Question for the tile pros - Bill, Mongo?

cottonpennyJune 1, 2012

I had posted before about getting upcharged on the installation of AO Catarina. It's a rectified tile that's supposed to look like carrara marble. AO recommends a 1/8" grout line for floor installations.

Basically, I was told that to do 1/8" grout lines instead of 3/16" lines would be an extra $650 for the floor and shower walls. That seemed really high for a small difference, and I postulated that it should really not take a professional tile installer 50% more time to install 1/8" grout rather than 3/16".

Now my builder is saying that the charge is to make the joists and studs more even to support the tighter lines. Here are some samples of his emails on the subject.

"It is with the edges and the tightness of the grout joints. From stud to stud and joist to joist there is always a certain variation in level that can be hidden in a wider joint that cannot be hidden without extra work in a tight joint"

"In the older homes the tiles all had rounded edges unless they were true slate,marble limestone or granite. If they were, we always upcharged because the product was sharp edged, uneven due to being natural and in the case of marble and granite laid with a tight joint. When you look accross a sharp edged floor even a 1/32 jumps out with a sharp edged product. We would be using a cement based underlayment with this product not plywood. We could skip the extra proccess and lay it as we would normal ceramic like most builders do but we do not think it is the best way to go. We pride our selves in the best lumber quallity and use plywood as opposed to OSB for our floor systems but all joists and studs vary slightley in size and straightness."

Does this make any sense? Or am I being taken here?

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Let me put it this way-- if the floor was estimated for ceramic tile, then no, you're not being taken. It takes alot more time when setting polished stone, and this would have to be set in the same manner to get a nice flat floor. Not sure what kind of scquare footage you have, but for myself, my base labor price for square set 12x12's (NOT including backerboard installation) is 3.75 a foot. For polished stone, that goes up to 6.50 because of the time involved.

HOWEVER---- if he knew what the material was that he was working with when he priced it out, then yes, you're being taken.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 10:22AM
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Thanks, Bill! FWIW, it's not's honed. Don't know if that makes a difference.

If it's the tile that's making the difference, I don't see how a 3/16" grout line would make that big of a difference?

I don't know what the labor charge is since they won't give me a breakdown on the costs. My guess, based on the price of AO catarina online, is that it's a jump from $6 sq/ft to $9 sq/ft for the labor. The bathroom floor is 88 sq ft and the shower walls are 121 sq ft so it is not a huge area.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 12:28PM
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No difference betweenm polished and honed, with respect to installation. As for the joint size, it does make a huge difference, the bigger the joint width the more forgiving the floor will be with respect to lippage. When you tighten that joint up, a 1/32" seems like a huge step. Not so with the wider joints.

Also my labor prices were for floor tile. Wall installation will jump the price even more.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 8:01PM
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