Neuse Tile Service

Tile installation and service tips from professional installers


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Cleaning tile, sealing grout & caulking joints

We had the fun of working a booth at our local Home Show last weekend, and wanted to share some common questions that visitors asked about their tile installations:

How do I clean my tile?

  • Remove soil with a broom, non-oily dust mop or vacuum. Damp mop or spot-clean using CLEAN, warm water or water and a pH neutral tile cleaner.
  • Avoid all products containing bleach or acids, as they can weaken the grout (opening the pores & causing it to get dirtier more quickly).
  • Always rinse thoroughly with CLEAN, warm water and allow to dry. When mopping, change rinse water often.
  • Shower tile looks its best when you remove excess water with a squeegee after each use and run the exhaust fan for at least 20 minutes after a shower.
  • Tile distributors sell cleaning products developed specifically for tile and stone. These specialized cleaning products generally outperform products available from large retailers.
  • For stubborn grout stains, agitate with a fiber or nylon-type scrubbing pad and a higher concentration of the pH neutral cleaning solution.

2) Should I seal my tile?

  • Many newer, high-performance grouts have a built in sealant. Ask your tile installer about the brand and type used. (Neuse Tile routinely uses high-performance grouts.)
  • While not a part of a base-level tile installation, sealers can be applied to further protect your investment. Sealers should be applied to cement-based grouts when the installation is thoroughly dry and after the initial grouting has cured at least two weeks.
  • Sealing may be necessary for natural stones and tiles like quarry and saltillo. Ask your tile distributor if your specific tile requires sealing, stripping, and resealing periodically

3) What to do with the ‘crack’ between tile and counter or tub?

The joint between the tub and tile wall and the counter-top and tile splash have the potential to separate with seasonal changes. As a house settles or the tub flexes, the grout in these joints may periodically crack.  If this happens, remove the old grout with a sharp-pointed tool. (Be careful not to chip tile or tub.) Dry the joint thoroughly, and fill with silicone sealant, available in tubes at hardware stores and in matching colors at most tile distributors. Broken or damaged tiles should be removed and replaced only by a reputable tile installer.

We are glad to be a resource for our customers and our community. And it’s just fun to #TalkTile.


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Championship team for locker room tile

It takes a team — to win a national championship, to complete a successful construction project, and to get your tile installed correctly.

We are honored to be featured on the cover of our industry’s unc-pools-compTileLetter publication for our work at the UNC Basketball Locker Room. [TileLetter 2017 at Dean Smith Center.]

It was a great project for the Neuse Tile team, of course, but, as good as they are, it takes more than just our skilled craftsmen to make it happen. Our behind-the-scenes team members monitor every detail of estimating, ordering, warehousing, scheduling, supervising, and accounting. And, with a project like this one that’s happening at a rapid pace, with strict parameters, and involving a variety of types of installation, there are also representatives from mortar manufacturers, tile suppliers, and industry specifiers ready to help. (The accumulation of years of industry experience and lots of shared industry knowledge help, too 🙂

We appreciate the hard work of all members of the tile team, as well as the UNC facility staff, the Architects at Corley Redfoot, and the design professionals in the comp JimSink22 overview with partitionsKansas City office of HOK. And a particular thank you to General Contractor, Vision Contractors Inc. for including us in this truly championship locker room!


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Taking care of your tile

We’re in the process of re-writing our tile maintenance brochure and would love to have your input. In addition to what we’ve described here about routine maintenance, sealers and repairs, what else would you like to know?

Routine Maintenance:

  • Remove soil with a broom, dust mop or vacuum. Damp mop or spot clean as needed, using CLEAN, warm water or water and a pH neutral tile cleaner.
  • Avoid all products containing bleach or acids, as they can weaken the grout (opening  the pores & causing grout to get dirtier more quickly).
  • Always rinse thoroughly with CLEAN, warm water and allow to dry. A second rinsing with clean water may be necessary to completely remove all cleaning solutions. When mopping, change rinse water often, preferably every 50 feet.
  • Shower tile will look its best when you remove excess water with a squeegee after each use and when you run the exhaust fan for at least 20 minutes.
  • Tile distributors sell cleaning products developed specifically for tile and stone which generally outperform products available in supermarkets.
  • Use fiber or nylon scrubbing pads to help remove difficult stains; do not use steel wool pads.

