A few years ago, Scott Meadows, an exceptional contractor in the Bay Area, introduced me to Jim as a tile resource for my clients. I have since utilized Jim as my first line tiler in several of my projects and thought you also might like to meet him. He is a perfectionist with a plethora of knowledge and experience supporting his talent!

How did you begin your career as a tiler?

Originally I was looking for a trade that I was interested in. I met a friend that tiled, accompanied him to one of his jobs and knew that was it. I then apprenticed with another experienced tile setter for two years, got licensed, and set out on my own. That was 26 years ago.

When I first started, I did a lot of small jobs; repairs and patches, as well as a lot of shower pan repairs. I worked with plumbers quite a bit taking out tiles for plumbing work that needed to be done and then re-tiling to match the original design. I then advertised in what used to be "The Good Service Guide" and my business exploded. That was before all of the referral lists that are out now on the Internet.

What advice would you give to a homeowner looking for a good tile setter?

My advice would include
  • Make sure your tiler is a licensed contractor.
  • Get referrals and references.
  • Look at some of their previous work.
  • How many years of experience do they have?
  • Be sure they have experience with the materials you are using (glass is particularly problematic if not installed correctly).
  • Find out what their procedures are for keeping their work area as well as your entire home clean.
  • Be sure they have experience in waterproofing, especially if you are tiling a shower floor.

How long does a job usually take?   

It varies. If I am doing a kitchen backsplash it typically takes 2-3 days. If I am tiling a bath and shower surround maybe 3 days. However, if the bath is a larger project with tiles set on the floor, walls, and shower the job can take anywhere from 5 days to 2 weeks.

What is your procedure for pricing?

I charge a fixed rate for the entire project. First I visit the site, measure the area if there are no floor plans, and then make recommendations based on what the client is trying to achieve. It takes me about 24 hours to get an estimate to the client.

If the job is a re-model, I like to be brought in early in order to coordinate with the plumber and contractor.  Plumbers need to know tile thicknesses in order to place fixtures and sinks appropriately. It may be that I install the drain for some jobs instead of the plumber because it is a part of the waterproofing system. This can all save money and mistakes in the long run.

There is much that goes into the cost and preparation for tiling that is not immediately obvious but is critical to the success of the job.
  • If the floor is being tiled, how will the transition at the door be handled?
  • Are there trim pieces that you will be using?
  • If there are not trim pieces, how would you like your edges finished; the edge profile of the tile?
  • What material will you be using. The preparation of your substrate can be dramatically different for glass vs ceramic.

What are some last words of advice?   

When planning your design remember that some tiles are inherently irregular not to mention expensive. So if you are imagining a perfect grid, this may be unachievable. A good tile setter will recognize this and be able to let go of the perfect grid yet achieve an overall balanced look.

Don't make the mistake of hiring a cheap tiler because you have used your entire budget on expensive tile. This could be disastrous! Choose someone with experience in setting those beautiful tiles and the knowledge of what products to use with them.

Be very sure that if you are working on a project that requires water proofing (shower pans), your tile setter has a lot of experience in this area. There are special requirements for waterproofing, special materials that are used, and all of these materials need to be compatible or they may result in a degradation of your water barrier or void any warranties that a waterproofing system may have.

"Wet baths" or walk-in showers that have no doors or curbs are very special projects. Nobody really has standard specifications on how to frame them, building departments do not have specific codes to deal with them, so Jim is consulted quite often as he has had years of experience working on them and the waterproofing systems available for them.

Jim Also offers "Do-It-Yourself Tutoring For Tile Setting"! 

This is a program which helps you to set your own tile in your own home. You pick the tile, make the layout, and do the actual job. Jim and his team guide you along the way, help you make the right decisions, advise on materials, teach you proven techniques, and even take care of those tasks which you prefer to leave to the pros, such as waterproofing and mud work.

Jim Wishart
Check Out My Cheap Chic Find!

A big thank you to Reichel Broussard of "Copy Cat Chic" for posting my cheap chic find! Check it out here on her fabulous blog.