Neuse Tile Service

Tile installation and service tips from professional installers


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Fewer construction workers will lead to greater problems

Our family business is on its 2nd generation of owners but we’re also on our 2nd generation of tile installers. And, since most of them are over 35, we’re starting to think about who comes next.

And we’re a little concerned.

Ours is an artistically rewarding business with practical and beautiful finished work. The trends and materials are ever changing, so the trade can be one of growth and opportunity. A good tile installer can provide for his family and find daily rewards in a job well done. We are, however, still part of the construction industry, and we’re finding that’s not a popular career choice these days.

The recent recession hit the trades particularly hard, and many experienced workers had to find other means of making a living. Statistics show that these departures, baby boomer retirements, and a decreasing number of workers entering the construction fields are likely to bring significant shortages.

For consumers, this will mean longer waits for quality work and higher prices to get knowledgeable craftsmen. We’re trying to be proactive and recently had a good visit with two of Franklin County’s Career and Technical education professionals. They’re helping us think through ways we can reach out to local young people as they’re making career decisions. While we are optimistic, we realize the looming problem is bigger than our limited capacity. To that end, we’d like to share some suggestions made by Angie Hicks of famed “Angie’s List,”

She addressed the coming shortage of skilled trade workers in a recent column, and made several good suggestions:
1) “Let’s agree not to take the trades for granted. Some observers and service company owners believe a general devaluing of skilled labor – a societal stigma, even – is one reason for the shortage.

2) Look around where you live. Do vocational education opportunities exist? Is that an issue you might get involved in? Do you have a skill set you could pass on to the next generation?

3) Perhaps you can encourage a young person or someone making a career change to consider the trades. Don’t assume that working with one’s hands pays less or is less satisfying than other work.”

We agree, Angie! It will take all of us working together to make sure we can find, as she says, “skilled hands and heads to solve our home maintenance and improvement challenges. Where would we be without them?”


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Tile installation by the book(s)

It takes more than a tool bucket to be a successful tile contractor; you’ve got to use the right reference books as well!

Many contractors, architects, designers, specifiers and industry partners are familiar with the Tile Council of North America Handbook for Ceramic, Glass, and Stone Tile Installation (TCNA Handbook) and the American National Standard Specifications for Installation of Ceramic Tile (ANSI Book).

The TCNA Handbook is “a guide to assist in clarifying and standardizing installation specifications for tile,” while the ANSI book is a compilation of voluntary standards that “define the installation of ceramic tile as well as the test methods and physical properties for ceramic tile installation materials.” Each is representative of the consensus efforts of national as well as regional organizations and individuals who volunteer their time to serve on each committee. Both of these publications are widely used throughout the industry.

Less widely used, but equally relevant is the National Tile Contractors Association’s Reference Manual. While the NTCA Reference Manual also focuses on tile installation and its many facets, it’s written for the benefit of professional tile installation contracting firms and individuals who are committed to installation excellence and the best interest of the industry.

Its purpose is “to identify recurring challenges to successful installations of tile and stone, recognize potential problems, and to gain consensus from industry experts on offering solutions.”  In this respect, the Reference Manual is different from both the TCNA Handbook and the ANSI Book,  because it takes things several steps further and details information for issues before, during and after the installations are performed.

This publication is valuable “feet on the ground” information about tile installation. It’s produced by the National Tile Contractors Association Technical Committee (comprised of highly skilled and experienced members providing perspectives and expertise from all segments of the tile industry).

Great effort has been given to provide consensus answers to issues tile contractors, manufacturers and distributors face daily. This unique compilation, its explanation of problems, causes and the listing of their cures is invaluable to the installation trade. The proper use of this manual will save its user the cost of an annual NTCA membership several times over. The education it provides represents sincere efforts by those on the committee who have “been there and experienced that,” and have the desire to see others in our industry avoid the pitfalls that often occur without this knowledge.

