Why doesn’t L&L Glass take responsibility for cracked tiles at installation?
It seems to make sense that L&L Glass should take responsibility for breaking a tile when installing a shower door. After all, it wasn’t broken before we showed up. And now it is!
This makes perfect logical sense. This is why the broken tile issue is a tricky one. We state that we are not responsible for broken tiles on our quotes and here are the reasons why:
History has shown that when we break a tile, there is more to it than the perception of us not taking enough care when drilling holes or installing a door. First off, we never use a hammer drill to drill holes and the bits we use are spade bits specifically manufactured to drill tile and stone surfaces to the exact size holes we need to anchor our screws. We always have a container of water on hand when drilling and constantly cool off the bit while drilling to insure the bit does not overheat.
What we have found is that there is something behind the tile that no one can see that causes this to happen. One issue is that there isn’t a uniform layer of thinset behind the tile. This creates a hollow void. When drilled and/or pressure being applied to this area when anchoring, the tile will crack as there is insufficient backing to support it. Since we cannot see what is behind the tile, we have no way of knowing what’s behind it. So yes, we broke the tile. But we are merely exposing an issue that was waiting to be revealed.
Let’s look at two recent examples of tile breakage we experienced during a shower door installation:
You can clearly see that there was absolutely nothing behind this tile to support it. There isn’t even a trace of any thinset being applied to the exposed area. In fact, there was a 1/4″ air space between the substrate and the tile! This was so poorly installed, the tile literally fell off the wall! Any tile setter will tell you this is a shoddy installation and completely inexcusable. The tile looked pretty from the outside, so you would be lead to believe it was a nice installation overall. It is natural for someone to think we caused the tile to break. But that is not the case.
Here is another example of a tile that broke when we tried to set our anchors:
You can see the tile caved in on impact. This is a clear indication there is nothing behind the tile to support it.
There are other circumstances where we see tiles crack. If you look at the substrate of the first picture, you will notice the transition from the backboard on the left and the drywall from the wall on the right. If these surfaces are not flush and our hinge straddles this location, the pressure of us tightening the hinge to the wall will force the tile to flex and cause it to crack. Sometimes it’s when we drill, sometimes when we set anchors, sometimes when we screw the hinges to the wall or sometimes when we hang the door and the weight is bearing on the tile. These are all circumstances we can’t control and therefore we cannot take responsibility.
We share the same demoralizing feeling as our customers when we experience a broken tile. We know you have invested a lot of time, money and emotion into your beautiful new bathroom. And we don’t want to be the last step, the finishing touch, and have something go wrong. But not knowing what’s behind the tile is out of our control.
In the event a tile does break, we will bring this to your attention immediately, remove the door so your tile setter can come back to replace the tile and we will come back out as soon as possible to rehang the door and complete the project.
Please know that this is the exception, not the norm. We install 1,000s of showers a year. Broken tiles are rare. If you have a good tile setter who does quality work chances are nothing will happen. L&L Glass works with many great tile setters. We would be happy to recommend any of them for your upcoming project.