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The best way to re-tile a bathroom renovation

We explain how some bathroom renovation companies use this technique to cut costs. Ask your tiler if they will be 'spot setting'

Summary

Beware tilers that use 'spot setting' for a bathroom renovation

We wanted to write about this topic to showcase another example of the extra steps we take when renovating bathrooms in Sydney. It is one of the things that most home owners won’t really see unless they are standing and watching the tilers, but it is an example where contractors may cut costs and not complete work to a high standard.

You can avoid this by gaining the knowledge about tiling a bathroom correctly, but also asking during the quotation stages to test the contractors you are speaking to. If they hesitate or aren’t able to answer clearly, then you know they are perhaps not doing things correctly.

What is 'spot setting' when you are tiling a bathroom?

When Nu-Trend is contracted to do small bathroom renovations or even master bathroom renovations in Sydney we generally prefer to work on projects where the room is demolished back to the wall frame structure. This enables us to get a good understanding of the room framework we are working with which includes the floors, walls and ceiling.

In some situations it might be required to have remedial work completed to make sure the room is completely square. Over time some homes may suffer from movement and this can make it difficult to complete work like tiling correctly.

By demolishing the walls it also means the tiling and waterproofing can be completely redone for the room. By starting from scratch you then know you are getting a high standard of work completed to the latest Australian standards using the latest materials. This also means you aren’t trying to combine old and new renovation work.

 

Sometimes it also helps us uncover underlying problems like a room with the incorrect fall, the use of illegal flooring materials or even ‘spot setting’ that was used for wall or floor tiling. All of these things can lead to water leaks or failed waterproofing for the bathroom.

‘Spot bonding’ or ‘spot setting’ or “five spotting” is a method of installing tiles that began many, many years ago when most bathrooms were using small format square tiles that were maybe 20 cm x 20 cm in size. These days lots of bathroom interior designs use large format tiles that might be up to 90 cm long and 40 cm high. So this old method of bonding the tile to the wall just doesn’t work very well. 

In fact, it is a leading factor of causing the tiles to crack, break or even fall off the wall.

 

The ‘spot bonding’ method usually involves putting small globs or daubs of mortar on the back of the tile. Sometimes this can be done at the corners and the center of the tile which gets referred to as ‘five spotting’. Undertaking either method is a recipe for problems later on in the life of the bathroom. The method does not fully support or bond the mortar to the substrate which can lead to movement later on.

 

Why do bathroom renovators use 'spot setting' when tiling a bathroom?

The most common reason that bathroom renovators in Sydney will use the ‘spot bonding’ method of retiling a bathroom is to;

  • Save time – squirting a few globs of material onto a surface is quick, easy and doesn’t take too much time to do. This means tiles can go onto the floors and walls faster for the bathroom renovation company. There is less time spent trying to cover the surface of the tile with adhesive.
 
 
  • Save money on labour – the time saved putting tiles on the floors or walls will then reduce the labour costs needed to complete the bathroom renovation. The renovating contractor probably won’t tell you this when they are quoting and as a home owner you won’t even be aware they are doing it. If tiles crack or fall off later it could be 12 months down the track and outside the warranty provided on the renovation.
 
 
  • Save on the cost of materials – of course if there is less material being applied to the renovation then even more costs are saved. The renovation company can maximise their profits without the home owner knowing.
 
 
That is why some quotations for tiling will vary so much. The bathroom tiling company might be using sub-contracted labour that is very low cost, then they minimise the materials used to then maximise their profits.

They will do this knowing that the tiles will probably stay on the walls for at least twelve months, maybe longer, and by that stage it’s too hard for a home owner to ‘blame’ them for the issue.

We see evidence of this quite often when we do our bathroom inspections or leak detections

 

Why does Nu-Trend do tile buttering for all bathroom renovation projects?

Nu-Trend does not do cheap bathroom renovations in Sydney, in fact we lose quite a few jobs to companies that quote their jobs at quite low pricing. This is just one area that enables them to achieve this.

What Nu-Trend does is focus on delivering a high quality bathroom renovation that will last a lifetime. So we will do tile buttering to both floor and wall tiling to cover the surface of the tile before it is put in place. 

This method takes more time, requires more labour and needs more materials to complete. Therefore our quotation will most likely be higher than other companies.

Frequently asked questions

‘Spot bonding’ or ‘spot setting’ or “five spotting” is a method of installing tiles that began many, many years ago when most bathrooms were using small format square tiles. These days lots of bathroom interior design choices are using large format tiles where this method of bonding the tile just doesn’t work very well. It is a leading factor of causing the tiles to crack, break or even fall off the wall. The ‘spot bonding’ method usually involves putting small globs or daubs of mortar on the back of the tile. Sometimes this can be done at the corners and the center of the tile which gets referred to as ‘five spotting’ Doing either method is a recipe for problems later on in the life of the bathroom. The method does not fully support or bond the mortar to the substrate.

For ceramic or porcelain tile of any size, back buttering can better promote transfer of the bonding material to the back of the tile. It isn’t necessarily a mandatory practice but it is the best way to ensure your wall or floor tiling will remain in place for a very long time, reduce cracks or tiles falling off the wall.

In simple terms there is more adhesive keeping the tile on the wall.

The term ‘back buttering’ refers to the process of spreading the adhesive to a tile just before it is placed. The adhesive is applied with a trowel to ensure proper adhesive coverage across the whole surface of the tile. It will reduce the possibility of movement or tiles breaking.

Here are some of our recent bathroom renovations in Sydney that Nu-Trend has completed. The majority of the projects we are contracted for are complete bathroom renovations where the room is completely stripped so that the flooring, walls, tiling and waterproofing is installed brand new.

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Drainer | gas fitter | plumber | renovator

Nu-Trend is a Sydney company with more than 15 years experience completing bathroom renovations & solving plumbing problems. he Directors Rob and Rick are hands-on, and provide a personalised service.

STANDARDS AUSTRALIA AS/NZS3500:2018 Compliant

All the work carried out by Nu-Trend is AS/NZ3500:2018 compliant. It is the Australian Standard for Plumbing and Drainage in NSW as set down by Standards Australia and the Australian Building Codes Board. They give the plumbing industry technical direction to enable compliance with required regulatory frameworks.

15 years experience with a written commitment.

Rick and Rob are the hands-on directors for Nu-Trend. Rather than hire sub-contractors and manage their business from a distant office, they are on the tools, at your site & working towards delivering your bathroom renovation or plumbing service. It means you are talking directly to the owners of the business, the guys who are accountable and responsible rather than via email or through customer service teams.

It is why they are able to provide a written guarantee that demonstrates their confidence in standing by the quality of their workmanship and the service they deliver to every single client.

They have a very single minded commitment to deliver a high level of professionalism and quality, they’ve been doing renovation contracting in Sydney for 15+ years.

We are a bathroom renovator in Sydney that has completed thousands of bathroom renovations.

Nu-Trend has been operating since 2009 as an independent bathroom renovation and plumbing contractor in Sydney. Rick and his team provide a wide range of services for home owners in houses, units, apartments or businesses.

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