View Full Version : Tiling Cost

Matt Meiser
10-09-2012, 3:09 PM
I've got two quotes for tiling my backsplashes--about 22 linear feet of 18" tall backsplash in 3x6 tiles we are supplying. Contractors would supply adhesive, grout, caulk, sealer, etc--I've learned tile contractors are very picky about the brands they use! Nothing out of the ordinary, straight walls, just one window, and some outlets to go around. Both contractors come highly recommended from two different trusted sources.

Quotes came back a LOT different and I'm trying to decide what to do. Quote #1 is about $1150. Quote #2 is $364. Not a typo on either.

At first I didn't think the first one was totally out of line but I've been told several times that "he's expensive but good." 2nd seems really low. First guy is quoting based on a phone conversation and my description of the work. Second guy came out for about 15 minutes. First guy works as a sub to a friend a few times a year. Second guy is a sub to the builder my parents' used to remodel their kitchen and are now using to add a master suite. The tile guy who did their kitchen has retired and this is who the builder has been using since. He would be doing my parents' bathroom and laundry concurrently. First guy usually works in Ann Arbor about 45 minutes away, second guy usually works in Toledo, about 15 minutes away so I think that has a little bearing on cost due to travel time and expense. I can't help but think the 2nd guy is giving me a break because he's doing the big job for my parents about 10 minutes away at the same time and will be able to interleave them.

Anyone recently had work done that could give me a relative comparison?

Larry Browning
10-09-2012, 4:01 PM
This sounds like a weekend DIY project to me. Any reason you don't just do it yourself? Sounds like a great excuse for a new power tool!

Matt Meiser
10-09-2012, 4:52 PM
It's a natural stone which I'm told is harder to do. Plus I've DIYed enough of this project. :D

David Weaver
10-09-2012, 4:56 PM
I would pay the second guy to do it. that's enough cost difference that I'd take a chance personally (I would probably do it myself, though, figuring out what you want and getting the materials is harder than putting in tile if the substrate is appropriate and it's clean).

Peter Kelly
10-09-2012, 6:07 PM

Larry Edgerton
10-09-2012, 6:42 PM
Me, I'd be inclined to go for the fellow that actually looked at the job, a bonus being that he is cheaper. I would offer him a $100 bonus if the job is exceptional, something I often do as a general.


Lee Schierer
10-09-2012, 6:43 PM
I don't think I would go with the second guy unless I saw some of his work somewhere. That price seems exceptionally low if it includes materials. If he is a hobbyist then he just hasn't figured his cost out to make more than $5.00 per hour.

Larry Edgerton
10-09-2012, 6:52 PM
Every tile guy I have used in the past has died in the past couple of years. Old school guys that are not just lick & stickers are disappearing. There is so much more to it than the how to videos show, and its a shame the art is being lost.

Because of that I just bought a Pearl tile saw and a diamond bandsaw. I am going to do my own in my new house. And no, I am not going to do tile for a living. I'm far too old to start that!


phil harold
10-09-2012, 8:10 PM
If he is good he has jacked up his prices to keep from being flooded from work
supply and demand

Ed Aumiller
10-09-2012, 9:15 PM
The dimensions you gave are about 264 tiles... that works out to about 1.40 per tile on the 2nd guy... sounds about right if the wall is in good shape, etc.. and since he has looked at it, he knows what the job is... I would either do it myself or go with the less expensive contractor... tile is easy.... think about the hourly rate they will make... second guy will probably make about $30 hour, first guy will make close to $100 hour....

Rich Riddle
10-09-2012, 11:13 PM
Post this question in a site called John Bridges if I remember correctly. Some of the work I did is in detail there, all was natural stone. I came away thinking that the folks who say stone is harder to lay simply say it to dissuade home owners from doing it. It was easy but not fast. The high bid is entirely out of line. The low bid is consistent with a fair price yet not cheap. Look at the second person's work or call former clients for references. Former customers might even e-mail you pictures of work the contractor completed. Write off the first person's quote and never seek a bid from him again.

