Neuse Tile Service

Tile installation and service tips from professional installers


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Determining the value of your bath remodel

When weighing the decision to remodel your bathroom or kitchen, it helps to know what your return on investment might be. Bathrooms and kitchens are still high on the list according to the annual Cost Vs. Value report in Hanley Wood’s January issue of Remodeling Magazine.

The report is broken down by region of the country, average project cost, and return on investment recouped at sale of the home. While we always think the best reason to remodel your space is so that you can enjoy it, we do think this year’s numbers show some interesting upticks in the market.

For instance, in the category of bathroom remodel between $5000 and $25,000, the average renovation in the South Atlantic region costs $16,534. Of that, $11,639 is recouped at sale of the home, showing a strong 70.4% return.

A minor kitchen remodel costing between $5000 and $25,000 recoups a whopping 86% at sale. (The average South Atlantic cost is $18,907, with $16,425 recouped in value at sale.)

For a bathroom addition or higher-end bathroom remodel in the $25-100,000 range, the average cost runs around $46,000 with $28,000 (or 60%) recouped at sale of the home. For a major kitchen remodel costing between $25-100,000, the average cost is $56,901 with $36,438 recouped at sale (64%).

As you think about updating your tile or hiring a remodeling contractor, the trends in this report are a good indicator of the long-term value of your investment. The report also gives you a good idea of the average cost of a project in our area of the country. As Remodeling Magazine says, it helps potential clients see the reality of pricing from local professionals rather than “the oft exaggerated world of TV repair shows.”

[Just FYI – many of those shows get to their total project cost numbers by convincing local home improvement professionals to deeply discount or contribute their services and materials in exchange for the advertising benefit of a few seconds of national TV exposure.]

Data for the Hanley Wood report was collected from professional remodelers and builders and encompasses all project costs (permits, sweat equity, etc. that might be excluded from other reports that roll-in DIY numbers).


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Heat up those toes with a tile floor

Maybe it’s because the ground is covered in snow and ice, but the idea of a heated tile floor is sounding extra wonderful today! Stepping out of the shower onto those warm tiles started my day off in the best way possible.

Many forward-thinking builders are adding heated floors to their projects these days, but the idea of under-floor radiant heating actually dates back to prehistoric times. TILE magazine reports that archeologists digging in the Aleutian Islands have solid evidence of inhabitants channeling smoke from fires through stone-covered trenches dug under the floors of their dwellings. “The hot smoke heated up the floor stones, which then radiated into the living spaces. The principle behind this process was – and still remains—quite simple, the floor radiates heat to a person’s feet, warming that person all over,” Arthur Mintie reports.

Today’s electric radiant floor heating uses that same concept, and is an affordable addition to any tile installation. An electric heating element is incorporated into the materials laid beneath the tiles and can be directed to specific areas in the room. With their high thermal mass, tile and stone retain the heat (controlled by a wall thermostat), and the warmth radiates from your feet throughout your body. Several of our customers say they’ve actually lowered their room thermostats because their floor heat made them feel so much warmer. One customer even said her favorite spot to watch it snow is on her all-season porch because her warm floor keeps her so cozy.

So, instead of starting a fire on these next cold nights, how about turning up the floor? Ask us about it for your next project.


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Why use a general contractor?

Just to be clear from the start: we love working with homeowners! Information sharing is one of our very favorite things, so the education process of helping someone prepare for a tile installation is usually great fun for us. When your project is mostly cosmetic, and you have the patience to coordinate (or do) some or all the trades involved, then serving as your own contractor can be a great option.

However, when your project involves moving multiple plumbing fixtures, re-routing water, or relocating walls, you’re absolutely going to get the best result when you hire a licensed, professional general contractor.

No matter how easy they make it look on television, construction (when it is done well) is a very specialized and knowledge-based profession. The parts and pieces that go into a project are innumerable, and the details needed to get a project finished on-time (or even close) are voluminous.

When chatting with one of our contractor friends recently, we came up with the following list of why we think using a general contractor is a good thing:

  • Their industry knowledge (licensing, testing, and continuing education)
  • Up-to-date on codes/ materials/ techniques
  • Established trade accounts for materials sourcing & contractor discounts (their established relationships)
  • Technical adaptability to unforeseen issues (what’s going on behind that wall?)
  • Design assistance (what has worked before as well as outside-the-box ideas)
  • Appraisal requirement (if you change the square footage of your house, you must get it permitted, or you will not be able to count that addition when you sell)
  • Connections with vendors and priority scheduling of work & deliveries
  • One point of contact and responsibility
  • They know the requirements for permitting, fees, restrictions, insurance, etc.
  • Warranty
  • Fewer headaches and less stress for you
  • The time and capacity to live your life during the remodel

Your home is your largest investment, so you want work done on it to last for a long time. Often that means hiring an industry specialist to get the job done right. We’d be glad to recommend some great, local general contractors to help with your next project!


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Builders rely on specialty subcontractors

Ours is not a glamorous profession. What we do involves lots of craftsmanship and behind-the-scenes know-how, some heavy-lifting, and, frequently, getting a little dirty. But we’re good at it, and we’ve made lots of functional spaces in the Triangle look a whole lot better because we were there.

Tile craftsmen at work

Tile craftsmen at work

That, in itself, is rewarding most days, but sometimes it’s also nice to be recognized by the people who use our services. The National Association of Home Builders recently published an article which highlighted subcontractors as, “an often over looked but essential part of the home building industry.”

