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Selecting the Right Installer for your Next Tile or Stone Project

While all of our products are extremely DIY friendly and their installation can be mastered by most handy homeowners with minimal experience, we find that an increasing majority of our clients are looking to have professionals install their stone and tile. For most, life is so busy that they put a lot of value on the time an installation would take, not to mention a job well done. To ensure that job is indeed done well, we’ve put together a checklist to use to make sure you’re hiring the right installer for your next tile or stone project:

Make sure you’re hiring the right type of contractor

White Stacked Stone being installed on a curved planter box

One of the often overlooked steps in finding the right installer for your next tile or stone project is actually making sure you’ve got the right type of contractor for the job. A lot of time stone projects create confusion because many clients think they should be working with a stone mason, when in fact the product might be made out of stone, but is installed like a tile, such as our Norstone Stacked Stone Rock Panels. When in doubt, the manufacturer of the tile and stone product, or the reputable wholesaler or retailer that you are purchasing the material from should be able to recommend the right type of contractor to do the job.

Start the search by asking your network

Screnshot of the header of the Houzz website

In today’s world, the logical place to start asking for referrals for a quality installer is in both your online and offline social networks. If that search bears little fruit, the design community Houzz is another great option to find qualified installers in your local area, and view the reviews that have been written about them and their work on the community. If the tile or stone product is being purchased locally, the local wholesaler or retailer may or may not offer installation services, but certainly should be able to give you a few referrals to contractors reputable in the area.

Qualify the installer for the work

Installers working on a commercial stone veneer installation

When interviewing a contractor for the project its important to qualify them as having the skills for the type of work involved. If you’re working on a mosaic glass tile backsplash, ask them about their experience installing glass tile, and what kind of tools they have at their disposal for this type of installation. Similarly, if your project involves natural stone tile, make sure the installer has worked with natural stone before. Another great differentiatior among installers is going to be industry certifications. Certified Tile Installers, as tested and awarded by governing bodies like the Tile Council of North America, are almost always going to offer a superior installation leveraging the techniques learned during the certification process.

Get References

Request and speak to as many references as possible provided by the installers you are considering. Learn what kind of work the installer did for them and how long ago the work was completed. Ask the references if there were any issues, big or small, before, during, or after installation and how the installer worked with them to resolve them. Be wary of references that are dated or none of the references noted any kind of issues with the process and don’t be afraid to ask for more references. Installers that do good work have great references, so if something doesn’t feel right with an installer’s references, definitely take that into consideration.

Get all of the details in writing

Once you’ve selected an installer, get all the details in some form of written communication. Email and text messaging is most common these days for smaller projects. Formal contracts and / or service agreements should be expected for larger projects. Use this an opportunity to make it clear about what the contractor is responsible for doing and what you, the client, are responsible for. Things like substrate preparation and setting materials might vary from job to job, installer to installer, so make sure its clear before you get started. Other details like payment schedule and warranty expectations should not be overlooked either.

Make yourself available during the installation

Norstone Ochre Stacked Stone Rock Panel Installation on DIY show Bathtastic

It’s always a good idea to make yourself, or someone you trust to make decisions for you, available and present during the installation. Very few professional installers enjoy a client hanging over them all the time, but checking in at the beginning of each day to make sure they have everything they need and any questions answered, as well as stopping in at various points throughout the day is a great way to build trust with your installer and ensure a successful outcome. Use these visits to not only survey the work that’s already been done, but primarily to look ahead at where the install is going and cover any unique situations, like what type of corner trim should be used in a certain spot, or how the tile is going to be cut around an outlet cover to avoid having to rework any of those tricky spots later.

Be an enthusiastic reference

If your installer did a great job and you’re satisfied with the work, let them know it! If they are active on social media networks, especially Houzz, write a glowing review, or offer up your name and number to serve as a reference for future clients.

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Norstone's New Dimensions in Natural Stone blog aims to discuss design themes, sources of inspiration, and how the world around us influences our creative interpretation and buying preferences.

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