If you're like most homeowners, you want a qualified tile installer and great installation for your bathroom, kitchen, or home remodel. How then to qualify your tile installation contractor?
In this article, Mark Heinlein CTI #1112 and National Tile Contractors Association Training Director and Technical Trainer / Presenter shares his simple formula for qualifying installation professionals. He explains,
"If a consumer knows to ask my 5 questions and if a contractor can respond appropriately, it’s the start of a success story for everyone."
We'll take you through Mark's five questions that homeowners should be asking to ensure they hire a qualified tile contractor.
Why is it so important to hire a qualified contractor?
As easy as programs like HGTV make it look, there's more to a successful tile installation than just placing tile in mortar and letting it dry.
That's especially true in areas where water needs to be managed properly.
Constructing a tile shower in your home is one of the most critical installations that can occur. It needs to be done properly so that it and the rest of your home are protected from water intrusion.
It's also true as tile sizes continue to grow along with the popularity of products such as wood plank tile which are long and narrow. You want to qualify your tile installer to ensure that s/he is familiar with the latest product developments and installation techniques.
Mark's 5 Questions to Qualify Your Tile Installation Contractor
Mark makes the following 5 suggestions to every customer who is interviewing tile contractors. Ask:
1. Do you own and use the TCNA Handbook and ANSI Standards?
Ask your tile contractor candidates if they own and use the TCNA Handbook and ANSI Standards. The TCNA Handbook and tile industry standards are the recognized publications that guide successful installations for all tile contractors.
The tile industry standards found in ANSI A108 / A118 and the methods published in the Tile Council of North America Handbook address the acceptable details and best practices for installing ceramic, porcelain, glass, and stone tile for all types of installations, including the type you have described.
Ask them which Handbook method they will use to construct your project. This will help you determine if the contractor you are interviewing owns and uses the recognized industry standards that will produce a great-looking and long-lasting installation for you.
In addition, the NTCA Reference Manual (see #3 below) and manufacturer’s instructions are valuable resources that guide savvy installation contractors and NTCA members.
2. Are you a CTEF Certified Tile Installer (CTI) and do you hold any Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT)?
Ask your tile installer candidates if they are a CTEF Certified Tile Installer (CTI) and if they hold Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT). These installers have been critically examined by the only nationally recognized third-party training and certification foundation on their knowledge of the recognized methods and best practices and their ability to use them to produce a great-looking and long-lasting installation. A CTI will have a certificate and wallet card with a number assigned to them by the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation. Mark's is #1112.
A CTEF CTI will own, understand and apply the approved tile industry standards, methods, and best practices in your installation.
You can search for a Certified Tile Installer in your area by visiting the CTEF CTI zip code locator.
3. Are you a member of the National Tile Contractors Association?
Find out if your tile setter is a member of his or her professional association. For tile contractors, it is the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA). Detailed technical support based on tile industry standards is a hallmark benefit of contractor membership.
If the contractor you interviewed is a member of the National Tile Contractors Association, s/he should be able to describe to you the methods and details found in the Tile Council of North America Handbook that will be used to construct your installation.
All NTCA members own these publications as well as the NTCA Reference Manual.
4. Are you licensed to work as a tile contractor in your state?
An important aspect of qualifying your tile installation contractors is asking if they are licensed to work as a tile contractor by their state’s licensing board.
Note: Not all states require licensing.
5. Do you have references and a portfolio of your work?
Be sure to ask your installer candidates for references and a portfolio of work.
And, then, call the references. Ask questions about what went well and not so well, about the working relationship and the kind of project completed.
When you explore the portfolio of work, look for completed jobs that match your project.
For additional resources and more detailed suggestions on this topic, check out:
Reactions to these 5 Qualifying Questions?
As you might imagine, there are many details to get right in every tile installation so the end-user (you) doesn't experience problems with the system’s performance. Every tile installation presents many demanding challenges that require an experienced, professional, qualified, and certified tile installation contractor.
The answers to these five questions should help you determine which contractor will perform the best installation for you. Don't ignore them.
What's your reaction to these five questions that Mark suggests to qualify your tile installation contractor? Let us know in the comments.
Thank you for reading.
Note: We originally published this article on 01/30/2018, and have updated it.