Getting a good job
Most tilers prefer supplying the materials. Don't worry. With their professional discount, they can often make a profit and charge you the same or less than you would pay for tiles at a home center. And with the many tile types, finishes, edge treatments and porosity ratings out there, it's better for him to be doing the shopping. Plus, you want any material failure to be his responsibility, not yours. Remember, you have a written guarantee that the tiler will stand behind his work. So it's in his best interest to buy quality materials. Besides, failure of the tiles themselves is rare.

Once the tiler starts working, you may find that the pattern isn't what you had in mind. It isn't too late to rethink things if you act quickly. But you will end up paying double the installation fee, as well as for the labor to remove whatever tiles have been set. This is all the more reason to think carefully about patterns and colors early on. Don't walk on newly grouted tile for at least 24 hours (wait 48 hours for work done in a shower). Circulate air through the area with an air conditioner or fan to facilitate drying. If the grout cracks as it dries - a common problem — call the tiler back promptly for repairs. Once final grouting is done, you can have grout seams sealed with silicone sealer for extra protection. The downside is you'll have to reapply the sealer every six to eight months. An alternative is to leave the seams unsealed. If they get dirty, restore them to their original color with grout stain.

Wrecking Costs Extra
Most tiling bids include a demolition charge. If you have a strong back and an economical way to dispose of debris, you can save several hundred dollars by doing the demo yourself. Beware, however: This is a hard, dusty chore that requires effective dust containment, dust masks and safety goggles, along with a mason's chisel, pry bar, hammer and large buckets for hauling out debris. If you do it, ask the tiler exactly what has to be removed and how clean stud and floor surfaces have to be for him to begin work.

Owner and president of Lipford Construction in Mobile, Alabama, Danny Lipford has remodeled more than 2,000 homes over the past 20 years.
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