We encourage our peers in the industry to get this valuable reference tool and to apply it correctly as the problem preventer it is designed to be. Successful tile installations are the goal for all of us!


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What do you need to know about tile?

This is the 2nd blog from our magazine interview installment:

What do you wish people knew about tile?

   Television shows might make you think that installing tile is an easy weekend project, but we see first-hand the failures that result from using less-than-qualified tile people.

Tile doesn’t bend, adjust or flex to mask a corner that’s out of line or a slight bump in the underlayment. Therefore, tile installers have to be exacting and precise. Obvious poor cuts and bad layouts aside, what’s under the tile is even more important. If the wrong product is used to “flatten” a floor, it will show up eventually as the tile begins to crack or crunch as you walk on it. And, when you add water to the equation in a bathroom, the need to choose a qualified installer is even more essential.

In a year’s time, far more water runs across the tile in your shower than over the roof of your home, so the people you hire to do your tile (and your roof ;) should really know what they’re doing. Proper tile installation is actually pretty complicated (with its precision layout, intricate cuts, specialized tools, variety of setting materials, water management issues, and the hundreds of methods), so we make sure our folks are up-to-date and well-trained. {And, as an aside, we don’t believe that our tile training makes someone good at carpet or vinyl installation. We just don’t understand why general ‘flooring’ contractors would say the same crews could install all kinds of materials…}

Look for a certified TILE contractor next time you’re considering a tile installation. The money you invest in getting it done right will be money you don’t have to spend getting it re-done later.


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Why use tile?

We were recently interviewed by NC Homes magazine, and we thought we’d share our responses with you as a series of blog entries.

Why select tile?

Tile is an extremely practical material and a designer favorite because of its many possibilities. We think tile is great because it’s:

-Durable – Tile is among the longest lasting flooring materials. When you consider the length of time that tile will last versus the initial cost of installation, tile is the least expensive flooring material available.

-Easy to maintain – Most tiles can be cleaned with warm water and a damp mop. No harsh chemicals or complicated cleaning regimen are needed to keep tile looking beautiful. A recent industry study indicated that tile is the least expensive, long-term option when considering maintenance and the long life of tile.

-Beautiful & versatile – The options in tile are incredibly varied, and there is something to suit every person’s design style. Popular looks include rectangular or plank tiles, larger tiles (bigger than 15”), wood-look tiles, and textured tiles. The introduction of high-resolution printing on tile makes it possible to replicate the appearance of stone, fabric, wood, and cement.

-Inert – Tile is made from naturally occurring materials, and emits no toxic odors or Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Most of the materials used to set tile today also incorporate recycled materials and produce no VOCs.

-Healthy – When tile is installed properly, it provides a safe, clean, and beautiful space for many years. Because tile is inert, it does not contribute to indoor air pollution, and you won’t have to use harmful cleaning chemicals to keep it looking clean and beautiful.


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Dedicated to customers and quality work- is that enough?

50 years! Many things have changed in our world since Neuse Tile started in 1964, but our dedication to customers and to jobs done right has not. It may seem silly and ‘old fashioned,’ but we really think it matters that we treat customers with respect and provide them quality, long-lasting installations.

We don’t offer flashy deals or gimmicks, we just provide a dependable service at a fair price. This month that hasn’t been enough to bring in many customers, so we thought we’d use this blog to tell you a little more about ourselves.

We are a second-generation, family-owned company. We got into this because it was the ‘family thing,’ but we’ve stayed in it because we think you should be able to get quality work done right the first time. We specialize in tile and stone installations because they are unique, technically challenging, and complicated enough to require our full attention. We stand behind our work and up-front give you complete pricing that includes the tile, setting materials, and labor, as well as our extended warranty service. Surprise “change orders” are not our style.

Our superintendent and president closely monitor our installers to ensure the quality of the work, and most of our team members have been with us for more than 10 years. We are passionate about correct tile installations and want you to be confident that your project will last.