Grout care:  For stubborn grout stains, agitate with a fiber or nylon scrubbing pad and a higher concentration of the recommended pH neutral grout cleaning solution. Over time, if the grout appearance becomes unacceptable, your tile distributor offers specialized products, including colored epoxy sealants which help restore grout’s appearance. Contact a tile service company or carefully follow manufacturer’s recommendations.

Sealants:  Many newer grouts have stain resistors already built in, so check with your tile installer about the brand used in your project. While not a part of base-level tile installations, sealers can be added to help keep stains from penetrating the grout. Sealers should be applied to cement-based grouts when the installation is thoroughly dry and after the initial grouting has cured for at least two weeks.

Common Concerns:  Clean up spills as soon as possible. Material left on your tile can be ground into the tile or grout, making clean-up more difficult. Ask your distributor or installer for specific information on your products because different materials require different cleaning regimens.

Tile Repairs:  The joint between the tub and tile wall and the counter-top and tile splash have the potential to separate with seasonal changes. As a house settles or the tub flexes, the grout in these joints may periodically crack. If this happens, remove the old grout with a sharp-pointed tool. (Be careful not to chip tile or tub.) Dry the joint thoroughly, and fill with silicone caulk available in tubes at hardware stores and in matching colors at most tile distributors. Broken or damaged tiles should be removed and replaced only by a reputable tile installer.

Always test products in an inconspicuous area before treating the entire surface and be sure to protect surrounding non-tiled surfaces because some tile cleaning products can adversely affect metals, glass, wood, etc.

Our website: www.NeuseTile.com has links to some of our preferred manufacturers.


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Ceramic tile is the healthy choice

Recent news reports about the health-impact of building materials are not a concern when you select ceramic tile. To summarize the science of tile’s environmental positives, the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) released a bulletin yesterday highlighting tile’s attributes.

Ceramic Tile is: Natural choice as graphic

  • made from clay and naturally occurring minerals, so it’s free from formaldehyde, VOCs, and PVC.
  • fired at extremely high temperatures producing an inorganic material, so its Zero VOCs don’t contribute in any way to “sick building syndrome.”
  • formaldehyde-free, unlike other floor coverings which have been in the news recently for their possible adverse health effects.
  • free from PVC resin which is used in other floor coverings and is a subject of concern among health experts
  • available in thousands of choices that are slip-resistant when wet, and it’s not flammable.
  • the most cost-effective and best use of resources, with a 60-year service life — when installed properly.

Environmentally, “North American-made ceramic tile has the lowest environmental impact across all impact categories when compared to other flooring,” according to the TCNA bulletin which references the  UL-certified Environmental Product Declaration.

The bulletin was released yesterday at Coverings, the largest tile and stone expo in the United States with exhibitors from more than 40 countries. “More and more research is being done as people realize the long-term impact of various common chemicals in the built environment,” said TCNA scientist Dr. Jyothi Rangineni.

 


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Terrific tile from 2015

Thanks to some of the country’s best installers, our fantastic customers, and the most knowledgeable tile team anywhere, we’re wrapping up a good year in tile. We’ve been honored to be included in some great projects in 2015, so here’s a sample for your viewing pleasure:

WF Bap entry tile

Large tile is here to stay, & custom patterns add interest.

VAUG- L NEW BATH comp

Intricate cuts and plenty of patience created this fantastic feature bath.

BR curbless fb

Removing barriers – properly installed curbless showers are a new norm.

Subway shower red

Classic subway tile is always a winner.

 

heat mat fb

Practical luxury — heated floors continue to gain popularity.

