Costs to lay ceramic tile

We have gotten a quote to lay ceramic tile in our home. More specifically about 475sq feet of 12 x 12 tile in three rooms. We're thinking that we will purchase the tile and pay someone for labor and the balance of the materials. The first quote we received was $2800 for the labor (works out to about $6/sq foot) and an additional $920 for materials (grout, cement board, etc.). This labor would include removing the old flooring (1/2 carpet, 1/2 vinyl flooring), laying down cement board, and laying the tile. We're located in central VA, near Fredericksburg (think outer suburbs/long commute outside of DC)
I know every one wishes that they had someone to assure that every purchase is a good deal but can anyone shed a light on whether or not this quote seems at all reasonable? We have a few other requests for quotes out and we're waiting on those.
Michael
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First, you should consider using at least an 18x18 tile. 12x12's became outdated here in Florida at least 7 years ago. Porcelain tile also is superior to ordinary ceramic, and available in great styles and finishes. It only costs fifty cents a foot more here in Florida for Porcelain.
Secondly consider using hardibackerboard rather than cementboard, installed with strong exterior grade 1 5/8" screws and glued tightly to existing floor. I would also use a studfinder and find the floor joists and screw the existing flooring tightly to the joists.
The hardibackerboard should (must) be dampened with water prior to applying thinset, and don't compromise on thinset...buy the best multi-flex thinset you can buy. No sense using $50 worth of cheaper thinset when $150 will buy you the very best and provide a far superior bond.
All this may seem like overkill, but it is what insures a long lasting bond.
The price seems reasonable for a genuine professional, but I would question why he/she didn't persuade you to upgrade to a modern tile, and insist on providing the setting materials. I would never let a customer provide setting materials since they are the most important key to a good job- but that's me..
thetiler
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We are actually planning on using an 18" tile, but for some reason the person who quoted this did it for 12" tiles...not exactly sure why. The contractor is also going to be the one providing the thinset (that's part of the $920 that they quoted for materials); all we're going to provide is the tile itself. I'll look into the hardibackerboard. Is it superior to concrete board?
Thanks for the information on the tile as well. I'll see what we can get in porclain.
In your opinion how difficult is this sort of thing for a home owner to do? I am pretty handy (but then who doesn't think that <grin>) and just finished adding a 30 x 16" deck. I think I'll pick up a good tile-laying book and investigate that route.
Thanks again,
Michael
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Michaeljbrock wrote:

It's a bit easier to work, but there's no appreciable difference that I've seen.

Visit the John Bridge tile forums. That's the best source for tile information that I've found on the internet (then again, I don't read most languages, just English!). The forums are searchable and quite extensive.

Michael Byrne's, Setting Tile, published by Taunton Press of Fine Homebuilding fame.
R
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snipped-for-privacy@mikeplays.com says...

I'm a DIYer and have used both. I like the HardiBacker much better. It's easier to work with and from all I've been able to find, just as good. The cement board seemed to crack when flexed (under its own weight).

I'm going to do the same. I'm planning on doing the master bath when the weather gets better. The wet saw makes a mess and doesn't work too well when the "wet" part is frozen - BTDT. ;-)

I've done two bathrooms (bath and a half), laundry, and a couple of closets. It's hard work but I don't find floors to be all that difficult. Walls are another matter since gravity isn't working in your favor.
I'm not sure I'd want to tackle 475sq.ft. all at once. I'd certainly buy one of the mini mortar mixers if I tackled something that size. Mixing thinset in a bucket gets old ($3700 doesn't sound bad ;).
--
Keith


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says...

work in your garage. hang up plastic sheets to contain the spray.

gravity is your friend. otherwise you'd have a hard time trying to walk on the ceiling.
start at the bottom. add shims of some sort between courses to hold up. use mastic or modified thinset rather than regular thinset.

not much difference except scale. work in small pieces and eventually it'll get done.
get a mixing paddle and use it in a large drill, or using a short handled hoe in a wheelbarrow. your elbows will really thank you.

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says...

