Neuse Tile Service

Tile installation and service tips from professional installers


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Getting your money’s worth from tile

Our customers are making an investment in their property when they choose tile. It’s not necessarily the least expensive alternative; and it’s certainly not the easiest to install. But it is the most long-lasting and best investment.

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A recent study commissioned by the Tile Council of North America, Inc. (TCNA), determined that ceramic tile was the most economical of 12 floor coverings. An independent construction cost consulting firm compared various types of tile to 12 other floor finishes such as hardwood, laminate, concrete, stone, carpet, terrazzo, vinyl, and poured epoxy. Life Cycle Cost Analysis methodology was used to project all costs associated with each material: installation (labor, material, and normal costs), plus periodic maintenance expenses to preserve and maintain the project, as well as final costs to remove the floor covering at the end of its useful life.

Over time, ceramic tile was found to cost less per year than all the other floor coverings over the life of a structure. Glazed ceramic tile came in at 0.33 cents per square foot per year over 50 years, and porcelain and quarry tile at 0.36 cents per square foot per year. Products such as carpet and vinyl have significantly higher life cycle costs due to the shorter life span of these non-permanent finishes.

When you want beauty that lasts and makes the most sense for your investment – choose tile installed by your local qualified craftsmen!

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Do one thing and get really good at it

We had a conversation recently about ‘diversification’. We appreciate dialogues that challenge “the way we’ve always done things,” so we spent some time thinking about the way we’re structured versus how some of our competitors operate.

For 56 years we’ve installed tile and stone in the Triangle area of NC. Some of our competitors have decided to install all things that go on floors and walls. They’ve created large enterprises and expanded their package possibilities. We’ve considered and discussed this kind of expansion many times, but it still just doesn’t make sense to us. Tile is a specialty product– there are endless tile options, and literally thousands of methods and application possibilities. It’s installed in all kinds wet areas; it doesn’t bend or flex; and yet it’s really meant to be a permanent finish. Therefore, the craftsmanship and knowledge needed to install tile that lasts over time is significantly different than that needed to put down a plastic or vinyl floor covering that’s intended to be changed out every 5-10 years.

We’ve spent decades getting really good at what we do –long-lasting tile and stone installations. https://www.neusetile.comWe know a lot about the materials and methods needed to successfully install these unforgiving materials.  The artistry and precision needed to install tile well is a true craft, and the tile and stone industry is continually creating new products and uses to keep us challenged. Today we’re seeing larger and thinner tiles used to transform walls as well as thicker paver tiles set on pedestals for decking. Endless imagination and innovation ensure an interesting and growing future for our craft.

So, we’re not going to muddy our focus and tell you we’ll install everything because we still choose to do the one thing we’ve done for 56 years. We’re really good at it. It’s our craft, it’s our art, and it’s our service to our customers and friends.

For now, that’s enough to keep us challenged and creating every day. Thank you for the opportunities you give us to keep going.


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How are we?

The construction industry has always had plenty of ups and downs, and we’re pretty used to seasonal and economic fluctuations. But 2020 has been well beyond the “normal” roller coaster. A global pandemic, mandated closures and quarantines, and then riots – these have tested the mettle of everyone, including small businesses like ours.

We were very fortunate to be considered an “essential business” from the beginning, so our work to create safe and hygienic bathrooms and living spaces has continued in most instances. Obviously, homeowners were hesitant at first to have people in their homes, but Phase 2 in NC relaxed much of that fear, and we’re helping renew spaces that people got really tired of seeing while they were quarantined.

Our cleaning regimens have been intense, our search for protective equipment exhaustive, and our desire to persevere unmatched. Like you, we’ve worried and waited to see what will happen next, but we’ve continued to be true to our business heritage. We work hard; we do quality installations; and we care for our people and our customers. Even in these turbulent times, it’s as simple as that.

We’ve actually seen an uptick in new residential construction as people see even more need to have their own safe spaces and as mortgage rates sit at historic lows. Commercial renovations have slowed down some as many office spaces sit idle while some people work from home. Architects and designers are re-thinking future buildings and renovations in regard to how space is used and what will be new “social distancing” norms.

So, it’s really a great time to get going on that project that you’ve been contemplating. As we’ve all seen in these past few months, our homes really can be our sanctuaries. Let us help you create that long-lasting and beautiful space to call home. We’re here for the long haul, and we’ll get through this together!


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Long-lasting, beautiful investment in tile

Many of us are seeing more than usual of the inside of our homes lately, and we’re coming to really appreciate surfaces that are easy to clean, durable, and nice to look at.  When your home includes properly installed tile you know you’ve provided your family a hygienic space that will hold up well over time.

As described in a recent piece on WhyTile.com, long-lasting installations are a direct correlation to the skill of the installer, the use of the right components in the assembly,  and the integrity of the company behind the work. If any of those pieces are missing, problems may result. With tile, issues of technique (like uneven grout joints) may be immediately apparent; concerns with product might show up with use (like a base-level grout put in a commercial kitchen or interior tiles used outdoors); but the biggest worries are the ones that take time to present themselves (like deterioration of a structure from water that works its way under the surface tile and through a gap in poorly done waterproofing).

In order to ensure your investment in tile is a good one, look for a company that provides all three components — skilled installers (check their certifications), knowledgeable estimators who specify quality products (do they participate in industry training & associations), and proven business credentials.

Carefully choosing your contractor on the front-end of your investment can save you a lot of headache, time, and money on the back-end.

#QualifiedLabor #NTCAFiveStar #NeuseTile


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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.