Warning about Walker Zanger Gramercy Park tiles

AJinNHMarch 27, 2014

This is a copy of my post in the Kitchen forum:

We are completing the finishing touches on our kitchen remodel. Our backsplash is one of the last things to be installed. We picked out some beautiful Gramercy Park crackle glaze field tiles in Wedgwood Blue (they're really grey) as well as filagree tiles for behind the range from a different manufacturer.
We received 5 boxes of 100 tiles/box of the field tiles. EVERY tile in every box was covered in a black soot-like material. Thank goodness we opened the boxes before installation. That stuff was difficult to come off and got all over everything. It took us an entire weekend to clean up all of those tiles washing, drying and cleaning out the boxes so that we could store them again until installation. What a mess! I brought a box to the tile store in Greenland, NH where we purchased them and was thanked for my patience and handed a bottle of tile cleaner. They took a picture and were going to complain to Walker Zanger, but I've haven't heard a word.

If you decide to order from this company anyway you might want to make sure to give yourself plenty of time to clean up the mess on the tiles. Really, no exaggeration, it took us a whole weekend to clean them up. Time we really couldn't afford to waste like that. Needless to say, we were very disappointed.

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Here is a picture of the stick tiles.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 2:34PM
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This is what my hand looked like after picking up one tile.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 2:35PM
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I put some of the tiles in the dishwasher hoping that would speed up the cleaning process, but they came out looking exactly like they did when I put them in. We had to scrub each one of the over 500 tiles individually by hand.

We spent an entire weekend of our precious time scrubbing tiles.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 2:37PM
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I would return them and get a refund. I understand that sometimes tiles can have a little grit on them from cutting etc..., but that's ridiculous.

You would think you wouldn't have to deal with mildew for at least a couple of weeks.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 2:43PM
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that sounds completely unacceptable and disappointing. your tile store should have accepted the return without question. bad business

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 2:56PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

I would've returned them immediately after opening the boxes. That is unacceptable. Bring this to the attention of the store owner. They are distributors and add a mark up to the wholesale price and should at the very least knock that off your purchase price since you have elected to keep the tiles. Walker-Zanger is a trusted name for tile and stone. Get the name of the CEO and send him some photos and explain what it took to remove whatever it was that was on those tiles. Are you satisfied that it was only on the surface and that something won't leach out after the tile is installed?


    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 3:41PM
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Babka, that's a good point about not knowing if it will somehow effect the tiles down the road. I've thought about that and hope that isn't the case.

We don't even know what the material is, and the store owner didn't either. I'm just hoping that it's nothing toxic since my hands were immersed in the stuff for 2 days.

I'll update if anything comes of this, either with the store owner or the company.

Fingers crossed!

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 3:56PM
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Umm, you know, some people in this forum measure grout lines to the micron but I'm more or less an easy-going kinda guy who doesn't pick on every nit. However, I have to take you to task; you must be an absolute pushover. If I had found that, those tiles would have gone back pronto. There is no need to warn anyone about that tile company or to make sure they get their tiles early so they can scrub them. That might have been carcinogenic soot from some warehouse fire. If you got new carpet and the installers left it filthy, would you rent a steam cleaner the next day?

This post was edited by DreamingoftheUP on Thu, Mar 27, 14 at 20:22

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 8:19PM
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DreamingoftheUP, I'm really not a pushover, just exhausted. They broke ground on this project in early September. We had a make-shift kitchen for over 4 months. The tiles came in February and we were really anxious to be finished.

We thought that we could send them through the dishwasher and it would be an easy fix. That didn't work and we ended up scrubbing each one by hand.

These tiles come from Mexico. The thought of starting that whole process all over again was daunting. In hindsight, you are absolutely right. But, as the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20.

The warning is a heads-up about what you might receive if you order from this company. If I had read a post about this prior to ordering these tiles, at the very least, I would have addressed this issue with the distributor and wouldn't have ordered until I was satisfied as to how they would deal with the issue if I received tiles in that condition. I'm just trying to give others the forewarning that I didn't have when I ordered these very expensive tiles.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 9:15PM
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looks like soot

    Bookmark   March 27, 2014 at 11:53PM
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Oh my lord, that is awful!!!

I understand why you did what you did too. Reno fatigue sets in and so many times it is just easier to do it yourself than take everything back and start over.

I can't wait to hear what you learn.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 8:40AM
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PatriceNY, thanks for understanding, I do feel silly at times for not sending them back. Of course, even after I brought a box back to the store to show them the condition of the tiles, that wasn't an option that they suggested. The face of the tiles cleaned up ok. The store has been very good to deal with in the past and I'm hoping that this will all work out.

I'll update as soon as I learn anything.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 10:36AM
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So, according to Walker Zanger, it wasn't soot or smoke damage.

They're saying that it was a stain, that's like an ink and is rubbed on for the crackle glaze.

I received both an email and phone call from WZ, almost simultaneously this afternoon. The person I spoke with offered me a $200 gift card. Then, when I wasn't thrilled with that, he offered to discount a future tile project. When I asked for more info about the 'stain' he laughed and said not to worry, that it washes off.

I responded back to the email, a marketing associate, and I've asked them to provide me with the MSDS sheet for the stain.

I've learned a very valuable lesson here. Inspect purchases before leaving the store and don't accept something in such deplorable condition simply because it's going to cost more time to send it back and start over. The man on the phone kept 'admiring my patience,' yet it was impatience that put me in this situation. I could have screamed. Almost did.

I really left myself in a vulnerable position with not a lot that I can do about this. My fault. Live and learn.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 4:11PM
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should have figured out how much you spent cleaning the tiles, based on a tile persons hourly wage. Then presented the bill to the store.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 7:28PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda. However that works out. I'm glad you posted this and especially the photos of what was on the tile and on your hands, for the next guy to learn from. I am very disappointed in the Walker Zanger response.

My rather high opinion of that company has dropped considerably. Yes, as you suggest, take the time to open boxes that you pick up from any tile (he distributor to actually see what you are getting. So sorry it has to be this way.

(he laughed that it washes off?) Disgusting.


    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 9:53PM
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I'm really sorry this happened to you. But I'm glad you posted it as I find the response from Walker Zanger completely unacceptable. Why would you want a gift card or a discount from a company that you would never want to sue again? I always thought they had nice tiles but you can bet I won't ever get those. I hope in the end you end up with a nice backsplash.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 1:42PM
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@ Lottery Ticket..." Why would you want a gift card or a discount from a company that you would never want to sue again? " Freudian slip? LOL

AjinNH, here's hoping you end up with a more satisfactory response from WZ.!

Really, does anyone open and inspect every box of tile they buy? I don't think so! Yes, you made a mistake in deciding to clean all those tiles yourself, but WZ should be thanking their lucky stars that you did, and I would think 50% off your total bill wouldn't be an unreasonable expectation.

Sincerely hope you end up with actual money/refund in your pocket, and not a gift card, or discount off FUTURE purchases!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 2:48PM
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DOH. Not a Freudian slip but I should really brush up on my typing skills. USE not SUE. Never want to use. But maybe do want to sue.

Quality and customer service seem to mean less every day. Sigh.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 1:18PM
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Send WZ this thread so they know that their version of customer service is now publicized. I'm at the beginning of a bath remodel and will, likely, NOT consider this manufacturer if this is how I can expect to be treated when their product arrives in deplorable condition. We look for quality in our materials. Sometimes there are issues that can't be predicted, but you also count on the company to assist you if there are. Not laugh over your 2 day cleaning marathon from crackle dye!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 8:09PM
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