Choosing a Tiler - Tiler laying floor tiles

Tilers: Guide to Choosing a Tiler – Finding a Good Tiler & the Questions to Ask

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Putting in a new kitchen, renovating a bathroom, adding a utility room or just redecorating a tiled wall, choosing a tiler who will do a great job is one of the most important parts of the project. In this complete guide, we look at the things to consider, research and ask when choosing a tiler.

Choosing a Tiler: Looking for Candidates

Word of Mouth

This is gold when choosing a tiler, so it’s right at the top of the list. If someone you know and trust personally recommends a tiler to you, they are almost certainly worth requesting a quote from.

You can also ask for recommendations on forums or Facebook (for example), but bear in mind that you may receive responses from people you don’t know and/or with vested interests. If someone is willing to publicly recommend a tiler, the chances are they are a good one, so if you do receive several recommendations and ‘likes’ for the same person, they are worth a try.

‘Find a Tradesman’ Websites

Sites such as mybuilder.com and checkatrade.com can make finding tradespeople and getting multiple quotes quicker and easier. I have found a good tiler through mybuilder.com myself in the past. However, do be a bit careful – I also know someone who tried to refuse to pay a tradesman they found through one of these sites, after they did a terrible job and didn’t use the quality materials they had agreed to. The tradesman (and some of his friends) then turned up on the doorstep demanding payment. With his wife and child alone in the house every day, he felt he had little choice but to pay. And of course, did not dare to leave a bad review.

So these sites can work, but use them with caution when choosing a tiler and look for additional reviews elsewhere if possible.

Search Online and on Social Media

A website or social media page on which the tiler has the openness and confidence to show off their work and allow people to post comments is a good sign (if the comments are mainly positive, of course!).

Choosing a Tiler Based on Years of Experience

In my opinion, choosing one tiler over another solely based on their age or years of experience could be a mistake. Sure, it’s a skilled job and it is important that your tiler knows what they are doing, but someone newer to the trade, who is working hard to establish a business and build up word-of-mouth recommendations may work even harder to do a good job for you. A tiler with a long-established business may already have more customers than they can fit in and may charge more because of it (but of course they probably became long-established because they are good at their trade!).

So there are arguments for choosing less experienced or more experienced tilers – I recommend not using years of experience (or age) to decide one way or the other.

A better way to choose a tiler may be to try and find out how invested they are in your local area. If they are planning to live in the area long-term, they will consider local word of mouth very important to their business.

Should I Choose a Local Tiler?

For fairly small jobs, you may find that only local tilers will be interested. As previously mentioned, a tiler who relies heavily on custom from your local area will know how important word of mouth is when carrying out the work.

Another benefit of a local tiler – especially applicable to rural areas – is that they are more likely to know how to find you and, less put off by the muddy roads, steep hills and narrow lanes they may have to navigate to reach your property!

However, if you already know a good tiler who is willing to travel to you from outside the area, then this may well be the better option for you.

Do They Work Alone or as Part of  a Team or Company?

Renovating a kitchen or bathroom is a major job, requiring a range of skills including tiling, plumbing, plastering, carpentry and electrical. A sole trader may be able to call on other tradespeople or an apprentice to help with the job and, may be skilled in some of these themselves.

Hiring a specialist kitchen or bathroom installation company is another option. The benefit of this is that you might be less likely to be relying on one person to hold everything together and, their employees should have the full range of skills required.

Obtain Quotes from 2 or More Tilers

For your own peace of mind and for comparison, try to get at least two quotes for your job. Make sure you are comparing like for like with your quotes (more on that later) and unless your budget is very constrained, don’t automatically go for the cheapest quote – take into account things such as when they can start, how long the job will take etc – things we cover in the next section.

