Chicago-area remodeling contractor and tile setter Phil Green is a lot like many contractors you’ll meet. He’s been in the business since he was a kid (he laid his first tile when he was 13, and has continued doing so for more than 40 years). He has gotten his sons involved in his contractor business “just so they know how to do it.” And he radiates a no-nonsense attitude and low-key charm – what many people would describe as “salt of the earth.”

Here is where Green is different. He has invented a new tool for his profession. And no, this isn’t simply something he tinkered around with on a workbench in his garage, showed it to some of his crew the next day, and left it at that. Green took the next step of going to a tool supplier to pitch his idea and see if there was any interest. There was. After a couple revisions were made, Phil Green’s Back Butter Buddy tool is now available through Primo Tools. (

The Back Butter Buddy is a Lazy Susan-type device that locks directly onto a standard bucket. Designed to hold up to 200 lbs. of balanced weight, the tool lets installers and contractors back-butter tile without needing to hold and rotate the tile manually. The tool is designed to reduce strain, fatigue and tile breakage, according to Green, adding that the Back Butter Buddy can hold large-format tile as well.

Rick Baldini, partner/owner of Primo Tools, said his company often fields requests from contractors who think they have an idea that can revolutionize the industry, but few actually break through to producing it. “That process of converting a contractor’s idea into a product is very time consuming, pretty expensive and truthfully, a lot of hard work. So in order to take on the Back Butter Buddy project it came down to three issues: Our experience (we have done this a number of times already), our industry intuition (Rich Maggio [Primo Tools’ founder] has been in the tile & stone industry his entire life), and Phil’s passion for the product.”

A prototype version of the Back Butter Buddy debuted at Total Solutions Plus last year. There was enough interest in the tool that some installers at Coverings plan to use it during the Installation Design Showcases on the show floor. “It will be great to stand back and watch other professional installers use my tool,” Green said.

Green noted that he came up with the tool for one simple reason. “I wanted to make something for less physical movement on the job. There’s already a shelf life for guys who are always up and down on their knees.”

Baldini noted that the tool also offers another benefit. “It makes it easy for contractors to do what all the industry experts and associations say needs to be done – back buttering, which is often neglected.”


To see the Back Butter Buddy in action, visit our digital edition. Click on FCI Digital Edition, under the Magazine tab on, to learn more.