Got our first bid for installing Fireclay tile backsplash, and...

sjhockeyfan325May 24, 2014

It's much higher than we expected. It's only 20 square feet of 2 x 4 tiles, probably laid in a 1/3 brick pattern (I'd prefer straight, but DH doesn't, and I don't feel strongly about this). I know the tile is handmade, and therefore more difficult to do, but how much would you expect this to cost, even in the pricey Bay Area? There are no turns, very few cuts, just across the back wall (18" under cabinets, except under the hood where it's 27").

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mlweaving_Marji

We're across the country from you, so I don't know what the differential is. In the Carolina Low Country, for installing 35 sq ft of a honed marble tile bs our tile guy is charging $500.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 1:02PM
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sjhockeyfan325

I wish! (The bid was 3x that)

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 1:42PM
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jellytoast

Why not get two other bids so you can get a true picture for your area?

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 2:02PM
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PRO
Sophie Wheeler

I was gonna say $1200 as it's not an easy job even though it's a small square footage one. It still swallows up 2 days of time. Given the relative cost differences your quote may only be slightly high.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 2:08PM
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Fori is not pleased

Did you ask Fireclay for recommendations (assuming you're in SJ area)? They seem unnaturally helpful! :D

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 2:09PM
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ardcp

sjhockeyfan- if it helps i was quoted $1k by our kitchen place for plain subway tile. we have about 40 sq ft. it might have gone up if i had told them it was handmade tiles. we live in upny near albany and surprisingly costs here are quite high!
much to my husbands chagrin, i am going to diy it based on that quote and being scared to find someone to do it cheap.
btw if hd has good reviews in your area, i saw they were advertising a backsplash install for $300 for 20 sq ft but you probably need to buy their tile.
good luck

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 2:10PM
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lazy_gardens

The reason small jobs are higher per square foot is that the time to get to your place, unload tools, load tools etc ... it's the same for 20 or 200 SF. And they have to come back TWICE because of drying times.

Would you consider doing it yourself? If you do 1/2 tile running bond you will have very few cuts to make, and tile saws aren't that hard to use. With spacers and patience and the pre-mixed synthetic mastics and grout you CAN do it. (and save $1350)

I did mine (about 25 square feet of cheapo 3x6 subways) in 3 days ... one day to apply tile, one day to grout, and one day to caulk the corners and edges. I took my time, measured a LOT, and have very few goofs.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 2:15PM
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Trebruchet

I just bid a normal kitchen backsplash at $1,200.00, without material, but then I'm licensed, insured, fussy, and don't get callbacks.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 2:28PM
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greenhaven

Definitely get more than one bid, I did and got two drastically different quotes. For that reason I am with ardcp on the diy backsplash. :0/

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 3:10PM
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sjhockeyfan325

We are getting at least one more bid, but based on what I'm reading, unless we choose to do it ourselves, it probably isn't "that far off". Thanks all.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 3:34PM
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michellemarie

Regardless of the amount of tile, most installers are going to charge a minimum. You need more bids. Take a picture of the area to be tiled and a picture of the tile. I bet some installers would be willing to give you an approximate idea of the cost via email. Your local tile shop probably has a bulletin board where installers can pin their business cards or they may have a list of installers at the order desk. Remember, when you get an outrageous bid it is usually because they don't want or care if they get the job.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 3:35PM
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Linelle

I'm in the North Bay and everything is expensive here. In 2012 I had a little over 40 sf of backsplash using 3x6 and the labor alone was $875. It was slightly higher than another estimate, but I liked the higher guy better. The tile was set like bricks, whatever that's called.

I just did a little math, and for a 20 sf backsplash, you need 360 2x4, or 160 3x6. Of course that's not taking cuts, etc. into consideration. But you have more than twice as many tiles for someone to pick up, set in place, grout, etc.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 3:56PM
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jellytoast

"Remember, when you get an outrageous bid it is usually because they don't want or care if they get the job."

