What is a reasonable difference in gaps between tiles? We just had our bathroom floor done by Lowe’s (first mistake), and I’m not happy with the outcome, AT ALL. Is this just me being picky, or should I call and complain?

I’m not sure what they can do about it at this point, other than redo the entire thing. Also, is it normal to have used a different piece of tile around the vent?

Here are more photos; some images included below:

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Michael Karas
    Nov 1, 2019 at 4:23
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    There is just no reason this should be on hold. A good percentage of the questions on the site are based on best practice, acceptable work, and so forth. None of those are on hold. There seems to be a pattern on this site of questions put on hold and who does it. It isn't a good look.
    – DMoore
    Nov 4, 2019 at 19:18
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    That's not a different tile by the vent. It's what happens when you select natural (looking) stone tile and have idiots install it.
    – Mazura
    Nov 5, 2019 at 3:26
  • if the question is "How much variation is gap can be expected between rectangular tiles correctly laid?", I can't see how that's not on topic. If the question is "is this a good job?" then I can't see how it is on topic.
    – Jasen
    Oct 3, 2020 at 0:04

2 Answers 2


When a professional installs a tile floor there should be no visible difference in the thickness of grout lines. I'm not sure what a hard measurement of percentage would be, but lets just say you should be within 15%. Thicker grout lines will give you more room for error, which is why I would use the "visible difference" standard.

Also, the level of the tiles should also be consistent. There should not be any sides or corners that are obviously higher than the others. The "bare foot test" is a good (and again, subjective) way to tell if the tiles are level. They should just feel level.

Those first two are pretty basic and even a DIY person should get that mostly right on their first floor. Another mark of a professional job is the overall layout of the floor. Is there a really skinny tile left on the edge of the room that could be avoided? Was a scrap tile cut to fill in behind a vent when they could have just notched a tile? I would be more forgiving on this last category, but it is still grounds for a complaint.

You have a lot of issues here, and you also appear to have grout splotches all over the floor as well which is so basic I didn't even list that as something to look for... You should complain. No installer in their right mind would argue that they did a good job. Even a "customer relationship manager" with no technical experience would see the obvious flaws here.

The only fix is to rip out and redo the floor. Don't worry about how much that costs and how you are being "mean" to make them do the work. You could have done a better job than this. You paid them for a professional level job, and they make enough money (Lowes) that they can afford to eat a job here and there to fix mistakes.

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    I'll just second the sentiment here. That job is TERRIBLE! I'm a rank amateur at laying tile and I have done better than that! You (presumably) paid good money for a professional job. You should expect professional results. You did NOT get that. They need to send a qualified installer to tear out that mess and do it again CORRECTLY!
    – jwh20
    Oct 30, 2019 at 19:59
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    @jwh20, yea, to be clear I could have made a much longer list of what to look for, but when the job has such obvious flaws I had to summarize! The door trim is terrible as well. Probably could have mentioned that specifically.
    – JPhi1618
    Oct 30, 2019 at 20:02
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    Also, trim and baseboard go above the tile. They should’ve removed the baseboard and cut the trim on the wall before tiling.
    – canadianer
    Oct 31, 2019 at 10:37
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    @canadianer That off-color piece of extra trim they used to try to cover this up looks horrific. This "contractor" should have his tools taken away. Oct 31, 2019 at 14:10
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    In the "more pictures" link, the 2nd photo has a very poor job of silicone caulk between the tiles and the wall. I'll give the benefit of the doubt and assume that's actually the tub, but that's still not a professional caulk job, either. I'm pretty sure I could do better and I suck at nice caulk joints.
    – FreeMan
    Oct 31, 2019 at 19:27

The spacing is only the beginning...

  • The trim should be removed before OR they should have tucked the tile under the trim. This is actually funny because doing either one of these things would have saved them 1-2 hours of work. Tucking the tile under the trim makes layout and spacing super easy and allows you to hide cuts. Just from this mistake I can tell you that the person doing this is either a pure moron or has never learned how to install tile. This is the basics of basic tile laying.

  • You can't have grout (especially that wide) that is not in between the tile - so all of your edges. It will crack and flake over time. There is just no way it holds up. (Hence hiding your edges under trim where you don't even have to grout)

  • They didn't install a threshold... What? You have carpet to tile - wet to dry and no threshold??? What? The threshold in a bathroom not only keep your barefeet from walking on a metal edge - like installed - but also serves a function. The threshold should be about 1/4" raised so that bathroom water has a hard time getting out.

  • They taped the quarter round to your molding. This may have ruined your molding and you may have a hard time matching it if it did.

  • The quarter round doesn't even match or even kind of match. And you didn't even ask for that I am sure - which should be in the contract. If you didn't ask for it they can't install it to hide other mistakes! Did they notch the quarter round for the door bumper? This is bad funny.

The spacing is just the tip of the iceberg and amplified due to the shoddy grouting. The other things are huge huge deals. Nothing about this is professional and it isn't even somewhat decent for a DIY amateur job. I would give this install an "F" even if it where a first time tiler with no experience ever. Lowes needs to have this ripped out and start over. The problem is, if you sell the house, not only does your floor need tile but it caused other issues. This is a big deal. One thing to charge someone for something they can't deliver, another to ruin their other adjoining property.

(side not on behind the vent) You should have had to OK this but this isn't a huge deal in my book. Depending on the type of tile keeping a 1" slit on one side could have made it susceptible to cracking there. You should try to have a better layout but this isn't a truly egregious thing compared to the other stuff.

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