Cheap Tilers – How To Avoid Making A Costly Mistake


Cheap Tilers!

We all want them as they promise to turn our dreams into reality at the lowest price possible. 

We don’t care how they do it, we just care that our expensive porcelain tile will be laid and our bathrooms looking like something out of Home And Garden Magazine.

But what happens when the affordable tiler you found in the newspaper classifieds ruins thousands of dollars worth of tiles, your bathroom leaks and he ain’t answering his phone?

Keep reading to learn about what a tiler does to become a cheap tiler and how you can avoid making the costly mistake that all homeowners have nightmares about.

Please note: This article is provided for education only and has no legal weight.

A cheap tiler can turn your dream into a nightmare

Welcome To Cheapskates Anonymous (C.A)

  “Hello, my name is Les and I am a cheapskate.” I purchase superglue with little pictures of elephants on them from $2 dollar stores (*Someone gasps) because Loctite superglue is too pricey, my online shopping filter categories always start with “cheapest first” and I eat “dated products” on a weekly basis cause they’re so darn cheap.” (*The room goes quiet, someone dry heaves.) (*I clear my throat and speak a bit louder.) “Of course, the tub of Eno Antacid I need to remedy my stomach pains cost $8. I end up going to the doctor and the visit alone ends up costing me $55 and the pharmacy another $15. Suddenly the .50 cent protein bar cost me $78.50 where if I purchased the same bar with a fresher use by date, it would have only cost me $6.”
But that’s not all: • The Elephant superglue takes forever to dry and it never holds anything heavier than thin plastic, making the glue useless. • My cheap online shopping sprees always end with abandoned carts cause the shipping costs more than the products. (*The circle of fellow addicts in the room stands up and applauses, the chairperson smiles and says my recovery has begun.) —
The protein bar is best left for the cockroaches
Drama and pseudo-fantasy aside, I hope you can tell by my examples of miserly penny-pinching that sometimes, it’s simply not worth being cheap. We all suffer by our tendency to hunt the rock bottom price of products in order to save a dollar today and end up paying double or triple in a few weeks’ time. The same principle of paying twice for cheap can apply for anything, cheap cars, cheap furniture and yes; cheap tilers. Now I am not saying that being cheap or buying cheap products is bad or to be avoided, far from it. It’s just that there are many instances where our decision to save a few bucks has come back to bite us in the soft and squishy side of our rear end.

How Does That Help Me Find A Cheap Tiler?

  With any luck, my highly entertaining story made you remember all the times that you went against your better judgment and went for the cheapest option, only for it to end up costing you more in the long run. That is the key point in this entire article and I’ll try to prove my point as we go along. When you will be searching for a tiler for your next tiling project, chances are you’ll fall to temptation and search for cheap tilers, hoping to find a good affordable tiler that will deliver an amazing job. Just to be safe you get quotes from two other tilers, but you keep coming back to “El-Sleazo’s Discount Tiling” and his amazing quote that was 60% cheaper than the rest. You crunch the numbers and discover you’ll be able to buy the bathroom vanity and toilet with the money you save if you went with El-Sleazo and so you decide to go for it.
Fast forward a few months (let’s face it, you’ll be chasing him all week trying to make him finish what he started) and the grout starts cracking, the tiles sound hollow and you notice he could have used a full tile here and avoided the 1cm tile sliver there. It’s about this time that your inner voice is dancing a merry jig and singing “I told you so! I told you so!” Meetings for Cheapskate Anonymous start at 7.30pm. I’ll see ya there. Just to be frank, I am not saying that all cheap tilers are bad. There are genuinely affordable tilers that have an honest pricing plan set and won’t nickel and dime you for every detail. I’m trying to teach you how to Find those GENUINE cheap tilers and avoid the cowboy tilers.
Hiring a cheap tiler could prove pricey.

How Cheap Tilers Save Money

  I bet you are curious how the bad low-cost tilers can afford to set such low prices in their tiling quotes and still stay afloat in today’s economy. I was curious as well and tried calling El Sleazo’s Discount Tiling but unfortunately, he never picked up, I hear he’s got a new number and changed his company name to El Cheapo’s Tiling. Fortunately, JB Tiling is a legitimate tiling company that has been in the tiling industry for 25 years and we know a thing or two about tiling, and know how many corners one can cut to save money. (Hint: it’s more than 4.)  
A great way to save money as a tiler is to use inferior materials for the substrate or put simply, products that are not suited for the job. The most common case for cowboy tilers is to use standard concrete glue for substrates that require a premium flexible glue. A bag of standard glue can run about $30. While a bag of flexible glue can cost at least $80. Now, what happens when you use concrete tile adhesive over a flexible surface like a wooden floor? Firstly, the grout will begin to crack as the tiles are loose. Give it a month or two and the tiles themselves will pop right off the floor and you’ll be able to lift them up clear off the floor.
Thinset for tilers

That’s just one scenario that can be caused by incorrect material selection but it’s one of the most common ones.