I don't get this. Why not just say, "I'd rather not bid your job"? Wouldn't that be a lot less trouble than actually doing the work to present a bid for a job you didn't even want? What a waste of time! When I get a bid that I think is high, I make sure I am comparing apples to apples.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 5:54PM
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Trebruchet

The longer you shop and the more bids you get, the lower the price will go. You will eventually get the "contractor" you deserve.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 6:00PM
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mrsmortarmixer

jellytoast- I don't get it either. If someone ever grossly overbid a job for me, I guarantee they wouldn't get a callback, and I'd let everyone know about it that I could. I'm all for paying more for quality work, but with that cost, I demand professionalism.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 7:46PM
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brightm

Thanks for posting. We're in so cal, and not in LA, so I'm thinking it'll be a bit lower, but not a ton. We just (we think) landed on a color for our Heath backsplash. We thought we were going to go with an in-stock color, but once we changed granite, we needed to re-think. I haven't even begun to think about tile install and/or cost.

Scratch that. I DID think about it. I thought, since we have to order a few square feet extra (we only need about 17 sq feet, but the minimum is 25 and it's cheaper to order 25 than to order the tile at the trim price) I thought I might try to DIY and then if that's a disaster, have someone come do it. This makes me think a bit more seriously about that.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 8:16PM
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sjhockeyfan325

My DH has done tile before, but only tile with really uniform edges, which this definitely won't have. We only got bids from people we know have worked with Fireclay before. I'm sure we could get it done more cheaply, but we'd be taking a chance with the quality of the install, which in this case (kitchen completely open as part of kitchen/living room/dining room), it's not worth it to me. I'll wait for the second bid, and maybe get a third, and then pick one.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 9:14PM
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jellytoast

sjhockeyfan, if you don't mind my asking, what is so different about Fireclay tile that someone who hadn't installed it before would have issues with it? It doesn't appear to look any different from many other tiles.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 9:26PM
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sjhockeyfan325

Just that it's hand-made and the edges are what I'd call "rustic". Maybe it's not a big deal at all - I wish someone knowledgeable would tell me!

I would hire the guy who did my bathroom (much straighter edges on the tile but he did a truly great job - not so much on the other bathroom though), but he's the type who shows up one day and then disappears for 10. I want this job done 1-2-3.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 10:25PM
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jellytoast

Any experienced tile setter who has been in business for a while has had experience installing handmade or rustic tiles. If he can correctly layout and line up "regular" tiles, he can do the same with the handmade types. If your former tile setter is inconsistent (good on one job, not on another, doesn't show up for days at a time) he is likely (very likely) not your best choice. Handmade tiles are more difficult to set due to the varying thicknesses and inconsistent sizes.

This post was edited by jellytoast on Sun, May 25, 14 at 12:11

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 9:17AM
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scpalmetto

I'm in the SC Lowcountry and just got a bid for $10/sf for Winchester subways. This installer works for the tile store and I have seen his work before on neighbor's homes and was impressed with the quality.

A few years ago I used an installer who was actually too meticulous, it took him more than a month to do a 5' x 8' guest bath with 12" x 12" tiles. It made no sense since he contracted for a very reasonable set price, he was not working by the hour. He measured and measured and then measured again. It is possible to be too careful! We finally fired him and I finished the job myself.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 11:59AM
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lazy_gardens

One possibility for lowering the cost of work is to ask the contractor if they can group your job with one or more in your area, or as a "fill in" if they finish unexpectedly early on a big job. It takes more time for you to see completion, because your schedule is combined with the others, but it does cut down on the travel time and cost and that might be passed on to the customer.

If I am willing to have my project be a "filler" job, I make sure to let the contractor know ... it has saved me a small pile of money over the years.

Now, with a house a 3-hour round trip for most contractors ... I'm learning to wait even more. My insulation was ganged with two other jobs, making the trip worthwhile for the company and knocking several hundred in travel charges off for the customers, the crew who did my fences would have otherwise been idle and waiting for something to get done a few blocks away on a new build, and the tree trimmer bluntly said that my job was too small to warrant a special trip (3 hours travel for a 1-hour job makes no sense, and the surcharge would have been huge) and he'll get back to me with a time when he lines up a few more jobs in the area that need the same equipment.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 12:15PM
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mlweaving_Marji

not to hijack your thread hockeyfan,
but...
SCPalmetto, we just installed Winchester Sudbury Gloss in our MB shower. Where are you in the low country?