Interesting facts in the article included that it takes, on average, 25 subcontractors to build a single-family detached house. About 71% of those employed in the home building industry are subcontractors.  (Total employment in the industry breaks down to 647,000 builders and 1.584 million residential specialty trade contractors.)

During the past 40 years the use of subcontractors has “significantly accelerated.” (Construction costs subcontracted in 2012 averaged 75% vs. 31% in 1959.) The diverse amenities offered in housing and the increasing complexities of each trade are cited as reasons for this shift. Code requirements are more complicated, materials used are more technically diverse, and the labor force is drastically different now than it was in 1959.

We have great appreciation for our general contractor customers. They must have a vast knowledge base and be planners, jugglers, and, sometimes, babysitters. They take big personal and financial risks, and their work is often unappreciated. The best ones know that it takes an amazing amount of teamwork to get a project completed. Having their respect and appreciation makes it easier for us to go the extra mile when needed. So, today we celebrate being one of the “often overlooked but essential,” and we get back to getting it done!


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Ageless ideas for your project

When planning a building or remodeling project, it makes (dollars &) sense to incorporate ageless design. Staying in your home longer with the possibility of hosting multiple generations means it’s best to plan for the long-term. Neuse Tile is a member of the HBA’s C.A.R.E. Council, and offers these ageless design ideas to consider in your next project:
1. Innovative Beauty

  • Curbless showers remove the barrier of a step, and seats and hand-held sprayers are convenient for everyone;
  • Cabinets of varying heights with disappearing doors and lower drawers provide roll-up and easy access;
  • Front-controlled kitchen appliances and a front- loading washer/ dryer are convenient for everyone;
  • Pre-wiring your space for the latest in communication and safety equipment make future adaptations easy.

2. Accessible visitability

  • Odds are that someone you know already has mobility challenges. Can they easily visit your home? Would a broken hip keep you or your parents confined to one room in your house? How would someone in a wheelchair gain access?
  • Incorporate a no-step entrance; wider doorways; non-slip, durable floors;
  • Add enhanced lighting at entry points.

 3. Adaptable design

  • Open floor plans make wheelchair access possible;
  • Increasing standard interior doorways to 36”;
  • Add a transfer space in the toilet area to open up future access;
  • Include pull-out shelves and adjustable closet racks;
  • Put levers rather than knobs on faucets and fixtures;
  • Make light fixtures and outlets easy to reach from a seated position.

4. Future savings

  • Ageless features might add 5% upfront cost now, but could mean a 35-40% savings per item if you have to retrofit later. (Dropping joists, moving doorframes, installing elevators, and re-configuring entrances are costly retrofits; but they only require a little extra planning and effort to accomplish during original design.)
  • Any extra cash outlay now can be offset by current earnings. Retrofitting as you age means your expenses will be incurred when you are not in your earning years.
  • Many who suffer long-term injuries and haven’t done advanced planning are forced to sell their current homes and leave established neighborhoods to find appropriate accommodations.

5. Re-sale that works

  • The demand for accessible homes far outweighs the supply in our area, so your marketability increases greatly when you incorporate universal design features.
  • 42 % of those over 65 have mobility limitations, and 19 % of 16-24 year olds are disabled in some way. High-rising front steps and narrow doorways represent barriers in their search for a new home.
  • By 2035 when 20% of our population will be over 65 years of age, the demand for accessible homes will be even greater.

The CARE Council members of the HBA of Raleigh-Wake County are industry leaders who focus on using universal design principles to enhance the livability of your home. Council members can help maximize your investment by including ageless features and guiding you through the building, remodeling, or home purchasing process. Visit the resource links at www.HBAcare.com.


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Tips for remodeling your kitchen or bath

Your best return on investment for a home improvement comes from a kitchen or bath remodel, so these projects may be high on your priority list. As you plan the timing of your renovation, here are a few thoughts to consider:

In a kitchen renovation–
* No matter how tidy your contractor and subcontractors try to be, remodeling the nerve center of your home will be disruptive and involve extra cleaning in other areas of the house. Just go ahead and put take-out food into your project budget for the days your sink and stove are out of use.

* Think through how surfaces meet in your new kitchen – the sink edge at the counter top; the backsplash edge where the cabinets end and where light switches will be placed. New flooring should meet existing flooring without creating a trip hazard, and the new stove hood needs to be considered in relation to the height of the backsplash tile and its design.

* For ease of use and durability, select materials for your kitchen that will be easy to clean and long-lasting. This high-traffic area of your home needs durable finishes that are beautiful and functional.

In a bathroom remodel–

* Managing water to prevent penetration behind the finishes is key in a bathroom. Hire a general contractor whose subcontractors have the expertise to make sure your bathroom is a functioning feature of your home and not a future source of mold and deterioration.

* Coordinating trades people is key in a bathroom remodel because each step builds on the last. Be sure to select all your fixtures, tile, vanities, lights, and accessories BEFORE you start the process, so you don’t encounter unnecessary delays. A good remodeling contractor will manage this process for you and save you many headaches.

* Material that is easy to maintain is really important in a bathroom. Each finish you select should be well-suited to your lifestyle and cleaning regimen. If you choose the right tile and fixtures, you won’t have to constantly seal or use harsh chemicals and cleaners to keep them looking their best.

We’d be glad to talk with you about your upcoming renovation. Send us a note at AskUs@NeuseTile.com or call 919-570-7400