Stack stone fireplace comp

Stacked stone is a great way to create a fireplace focal point.

mars splash close

Lots of glass on the walls this year. Installed well, it’s a fantastic backsplash.

 

 

 

 

porch floor wa

Upstairs porch tile installations have needed our expertise this year. Done properly, they’re beautiful and functional.

At dedication.jpg

A tiled mosaic in Louisburg features the largest state motto ever. NTS craftsmen & a local artist created public beauty.

VITA VITE MENS BATH

Tile as creative expression takes hold in this new Downtown Raleigh commercial  space.


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Leaks in tile showers and construction integrity

A local resident called us last week to talk about replacing the shower bottom in his 1 ½ year-old home. He said he has a pan leak in his second-story shower, and, since his one-year warranty “is up” he is sure his original contractor won’t help him.

We encouraged him to go back to his builder and strongly urge the contractor, his plumber, and his tile person to work together to resolve the issue. It may take some time and persuasion, but properly prepared tile showers are not supposed to leak after 1, 3, 5 or even 10 years!

We’ve been doing business in the Triangle for a long time, and it used to be very rare to get a call about a shower pan leak. In the mid-90s we did start getting a lot of calls about tile falling off shower walls because one production builder had come to town and was adhering tile onto drywall in showers (it will start falling off in less than 2 years). However, even then, shower bottom leaks were uncommon.

Now though, we get at least two calls a week from homeowners who have a water spot on the downstairs ceiling right below their master shower, or who have discovered rotten wood or water damage in their crawl space under a shower that’s been leaking for a while. Most of the time, these leaks are not in houses built in the 1970s, 1980s, or even the 1990s. These are very often houses built within the past 5-7 years.

From the number we’ve torn out and re-done, we can tell you that most of the leaks are at the corners of the curb where the pan is not installed properly, from a nail that someone has driven through the edge of the shower pan (it takes about 5 years for the nail head to rust away and the water to work its way through that resulting hole) or from a seat or half-wall that was not properly wrapped with a waterproofing membrane.

We could go on and on about how we feel about this kind of workmanship, and about what has happened to the construction industry in the past 10 years, and about why these problems are more prevalent, but the point is that there is a great deal of tile being installed in the Triangle area, and a good bit of it is being done in a way that will create future problems.

It might look fine on the surface (there are some talented tile placers in our area), but that doesn’t mean there’s any subsurface integrity. We know that this will eventually cause a dislike of tile showers, but the real problem is lack of education: installers who just don’t know any better (or don’t care); builders who don’t understand the importance of hiring a quality tile subcontractor; and homeowners who wouldn’t know that there’s a future problem lurking under the beautiful surface.

We support our industry’s efforts to educate tile installers, and we are doing better at getting more Certified Tile Installers in our area – that’s a great thing! However, we seem to be having difficulty educating the area’s construction industry. The recent recession put such pressure on builders’ profit margins, that they’ve cut every expenditure possible. Paying for knowledgeable, professional trades people has been a first place for many of them to cut back. And that’s probably why we get so many calls on leaking shower pans in relatively new homes.

We could just embrace the faults of others and advertise our ability to fix mistakes of people who should know better. However, we really would prefer to raise the expectation of homeowners and contractors by encouraging them to ask about a tile installers’ credentials, expertise, and methods.

You cannot hire someone in any construction trade based solely on price, and, in our business, you can’t even hire just based on photos of past work. You need to hire based on integrity: the integrity of an installer who is trained and Certified in the craft; the integrity of the installation materials being used properly, and the integrity of a company which will stand behind its work for years to come.

Will it cost more to work with us than with the guy who put a magnetic sign on his truck yesterday? Yes. Insurance, taxes, training, staff, classes, marketing, and professionalism aren’t free, and we have to recover our costs so that we can stay in business. However, paying for your installation once (done the right way) will still be cheaper than paying a low price for it now and paying to re-do it in 5-7 years. Make your money count for the long-term!


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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.