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How Not to Install Tile on Floors, Walls and in Showers

Sometimes, the best way to explain how important it is to work with a Certified Tiling Installer (CTI) is to show you how not to install tile on floors, walls and in showers.

This article focuses on a real-life situation where those doing the work (aka tile placers) clearly did not have the knowledge, expertise or experience to deliver a high quality tile installation. They were not CTIs.  Although originally published on 9/27/2016, it continues to speak directly and strongly about unqualified labor and the perils of poorly installed tile.

Let's explore this master bathroom installation to better understand what went wrong.

Assessing this Master Bathroom Tile Installation 

The first step is to observe this tile installation and assess the deplorable work.

This is a newly installed residential master bathroom featuring a whirlpool tub and a tiled walk-in shower. . 

Installation Issue: Excessive Tile Lippage on Floors

As you walk into the master bath, you immediately notice that the floor tiles are not in line with one another. They exhibit tile lippage which is defined by the Tile Council of North America (TNCA) as,

Variation in the height of adjoining tiles is called lippage. This is defined in the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) standard A108.02, Section 4.3.7: "Lippage refers to differences in elevation between edges of adjacent tile modules."

>> Be sure to read the Tile Council of North America's (TCNA) explanation of lippage which describes the ANSI standards for allowable lippage and warpage.

The picture  below shows the bath floor which exhibits excessive lippage, affecting the integrity of the tile installation. 

Installation Issue: Excessive Tile Lippage on Floorshttps://www.ceramictilefoundation.org/hs-fs/hubfs/Bad_Tile_Examples/Floor-bad-lippage.jpg?width=711&name=Floor-bad-lippage.jpg 711w, https://www.ceramictilefoundation.org/hs-fs/hubfs/Bad_Tile_Examples/Floor-bad-lippage.jpg?width=1067&name=Floor-bad-lippage.jpg 1067w, https://www.ceramictilefoundation.org/hs-fs/hubfs/Bad_Tile_Examples/Floor-bad-lippage.jpg?width=1422&name=Floor-bad-lippage.jpg 1422w, https://www.ceramictilefoundation.org/hs-fs/hubfs/Bad_Tile_Examples/Floor-bad-lippage.jpg?width=1778&name=Floor-bad-lippage.jpg 1778w, https://www.ceramictilefoundation.org/hs-fs/hubfs/Bad_Tile_Examples/Floor-bad-lippage.jpg?width=2133&name=Floor-bad-lippage.jpg 2133w" sizes="(max-width: 711px) 100vw, 711px" style="box-sizing: border-box; max-width: 100%; height: auto; vertical-align: bottom; margin: 20px 0px; width: 711px;" />

If you get even closer to the floor, you'll notice that the height difference between floor tiles ranges between two to three quarters.  

In other words, don't wear high heels in this space unless you want to catch your heel... Installation Issue: Excessive Tile Lippage on Floors - closeuphttps://www.ceramictilefoundation.org/hs-fs/hubfs/Bad_Tile_Examples/Before-tile-lippage-closeup.jpg?width=711&name=Before-tile-lippage-closeup.jpg 711w, https://www.ceramictilefoundation.org/hs-fs/hubfs/Bad_Tile_Examples/Before-tile-lippage-closeup.jpg?width=1067&name=Before-tile-lippage-closeup.jpg 1067w, https://www.ceramictilefoundation.org/hs-fs/hubfs/Bad_Tile_Examples/Before-tile-lippage-closeup.jpg?width=1422&name=Before-tile-lippage-closeup.jpg 1422w, https://www.ceramictilefoundation.org/hs-fs/hubfs/Bad_Tile_Examples/Before-tile-lippage-closeup.jpg?width=1778&name=Before-tile-lippage-closeup.jpg 1778w, https://www.ceramictilefoundation.org/hs-fs/hubfs/Bad_Tile_Examples/Before-tile-lippage-closeup.jpg?width=2133&name=Before-tile-lippage-closeup.jpg 2133w" sizes="(max-width: 711px) 100vw, 711px" style="box-sizing: border-box; max-width: 100%; height: auto; vertical-align: bottom; margin: 20px 0px; width: 711px;" />

This three-quarters difference would surely be unpleasant to walk on in bare feet.

Not to mention that it's intensely unsightly!

Installation Issue: Excessive Tile Lippage on Floors - up close!https://www.ceramictilefoundation.org/hs-fs/hubfs/Bad_Tile_Examples/Lippage_on_floor_650x365.jpg?width=650&name=Lippage_on_floor_650x365.jpg 650w, https://www.ceramictilefoundation.org/hs-fs/hubfs/Bad_Tile_Examples/Lippage_on_floor_650x365.jpg?width=975&name=Lippage_on_floor_650x365.jpg 975w, https://www.ceramictilefoundation.org/hs-fs/hubfs/Bad_Tile_Examples/Lippage_on_floor_650x365.jpg?width=1300&name=Lippage_on_floor_650x365.jpg 1300w, https://www.ceramictilefoundation.org/hs-fs/hubfs/Bad_Tile_Examples/Lippage_on_floor_650x365.jpg?width=1625&name=Lippage_on_floor_650x365.jpg 1625w, https://www.ceramictilefoundation.org/hs-fs/hubfs/Bad_Tile_Examples/Lippage_on_floor_650x365.jpg?width=1950&name=Lippage_on_floor_650x365.jpg 1950w" sizes="(max-width: 650px) 100vw, 650px" style="box-sizing: border-box; max-width: 100%; height: auto; vertical-align: bottom; margin: 20px auto; display: block; width: 650px;" />

Spoiler Alert: you'll notice a lot more lippage in the images ahead!  