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 12:36PM
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sjhockeyfan325

Tile guy is coming tomorrow to set up his equipment for installation on Thursday. We did not hire the really expensive guy, but went with a more reasonable bid from a man with very good reviews. Wish me luck!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2014 at 11:38PM
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Mags438

You move quickly sjhockey! Decisive. Something I lack :-(. Good for you!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2014 at 11:45PM
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brightm

Can't wait to see your backsplash!

We ended up getting a bid from our granite guy for $28 a sq ft. I think I want to be ABB for a while before we decide exactly what we want and how we want it layed.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 12:44AM
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a2gemini

SJhockey
Good luck tomorrow!
Can't wait to see your pictures.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 6:54AM
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oldbat2be

Yay! Another GW-er, excitedly waiting. Please post progress pictures:)

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 7:23AM
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laurencp

I'm anxiously awaiting a photo of your backsplash - the Fireclay tiles are beautiful. Good luck with the install - I'm still waiting for my tile!

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 11:05AM
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sjhockeyfan325

You move quickly sjhockey! Decisive. Something I lack :-(. Good for you!

You give us way too much credit! We started our remodel in September. The backsplash is going in tomorrow. We still don't have the fire department sign-off on the sprinklers. Other than that, mostly after-the-fact stuff, that we've hired a handyman to do (installing towel rods and robe hooks, adjusting some doors, installing shelves, that kind of thing --- the kind of thing my DH is perfectly capable of doing, but I don't want to wait five years :-) ).

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 12:05PM
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crl_

I am eager to see your results. Fireclay tile is a contender for our backsplash. :)

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 1:59PM
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sjhockeyfan325

Happy to say the tiler and crew showed up as promised. (Why does that always surprise me these days?)

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 6:18PM
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feisty68

fingers crossed for you sjhockeyfan. I adore the fireclay tiles and cannot wait to see yours.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 6:37PM
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sjhockeyfan325

Check out this contraption they put up in my dining room (we live in an urban condo - no place else to set up their equipment but in the apartment). Very professional so far.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2014 at 10:10PM
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PhoneLady

The suspense is killing me :)

    Bookmark   June 5, 2014 at 8:13PM
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sjhockeyfan325

It's not done! The tile is about 7/8 up and it looks like a beautiful job. Hopefully, it will get done and grouted tomorrow (in which case I'll post a picture over the weekend).

    Bookmark   June 5, 2014 at 10:20PM
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oldbat2be

Oh come on, progress pictures!!!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2014 at 7:16AM
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laurencp

Excited to see your backsplash! Looks like you have had great luck with your tile fellow! It will be in in time for you to enjoy all weekend!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2014 at 10:41AM
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sjhockeyfan325

Wow, this guy is great - so professional in his responsiveness, attention to detail, tile skills, and neatness! He did a stellar job, and the bid was just over half of what the first guy bid. Here's one picture and I'll post a second in the next post.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2014 at 11:35PM
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sjhockeyfan325

Close-up

    Bookmark   June 6, 2014 at 11:36PM
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feisty68

Sjhockeyfan, it looks fantastic! What beautiful tiles. You really nailed a backsplash that works with the other elements in your kitchen. It's really an example of the benefit of having a "wow" vertical element (as opposed to patterned counters). Very stylish kitchen :)

    Bookmark   June 7, 2014 at 12:18AM
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PhoneLady

Congratulations! It looks fantastic.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2014 at 12:46AM
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Linelle

Oh wow, SJ, you nailed it!!! What an amazing backsplash. I have just spent the past 4 days with Miguel the tilesetter in my bathroom and I do have a new-found appreciation of attention to detail, pride in a job well done, and an overall great work ethic. I'm so happy you got the beautiful backsplash you deserve.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2014 at 12:48AM
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oldbat2be

It looks terrific!!! Thanks for posting, I am looking forward to your reveal very much so I can see more....

