backsplash install help! is this acceptable?

zanne_lhMarch 12, 2014


not sure if it shows up well in the photo. during the day, any lippage is hidden in the shadow cast by the range hood. at night, with the lights on, the lippage is very obvious (to me, anyway). even though the lippage only ranges from 1/32 to a little more than 1/16 (which would be undesirable but passable to me), because they occur on adjoining tiles in rows and columns, it makes it obvious where each mosaic sheet was laid (again, to me).

we did notice that some of the sheets did not interlock tightly and left a small gap. i am ok with the gap if the sheets are flush depth-wise with one another. i do not think the sheets were flattened with a block during install, however. they told me it wouldn't be that visible when grouted, but because it is lit directly and the sheets are not flat, the grout doesn't really hide the lippage problem.

am i being overly anal? or is this a sloppy/incompetent install? i unfortunately have the fine skill of being able to hone in on every imperfection, so i am not sure if my standards are too high, or if theirs was too low.... would you be ok with this?

the tile was pretty expensive.... not sure how the tile guy is going to respond.

if you agree that it needs to be redone, would it look ok if they just pop out some of the worst tiles & replace, or do i ask to have most of it ripped off?

incidentally, the tan between the white marble has very minimal grout. it's mostly crema marfil micromosaic.

thanks for your input.

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First off, my VERY first gut reaction was, "Oh, how pretty."

I cannot see what you're referring to, unless it's in the picture at the very right, about 2 zig-zags in.

All I can tell you is that if the grout lines didn't match up, Rip that b!tch out. I am absolutely anal and not afraid to scream it from the roof tops. I've been living with grout lines that didn't match up in my 1/2 finished shower for 8 years. Every. Single.Time. I get in that darned shower I love the tile but HATE the grout. It spoils any of the beauty for me because that is important to me. "Just get over it" does NOT fly when it's MY tile, MY shower and something I AM going to see every single day.

So there. You have my feelings on this. That said, your tile is absolutely beautiful.

Another idea, though, that should be considered. Are you seeing the tree for the forest? Or something like that. Can you step back and really say you're going to see it in a month? Are you focusing on serious minutiae? Look, I do, but some don't unless it's the process of the kitchen.

And to top it off: "they told me it wouldn't be that visible when grouted, but because it is lit directly and the sheets are not flat, the grout doesn't really hide the lippage problem. " doesn't fly with me. I It tells me (and you) they see it, too, but just don't want to fix it.
Dead giveaway that once they're gone, you're screwed. "that visible?!?!" What the heck does that mean? Flatten that stuff down and THEN let me see if I see the problem I see now. Do not let them pooh-pooh you, OK?

end rant, all caused by my shower tile work.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 1:07AM
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Oh my, no. That's not OK.

Some mosaics are harder to mount than others; this one would be tough for the most seasoned pro; that's why you hired a professional installer.

It's not a great idea to try to pop out individual mesh mounted tiles, but quite frankly, I don't see that you have much choice. If they want to try it, I'd say OK, but make sure they understand that if it doesn't work, they'll be replacing the whole thing.

Whoever was responsible for mounting this tile should bear the cost of the fix, but you can't let him be the one to do the repair. He clearly isn't up to the job.

And be careful not to use the word "lippage" as it is most often used to describe an inconsistency in handmade clay tiles. Lippage wouldn't be the responsibility of the installer. I'd say instead that the way the tiles were installed they do not lie flat in the same plane against your wall. Any minor flaws in your wall could cause this. Again, that's why you hired a pro.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 1:08AM
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@cefreeman-- you make me feel better about being anal. "scream it from the rooftops", lol! yes, there is a vertical seam where you see it, but i see a few other vertical and horizontal ones, too. basically, i am able to pick up where each sheet was laid, which i'm not sure i should be able to if it was properly installed. i AM someone that tends to look at the tree for the forest, but this is the range wall and very visible to me. i think. the question, i guess, is whether the average competent professional could have done a better job, or if i am expecting too much from mere mortals...?

@eam44, i'm glad i'm not crazy and you see it, too. it will help me speak up. i guess i was under the impression that lippage refers to any deviation from a flat plane; thx for clarifying. any idea who should pay for the new tiles? although i don't know if i can even get him back in here to discuss and see. yws, i stupidly paid in full already... don't say anything. i know. : (.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 7:25AM
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Circus Peanut

Yes, lippage means any uneven tile setting - it can be the setting as well as the actual tile. A sign of a bad tile job. It's a dreaded word over on the tile forums. :)

To me as an amateur tile installer, it looks like the installer did not put any wedges in between the sheets, which made the top slide down a bit and the bottom grout bunch up between sheets. The parts where the sheets slipped down are more obvious, since the tiler probably wiped out most of the bunched-up grout before it set.

