Neuse Tile Service

Tile installation and service tips from professional installers


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Choosing a tile contractor ‘by the book’

When you hire a tile installer, or any other skilled trade, you want to know they’re using the best method for your particular project. You may ask your neighbors or look up some on-line reviews, but how do you really know the work is going to add long-term value to your home or business?

Neuse Tile’s Nyle Wadford serves on the TCNA Handbook Committee and is Vice Chair of the ANSI ASC A108 Committee.

A great place to start is by asking about what industry standards and methods they plan to use for your job. If the answer you get involves some form of “we’ve always done it this way”, then you may want to do some more investigating. Like everything else in our world, the construction industry has evolved and changed with new technologies and products, and a tradesperson who only knows one way to practice his or her craft could be limiting the performance or life of your project.

You don’t need to spend the time to understand the intricacies of all their options, but you do need to feel comfortable that the person or company who is about to work in your home or business has the technical and practical knowledge necessary to know which options will provide the best, long-lasting solution for your project. In the tile industry, our Book is the Tile Council of North America’s Handbook. The current edition is 437 pages, and includes more than 300 methods for installing tile. We couple that with a thorough understanding of the American National Standards Institute’s specifications for products and installations, and add to it with continual industry training and association seminars.

Other construction trades have similar standards and methods to follow, and you want to hire someone who brings that level of expertise to your project. Remodeling and new construction are large investments, and having confidence in the knowledge and expertise of the people you hire will go a long way to helping your space be all that you want it to be now and in the future.

Questions to consider are:

How do they stay up-to-date on current building codes, regulations, standards, and best practices?

What industry standard or method will they use on your particular project? Why?

Do they carry all required business licenses and insurance to do the work and protect your property?

Do they run a business such that you’d be able to find them in the future if a concern arose?

Do they have a track record of references and documentation of quality and service?

Neuse Tile is happy to answer any of these questions for you; we’re big fans of Books!


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Expectations vs. Construction Reality

Like most people, we’ve had more than our share of ‘screen time’ this past year. We love watching home improvement highlights. (Until we have to turn them off because some of their tile “techniques” make us nuts 🙂

 However, due to the compression of time needed for entertaining video, they leave out a lot of details. In remodel situations, we very rarely run into a job that doesn’t have an unexpected detail. Sometimes it’s really rotten framing under what was thought to be a ‘new’ leak; sometimes it’s poor work done by a previous contractor that has to be corrected in order to do a new installation correctly; and sometimes it’s a visual change that the homeowner asks us to make because their project “concept” is still evolving.

All these things take time, materials, and expertise to adjust. We have a great team we can call on when unexpected details arise, and we keep things moving as quickly as possible, but the project might extend a bit. There are also occasional material delays or back-orders that you wouldn’t see on screen. Storms, driver shortages, and even port problems can sometimes delay tile getting to us for the installation. We try to factor all that in and hold off on starting jobs until the material is in-hand, but it doesn’t always work that way in the real world.

There’s also the reality of life – a vehicle that blows a tire on the interstate, an installer who breaks his foot playing softball the night before, a project manager whose family member dies, a key team member who has a heart attack, or maybe someone important to your job gets sick. You wouldn’t see any of that on screen, and we try not to let it impact your installation, but all these things happened in the past year, so occasionally things just haven’t gone as planned.

And then there’s the expertise to actually do the tile installation correctly… On remodeling shows, it looks like some mortar out of a bucket is troweled onto the wall and then in the next frame all the tile is up and being grouted with one stroke. Granted it wouldn’t be the most exciting thing to show all that happens before tile gets installed: floor flattening, weep-hole protection, ‘mud’ mixing, slope checking, layout manipulations, stud shimming, waterproofing applications, backerboard placing and taping, transporting heavy tile, keying in, back buttering, measuring and cutting, grouting and cleaning and cleaning some more.

We love tile, and the intricate, hand-made craftsmanship that makes it beautifully unique and long-lasting is one of our favorite aspects. However, a quality tile installation from substrate to finish just doesn’t happen in quick video-driven time. Let’s all try to enjoy the great things being done with tile today, and remind ourselves that the time-honored craftsmanship and know-how under the tile are an integral part of the beauty of a well-done installation.


