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Flooring and Carpeting/Marble shower/tub finish


My marble installation
My marble installation  
Hello Mr. Vellenga
On a previous e-mail I questioned the installation of marble walls in the shower tub area for a house a builder is building for me.  On or about 7/31 you asked me to attach an image because I expressed I thought the walls should have a cornice to give a "finished" look.  You did not know what I meant by a cornice.  I sent the image and you mistook the image as mine when I said the image was of a cornice on a well finished tub--not mine.  I am now sending you an image of my marble installation which is what I was asking your help with because I believe the grout lines are too thick (I took a ruler and they are exactly 1/8") and the edges are very rough--no cornice, or any form of a decorative piece--and looks "unfinished".  Will you please compare the two images I sent you--One looks great (the first image I sent you which I got from a tile store) and this image which is what my builder wants me to accept.  Thank you.

Ara...I have returned home from an extended stay in the hospital, and I see this picture you have sent to me of your actual Marble assembly. Your picture is very informative even though it only incorporates a small snapshot of the overall bath. Forgive my misunderstanding the original picture you sent to me as your own. It is a sometime problem when dealing in a loose format such as the one you and I are engaged in. Within the picture I notice some things that if it were my bath I would not be impressed either but for different reasons you have listed. First let me clear up the joint spacing concerns that you have. When an intended "Marble Joint" is established depending upon a couple common factors may or may not be completely consistent throughout the entire install. If you have gone to the pains of confirming the spacing as a consistent 1/8" then by and large you have things about as close as they are going to be. As I previously mentioned to you in an earlier post I will "allow" a 1/16" joint spacing if both the material and or sub-strate will permit it. Also keep in mind Ara that on all four sides of each tile is what is called a "chamfer" which is a fancy word for "eased edge". This is to help create a groutable space with which to receive and hold the grout. The chamfer on one tile is the opposite half of the next tile so both come together to make the whole. So this space on average will be 1/16" so the two together will make the 1/8" you now see. My conclusion for you in this particular aspect of things is these tiles are pretty tight. Next though, visually... there are a couple things I don't like to see. Layout of tile in a large bath will always present it's challenges but that is part of being in the business. If you fail to learn how to deal with complex layouts the installers will never reach the top of his craft. I will try not to get to fussy or technical here but here's an easy one...a great grout job can help to "save" a mediocre tile job. It's not a great notion but it's true, but consequently even a "great" install can simply be ruined or at least leave a bad taste in a customers mouth. Just the one joint there beneath the tile that caps the tub deck looks amaturish to me. It looks messy, uneven, and not flush with the tile, not good in my opinion. Second unless there is a good reason for it there shouldn't be a gap between the tub and tub deck it should be at least in contact if not resting on it. This space is going to be moving with the adding of hundreds of pounds of hot water then drained, heating and cooling itself will challenge even high grade Silicone to maintain a proper seal of protection to open space beneath the tub. If this were on a second floor I would not be happy at all much less a main floor. Third...the end cap at the outside profile that drops down to within the shower, I can clearly see that the piece rises up to be flush with the top of the tub deck tile, this tile on the end face should be "overlapped" by the tile on the top of the deck. I see what happened...layout. The installer started at the end there with a whole tile and moved to his left. In so doing he established both the position of the top tile and the one below it down to the floor on the tub face...can you see it? Once the tub deck tile went on he "HAD" to line up the tiles based on "his" layout. This caused him to be short at the end cap so now the cap had to finish above the tub deck tile. That kind of stuff gets me, guys get rushed and put in postions of haste perhaps by a tight timeline and a "get it finished" type of builder and things like this can happen. Now look deeper into the picture and notice another layout issue. I notice that there at the junction of the tub deck and shower area there is a common layout choice going on here. I have to assume that the installer either knows or is hoping that once the shower glass enclosure goes in it will ride right over this broken joint and "sort of" hide from one side to the other that "nothing is going on here" visual change. I would like to see a consistant "course run" of the tile so that the glass enclosure people can have the freedom to place the glass where it best needs to be rather than be limited to only one place that will hide things. So that would mean either lowering the "starter" course inside the shower down to the tub deck level (you can see where there is another whole tile start like on the tub face) or adding either a decorative accent course or a cut tile as a starter course to increase the tub splash height. If the course run had continued on around as the layout had established you would have had a 2" cut all the way around the tub deck. That is something that is avoidable with better planning..

Ok Ara...I hope this assessment is more to what you were needing, I simply mistook what was going on earlier. Now also let me add this caveat to this overall scenario before I close. I don't like to be critical of installers but will do so where I see it merited. I don't know if your home is being built under a "Production" environment where a Builder has several going on at a time or a one off custom home of your own design. There is a big difference that you have to understand. Even a "semi-custom" home will always have more time built into the schedule that will give typically the finish trades more time to do their jobs correctly and of high quality. I am here to tell you that todays current climate builders schedule has no such luxury built into it. Time is money and money is time...period. Sorry I was delayed with this evaluation for you, glad I could do it now. Thanks and as always feel free to return again anytime...I'll be here.


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Perry Vellenga


Ceramic Tile/Marble. I can answer questions about floor preparation, tile selection, layout questions, performance of products, expectations of finish, compatabilities, questions about grout and epoxies, evaluating an installer, asking the right questions to check competence...more? 33 years this August 2012/ many years in commercial application from exterior finishes to Mall store fronts/ interior finishes like floor packages in stores inside Malls examples: The Limited, Lerner/NY, Lane Bryants, Bombay Co., Now involved in Residential new construction covering all types of interior finishes and designs.


I worked in an exclusive field of floorcovering called "Tenant Development" which is by invitational bid only, by way of a National bid list. These are large floor packages usually over 3500 sq. ft. of 18" x 18" Marble and Granite and many other types of Marble and sizes. They are specialty stores where the floor package can cost upwards of $50,000 for one store. I have also done "Structure" stores and J. Riggins stores, Lane Bryant,Express and Body Shop stores where wood flooring is used. Presently work for a National Flooring Company in the Residential new construction arena that covers most interior design elements..Granite Slab tops/wood flooring both job finished and prefinished ect..

My response's are published all across the Internet and picked up by multiple Interior Design sites and Industry related web sites where people have questions...

too many most of which don't count...

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