Before and After; Saving Timbers



After: Panorama Saving Timbers Project

Here are before and after photos of the Saving Timbers project, the job that inspired us to post the currently popular Cheap? Buyer Beware! 

It would have been nice to plan ahead with side by side comparison photos; alas the tile was torn out by the time we arrived. All our before photos come via the project Owner. Besides our brains are not thinking about how to frame the content in BEFORE/AFTER format, that’s a problem for @tilepup (a fantastic yet vacant employment position at Mosaic), but rather our minds are laser focused on how we are going to earn the trust of our once bitten twice shy client so they let us save their project. You will have to settle for the photo narrative companion.  Away we go.


Fig 1.: Before

Layout matters. In Cheap? we indicated that Clients may not know the words for what is right tiling and wrong tiling, but they know good from bad when they see it. We talked about Symmetry and Proportion. In Fig 1. the tub deck layout is not proportioned to the wall layout. See the minimal and very noticeable offsetting joints from the tub deck at the back of the tub with respect to the wall tile above it? The offset should be half tile or lined up joint to joint. Looking to the back right of the tub deck, there is what we call a “finger” tile. Its a skinny cut tile. Finger cuts lack symmetry; hence, they are undesirable. What is worse than a skinny cut running along the head of the tub to the front of the tub deck? (opposite the commode) The finger is in full view of the King (or Queen) on her throne for perpetuity. Nobody gives the King the finger. Not once and definitely not forever. Its just not right. Spots of blue tape in the foreground probably indicate flatness straightness issues. In the background, there is no grout joint above and below the mosaic band. And there is no joint at the mitered bullnose upper left. Blue tape in the corner of the back splash wall (barely visable) probably shows flatness and/or an inconsistent cut out of plumb. Moving on.

In Fig 2. below We can see a whole corner of hot mess. Are we going with no joint in the corner? Or big fat joints? (pun intended) Again we can see no joint below the mosaic. And then some where along the mosaic (out of view), the installer added a joint above the mosaic. I’m scared to see the place where he went from none to some joint. Above the mosaic, we can see the right cut is coming in higher than the left, not by much, but if you are going with a really tight joint like here, the defect shows. Last the mosaics on the right are sticking out from the face of the tile. Its just not flat. May I be blunt? (pun intended again) This cannot be defended.


Fig 2: Before


Fig 3. Before









Fig 3. Added without comment. :-O


Fig. 4 Before. Tagged “Mastic”.

What does this mean to you?  If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a picture of one word, brings a thousand word focus on that one word. Case in point, Fig. 4’s “Mastic”. What does it say if I put myself in the Owner/photographer’s shoes.  It says:

“For the last few days I’ve been going around and around with you about this little nagging thing and that nit pick in your tile work. All you have done is minimize my concerns.

“You being the expert, I trusted your judgement. I figured it was just me being overly critical, so I gave you your due. But then you put up more work, and frankly it too just does not look right, but I can’t find the words to describe why it is wrong. So that you will understand what I want, And we can sort this thing out.

“When again I am met by your minimizing talk, I begin to ask around, because I am beginning to not trust you. So I ask a trusted friend in the business who knows a thing or two about tile. Actually he might know a lot. He might be an experienced tile-setter. After all its not that uncommon to find one. The uncommon thing is finding one who is not too busy to fit in your schedule. When you know that guy, then you know you’ve met a guy you can trust. So after sharing a few of my concerns that you have so cavalierly dismissed as no big deal, I am beginning to suspect that you are a fraud.

“You see. A fraud is a person who does not have your best interests at heart. He will win your confidence, promise you the moon, take your money, and leave you with swampland in Florida which he deviously trade-named Boca Beachfront. Only no Boca and no Beachfront; Just the mud the blood and the tears. And gators. Lots of gators.

“I am beginning to fear that I have a tile job full of gators. But how to prove it so that I can begin to drain the swamp. So that I can move you off the job and move in someone whom I can trust.

“So mister fraud, I did a little reading on the interwebs about tiling. I found out that using mastic in showers has a questionable reputation. And while I have seen a bucket of mastic on the job, you assured me you were not using it in the shower. And lo and behold when I removed this tile from the shower, it appears to be bonded with mastic. I think we are done here.


Below are the after photos. The work looks right. Everything proportioned, no skinny cuts, plumb level flat and square. Plus there are field fabrications like quirk mitres so we could wrap the corner of the tubdeck with the field tile. Its a nice treatment to view and really opens the design possibilities not being constrained by needing to put a bullnose there where the shape of it may not be proportioned to the layout.





Quirk mitre

h/t Wes McUmber for the artful install



Saving Timbers

Here’s some photos Wes sent us from the job we are redoing for another guy. Originally posted in Cheap, Buyer Beware! , photos show the extent Wes is going through to straighten things out. So tiles are flat. So focal points are straight and true. So the look of the work is what you expect, and what you deserve when you make an investment in tile. Don’t leave the details to Cheap Guy. Call us. Ask for Wes. He’s Saving Timbers. He’ll save you too.


Showing 1/2" of mortar behind tile work. Where typically 1/16" -1/8" is found


Showing plumb, even though walls are not plumb.


Here they are coming together nicely.


Close up in the niche.

Happy Tiling!

Cheap? Buyer Beware!

What you can’t see, can’t hurt cheap guy

A curious thing happens when making a sale. Buyer and seller expectations come together in a sweet state of “We are all on the same page! Woo Hoo!” This happens for everyone right?


