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Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 3 seconds

Was it really a good deal?

Time after time, we are asked to take care of and fix problems that were caused by a person that “got a great deal. There is no contractor licensing in Idaho. You might think that tile guys are licensed, but they are not.

How is a homeowner supposed to know that their tile guy installed the materials in the wrong order and did plumbing without a permit or inspection? They seemed confident; they had all the right tools.

How Long should a Tile Shower Last?

IMHO, until you get tired of the look of the tiles.

Tiles are popping off and delaminating with sharp shards of glaze, mold is wicking up the walls, and the glass block joints have missing and black grout. And the tile guy did such beautiful work 10 years ago! Rumor is he left the area and his phone number is disconnected.

Then the kicker happened. Thanksgiving, when all the relatives were over, the drain cut loose and flooded two stories of house. As we demolished the failed shower, we found all sorts of problems.

  • Right waterproofing membrane installed with the wrong order of assembly
  • Wrong tiles
  • Wrong grout
  • No permit for 3rd party verification
  • Wrong drain
  • The plumbing had too little grade and the toilet drain, and shower drain were combined incorrectly.
  • The wrong materials were used to seal the connection between ABS and cast iron

In the Long Run, Cheap Always Costs More Than Quality

The Tile Bible

It is so helpful to everyone to discover these things, the visual is hard to deny. I am surprised it lasted 10 years. In the tile guy’s defense, there is no inspection for tile showers, so even if he had a permit there is no standard to build to unless you happen to have a copy of the industry bible. For all I know a Big Box Store Associate explained it properly as he was buying his materials and he just misunderstood a few minor/major details. Or that is how he saw it done in his home country. It’s the little details that make or break it.

The sad part is that I have it on record from a tile supplier in the area that there are new homes being built today in the exact same wrong way. That means that 10 years from now, we will be doing this same repair for others.

How Is a Home Owner Supposed to Know?

It is a scary thing to trust. Should you learn everything about tile and showers, then watch the guy like a hawk? YouTube is full of great videos on the subject, but how do you know which one to believe when they have conflicting advice? Do you pick a company that has been around a long time? Should you get recommendations from the tile store? Isn’t there a standard in the industry? Funny you should ask, yes there is! There is also about 10,000 ways to do it wrong. Trust me, I have seen, and we have fixed a bunch.

One Way to Avoid the Problem

Hire a professional General Contractor, let them become the responsible party. A good one vets his trade partners. They pay attention to the materials that are being used and that they are being assembled in the right order. They have a designer who can verify that the pretty tile you like is appropriate for the installation.

A good General Contractor will have affiliations with national associations, they will work with trade partners that have a track record, be on site during installation and double check the work done by the electrician, plumber, and HVAC contractors that have been selected to work on your project. In most cases a General Contractor will have used their subcontractors on multiple projects and have developed a great working relationship.

The Bitterness of Poor Quality Remains Long After the Sweetness of Low Price is Forgotten

As a licensed and registered General Contractor, I would rather you not take such a big risk it with something as precious as your home. In my world paying for a high quality project done right the first time will avoid correcting what was done incorrectly the first time, or replacing a product long before the expiration of its lifespan.


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.

Disclaimer: Some of these images came from the WEB. If they are yours, and you object to them being used, please claim them and I will gladly remove and replace them at once.

One Comment
  • Karen Betty

    Hey Joe, I enjoy reading these. So an unrelated message to you…Diane Ross ( used to work in the Boise ER) is retiring after 40 years. St Lukes is giving her a little retirement thing on June 4th from 4-6pm in the Anderson Center 5th floor EE Gilbertson lobby. Wanted to let you know in case you would like to come by and say HI. Take Care, Karen

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