Help! Can see trowel marks through glass tile!!

eks6426May 4, 2013

I'm so pissed. Just got home from a work trip. While I was gone I hired a tile contractor to install ceramic tile in my tub area and glass mosaic tile on the sink wall. I supplied all the tile. Contractor came with many good references which I checked. He also came personally recommended by 2 other contractors I have used for years.

The glass tile is Dal Tile City Light St Moritz color. I gave the contractor the instruction sheet that came with the tile a couple of weeks before he started on the job.

Well I got home and the glass tile wall is horrible. We can see the trowel marks through the tile. Everywhere I look online says trowel marks should be knocked down when installing this type of tile. Ceramic tile looks great.

But now what to do about glass tile? It is not grouted yet. Tile cost $1600. Labor for glass tile was $400. Even if he waives his fee for the labor I'm still out a ton of money on the glass tile and I have a wall that looks horrible.

Help! Need suggestions on next course of action.

Thank you

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mongoct

Translucent glass should normally be set with a white thinset (not mastic), and as you wrote, any trowel ridges should be knocked down, or the tile back-buttered, to assure complete bedding.

While I'm not trying to justify the installation, there is a chance that as the thinset fully cures and gives up moisture that the ridge lines will lighten. The differential shading might become less apparent. Or it might not.

Obviously you need to contact your installer and have a conversation. I'd call him ASAP even if it's just to leave a message. Relate the problem, then any delays in his response to you are on him, ie, he can't come back with "You saw it on Saturday and you didn't call me until Monday?"

If the tile does have to be striped from the wall, the sooner the better.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 7:16PM
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sloyder

should have used a flat edge trowel, not a notched one.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 7:43PM
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mongoct

should have used a flat edge trowel, not a notched one.

Sort of. You use the notched side to get a measured amount of thinset on the wall. Then you use the flat side to knock the ridges down.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 9:37PM
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eks6426

Thx folks. I did call contractor right away. He is coming over tomorrow (Sunday morning).

What is a reasonable expectation on what he can do to fix this? I'd really like the whole thing redone with him paying for new tile. Is this realistic?

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 9:44PM
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mongoct

In a perfect world, yes, he'd give you a brand new installation at no additional cost to you.

But he's simply the installer. You hired him directly, and you provided the tile. In a typical job where a GC hired the tiler, it'd all be between the GC and the tiler, and you'd get to simply sit back and watch them negotiate a solution at no cost to you.

But the negotiated solution now falls in your realm of responsibility. The only leverage you have is his labor, and that's a fraction of the overall cost.

It really comes down to how conscientious he is as a tradesman and as a professional. Have a conversation over a cup of coffee and simply ask him what happened, why did it happen, and how long will it take him to fix it.

I believe those are paper-faced sheet tiles? They can sometimes be reclaimed, reinstalled on sheets, and reset on the wall, but it's not pretty. Depends on the square footage and how much the thinset has cured. Sometimes yo have to start over from scratch.

Edit to add: Some tradesfolk can eat the cost of the tile. Others can't. If he really is a good and conscientious tradesman and he simply screwed this up, you can sometimes negotiate a solution. Example, let's say the existing tile can't be salvaged. You then buy $1400 worth of new tile for the redo. He tiles for free. Then he does $1400 worth of tiling labor at no charge to you on a future project.

In the end it cost you nothing, and he's not out any cash out of pocket, but he had to work for a few days that he might otherwise have had off.

Just an idea. Good luck with your meeting.

This post was edited by mongoct on Sat, May 4, 13 at 22:19

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 10:09PM
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threeapples

This sort of happened to us except you can see the red thinset behind our glass tiles. I'm very irritated. The tile guy said it's no big deal because it's in a niche and the shampoo bottles will cover it. I am making him redo it. I can't get over the lack of judgement these days.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 10:32PM
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