By Gene and Katie Hamilton
To find a tile a setter ask for references where you buy the material like at a tile showroom, home center, lumberyard or flooring center. Some of these retailers offer an installation service. Or go online and type "tile setter in (your town)" in any search engine and you'll find a list of local contractor referral services. In the Yellow Pages they are listed as "Tile-Ceramic - Contractors and Dealers". Plan to pay $45 to $100, the national average hourly rate for a tile setter.
Ask for references and take the time to inspect an installation looking for consistent spacing between joints by sighting down the grout lines. They should be straight and even. The grout should be in the grooves, not smeared on the face of the tiles. Look in the corners, around windows and corners to find tight-fitting tiles and stand back for an overview to see that the tiles are balanced and look symmetrical. The band of tiles outlining the room should be approximately the same size all the way around. There should not be full tiles on one side of the wall and a narrow band of tile on the other. Tile spacing should be even, and the surface should be level.
If there is a pattern or special installation design required include a sketch of the pattern with the contract.
When comparing different proposals it is necessary that all the contractors are bidding on the same type of tile work and the same amount of preparation. Listen to the recommendations each contractor gives as far as the prep work is concerned.
Many contractors who do small jobs like bathroom facelifts will do tile work as well as setting the fixtures and installing the vanity cabinet. Your agreement should spell out exactly what will be done.
These items should be specified in a contract between a homeowner and tile setter:
- Materials (including tile, grout and sealer, adhesive)
- Demolition work (if necessary)
- Preparation work required (plumbing lines, carpentry such as new framing, underlayment material)
- Clean up of the site
- Start and completion dates
- Cost and payment schedule
Click Improvements to compare how much it costs to do-it-yourself with hiring a contractor.