    Bookmark   June 7, 2014 at 5:04AM
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a2gemini

SJ
Absolutely beautiful!
Love the detail of the outlet placement.
Congratulations!
Welcome to the ABB alumni club.
A2gemini

    Bookmark   June 7, 2014 at 6:06AM
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rubyclaire

Your tile is gorgeous and looks perfect for your other elements!
And your installer did a super job. Congratulations!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2014 at 6:51AM
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sas95

It looks wonderful. He did a great job, and I love the combination of materials you used.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2014 at 7:09AM
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Mags438

Great tile job, you must be thrilled! Love the tiles.

we've hired a handyman to do (installing towel rods and robe hooks, adjusting some doors, installing shelves, that kind of thing --- the kind of thing my DH is perfectly capable of doing, but I don't want to wait five years :-) ).

- lol, we're 7 yrs and counting for bath pulls/handles.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2014 at 7:24AM
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mgmum

It looks awesome! Can't wait to see the full reveal!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2014 at 7:34AM
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brightm

Great job. Adds that nice touch of bling, but in line with the other elements. Worth the wait.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2014 at 8:19AM
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Fori is not pleased

Nice!

And they sure don't look all that irregular--which is good since I'm very seriously considering doing my COUNTER with Fireclay's tile.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2014 at 2:20PM
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sjhockeyfan325

Mags, we went 26 years without door knobs on the door to our laundry in our previous home. When we pulled away for the last time, I said to my DH, "y'know, the fact that we didn't have door knobs for 26 years should tell you something about us and home ownership :-)"!

Gemini, I'd like to say the outlet placement was purposeful, but it wasn't - the outlets have been in since early January, but we didn't select the tile until late April, and the tile layout last week. We are changing out the outlets and plate covers to stainless and dark grey, which we have on the island side, and look great with the tile.

Thanks everyone. We're very happy with how it turned out.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2014 at 5:25PM
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a2gemini

Sj - LOL - still looks great even if accidental!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2014 at 9:03PM
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mdln

Looks great!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2014 at 10:05PM
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crl_

Beautiful! Thank you for sharing the pictures!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2014 at 10:54PM
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romy718

Gorgeous! I love the pattern & the tile is sooo pretty. Which Fireclay tile is it?

    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 1:22AM
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sjhockeyfan325

Romy, it's UltraCream with Black Patine crackle. The grout is Hydroment cashmere. The grout lines are 3/16".

    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 12:00PM
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sjhockeyfan325

BTW, we bought exactly 10% of the amount we needed! as recommended (and this is a simple project). The tiler was worried, but what do you know, we have exactly 10% left over!

    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 12:06PM
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StoneTech

Nice finished project!

In terms of pricing, here's my .02/worth.

First of all, location, like housing prices, is everything. I fight continuously with inexperienced hacks that don't pay the attention to detail that I like to....but having done this for almost 40 years, and getting my work pretty much solely on referrals, I charge more. When you pay insurance, travel costs, training costs, quality tools, quality helpers....a couple of hundred dollars a day doesn't cut it.

I'm here in SE Texas, and it simply doesn't pay to start the truck if you can't charge at least $400 a day....so an $800 backsplash isn't out of line. I'll charge a minimum of $1200 to drive to Houston for the same work (Or more).

I find that a knowledgeable client gets nervous if he feels the work is "Too Cheap." (with good reason)

If you need a car mechanic or a surgeon, is the determining factor, "How Cheap Can I Get It Done?" Not in my world....

    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 4:20PM
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sonny_h

Just got done with our backsplash - SUPER complex Herringbone pattern requiring a lot more measuring, cutting, planning. Marble tile. 50 sq ft. Paid $600 (not including the tile) - The guy brought his own tools, and set up his own thin set, grout, etc.,

Attaching a picture

    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 4:27PM
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sonny_h

Here's a closer picture.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 4:34PM
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StoneTech

Nice work, Sonny. You got a deal...depending on your location.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2014 at 5:02PM
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