Neuse Tile Service

Tile installation and service tips from professional installers


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Why can’t you match my stone?

Marble striations

StoneWorld magazine photo.

We’ve been asked to address a problem with a small crack running through the marble in an entrance area. While the underlying problem is movement in the concrete slab under the tile (installed by others), an additional issue is matching the stone.

Natural stones like marble are just that — natural. The chances of duplicating the colors and veining in marble after several years are like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. As you can see in this photo, marble is cut in quarries (this one 490+ feet deep so far) which produce tons of material each year. This material is shipped over the world, and tracing it back to a particular point of origin is often an impossibility.

While we can order samples, and try to get close, it’s doubtful that we’ll be able to keep the consistent look of the original installation. So, does the customer learn to live with the crack, accept an area of marble that isn’t the same color as the original, or remove the entire area and replace it with a new material?

Here’s the caution from us: When natural stone is used in an installation, it is imperative that extra material be ordered and stored as ‘attic stock.’ Make sure you ask your installer to order extra materials, and be sure you store them in a safe place so they’ll be available should you ever need them to preserve your installation.


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Is your tile cleaner ruining your grout?

The best tile installation can be ruined over time by using the wrong cleaner.

We got high praise from the owner, the contractor, and the architect when we completed a local medical facility several years ago. However, when the owner contacted us recently, they weren’t so pleased with the look of their installation,enzymatic cleaner damage

It seems the epoxy grout we had installed (as per the specifications) was deteriorating, leaving gaps and very unsightly grout joints throughout the project. The grout we used at that time was a new brand to the market, but was approved by all authorities for a commercial installation.

When we went to evaluate the current situation for the customer, we observed that the areas closest to the walls and out of the normal traffic pattern were in-tact, and the grout still looked good. However, the area where routine cleaning had taken place were the areas of greatest deterioration.

We suggested the building owner find out what kind of cleaner the maintenance crew has been using. You see, a newer type of “no rinse” cleaner is often used in commercial applications. These enzymatic cleaners accelerate the breakdown of products such as sugars, fats, proteins, and body fluids. And, because they are left on the floors overnight, the byproduct of the breakdown is acidic and cumulative. After days, and weeks of using this type of cleaner, a highly acidic solution develops that rapidly deteriorates grouts.

There are some newer grouts that have been developed to withstand these harsh cleaners, but these must be specified prior to tile installation and most manufacturers still will not warranty their products against ‘no rinse’ cleaners.

Keep your new tile installation looking good by cleaning it with the proper product. We give our customers maintenance instructions, and always recommend a pH-neutral cleaner be used on tile and grout. Vinegar, bleach, “no rinse”, and acidic cleaners used over time are damaging to grout – of any kind.

It matters who installs your tile – and it matters how you maintain it!


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What’s the difference in tile, porcelain, and stone?

We specialize in the installation of products that don’t bend or flex, but not all the materials we work with are the same. When you’re deciding between hard surface materials for your floor or wall, consider these main categories:

Ceramic tile – typically white or red clay fired with a glaze on top; a man-made product requiring very little maintenance.

Porcelain tile – extremely fine powdered clay that is pressed under enormous pressure and heat; harder and more dense than ceramic; often the colored bisque matches the surface glaze. Virtually maintenance free and most are a good choice for outdoor installations.

Natural stone – quarried from the earth; no two pieces ever look the same. Requires periodic maintenance and sealing; and matching one mining lot to another is extremely difficult.

In addition to color, size, and type of tile, you’ll want to consider the tile’s texture, coefficient of friction (slipperiness when wet), potential exposure to temperature changes, and the flatness of the current substrate (larger tiles require flatter subfloors). Local tile distributors can help as you choose the best product for your project.

And, of course, choosing a certified tile installer or a Five-Star Contractor will ensure that the installation is as durable as the material itself.


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Tile has lowest impact per foot – when installed properly

It’s Spring, and we’re enjoying getting outside after a very cold and wet winter. So, we thought it would be a good time to talk about the positive environmental impact of choosing tile for your project.

Ceramic tile has the lowest 60-year environmental impact per square foot across all categories that evaluate how the manufacture and use of a product will affect the well being of humans and our environment. This is made clear when comparing tile’s Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) alongside other materials.

Similar to a nutrition label for foods, EPDs for tile are now available for use by architects and specifiers seeking to satisfy green building project requirements such as those set by LEED and other green building standards. EPDs are reader friendly, comprehensive disclosure statements detailing the environmental impacts of tile made in North America. “In providing summarized data related to tile manufacturing and use – from the raw material extraction process to disposal of tile at the end of its life – the EPD focuses on the green building community’s top concerns, including energy and resource consumption and emissions to air, land and water,” according to Bill Griese, Green Initiative Manager for the Tile Council of North America (TCNA).

The North American EPD was developed by TCNA and its participating members to respond to marketplace demands for transparency in construction materials and to give the design community the documentation they need.

“With the vast majority of tile produced in North America covered by the EPD, virtually all North American-made ceramic tile can contribute toward LEED and various other provisions in green standards, making it a powerful and useful tool for specifiers concerned with sustainable construction,” according to an article Griese wrote in TILE magazine, Jan/Feb. 2015.

