Cheap Tile Installation: You Get What You Pay For

Cheap Tile Installation

Ceramic, natural stone, and other types of tile are great for covering surfaces in bathrooms, kitchens, floors, and other areas. Floors and surfaces must be installed correctly to remain functional and beautiful for their full lifespan. If you’re planning a DIY installation, read this article first: “Before you attempt a DIY tile installation…” Ideally, the specialized task of tile installation will be performed by professional installers with the skills, tools, training, and experience necessary for proper installation. This article will help inform your bid comparison process so that you can weed out less-than-reputable installers.

Improper tile installation is less expensive but comes with costly problems.

Tile installation is more than just using adhesives to place tiles. It involves measuring, layout planning, substrate preparation and possibly substrate repairs, waterproofing, cutting, mixing, and more. Reputable contractors will provide some type of warranty or guarantee on their work.

Poorly executed installations can look amazing, at first. With time and use, improperly installed tile can develop premature cracks, chips, or other defects that would normally only appear with many years or decades of use with properly installed tile. The best case scenario would be that these flaws visually detract from the overall aesthetic of the space. The worst case scenario would be that the installation becomes so wrought with problems it has to be torn out and replaced.

Ask Questions

Make a list of questions to ask contractors before you do any hiring. Here are a few examples:

  • What will you do to minimize unevenly laid tiles?
  • How will you prepare the substrate to avoid cracks, chips, and broken tiles?
  • What steps will you take to prevent loose tiles?
  • What will you do to address expansion and contraction?
  • How will you prevent leaks in my shower?

To learn more, read our article: “5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Tile Installer

Closely Examine Bids

Keep the following concepts in mind as you examine bids. The answers a contractor gives when you ask questions can provide clues as to the fairness of the bid and the quality of installation you can expect.

  • The scope of the project. Some projects are bigger or more complex than others. Special considerations should be included in the bid, so you are not stuck with unpleasant surprises regarding costs. Your bid should include upgrades like niches, benches, or heated flooring.
  • Measuring. Check that the square footage on the bid is accurate. Contractors will generally add 10-15% square footage, depending on the complexity of the space. Layout plans and tile size can also impact square footage. If you have questions about square footage, ask the contractor to explain. A reputable contractor should be able to easily justify the logic behind any discrepancies. 
  • Layout planning. For a relatively simple space, layout planning should not cause any dramatic shift in a bid. For a complex space, a contractor may raise the price of the bid to cover the time it takes to make layout plans and discuss them with you. Unfortunately, some contractors do not take the time to properly plan layouts, resulting in some very awkward-looking tile cuts.
  • Materials. For a variety of reasons, low-quality tile tends to be more difficult to work with than high-quality tile. The same concept rings true with setting materials. A reputable contractor should be able to explain how the types of materials needed for the project impact the bid amount.
  • Substrate repair and preparation. A reputable contractor should be able to explain the requirements for substrate flatness for the size of tile being used in your project. They should be able to show you where modifications to your substrate are needed to achieve that flatness. If a contractor plans to use the spot bonding to ensure your tiles evenly laid, run! Some contractors bid low by disregarding underlayment requirements. To learn more, read our article, “Does Tile Need an Underlayment?”
  • Waterproofing. Tile and grout surfaces are not waterproof. Reputable contractors will properly waterproof wet areas. This will increase the bid amount but will help prevent a tile failure and costly replacement later. In showers, proper waterproofing is absolutely essential. To learn more, read our article, “Water in, Water out vs Sealed Shower Drainage Systems
  • Grouting. After tile is set, grouting helps create a cohesive and visually appealing tile installation. Grout must be mixed and applied properly. Even performing the final cleanup without leaving grout haze can be tricky. 
  • Other factors. A reputable installer will take precautions to protect surrounding surfaces from damage during the installation process. A sealer application may also be needed. All of these details should be considered by your contractor as they write up the bid. Your contractor should be happy to explain any of their processes or miscellaneous add-ons.

Tips for Selecting a Tile Installation Contractor

Look for a contractor who is a member of the National Tile Contractor’s Association and has a Certified Tile Installer number. Do your homework. Verify a contractor’s credibility by checking their credentials and claims. Peruse their website and look through their case studies. Read reviews. Visit their social media pages.

Beware of contractors who provide excessively low bids or super-fast installation schedules. They may be able to bid this way only because of poor workmanship or inferior materials. When it comes to investing in a tile installation, going with a higher bid may help you to avoid a costly replacement later.

Discerning homeowners understand the long-term value of investing in proper installation. Unfortunately, many homeowners make the mistake of choosing tile installers based whoever offers the lowest bid. Although we do our best to minimize costs for our clients, one thing we will not do is cut corners that could result in a low-quality installation that will end up costing more in the long run. 

As a reputable tile installation company in the San Luis Obispo County area, Copher Tile & Stone offers fair and competitive prices. If your budget is a pain point for you, let’s have an honest discussion about how we can adjust the scope of your project to fit your budget. 

by Alice Dean

Copher Tile & Stone proudly stays up to date on tile installation with ongoing education with Mapei Technical Institute, Ardex Academy, the National Tile Contractors Association, Laticrete, and Schluter. Copher is a Certified Tile Installer (#1644).

Do you want a quote for tile installation? Contact us online or call 805-286-7460. We are San Luis Obispo County’s preferred tile installation company, serving Paso Robles, Templeton, Atascadero, Morro Bay, Cayucos, Cambria, San Simeon, Santa Margarita, San Luis Obispo, Avila Beach, Shell Beach, Pismo Beach, Arroyo Grande, Los Osos, and Grover Beach.
Contact us today!