6 Signs of a Bad Tile Job and How it Fix it

By Samuel N •  Updated: 02/02/23 • 

A bad tiling job is not only a waste of time and money, but it also significantly impacts the look and aesthetics of your new bathroom, kitchen, or other areas in your home. Though installing tiles seems relatively easy, seeking the services of a reliable and reputable contractor is the way to go. You can still get an excellent tiling job done for DIYers by looking out for the signs below.

1. Crooked Tiles

Crooked tiles are one of the first signs you’ll notice when looking for a bad tile job. The primary reason for crooked tiles is not using tile spacers when laying down the tiles. Tile spacers come in different sizes (1/4 to 3/8 inches) and shapes (T or crossed shapes) and are placed between tiles to maintain a consistent and constant space between your tiles.

Crooked Tiles

At their basic level, tiles spacers have a very simple purpose: to keep the distance between tiles equal. This helps make tiles properly aligned and enhances the style and design.

However, some designs are meant to look crooked or uneven. One such design is the mosaic tile, which combines different sizes, shapes, colors, and materials. Mosaic tiles create eye-catching kitchen backsplash, elegant shower floors, and more.

2. Uneven Tile Surface

Your tiles should have a smooth surface finish. You can spot the difference in height by looking over the tile surface or feeling them with your feet and hands. An uneven tile surface sticks out from the rest of the surface, which makes it prone to damage. Uneven tile surface also makes it uncomfortable to walk on the tiles barefoot.

Several reasons can cause an uneven tile job. Installing tiles on a bumpy floor or wall will make the bumps more noticeable and cause an uneven surface. A professional tile installer should grind the surface and create a flat surface on which to install the tiles evenly.

Apart from a bumpy surface, spreading the mortar unevenly can also cause the tiled surface to be uneven. When laying the mortar on the subfloor, use a tile trowel. A tile trowel helps accurately measure the amount of mortar to ensure it is spread evenly.

Lippage and debris on the subfloor can also cause the tiled surface to be uneven. Make sure to clean the subfloor properly when installing tiles, use a trowel to spread the mortar evenly, and use a spirit level to ensure you get an even surface.

3. Excessive Grout Use

Too much grout is another sign of a bad tile job. When applying grout, the excess should be wiped with a sponge soaked in water to leave a clean, smooth finish. If grout protrudes over the tiles, this is a clear sign of an amateur job.

Excess Grouting

Excessive grouting can be fixed if the grout has not hardened. However, if left to set for too long, it will be harder to remove.

Apart from protruding grout, overusing grout or sealant to fill up larger spaces is a sign of a bad tile job. Filling up larger spaces with grout is a sign of lousy workmanship, where it is done to cover up badly cut tiles. Instead of filling up larger spaces with grout, a professional should recut the tiles to get a better fit.

Overusing Grout To Fill Large Spaces

Overusing Grout To Fill Large Spaces

4. Poorly Cut Tiles

With most tile jobs, some areas will be irregular and require the cutting of tiles. These include areas around the toilet or shower, around irregular corners, near plumbing systems, and much more. Sloppy tile cuts will be much more evident around these areas.

Poorly cut tiles

Signs of poorly cut or poorly fit tiles in these areas will include using thicker grout to fill the larger spaces and using smaller broken pieces of tiles to fill up larger spaces.

To avoid poorly cut tiles being installed, as a general rule of thumb, you should order 10 to 15 percent extra tiles on any project. This helps take care of any broken or damaged tiles and issues. You will also get different tiles for replacement if they run out of stock.

5. Loose and Lifting Tiles

Loose or drummy tiles have de-bonded, and you can often hear a hollow sound when walking on the tiles or tapping them with an object. Loose tiles indicate failed adhesive or not much adhesive was applied. If left untreated over time, tiles will crack, lift, or tent on one edge.

The common reason for loose and lifted tiles is poor workmanship by the builder or tiler. Incorrect use of the adhesive, moisture under the tiles, and structural movement in the wall and floor can also be the cause.

A tile should be laid on 100 percent coverage to maintain a bond that will withstand stresses upon it. Coverage describes the amount of tile surface covered by the tile adhesive. If the coverage is less than 100 percent, the tile adhesive will work harder to maintain the bond, which eventually fails. Apart from 100 percent coverage, improper mixing and the incorrect ratio of the adhesive to water can also cause loose and lifting tiles.

6. Bad Tile Placement

Planning a tile layout is an essential step to get the best results. Locating the midpoint and working from that point outwards is the way. A sign of a bad tile job starts from the edges to the center. This could end up in spaces needing tiny pieces of tile, which would look horrible. Tile layout should start from the midpoint working outwards in manageable sections to avoid uneven tile spacing. The tiny pieces are also pushed to the edges, away from the spotlight.

Can a Bad Tile Job Be Fixed?

While disappointing and a waste of time and resources, a bad tiling job can be fixed. However, this is limited to lippage, poorly fitted tiles, and excess grout. These can be easy to fix by yourself. However, if the problems are more serious, you’ll have to seek professional help to get things fixed.

Samuel N

Samuel N is the founder of Improve Floor and has been in the flooring industry since 2005. Since then, his mission has been to make flooring easier for everyone. He helps countless people with flooring installation, finishing, maintenance, and repairs each year.