Tile Trends Podcast, The Art of Tile Installation

For the second episode of the Tile Trends podcast, we are thrilled to have Jacob Varela and JP Stanisci join us to discuss all things tile installation. Jacob is a third-generation tile contractor who runs San Diego Shower Pros. JP Stanisci is the genius behind JP Stile on Instagram and TikTok, demonstrating expert-level installations. They joined our Commercial Sales Manager, Jon Adams, and our Digital Marketing Specialist, Lindsay Fluckiger to chat about tile installation tips.


As a third-generation tile contractor, Jacob has seen a lot of changes in the art of tiling. When he first started learning to install tile from his father in the 1990’s, they didn’t see tiles larger than 12” x 12”. Now, it's common to see tiles as large as 48 X 48 wide! These large-format tiles have become a must-have for clean, modern homes and businesses.

When it comes to waterproofing showers, Jacob and JP have a few methods that have been tried and true. Read on to find out their insider's view of the tools, tips and tricks of the trade!

When it comes to waterproofing, can you tell us about what methods work for you?

Jacob: I use HydroGuard in combination with a carbon fiber mesh. It's very similar to a commercial roofing system. They advertise it that it can be done by itself but I like the reassurance of using both. I've been working with this material for my showers for 10 years. When it comes to showers, the water in the pan is absolutely crucial! Without a proper waterproof seal, you may find yourself with an unwelcome pool of water at your feet - not exactly ideal. The hot mop technique is one solution that solves this problem for DIYers and pros alike. It's totally turnkey—allowing folks to have peace of mind knowing their shower will remain dry without having to do all the work themselves (although they can certainly add their own finishing touches).

JP: The diversity of waterproofing methods used in North America is pretty amazing, considering we're all within the same country! But it's always been a bit limited up here in Canada with PVC liner, Bodie drainage and dry pack being about your only options for so long. That said though - some people are working hard to make sure contractors have standardized regulations they must follow so we can all be on the same page and nobody's getting bamboozled by bad contractors.

Transform your bathroom into an oasis of luxury with our Textured Carrara and Glass Hexagon marble tiles, as demonstrated by this stunning shower renovation by House of Huck. Adding tile to your shower not only increases your home's value but also creates a serene and relaxing atmosphere, perfect for unwinding after a long day.

What would be some tips that you would both give to potential clients who are vetting a contractor?

Jacob: When it comes to finding a contractor, the top rule is getting three bids - and making sure they all cover exactly what you need. Don't settle for anything less than apples-to-apples comparison of prices! If you want great advice on who's reputable in your area, head to your local tile store: They'll have plenty of contractors with glowing reviews from satisfied customers. It's also important to be sure your contractor is licensed. 

JP: As a tile contractor, having great references and portfolio of work is really important. I used to get around this problem by carrying an album with photos - but that wasn't good enough. So my solution was to start using social media as a tool; it gave me the chance to show off projects in progress and let people see exactly what they were getting before committing. Now when I'm quoting for jobs, not only do clients know what kind of quality to expect from me – but they can also watch me at work via videos which makes them feel more comfortable about hiring.


What advice would you give to the aspiring tile installer out there?

JP: Honesty is a key element when it comes to contractor-client relationships. It's important to be clear and open with clients from the get go. If there might an extra charge or changes down the road, let them know in advance - don't sweep anything under the rug! The customer may not always like hearing that additional fees could come up during their project, but honesty sets you apart as a reliable and trustworthy contractor who puts client satisfaction at priority number one. Start your contracts off on positive footing by being honest about potential issues early on – this way everyone knows what they can expect before jumping into any work together.

Jacob: Communication is key when it comes to working with customers, so make sure you are clear on the details of each job before getting started. Furthermore, be aware that many showers involve extensive tile work and can require costly tools for larger tiles - don't let your customer think they're going cheaper just because a bigger size was chosen! Lastly, always keep in mind that dry rot often lurks behind tiled walls so include an extra clause in all contracts reflecting this added expense should any surprises arise during the project. By doing these few simple steps upfront both parties benefit from smooth sailing without misunderstandings or disagreements as everything has been laid out ahead of time.

Escape to a serene oasis with this breathtaking shower renovation by Sarah Gallo of The Five Foot Traveler. Our large format Emporio Onyx Green stone look porcelain tiles, combined with matching Emporio Onyx Green Mosaic tiles, create a cohesive and stunning ocean-inspired shower room.

When asked what their favorite tile to work with is, both had the same answer: large format stone look tiles!

JP: Anything bigger than 12 X 24 square or rectangle is giving a beautiful, long-lasting finish. It's definitely come a long way since its use in the 80s!

Jacob: I'm a big fan of those large format 24x48 tiles. For an added touch, miter cutting the edges instead of using trim is something that really makes them stand out - and look stunning! 

Tell us about your must-have tile tools for the perfect job. Which tools are your favorite?

Jacob: Right now my favorite tool is the Rubi Tools Rails saw. It's is definitely worth considering. I've had mine now for five years and it still delivers perfect square cuts - something many other brands don't do after just one year! Plus their blades are very sturdy, so they stay exactly where you need them without walking around over long lengths of material. On top of this, there's also an added diamond pattern on the blade edges to reduce chipping giving it even faster cutting speeds. All in all: if power tools were judged by luxury standards then Milwaukee would be 'the Gucci' of power tools!

JP: If I had to pick my favorites when it comes to tools, then Makita grinders and Milwaukee tools would be at the top of the list! It's been that way for a while. And if we're talking general cutting tasks, nothing can beat Sigma snap cutters in terms of reliability. As for heavier jobs like stone work? DeWalt is definitely my go-to choice – they never let me down no matter what task I have on hand!

Follow Us On Social For More Tiling Tips & Tricks

Thank you for joining us, Jacob and JP! Hopefully this advice will help you find success in your tile work.  Happy tiling and be sure to check out all that Tile Club has to offer and follow us on our social media channels for more tips and tricks.

Collaborator: San Diego Shower Pros | Host: Lindsay Fluckiger

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