Featured builder: Damien Gartside – expert tiler

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“I was always really good at art. I got an A* in school. Hopefully my customers give me the same rating.”

Meet Damien Gartside, expert-tiler; Yorkshireman; dad.

His expertise may in part be due to the fact he started tiling when he was just 14, when his mum’s partner started teaching him. He took to it like a duck to water and he can now tile just about everything.

You want brick tiles? You got it. You want hexagons? No problem. You want tiny, fiddly slate tiles on a 20-foot wall? He’d probably take a bit longer to do that one, but when he’d finished it would be first-class, as the photo ably demonstrates.

It wasn’t always the case. When he was younger, his many jobs included a stint as a labourer and he has even been a butcher. But you need to go back a few more years to understand that Damien has always been a grafter. And an entrepreneur too it seems.

“I was 10 years old when I started running my first business,” he laughs. “I wanted to make some money to buy a football game, so I started washing cars and soon had a nice little earner going with all the neighbours. I remember feeling fantastic when I had enough money to go to the shop.

“Then when I was 11, I got a paper round, and I don’t think I’ve stopped working since.”

These days the work involves rather more dexterity. When I ask him what makes a good tiler, he says: “A good eye and attention to detail. I’m finicky with my jobs; I use a spirit level all the time, although I can tell by eye when something is a couple of millimetres out. Symmetry plays a big part as it’s got to be pleasing to the eye.

“You also need a bit of common sense. I’ve seen plenty of jobs done by some gormless twit.”

If you’re not familiar with gormless, you’d better brush up on your northern jargon. He may have left his Oldham birthplace over 20 years ago, but Damien’s accent is firmly rooted in Yorkshire. It’s a joy to hear someone whose accent is so ingrained that not even 25 years of southcoast living can put a dent in it.

His kids might be a different matter. Damien’s three children, aged 10, 13 and 16, are Portsmouth born and bred and unsurprisingly, he says that none of them have his northern tone. They may have inherited his artistic flair, because it’s definitely in the blood. Damien’s two brothers also have ‘a good eye’ and one of them is also a tiler so they help each other out now and then.

Damien works all over the Hampshire and has been known to stray into West Sussex and Dorset, and he can be reached on the number below.

07787 825145


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