I wish I’d known…

Derek Featherstone
2 min readJul 7, 2018


We had the floors redone in our house after some water damage. We hired several contractors that knew what they were doing. They were specialists in their fields. A hardwood specialist; carpeting specialist; tile specialist. Cabinets, countertops and plumbing too… all specialists.

Tile floors in our kitchen — they’re a large 24 inch by 24 inch tile, greyish and white coloured striations running the length of the tile. They’re laid out in a traditional square-block pattern (as opposed to a diagonal-diamond pattern). Here they’re shown pre-grout.

The tiling was complete and as the tile contractor was just finishing up the grout in between the last few tiles, I turned to Kathryn and said “This looks awesome… I suppose we should get someone in to seal the grout, shouldn’t we?” She said “Yes!” emphatically, as we’d lived through getting the grout cleaned and subsequently sealed at our previous house. It needed to happen, because life and children and things.

The tile contractor looked at us and said:

“You should have told me that you were going to seal the grout earlier. I could have mixed the sealant into the grout”

Say, what now?

How were we supposed to know?

We didn’t even know that mixing the sealant into the grout was an option.I mean, it makes perfect sense, now that I know it’s a thing. But until that very moment, I had no idea.

I wish I’d known.

And I really wish that the tile contractor had told us it was an option. Or asked us more questions. He asked a few other questions as part of the process: what colour will the grout be? in which direction do you want the tiles laid?

But we didn’t know what we didn’t know.

I envision the conversation going something like this:

Him: “A lot of the home owners that I work with seal their grout so that it doesn’t stain. You have 4 kids, so I’m guessing things’ll get pretty messy in here. Were you thinking of sealing yours?”

Of course, I would have said “Yes!”

He follows with “That’s usually about a $300 job to do that after I’m done for an area this size. If you’d like, on my way to your place tomorrow to start the work, I can stop and get a container of sealant, and I can put it directly in the grout when I’m mixing it. No charge — just whatever it costs for the sealant.”

He would have made us incredibly happy, appreciative, and he’d have earned himself an easy $100 tip.

We didn’t know what we didn’t know, but he did, because he is the professional.

In your business, what’s your equivalent to the sealant in the grout question? What do many or most of your clients ask for that someone may not even know to ask about? Hunt those things down and start asking your clients about them as early as possible in the process.

It’s better for your customers, and it’s better for you.



Derek Featherstone

Chief Experience Officer at Level Access. Speaker & Teacher. Inclusive design. Accessibility. UX. IronMan Finisher '07, '09, '10. I'd love for you to say hi :)