Choosing the right tiler
Reading time: 8 minutes
Whether it’s in your bathroom, kitchen, or hallway, tiling is one the most hard-wearing and attractive ways of decorating your home.
As well as being an attractive finish, tiling will also protect your walls and floors from water damage, so with such an important job, it’s vital that you find the right tiler to perform the work. We spoke to some of the experienced tradesmen recommended on MyBuilder to find out the key things you should know in order to make the right choice:
- Look out for experience as much as accreditations
- Make sure you are comfortable with them
- Find out about their pricing
- Check what warranties and guarantees are available
Keeping these points in mind can help you focus on what to look for when you’re meeting with tradesmen and getting quotes for the work. Carry on reading for more details on how to go about finding the right tradesman for your job.
Look out for experience as much as accreditations
Tiling is a common building skill, that can crop up in a range of projects, from bathroom and kitchen installations, to redecorating jobs, renovations, and even garden landscaping work.
As with many jobs, there are a range of available tradesmen who will be able to take on the project. While many builders, handymen, and kitchen and bathroom fitters may offer tiling services, there are also dedicated tilers who devote their careers to perfecting their skills, learning all there is to know about the various techniques and materials available. For larger tiling jobs, a specialist will always be best placed to deal with any issues and answer any questions you have.
When looking for a tradesman for your project, it’s sensible to speak to ones who have performed similar jobs to the one you have planned. As well as seeing previous examples of their work that they can show you as part of their portfolio, you may also be able to arrange through them to visit their previous jobs - they should be happy to put you in touch with previous clients they have done work for before. Damion Beech of D Beech Tiling, a firm with nearly 100 pieces of positive feedback on MyBuilder, said:
When it comes showing my own experience, I use social media to have a gallery of pictures I can show to people, and if they want to know more, I’m happy to introduce them to previous clients where I’ve done jobs locally.
As well as checking their references, there are other things you can do to check their experience. On MyBuilder, you can read honest feedback on the jobs they have undertaken for homeowners, as well as seeing pictures of the jobs they have taken on. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions as well, about any qualifications they may have, their length of time in the business, or how they’ll approach your own particular job.
Some tradesmen may belong to trade associations. As well as general trade bodies for builders like the Federation of Master Builders and the Guild of Master Craftsmen, tilers may also belong to The Tile Association, which inspects the financial and technical performance of its members.
However, it is experience that is the most important thing to look out for. Damion added:
Qualifications aren’t necessarily everything. If someone isn’t qualified, that isn’t the end of it. A lot of the older tilers maybe didn’t go to college, but they have years of experience. I’ve met young tilers who have lots of qualifications, but they don’t know how to do a lot of jobs because they’ve never come across them.
Make sure you are comfortable with them
As well as knowing if they are experienced with your kind of job, you should simply assess how comfortable you feel with the potential tradesmen. You can do that from your first contact with them; are they polite on the phone, do they arrive for meetings at the scheduled time, do they ask lots of questions about the project?
Being able to maintain good communication throughout the project is always necessary. You shouldn’t aim to become best friends with them, but you should be able to have a professional relationship - you must feel comfortable speaking openly about any concerns that may arise, and dealing with any issues. James Woodham of Akiva Projects, a tiler who went on to set up his own bathroom and kitchen installation firm which has more than 50 pieces of positive feedback on MyBuilder, said:
I believe that every tradesman that comes into your house should be really friendly, really experienced, really clean and tidy. And they should be able to explain everything to the client. Every time we leave a project I like to think we leave them with knowledge as well. You can never provide a client with too much information. The more you ask them, the more they feel involved in the process, and the more confident they can feel in you.
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Find out about their pricing
Depending on the scale of a job, it can be advisable to meet with, and get quotations from, at least three tradesmen. Particularly on larger jobs, where original estimates have varied, the detail and scope of a tradesman’s quotation can tell you a lot about their processes.
It’s important to make sure that all the quotations are like-for-like - do they include materials and labour, as well as VAT? If the tradesman will be removing and disposing of the previous tiling, is that included? The only way to accurately compare quotations is if you are comparing like-for-like, and to get them from people who have seen the job in person. Taking a sample of at least three quotations can help you spot any that seem unreasonably low - if this is the case, it could be the sign of a tradesman who wants to win the job, but will make up the true value by adding on extra costs during the course of the build. Damion said:
The quote needs to include everything, adhesive is very important but people don’t know about it. Sometimes people will see it on the quote and say they’ll go out and buy their own adhesive, but when they see how much it costs they usually come back and ask us to get it.
The price will also depend on how you purchase your tiles. Although you can purchase your own tiles and other materials, such as adhesive, from stores or online, many people prefer to purchase through their tiler, who will often have access to discounts that can be passed on to you. Many prefer to work with particular brands, especially when it comes to grouting and adhesives, so it’s always worth checking. Jamie Murray, a flooring fitter who regularly does tiling projects, has more than 180 pieces of positive feedback on MyBuilder. He said:
It’s very easy to shop around these days when it comes to buying supplies. I often go to show people samples, and they may end up deciding to go and buy it elsewhere. I don’t have a problem with that, but I always tell people I can’t provide any guarantee for products they buy themselves. I’ve had cases where I’ve turned up to do the fitting when they’d had the materials delivered, and it was all the wrong stuff. It slows the whole process down.
After agreeing to a price through an accurate, written quotation, ensure you’re happy with how payment will work. A reputable tradesman will generally not expect, or ask for, the total value of an expensive job up front. However, a small deposit is not uncommon, especially if the tradesman is supplying the tiles. Many tradesman are happy to be paid in cash, but most will now accept cheques or bank transfers. Damion said:
I’m a very regular customer at my local tiling store, so I can get very good discounts - up to 40% because we spend so much in there. So although I might be a little more expensive than other tradesman due to my experience, I can pass on a huge discount. I pass it all on the customer rather than making a bit extra myself on it.
If it’s a large job I take a 10% deposit, especially if it’s a chunk of time in my diary where I’ll be turning down other jobs. I take most payments by bank transfer afterwards. I encourage people to use their new kitchens or bathrooms for a week and see how it is, then they can pay a week later once they’re sure they’re happy with it.
Check what warranties and guarantees are available
While tiling jobs are usually straightforward, there is always a chance that something can go wrong. It is sensible to hire a tradesman who is happy to return to the build to follow-up on their work and make right anything that may have happened since the work finished.
Some builders will put something to this effect in their initial contracts with the homeowners, while others will offer a more informal arrangement. Materials like adhesive may also come with warranties, which is worth double checking if buying through the tiler. Damion said:
The adhesives and grout I use come with a 25 year guarantee. Homeowners can look out for a tiler that uses those good brands. I give a five year guarantee on my own work, but I can’t guarantee the products that someone else supplies, which why I always like to supply my own.
If the tradesman is willing to put you in touch with previous clients to see their work, then it is a good sign that they have maintained good relationships, taken pride in their work, and ensured that they have followed-up on any issues that have arisen. Jamie said:
Most products come with a good warrantee from the manufacturer, so homeowners get some protection in that way. I guarantee my own work, but it’s quite informal - I tell them they’ve got my number, and I’ll be knocking around for a few years yet. They can talk to other customers to know I’m as good as my word, and I’ll always pop back to make anything right.