Ken Fitzgerald
10-09-2012, 11:19 PM

I would go with the guy who took the time to come and view the site. Grout, adhesive and sealer are relatively cheap. The fact that a contractor you trust uses him and that he's doing work for your parents speaks a lot!

The first guy either is EXTREMELY expensive or was quoting tile and other materials too......

I had a similar circumstance when I got quotes for a roof job last year. After I hired the guy with the "Middle" bid, the high bidder, a coworker of my wife's for many years, apologized saying he misquoted at some old prices and wondered if we were still interested. His last bid was within a few dollars of the guy who had already completed the job and been paid.

Gordon Eyre
10-09-2012, 11:53 PM
I just did my backsplash which is nearly identical to what you are having done. This was my fist time at tiling but I am a quick study and good with my hands. After picking all the brains I could find, including on the John Bridges web site I borrowed a good tile saw and began the project. Everyone who sees the finished project thinks that it is done very professionally. The lines are straight the grout is good and the two 45 degree turns look identical. I had to cut in 5 plugs/switches plus a microwave. I took my time laying out the project so I have no embarrassing sliver cuts. The whole project took part of three days and the only cost was supplies.

I had received a quote for the project of $400.00 but after thinking about it I decided that I could do it myself and I did. My wife loved it. I think the $1100.00 quote is too high for the work involved.

Rich Engelhardt
10-10-2012, 5:51 AM
I'm just finishing tiling a bathroom.
Putting up full tile is fast and easy.
Cutting and fittting tile is slow..

It's possible the first guy - not having seen the job and just going by the figures - is thinking he'll have to trim the tile to fit the height.
The 2nd guy, that actually came out and looked, may have seen that he won't have to cut the tile to fit the height.

Matt Meiser
10-10-2012, 7:22 AM
I'm sure I could do it but both my wife and my body are telling me its time to take some time off. I tiled our master bath which came out good but took me a lot of time. I also did my parents bath about 15 years ago which also looked good and the contractor had one heck of a time tearing it out so I guess it was planning to stay.

My punch list will mostly be wrapped up by the end of this weekend other than stuff that has to wait for counters and tile and then I plan to take a break! Paying either price is worth it to me.

Prashun Patel
10-10-2012, 9:31 AM
Matt, ask around on John Bridge. They're very helpful there.

Why don't you be honest with the two guys and ask why each is either so expensive or so cheap?

Make sure you ask each guy what type of adhesive he's using. I'd use thinset - not mastic. It's not critical, but it's better - especially for a potentially wet location. That's for your own research to validate, tho.

Also, ask which sealer he's using. The good ones cost upwards of $40-50/qt. Don't get them @ the BORG. Get it from a reputable tile dealer. Again, that's for yr own research to validate.

David Weaver
10-10-2012, 9:51 AM
Me, I'd be inclined to go for the fellow that actually looked at the job, a bonus being that he is cheaper. I would offer him a $100 bonus if the job is exceptional, something I often do as a general.


I like this idea the best. A job that small will be quick work for any tile guy with experience, and no matter what he's using for caulk, adhesive and sealer, none of it is expensive for an area that small.

For the $1100 quote, I'd gather the quote is from someone who just doesn't like to do small jobs, or who has enough bigger jobs lined up that he's not going to do a small quick job unless it's to his benefit.

Get the sealer details from the guy while he's there, of course, so you can reapply if and when needed.

Jason Roehl
10-10-2012, 10:01 AM
I'm not usually a fan of low bids, particularly when they're just a fraction of the other bid(s), but in this case, the $1150 bid is way high. For an experienced tiler, backsplash tiling just won't take long. Perhaps the high bidder was just covering his rear with the bid since he didn't look at the job, or he's really busy and doesn't want to do it unless it's a "home run" for him. A third and fourth bid may give you more perspective, but I don't think the low bid is out of line.

