Is spot bonding tile in showers an acceptable method of installing tile?


I recently had ceramic tile 12" x 36" installed on my shower walls with an extremely tight joint. The end result was lippage, hollow sounding tiles, cracked, discolored and uneven grout lines and unlevel tiles. I also discovered that spot bonding was used for this application. My contractor told me he's been installing this way for years and it is common practice in south Florida and acceptable by building code standards. He also believes the problem might be due to the tile not being rectified, although the manufacturer says they are and it is also printed on the boxes the tile came in.

They are going to pull off the worst installed tile and determine if the tile isn't rectified, in which case it is not their responsibility. He doesn't know why their are discolored areas of grout scattered throughout the shower, as there was only one bag of grout used. But they intend to remove and regrout.

I told the contractor that I had read a considerable amount of information that spot bonding is not a good method for installing tile, especially in a shower. But he's convinced that the internet is not necessarily a good way to obtain accurate information.

I would just like to have a professionally installed shower that looks good. What are your thoughts? I would appreciate any information you can provide.

Thank you very much.


ANSWER - First of all, it is recommend per the industry standards the grout joint width should be at least 1/8" wide for larger tiles, and never less than 1/16" wide.

Spot boding tile is not a legitimate installation method per the Tile Council of America Handbook and per ANSI A108 standards; unless the adhesive is an epoxy.

Spot bonding is normally the method that some installers use, incorrectly, to avoid tile lippage and out of plumb conditions.  So the fact that he spot bonded and still has excessive lippage suggests the workmanship does not meet the standards.

Rectified tile means that the sizing is more consistent, and the tile should have less warpage.  Even if the tile has excessive warpage then it is the installers' responsibility  to not install the tile until the deficiencies have been corrected.

CTaSC does have inspectors in Florida and throughout North America near most major cities, so you can contact us a if you need assistance with your claim.


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