Neuse Tile Service

Tile installation and service tips from professional installers


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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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Celebrating women in construction

Last week was Women in Construction week in NC. The Governor and the Office for Historically Underutilized Businesses  issued a proclamation in celebration, “to support and honor women in the construction industry across our state and nation.” They recognized “women as visible components in construction” and sought to raise “awareness of the career opportunities available for women in the construction field and emphasizing the growing role of women in the industry.”
We’re not totally certain what a “visible component in construction” might be, but we’re very glad to celebrate the women who work in the tile industry. We have good women friends who are Certified Tile Installers, who design and make fantastic mosaic creations, and who install tile with precision and technical proficiency every day. Many long-time tile setters in our industry will tell you that some of the best tile people they’ve ever worked with have been women. They are often known as more attentive to detail, patient with customers, and better able to juggle multiple aspects of a job at once. Like others with a bent toward trade-specific careers, women can find many excellent opportunities in tile.
Neuse Tile is a woman-owned business, and we believe that women make vital contributions to every aspect of a construction company. We join the governor and his administration in celebrating the growing role of women in construction and the fantastic future that awaits women in the tile profession. If you or someone you know wants to learn more about a future career in tile, let’s talk.


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Will big tile make a room look small?

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 full bath floorbecause 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.


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New technology, old tile ‘know-how’

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. LOCKER RM SHOWERS comp.JPG

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.


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Tile won’t flex for a bad install

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.


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Latest in tile trends

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!