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Getting your money’s worth from tile

Our customers are making an investment in their property when they choose tile. It’s not necessarily the least expensive alternative; and it’s certainly not the easiest to install. But it is the most long-lasting and best investment.

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A recent study commissioned by the Tile Council of North America, Inc. (TCNA), determined that ceramic tile was the most economical of 12 floor coverings. An independent construction cost consulting firm compared various types of tile to 12 other floor finishes such as hardwood, laminate, concrete, stone, carpet, terrazzo, vinyl, and poured epoxy. Life Cycle Cost Analysis methodology was used to project all costs associated with each material: installation (labor, material, and normal costs), plus periodic maintenance expenses to preserve and maintain the project, as well as final costs to remove the floor covering at the end of its useful life.

Over time, ceramic tile was found to cost less per year than all the other floor coverings over the life of a structure. Glazed ceramic tile came in at 0.33 cents per square foot per year over 50 years, and porcelain and quarry tile at 0.36 cents per square foot per year. Products such as carpet and vinyl have significantly higher life cycle costs due to the shorter life span of these non-permanent finishes.

When you want beauty that lasts and makes the most sense for your investment – choose tile installed by your local qualified craftsmen!

Life_Cycle_Costs_Table-2018_TCNA_Tile-the-Natural-Choice-1


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Do one thing and get really good at it

We had a conversation recently about ‘diversification’. We appreciate dialogues that challenge “the way we’ve always done things,” so we spent some time thinking about the way we’re structured versus how some of our competitors operate.

For 56 years we’ve installed tile and stone in the Triangle area of NC. Some of our competitors have decided to install all things that go on floors and walls. They’ve created large enterprises and expanded their package possibilities. We’ve considered and discussed this kind of expansion many times, but it still just doesn’t make sense to us. Tile is a specialty product– there are endless tile options, and literally thousands of methods and application possibilities. It’s installed in all kinds wet areas; it doesn’t bend or flex; and yet it’s really meant to be a permanent finish. Therefore, the craftsmanship and knowledge needed to install tile that lasts over time is significantly different than that needed to put down a plastic or vinyl floor covering that’s intended to be changed out every 5-10 years.

We’ve spent decades getting really good at what we do –long-lasting tile and stone installations. https://www.neusetile.comWe know a lot about the materials and methods needed to successfully install these unforgiving materials.  The artistry and precision needed to install tile well is a true craft, and the tile and stone industry is continually creating new products and uses to keep us challenged. Today we’re seeing larger and thinner tiles used to transform walls as well as thicker paver tiles set on pedestals for decking. Endless imagination and innovation ensure an interesting and growing future for our craft.

So, we’re not going to muddy our focus and tell you we’ll install everything because we still choose to do the one thing we’ve done for 56 years. We’re really good at it. It’s our craft, it’s our art, and it’s our service to our customers and friends.

For now, that’s enough to keep us challenged and creating every day. Thank you for the opportunities you give us to keep going.


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Tile for an outdoor oasis

Schfajgen porchool has started (sort of), the nights are getting a little cooler, and Fall will be upon us before we turn the calendar. While this strange year has already made us think a lot about ‘outdoor living’; this Fall will reinforce the beauty and enjoyment of porches, decks, sunrooms, and open spaces.

Are you ready for it? You’ve still got time to give us a call about tiling your porch or renovating your deck before it gets cold. North Carolina Falls host some of the best porch-sitting weather, and in 2020, we’re all appreciating any great space that’s safe to share.

During the quarantine, we finally finished our long-awaited, personal porchpw porch comp project, and we can say it’s probably the best renovation we could have done for our family. We’ve eaten dinner together on the porch almost every evening since April, and it’s a perfect place for morning solitude.

All the porcelain tiles available today give you plenty of options for an outdoor space, and we’ve got systems that allow us to tile over concrete, deck boards, enclosed spaces, and even roof decks.

We are always passionate about using experienced tile installers, but it’s absolutely essential when dealing with outdoor installations that you select a team who has both the product and installation knowledge to stand up to the weather. Give Neuse Tile a call today and let us help you create an outdoor oasis to carry you through this Fall and well into the years to come.


