The installation of ceramic tile should be well done and completed by following the established ANSI standards. But unfortunately, when these requirements are not met, the resulting project can be unsightly and can cause the viewer to ask, “Why does this otherwise nice-looking floor have such skinny little pieces along the wall? They look terrible.”

The person looking at a tile installation most likely is not aware that the tile industry has guidelines to ensure that a tile installation looks good and will stand the test of time. But they do know when something doesn’t look right and they begin to question if all tile jobs look like this one. This is not good for the tile industry and yields yet another black eye.

Under ANSI A108.02 section 4.3 Workmanship, cutting, fitting, and grout joint size, it states the following:

4.3.1 Center and balance areas of tile, if possible.

4.3.2 An excessive amount of cuts shall not be made. Usually, not cuts smaller than half size should be made. Make all cuts on the outer edges of the field. 

Now comes the crucial component: layout. Done well, it is pleasing to the eye, trained or novice. Done poorly, everyone loses. Layout is not difficult, but it does require skill and experience. 

As seen in the accompanying image, the cut tile along the wall is about 1/8” and is the result of starting on the other side of the floor with a full tile, which looks great. However, the sliver, also known as a rat tail, along the wall is unacceptable and could have easily been eliminated by a seasoned installer. 

This floor covered nine feet (108”) and used 16” x 16” tile with a 1/8” grout joint. The layout had six grout joints from the full tile at the carpet to the wall where the sliver now resides. In order to eliminate the sliver, the installer could have made each grout joint slightly wider by just 1/32”. Let’s do the math. Six grout joints x 1/32” equals 6/32” or 3/16”. The 1/8” tile cut and the adjacent grout joint would have eliminated yielding a full tile along the wall. This very slight adjustment would not be noticeable, and it would have eliminated the need for the installer to make five really fragile cuts and hope they can be installed without breaking. Cutting these small pieces is not easy and, in this case, it was a big waste of the installer’s time.

The problem is solved! No additional tile was needed, the tile industry shines brightly, and doesn’t get another uh-oh. Do it right the first time, be proud of your work and make more money.