of material you choose. Glazed ceramics are cheaper than unglazed and porcelain tiles. The cost of a block of tiles significantly increases with the quality and design.
- Requesting custom work: The tile installation contractor will include in the final bill any custom work you have requested. Mosaics, patterns, borders, and prints require more time and resources, and as such are more expensive.
- Requirements to Prepare the Surface: Certain floors require leveling and extra prep work. In such situations, the tile installation cost tends to be much higher. The same applies when the tile installer needs to use additional tile installation tools for the floor.
- Cutting needs: A floor design that has plenty of corners requires the installer to cut the tiles multiple times. Additionally, custom fitting the tiles requires more work which in turn equals more expenses.
- Difficulty level: The cost of ceramic tiles installation can easily be affected by the difficulty level of the job. Installing tiles on flat open surfaces would be cheaper than having them installed in places with a lot of corners and curves such as plumbing areas or staircases, because they are more labor intensive to instal.
- Transportation and Proximity: Tiles are heavy and fragile substances that must be shipped with utmost care. Therefore, the proximity of the project site to the market can also be factored into the installation cost. Typically, shipping of products of this nature is based on size and weight of an order. Proximity is also one more reason to hire a contractor near you to save more on costs.
It is not a requirement for tile installation contractors to have a college degree. Anyone can become a tile installer with only a high school degree or GED. According to the recruitment expert Zippa, only 10.0% of tile installation contractors have a bachelor's degree and just 1.4% of them have master's degrees. Nonetheless, certain credentials serve as proof of expertise in tile installation. The Tile Council of North America in its Installation and Contractor Qualifications Guide recognizes the following programs and certifications:
- Ceramic Tile Foundation CTI
- International Masonry Institute Contractor College Program
- Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers
- Marble Institute of America Accreditation for Natural Stone Tile Installation Contractors
- National Tile Contractors Association Five Star Contractor Program
- Tile Contractors' Association of America Trowel of Excellence Program
- Journeyman Tile Layer Apprenticeship Program
To be certified in any of these programs, the major requirement is experience. The aspirant must have had some experience with tile installation before they can qualify. The CTEF Certified Tile Installer certification is the most generally acceptable qualification for a tile installation contractor.
Hiring a handyman near you to complete your tile installation will definitely cost more than hiring a professional tile installation contractor. While the professional quotation for the job may seem high for the job, a handyman will cost you more by way of wastage from broken tiles and inaccurate alignment of tiles. Note, installing ceramic tiles is a complex and delicate task that must be done according to standards set by the American National Standards Institute. A poorly done job may also require a total overhaul that will prove more expenses due to removal of old tiles. Thus, it is better to let qualified contractors work on your ceramic tiles installation project.
Generally, your homeowners’ insurance covers damages that are caused by named perils in the insurance package, such as weather events or fire outbreaks. However, some policies may cover the cost of replacing chipped, cracked, or broken tiles. This is because a chipped tile is a type of property damage that can devalue the house or cause additional home damage. Therefore, whether the tiles were damaged as a result of regular wear and tear, faulty installation, or by dropping something hard on it, ask the insurance provider what your homeowners insurance package covers.
Digital payment channels are popular in various service industries, and many tile installment contractors near you will be willing to accept their fees electronically. Your ceramic tiler may prefer payment through a digital payment platform than through cash, this is because digital payment easily creates records. Nonetheless, it’s always preferable to be clear on matters of payment from the start. Therefore, you should ask your tile installation contractor if they accept digital payments and which channels you can use. Common platforms include Google Pay, PayPal, Payoneer, Square Cash, Zelle, Venmo, etc. If the contractor insists on using cash or cheque payments, do well to ask for a receipt.