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How are we?

The construction industry has always had plenty of ups and downs, and we’re pretty used to seasonal and economic fluctuations. But 2020 has been well beyond the “normal” roller coaster. A global pandemic, mandated closures and quarantines, and then riots – these have tested the mettle of everyone, including small businesses like ours.

We were very fortunate to be considered an “essential business” from the beginning, so our work to create safe and hygienic bathrooms and living spaces has continued in most instances. Obviously, homeowners were hesitant at first to have people in their homes, but Phase 2 in NC relaxed much of that fear, and we’re helping renew spaces that people got really tired of seeing while they were quarantined.

Our cleaning regimens have been intense, our search for protective equipment exhaustive, and our desire to persevere unmatched. Like you, we’ve worried and waited to see what will happen next, but we’ve continued to be true to our business heritage. We work hard; we do quality installations; and we care for our people and our customers. Even in these turbulent times, it’s as simple as that.

We’ve actually seen an uptick in new residential construction as people see even more need to have their own safe spaces and as mortgage rates sit at historic lows. Commercial renovations have slowed down some as many office spaces sit idle while some people work from home. Architects and designers are re-thinking future buildings and renovations in regard to how space is used and what will be new “social distancing” norms.

So, it’s really a great time to get going on that project that you’ve been contemplating. As we’ve all seen in these past few months, our homes really can be our sanctuaries. Let us help you create that long-lasting and beautiful space to call home. We’re here for the long haul, and we’ll get through this together!


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Long-lasting, beautiful investment in tile

Many of us are seeing more than usual of the inside of our homes lately, and we’re coming to really appreciate surfaces that are easy to clean, durable, and nice to look at.  When your home includes properly installed tile you know you’ve provided your family a hygienic space that will hold up well over time.

As described in a recent piece on WhyTile.com, long-lasting installations are a direct correlation to the skill of the installer, the use of the right components in the assembly,  and the integrity of the company behind the work. If any of those pieces are missing, problems may result. With tile, issues of technique (like uneven grout joints) may be immediately apparent; concerns with product might show up with use (like a base-level grout put in a commercial kitchen or interior tiles used outdoors); but the biggest worries are the ones that take time to present themselves (like deterioration of a structure from water that works its way under the surface tile and through a gap in poorly done waterproofing).

In order to ensure your investment in tile is a good one, look for a company that provides all three components — skilled installers (check their certifications), knowledgeable estimators who specify quality products (do they participate in industry training & associations), and proven business credentials.

Carefully choosing your contractor on the front-end of your investment can save you a lot of headache, time, and money on the back-end.

#QualifiedLabor #NTCAFiveStar #NeuseTile


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The long-term impact of good prep

If your New Year’s exercise program started off with a solid plan and workout gear that was well-suited to your routine, then you might have made it into February with some success. But, if you made up a plan as you went, then January probably didn’t bring much change in your health.

Jewel box 2In the same way, starting off with a good plan and quality materials can help ensure a beautiful and long-lasting tile installation. However, when initial corners are cut due to ignorance or cost-cutting, the final finishes will suffer or fail –either immediately or over time. Tile is meant to be a permanent finish, so it has to begin with the proper foundation.

When a job goes to the lowest bidder, it’s usually because something has been left out or a specification wasn’t followed, and the easiest thing to hide from an end user are the steps needed to get an area ready for tile. Before a tile installation should begin, the surface needs to be solid (no deflection or de-lamination), free of previous residue, dry, and within the flatness tolerances to install the chosen tile. If slope to a drain or zero-entry is needed, then often additional surface prep methods have to be used. A good tile contractor will know when to use a membrane, cement backer board, mud beds, or other required installation materials. Much depends on the existing surface, the budget, the application desired, the material to be used, and the skill of the installer to perform a quality, long-lasting installation.

One solution just won’t work in every application, and the tile installer who only has one tool in his box probably hasn’t been tested over time. Be sure to ask why he’s recommending the particular system to be used, and ask him or her to show you the method details and/ or standards involved.

