What not to do when it comes to tile…

In case you missed it, my husband and I closed on our first home last month. We have a fixer-upper, which is pretty typical in Seattle. So we’ve been working on it. DIY kind of stuff. And we’ve had some help. Here’s were the point of the post comes in.

Make sure your help knows what they are doing or this is what happens…

Now, you really can’t tell from the photo that easily, but the tiles aren’t evenly spaced or level. Also – the spaces were used incorrectly and really? random pieces of wood as spacers? Thanks.

We found out once we started prying the tiles up that the cement was way too thick and the sealant hadn’t cured .

Luckily, all of the tiles were able to be pried up without breaking or any damage to the floor. They can’t be reused for this project but at least we didn’t have to crack all the ceramic tile! It also meant we didn’t have to cut out the subfloor.

Of course, there was still lots of patchy cement to deal with. Lucky for us, since it wasn’t mixed properly to begin with, it cooperated with us. Again, thankful for this!

When you have the right tools, fixing a botched job isn’t horrible, just time consuming.

A little bit of work, and we are ready to start over. We’ll be picking up new supplies today, and this time, doing it ourselves. Lesson learned.

I’ll take more photos when it’s done right. Ha!

About Kerri Jablonski

Kerri Jablonski AKA The Maven lives in Seattle,WA with her 3 kids (2008, 2010, 2013), husband, cats and backyard chickens. Two of her children have special needs. Kerri enjoys cooking, travel, movies and spending time with her family.


  1. Wow, that must have been the most frustrating thing! Not only messing with one floor job, but now a second one. Ack!! Good Luck with the second try…I can’t wait to see it!!

  2. Oh no! The “help” didn’t know what they were doing? Hopefully it all goes smoothly from here on out and you can just enjoy your new home! 🙂

  3. Kasee Johnson says:

    When my youngest was just starting to crawl, our 220 gallon fish tank flooded our house. Being a manufactured home, nothing was quite level and stinky fish water was quickly absorbed by drywall in several different rooms. Anything that the water touched had to be destroyed — bacteria = bio-hazard. We were able to keep the subflooring, but it had to be sealed. And drywall had to be cut 18″ up the wall on 12 different walls. We lost built-in and bathroom cabinets, too. Attempting to learn from this lesson, we decided to tile the entire house (all 2500 square feet), protecting floors from water in the future — we had 2 60-gallon fish tanks that I refused to get rid of (they didn’t do anything wrong, why should they be punished?). Our tile guy wasn’t a complete moron, but he was close. The final job looks amazing, unless you pay close attention. But I’m happy with the outcome. Stupid tile choice for cleaning purposes, but amazingly beautiful to look at when it is clean. HINT: Don’t choose BLACK tile when you live on a dirt road with a dirt yard and a dirt driveway … and pets and kids. And those cute little rubber spacers? Even when cleaned up correctly can STILL find a way into puppy mouths. And baby mouths, no matter how closely we watched our crawler. Thankfully, they pass through digestive systems fairly easily!

  4. June Summers says:

    Waiting to see what the house will look like after it has been fixed. Renovation can be really frustrating sometime!

  5. I am so curious to see what the house will look like after you have renovated it. I shifted to a new house last year and I was faced with a similar situation like yours. It can be really frustrating.

  6. Yikes that is frustrating. Lucky you can start over., but what a waste of your time and materials (not to mention money). Hope it all goes easier from now on.

  7. Thanks for the article. I found it very interesting because I plan on going house hunting within the next year or so in Oregon for the first time, so it’s going to be hard to decide how much of a fixer upper we really want.

  8. Jennifer Hedden says:

    I am sorry you ran into some trouble but hopefully everything will go great from here on out. I can’t wait to see the pictures. I would love to be a diyer but I don’t have much knowledge or experience when it comes to fixing up a house. I would love to learn and do that one day though.

  9. Oh no! That does not sound like fun! I hope all goes well with the do-over.

  10. How frustrating! Its nice when people offer to help but if they cant do it right they should just offer to help with something they can do.
    Good luck with you home improvements

  11. Eliza Thornton says:

    We are closing on our first house Tuesday. I’m glad I read your post!!
    The kitchen in our new house is a funky laminate ugly flooring. I hope to put tile down. We have a few friends that have said, “Oh! I’ve done that before. It’s easy. I’ll help you”.
    Now I’ll be sure to go look at the flooring they’ve done before, before letting them help. 🙂
    I like the color tile you chose.

  12. Ash Johnson says:

    I had carpet and ceramic tiles downstairs in my house and a few years ago decided to get rid of that and put in laminate wood floors. I hired some guys to remove the tiles and when I came home everything in the house was covered in a thick coat of concrete/grout dust. It was such a mess. It took forever to clean. Definitely more hard work than I was expecting pulling up some tiles.

  13. Glad the tiles weren’t damaged! We have learned our lesson also. We’ve learned that the cheapest person is definitely not always the one to go with. You get what you pay for. The larger companies also guaranty their work, where if it’s a guy doing things “on the side” he may not have a warranty or may not honor it even if he says he has one. Look forward to seeing th finished work!

  14. wow, I dont think I could do what you did. I always wanted to do something like this but feared what you just went through. I hope you are able to get this done they way you like.

  15. Sylvia Ortiz says:

    Thank you for the helpful tips on tile planning. We hope to tile our bathroom shower soon; hope to be successful in this new project.


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