Custom Tile



Why choose Tile?

Three words: Functional and Fashionable! Its durable, beautiful and available in a wide variety of materials, shapes and sizes.

The most important service I provide is detailed project management and clear communication! I will carefully listen to all your needs and desires to fully understand your vision for your project.

If you need guidance and support, I will offer several different options to balance all the particulars of your project. We will work one-on-one to develop a realistic plan and price for both us!

If you already know exactly what you want and need, Great! With a few detailed questions I can start your project right away!

Tile installation Services Include:

Floor (Interior and Exterior)

Wall (Interior and Exterior)

Backsplash: Kitchen and Bathroom

Fireplace tile installation (Interior and Exterior)

Other Tile Services:

Shower or Bath Niches:

Custom Shower Pans

Shower Corner/Bench Seat Installation

Shower/Tub Tile Corner shelves

Tile Trim

Other: Tile Repair, Grout Repair, Bullnose, Subcontracting 

Products and Basic Techniques:

Tear Out, Inspection and Preparation

Tile Underlayment

Thin Set Mortar

Wall Waterproofing: Liquid Membranes

Shower Pan

Layout and Pattern,

Tile Leveling

Tile Spacing

Tile Edging


Sealing Tile and Grout


Two mottos to the methods:

I will always level with you and lay it out flat, not level!

Setting tile correctly has 90% to do with what happens between the lines and behind the tile.

I am experienced in one method of tile setting, the tried and true method described below! If would like me to use another method or other products, I am very flexible and adventurous! I have always wanted to try out a Kerdi System or a Wedi System, but haven’t had the chance.

My methods are equally as Green, waterproof and more cost efficient as newer shower systems (at least IMHO) and these methods are 2x the cost in supplies and have only been around for about 10 years.

Tear Out, Inspection and Preparation

Perhaps the most important part of any job. If I do tear out on your job, I do so with two important things in mind. What is going to be done next, so the proper things can be removed and retained now. If I find a problems, I let you know and properly fix them before proceeding. If there are no problems, then I prepare the surface for backer board.

Tile Underlayment 

For most interior situations I use a product called JetBacker. On floors JetBacker is installed in the traditional means of thinnest first and then screwed into place. On walls the traditional means of plastic vapor barrier attached to the studs and then screwed into place.

JetBacker is so Green, you can eat it! It’s affordable, new and yet very similar to traditional, tried and true cement backer board methods. Like any method, when properly installed, they meet all industry standards!

Thin Set Mortar

Brand doesn’t really matter, but the type of mortar you use is dependent on 3 basic things: type of tile, size of tile and required dry time. There are too many combinations to explain here, but for most jobs I use 705 Pro Set Plus, but have used just about every brand with no problems.

The proper application of thin set also depends on the tile. However there are 3 basic basic steps for most tile: select the correct trowel, back-butter the tile for at least 95% coverage and trowel in straight lines to avoid air pockets.

Wall Waterproofing: Liquid Membranes

I use Merkrete products. Other products I use in lieu of Merkrete: Aqua Defense, Hydro Guard, RedGuard, etc.

Hydro Guard 1 for jobs on a budget, and Hydro Guard SP 1 for all other jobs for it’s LEED/Green rating, industrial strength and application dry time. There are many other products out there, but these are the two I like to use.

I paint the liquid onto the JetBoard creating a “rubber” like membrane once it has cured. Mortar and tile can then be installed directly onto the surface.

Shower Pan

I use a product called Noble Pro Slope as my pre slope, and Deck Mud for my tile underlayment.

First I lay the pre-slop, then I lay a waterproof shower pan liner, pack deck mud at a slope of 1/4” per foot. Minus the pre-slope, this method has existed for decades (ie. “Dry Packing”). and should last decades.

note from here most methods are for aesthetics only. if all steps have been followed, the tile setting should be goof proof

Layout and Tile Pattern

Layout is all about balance! No excuse for 2” cuts! The explanation is poor planning or math skills. Here’s an example: I need to tile a 7’ 2” linear area with 12” x 12” tile (butt-jointed for math simplicity). A novice would leave a 2” cut somewhere, probably right at the reveal. A pro would balance it out so there are 6 full tile in the middle and both top and bottom tiles at 7”. Balance isn’t difficult, but it is wasteful. So when budget is priority #1, offset or random is the most efficient.

Some tile have layout restrictions, so I always start there. Then I analyze the physical space I’m working in, both in form and function. Even after all things considered, I will say 90% of the time I like to stick to square, 1/2 offset, or 1/3 offset pattern as these are the most efficient uses of tile and labor.

More complex designs take more forethought and more challenging to install. More importantly, they take more time to cut and produce more waste, both of which will end up costing you more money.

Tile Leveling System (TLS)

Oldest technique to date my five sense. Some call me a tile whisperer, as I sooth them into a bed of mortar! In all seriousness, I just use my hands, eyes and patience. This method has been used literally forever! I see no need to even anything else (TLS, more like POS, IMHO)

Tile Spacing

Spacing is all a personal choice, so pick what you like, no matter what anyone tells you. I prefer 1/16” – 1/8” and I think that anything bigger kind of looks tacky most of the time. But if that is what you like, that is what you like and I can do it!

