Tile Setter

Tile contractors install ceramic, porcelain, marble and other kinds of tiles in a wide variety of buildings for commercial contractors and individual customers. The work of a tile contractor is physically demanding and may require an irregular schedule. While no education is required, some community colleges and technical schools offer ceramic tile and vinyl flooring programs for aspiring and experienced contractors.

Tile Contractor Job Description

Tile contractors install tiles on floors, walls and ceilings of all kinds of private and public buildings. They may also apply tiles to counters, patios and roof decks. Tile contractors may work during regular business hours; however, in many cases they work evenings and weekends to avoid disturbing homeowners or business clients. About 31% of tile and marble contractors, or setters, were self-employed in 2012 (www.bls.gov).

Required Education: None required; associate’s degree and apprenticeships available
Required Skills: Physical endurance; detail-oriented; customer service skills
Average Salary: (2013)$41,315 (for tile and marble setters)

Source: Payscale.com

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  • Job Title: Tile Setter
  • City: Orlando
  • State: Florida

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Physical Nature of the Job

Installing hard tiles is physically demanding work. It requires hours of heavy lifting, bending, kneeling and reaching. Installers should wear knee-pads to help prevent injuries. The adhesives used to install tiles can be messy and may produce toxic or unpleasant-smelling fumes, and tile cutters and other tools can produce injuries if not used carefully. On-the-job injury rates for tile contractors are higher than the national average for all careers. The Associated General Contractors of America (AGCA) offers a safety-training course to help contractors learn to work more safely.

Tile Contractor Job Duties

Surface Preparation

To make sure tiles are installed and spaced consistently, tile contractors make detailed measurements and use spacers, as well as other tools. Tile contractors may create blueprints or lay out tiles on a dry surface to prepare decorative mosaics or patterns. Installers use electric or mechanical tools to cut tiles to go around toilet bowls, pipes and other fixtures.

Tiles contractors lay tiles on a flat, clean and level surface. Tile contractors will sometimes install new drywall, tile backer board or another material to a wall, ceiling or floor to be tiled. Concrete floors and other uneven surfaces may need to be leveled with mortar.

Grouting, Sealing and Other Job Duties

Once the tiles have been set, tile contractors apply grout between them and wipe away the excess grout with damp sponges. They apply a pre-seal to unglazed tiles prior to grouting. After the grout sets, tile contractors sometimes apply a final sealing agent. Other job duties for tile contractors may include reading blueprints, polishing and finishing tiles, mixing adhesives and creating decorative mosaics.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2013, tile and marble setters earned an annual average salary of $43,010. Local and federal jobs during that time paid the top salaries for these workers, the BLS said. Employment for these professionals was projected to increase by 15%, from 2012-2022, per the BLS.