Chris' Corner: Considering installing tile yourself?

Considering installing tile yourself?


Related to my last re-blog, if you are thinking of updating tiling in your home, should you consider doing it yourself?

Before you do, read this post from my friend, Debbie Gartner, Floor Coverings International, based out of White Plains, New York...


Should you install tile yourself? Tile is the one flooring surface that so many do-it-yourselfers think they can install themselves (or they have a friend who can do it). And, tile is also the one surface, moreso than any other surface, where I see such a wide spectrum of skills and some VERY messed up tile jobs, so this is a big watch-out.

brick porcelain tile


Because tile is so labor expensive, it is the most expensive surface to install. And, because it’s more expensive, it’s one of the areas customers try to save on, especially these days. Sometimes these jobs are done by do-it-yourselfers, sometimes by handymen, sometimes by people who are handy. Regardless, this can sometimes lead to major issues, and personally I think it’s best to have a professional tile installer help you.


By far, the biggest issue is the one area inexperienced installers don’t see or don’t know about and that is floor prep. Your tile is only as good as the subfloor and the prep underneath it! If you haven’t done this correctly, it doesn’t matter how much you’ve saved on your labor or how good your tile laying skills are, or how great a deal you got on those tiles as they will surely crack.

What sorts of issues can happen?

  • Most common issue is cracking. And, this happens often – usually not right away, but sometimes 1-2 yrs later; sometimes 5-10 yrs later. Most common reasons for this are because someone installed on top of plywood or a wood surface and/or because floor is uneven. Floor prep and leveling is super important. If you don’t do it, you’ll be sorry. I can’t even tell you how many jobs we have seen where the tile is cracked, and it’s obvious to me why it’s happened – no floor prep. This is even more important in Northeast and mid-Atlantic areas where homes are older and tend be less level.


  • Uneven tile laying – you should always use spacers. I have seen many sloppy jobs – tile and grout lines uneven. I also see lots of sloppy cuts around the edges and the trim and missing transitions. It’s quite sad. Looks terrible no matter how nice the tile is.


  • Improper lay out and spacing. My installers measure and center. So whether it’s a floor or a bathroom wall or backsplash, we measure to see how the tile will lay out. We center it in the room so you don’t have ½ pieces on one side of the room or your design or border hitting the electrical outlets.


  • Grout lines that are too large – Ugh. Every time I see large grout lines, my nose starts to cringe as this looks so dated. But, so often, this is just done by someone inexperienced and not up-to-date on the trends. Thinner grout lines look nicer, last longer and are easier to clean and maintain. 


  • Wrong or no trim pieces. When finishing off tile, especially in a bathroom, you need to have bullnose or wallnose pieces for smooth transition to the wall. Otherwise, it just looks unfinished and it’s obvious that it was done by an amateur. 

I could go on about other issues, but I think this is enough for now. If you’re considering installing tile flooring in your bathroom or adding a tile floor in your kitchen, please consider calling a professional. If you are in Westchester, NY or Fairfield, CT counties, please free to give us a call at Floor Coverings International 914-937-2950. We also have branches in most other parts of the US and Canada.

Hardwood Flooring - Carpet - Tile/Natural Stone - Laminate - Refinish Hardwood - Backsplashes

Floor Coverings International Westchester and StamfordDebbie Gartner, President and Owner

"The Flooring Girl"Debbie Gartner - Westchester Hardwood Flooring

Floor Coverings International: Westchester NY/Stamford CT

You can download our free flooring guide.  Or, visit our flooring selector - 2,000 options for hardwood flooring, carpet, tile. Call us for a free estimate 914-937-2950. 

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Comment balloon 0 commentsChris Smith • July 16 2011 12:23PM