The data aggregated to produce the EPD was provided by manufacturers: Arto, Crossville, Dal-Tile Corp., Florida Tile, Florim USA, Interceramic, Ironrock, Porcelanite Lamosa, Quarry Tile Co., StonePeak Ceramics, and Vitromex de Norteamerica. And, of course, all these manufacturers will tell you that tile is only truly Green if it’s installed by a qualified contractor who will make sure its installation is long-lasting!!


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Low price won’t turn clay & powder into tile artistry

“Without the tile installer, the tile and installation materials are nothing more than boxes of baked clay and bags of powder; the installer has everything to do with how the tiled floors and walls will look and how well they will hold up over time. Yet, there is very little – in most cases, nothing – to ensure that tiles will be laid straight, even and flat, or that they will not come unbonded or have other installation-related issues. Often, and especially on commercial projects, the first and sometimes only, consideration is the tile contractor’s price, and the lowest bidder is awarded the job,” says Stephanie Samulski, Project Manager at The Tile Council of North America.

“When it comes to hand-crafted work, there is, by necessity, more to the selection process than checking the price tag,” Samulski continued in a recent TILE magazine article. “When a brand new hospital or casino has to repair leaking shower units or cracked tiles, wing-by-wing or floor-by-floor, by rotating areas closed off for business, it’s not a stretch to say that the general contractor’s, architect’s, and building owner’s reputations and profit margins are literally in the tile installer’s hands.”

We couldn’t agree more, Stephanie!! As a former installer and current industry leader, Stephanie helps champion qualified contractors at all levels. She has been involved in the development of Qualified Labor language added to Master Spec and available for architects and specifiers to use in their projects. And she has participated in the curriculum development for the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation’s (CTEF) certification programs.

With those designations available from CTEF and the National Tile Contractors Associations Five-Star Contractor program, you can choose a tile installer, like Neuse Tile, that is fully capable of turning boxes of baked clay and bags of powder into long-lasting, useable art.


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Heat up those toes with a tile floor

Maybe it’s because the ground is covered in snow and ice, but the idea of a heated tile floor is sounding extra wonderful today! Stepping out of the shower onto those warm tiles started my day off in the best way possible.

Many forward-thinking builders are adding heated floors to their projects these days, but the idea of under-floor radiant heating actually dates back to prehistoric times. TILE magazine reports that archeologists digging in the Aleutian Islands have solid evidence of inhabitants channeling smoke from fires through stone-covered trenches dug under the floors of their dwellings. “The hot smoke heated up the floor stones, which then radiated into the living spaces. The principle behind this process was – and still remains—quite simple, the floor radiates heat to a person’s feet, warming that person all over,” Arthur Mintie reports.

Today’s electric radiant floor heating uses that same concept, and is an affordable addition to any tile installation. An electric heating element is incorporated into the materials laid beneath the tiles and can be directed to specific areas in the room. With their high thermal mass, tile and stone retain the heat (controlled by a wall thermostat), and the warmth radiates from your feet throughout your body. Several of our customers say they’ve actually lowered their room thermostats because their floor heat made them feel so much warmer. One customer even said her favorite spot to watch it snow is on her all-season porch because her warm floor keeps her so cozy.

So, instead of starting a fire on these next cold nights, how about turning up the floor? Ask us about it for your next project.


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Miles of Tile for all our great customers

It’s a new year, and we’re hoping for a good one!  As we’ve been doing our end-of-year analysis and new-year planning, we are reminded of those who make our existence possible – OUR CUSTOMERS!

We’d like to say ‘Thank You’ to all who have given us the opportunity to participate in your projects. The miles of tile we’ve installed in the Triangle area wouldn’t have happened without the thousands of homeowners and builders who have trusted us with their installations.

(Our great installers and their consistent good work are a big part of that, too, of course, but we’re focusing on customers today.)

Some of our builder and remodeler friends have stayed busy through the downturn, and, because their business has been built with a reliable team, they stayed true to their high-quality subcontractors. Others have found us more recently because they needed reliable, quality tile installations done at a fair price.

So, in an effort to say thanks and help promote their great work (with positive Google searches), we’ve added some contractor credits to our website photos. They’ve kept us going in 2014 (and in previous ones), and we appreciate them! Check out their beautiful work (highlighting the tile, of course) at www.NeuseTile.com. We’ve labeled photos with a lot of contractor names and are adding to the info. every day.

Also, as we were reviewing our data, we realized that several of our contractor customers have been working with us for almost 20 years, so we’d like to give a special thanks to: Jay at Beaman Building & Realty, Mark at Massengill Builders, Jim and Dan at J.L. Williams Construction, Mark and team at Prime Building Company, Walt at Dillon Construction, and to Kemp Harris Inc. You guys have lived through the ups and downs with us, and we greatly appreciate your loyalty and your good work!!!

Here’s hoping 2015 will be a good year for all our local contractors and for those of us who are part of their teams! We’d love to add to our list and help make sure the area’s quality level remains high. If you have a builder friend who is tired of headaches and no-shows from his current tile guy, tell him or her to give us a call. We’d like to keep adding to the miles of tile we’ve installed for the area’s great contractors. And, if you want a recommendation for a general contractor for your next project, give us a call.

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