Tile Excellence responds to bad advise on "how to lay ceramic tile" found on ask.com. Consumers Beware!!


This is Diana Smith , Chris Lawson's marketing person and webmaster for Tile Excellence, Inc.

I generally do not write about tile installation or answer questions--I leave that to Chris. But he's been out straight and isn't around, but when I saw this answer to a question on how to install ceramic tile, I HAD to write this quick response. I don't think Chris will mind (I hope).

from answers.com in response to the question, "How to Install Ceramic Tile Floor"

"To install ceramic tile, first grout the area. Press the first tile on starting in a corner. Each additional tile should have 1/4" space all around the tile. Apply more grout to the seams and let it dry for several hours. Wipe off all excess grout with..."

I'm not the expert, but prior to becoming Tile Excellence's Marketing Coordinator, I interned with Chris to better understand what he did exactly, and how he operated his business. I did this for almost a year off and on, and I learned SO much not just about how to install tile,' but how much Chris dedicates himself to getting his customers the best quality tile installation jobs at the best rate possible. He really, really cares about his customers, and if you read his customer testimonials *many who are glad to talk to you in person, you'll see what I mean. He has an incredible repeat business and referrals. It's because he hated seeing people get ripped off and left with messes that he started this blog-"ask chris", so consumers could ask any questions they might have, and they learned quickly, they would get honest, upfront and experience based answers. Chris doesn't want anything back, he just wants to pay if forward.

So, in the spirit of "ask chris", I just want to make a couple of quick comments on the above listed "answer" on laying ceramic tile.

1-GROUT is NOT used to lay the tile!! STOP! Thin set is used. GROUT is CEMENT!!! I about died when I saw those instructions-designed for CONSUMERS who are doing it themselves, and he told them to grout the area and then lay down the tile!!!! Wipe it off after four hours??? What, with a chisel???? You lay the tile after applied a layer of thin-set.

2-Start in a corner??? Why, because it's easiest? Even "expert" how-to books will say to start in the middle of the floor with the whole tiles, thus insuring full tiles on all sides. I understand that thinking, except in doing it this way, you will also have "cuts on all four sides, something professional tile installers who care about aesthetics will avoid. I won't even touch the "aesthetic" value of a floor which starts in a corner. To me, that sounds like an inexperienced and lazy tile installer. Chris always starts with full tiles at the entrance of the bathroom, and full tiles in front of tub (lay out varies depending on where tub is located). Cuts are kept to a minimum, often with full tiles on at least 2 or 4 sides, and other necessary cuts are reserved for low visibility spots, such as behind the toilet and far end corners. This gives a beautiful overall balances layout-not always the easiest, but certainly the most consumer-pleasing layout strategy. Now, I know there are other factors involved, and Chris could tell you much more, but I do remember that particular thought being important in his planning

3-as for adding more "grout" to the seams after laying the tile with grout, I again, am in disbelief as he then says to let it sit for 4 hours before wiping. You cannot "wipe" dry grout as he describes. This much I know as grouting was my "specialty" during my internship. After the floor is laid with thin-set the floor is covered with grout. BUT, it's done a section at at time, small sections because you do not want to disturb the tile. So sections as they dry are wiped down with damp sponge in a systematic and sequential order until the entire floor is done. Then the floor has to sit for at least 12 hours, preferably 24 hrs. At that point you will need to wipe the tile again with a damp sponge, as there will be a film from the grout, and this is easily wiped away. Also if you follow this advise, you'll be walking on the tile after only 4 hours. Oh, but since it's st in CEMENT, maybe tile shifting isn't a problem????

4-Not all tile flooring uses 1/4 inch spaces between tiles (spacers-the little white cross like plastic pieces used to accurately "space" between tiles can be 1/16th (marble and granite), 1/4, 1/8th, 3/16ths *ceramic) depend on the size of the tile used and the design. Tile installation is not "cookie cutter" design-it's individual as is each customer.

I can tell you from experience, laying a beautiful ceramic tile floor is not easy, and takes planning and experience. That's NOT to say people cannot do it themselves-that's one of the main reasons Chris started this blog-to help DIY'ers with questions and to share his experience, but it does mean there are people that know what they are talking about, and people who think they do, and people that have no idea, but say it like they do anyways. I already said I'm not an expert, and when Chris reads this, he'll ammend any errors, but I feel confident he'd be happy I said something because innocent consumers listening the the "best" answers.com to this question will have a disastrously outcome if they listen to this "expert".

Check out credentials, see if people are "selling" something, read testimonials, check out their blogs. Not everyone answering consumer questions are doing so for the right reasons.

I know Chris tries not to slam anyone or any business, and I admit, I didn't follow the rest of this answer to find out if this was written by a tile expert or business. I got so stuck after reading the first line, I flew into "protect the customer" mode, and read enough to know this was bad advise.

People-even among professionals do things differently-and I don't think Chris knows everything, even about tile installation. But he is always willing to learn and listen, and apply newly learned techniques and use new tools. However, customer service, helping consumers, helping DYI do things in the simplest ways, at affordable prices, resulting in tile installation they can be proud of brings him joy and motivates him. I know telling consumers to start a tile floor in the fashion this writer did would really upset him, so for now, I'm the voice of warning.

Please feel free to comment or ask questions. AGAIN, I'm not the expert, and you are welcome to ask Chris more specifics, but I'm knowledgeable to know I'm right about the points I made-esp. the grout issue. I think people writing answers to these really important consumers questions should use extreme caution and be so careful, as the trusty consumer believes the "expert", and will follow their advise. These poor consumers better have their chisels handy to "wipe" off this grout.

I hope I didn't overstep my boundaries. I'm sure Chris will let me know.if I did d Chris writes this blog and walks people through their tile installation projects and answers all questions with NO expectation, without gathering any information, trying to "get" the job (most of his phone and email advise for people working on DIY projects do not even live near his state of MA!), he truly does it to help people, to pay it forward, and prevent consumers from getting ripped off of making big mistakes on their projects for their beloved homes. So check his testimonial page, read through his posts, and you;ll see he's just an honest, good guy trying to do the right thing and share his experience.



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