The variety of tile and stone available today provide an opportunity to express your style in a long-lasting and durable finish. While there are certainly some tile trends that will date an installation, the movement toward larger format tiles (greater than 15”) is one that is here to stay.
Sometimes, though, consumers are hesitant to use larger tiles in a smaller space because they think it will make the room seem smaller. In fact, the opposite is often true. Fewer grout lines with larger tiles can give the illusion of a more spacious room. You do want to keep in mind the proportion of the space to be tiled, and make sure your tile doesn’t overwhelm other prominent features of the room.
To help with the perfect proportion, it’s best to work with a professional designer at a tile showroom. Bring a photo of your current space and photos or patterns that you particularly like. A designer can help visualize your finished space and guide you to the perfect tile (and price point) to suit your personality.
The key to successful use of larger tiles is proper installation, since larger tiles require flatter surfaces in order to prevent lippage (one edge of a tile higher than an edge of an adjacent tile). Larger tiles are also less forgiving for do-it-yourself projects because the prep work and mortar used under larger tile is quite different than with a standard 12”x12” tile.
Tile is as varied as the imaginations of designers and end users, and the technical challenge of making sure it’s installed correctly, with the right mortar and system warranty, may make it worth hiring a professional to ensure a long-lasting installation.
We’re sometimes accused of being ‘old school’ in some of our methods. It’s true that we don’t believe something new is better just because it’s new, but we also know that those who only have a hammer in their tool box will think everything looks like a nail.
Technology and innovation are great things for the tile industry, and we’re enthusiastic about advances in the science and tools of our trade. However, we greet those new things from a place of knowledge in the fundamentals. Sometimes the newest applications are a great way to handle anticipated installation issues, and sometimes when things aren’t ‘cookie-cutter,’ an “old-school” method is the best way to go.
In our industry, membranes and pre-formed materials are the latest and “greatest.” We’ve used them, appreciate them, and value their merit in the right circumstance. We also know that sometimes they’re over-engineered solutions to basic installations which will result in higher costs without greater lasting value for our customers.
Neuse Tile’s goal for its 55 years has been to provide long-lasting and beautiful tile installations for our customers. We believe we’re still here because we do that repeatedly at a fair price and with respect for our employees and our clients.
Our industry will continue to change and evolve, and we look forward to the technology of tomorrow. We face that future with a full repertoire of methods to provide you the best tile installation for your particular circumstance.
We’re one of only 58 NTCA Five-Star Tile Contractors in the nation because of our knowledge, our craftsmanship, and our business practices. Your home and business deserve that credibility.
We spend a lot of time talking to folks who’ve run into problems with their current installer or contractor. That’s probably because we’ve been in the area for a long time and, we believe, because we have a reputation for helping solve tile-related concerns.
Unfortunately, the answer is often “tear it out and start over,” so we’d really prefer to talk with customers before they ever run into these issues. If we get that opportunity, we suggest they ask some important questions of anyone they are considering hiring to install a lasting and inflexible finish like tile:
- What TCNA method they will use?
(Tile Council of North America Handbook is an industry-recognized guide to assist in clarifying and standardizing installation specifications for tile.)
- If their tile installers are Certified by the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation?
- Where will the movement joints be located and what will they be made of?
- What is the span of your joists? (Can your floor carry the weight of tile? How will your substrate and its support structure respond to the tile application?)
- What level of service and product warranty can you expect on the installation?
- Will you need a vapor barrier? What about crack isolation? Is additional waterproofing necessary?
- What setting materials will be used for your installation? What experience does the installer have with these products? What are their advantages?
- How does your installer keep up with the latest industry advances? What associations do they participate in?
- Will they provide a written proposal on the work to be done?
- Are they a Five-Star Contractor?
Tile won’t bend to make up for a bad installation.
A long-time friend called today to ask for our insight on her tile installed by someone her contractor hired (not us). She was happy when the installer finished and got the edge trim corrected, but when her under-cabinet lights were mounted new problems appeared.
The growing use of accent lighting and handmade tiles exacerbates an issue that needs to be addressed before the first tile is installed. Die release lines on ceramic mosaics, scored tiles, and uneven edges on tile will cast distinctive shadows when highlighted by direct overhead lighting –-even if the tile is installed meeting acceptable standards. In this case, the tile installation had some issues that made the situation worse, so her contractor is having everything taken out and re-done.
This time, he needs to 1) make sure the surface to be tiled is totally smooth and flat or specify a mortar bed installation; 2) discuss the tile selection with the homeowner and explain the potential issues that the tile chosen could produce; 3) make sure the finished lighting is in place and functioning prior to the tile installation so any shadows can be immediately addressed; 4) and discuss a pattern change or widening the grout joints to allow for more gradual variation as shadows are cast over the tile.
The tile installer will, of course, need to perform his craft carefully, properly adhere and ‘beat-in’ the tile, and perhaps present a mock-up to get prior approval. Like so many issues in construction, this one could have been prevented by:
- using professionals in the selection process who are knowledgeable about potential “gotcha’s”;
- using high-quality materials produced by known manufacturers (not necessarily high-priced);
- using experienced and qualified installers who can help identify issues before they become problems.
We know our friend will love her new kitchen after the removal and replacement is completed, but her 72-day renovation has now been prolonged another week. When she gets ready to do the bathroom, she says she’ll call us first 🙂
We attend industry events so that we’re up-to-date on the latest installation products & methods and to participate in the committees that draft the standards used for tile installation. At shows like Coverings, we also get to see the beauty of tiles themselves as manufacturers display the latest tile designs from around the world. #WhyTile!
The summary below gives a good glimpse of some trends & highlights. And, when these tiles are installed correctly by qualified craftspeople, they’ll last for years to come. Enjoy!
As the weather is getting warmer, more people are thinking about exterior projects. We’ve done a lot of porches and decks that last beautifully — and we’ve re-done many that were done incorrectly by others. Uncovered, exterior decks with tile are some of the most difficult installations in our industry. They require many different components of an integrated system to make them perform correctly.
Uncovered decks can have very broad thermal (temperature) swings that far surpass the high and low reported temperatures of the day. As a result, these installations have to be designed to move with this expansion and contraction.
The key components of this type of installation are:
1) movement joints
2) prevention of water intrusion (waterproofing)
3) flashing at dissimilar surfaces
4) 95% mortar coverage on the back of the tile to ensure the tiles are
Some less-knowledgeable installers might suggest that epoxy grout will help prevent future grout cracking, but the type of grout will not determine the success or failure of any system’s performance. Movement joints are far more important, and, if they are not present, the system will most likely fail regardless of the type of grout used.
Make sure your exterior improvements last through many future seasons by investing in a tile contractor with the experience and knowledge to perform a long-lasting installation.