Questions to ask when selecting a reputable tiling contractor

Questions to ask when selecting a reputable tiling contractor

When selecting a tiling contractor inspect previous jobs to get a good indication of the quality of the workmanship.

With no professional bodies for tiling contractors in South Africa, homeowners need to do their homework when selecting a professional.

“Not ticking all the necessary boxes can result in shoddy workmanship, and even failure of a tiling installation,” says Sharon Margon, technical advice supervisor at TAL.

“A good rule of thumb is to select a tiling contractor with at least three years’ experience, and a proven track record in floor and wall tile installations. It is always preferable to hire a professional, especially if you have never installed tiles before, or have an especially large project to undertake,” she says.

However, selecting such a professional needn’t be a minefield if you do some research upfront. Margon highlights the issues that need to be considered.

Select the tile before hiring a tiling contractor: This might not seem obvious, but it will determine the scope of work and the level of skill and expertise required. Large-format tiles, or a project involving different-sized tiles in a pattern, will be more expensive and difficult to install.

Ask around for a professional referral: The adage that word of mouth is often best is equally applicable to selecting a professional tiling contractor. If you know someone who recently had success with a tiling installation, ask for the contact details of the installer. In addition, you can inspect the installation, to get a good indication of the quality of the workmanship.

Ask your local tile supplier for a list of reputable contractors: This is different to a direct referral, as it is essentially a list of contractors who buy regularly from your local supplier. These contractors will be well worth your while to pursue, as they are likely to have considerable experience. Ask the contractor to show you pictures of previous installations and references, and if they are confident in their work, this will not be a problem.

Once you have selected a tiling contractor: Choosing a tiling contractor is only one side of the equation. What do you do when you think you have the ideal professional lined up? Remember to ask if they are suited to your project’s size and requirements, how long they have been in business, the number of projects they have undertaken, the average time it takes to complete a project and, perhaps most important, their availability.

Request a quote in writing: Insist on a signed and detailed quote. This must take into account the exact services being rendered –such as removing old tiles, repairing and levelling the floor with a suitable underlayment or levelling compound, priming the surface, sealing the grout and disposing of the old tiles. Also, what materials – such as tiles, primers, adhesives, additives, grout and sealants – will be supplied by the tiling contractor? In most instances waterproofing is required when installing or renovating a bathroom. What quantities will be required? What is the timeframe for starting and finishing the project? How much will you be required to pay upfront and what guarantees will you have?

Check that the correct installation system has been quoted on: Check that the tiler is using the correct adhesive and grout system. You can do this by speaking to a trained salesperson at the tile merchant used by that specific tiler. Another option is to visit a relevant manufacturer’s website, or to consult a technical advice line.

The more work you do upfront in selecting a reputable and experienced tiling contractor, the less chance there is of something going wrong.

“A single incorrectly-placed tile can jeopardise an entire project. Mistakes in tiling installations are difficult to cover up, and repairing these will incur additional expenses and time,” Margon says.