Tile Work


I've been doing tile work since my apprentice days when we often repaired existing tile countertops, flooring and bathroom tile installations. I didn't do my own first real tile job (a full bathroom remodel done with 1" x 2" square mosaics and color-matched fixtures) until several years later, after I had my own business. Boy, did I learn a lot from that experience!

In those days, there were no big-box stores like Home Depot or Lowes. Ceramic tile and supplies were only available from a tile distributer. In my area, a huge warehouse operation very protective of the quality of tile work their name was associated with was the source. I had to satisfy these folks I knew what I was doing in order to purchase from them. Failed tile shower stalls due to installation over "green board" drywall was one of their major concerns. As I recall, you pretty much had to  sign a blood oath not to do that before you could buy even a notched trowel from them. I took a short course and passed their test, bought all the tile, matching tub, vanity bowl and toilet, backer board, tools, thin-set and grout, loaded my van and set out, My customers were a young couple in their first home and had spotted a bathroom design in a magazine they wanted to duplicate. The main tile was dark chocolate-brown with peanut butter-tan accent tile and light rose-hued fixtures. A dark chocolate Formica-laminated vanity was also part of the mix.

I realized the dark colors would be a bit dreary but that was what the client wanted. They specified I use a dark grout on the floor but relented enough to allow a lighter grout on the walls. The job turned out pretty well for my first full tile project, although I hadn't priced it properly and had to subsidize the last few days work with my own money.

I'm only sorry I have no photos of that job, but it was done well before digital cameras and the Internet.

I'm now a little wiser in the artistry of tile work (and photography!) and usually take some before, during and after shots of my work with the excellent camera in my Note 4. The optical stabilization in this phone is a welcome upgrade from my previous Note 3 which needed 10 shots to get 1 that wasn't blurry. Now almost every one is good and some are as nice as if I had used an DSLR with an expensive lens. Ah. progress!

Here are a few pictures of some of my recent work.

The small powder room on the left had been remodeled with 18" x 18" tiles by flippers before my client moved in and she wanted more traditional-looking tile and some wainscoting appropriate to her 100-year old home. (The short door is not for Hobbits but leads to understair storage.)

The "hall runner" on the right was crafted entirely of 1/4" square stone chips and was installed for a client in the 1892 Wertheimer-Sipe Mansion in the Manchester Historical District on Pittsburgh's North Side.



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