We’ve had projects where we’ve been told to skip the preparatory steps needed in order to save some money, but that’s just not in our DNA. The long-term success of our installations depends on starting off correctly, so we’re pretty passionate about good prep. After all, don’t we all want our ‘outfit’ to look as good as possible?

#QualifiedLabor


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The many layers of a tile sandwich

The common denominator in our installations is that the products on the top layer are rigid — they don’t flex or bend. And the factors beyond that are as varied as all the possible sandwich combinations in a New York deli.

Each project is as different as the location to be tiled, the material, the substrate, and the customer’s preferences. We enjoy the challenge of making sure we’ve selected the proper tile installation method and products to accommodate your surface, your application, your needs for the space, and the material you’d like us to install. porch floor wall.jpg

Some of the things we’ll be factoring into our estimates (and our conversations) are:

  • Floor deflection (the up and down movement of a floor should not exceed L/360 for tile and L/720 for natural stone)
  • Floor preparation (remove any existing adhesives, flatten problem areas by bringing substrate into required tolerances, scarify if needed)
  • Needed coverage (required mortar contact on the back of tile in a dry area 80%; wet area 95%)
  • Grout color and its impact on setting materials as well as end results (highly contrasting grouts can present a visual framing on some sheeted materials)
  • Sealant needed prior to installation to protect the material from any staining during the grouting process (natural stones must be sealed prior to grout due to their susceptibility to staining)
  • The size of the material to be installed (any tile more than 15” in any one direction is considered ‘large format’ and requires different mortars and substrate tolerances
  • Composition of the tile itself (stone, glass, metal, sheeted mosaics, and accents with combinations of these –all require different setting materials, blades, tools, and care)
  • Trowel and spacer type and size (tile, mortar, pattern, installer preference all factor in here)
  • Movement joint locations and treatment (to allow for the movement that occurs as structures expand and contract)
  • Pattern selected and its impact on installation waste factor as well as installation difficulty
  • Job location – what it takes to get our heavy materials into the area, what hours we can work, how much protection of adjoining areas we’ll need to do, etc.
  • Wet area/ interior or exterior/ angle of lighting/ long-term use & traffic in the area
  • Base surface to be used (mud-set, backer board, membrane, etc.)

Those in our industry who tell you they can give you a ‘quick’ price per square foot for tile installation are either clairvoyant walking encyclopedias of construction, or they haven’t thought about all the factors that make up a long-lasting and beautiful tile installation. Most of the time, the best and most accurate things come to those who put some experience and careful consideration into all the options available. #ExperienceMatters #NTCAfivestar


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Do-it-yourself ‘damage’?

There was an interesting article in a recent industry publication that detailed the results of an ImproveNet survey of homeowners who had chosen to do home improvement projects on their own –without initially hiring professionals. A surprising 63 percent of the 2000 people surveyed regretted taking on the project without the help of a professional, and 33 percent had to hire a contractor to either finish the job or re-do it completely.

It was particularly interesting to us that “installing tile tops the list of most regretted jobs.” The 30-second clips on home improvement television shows have done a great job of expanding the idea of using tile, but they’ve also made it look incredibly easy. And it just isn’t. Sure, it can be done with a strong investment of time learning techniques, acquiring special tools, and garnering lots of patience, but the time it would take a professional pales in comparison to the time and effort that a novice has to extend.

Almost half of the respondents in the survey said their projects took longer than expected or were more physically difficult than they anticipated. Almost that many also said it was more technically difficult than they imagined, and nearly a quarter said it was more expensive than they had calculated. Interestingly, almost 10 percent said they did actual damage to their homes in the process, and nearly that many said they damaged themselves in some way!

Sadly, more than half of respondents said they were disappointed in how their project turned out – some saying it just didn’t look good, didn’t function as intended, or just didn’t hold up well over time.

We absolutely love that home improvement television has made it more popular to make changes in our homes, and we are thrilled that tile is showing up in all kinds of unexpected places. We also hope that with the continuing popularity of remodeling will come great respect for the professionals who have the craftsmanship, knowledge, and expertise to do home improvement projects well. #QualifiedLabor

Resource: Qualified Remodeler, May 2019, by Lew Sichelman