Tripping on uneven floor tiles just installed - HELP!!!

berardmrSeptember 13, 2012

I am almost shaking as I write this because my kitchen project is on hold until we get this problem resolved. My 94 year old mother-in-law lives with us and serving her regular, healthy meals is a real challenge without a kitchen. My husband and I are starting to get on each other's nerves and that's not like either of us.

I ordered 12" by 24" rectified floor tile for my kitchen remodel. I purchased a package deal from the cabinet company; I bought the cabinets and the installation from the same company. The general contracter on my job is a gool old guy, he's been in the remodeling business for over 30 years.

The installation of the rectified (very square edges) tile left a good deal of lippage between some of the tiles. One of these areas is directly in a walkway and I tripped on it and caught myself just before I fell. I only had socks on. In another are of the kitchen floor, my husband's shoe heel got caught on a tile. He stumbled. My GC said that's just the way it is and there was nothing he could do to fix it.

So I called in my beloved tile guy who has done lots of work for me and I've always been very happy. The only reason I didn't contract this work out to him in the first place was because I was given a 'package deal' from the cabinet company. Anyway, he came out today and said he couldn't even try to fix those areas because it would 'void' any claim I might make with the cabinet company. He said the installation of the floor was just awful and that's what happens when you hire a GC to specialized work. Danny only does tile installation and his work is impeccible.

He said this work would not meet code for the Ceramic Institution of America (or something like that). I stopped the job, the GC left in a bit of a huff (my husband helped to calm him down because, for me, I would have gone for his throat).

I called the Cabinet company to complain and the lady who sold me the cabinets said she's never had a complaint against Jim in over 30 years.

But here's the thing -- I can't have a floor that I trip on! And we have little grandchildren that visit and run through the house and I worry about them falling. I can't have that. Or how about when I go to sell the house and prospective buyers walk through the kitchen and trip on the floor? That's a lost sale for sure.

The cabinet company is contacting a guy named Bruce and he will come out to take a look at it when he gets a chance. So I sit and wait, I guess. With no kitchen. And I do want to celebrate our next wedding anniversary.

Please, can you give me some advice or direction? I am in tears over this. And I thought I was doing everything right this time around.

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Look at this thread. I found it very helpful when installing the tile in our last house. If you need some more information, reach out to bill_v. See his comments in this thread.

Here is a link that might be useful: thread about this

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 4:04PM
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What pattern is your tile? Can you take a pic?

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 4:15PM
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Photos say it all.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 4:15PM
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Another photo.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 4:17PM
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It is not acceptable, if it is possible to repair a few tiles that are causing trouble then they can just bust out them and replace. You have to get them quite level in all four directions.

The whole floor may have to come up, it is hard to tell from those pictures. In my mind if it has to come up, it comes up at their cost, the tile be replaced at their cost and laid by your tile guy at your cost and the portion of the cost that you paid them to lay the floor deducted or refunded to you.

That first photo would be unacceptable even if the tile wasn't recified. You pay way too much money for that quality of work, I am DIYer and I lay tile better than that!

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 5:29PM
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A 94 year old mother in law, and a tile kitchen floor?????
I sure hope you can keep her out of the kitchen even if you do get the tile "sorted out".

We recently went to visit a friend (of a friend) in Idaho.
He had recently split his head open on a tile floor (slate).

You may have got a "package" but sure not a "Deal"!

Install a wood floor and make your kitchen safe for "Everybody"!

We had tile, never again, went with wood and I would not trade for a tile floor if even the tile floor was ten times less money----You can't put a price tag on one's safety.

It doesn't even look like you actually got "Rectified Tile".
I took the time to look it up, and here is a description that I found on-line.

"The trend in flooring now is to use rectified tile, laid very close together, edge to edge with very tiny grout lines. Rectified tile has gone through an additional step during the manufacturing process to assure each tile is exactly the same size. Their calibration is exact. A tight grout joint can be run without driving the installer crazy."

Sorry bout your problem, but cut your "future potential Losses", (particularly safety losses), toss the tile in the trash and replace it with a wood floor!


    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 5:53PM
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You shouldn't have any lippage. But stone and rectified tile are harder to lay so you would expect to pay more for the installation (a correct installation, not what you got) than regular tile.