Tile installation is a craft and an art, but it has also become an increasingly complex industry with ever-evolving techniques and scientifically advanced materials. We are unique in our area in that we are active members of our national trade organizations and have Ceramic Tile Education Foundation certified installers on staff. We are the only National Tile Contractors Association Five-Star residential contractor in the state. Hopefully, those credentials provide reassurance that we have the knowledge needed to do your installation properly and run our business professionally.

We also offer a lifetime warranty on the underlayment product we use as well as a 25-year system warranty through one of our mortar manufacturers. Because of our longevity in the tile industry, we’re usually able to purchase our quality installation products at volume discounts, and we pass those on to you.

Thanks for taking the time to learn a bit more about us. We realize you have a choice in tile contractors, and hope that you will choose us to create your beautiful and long-lasting installation. We’d like to be here to serve you for another 50 years!


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Why use a general contractor?

Just to be clear from the start: we love working with homeowners! Information sharing is one of our very favorite things, so the education process of helping someone prepare for a tile installation is usually great fun for us. When your project is mostly cosmetic, and you have the patience to coordinate (or do) some or all the trades involved, then serving as your own contractor can be a great option.

However, when your project involves moving multiple plumbing fixtures, re-routing water, or relocating walls, you’re absolutely going to get the best result when you hire a licensed, professional general contractor.

No matter how easy they make it look on television, construction (when it is done well) is a very specialized and knowledge-based profession. The parts and pieces that go into a project are innumerable, and the details needed to get a project finished on-time (or even close) are voluminous.

When chatting with one of our contractor friends recently, we came up with the following list of why we think using a general contractor is a good thing:

  • Their industry knowledge (licensing, testing, and continuing education)
  • Up-to-date on codes/ materials/ techniques
  • Established trade accounts for materials sourcing & contractor discounts (their established relationships)
  • Technical adaptability to unforeseen issues (what’s going on behind that wall?)
  • Design assistance (what has worked before as well as outside-the-box ideas)
  • Appraisal requirement (if you change the square footage of your house, you must get it permitted, or you will not be able to count that addition when you sell)
  • Connections with vendors and priority scheduling of work & deliveries
  • One point of contact and responsibility
  • They know the requirements for permitting, fees, restrictions, insurance, etc.
  • Warranty
  • Fewer headaches and less stress for you
  • The time and capacity to live your life during the remodel

Your home is your largest investment, so you want work done on it to last for a long time. Often that means hiring an industry specialist to get the job done right. We’d be glad to recommend some great, local general contractors to help with your next project!


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Qualified to talk tile in NJ & at home

Sometimes it takes an out-of-town audience to fully appreciate our hometown know-how. That was certainly the case for our own Nyle Wadford when he recently traveled to Dayton, NJ, to present a large-format tile seminar to an architectural and design community. 

3rd from left, Wadford presented NTCA seminar.

3rd from left, Wadford presented NTCA seminar.

The local American Olean & Marazzi USA distributor wanted a special guest to introduce their services to an important client base, and they asked Wadford to present an NTCA seminar on large tiles and participate in a discussion about qualified labor. The hosts and audience said the seminar was “informative and truly helpful,” and Nyle was glad to participate.

As a long-time tile contractor and Chairman of the Board of the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), Nyle is absolutely passionate about correct tile installations – whether in NC or NJ – he just loves talking tile!

The NTCA is an invaluable association for our industry, and, as a Five-Star Contractor, Neuse Tile is able to present its seminars for continuing education credits to the Architectural and Design communities. As NTCA’s 2012 Tile Person of the Year, Nyle is also quite well-known and respected by his peers in the industry (and throughout the country).

Neuse Tile has no plans to install tile in New Jersey, but the visit is helping open doors for the NTCA and furthering discussions about proper tile installations, so Nyle sees it as a worthwhile investment of time. And, sometimes it’s also nice to get that ‘out-of-town’ recognition as well.

Nyle is also the Vice Chairman of both the NTCA Technical Committee and the ANSI A108 Committee. Great job, Nyle!

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