Quiet Influence

I’m gonna start this just like I do everything I write – by talking about myself. Actually I’ll be talking about this monster in front of you – the FloorElf. Actually I’ll be talking about… nevermind, just read the damn thing.

When I started this blog I did it mainly as a general information point for proper procedures. Big deal – an online encyclopedia, it’s been done, and the number of readers, subscribers and comments reflected that. Nil, zero, zip, I was screaming into the void and not helping anyone, or so I thought. I then found a curious little blog called Ittybiz.com. It’s a blog about marketing.

Normally blogs about marketing are as exciting as blogs about tile. You know, like a root canal. This blog, however, was a bit different. This one had the word shit in it – a lot. And it made me laugh my ass off. The woman who writes this blog is a wealth of knowledge about marketing, something I needed, and you need to wade through her humor and rants (all of which is concisely directed) to get to all that knowledge.

Which strangely enough is not only enjoyable, it makes you learn this stuff without feeling like you’re learning about stuff.

Which brings me to the reason for this post. The woman who writes that blog is Naomi Dunford, and today is her 29th birthday – again.

Happy Birthday Naomi!

Naomi, although she doesn’t even know it, is the main reason I write this blog in the manner I do. Naomi doesn’t know me from Dobby. I’ve never talked to her, never emailed her, she’s never even replied to me on twitter (bitch). But she taught me a LOT about writing for people and how to get your message across, mainly by simply doing it herself.

The main thing I learned from Naomi is to be myself when I write – don’t try to please everyone (because you never will), just write for people that ‘get’ you. If someone doesn’t like it – fuckem! (Yes, fuckem is a word)

Once that little light bulb went off and I thought to myself ‘hey, I can do that, I can write the word ‘shit’ on my blog…’ I went all out and completely changed my writing style. The first post I wrote after making this decision was a review for a buddy in Denver: A pile of tile. You may not find that post as funny as I do, but it makes me laugh out loud every time I read it. That may be due more to personal experience than actual humor but, you know, I don’t give a shit. It makes me laugh.

After I wrote that my subscribers went from zero to 42 and my comments went from about 50 to over 200 – in less than a week! Now that may not sound like super huge numbers – and they’re not, but for a blog about tile? They’re huge. And it’s due in large part to Naomi and her blog – and her style and personality.

So I decided to write this just to thank her for being a positive influence not only for people she knows, but many, many about whom she doesn’t. Thank you Naomi. Celebrate yourself – you have changed so much in such a short amount of time, most people can only aspire to that level self-reliance.

Aaah, bullshit – grab a bottle of gin and curl up in a warm Broncos blanket with the complete Twilight series (again) and get totally shitfaced! You deserve it.

{ 24 comments… add one }

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  • Marnie Rundiks

    Hi! I am hoping to use either Blanke or Schluter tile trim to finish off the edges of tile for a kitchen backsplash. Wondering about your opinion of these two products and if one scratches less . . .

    Thanks in advance!

    • Roger

      Hi Marnie,

      I like them. Both. They are comparable in regards to scratching. Regular care and caution (like not swinging knives at it) will prevent scratching.

  • toni brandt

    again, thanks for all the tips, the best I have read!…………….one question, I have numerous rentals, have changed out many toilets, have never caulked one tho, why do you? it seems like extra icky cleaning, just wondering(?)

    • Roger

      Hey Toni,

      I actually don’t, but a lot of people do. I’ll do it every now and then when a customer wants it.

  • Charles


    I live in Phoenix and it’s 116 degrees outside today. Thankfully your tile installation articles gave me plenty of reason to dodge all the crap I need to do outside and spend the afternoon inside. Your humor kept me glued to each section page after page. Thanks for all the infomation and all the chuckles indeed. You Rock!! Looking forward to more.

    Charlie Curley

    • Roger

      Thanks Charles, glad I could help! Thanks also for the new tagline:

      FloorElf: Helping people avoid shit they should be doing since 2008!


  • Deb

    I am not sure where to post this question, so here goes….Do you have any general tips for installing large tiles?
    I have done a few tile projects in the past and felt like I could handle my shower renovation. We decided on 12×24 tiles and now I am wondering if I made a bad choice. My man keeps finding lots of stuff on the internet about how difficult they are to work with, blah blah blah. He has me second guessing myself every step of the way. He has never done any tile work and he obviously doubts my ability. I was thinking of using the plastic levelors with the wedges to prevent lipage.
    Any hints would be welcome.

    • Roger

      Hi Deb,

      They are more difficult to work with only in that they are more ‘cupped’ than smaller tiles. The tiles from corner to corner along the longer side is not completely flat – it is cupped to some extent. This makes it difficult to set in a running bond (brick) pattern because you’ll have the lowest point of the tile next to the highest point. It leads to a lot of lippage – where the side of a tile sits higher than the tile next to it.

      The two ways to minimize this is to get a quality tile and to set it in a 1/3 running bond rather than 1/2. Like a brick pattern but the tile only goes 1/3 of the length of the tile next to is rather than 1/2. A leveling system like the LASH (the one I believe you’re mentioning) will help tremendously.

