bathroom wall tile placement software.

After a horrendous experience with Procita Tile's "installers", I ripped out what they did and fired them, never to let them into my house again. Room is 5' x 10'.
The "mechanic" started tiling my rear wall (which contains a window and the tub). I am using 10"(W) x 14"(H) tiles. He made sure the tub was level and started from the tub and worked his way up. He started with a full tile, which was his first mistake. I have a 2.5" listello that will go around the room at 5'.5" high. He went up 3 rows of tile when he had to leave for a 2nd time to get the right tiles I ordered. When he returned, he said they didnt have them and he had to go to another job. So, he installed about 15 tiles and a few cut pieces for the outer edges of the wall.
A friend of mine came by and asked if he used a level around the room to make marks so that he knew where all the tiles are going to be placed. Did he check to see if there would be small slithers that could be avoided by starting with cut tiles? Well, he didnt do any of that. My friend also noticed that the tiles that he started were installed wrong and not planned out. The way he had it, I would have to have a cut tile to fit to where the listello would be. I do not want any tiles cut in the middle of the wall. I want full tiles to surround the listello.
Also, my friend realized that one end of the tiles had a white side. The entire box is packed with the white side facing one direction. When you place the tile with the white side up (or down), it creates a uniform small 1/32" graut line. When you place them white to white, there is absolutely NO graut line. When installed brown to brown, there is a 1/16" graut line. I dont care which way they go but the installer placed all of them randomly and what I had were some tiles with NO graut line, some with a tiny graut line and some with normal graut line. It looks terrible. I could have set them straighter than this guy. He told me that once he grauts, I wont see anything. That isnt good enough for me. I want it done right. I will not accept sloppy work and cover it up with graut.
So, I removed all of the tile before it was permanantly glued. I want to know if there is some type of software that you could give your wall dimensions, include any structures (bathtub, window, etc) and tell it your tile size and graut thickness, and have it figure out the best way to lay the tile with the best looking cuts? It would be even better if it could compare the 4 walls and calculate it that way because there would be a medicine cabinet on one wall, window on another, door, listellos, etc, that would each effect the cuts of each wall.
If there is anything like this available, and I cannot believe there isnt, please let me know.
Thanks
Tonu
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Is it Tony or Tonu? I'll call you T for short. There may be tile layout software, but I just use AutoCAD or SketchUp to draw an individual tile, mirror (replicate or array are other terms that may be used for similar operations) the individual tile into a grid with the desired grout line size, then slide the grouped array of tile - aka the field - around on the wall elevation until the layout minimizes cuts and small pieces, and aligns with desired features. It takes longer to describe than to do it.
If you meant Procida tile - you wrote Procita - then you're in New England and probably on Long Island. I've never used a tile supplier's installers as I do it myself, but I have purchased from Procida and have found them willing to correct mistakes. It sounds like you're not willing to give them that chance, which is, of course, your right. You didn't say whether the installer was on Procida's payroll or whether they just recommended him. Either way, I'm a little suprised that you had such a bad experience with a reasonable company. It sounds like he did everything wrong. If the guy was on Procida's payroll, they're the ones to talk to, not the installer. The installer will of course defend his work and come up with a story.
A good tile installer will not rely on software to layout the room. It has to be done in place. Measurements can be off, walls not plumb and square, and little discrepancies on a computer layout can create major headaches in the field. The computer layout can only be a guideline. The installer still has to transfer the computer layout to the walls and floor and make whatever adjustments are necessary. A good installer will do this without be asked. You still HAVE to ask.
The things your friend mentioned/observed are very basic. Since you didn't pick it up you must have been relying on some assumptions somewhere along the line. Bad thing to do in any construction project. Whether you relied on the supplier or installer, and whatever their business arrangement, things have to be spelled out. Your friend would have helped you a lot more if he told you about his concerns before the tile people stepped through your door. And you could have done some of the research beforehand to acquaint yourself with what to ask beforehand, what to look for and what to avoid.
There are plenty of excellent books on tiling that give easy to understand, detailed instructions. Michael Byrne's book, Setting Tile, is an excellent place to start. Your local library will have a copy.
It's not clear from your post who exactly you fired and is no longer welcomed into your house. You also didn't mention whether you had paid some money up front. If you haven't paid for any of the installation, I guess you're really not out anything serious. Looking at it another way, if the guy was faster and he had installed a lot more of the tile shoddily, you'd be in a much worse situation.
R
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Thanks for such a well written reply to my post. BTW, it is Tony, not Tonu (my sp mistake) and I am on Long Island.
i didnt want to get to into the details but here goes. I went to Procita Tile and picked out tile. The owner said he would give me everything at 40% off the price. I was going to by the tile and use my wife's cousin (a tile guy by trade). It would have come to $4400 or so between the tile and the tile guy for a 5x10 bathroom (wall and floor). A week went by and there was an ad on the radio that Procida will provide free installation with 200 sq/ft or more tile. I went with a very knowledgable friend and my wife and of course, the 40% discount was off. So, the tiles came to $3000 with free installation. I was assured of how professional their installers are. I paid by credit card on the spot.
Some guy from Procida came to my house to measure. He told me that it would cost $120 to mud the floor (which I thought was a really good price). Then he said that the listellos will cost me $50 extra to install, as well as $25 for the corner soap dish and $25 for the marble saddle. I was a bit miffed at this because I paid the full higher installation price for the tile at the store and now the installers are charging me extra for to install them. I called the store and told them I didnt like them nickle and diming me. The owner said he would personally pay the installers for the listellos but I have to pay for the saddle and soap dish because I didnt pay installation prices (which may or may not be BS). I figured that I was getting a good deal on the mud job that I wouldnt press the issue.