Lee Schierer
10-10-2012, 12:05 PM
We recently put in a back splash in our kitchen. Having seen other tile back splashes in other kitchens we had noted stains in the grout lines. For our kitchen we elected to use Laticrete Stain Proof grout to attempt to prevent staining from spattered food. 242904 It has held up very well. We purchased the product from Lowes, but I'm sure other places sell it as well. Simply follow the instructions for applying and clean up. Don't mix more than one package at a time as it does set up fairly quick. I used blue painters tape to keep the epoxy off any of the woodwork adjacent to the tiled areas.

Matt Meiser
10-10-2012, 12:13 PM
I used epoxy grout in our shower. What a mess....

Matt Meiser
10-16-2012, 11:13 AM
Well, we are getting our counters a week from today. The guy my parents' contractor recommended is starting their job Friday, if the drywall guy ever gets finished, and is estimating 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 weeks on their job because to some extent he doesn't really know what all he has to do to deal with level/plumb issues with their 1860's house. I've offered to pay extra for him to do it over a weekend but he may already be doing that to get my parents' job caught up. That means he won't give me a firm date he can start and that causes me some issues with work commitments. I've got a call into the other guy to see what his schedule is but now I'm starting to think about doing it myself. I have some room in my schedule and could probably complete it by the end of next weekend which means the kitchen could be done before the end of October. It might be mid-November before it could be done if I use a contractor.

Like I said I've tiled with 4x4 ceramic tiles around my parents' tub which lasted a good 10-15 years and resisted removal. I did our master bath floor in 12x12 porcelain tiles and it turned out well and I did some 6x6 ceramic tiles on the walls above our fiberglass shower which also went well. What don't I know about that will get me in trouble on a backsplash with real stone tile?

Peter Kelly
10-16-2012, 2:46 PM
Other than using a wet saw and cleaning grout haze off, I can't imagine how natural stone would be any more difficult than ceramic or porcelain tiles on a backsplash. I've installed both kinds and only had issues with natural slate on floors as they can be pretty irregular in size and thickness.

Not really a technical thing but color variation can be a bit of an issue if they're all the same material. I'd just mock everything up on the floor or somewhere and make sure there isn't anything that really jumps out at you visually. You probably also want to do a scaled drawing to make sure the tiles don't land in some awkward arrangement going around windows and electrical outlets. Doesn't look good if there's skinny ones all over the place in conspicuous areas.

Prashun Patel
10-16-2012, 3:20 PM
Natural stone is more heavy and more porous than 'regular' tile. This means a couple things:

1) if they're large, mastic won't hold them; but small tiles on a backsplash is not an issue. Although I always use thinset anyway.

2) If the tile is translucent like marble, there's a risk of the adhesive showing thru the tile, which means you just have to pick a compatible color of adhesive and possibly backbutter to avoid any ridges showing.

3) Natural stone should be sealed well. Don't cheap out on the sealer.

Besides that, there's no big deal about it. I tiled my shower in natural marble, and it came out fine.

Matt Meiser
10-30-2012, 12:49 PM
Just an update. I scheduled time off work to do it myself and bought all the materials--about $200 worth--then my work plans changed and we were able to work out the timing to have the lower price guy do it. They started today and will probably have it all set in a few hours total then come back tomorrow to grout.

David Weaver
10-30-2012, 12:54 PM
Figured it wouldn't take too long for a decent setter to put it in. The nuisance part of it all is having to wait a day to grout it (on his part, due to the extra trip).

As cheap as that guy was willing to do the work, if he does it better than you would've, it might be money well spent, anyway.

Matt Meiser
10-30-2012, 1:15 PM
They did a nice job on my parents' bathroom (they finished that yesterday) so it expect it will look good. The tiles themselves are awesome. We picked something with color variation but the sample didn't represent the amount of variation--VERY cool. Even the tile guys keep commenting "look at this one!"