      If you are setting it without the running bond pattern and with straight-set grout lines instead – it’s all moot. They install almost just like smaller tile. You do need to use a larger notched trowel because of the cupping issue.

  • Nancy

    Hi Roger,
    I just downloaded your tile tips book and love it. What a great idea for a newbie who missed the first 30 tips. And I also love the idea of a donation to Homes For Our Troops because my youngest daughter is a corpsman at Bethesda Naval Hospital (Walter Reed Military Medical Center.)
    The site wouldn’t allow me to use my Discover Card due to some issue with the security code but I was successful with amex. Had you heard of the problems that Tim Carter had with his first ebook in the global marketplace? Keep up the great work!

    • Roger

      Hi Nancy,

      I have not heard of the problems Tim had. I do know of him, but haven’t heard about that. I’m glad your daughter is making a difference!

  • Janette

    Hi! I’m redoing a bathroom, and found your awesome blog. I have a question for you about waterproofing membrane. I can’t seem to find Kerdi at the orange big box store anymore, so I was hoping you may have some information about the Blanke waterproofing membrane. It looks the same, but looks can be (and sometimes are) deceiving. If it’s not a recommended alternative, do you have a suggestion for an alternative.

    • Janette

      Sorry for the follow up post, just didn’t want to leave misinformation out there. They have shower kits, but I’m doing a tub surround. I don’t have a need for the shower pan or anything like that. Just the waterproofing membrane.

    • Roger

      Hi Janette,

      Blanke is actually very, very close to an identical product. In the beginning (of the topical waterproofing bible :D ) Schluter and Blanke (two tile dudes) collaborated and created the first sheet membrane. After a bit too much tequila one night (this part may not be entirely accurate) Herr Blanke got mouthy and Herr Schluter smacked him in his mouthy mouth. They had a falling out, went their separate ways, and created the two separate companies.

      You can use the blanke, it’s essentially the same. :D HEY – advice and a free history lesson, where else can you get that?

      • Janette

        Hi Roger,
        Thank you for the lesson and advice!

  • Brenda

    So… the kitchen has been completely gutted, new wiring run, new ceiling in, drywall repairs galore, I found sawdust in my lunch today, the refrigerator is in the livingroom, my husband and I have been living like Gypsies without a kitchen for three weeks and we anticipate at least six more weeks to go! Whooo-fucking-hoooo!

    Now for the really scary part… I will soon install my first tile floor (12 x 12 glazed ceramic) and want to install it correctly (crazy, I know). In an effort to do it right the first time, I have been doing a bit of research. It was the same old shit untill I found your website, eureka! Everything I have read on your site makes sense, particularly the thinset UNDER the backerboard and the use of thinset (not mud) with the backerboard-specific tape to bond the backerboard joints (I already knew to use special screws). Many, many thanks for hours of informative reading. Your site is like “tile floor solidarity”.

    I have a couple of questions that have (no doubt) been asked before but I have not yet found the answers to. I apologize in advance for being repetative and perhaps a little obtuse. Here goes…

    1. Using your suggested (read hear demanded) installation procedures, can I install over existing linoleum? I pulled up the 20ish year old “peel and stick” vinyl tiles to find they were applied directly to the original 1970 (OMG gastly) linoleum. The floor is flat and is is in pretty good shape, except that it is as stickey as hell, but I don’t want to remove the original linoleum in case it contains asbestos. I had thought to 1) leave the linoleum in place 2) sprinkle it with a light coating of thinset dry mix to cover the stickiness, making the area easier to work in. Your thoughts?

    2. The floor is solid and not “bouncey”. I would perfer to use 5/16″ cement backerboard as it will create less height change. I will, however use 1/2″ cement backerboard and live with the additional height if there is a reason I should do so. Is there a reason to use the thicker backerboard? Will it be of any benefit?

    3. Lastly, and most importantly… When the time comes to set the tile, I am concerned with the possability of thinset “gooshing” up between the tiles and filling the space needed for proper grouting (I’m thinking 1/8″ gap, sanded grout). Having never done this, I don’t know if it is likely, but it does seem possible. If the dreaded “gooshing” does occur, should I clean out the extra thinset from between the tiles using a small tool like a hook-knife? If I do so, is there a danger of cleaning out too much thereby comprimising the thinset bonding strength? Am I just over-thinking this?

    Beer helps and so does your wonderful web site.

    • Roger

      Hi Brenda,

      1. Yes, as long as you have thinset beneath the backer and screw it down well. And yes, you can sprinkle thinset down there to get rid of the stickiness.

      2. Yes, you can use 1/4″ backer (or 5/16″ if you can find it :D ) to install the tile on.

      3. Keep a wet sponge next to you as you set the tile and wipe out any gooshing thinset as you go along. Cleaning it out of the grout lines will not compromise the bond of the tile whatsoever.

      4. Yes, don’t forget the beer. :D

  • Edward

    I stumbled upon your site today (while completely and utterly bored at work) in search for information about remodeling my cabana bathroom. All [sites] that I’ve come across are general advice on what to do or not to do, but nothing in details with explanations. The majority of the time, the person writing the article or information isn’t the one doing the work! I am exceptionally impressed and thankful that you have this page. I find that the majority of the professionals in the trade are not (very) computer literate or articulate enough to put ideas or explanations to keyboard.

