Neuse Tile Service

Tile installation and service tips from professional installers


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‘Quality’ tile install means what?

     Our industry trade journals have been filled lately with professionals and manufacturers talking about the importance of using a “quality tile installer.” We’re thrilled that this conversation has finally come to the forefront, so we take a step back to ask –what does ‘quality’ mean and why does it matter to you?
     No doubt every tile installer will tell you he or she does a ‘quality’ job, so how is a consumer or contractor to know? How much does ‘quality’ matter anyway, since HGTV makes it look like anybody can install tile with some rented tools and those plastic-spacing gizmos?
     For most, the finished look of a tile project would define its value, but, for true ‘quality’ two other things MUST be considered:
–How long will the installation last?
will it move when the structure breathes? how much use can the surface withstand? are you sure the setting material will keep the tile in place when water seeps through? how challenging will it be to maintain the surface?
–What are the consequences of a project’s failure?
grout coming up or ‘crunching’ heard each time you walk across a floor? tiles popping loose and creating a trip hazard? down-time and money to re-do the project; or water seeping through the downstairs ceiling?
     The Tile Council of North America (TCNA) is updating its handbook this year to include specification language that will help architects and design professionals recommend a level of installation quality, but, in the meantime, homeowners can follow the direction of TCNA executive director, Eric Astrachan:
        “The Tile Council of North America strongly recommends using installers who have demonstrated their commitment to their craft and taken the time to stay current with the latest materials and methods. There are excellent programs to help you find those installers: the NTCA Five Star program and the CTEF Certified Tile Installer program are two… For a tile installation with permanence and artistry, find installers who are passionate about their craft. For a permanent finish, the issue should never be who is cheapest, but rather who is best.”

     Neuse Tile Service was the first NTCA Five Star installer certified in North Carolina, and is one of only two NC companies which is both Five Star certified and an employer of  CTEF installers.


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Tile tidbits — did you know?

Some interesting tile tidbits for you today:
–A wet piece of tile that is still dripping when removed from the wet saw will interfere with the mortar bond.
–‘Keying in” tile is covering an area with thinset with the flat side of a notched trowel before tile is placed. A trowel with notches impregnates the substrate with setting material; and thinset bonds to itself really well.
–For proper installation, trowel in one direction at a 45 degree angle, and as you place the tile, press it forward then pull it back to ‘burp’ out any air that might interfere with the bond in the future, as you collapse the ridges the notch trowel has made.
–For appropriate trowelling, 80 percent coverage is necessary. ‘Five-spotting’ just won’t do.
–Only cement-based setting materials can be used in a wet area.
–All installations need movement joints.
–The minimum grout joint for tile is 1/16″. Large format tile and offset patterns must have larger joints.
–Large format tiles require a substrate that is twice as flat (no more than 1/8″ variation from plane in 10 feet).
–Grout joints up to 1/4″ allow for 1/32″ of lippage (variation in the height of adjoining tiles).
–You need 3 times the facial dimension variation of the tile for minimum grout joint width.
–Wall-wash lighting can be a problem unless it’s out 24″ from the wall because no tile is perfectly flat.
–Too much sealer can cause hazing on the surface, damage, or change the color of your installation.
These notes are from a recent National Tile Contractors Association symposium. Yes, it’s more complicated than it looks on HGTV. Call a qualified tile contractor; don’t spend your hard-earned money on second best. Tiled today to last for tomorrow.


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Tile shower pan for water management

     A typical residential shower uses 2.5 gallons of water a minute. If you take a 12-minute shower once per day, that’s 30 gallons. Take those 30 gallons x 365 days a year x several family members, and you’ve had 5 times more water in your house than it rains in most places each year.
     So, for anyone with a shower, water management is an important issue. Both tile and plumbing can be part of that effective system. Obviously, most water that sprays from your shower head goes down the drain, but, because tile and stone are not waterproof, there is water that seeps through to the pan liner (a rubber membrane under the tile that directs water to the drain’s weep holes).
For a successful water management system in your shower, you need:
— a waterproofing membrane bed that has been flood tested prior to tile installation (a minimum 24-hour ‘pan test’);
— weep holes that are open prior to & after the installation of the tile mortar bed;
— a tile substrate and setting material that are approved for installation in wet areas;
— positive slope of the finished floor and the pre-slope below the membrane of at least 1/4″ per foot to the drain.
     Without positive slope, water won’t make its way to the weep holes, and that water can become septic causing odor and staining of the grout on the shower floor. In most of NC, the plumber installs the pan material, and some of our favorite plumbers have been going the extra mile for their customers to install a ‘pre-slope.’ Though it’s only a suggestion in the latest local building code, ‘pre-slope’ is the best way to ensure a shower floor meets the positive slope requirement and to cut down on the possibility for mold and mildew. There won’t be any low spots in your shower floor to hold water, and there’s less chance that any debris under the pan liner could make its way through the bottom and puncture your waterproofing membrane.
     A knowledgeable plumber will also ensure that your pan material is no less than 3 inches above the finished curb height and has absolutely NO nail holes or punctures in that rubber membrane. With properly installed plumbing preparation and effective tile installation, the water in your shower should wash away your troubles rather than adding to them.