How to Supervise the Tile Laying Process
Work with a contractor to ensure a professional tile installation
By Vance Holloman
Supervising the tile-laying process involves more than just the actual installation of the tile. A tile contractor can help design the layout of your tiling, as well as keep the process on track to meet deadlines. Learn what steps are involved in managing a tile project, so you can know what to expect should you hire a professional.
- What You Need to Know
- A good tile contractor can oversee the tile installation, but it's still smart to establish your own timeline and checklist. This will help you keep installers on-task and work towards a more timely project completion.
- Create a checklist to keep track of the whole process. The checklist should have a column containing the following items: Selection, Ordering, Materials, Tools, Layout, Installation, Grouting, Sealing, Clean Up, Afterward. This checklist will help you supervise the tile process from beginning to end.
Selecting the tile is perhaps the most critical part of your project. Look for tiles appropriate for the space; a small tile in a large space can appear too busy, and a large tile in a small space will appear clunky and can cause layout and installation problems. Although there is no rule dictating small versus large and what tile sizes work where, an 18-inch tile will usually not work well in a 24-square-foot bathroom, and 6-inch tile in a 400-square-foot kitchen will probably come across as too busy. Also give consideration to the orientation of the tile, whether straight or on a diagonal.
Once you've selected the type of tile you want to use, note this as the first day of your tile laying project. Write the date in big letters on the top of the checklist, and mark it as the first date of your project timeline.
Order the tiles and any other specialty items that are needed. Note the expected arrival date on the checklist. Call one week before they are due to arrive and again three days before and the day before to make sure they will arrive as promised. For in-stock tile, purchase as soon as possible to avoid the tile selling out. As always, make sure to order an extra box for breakage if your order is close to the square footage needed.
Make a list of materials such as grout and thin set that will be needed. When working with a contractor, make sure material purchases are listed in the contract, or ask if you can purchase the materials separately and hire the contractor solely for installation to avoid a markup.
List all of the tools needed, such as tile saws, trowels, buckets and grout sponges needed to perform the project. Write these on the checklist and make sure that these resources are allocated to the job a couple of days before the job is scheduled to start.
Work with the tile contractor to design the the layout ahead of time; don't allow the installers to do this on the day of installation. Have a professional lay out all of the whole tiles possible and arrange them until you like the pattern. Guidelines should be snapped on the floor for the installers to lay the tile to.
Start the tile laying process by laying out all of the whole tiles and marking and making the perimeter tile cuts. Pick the tiles up when all is laid out, and start laying the tile for real. Watch the installers and make sure they are using the guidelines and laying the tile straight and level. Every so often, have the installers remove a tile and check the back of it to make sure the thin set is covering completely. Make sure the grout is applied evenly and cleaned quickly.
Clean up the work area inside and the cutting area outside as well as any other debris that may have been made. Make a second pass around the property to assure that all items relating to the tile install have been removed.
About the Author
Vance Holloman is a residential contractor; his writing is based on two decades in the construction industry.
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