Choosing a ceramic tile contractor isn't remarkably different than choosing other home improvement contractors. You need to solicit multiple estimates, get and check recent customer referrals, and talk to your professional face-to-face to develop a rapport and establish lines of communication that will serve you well throughout the project. But there are also a few things particular to ceramic tile that you will want to address with your contractor before making a final hiring decision.
Ceramic Tile Contractors, Interior Design, and Tile Selection
Unlike the classic look of natural stone tile, ceramic tile's greatest asset is its versatility in color and texture. But it takes a keen eye to take full advantage of the virtually limitless possibilities of ceramic tile. Should your floor have a bold, vibrant color or a more subdued tone that can more easily blend with fixtures and various decorating schemes? Generally speaking, ceramic tile contractors are not interior designers, but they may have one on staff. Regardless, they're likely to be accustomed to your indecision and may be able to offer valuable tips and suggestions.
Even tile size can make for a tough decision, although it's usually a good idea to stay close to 12x12 or 13x13. Laying small tiles can be tedious and time-consuming. Laying extra large tiles can create raised edges on all but the most perfectly level floors. Incidentally, these same issues with smaller and larger tiles are the same issues many hasty DIYers experience.
Ceramic Tile and Grout
You may find yourself more interested in the color, size, and design of your tile, but the grout is just as important for the overall quality and value of your project. A good tile contractor will help point out things like how the color of the grout may affect the visibility of dirt and stains. You should also discuss the relative pros and cons of different grout sealant. Cement-based grout sealant is easier to apply and allows for much easier tile removal should you decide to remodel the area again down the road. Properly applied, your tile should still last several decades. Epoxy-based sealant will deliver an unparalleled durability for your tile but is notoriously difficult to remove. If your tile contractor makes even the slightest mistake, it's going to be a bear and a half to remedy.
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Ceramic Tile Removal
Ceramic tile contractors can not only install your ceramic tile, they can also remove it. Few homeowners take on ceramic tile installation as a DIY project. Ceramic tile removal seems like it should be more manageable. It's always been easier to destroy than to create, right? The truth is ceramic tile removal can be just as tricky as its installation. First, unless you've seen it done before, it's hard to imagine just how much dust is going to be stirred up during removal. Plus, unless your ceramic tile is cracked and falling apart, removing the tiles is probably going to take more than simply prying them up. If a sledgehammer is required (and it may be), you run the risk of damaging the ceiling of the floor below or, possibly, the subfloor. You can always try removing a small section of the ceramic tile to judge the plausibility of taking on the project yourself, but when in doubt, call a ceramic tile contractor.
Ceramic Tile Contractors and Manufacturers
You're likely to find more than one contractor that meets your expectations for quality craftsmanship and a friendly, professional demeanor. One of the potential tie-breakers among competing contractors is the contractor's knowledge of and relationship with tile manufacturers. You may already have your ceramic tile picked out, but contractors frequently get discounts from manufacturers, which help pay for the shipping and handling of the tile. Understanding this relationship will help ensure you get the best value from your tile and that the manufacturer doesn't create unnecessary delays for the installation of your tile.