The Business Case to Eliminate Tile on Your Bathroom Remodeling Jobs
I’ll warn you what I’m going to say might be more politically charged than debating who you think should be the next President of the United States. Here it is:
I think you should blow up, eliminate, get rid of, say sayonara to… tile in your bathroom remodeling jobs.
Right now, you’re likely saying, this guy is nuts. Tile has been around for years. Its tried (even if, at times) it isn’t true. It’s a premium product you have to have. Designers and upscale homeowners LOVE, LOVE, LOVE tile. Just name me one Parade of Homes or Remodeling Show winning design which didn’t have a tile shower or bathroom.
And you know what? You’d be right.
However, dominant products and companies have a way of being ‘displaced’ along the way. Anyone remember ‘bag phones?’ How about ‘8 track or cassette tapes?’ How about Toys-R-Us? Am I making myself seem old right now?
Products change. People’s needs change. Companies change. The demands (and availability of labor in construction) creates change.
I may be crazy (and my kids and wife will agree I resemble this remark), but I see ‘times are a-changin’ (as the Bob Dylan lyrics would proclaim) when it comes to tile in bathroom remodeling jobs.
Sure, tile is still the ‘800-lb. bathroom gorilla.’ However, IMHO there are chinks in its armor. These chinks are making homeowners, building owners and short-term rental property owners take notice of alternative technologies in larger numbers.
Do you wonder what these chinks are, and the business case I believe is at the ‘tip of the bathroom remodeling’ iceberg regarding the declining future use of tile? Then read on.
I’ll share 7 business reasons I believe remodeling contractors will be using less tile in showers, bathtubs and bathroom walls in the years to come. Will I be right about this bold prediction? Heck, nothing is certain except dying and paying taxes (unless you’re a few politicians out there). However, I believe the ‘times are a-changin.’ I believe the contractors who are nimble enough to change with them will win.
Let’s check out these reasons. At the end, let me know if you think I’m still inhaling too much ‘wacky-tobaccy’ from my college days, or whether I’m on to something here. At a minimum, a good debate is fun (as viewers of CNN and Fox News can attest to).
Reason #1 to eliminate tile on your bathroom remodeling jobs- You can’t find good subs.
As you know the construction market tanked in 2008. Our industry lost talent which has not be replenished.
Ask yourself, how much revenue could you crank out IF (and this is a big IF) you weren’t hampered by schedules which drag out too long because you can’t find subs to get in and do the job? As a matter of fact, I talked to a homeowner yesterday who said there are a number of contractors in her town which are scheduling 2 YEARS OUT! Can you say, ouch?
Labor is a problem. Labor will be a problem. It’s not going away (unless we start convincing high school students going into ‘the trades’ is as smart as going to college (a debate for another day).
If you want your sales to grow you need products which give you the look of tile and doesn’t take as much time and expertise to install. Fortunately, these solutions (by necessity) are cropping up. Check out these laminate wall panels for example.
Don’t be caught in-search-of ‘needle-in-a-haystack’ tile subs. Start using stylish wall panels which take 1/5 of the time to install (without the training required of an effective tile crew). The bonus is these panels can be put up by your carpentry crew if you’d like.
Reason #2 to eliminate tile on your bathroom remodeling jobs– Your customer says you’re too expensive
There are so many cool designs you can do with tile. This is a powerful force in its popularity.
However, tile is time consuming (see reason 1) and as you know, you need to earn a fair margin on these labor hours, otherwise you’ll be out of business! When your tile designs are more intricate than your competitors, or they use cheaper ‘behind-the-wall’ systems (not the waterproof wall backer boards and specialized grouts you insist on for a quality project), you can lose work due to higher prices.
Here’s an idea to do an ‘end-run’ on a potentially lost tile jobs. Substitute expensive tile floors with laminate or luxury vinyl planks. Use waterproof grout free wall panels vs. a ceramic tile surround.
It’s possible to give your customers a sharp-looking job without breaking the bank (a bank they don’t have enough of) while using tile.
Reason #3 to eliminate tile on your bathroom remodeling jobs– Too many call-backs
Here’s a ‘nails-on-a-chalkboard’ moment for you.
Your customer from ‘H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks’ you thought you were done with calls again. Your Office Manager comes in to ‘deliver the news’ to you.
You say, “Now what’s up with her?”
Your Office Manager says, “She’s saying there are cracked tiles in the bathroom job we did for her. She’s seeing brown spots on the kitchen ceiling below. She’s demanding the entire shower be removed.”
You can feel your blood boiling. You can feel a confrontation coming on. ‘Houston,’ you have a BIG problem!
Tile would be fine if it weren’t for evil grout joints and settling. Tile call backs are far too frequent. Now to make matters worse, the tile sub you hired to do that job has moved to another state. Ouch.
After your blood pressure goes down (and you’re a bit more lucid), you start thinking, ‘What would a bathroom remodeling world be like without the punch-list requests and call-back hassles of tile? Is there a better way?”
Reason #4 to eliminate tile on your bathroom remodeling jobs– Your customer wants you “OUT OF THEIR HOUSE”
You’re reeling from the job from hell. First the cabinets were ordered wrong. Next your plumber got hurt and your schedule was blown up. You lost weeks trying to round up another crew to fill in. Now your expert tile sub calls complaining. He says “Your customer (note – he puts the emphasis on YOUR) is breathing down my neck. If they don’t stop micromanaging my work, I’m telling you I’m out of here!”