Beat me too it. I was just going to say get the paddle and a good drill. A bucket at a time is about all a single setter can use in the thinsets "open" time anyway. Mini mortar mixer would be a waste unless you have a crew setting the tiles.
Also, I use windshield washer antifreeze in my wet saw in the winter works great. My saw has a rubber boot at the rear of the blade and doesn't make a mess.
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says...> get a mixing paddle and use it in a large drill, or using a short handled

Those $10 mortar mixing tubs that they sell at Lowes and a hoe is the easiest way to mix this stuff. The large tub will do 2-80 # bags of ready mix. The small one is about perfect for a bag of thinset. You will never use a bucket or a wheel-barrow again.
Colbyt
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On Fri, 13 Jan 2006 14:08:41 -0700, Charles Spitzer wrote:

This time of year the garage is well below freezing, as well. A few years ago the wife left a 12-pack of soda in the garage after shopping.

like grenades and little solid chunks of coke were fizzing all over the floor. It was -20F in the garage. :-(
The other issue is cleanup. It's a pain to clean up mortar in the house. I spread a plastic tarp in the wildflowers (a.k.a. weeds) and hose the tools down on that. I'll wait until after mud season. ;-)
OTOH, "calhoun's" idea of using windshild washer fluid is a good one! I've had projects go into November and have fought frozen saws with hot water. Duh!

;-)
Of course (NPI) I started from the bottom, or actually on a ledger screwed in where the top course came out in the right place. Then came back the next day and removed the ledger, cut the tile for the bottom row and placed it. Ffor shims I used the tile "stars" of the appropriate size (1/8", IIRC).
I've heard the term "modified thinset", but not quite sure what it is. I used "Flex-Bond" or some such (not cheap).

I tried the mixing paddle and drill thing. My drill is obviously not up to the task. I ended up mixing just enough to do about 15sq.ft. at a time (about 16 cups of thinset[*]) in a 5-gal. bucket with a 6" taping knife.
I thought about the weelbarrow since that's what I use for concrete. I didn't think I'd use enough thinset at a time to bother. Maybe, at least for setting the HardiBacker. It goes down pretty quickly (I precut and fit it).
[*] I think the measure was 4 cup measure. I found if I made it the same way every time I could get the right consistency more easily.
--
Keith

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wrote:

Just for information, James Hardie's Hardibacker is a cement based product. In fact, it is called, "the Ultimate Cement Board." http://www.jameshardie.com/backerboard/ We have used the James Hardie siding on one home, and the hardibacker on this home. We had the entire house except bedrooms tiled using porcelain tile and hardibacker. It is a superior product.
Dick
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to
board,
1/2
commute
purchase
and
The price is about right for these parts. Considering the removal factor it sounds very fair. For where you are it may even be a little low. Did you get good references or see a job or two this person has done?
The life of the job is highly dependant on the things you don't see with the finished product. Things like properly securing and floating the cement board. The quality of the thinset, grout and how it is mixed.
I read your follow up post also. I don't think you want to learn tile laying starting with 18" tiles. The thicker ones are quite heavy.
Colbyt
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i disagree. if you can manage the weight, the larger ones are actually easier to lay. less lines, easier to align to the chalk marks. think of laying this floor in 1"x1" tiles and keeping all the lines straight.

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Thanks for all of the great replies! I'm feeling a bit more comfortable with the quote now and I have a much better feel for what to ask the contractors with respect to materials. How long do you think something like this would typically take, with say two men?
It would appear that they sell the Hardibacker at both Lowes and Home Depot (and we have more than enough of both around).
Michael

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Why do you want to LAY a tile? Is your woman out of town or what? Wouldn't it be easier to just masturbate? Besides that, ceramic tiles are sharp, just think of what you are risking.... You could end up wearing the bra and the lipstick in your household if you are not careful....
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If $6/sqft includes removing old floor, it sounds a little low. He doesn't know what he'll find underneath the carpet and vinyl. Just wait 'til you get your other bids and don't let price be the deciding factor. Contractors who compete on price usually do inferior work. You have the right idea to ask alot of questions, they should be able to provide references and proof of insurance. Good Luck!
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