Master Bath Tile, Oakland Hills, August, 2020

This was a multi-million-dollar Oakland Hills home that was probably built in the 1950’s. Building materials were better then, but the house had settled.

Demolished surround. Tile removed.
Mudding over the existing backer board.

There wasn’t a right angle, a flat or plumb wall in this place. To boot, the groutline was 1/16″ of an inch. Generally speaking, the ‘tolerance’ (room for error) gets smaller as the groutline gets smaller. If you have a 1/2″ groutline, you can go to 3/8″ or 5/8″ (about 25% of the groutline itself), and not see it.

If you have a 1/16″ groutline, your ‘tolerance’ is about 1/64″. Maybe 1/32″ – if people are generous, not professionals, or don’t look closely.

Between these two factors – we seriously under-bid this job.

In the end, we spent 3.5 standard thinset mortar bags to correct out-of-plumb or out-of-level surfaces – since you build for ‘right’ on the outer layer.

You can use a leveling compound to flatten a horizontal surface. We chose not to do that, but generally applied thinset with a notched trowel tile-by-tile.

This was a 3-D puzzle, and the hardest job we’ve had to bring to a ‘pro’ level finish.