Renovation Regrets? This Is How, Why and Where Renovations Can Go Wrong.

8/25/2020

Ruggy Joesten was smitten the moment he saw photos of a white penny-mosaic tile shower with contrasting black grout. The mesmerizing uniformity of the penny-sized tiles, all set in a perfect pattern, popped against the sleek black lines of grout. Joesten had recently purchased a New York City apartment and was highly motivated to replace the bathroom tile the previous owner had chosen.

Ruggy Joesten was smitten the moment he saw photos of a white penny-mosaic tile shower with contrasting black grout. The mesmerizing uniformity of the penny-sized tiles, all set in a perfect pattern, popped against the sleek black lines of grout. Joesten had recently purchased a New York City apartment and was highly motivated to replace the bathroom tile the previous owner had chosen.

He spent hours researching tile choices. He read the warnings about how unforgiving high-contrast grout and tile jobs could be. Penny tile is sold in 12 by 12 sheets, and if the seams between panels are even slightly askew, the result can be a jarring eyesore. Installation requires meticulous precision. Imperfections and mistakes are magnified.

But Joesten trusted his contractor to do the job, and after a week of anxiously waiting (and showering at his gym), he finally came home to his new shower.

“I opened the curtain, and I felt like I was going to cry,” Joesten says.

The grout lines between the panels were glaring and uneven. The white tile appeared muddy. It was a mess. “I’d spent thousands of dollars,” not to mention the time researching the project, he says.

Joesten’s experience is a cautionary tale for homeowners in the giddy phase of picking materials and fixtures for a renovation, says New York–based architect and designer Ryan Salvatore. He sees homeowners make the same mistake over and over again: choosing a material for its aesthetics before considering its performance, the difficulty of installing it — and whether they’ll still like it in 10 years. “There are always trade-offs,” he says.

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Composite image of bathroom, tile and bathtub

His first mistake: the right job for the wrong contractor.

 

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