Another cost-cutting scheme that can cause tiles to lift off the floor is the failure to prime and seal the floor being applying tiles.

Every surface needs to be properly prepared and primed before tiling, a common product to use for this is a tile primer.
It will eliminate dust and provide a tactile and clean surface for the tile glue to stick to, without it, the glue will just stick to the surface dirt and dust and in time, the tiles will lift off.

Primer is another product that isn’t cheap so it’s no surprise some prefer to just wing it, give it a quick sweep with a stiff broom and holler “she’ll be right, mate.”

Yup, she will. For about a month.

If you’re lucky.

The material switching is the easiest and most used form of money saving for cheap cowboy tilers as you won’t notice anything’s wrong for a good period of time, giving the cheater plenty of time to buy a new sim card and disappear.

Other cases of cheap tilers are the ones that decide one day over a few beers that they’ll become a tiler next week.

We call them the chocolate salesmen.

Yesterday he could have been selling chocolate but today he’s suddenly a professional tiler and knows everything to do about tiles and tile laying.

These newly born tilers buy the cheapest tile cutter available on the shelves, buy some tiling gear from Bunnings, load up the wagon and start slinging tiles.

They work for about 6 months.

Then the heat they created by their failing tile jobs begins catching up to them and they need to leave town.

Oh and these cowboys also do waterproofing as well, so you can imagine how well that ends…if you like your toilet crashing through the floor of your bathroom cause the whole floor rotted, then you’ll be in for a treat. (We’ve seen it happen a number of times over the years.)

These budget tilers will usually take on any job that they can find, offering bunker busting prices just to wow the client into accepting them and getting them on the job.

Sometimes they get away with it, other times the homeowner smells a rat before the job’s completed and gives him the boot, in either case, the damage is done and perfectly good tiles are ruined in the process.

Those two are the most common forms of cheap tilers and their methods of saving money at your expense.

The sad fact is that the damage they do usually ends up costing the unsuspecting homeowner nearly double or triple then if they just went with a quality tiler that quoted a fair (but still more expensive) price for the tiling job.

Now that we know their ways, let’s see how we can spot a cowboy cheap tiler and hire a professional tiler instead.


Look out for budget tilers, your bathroom might end up like this!

How To Hire An Affordable Tiler – That’s Legit.

Hiring any profession or trade is never a clear-cut process, sadly there is no checklist formula that you can run through to ensure you hire the right person, every time.

Taking my knowledge of tiling and experience in the industry, I have drawn up these following tips to learn how to pick out the cheap tilers from the real deal’s. The guys that value their profession, name and clients and can look themselves in the mirror every morning.

I have a mirror in my bedroom that I can see from my bed, if my conscious was eating me for cheating people, I’d have gone insane by now.

Going on that logic, the first tip on choosing a good tiler is:

Ask if they have a mirror in the bedroom. If they say no, don’t hire them.

Okay, that’s the last terrible joke I promise, the chairperson at C.A said humour is a great healer but I get that sometimes it’s just uncalled for.

Here are the proper tips to finding your affordable and reliable tiler:

Tip 1: Ask your friends or family if they know any tilers.

Simple and effective, word of mouth testimonials are the best indicators of a great professional as the feedback is candid and honest. If they were truly impressed with the service they received from their local tiler, chances are very high that the tiler will be the right fit for you too.

You can ask community groups on Facebook for example but I find that you will get bombarded with 20 different names and you’ll be back to square one as you will then need to filter through all those suggested tilers.

2: Check their website. (Can also be followed up by Tip 1)

Do a google search for local tiler or get more broad with searches that include your city name in the title.

So, for example, Tiler Auckland or Auckland Tiling is a great search term. You can also get more specific and include your localized area like West Auckland Tiler. This should yield you with a good range of local and experienced tilers in your area.

Go through a couple sites, visit their social pages for examples of latest work and see what appeals to you. Check out their blogs and if you like what you see, drop them a line.

Also, check their Google My Business Listing to see what reviews they have and what others are saying about them.

In any case, the tilers that have websites will be the professional tilers that have been in the game for a long time and have gone to the trouble of building a site and invested in the time and money to develop it. You won’t see cowboy tilers doing that, the most those will have is a Facebook or Instagram page with a few photos of work they have supposedly done.

I say supposedly because I know of numerous cases where these cowboys steal photos of other tiler’s work and say it’s their own. That’s a fact. 

Of course, I am aware that not all professional tilers have websites so do not go on this factor alone! You might find an amazing artisan of a tiler that doesn’t feel the need to have a website but provides a diamond standard service. Don’t get hung up on just the website.

