Granite Tile Fiasco
We told the contractor initially that we wanted solid granite for our kitchen counter tops. He said that would cost much more than granite tiles. We had been to a local tile edging shop and had seen a beautiful example of an undermount sink in a tile counter top with very narrow and uniform grout joints, so we deferred to the contractor's supposed expertise and his desire to help reduce the project cost.
The tile edging shop had warned us that only a tile setter experienced with granite should attempt the job because it was difficult to obtain uniform lippage and grout lines.
The contractor assured of his expertise and said that he would do the tile setting himself.
After supposedly spending days polishing the edges of the tiles, the contractor brought them over prior to setting them. They were polished absolute black and not the honed absolute black that we ordered. The contractor said that he opened the tile containers and saw that they were black so he proceeded to polish the edges of most of them. He said that he thought that "honed" meant "polished".
He said that he would magnanimously "eat" the cost of getting and polishing the wrong tile. We actually felt sorry for him at that stage.
Come time for tile setting, despite confirming for the second time that he would set the tile himself, he sent over his hired helper and never showed up to supervise him. We were told that the helper was even more precise than the contractor himself and that he had a masters degree in Ceramics. We told the helper that we had been advised how difficult it was to set granite tile. The helper assured us that he had done more than a hundred installations.
After spending 5 or 6 days working on the layout, the helper and the contractor explained that due to the cabinet
dimensions (contractor built the cabinets!) we had two tile layout options for the corner. We could have a tiny strip of tile or he could make adjustments with miters. We said that we definitely didn't want a tiny strip of tiles.
The photograph shows the solution. This looked very goofy, so I offered to run down to the granite shop and get
a 18 x 26 tile which would eliminate the need for a little strip of tile and also eliminate the goofy miters. I didn't realize that the larger tile are thicker than the 12x12's.
The helper proceeded to cut the larger tile and had it setting on the counter without mentioning that it could never work. At this point we called the contractor and told him (for the second time) that his tile setter was not competent and that we would hire a granite fabricator to install solid granite counter tops.
When he came over, the contractor said that the tile job was perfectly acceptable and that when grouted the
variation in grout line thickness would disappear. Besides,
there would be things on the counter, so you'd never even notice.