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5 Tile Mistakes to Avoid on Your Next Bathroom Remodeling Job

An experienced tile contractor shares his secrets to preventing a bad tile job. 

bathroom remodel tile installation Dreamstime RF

Tile can bring color, texture, and functionality to a bathroom remodel, but only if the tile is installed properly.

And unfortunately, it’s easy to spot bad tile work in a bathroom remodeling job. “Sometimes you can see a poor installation right away. At first glance, a giveaway would be uneven tiles or grout joints not lining up,” says Frank Brennan, president of FBT Tile & Marble in Dumfries, Va., and the tile contractor at the Model ReModel, which includes three bathroom remodels. “Other times the installation will look good, but the preparation work was not done correctly, leading to shower leaks, cracked tiles, tiles falling off the walls, or tiles de-bonding from the floor.”

Don't Make These Tile Mistakes in a Bathroom Remodel

Here are the mistakes Brennan says to avoid if you want a quality tile job and a happy homeowner for your next bathroom remodeling job.

bathroom remodel tile install
 A FBT Tile & Marble crew member installs tile at the Model ReModel.

Moving forward with a bathroom remodeling design before talking to the tile installer.

“The biggest issue we run into with remodelers is that their designers will create an elevation or floor plan of what they want the tile to look like once it’s installed, and when we get to installation, it’s not workable. We then have to pull the designer back in to explain why it won’t work, and the installation gets delayed until an alternate design can be approved,” Brennan says. “Just because it can be done on paper does not mean it can be done in the real world.”

Failing to map out the tile design.

“When you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” says Brennan, who says mapping a tile installation is essential, especially when you are dealing with bold patterns that need to match up, like the shower tile in the Model ReModel's primary bathroom.

shower tile installation bathroom remodel
The shower in the Model ReModel’s primary bathroom has a complicated tile pattern and a generous niche. To avoid mistakes, specialty contractor FBT Tile & Marble mapped out the tile installation in advance so they knew the pattern would line up with the walls and floor of the shower.

Overlooking potential complications.

Other issues can add difficulty to tile installation in a bathroom remodeling job too, according to Brennan. “Custom niches, bowed walls, uneven floors--anything that is not a standard straight tile install will lead to complications,” he says. He urges remodelers and their tile contractor to make sure walls are plumb before anyone starts troweling mortar. The solution, even if the design just calls for a handful of large tiles in simple shapes? Doing the same type of map that you would expect to do for a more complex tile design. “Taking the time to map out the installation before starting to set the tile is key to heading off problems,” Brennan says.

Skipping the prep work.

“Not using the proper underlayment or preparation before installing tile on floors and walls is the biggest mistake installers make,” Brennan says. “Every job calls for different subflooring, types of mortar, and other items to do the best quality tile installation possible.”

tile installation supplies for bathroom remodel
Make sure you have the right supplies for your tile installation supplies for your bathroom remodeling job.

Choosing a new-to-the industry contractor that offers a low-cost bid.

There are numerous things that can go wrong with a tile job, from using the wrong adhesive to using too much grout (or too little). “Inexperienced installers are the most likely to make mistakes,” Brennan observes. “Make sure to hire a company that has well-trained or certified tile installers on staff. A certified installer will have the training to prevent a sub-par tile installation.” 

RELATED: How the Model ReModel Team Will Design Stylish Bathrooms With Tile

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