Most professional tile contractors, oftentimes without even realizing it, fit into a specific niche. This is by no means an “official” categorization of contractor types but it is something you may want to keep in mind when searching for someone for your project. I break the categories down like this:
- Floor covering and dry decorative installations
- Existing wet and dry installations
- Full build wet application installations
- Specialty wet and extreme custom installations
Each of these requires a different skill set, knowledge, and abilities, each more than the last. For instance, a full build wet installation, such as building a shower from scratch, requires considerably more skill and experience than a floor covering installation such as a kitchen floor.
Type 1: Floor covering and dry decorative installations
Installers in this category mainly stick with regular flooring tile and things like kitchen backsplashes. From a residential standpoint this is fairly limiting but many installers stick with it. There is a lot of work for installers that do nothing but kitchens. Most of the installers that stick with mainly these types of installations will move into the commercial side of tile and do things such as restaurants, malls, grocery stores (although most no longer use real ceramic), and schools.
Type 2: Existing wet and dry installations
This category includes things such as regular bathtub surrounds, kitchen countertops, existing tiled showers, and tub decks. Basically they have the ability and knowledge to tile wet areas such as showers and tub decks so long as they are already built. They do not yet have the knowledge, or more often the experience, to build your shower floor from scratch with all the plumbing and waterproofing techniques these projects require. For most residential projects short of a complete bathroom remodel this contractor will be more than capable of installing all of your tile.
Type 3: Full build wet application installations
Contractors in this category run the full spectrum of most tile installation projects from a simple backsplash to a complete bathroom remodel including a custom built and tiled shower. The key component of this category is the ability to build a completely waterproof shower from scratch.
This can be done in a number of ways, each with different products. Some installers stick with only one style of shower build, for instance a traditional mud bed and cementious backerboard walls. Many installers are capable of utilizing several different methods and using a specific type depending upon the individual situation.
Type 4: Specialty wet and extreme custom installations
This category includes intricate specialty work such as roman tubs, custom patios and decks (over living areas), swimming pools and spas, outdoor kitchens and any number of things not normally within the scope of a regular tile contractor. While most of the type 3 contractors have the ability, knowledge, and experience to install at least a couple of these things there are very few that fit fully into this category and do it all.
The contractors that fit a type 4 usually do one thing, and do it very well. I have never met someone that does it all and does it well. Not saying they aren’t out there, just that I’ve never met them. There may be some, I don’t know. A type 4 is a very specialized niche contractor that is the “go to guy” for one specific type of application such as a roman tub or glass tiled spa.
Every profession has a “type 4”, they are the rock stars of their particular circles. If you have a specialty project, such as a swimming pool with glass mosaic tile, find yourself a contractor that specializes in nothing but that. I am not him. The difference being that while I do have the knowledge of this particular installation and could probably quote you the industry specifications for it better than most, I have not done it. I would be willing to, but not in the form of the lead contractor. That would have to fall to someone with experience.
Which do you need?
Well, that depends on what your project entails. The key thing to keep in mind is that you want a contractor experienced in your particular type of installation. If you need a shower built you need to find someone that has built (several) showers. If you want a Kerdi shower, find someone that is trained and experienced in Kerdi showers (give me a call). If you need a glass mosaic tiled swimming pool find someone experienced with that (don’t give me a call – you can call me for the barbecue, though ).
The best thing to do if you have a project that lies outside the scope of a “regular” tile installation is to jump on the internet and research the aspects of that particular installation See how much or how detailed a contractor’s skill set may need to be to accomplish the correct results with proper installation.
More importantly ask questions. Ask, ask, ask. Find out which method your contractor will use to install every aspect of your project. This step is not necessary for a proper installation. However, if you feel uncomfortable at all with your installer or their method just ask. Any competent professional should have absolutely no problem answering any questions you may have.
About where I fit into these categories
I am mostly in the total type 3 category. I do complete bathroom remodels from simply removing a fiberglass shower surround all the way up to and including a full shower fabrication. I also have the knowledge and experience with some type 4 installations. They are: custom steam showers, outdoor kitchens, glass block installations for windows and walls, custom made medallions (geometric), and custom granite and marble installations. There are probably some others that fit into the type 4 that I have not mentioned simply because I do them quite a bit and consider them a normal aspect of my installation abilities.
If you need a Fort Collins tile contractor, or any part of Northern Colorado, just give me a call or fill out our contact form. If you need a complete shower built and want several options and methods from which to choose lets sit down and discuss what is available. If you are unsure whether your project requires a specialty contractor just ask! I’m pretty friendly. You may also ask your question in the comment box below, I will usually check for questions a couple of times a day.
The best thing to remember is that you want a contractor that fits your project, not a project to fit your contractor.