Had local company lay porcelain tile floor but have questions on their work for the Pro's

Hey Guys --
Last week had the laminate flooring pulled from our kitchen and entry hallway (one larger area) and replaced with 18" porcelain tile which a local flooring company put down for us. After the tile was done we noticed the tile was very unlevel and the installer didn't use spacers so the grout lines were uneven in some places, at time as much as 1/4" difference between perpendicular lines. Also we chose a darker brown grout color to match our laminate flooring and the tile which also has a brown color, but the grout is very blotchy being brownish in some areas but other areas almost gray to dirty white.
After running a level across the floor I marked about a dozen tiles that were way unlevel, which the tile guy came out and replaced, but in one or two places there just was no way to level the tile on all sides since the neighboring tiles weren't level with each other. But I can live with what's there now as far as the levels go.
As for the grout color the manager at the flooring place said it could take up to a week for the grout to cure and for the color to come out, but if it didn't look right they could come stain the grout to match the color we chose.
So my biggest question is whether or not it's common for spacers to be used. I've read spacers can't be used if the tiles are odd shapes, but the tile we chose is perfectly 18"x18" with no variation. Also should it take some time for the grout color to come in? And are there any caveats to them staining the grout?
The floor company also said they only seal maybe 1% of the jobs they do since the grout they use has something in it that helps prevent stuff from absorbing in it, but should we look at sealing anyway? Especially if they'll be staining the grout? This is a kitchen, and given we have two toddlers I can see spills happening quite often.
Anyway, thanks for any suggestions you guys have on all this. Take care.
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A pro may or may not use spacers. I laid a lot of tile before there were spacers, or, I should say, before I'd ever heard of them.
The grout lines should be straight and even.
The tile should be as level as was the laminate.
I doubt brown grout requires sealing, or, at least I wouldn't bother. -----
- gpsman
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On 11/19/2010 12:51 PM, gpsman wrote:

We have light taupe tile and grout. Sealed it ourselves after contractor installation and per his instructions. We have no children with us, but one spill is difficult to remove, that being coffee with creamer. In a kitchen, where spills are more likely, I would do the sealing. Grease, especially, might darken the grout. I'm not sure sealer really accomplishes anything because the grout is coarse enough to hold onto lots of dirt. Your grout may have darker areas because it isn't totally dry, but may also have not been properly mixed. Tiles varying by 1/4" sounds like a really lousy installer. Our tile is a 20" porcellain that looks like old stone, so the edges aren't absolutely straight but still no variation like you have described.
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wrote:

I have had experiences where I mixed small batches of grout and got different color shades. I think if the pigment is not fully mixed in the bag that can happen. Most pros are fast enough that they mix big batches of grout. Especially if they have a couple guys.
I use spacers but I have seen others do a good job without them. What you care about is the quality, not how they got there. Knowing that a contrasting grout was going to be used they should have done a good job. If the grout color is close to the tile, it's a lot more forgiving of spacing variation.
You'd also be surprised how little most people notice when they look at tile. You might find the casual visitor thinks it looks great. I didn't used to notice much myself but now that I have done a few rooms of my own I'm always checking out spacing and eveness on other's work.
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Alex wrote:

you don't need spacers if they lay down a precise grid of chalk lines first, and they work to the grid. i did about 2000 sqft of tile laid diagnonal that went around multiple corners, walls, the kitchen island, and came out correctly when it rejoined the field on the other side that way.

sometimes, but it should only take a day or so to be the final color, ime.

are you expecting a company that did a crappy job to do a good job on the staining? it would be really hard to fix a bad staining job.
none of this is rocket science.

bunk. anything they add to it to prevent absorbing will also prevent the staining job. they may add an admix to the grout, but that just usually makes it stronger, not less absorbing.
i'd seal any grout. it's porous, and red wine will probably leave bloches on even brown grout. i stained the black grout i did on my kitchen backsplashes and there's not a mark on them from anything, either splashes or cleaning products.

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chaniarts wrote:

bloches on even brown grout. i stained the black grout i did on my
should read
bloches on even brown grout. i sealed the black grout i did on my

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How do you use the chalk lines after the mud is down? I know pros can do tile without spacers, but obviously a lot of skill is involved and I would wonder how many guys installing tile today have those skills. Obviously the guys doing this job didn't.
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote in wrote:

Again, prefaced by that I'm not a pro at it, I just put two nails at opposite ends with taught string, lay the first row and everything is relative to that using Tavy spacers. It works.
Yea I cheat. I lay a lot of tiles dry with spacers to make sure cutoffs at edges are where I want them and I don't end up with some unmanageable/eyesore small pieces.
Call it compensating for not being a pro tiler but it gets the same result. Usually better IMO because it's what I want and not what an installer says is just the way it worked out.
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

when you use the toothed trowel, you can see the lines where the thinset has been scraped off.
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Blotchy: Can't say why but I'd sure bitch. If they blame it on the product then they should not be using that product.

