By Mark Menegatti
The Block can make a tradie’s job look easy by smashing out big jobs in just a week. As a builder with 14 years’ experience, I can vouch that a real tradie’s life means starting before dawn and coming home after dark without any TV cameras around.
On Sunday, we saw Spence from apartment 1, who is a full-time building contractor, struggle with tiling the main bathroom, which landed his wife Kerrie and himself in fourth place. On behalf of tradies everywhere, our poor bloke Spence and Kerrie deserve some slack.
Tradies and DIYers can both learn from Spence’s mistake. Working on The Block is not an easy task, especially with the short the timeframes. With the help of Bostik, I wanted to set the record straight on why tiling issues like these can happen and how to best avoid them.
Planning out your job in advance
Spence and Kerrie’s finished bathroom is modern, light and airy, while being deemed functional with judge Shaynna claiming it was done by perfectionists. Righto!
From a tradie’s point of view, I would agree with the judges. Spence did a great job with the tiling, with the exception of the grout lines not lining up between the walls and flooring.
The real error was that Spence and Kerrie simply took on too much and were overwhelmed by the scope of work.
- Prepare the base sub floor and wall using a laser which would have given an accurate guide for tile placement.
- Have a professionally waterproofed area
- Determine tile layout on walls and floor prior to applying adhesive.
- Chalk out tiles on floor to match wall tiles.
- Place all full tiles and then cut in where required.
- Finish off with grout and caulking.
Spence could have alleviated pressure by listening to builder Norm’s solution to use “rapid glue for tiling” and applying Bostik ASA Superglue tile adhesive. This would have seen the tile adhesive cure quickly, while speeding up down time for other works to be completed.
Stick to jobs you are good at
Even the most skilled tradies will call a mate or professional to do certain jobs they are not comfortable or don’t have time to do.
Given the large load and short timeframe, Spence’s time would be better spent doing tasks more familiar to him like framing and cabinetry installation, applying mirrors and shelving, and styling to complement professionally finished tiling.
For tiling a bathroom, when it comes to sand and cement screeds on the floor, this should always be done by a professional. If the screed mix isn’t the correct ratio, it does not bond to the subfloor and becomes drummy.
This means it will crumble and not provide a solid base to lay the tiling. Waterproofing should also always be done by a professional.
If completed incorrectly this can make the area susceptible to leaks, leading to longterm structural damage and rotting of structures.
Credit where credit is due
I give Spence credit for trying to do his own tiling for the main bathroom. On a show like The Block, his clients are the viewers. Therefore, he is trying to leave a good first impression to the client by displaying his workmanship and quality control.
With such a small amount of time, even the most skilled tradies can stuff up.
As a tradie, I would recommend anyone who is looking to renovate to stick to what you know and do it well, use the right products and focus on staying within budget. If you listen to these tips, you are more likely to achieve the results you want within the desired timeframe.
–Bostik Boy Mark Menegatti is owner of MRM construction. is a key supplier of The Block this season, to give contestants with the right products to finish their apartments.