You know you’ve been on this job waaay toooooo looong.
Here’s one thing you can say for certain. The longer the job drags out, the dicier the relationship between you and your customer gets (and then they start talking ‘price adjustment’ for their inconvenience).
You start remembering Eldon the Painter from old re-runs of Murphy Brown. You come to the cruel realization. Your company is not the new and improved version of Eldon the Painter on this job. You ARE Eldon the painter. You’ve overstayed your welcome.
One key to improved customer satisfaction (in addition to open, honest and respectful communications) is to (as Larry the Cable Guy would say) get ‘er done. It’s to use time-effective systems to create a well-performing shower which is done without a lot of time on the job.
This is where tile can (and does) bite you in the butt.
Look for ways to create a stylish shower (and bathroom) which will delight customers and ‘get you out of Dodge’ sooner. Cool products like textured grout-free shower pans or custom one-piece bases can be a smart way to start. Stylish grout free wall panels can move boost things along.
Don’t be today’s version of ‘Eldon the Painter!’ It WILL NOT help profits or your on-line reviews!
Reason #5 to eliminate tile on your bathroom remodeling jobs– Large format tiles are heavy and time-consuming to install
Large format tiles are in. And why shouldn’t they be? They make small bathrooms look larger. They reduce the number of evil tile grout joints.
That’s the good news about large-format tiles. The bad news is, you need higher-skilled tile-setters (who are already a pain to find). In addition, large format tiles take longer to complete and can eat into your margins.
Once again (and not to be a broken record), but laminate shower wall panels can be your Knight-in-Shining-Armor solution. They’re simply nailed to OSB behind the wall. They install in far less time than tile. In addition, your customer will be in the ‘double-bonus’ because they’ll enjoy ZERO (can they say that again – ZERO) grout joints to maintain and their project cost will be lower.
Reason #6 to eliminate tile on your bathroom remodeling jobs– The tile labor warranty evaporates as fast as your kids Snapchat post
What warranty does your tile sub give on their showers? Does this warranty give your customers a warm-all-over feeling?
Given the porous nature of a grout joint you can understand your sub’s reluctance to ‘stand behind’ their grout joints. This leaves you with a warranty hole (hopefully not an actual hole in the grout).
Wouldn’t it be nice to cut down joints and feel confident your project will last?
You’ll get durability and long warranties as a part of ‘faux’ materials like laminate flooring, grout free walls made of PVC or laminate walls. This can be reason enough to move on from tile.
Reason #7 to eliminate tile on your bathroom remodeling jobs– Why depend on any ‘itty-bitty-teeny-tiny’ pieces parts (in the words of Roseanne Roseannadanna)
Roseanne Roseannadanna (of Saturday Night Live fame) used to have me rolling talking about the teeny tiny balls of sweat on the end of your nose or toilet paper you couldn’t get off your butt.
However, in bath remodeling the ‘teeny-tiny’ parts are not only not funny but can be the source of BIG problems.
Component based showers are a perfect example. They can be excellent, unless some (unskilled) person puts the components together wrong. The more you simplify your bathrooms, the longer they’ll last.
Ask today how many small mosaic tiles or shower base components you’re counting to work so you won’t be smarting from call-backs. Should you look to use sturdy pre-formed shower pans and walls to cut down on the ‘little things which become your big problems?”
So, what’s it going to be? Say yes or no to tile?
Just for the record I’d like to say I’m not a ‘tile-hater’ and I’m not looking to put tile-setters out of business. In addition, I’m not arrogant enough to think I have the power to do so (although I do have the this fantasy about being a cocky professional football player and referring to myself in the 3rd person – although that’s another topic I’ll have to take up with my therapist).
It’s true that all building materials have their time and place.
It’s my belief given the market, design style and labor trends the tile ‘emperor’ will need some ‘new clothes.’ Those new clothes will come in the forms of simpler to install materials. It will come in the form of upscale shower wall panels, easy to install flooring and tile shower pan alternatives.
Do you agree or think I’ve been smoking something reminiscent of my old fraternity days (yes, I might have smoked, but I didn’t inhale!)?
I’d love to hear your comments below.
I will admit, I’m not completely neutral writing this article. Although we do use a wide range of materials (tile and wall panels) in our remodeling business, I also own a nationwide wholesale shower wall panel distribution business.
However, I do believe grout free alternatives will be taking share away from tile for the 7 reasons above. Do you agree or disagree?
If your kitchen or bathroom remodeling jobs are taking too long and are intrigued about using contemporary shower wall panels call me. While I’m not a business consultant (and I don’t play one on TV), I do work with bathroom remodeling contractors (of all sizes and shapes) to help grow their businesses (either by becoming a dealer of our grout free laminate wall panels or time-efficient to install contemporary shower bases or just being a ‘business buddy’ whose is living the ups and down of running one of these crazy entrepreneurial business).
Call 888-467-7488 and ask for that wacky dude who writes those articles (AKA Mike). I’m looking forward to getting to know you and helping your business grow.
If you’d like to connect on LinkedIn, you’ll find me at https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikefoti/
Tags: alternative large format tiles, bathroom wall panel dealers, become a dealer shower panels, eliminate tile, eliminate tile in a bathroom, get rid of tile, increase bathroom remodeling margins, laminate shower panels, reduce bath remodeling costs, reduce labor bathroom remodeling, shorter bath remodeling jobs, shower panel dealers, tile alternatives, wall panel dealers