A cheap tiler did create this bathroom.
Tip 3 – Hear Them Out This may sound silly but seriously, just listen to them talk. Tell them what you are trying to achieve or describe a problem you have and listen to their replies. You’ll know straight away if your tiler is a professional or a hack just by the way he speaks and the confidence in his voice. The question or problem you give him will most likely be a common one he has seen a hundred times before and will be able to offer up a load of tips or ways around the problem. It’s the same in any profession and you are probably the same way when someone asks you a question in the field you know most about. You come alive, you know EXACTLY what’s going on and it reflects in your voice and body language.

I was at a job quote last week and my client asked if I can cut around this window frame, he never knew you could make detailed cuts in tile before so I went into detail about it.

I’m sure I bored him within 5 minutes but I could see he knew he was dealing with someone that knows their stuff, it’s one example out of many, I could bore you with examples as well but I know you get the point I’m trying to make.

If your tiler is hesitant, scratches his head or looks away, it might be a sign he’s in way over his head and isn’t sure how to proceed. If you suspect you have a chocolate seller on your hands, try asking a few more questions and see how he goes, if it’s a wash and he’s blubbering about the whole time, it might be time to cut him loose.

Tip 4 – Check Their Credentials

I don’t mean going in the darkweb and digging up everything about your prospective tiler like shoe size, favourite beer and so on, what interests you is if they’re qualified for tiling and have any council approvals.

For a tiler in Auckland or New Zealand, you’ll be wanting to know whether they hold a National Certificate in Tiling, this training and certification is done by the BCITO and you’ll probably see a badge somewhere on their website or social pages. (Scroll to the bottom of this page for an example.)

If they offer waterproofing services, you’ll want to know if they are a council approved PS3 Author as, without the PS3 certification, you will have a difficult time getting your new build or remodel signed off by the council. (This applies only if you have tiles in wet areas.)

All certified waterproofers have public liability insurance as it’s a prerequisite to being an author so you won’t need to ask about that.

If you see your tiler has these qualifications and certifications, you know you have found a professional tiler that isn’t planning on changing their name or leaving town anytime soon.

Those credentials are difficult to obtain and expensive to maintain so a cowboy or budget tiler will not have invested in them. Especially if they are only tiling to make a quick buck before moving onto the next trade.

Tip 5 – Visit a Tiling Store

You will likely do this on your hunt for tiles but in case you haven’t already, visit a tiling store like Tile Depot and ask them for some business cards of their local tilers.

Chances are there will be a tiler visiting the store at the same time as you, why not strike up a conversation and ask for a quote? It’d be a great way to show them the tiles you are thinking of and whether or not they’ll be right for your area. It saves further tile consultations down the road.

 Got any other tips? Leave a comment below and we will add them to our list!

With any luck, this list of tips on finding your ideal tiling contractor helps you find the right tiler next time and not a hack or cowboy.

The real world, being the wild and varied beast that it is might change the usability of some of these examples but the general outline for what you should be looking for is there.

Of course, these tips won’t guarantee a set of job quotes that are all within the boundaries of what you call “affordable.”

All professional services are expensive and the businesses themselves have a lot of overhead costs to maintain them. Also. there are some genuinely expensive professional tilers out there that do the same quality job of one that is cheaper and there is no controlling that.

All these tips can do is help you find the professional tilers and help you avoid the dodgy budget tilers that are not suited for your job, your task is then to choose which one feels right for you.

Remember to use your own instincts and experience when finding a tiler as the best tiler for you might only apply to one or two of those tips I found above.


In Conclusion

  Trying to save every last penny can be a noble exercise, but sometimes it can taken to far and the pennies we save will be meaningless when we end up paying triple to fix a problem caused by inferior products or services. The hunt to find the best cheap tiler can be fraught with difficulties as there are many cowboy tilers out there just out to make a quick buck, not caring whether their job will last till next month, let alone 10 years. This article aimed to highlight some of the tactics of cheap tilers and how they save money on tiling and how the discerning reader can find a good and professional tiler that will create their dreams without destroying their home in the process. Lastly, don’t forget that you have already learned a thing or two about us and might be interested in a quote. Simply visit our contact page to find out more.  
Fully tiled bathroom that didn't cost the earth.

Disclaimer: This article was written for a purely educational purpose only and will not be used out of context or to provide evidence in any court of law, tribunal or otherwise.

No article can accurately encompass a real world scenario and any user of this website will understand these failings if they wish to act on any knowledge learned in the article above.

This article cannot be used to slander, or coerce any contractor or person.

JB Tiling will not be held liable for any misconduct or misuse by anyone quoting or using knowledge from this article.

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