Ceramic tile is attractive, durable, low maintenance and can be easily replaced if broken, making it a popular choice among homeowners and contractors for kitchen and bath flooring. Tile installers must be highly knowledgeable about floor preparation and installation and be in relatively good shape and able to spend hours on their hands and knees. A ceramic tile installer who is also experienced in installing a variety of tiles could do well starting his own business.
Request a copy of your local building codes from your building department. Then download a copy of the National Tile Contractors Association reference manual, which includes everything you need to know about tile installation from start to finish, in addition to American National Standards Institute standards.
Learn how to properly prepare and install ceramic tile flooring. Learn the maximum spacing between floor joists, acceptable substrates on which to install ceramic tile, the use of pre-grout sealers for aesthetic purposes, how to waterproof the substrate, how to estimate the amount of tiles needed for the job and how to apply the adhesive. Learn your trade through on-the-job experience, working for friends and family or by enrolling in a Ceramic Tile Specialist (CTS) course, which is accredited by the Ceramic Tile Institute of America.
Get bonded, licensed and insured. If necessary, obtain a tile installer contractor's license from your state's licensing board.
Contact a ceramic tile supplier and request tile samples to present to clients.
Buy kneepads, levels, tile cutting tools, grouting tools, a wet saw, hole cutters, trowels, floats, tile spacers and foot bootees. Purchase a commercial vehicle and detail the exterior with your business information and the fact that you are licensed, bonded and insured.
Develop a checklist that helps you prepare yourself and the client for the job at hand, as well as a floor plan. If the floor isn't suitable for ceramic tile, the client will need to hire a professional to install a new floor. Additionally, cabinet doors may be obstructed by ceramic tile and need to be shaved by the client or a carpenter. Also, inform clients that they are responsible for any touch-up painting that may be necessary along the baseboards and woodwork and for removing the toilet, if installing in the bathroom. Detail your responsibility for cleanup.
Purchase a website and build a portfolio of your work. In both, include names of satisfied clients that will act as referrals. On your website include information about how to properly prep the surface and your responsibilities for cleanup and furniture removal.
Charge more for your tile installation services if you will move furniture or dispose of the old flooring. Otherwise, ask clients to move the furniture before you arrive.
Guarantee your work by offering warranties.
Team up with carpenters and other building contractors in the local area. Work as a subcontractor. Get listed in online directories for installers and builders such as The Blue Book and Service Magic.
Leave extra tiles for customers, which they can use in the event that they crack a tile.