Did you notice them putting like a 2x4 on the tiles and tapping with a rubber mallet while they were laying them? That's how you get them even. Worked for me and also how it's recommended. I imagine if you truly are an installer you would be skilled enough to do it by eye and twisting tiles as they are laid.

And just who the #* put those tiles there?!

At normal temp & humidity it's said to wait 3 days before sealing. This is so it's sure to be dry and the sealer is fully absorbed vs displaced by moisture.

Again, if you truly are an installer you would be skilled enough to do it without spacers. I use Tavy tile spacers and they are slick. I'm not a pro tile installer butit comes out like a pro.
If their spacing came out f*d up then yea, they sould have used spacers right?

Bullshit. If not sealed it will absorb whatever hits it - some nice spaghetti sauce, some spilled grease, dog shit from your shoes.

Assuming not put on a concrete slab, did they put any backerboard down? Makes for a nice level installation surface among other things like adhesion and inhibiting cracking.
That's my unprofessional .02 but the comment I get when someone sees the tile I've done is like "YOU put this tile down?!". It's level, it's even, it's not butted to moldings and trim and filled with grout, etc.
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The floor should look good, you paid a pro, spacers arent the issue the quality of work and finished product is. Wait for the grout to cure if thats what they want, but a gray color doesnt sound right. The color is in the grout, I cant see how if its stained now it would last, it wont penetrate.
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Alex wrote:

Depends on the installer. Some use them, some don't. Regardless, the tiles should at the very least all be the same height. Grout lines can be a little off here and there, but it should not be noticeable, and nowhere near 1/4" that you are measuring.
Bottom line, you were screwed over, and they are hoping that you are too limp-wristed to do anything about it.
At a minimum, they are responsible for a complete tear-out and complete redo of the entire job, along with letting everyone in your area know the shit job that they did.
Next time, don't pick the contractor with the lowest bid.
Jon
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On Nov 19, 3:22pm, "Jon Danniken"

I often go with low bid. But I'm pretty frequently watching their work closely. And I'm not afraid to say hey wait a minute I don't like how your doing that. Some resent it but some of them are like hey I'm glad you're speaking up now. They'd rather I correct them when they can change it than have me bitch after it's all finished.
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1/4" off is rediculous. Yes screwed over. Sounds like the crew need a sobriety blow test before starting work. Or maybe a test for the white powder blow.
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We had a lot of travertine work done at one of our houses. I asked the installer about it being flat. He says, "I'll show you how to tell if an installer is any good or not." He took a scrap about the size of a hockey puck, put it flat on the floor and shoved it hard enough to slide flat and hit the other side of the room. It made it over there with no jumping at all. He said, "If there's a piece that's sticking up at all, the scrap will jump in the air." I don't know if you could to that with this tile, but you should be able to find a piece of something with a four to six foot straight edge and see just how flat it is. If you can SEE that it's out of line, it's w-a-y out of line.
Steve
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Oh and BTW:

Just doublecheck it's not that paintlike stuff.
Never used grout stain on grout myself. I would think, like wood, light come out darker and darker comes out darker.
Same end result only a different shade????
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I have a pro doing a 800+ sf job for me as we speak, and he uses spacers. The man is not a pro, I take that back. He is an artiste. We are using pieces that are all a bunch of smaller pieces, held together by a mesh backing. He is cutting the 18" tile to perfectly match them and fit together. The foundation on this house was horrible. Still, he used thinset and a straightedge to get the floor flat. Anyone who can't lay tile flat on a wavy floor needs to turn in their trowel.
I use colored grout. Same color from each bag. No need to stain grout. There's no way to get it all even. Why would you want to use any grout other than premixed colors? Grout needs to be sealed, or it will soak up whatever gets on it.
You may have called a pro company, and paid a pro price, but you got an amateur job.
I'll post pics of mine when done. We're doing a whole kitchen remodel.
Steve
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Flooring company & manager = subcontracted work. Might as well had a big box store install it, flip a coin to see what kind of installer you will get.
If you can tell the workmanship flaws, make no mistake, it was no pro who installed it.
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Flooring company & manager = subcontracted work. Might as well had a big box store install it, flip a coin to see what kind of installer you will get.
If you can tell the workmanship flaws, make no mistake, it was no pro who installed it.
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I hope you haven't paid them yet!!!! They sound sort of schlockey. Weren't you there whey they did the original work???
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