If I were in your shoes I would tear it out and have your tile guy re-do. It's not going to get any better, and while some things you can learn to live with, this probably isn't one of them.

I just remembered that I was in your shoes at one point. My travertine had a lot of lippage and I had the installer rip out the bad ones and redo. The company in charge sent in a better guy for the redo.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 6:12PM
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There are tons of elderly folks in Florida getting around just fine on tile floors.

That said, NO ONE is going to get around well on that floor! That's beyond minor lippage and full fledged out of whack. Stand firm that it be fixed.

Renovations are so hard. And I feel your pain on thinking you "did everything right" - a general contractor is supposed to have subs to do the specific jobs and it's clear this guy does not have a qualified tile setter on his team.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 6:12PM
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That is absolutely one of the worst tile floors I have ever seen. Completely unacceptable. If your GC can't see that, I would go over the rest of his work with a fine toothed comb. Part of the beauty of rectified tile is its uniformity. It needs to be torn out and re-installed at their expense. Wow, that's terrible work.

Get a TCNA inspector out to look at it and write you a report from a pro - it will carry more weight.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 6:30PM
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My tile floors I do not slide on. My newly installed matte finish hardwood, I'm sliding all over.


Don't take no for an answer. Demand they take it out and your tile guy retile.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 6:36PM
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Gary - it is definitely rectified tile. You can tell in the first picture where the side and top of the tile are perfectly square with the little bevel on edge.

Rectified refers to how the tile is made, sides are cut not formed. Because it is so square and even, it can be laid with small grout lines but you can lay it with any width grout lines you like.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 6:37PM
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Sorry, but your floor looks like an amateur laid those tiles. I take that back. Most amateurs could probably do better than that. As a craftsman at my house said recently while correcting someone else's work, "I'm sorry but this is just pigish". I feel bad that you have to go through the hassle of getting it corrected but please know that lots of us GWers are out here to help you stand strong.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 7:12PM
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I have a tile guy I love. I lay tile myself. Your tiles are not properly laid. What is the purpose of Bruce's visit? If he is an alleged tile expert than see if your tile guy is available to be present. Pay him for his time, of course.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 7:18PM
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Thank you, one and all. I emailed my Kitchen Designer and included the link for this post so she will read it in the morning.

I really feel like I have no choice but to stand my ground and request a new installation of the floor at their cost. I can not live with an unsafe floor. Even though the contractor has been in the remodeling business for 30 years, this work is unacceptable and DANGEROUS.

As my husband says, photos do not lie.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 7:22PM
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Circus Peanut

Oh gosh, that's just terrible work. I'm so sorry.

At least it looks like they haven't grouted it yet, so it should be easier for them to rip it out and start over. With such a substandard installation, it's definitely up to the GC to make it right at his own cost, unfortunately for him. Ugh.

Hang tight! This too shall pass!

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 7:38PM
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Reading the thread that beekeeperswife linked, it's clear that your GC's "tile guy" isn't a tile guy at all or he would know about large rectified tiles. So, yes, you will stand your ground because the current state of affairs is both wrong and dangerous. Don't apologize, just keep on point: it needs to be fixed. The fix needs to start at the beginning because what is there cannot be repaired.

As far as surviving the delay, take a big breath. This too shall pass and you'll have a finished kitchen (and a next anniversary). Think flexibility. Think Pollyanna. I say this as a person who's getting through a significant delay in getting our bedroom finished caused by - yes, termites! We had the house tented this week. What a pain.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 7:55PM
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Baby, hang tight and take a breath.
YOU are right, they are not.
I could give a horse's left, uh, hoof how long they claim to have been in the business. They subbed this out and they canNOT deny this.

Your fellow Jim is chomping at the bit NOT to say, "shudda been me."

My suggestion is to
1) hold firm. This is totally CRAP.
2) demand all tile be replaced, not popped & reinstalled in places.
3) that they pay JIM to do it, not one of "theirs" (obviously that's a mistake).
4) understand that that "huff" was the GC not able to argue with you: you were so undeniably right.
5) demand rectified tile, not bathroom wannabe.
6) stop me.
7) and most importantly, DO NOT APOLOGIZE, even with a complaint. No, "I'm sorry, but..." YOU ARE NOT (did I mention NOT) wrong? Give up any such of habit of speech.
8) It's ok to tell Jim you wish he'd been part of the package. It's OK to insist he be contracted by the GC to remove and replace this sh!tty tile job. At NO EXTRA COST TO YOU, right?
9) remember they SCREWED UP.