    You have done an exceptional job!

    So the next question is: When is that youtube video coming out? I’m sure everyone would agree that we would like to visually see some of your techniques and suggestions while on the job. And while it might not be entirely practical for you to hold a camera everywhere you go, a little bit of footage might go a long way..

    Although I might not personally do all the work for my project, at least I will know how to have it done properly; and what not to do. I can do the demo work at least. :bonk:

    • Roger

      Hey Edward,

      Thanks! I’m not very computer literate or articulate either – but I never give up. :D

      I’m working on getting some sort of video set up for at least taking time-lapse while I’m working. It takes ten minutes to read an article about something that takes a full day – that takes up a lot of mb’s. I’ll be getting something worked out in the next couple of months (possibly :D ). I do all this stuff in my spare time – of which I have none, and need to take care of my customers first, but it is in the process.

      Thanks for the kind words – it helps!

  • Gloria

    Hi Roger:

    Just read your bit on your thanks to Naomi Dunford and her reply. I am just discovering your site and you have already responded to my first request. I also read your reply to the shithead that installed radiant heat over something that he should not have and screwed up someone’s home. I had been telling my husband about your quick wit, but I had to have him come to the computer so I could read him your reply to the shithead, word-by-word. Thank God for someone like you.

    You are absolutely correct! The way you write causes us to learn without realizing it. I am one of those (real ladies) who actually enjoy renovation construction, dust and all, because I know that there is joy in the morning (something cool looking when the dust settles). It is now 2:31 A.M. and I have been just reading problems and solutions on your blog for a couple of hours. It is as much fun as watching HGTV and the DIY network. I am also glad to see that you really do not get pissed off at the redundant questions people ask over and over. But, I am going to try to read all your basic information and I promise I will only ask if questions if absolutely necessary (but to us, every question we ask is absolutely necessary); otherwise God would not have given us a cool-ass dude like you.

    This is from the perspective of a 65+ year old lady who still like to DIM.

    • Roger

      Hi there Gloria!

      Thank you very much for the kind words. Feel free to ask me anything you wish, I won’t get upset at all. I do answer A LOT of redundant questions but I also realize that someone may have only one or two questions and it’s ludicrous to expect them to sort through 3000+ questions and answers for one of them. It doesn’t bother me – I’m usually watching baseball or hockey while I’m answering anyway. (And right now the Rockies are STILL choking! Damnit.)

      I actually enjoy watching HGTV and DIY – it normally gives me a healthy dose of either laughter or utter and complete horror followed by pure speechlessness – my wife will tell you THAT is no small feat! :D The shitheads amuse me too, most of them really don’t think they’re talking to (at) a real tile contractor who does it everyday. I actually rather enjoy that in a passive/aggressive sort of way. Is that bad? Perhaps I should seek therapy? (My wife answered the therapy question before I finished typing it)

      Again – thank you very much. The appreciation is appreciated very much! Let me know what you need help with.

  • Tom

    I know nothing of your numbers of subscribers or anything else of the sort. I know about construction, and a little bit about people, and you are one of the special ones. I’ve actually thought a lot about the amount of time you must spend putting this endeavor together. It’s fucking impressive! You reach people with your tile blog. You send out just a little ray of hope that maybe, just maybe we won’t screw it up this time.
    More than that, somehow, and I don’t really even know how, you send the message to keep going….don’t quit. There are lots of us out here who are on the brink. Truthfully half of our feet are already over the edge. Getting your emails, seeing that stupid elf on them….it gives me a boost. Sometimes it’s just what I need to keep on.
    You’re doing something good.
    Thank You

    • Roger

      Thanks Tom – your thoughts actually mean quite a bit to me. Makes me feel that maybe I’m not just screaming into the void. :D

      About three years ago I was on the brink with my company too, the housing crap really hit a LOT of people. Just hang in there and don’t give up your ethics or methods. Do what’s right and people begin to recognize it.

      Like my Senior Drill Instructor told me – Don’t ever, ever give up! Don’t give the bastards the satisfaction of seeing you fail! He was right. 8)

  • Naomi Dunford

    See, if you’d called me a bitch on Twitter, I might have responded. It’s just that I have so many hordes of people calling me names, I really have to focus on them before I can focus on the polite ones, you know? It’s, like, polite.

    Thank you. Thank you thank you thank you. I’m so glad you are making tile interesting. Although, if I may say, when I first came across you (the choose your own adventure sale last year maybe?) I was in a flooring situation. When I saw your handle I just about wept with joy. Then I found out you only do tile and I felt utterly betrayed. If you had been talking about hardwood, we could have been BFFs by now.

    But then you’d probably call me something far worse than a bitch, so I guess everything works out for the best.


    • Roger

      Oh hell, you could have asked me about wood floors – I know them too. I’m a wealth of useless information.

      I did order some stuff from you last year sometime, don’t remember when but I do know it was tremendously helpful. Thank you for being you! Hope you had a great birthday!