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Flooring and Carpeting/porcelain tile installation


We contracted with Home Depot for tear out of almost 1000 sq ft of the original ceramic tile installed in our home 17 years ago. Many of tiles had come loose from the slab or had been chipped, cracked or appeared worn. We opted to replace the 12" tiles with 20" porcelain tiles made in Ecuador. The tile was on sale at a very good price and was a lovely pattern.

When the installer arrived and saw the tile we had chosen he was very concerned. He explained he had recently attempted an installation of the same tile but variations in the size of the tiles and the fact some tiles were not square made it impossible to achieve even grout joints the size expected by the customer. The customer was so dissatisfied, she had the tile pulled up and cancelled the order. His company advised Home Depot to remove the tile from its shelves, but they continued to sell it.

He laid out several tiles and showed us the problems with the tile. After much discussion, he called his boss who suggested he attempt to compensate for the irregularities in the sizes of the tile with wider joints and laying it in what he referred to as a  "brick" pattern. The installer said he had never used a brick pattern with tile laid on the diagonal, but it might work. Although it would be very time consuming, he was willing to give it a try. We know very little about tile, but trusted his judgement and agreed to go forward since we had already been waiting for almost two months for the installation.

He completed the tear out and began installing the tile in the master bath. The grout joints are visibly uneven, not only between tiles but within a single tile as well.

At this point I don't know what to do. My house is not livable since the floor has been torn out so I'm tempted to just close my eyes and try to ignore the problems. My fear is if I do that, I will have to live forever with tile throughout the house that has grout joints so irregular it looks like a very sloppy installation, although I know it's not the installer fault.

Is it unreasonable of me to insist that Home Depot remove the tile and cancel the order? Is there any standard for how wide or how much variation there can be in grout joints.

I'm an old woman and this situation is making me ill. We have moved out of the house and are living in an RV park until the job is completed, but we can't stay here forever. Any advise you can provide as quickly as possible would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for your question Eileen,

   I commend your installer for being truthfull and up front when it comes to informing the customer about inferior material. It is way more common than people really know. Perhaps you have heard the old Latin saying "caveat emptor"...this is where you now find yourself Eileen. The "good price" and lovely pattern are now, as you are discovering, are neither. When it comes to modern day ceramic (or even porcelain) tile the quality for the "base grade" materials has become quite suspect. It can also depend on where it came from...and in your case Ecuador quality standards can be quite low. Breaking the install into a brick pattern is a good attempt but even with that visual break if the material is found to be out of square and calibre issues (sizing) sometimes there is little to do except open up the joint sizing and grout the tile as closely to the tile color as possible to lessen any dramatic contrasting visual grout grid work where the joints jump or staircase around. Home Depot is a well intentioned Company and try to be customer oriented. The problem they seem to have is some of the materials that they carry are price specific for the lowest cost consequently quality/consistancy with the product is less than stellar as you have discovered. I would search out the Dept head of the store where you purchased the material to see what they can/will do for you. If no success there then the Store manager will be your next stop. Wanting to maintain a positive working relationship with the local customer base I am betting that they will try to help you with this growing issue. Because they do not have what we call a dedicated professional sales person (the one who helped you may have sold carpet or vinyl for a living but no tile experience...follow me so they don't know what to look for either. Those kinds of things I typically do not purchase at any box store preferring to go to a local tile/stone Distributor in my area for a potentially better quality product. At least their sales force is better trained to help you understand the risks of purchasing something "on sale" or close out because it may be on sale for a very good reason as you have now found out. You don't mention how much tile is installed already but I am guessing that the installer you have, has done work with Home Depot before, maybe from their Contractor list available to them. He should know and understand the process with which to follow to help you get satisfied with what is going on. In cases like this Eileen the "squeaky wheel gets the oil" if you know what I mean. Make your voice heard, also check your receipt to see what the policy is for returns of this specific material...if it was a "sale" item then I do not believe they are obligated to take it back. But the burden of this problem will fall to you and with the help of your Contractor to see what if anything can be done. Sorry Eileen that I don't have a more satisfying response for you in this, you will just have to fight for it in this case. I hope this helps you in some way, feel free to return anytime...

Perry V.

Flooring and Carpeting

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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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