I"m sure by now you've take a breath and the shakes are abating. Now, hunker down and get mean. Sometimes it's OK to be mad when people are (forgive me, this is my STBX GC husband channeling:) peeing on you and telling you it's raining.

We're here with you, hunny bun. SCREW that.

(Damn I'm good with a few glasses of wine. Hold on. Gimme a steak knife. Brain surgery is in order. Hold still, I swear it won't hurt a bit. OH, it's a GC sterilization? Ohhh... gimme that butter knife. I swear...)

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 8:16PM
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berardmr: I was about to write the same sentiments that CEFreeman just expressed. It is a total bummer that you have to go thru this at all !!
But dig your heels in, take heed, try and remain calm, and like #1) says HOLD FIRM.
You WILL get thru this experience and you will be stronger for it. There is power in numbers and I think the word is strong here at GW. We will support you thru this in any way we can.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 8:25PM
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When we built this house in 2005 my tile guys did a great job on the tile in the whole house. Plain old normal tile.

Then it came time for the master bathroom. They had never laid rectified tile. The son laid the tile too quickly and with a less than perfect subfloor. It was bad, like yours and had to be totally torn out. Lip page like that can not be repaired by replacing an occasional tile, because when you fix one tile is creates lip page somewhere else. At least that's what I was told.

I feel for you.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 8:41PM
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Thanks for your support. It helps to know that I'm not unreasonable in my objection.

The lip inside the blue tape is the one that almost took me down. I'm too old for hop scotch, lol.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 8:49PM
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OMG! That it absolutely terrible!!! I would be tripping all of the time on those tiles!
Hang in there and get it fixed right!
And stay with mom if she is walking in the kitchen!!!

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 8:51PM
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That looks horrible. Is the 12 x 24 tile laid out in a brick pattern? What does the manufacturer say about doing a brick pattern in that size? It is probably not recommended because you will get lippage. The lippage is unacceptable, just realize when you get it redone, you probably need to go with a different pattern, such as a 1/3 stagger.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 11:04PM
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Oh my gosh! What an awful job!! The good news is that it is so bad that your GC doesn't have a leg to stand (or trip!) on. You're totally in the right and this needs to be fixed. The company company you got this package deal from should be falling all over themselves apologizing and doing everything they can to make it right. You poor thing! Hang in there! You are in the right!

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 1:20AM
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Terrible job!!
I've got 12x24 rectified going in right now in our master bath and theyre as smooth and perfect as if it were one solid sheet of material.
The tile layer is taking forever to do it but that's part of doing good work! One whole day was distract and layout. We're on day two of laying and still not finished.
Rectified and tight joints take time as you can't make up for discrepancies with a sloping grout joint.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 1:53AM
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Is it possible that it's the TILE? It looks to me like they all swoop up on the ends.

Been through MOST of the GC BS, so I understand......

Good luck!


    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 8:10AM
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As Bee suggested, I emailed Bill Vincent (the resident GW tile expert). Here is his response. (phone# removed).

I concur with your tile guy. Nevermind tripping-- with an edge sticking up like what you show in the pic, someone could rip their foot open on the corner. It's WAY past TCNA (Tile Council of North America) specs, and you have every right to complain to whomever you write the checks to, and that crap nees to roll downhill until it hits the people responsible. No matter what-- that's inacceptable. If someone doesn't like what I'm saying, they can talk to me about it. (***) ***-**** during working hours.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 8:10AM
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You poor thing. Incompetence is getting to be the norm followed by major hassle and upset. People have no pride of skill anymore it seems or honor! Has the contracting company seen these pictures? Oh my dear...big ((((hugs))))

I will be thinking of you sweet one and will say a little prayer for you, your MIL and husband, too.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 8:42AM
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I concur with everyone elses posts. That tile job is a travesty and your GC should be ashamed to have his name associated with that work.

I would also threaten to contact your local Better Business Bureau with your complaint. I have found that to be a great bargaining tool in the past.

