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I just heard that there is a movement afoot that frightened me. I guess that tile guys are figuring out that they are not being watched so they are doing whatever they want. A nicer way of saying it is what they believe is the most profitable for themselves. Frankensteining shower waterproofing materials and techniques is a recipe for failure. I create showers as part of remodeling, My reputation is tied into waterproofing inexorably. It matters that we use one line of materials and assemble them in the way that they were intended and tested to failure. I do not know of a reputable remodeling contractor who would knowingly their tile guy go off the range. The thought of a tile guy starting to freestyle or mix and match materials from different manufacturers frightens me.
What Is At Risk
This is what is at risk. The failure of your shower.
- I visited with a lady who was washing their dog in the shower and inadvertently put her hand through the wall. That’s what happened when the tile was set on water-resistant green drywall.
- A tile installer got involved in an exterior waterproofing project I was consulting on. He used unapproved assemblies to waterproof a deck. “I’ll guarantee that installation for 10 years,” he said with confidence. The problem is he wouldn’t put it in writing because it was a lie! The manufacturer said that their product is not approved for outdoor use.
- A 10-year-old house developed a leaky shower and they stopped using it. It was built wrong and just took some time to show where the leak was.
We live in a free-range geographical state, Idaho, “The hold-my-beer-watch-this state” where nobody watches or tests showers. New homes are being built at a record pace and the warranty is for 1 year. That’s right the builder is on the hook for a year.
Schluter offers a lifetime warranty on their products which is sweet. I insist on Schluter products to get the warranty. Levco Looks, we make sure that we get a correctly built shower with the proper materials installed to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Buyer Beware “caveat emptor”
If you are hiring a tile contractor on your own. You are the inspector so you had better know what you are looking for and be able to verify that it was done correctly, A tile guy was bragging online that he uses materials from multiple manufacturers depending upon what is cheapest and now has started to only concentrate on waterproofing up to 4′ because “He has never seen a failure above 4′. “I’ll guarantee my showers for 25 years”, he says with confidence that is just wrong and frightening, not to mention illegal to make false representations. That is a consumer protection issue.
Is this generation just nuts? I do not believe this was ever an issue in the past. Integrity and honest work used to be the coin of the realm, Do not overlay your expectations on this generation because you will be sadly disappointed.
There Is No School, Or Is There?
I used to say that there was no tile school so the trade was passed down from generation to generation much like carpentry. Then I went to Schluter school, a 2-part class that is put on by the manufacturer where they teach how to do it correctly. I was blown away. I learned so much in such a great venue and I got to do hands-on training. I tile for myself, not my clients but I do know how to do it right which gives me a leg up on the competition.
How Do You Know?
My best advice is to work through a flooring shop and use their installers so you have a real warranty that holds water. Interview your installer. Ask tough questions about products, materials, and techniques they will use, Ask about approved assemblies, warranties, and certifications, There is the TCNA that specifies how to do things. If they do not have a clue about what you are talking about then run for the hills.
Your comments are welcome. To ask questions or get more information about remodeling, click here to email me directly, or call 208-947-7261
If you or someone you know is considering remodeling or just wants to speak to a trustworthy remodeling contractor, please contact me. You’ll be glad you did.