High-quality installations of ceramic and porcelain tile require the installer to have the hand skills to put it into place, along with the knowledge of what products are available to finish the project successfully.
On most commercial tile jobs, the specifications clearly call out each component of the tile assembly, though not always. However, on many residential jobs the various items necessary for a good job may be overlooked. Whether the project is commercial or residential, the tile installer is the last person on the job who should provide his or her input and expertise so the outcome will be favorable.
Unfortunately the ultimate success of the completed project is sometimes lost in the rush to get it done “yesterday” or neglecting the little details that sometimes fall through the cracks. Whatever the reason, edge profile moldings are sometimes not included in the job. These profiles play two key roles. One is to provide a pleasing transition to the adjacent floor finish. The other is to protect the edge of the tile, which may be a factory edge or cut.
As seen in the attached photo which was taken from a hotel breakfast area, the edge of the wood-look ceramic tile is significantly chipped after only a few years of service. Without the metal profile to protect the factory edge of the tile, unsightly chipping can (and does) occur. In this case, the combination of the housekeeper’s sweeper and the metal legged chairs has taken its toll on the tile.
One factor which exacerbated this problem was the low-pile commercial carpet is over 1/8” lower than the tile. The tile otherwise served the area well and looked great, but the chipped tile along the edge made the entire job look unsatisfactory. (The really odd thing about this hotel upgrade project was all of the other tile surfaces included edge profiles.)
A small amount of proactive input prior to the job beginning would have eliminated this problem. Many times the installer is not consulted on the design end of the project. But in this case, the installer gets blamed for the ugly result when in reality he had no part in the process.
The point here is the installer should speak up and make recommendations that will enhance the project outcome, and be a long-lasting testimonial to the durability and beauty of properly installed ceramic tile.