Choosing a Tiler - Tiler grouting floor tiles

Choosing a Tiler: Getting a Quote

Questions to Ask a Tiler

Once you have a list of several potential tilers, contact them to ask them to quote for the work. When they visit, ask them if they have pictures of their previous work. Some companies have showrooms, or the tiler may offer to show you a previous project at another customer’s house (presumably with their prior agreement!). Personally I don’t really want to go and judge the workmanship of someone else’s kitchen, but I find the offer reassuring anyway.

How long will the job take?

Having a kitchen or bathroom out of action is a big upheaval – especially if you have young children. Ask for an estimate of how long the job is likely to take (including weekend days) and whether the tiler will work 100% on your job for the duration, so that it is completed as quickly as possible.

If you wish to use unusual tile shapes, sizes or patterns make this clear at this stage, as some tiles (for example small mosaic tiles) can take a lot longer to apply than others.

Find Out When They Can Start

A busy tradesperson is a good sign, but one that can’t start the job for several months is not much use. Find out exactly when they tiler would be able to start work.

Exactly What is Covered in the Quote?

Ask whether there will be any extra costs in addition to the quote. Below is a list of some things to check, but every job is different, so you may need to ask additional questions of your tiler.

  • Find out whether the quote includes VAT.
  • Will you be required to supply anything – the tiles themselves, grout etc?
  • If the tradesperson is supplying the tiles, units, appliances etc, will they also order and deliver them or will this cost extra?
  • Do any products, or their workmanship come with a guarantee?
  • When is the bill payable – on completion or some upfront?
  • What happens if re-plastering needs to be done (see ‘Removing the Old Tiles’ section below)

Confirm these details at the quote stage so that you can compare quotes like-for-like and there shouldn’t be any surprises later on.

Again, if you have any unusual tile shapes or sizes, or elaborate patterns in your design, make sure the tiler is aware of this at the quote stage.

Removing the Old Tiles

Discuss whether this is included in the quote. It is possible that when tiles are removed from a wall, chunks of plaster can come away with them and the wall must be re-plastered before the new tiles can be applied. This can add time (the new plaster will need to dry thoroughly – usually overnight) and possibly cost to the job. Confirm with the tiler whether this has been taken into account in the quote.

Communication

At this stage, how is their communication? Obviously the tiler could be concentrating on their work, or driving, during the day, but do they ring you when they say they will, keep appointments and send things to you as promised? If so, this is a good sign (though not a guarantee!) that they would also be reliable and communicative during the job.

The Exciting Part – Time to Put up those Tiles

So now you’ve found an excellent tiler and agreed a price, if you are supplying the tiles yourself, make sure you have them ready on the day that the tiler starts work. Depending on how long your chosen tiles will take to be made and/or delivered to you, you may need to order these several weeks in advance.

Also consider that tiles bought online may look different in your room than they do on the screen, so leave enough time to buy sample tiles to check first, before placing your full order.

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Show the Tiler Exactly How you Want the Wall to Look

Since visiting you to provide a quote, your tiler may have seen a dozen other kitchens and bathrooms. Talk them through your design and the exact area to be tiled again (mark the wall if possible). If you want an elaborate pattern, print or draw it on paper, or arrange the tiles on a nearby surface if possible. A tiler’s skills lie in applying tiles neatly and strongly to walls – not necessarily in interior design or mind-reading!

Choosing a Tiler - Complicated tile patterns
If you have an elaborate tile pattern in mind – draw, print or place the tiles somewhere for the tiler exactly as you’d like them to appear on the wall

Protect Your Home from Dust

Put up some dust sheets and, if applicable, remove any crockery and other breakables from the area. Protect food from dust and try not to let it get into your kettle or toaster. When removing old tiles from walls, it can get dusty and messy.

All the Best with your Tiling Project

I hope this guide will help you with choosing a tiler and be really happy with their work – your new tiled wall.

If you are looking for inspiration in choosing wall tiles, we have 100+ in our online shop, with flowers, woodland, herbs, fruit, floral patterns and berries designs. There are more tile ideas and inspiration, including pattern examples in our Blog section.

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