The entire problem began on Monday when they said they would be over at 9 -9:30am. Another knowledgable friend came by to be sure they would do this job right. He came over around 10. We waited til 11. I called Procida's installation department and asked the girl if everything was still on. A man got on the phone and told me "they are on the way" . So, we waited a bit more. My friend said that I was getting jerked around. I called back at 1pm. I asked the girl where the guys are who were on the way 2 hours ago. She told me that they are probably lost and she has no idea where they are. I told her to find out where they were so I would have an idea when they would get here. She said they cannot be contacted because no one has cell phones. I hung up and called the store I bought the tile from. I asked to speak to the owner. His wife answered and I told her what was going on and I told her that something sounds wrong. She agreed and told me he was with a customer and will call back in 10 minutes.
Now it is 1:10pm and some other girl called and asked how I was doing. I told her I was not doing too well. She was surprised (as if she had no idea what was going on) . I told her what was happening and that I was about to cancel the entire order of tile and installation. She said she would make some calls and get right back to me. By 1:30, my friend left because he couldnt wait anymore. He told me I was defitinely getting screwed by these guys and that even if they showed up, what the hell could they possibly get done by the end of the day.
At 1:40, the girl called back and told me I am going be even more upset because the guys had a problem and cannot come til Thursday morning and asked if that would be a problem. I was furious. I told her it was a big problem. I told her that I took the day off and lost a day's pay waiting for no one to show up. On top of that, we have no shower, so my wife drives 30 miles a day to hre mothers at 5:30am to take a shower and if they started on Thursday, we wouldnt have a shower for another week. I asked her how the hell could the guys have a problem when I was the first job of the day that was scheduled? I also asked her how the hell she knew they had a problem when there was no way to reach these guys. I told her I do not appreciate being lied to and I do not trust Procida's shady ways of operation. I told her I am so fed up with them and their unprofessional ways, I am cancelling the entire order. She said "OK". She didnt care one bit.
So, I marched into Procida the next day and said I want my money back. They wanted to know why. I told them everything. I told them that I had to cancel all the other workers (plumber, etc) that were supposed to come later in the week and I do not know when they can return. They tried everything to keep it alive. The owner told me that he just got of the phone telling them to f*ck themselves for not showing up but then found out one of the workers father had a heart attack. I told him that even if that were true, I was lied to at least twice yesterday and they could have called and told me. He then wanted me to speak to the head of the installation dept. The guy assured me that there will be a crew at my house at 9am to start the job. He told me that he will be personally responsible and he would give me his personal cell phone # and the job will get done. I told the owner that I want $300 for missing a day's work. He gave me $250.
The next morning, I got a call from the head of the installers He said he wanted to send someone over right away and that the guy is familiar with my job. He said the guy will continue the job. I asked what he meant by "continue" when no one ever came here in the 1st place. He said he was confused. I told him no one was ever here and there was not one piece of tile here either. He said he's sending the guy over. The guy came by at 10am and unloaded the truck and said he had to return the truck and come back with his car. He also noticed that none of the listellos were in the order. So, he had to pick them up anyway. He also realized that there werent enough bullnose for the window. At 12:10pm, he returned and started. As he was putting the tile up, I asked him if the lines shouldnt be completely straight. He said they will look straight when he grauts. He realized that he could fit 6 tiles across the tub wall without making any cuts. They fit perfectly. Then he got to the window and realized that if he put the tile to the right of it, there would only be an inch between it and the window and I would have to have a 1" sliver. I told him I didnt want that. He said he should have started from the middle. He took them down one by one and handed them to me and I leaned them against the wall - glue side out. He then started over again. He told me that he probably was going to get pulled off the job because they want him to go to another job. At 2:50, the head of the installers told him that he brought back the wrong bullnose and had to bring it back to him. He left and came back around 4pm and told me he had bad news. They didnt have my bullnose and he was leaving to go to another job. I called the installation mgr that night and left a voicemail telling him that I was unhappy that I did not get a crew at 9am as promised, but instead, one guy at noon for less than 3 hours and a total of 15 tiles. I also told him that no one is to return to my house until my tile friends talk to them and they are on the same page. he called me back and said he was sorry and that next time, he will send a "seasoned" mechanic over. What the hell does that mean? Who did he send the first time, a beginner? I called my credit card to reverse the charges. They can arrange picking up the unused tile. I am not paying for any of it.
That was it. After that, my friend came by and noticed the mistakes. I wanted the software so I had an idea of where the tile should go so that when the next guy comes by, I can see it is similar to the layout the software provides. I have autocad but never really used it. I will give it a try.

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Sad story of botched tile snipped...
I'll agree this sounds like a place to avoid for installation, at least. Know nothing of them being in KS, so won't even try to comment on that part...
On software, as others have noted, you could do some trial layouts w/ AutoCad or another layout package and get a feel for the layout. That's certainly something that any real designer would provide the installer -- a working layout. A real pro not provided that would study the room and have sufficient experience to do at least a reasonable job from that. A novice or inexperienced mechanic would do what yours did -- start from some point, maybe considering the layout of a particular portion and then discover he "hadn't thought of that" on down the road. That's the sure sign you got somebody not qualified on their own.
As for help, there was a very nice article on precisely the subject in a recent issue of Fine Homebuilding.
Also, you may find if you're not practiced w/ a drafting program that you could do the same thing more quickly w/ a pencil and square grid paper with a trial runs while you're learning the ways of the software package...
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You don't need software; you need wetware.
You need to find somebody who actually has some experience and have them do the job. You can read a book or two, but it is better to have real experience. No software is going to be any substitute.
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