Good luck to you.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 9:06AM
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modern life interiors

Your gc has no clue how to fix the bad tile job. You might end up in court over this for damages for safety issues and substandard work. He nver leveled the floor properly before he started to lay the tile. He cut corners to make the job go fast.

Try t o complain to consumer affairs . They hold his license. You want damages to hire someone else to redo the dangerous job he stuck you with.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 10:45AM
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beachlily z9a

This is a true story, I kid you not!

In the home we built in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, our original tile guy was an out of work bull rider. Yep, sure was! His job looked like it too. Our floor looked like yours and I did trip on it. The builder used a jack hammer to remove the floor and we contracted with an outside tile company to come in to do it again. Second time, smooth and beautiful.

Stick to your guns and make sure its done right!

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 11:02AM
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What I wanted to do is order the replacement tile today. If this company paid for the replacement tile and my tile guy's labor to tear down and reinstall, I would release the company of all liability for the floor.

But this company wants to send out the lead guy to take a look at it on Monday. The photos are apparently not enough. This pushes me back 4 more days before we can even begin to go in the direction of a resolution.

I can't believe this is happening. I need to dig out the wine, which is usually kept in my kitchen, but it's under a stack of something somewhere right now.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 11:59AM
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I agree, that installation looks terrible. However, the second picture you posted hints at a ridge (high point) in the floor. That should have been addressed and fixed before install.

Don't bother looking for the wine. Go to the store and buy some more! Buy lots. My guess is you're going to need it.

Best of luck!

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 12:26PM
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that is just so terrible!

what are they waiting for? a massive injury and lawsuit?

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 1:38PM
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Fori is not pleased

It does look like there's a bump running down the floor there!

And really? You packed the wine up for the remodel? You were once quite the optimist! :) Buy more. It keeps. Good luck. What a terrible thing to do to lovely tile.

Can you move ahead with the rest of the job while this is slowly fixed?

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 4:29PM
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No, we are on hold until the floor is torn up and installed correctly. So the cabinets, appliances and everything else sit in the garage and wait. And we continue to live in chaos.

The saving grace is this work is not borderline sub-standard - it's a disaster. So it's pretty black and white as to the requirement to rip it out and do it properly. A rep from the company is coming out Monday to look at the install. I'll let you know what he says.

What would I do without this forum?

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 4:50PM
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Subfloor was uneven...
Had similar problem with 25 yr old home we replaced vinyl and carpet in bathrooms and halls with larger format tile...
Had a good tile guy and instead of pouring a new layer of cement to level the areas, he just used more adhesive/mortar/ under tiles in that area... Took little longer but there is only 1 corner that is slight...and Imdo mean slightly...uneven...
Where were you when they were laying these tiles guy did a dry run to check best place to make cuts and check how he wanted to lay it and could tell bynhowmthe squares would not lie level there were I knew ahead of the actual tile installation there was problem with levelness...we just did not want to pay for that extra leveling if he could do it save money...
Original builder didn't care because carpet and vinyl are much more forgiving and resilient floor coverings than large format tile...

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 4:55PM
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Loves2read, Oh my gosh, your post got me thinking....the GC laid another layer of plywood over the existing plywood because, according to him, the original plywood was glued down. In the photo here, you can see the glue from the original flooring. The GC did not try to remove the glue. No surprise if the under floor is uneven. How could you get a flat surface when you tile over this? Not to mention, there's a big drop going onto the hardwood floor because the kitchen tile is so high.

My tile guy said he can fix this too.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 9:16AM
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They can fix the big drop with a strip of trim that you will step on awkwardly every time you enter and exit the kitchen.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 9:23AM
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Aren't you supposed to always tile over concrete board that has been screwed down with thinset under the concrete board?

Did your guy tile over plywood?

Maybe my memory is foggy after 7 years.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 1:23PM
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One of the few things my STBX GC husband did well, and for which I'm forever happy, is that we have no thresholds.

Our tile abuts the hard wood PERFECTLY. You can put a level on it. He took the floor down to the very basic sub floor, in some places replacing it due to fire damage. The subsequent hard wood and tile were laid with the correct underlayments that would permit a prefect join.

None of those awful transitions here, thank GOD and my STBX. So it is possible not to have to deal with that.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 2:13PM
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