OK so I have come away from a project disaster. A real candidate for To Catch a Contractor.  I cant relate to you in the space and time I have now all the subtle nuances of each error this man made. I am going to keep it simple.

Discriminating customers know what good tile work looks like. While they don’t know the names of each feature they do know Flat. They do know symmetry. They do know fair proportion. They do know square. They do know straight. They do know plumb and level. They may not know the words for these things, but like the supreme court justice Stewart said of a nuanced point of art, “they know it when they see it”, and their hands can feel it. Especially when things aren’t right. Especially when the water does not flow to the drain. All of these are visual and tangible signals that things are just not right.

While these points of art may seem a simple thing to ask, and a simpler thing to expect from your service provider who may represent themselves as a tile guy. I assure you these are not simple and these are not easy. I have been through too many pretenders to tell you, the skill required to be a competent TILE MASON is rare. And the pride and care to hold oneself to that standard is rarer still. Price follows scarcity.

But Wait there is more! :-)

Risk goes from simple to complex when tile meets shower. These are things the eye cannot see. These are things the layperson cannot know. This is where costs get cut. This is where repair costs start in the thousands and go up from there.

Did you know a shower experiences more annual rainfall than a tropical rain-forest?  Bet you didn’t know that.

So many ways to mess this shower thing up. But the A number one way to do it, is to skip the pre-slope. Pre-slope? What is that, never mind. Just understand that if your low price tile guy doesn’t know what pre-slope is, you can be sure your waterproof shower pan will hold about 5 gallons of water in the floor – For the life of your shower. And that is iff your budget tile guy minds all of his waterproofing details. Big iff. (Iff = If and only if)

First lets focus on the implications of omitting the Pre-slope, and then lets talk about why it is skipped, and last lets talk about the costs of fixing plus the wider possibility of costs.

Can you imagine living next to a five gallon bucket of gray-water filled with soap residue along with the organic essence of you? It is an awful mold breeding stew. Sorry, I didn’t know how else to frame it. Anyhow that is your shower floor without pre-slope. And there will never ever be a cure for the mold infection other than total replacement of the floor.

Do you or someone you love have Asthma, Allergy, COPD? Chances are you do. If not now, then sometime in the future it could be you.

Think about it. Is the health of you or your family worth following the low bid impulse? Do you believe there is goodwill in pressing your reputable service provider to meet or beat the low price on the street?

Here is why the cheap guys skip pre-slope:

  • Cheap guy does not care about you
  • Cheap guy lacks training
  • He’s not smart enough to understand the value
  • Little can be accomplished before the pre-slope.
    • Skipping it speeds up the job.
    • Gets them to $$ faster.
  • What you cant see cant hurt cheap guy

Cost of fixing no pre-slope. $2400 and up. You have to surgically demo the shower floor system, curb, and some of the wall tile. And then replace everything properly. While you may understand the need to replace the floor, you may not understand the need to take the wall and curb. The waterproof liner should be turned up behind the wall board at least 6″ (iff your guy did that). It has to be repositioned at a new higher level on top of the previously omitted pre-slope. Everything on top of the liner has to go, so that implicates some of the wall.

What if there is no pre-slope and the waterproof liner is defective? These often go hand in hand, because you are dealing with someone who lacks training, is not intelligent, and does not care about you. After all “What you can’t see can’t hurt Cheap Guy.” Well the moldy stew leaks out and begins to infect the rest of your home. As you may recall the Chinese Drywall and mold problems after some Hurricanes in the 2000’s. Entire homes had to be gutted and redone. Homeowners had little to no recourse against bankrupt builders. And they had zero recourse against defective material manufacturers half a world away possessing a culture wholly different from their own.

In this case we mean penniless so called tile guys who do not care in the way you think they should. You will have no recourse against him.

Again, if you have certain expectations about your tile project, you should really check your low bid impluse. This is not the time or the place to be cheap. Let price be your signal. Take the low bids; interview the high bids. Negotiate for pre-slope.

Expect care; Get Art.


The WPR Hospital

Here is what we are doing on the commercial side of things.




Photos show 1 of 12 patient assist shower rooms. Tiled through out, the rooms feature a mud bed, waterproofing, and an arrangement of mosaics and 12×12’s on the floor and 12×24’s on the wall. Schluter metal trims at the cove and bullnoses. Grouted with Laticrete Permagrout for stain free mold free performance. Laticrete thinset and waterproofing.

Cold Weather Protection

This is how we roll in the cold weather. A home for our wet saw inside your home.


Full water containment wet saw

When it’s 1 degree F outside, water freezes almost instantly. So to keep the tile fun happening, we bring the wet saw inside. Here’s the water containment setup.

h/t Wes Mcumber, photo & setup

Stunning Tile Backsplash


Ben just sent us these photos of a stunning backsplash he just completed for a wonderful couple in Sylvania.



Its the backsplash they always wanted but could not have when they first built their home in 2001. Tile is a white on black basket weave marble mosaic with a Byzantine mosaic set in white grout. All from The Tile Shop.

We have to applaud the Owners for sticking to their goal; they knew their house would not be complete without it.

We also give credit to Tiffany K, designer, for helping them make the selections with ease and confidence.

Of course on Ben is grateful to be the tile guy chosen to put the final touch on their home.

As a reminder, our standard backsplash features things the other guys skip:
1. Protection – floor protection, countertop protection.
2. Caulking and sealing.
3. All setting and grouting materials.
4. Final walkthru by the boss (ME) :-)
5. A workmanship warranty you can believe in.
All of which makes you confident and secure that you are getting a great value for the money.

When you think of tiling, we hope you think of us. Thank you for your time.