Tile Edging

My preference is to go full tile and edge it with Schluter metal, but some people think that looks tacky. Edging is all a personal choice, so pick what you like, no matter what anyone tells you. These other options are in order of my preference for look and ease of install:

Custom bullnose are rolled with through a stages of sanding at different grits until you get the polished finish you are looking for which varies with tile choice and taste.

Factory bullnose are pre-made and should be selected when selecting your tile. Some tile does not come with this option.

“Full Tile” or “Unfinished” is just leaving the tile as is. Some will tell you that it doesn’t look professional because “no-one” does it. True it isn’t standard, but it is cost effective. A bit rugged but I have seen it done.


Grout color is really up to you. Do you want to blend or contrast? A common misconception is dark grout needs cleaned less. Fact is though all tile and grout need cleaned, especially in the Willamette Valley of Oregon!

There is much debate about this, so you will get a thousand different answers on which to choose. My advice is to pick a color from the brand your tile setter (hopefully me) recommends for the application.

Grout type should come down to your budget. If you can afford it, Laticrete SpectraLOCK is the way to go, especially in Oregon! It famously never needs sealed and is 99.9% stain and mold proof. Middle road grout is PowerGrout by Tec, because it cures quickly and also never needs to be sealed. On a budget, standard grout (any brand is fine) is the way to go, but it needs to be sealed typically on a yearly basis.

Installation is simple, but must be done with care. Mix it, pack it with a rubber float into the spaces, let slightly dry till you see a haze and carefully wipe with a damp, frequently cleaned sponge.

Two things to note about grout and run if someone claims otherwise:

1) Grout is not intended to hold tile in place.

2) Grout is not waterproof! Neither is backer board, nor tile for that matter!

Sealing Tile and Grout

This one is a real bore, I can’t even type about this because I might fall asleep!

This only applies to natural stone and standard grout. Most important thing here is to read the label and choose wisely. Most of the times you want to go with an impregnator and not a product that coats. Carefully follow the instructions when applying and be sure to repeat as scheduled. If it says every year, then it means every year! It’s not that hard, and is a service that I offer over in the handyman section.


Time for the bad news, you still have to clean! No matter how good someone installs the tile, I have never heard of a self-cleaning method!

In all seriousness, tile doesn’t require special cleaning, except in showers and especially in the Willamette Valley. There are so many different colors and types of mold that can grow over night, I suggest one easy solution.

Buy a squeegee and overtime you get out of the shower, quickly use it to remove all the water from the walls. This prevents water from pooling and settling on grout joints and eventually staining with mold. You will still need to use chemicals (I would suggest cleaning vinegar to kill/prevent mold) and a material of choice to scrub once in a while, but this will significantly decrease mold build up!

Tile Selection:

I suggest seriously doing your research on this step of the process. Even pros still go into Tile Shops and ask questions, after all they are the experts! Emser Tile is my shop of choice do to their great selection and customer service, but it’s your choice. Buying online can be risky, be sure to request a sample first, as color matching on a screen is impossible.

There are so many things to consider when selecting Tile, that books have been written about it, seriously! In this section I will attempt to give you a very basic overview of some of the most common types. This is a general list by typical pricing

Ceramic Tile are generally the most affordable. Still durable, but cut easer than porcelain. Comes in all sizes and colors. Can be used in all applications.

Porcelain Tile is most of time still some percentage of ceramic based, but is kiln fired at a higher temperature therefore making more durable than ceramic tiles. Comes in all sizes and colors. Can be used in all applications.

Natural Stone can be more affordable then porcelain, and sometimes not, so I put it here. There are so many options when choosing Natural stone, I am not going to get into them all. I just want to mention a few things that are generally true about natural stone you should be aware of:
Color variance will occur; so if uniformity is your thing, this is not for you
Requires much more maintenance in wet areas and some, like soap stone, should not be used at all in wet areas

Glass Tile and Decorative (Deco) Sheets are hands down the most expensive option available. One one hand glass is sturdy and durable, but it is also delicate in that it is prone to scratching and easily shows when not 100% clean…seriously. I prefer to only use glass when it is on a sheet in a deco band or accent band.

A glass shower is a lifestyle choice or a novelty piece of your home for show, not everyday use. Seriously it is that expensive and time-consuming that I would almost always try to talk you out of it. Cutting glass takes a special blade and setting glass takes special mortar and grout.

IF BUYING THE TILE YOURSELF most Tiles Sizes are short! Example: 12” x 24” tiles, are actually more like 11 13/16” x 23 13/16”. Be sure to order at a rule of thumb 10% over what you need, and 15-20% on natural stone that is more brittle. If you are unsure, please ask before buying as nothing is worse than running 1 tile short and then waiting weeks for it to come in! ;0

Wow….if you’ve read this far you must care about Tile as much as I do! Pat yourself on the back for being now being a wee bit more informed, or brainwashed into my ways of thinking! LOL….thanks for reading and hope to speak to you soon!

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