Installation Issue: Tub Surround Tiling and Shower Wall Tiles Were Not Set Straight

Qualified tile installers (CTIs) know how to measure and prepare a layout that takes into account angles, and tile patterns, as well as proper proportions. In fact, that ability is what creates a beautiful and harmonious end result.

Tiles come in consistent sizes that will need to be cut to properly cover a floor, wall or shower. Tile needs to be installed in a consistent pattern with parallel and perpendicular elements.

In this particular master bath, tile was not installed in consistent parallel patterns, angles did not match and any inconsistencies were filled in with grout.

Unfortunately, this "tile placer" used grout to compensate for incompetence.

Installation Issue: Tub Surround Tiling and Shower Wall Tiles Were Not Set Straighthttps://www.ceramictilefoundation.org/hs-fs/hubfs/Bad_Tile_Examples/Before-tub-surround-area.jpg?width=711&name=Before-tub-surround-area.jpg 711w, https://www.ceramictilefoundation.org/hs-fs/hubfs/Bad_Tile_Examples/Before-tub-surround-area.jpg?width=1067&name=Before-tub-surround-area.jpg 1067w, https://www.ceramictilefoundation.org/hs-fs/hubfs/Bad_Tile_Examples/Before-tub-surround-area.jpg?width=1422&name=Before-tub-surround-area.jpg 1422w, https://www.ceramictilefoundation.org/hs-fs/hubfs/Bad_Tile_Examples/Before-tub-surround-area.jpg?width=1778&name=Before-tub-surround-area.jpg 1778w, https://www.ceramictilefoundation.org/hs-fs/hubfs/Bad_Tile_Examples/Before-tub-surround-area.jpg?width=2133&name=Before-tub-surround-area.jpg 2133w" sizes="(max-width: 711px) 100vw, 711px" style="box-sizing: border-box; max-width: 100%; height: auto; vertical-align: bottom; margin: 20px 0px; width: 711px;" />

In this other view of the tub, you can see the unsightly wide grout joint between the tub deck and the cabinet. This joint should have been a neat and consistent size which is then filled with a flexible sealant.

Did you see the wall tile lippage along the end of the shower wall?Did you dee the wall tile lippage along the end of the shower wall?https://www.ceramictilefoundation.org/hs-fs/hubfs/Bad_Tile_Examples/Before-shower-wall-lippage.jpg?width=711&name=Before-shower-wall-lippage.jpg 711w, https://www.ceramictilefoundation.org/hs-fs/hubfs/Bad_Tile_Examples/Before-shower-wall-lippage.jpg?width=1067&name=Before-shower-wall-lippage.jpg 1067w, https://www.ceramictilefoundation.org/hs-fs/hubfs/Bad_Tile_Examples/Before-shower-wall-lippage.jpg?width=1422&name=Before-shower-wall-lippage.jpg 1422w, https://www.ceramictilefoundation.org/hs-fs/hubfs/Bad_Tile_Examples/Before-shower-wall-lippage.jpg?width=1778&name=Before-shower-wall-lippage.jpg 1778w, https://www.ceramictilefoundation.org/hs-fs/hubfs/Bad_Tile_Examples/Before-shower-wall-lippage.jpg?width=2133&name=Before-shower-wall-lippage.jpg 2133w" sizes="(max-width: 711px) 100vw, 711px" style="box-sizing: border-box; max-width: 100%; height: auto; vertical-align: bottom; margin: 20px 0px; width: 711px;" />

In the image below, notice the excessive grout joint that this "tile placer" used at the top of the shower wall.  

Notice the excessive grout joint that this tile "placer" at the top of the shower wallhttps://www.ceramictilefoundation.org/hs-fs/hubfs/Bad_Tile_Examples/Before-shower-067024-edited.jpg?width=668&name=Before-shower-067024-edited.jpg 668w, https://www.ceramictilefoundation.org/hs-fs/hubfs/Bad_Tile_Examples/Before-shower-067024-edited.jpg?width=1002&name=Before-shower-067024-edited.jpg 1002w, https://www.ceramictilefoundation.org/hs-fs/hubfs/Bad_Tile_Examples/Before-shower-067024-edited.jpg?width=1336&name=Before-shower-067024-edited.jpg 1336w, https://www.ceramictilefoundation.org/hs-fs/hubfs/Bad_Tile_Examples/Before-shower-067024-edited.jpg?width=1670&name=Before-shower-067024-edited.jpg 1670w, https://www.ceramictilefoundation.org/hs-fs/hubfs/Bad_Tile_Examples/Before-shower-067024-edited.jpg?width=2004&name=Before-shower-067024-edited.jpg 2004w" sizes="(max-width: 668px) 100vw, 668px" style="box-sizing: border-box; max-width: 100%; height: auto; vertical-align: bottom; margin: 20px auto; display: block; width: 668px;" />Did you catch the lippage along the wall? 

These next few images will disturb you even more! They highlight the use of excessive grout.

Excessive grout in this tile installation


nygal

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