Not sure there's a lot to be done other than remount the tile sheets, although you could try having them grind out the bunched up grout portions and fill in the stretched, concave grout. Here's an annotated pic of what I see:

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 9:54AM
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hi circuspeanut,

that's a pretty nifty thing you did with the arrows! you pointed to most of the areas i am concerned about.

i'm not sure the wedges would have been the answer... i think what they did was not flatten the sheets from the top with a board & used only their hands, which creates uneven pressure. there is almost no space between the tiles. the thing that looks like tan grout is rows of tiny crema marfil micromosaic squares in rows. some are raised from the plane & some did sink down into the thinset. the sheets were designed to interlock & there was supposed to be almost no grout except to cover little hairlines in between the tiles. what you are seeing is the shadows and highlights from one sheet to the next because the tiles are not on a flat plane.

sigh, still not sure what my next course of action should be, but thanks for responding.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 1:12PM
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here is the tile close up. the shadows show the seams from one sheet to another. mind you, this is not as obvious without lights on....

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 1:16PM
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pic is sideways, sorry

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 1:24PM
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Why were they laid on sheets? That's just for shipping. They should have been individually removed from the sheets and installed properly. What does your contract state?

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 2:33PM
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Circus Peanut

Ah, light dawns. The last photo makes it very clear. In that case, yes, I think you do have a case for reinstallation. Grout won't "cure" that kind of lippage, I don't think.

If you want tons of expert input, I'd zip over to the John Bridge Tile Forum (google to get URL) and ask the guys there, they are extremely helpful for homeowners with tile issues.

Crossing fingers for you!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 2:48PM
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@eve72-many mosaic tiles are mounted on mesh and installed that way. they wouldn't be able to install something like this if they had to put up individual tiles. not to mention the labor cost that would be involved; it would be astronomical.

@circuspeanut-i actually posted there this morning. the couple of pros that responded don't seem to think that it is too bad of an installation & that it's difficult to control for direct light. : (

This post was edited by zanne_lh on Wed, Mar 12, 14 at 17:09

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 5:07PM
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Honestly - the tile itself gorgeous and that is the first thing that I thought until I started to figure out what was wrong with it. I know it is not as perfect as you would have liked and maybe you can get a discount from the installer to feel a bit better, but no one will notice it. Try to enjoy it and appreciate it for how nice it looks.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 5:39PM
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I don't think anyone can see clearly from an online photograph what you are seeing. You shouldn't experience your beautiful, expensive backsplash in tile sheets. That is very discouraging. They should have been more observant there was a problem. Hope you get it resolved so you can enjoy it

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 7:42PM
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I'm sorry, but in the close-up photo, it looks to me that some of the tiles themselves may not be 100%. IMHO, it looks like the marble portion of some have slight imperfections on their edges and a couple have slightly rounded corners. But, also, I do see at least one on the bottom right of the picture that does seem to be more deeply embedded than the surrounding tiles.
Let the tile guy grout, on the understanding that if the overall visual isn't fixed, he will redo everything from scratch, at his expense.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 8:29PM
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@ks-chicago - thanks for the compliment on the tiles. i will try to... am trying to....

@snookums2 - yes, i think you are right. it is hard to capture it all in a photograph. thanks for the sympathy -- virtual hug via digital forum post, lol.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 8:33PM
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hi canuckplayer--

the close up picture is actually the intersection of 4 tiles. one at the top herringbone that looks like a v; the middle seam you see is the intersection between a tile on the left and a tile on the right; the bottom 2 peaks are part of another tile. it looks like that on all 4 sides of each tile sheet where it butts up against another tile.

does that even make sense?


    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 8:48PM
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If you paid by credit card, you'll have some recourse. He should have noticed and not continued if he couldn't fit them properly. If there is a problem with the tile, you could have returned them. Hard to get a refund for defect this way.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 8:54PM
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Just want to say I really like your choice of tile. I hope it comes out OK.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 7:51AM
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thanks, bookworm4321. : )

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 1:55PM
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Obviously removing the tile would make it a total loss. Have you checked to see if they can maybe polish or feather the high edges so it blends better?

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 3:44PM
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Please believe me, I'm not trying to excuse your tile guy, but is it possible that the sheets themselves had defects? Even so, like others above, I agree that the tile guy should have noticed and brought it up at the time. The longer they "cure" the harder they're going to be to remove and/or adjust. When is he coming back? Has he offered any other solution, other than it won't be visible when it's grouted?
I hope he resolves this. These tiles are too gorgeous for you not to be happy with the finished product.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 4:25PM
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