Robert Lamoureux | New tile: Suitable for DIY or not? 

Robert Lamoureux
Robert Lamoureux

Question: Hi Robert, Jack C. here, wondering if you can help. I don’t recall seeing this question and answer before, so forgive me if it’s been asked and answered already. I am in need of new flooring throughout my home and have decided that tile is the answer. I have a smaller home, approximately 1,600 square feet in old Valencia, so not the worst when it comes to how much product I’ll need.  

I am considering tackling this project myself as I do have a little experience with tile, though all smaller jobs. Before I do this, I’d like you to weigh in on the pros and cons of this idea. My goal is to save money, but I also want the finished project to look really great. Any advice? 

— Jack C. 

Answer: Jack, this is one of those things that can go wrong in so many ways, unless you do this for a living. I am all about encouraging folks to tackle home projects themselves, but this one, I’d leave to the guys who do it on a daily basis, and have all of the tricks up their sleeves.  

There are so many variables involved in getting a good finished look, such as, level tiles, straight and plumb to walls, most efficient use of product for the least waste, and of course, proper application of mortar so that the tile is properly adhered to the subfloor. This doesn’t even include the subfloor prep, which can make or break the install. You will pay dearly for this work but in the end, if your work is not sound, you’ll pay twice because of repair/replacement costs.  

Additionally, when selecting the tile, do not go with the least expensive option at the big box stores. Do yourself a favor and compare the thickness and quality of tiles at the big box stores vs. those found at a tile distributor. Sometimes you can find the look you want that is of quality at the big box stores, but vet this with a licensed and insured tile contractor, making sure that what you are choosing will hold up over time.  

A thin, lesser-quality tile is likely to break the first time a pot is dropped onto it, and you are then having to pay for repairs.  

Another thing to consider is slip-and-fall issues with the finish of the tile. I highly recommend that you choose a tile that has some sort of texture to it, so that even when there are spills, it is still safe.  

I am not sure the look/style you want but if it is a wood floor look, which is a neutral choice, there are many out there that look like wood and have texture, to solve this potential problem.  

Any other questions along the way, reach out and I will help. Best of luck. 

Robert Lamoureux has more than 40 years of experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contracting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Email questions to Robert at [email protected].        

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