Neuse Tile Service

Tile installation and service tips from professional installers


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We want you to be informed about tile

We’re like most good tradespeople –passionate about our craft and doing it correctly. We take pride in serving our community with installations that are beautiful and long-lasting. And we want to be your tile installation company for this project and the next.

That’s why in 1985, we joined The National Tile Contractors Association. This like-minded group of professionals has grown over the years and represents the best collection of brains and talent in the tile world. And all of them want you to be better informed about your tile installation.

They’ve formed a Consumer Education Committee that’s busy producing documents to help you Find the Right Tile Installer, determine why you might have a Leaking Tile Shower from a failed installation, see if your tile might be Spot-Bonded, figure out what’s up with your Grout, and other documents to come.

These are being compiled on the association’s website under TileTrouble. The last thing any of the members of NTCA want you to have is Tile Trouble, so we want to be sure you’re informed and able to find the information you need as a consumer, home owner, or contractor.

There’s also a search feature on the website under Find A Contractor, so, if you’re outside the Triangle area, go there to start the search for your next project. And, if you’re in the Triangle area of NC, please let us know if Neuse Tile can help you avoid any tile troubles.

#NeuseTile #ConsumerEducation #TileTrouble #LocalCraftsmanship #NTCA


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Which tile to choose for your project?

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the options and beautiful tiles when you first go to a tile showroom, so here are a few tips to consider as you’re making selections.

— Large tile is very popular, and it’s getting larger. Make sure your experienced installer will use the required upgraded mortars, take extra time to flatten the substrate, and ensure patterns flow with the maximum full tiles possible. Because most large tiles have some degree of warpage (curvature), grout joints and patterns may need to be adjusted to reduce lippage.

— Glass tile and sheeted materials also require different setting materials (and tools in some cases), so there’s usually a higher level of skill needed to install these materials. Many sheeted tiles may not line up the same way non-sheeted materials will (grout joint widths can vary from one sheet to the next). Keep in mind that when grouted, sheeted pebbles/ river rocks may look very different from unfinished sheets.

— Natural stones will need to be sealed prior to installation. If a stone is heavily pitted, grout will fill any holes, making some stones a poor choice for floors since high-heel traffic may impact these weaker parts of the end-product.

— Accents and liners should be similar in thickness to any adjacent tile. A good tile designer will steer you to products that line up well, so it’s important to take advantage of the talented showroom designers in our area.

— Grout joints are routinely 3/16″, so if you want a different width, be sure to discuss with the designer and your installer. Some tiles require specific types of grout and joint sizes, so it’s important to be specific in what finish look you want.

— Patterns, accents, and borders can add pizazz to a tile installation, so they’re worth including, but they do take more time to install, so your labor cost will increase when you add an accent or extra feature.

Tile won’t bend to cover up mistakes, so working with designers who specialize in tile and installers who are properly trained will ensure you get a long-lasting and beautiful result. #WhyTile


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Is your shower leaking?

Friends in our industry association have created a step-by-step guide to what might be causing a shower leak. This resource from the National Tile Contractors Association will be useful to anyone who has a leaky shower problem.

https://www.tile-assn.com/page/TILETROUBLE

When dealing with a potential water leak, it’s important to get assistance from qualified industry professionals. Plumbers can perform pan, valve, and supply line tests to pinpoint the source of leaks. Beware of those who claim that leaking showers can be repaired by adding grout, caulk, or sealant. At best, these things may temporarily slow down the problem.

A properly constructed shower should provide many years of worry free use. You’ll get that when you hire a qualified installation company.


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Choosing a tile contractor ‘by the book’

When you hire a tile installer, or any other skilled trade, you want to know they’re using the best method for your particular project. You may ask your neighbors or look up some on-line reviews, but how do you really know the work is going to add long-term value to your home or business?

Neuse Tile’s Nyle Wadford serves on the TCNA Handbook Committee and is Vice Chair of the ANSI ASC A108 Committee.

A great place to start is by asking about what industry standards and methods they plan to use for your job. If the answer you get involves some form of “we’ve always done it this way”, then you may want to do some more investigating. Like everything else in our world, the construction industry has evolved and changed with new technologies and products, and a tradesperson who only knows one way to practice his or her craft could be limiting the performance or life of your project.

You don’t need to spend the time to understand the intricacies of all their options, but you do need to feel comfortable that the person or company who is about to work in your home or business has the technical and practical knowledge necessary to know which options will provide the best, long-lasting solution for your project. In the tile industry, our Book is the Tile Council of North America’s Handbook. The current edition is 437 pages, and includes more than 300 methods for installing tile. We couple that with a thorough understanding of the American National Standards Institute’s specifications for products and installations, and add to it with continual industry training and association seminars.

Other construction trades have similar standards and methods to follow, and you want to hire someone who brings that level of expertise to your project. Remodeling and new construction are large investments, and having confidence in the knowledge and expertise of the people you hire will go a long way to helping your space be all that you want it to be now and in the future.

Questions to consider are:

How do they stay up-to-date on current building codes, regulations, standards, and best practices?

What industry standard or method will they use on your particular project? Why?

Do they carry all required business licenses and insurance to do the work and protect your property?

Do they run a business such that you’d be able to find them in the future if a concern arose?

Do they have a track record of references and documentation of quality and service?

Neuse Tile is happy to answer any of these questions for you; we’re big fans of Books!


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Expectations vs. Construction Reality

Like most people, we’ve had more than our share of ‘screen time’ this past year. We love watching home improvement highlights. (Until we have to turn them off because some of their tile “techniques” make us nuts 🙂

 However, due to the compression of time needed for entertaining video, they leave out a lot of details. In remodel situations, we very rarely run into a job that doesn’t have an unexpected detail. Sometimes it’s really rotten framing under what was thought to be a ‘new’ leak; sometimes it’s poor work done by a previous contractor that has to be corrected in order to do a new installation correctly; and sometimes it’s a visual change that the homeowner asks us to make because their project “concept” is still evolving.

All these things take time, materials, and expertise to adjust. We have a great team we can call on when unexpected details arise, and we keep things moving as quickly as possible, but the project might extend a bit. There are also occasional material delays or back-orders that you wouldn’t see on screen. Storms, driver shortages, and even port problems can sometimes delay tile getting to us for the installation. We try to factor all that in and hold off on starting jobs until the material is in-hand, but it doesn’t always work that way in the real world.

There’s also the reality of life – a vehicle that blows a tire on the interstate, an installer who breaks his foot playing softball the night before, a project manager whose family member dies, a key team member who has a heart attack, or maybe someone important to your job gets sick. You wouldn’t see any of that on screen, and we try not to let it impact your installation, but all these things happened in the past year, so occasionally things just haven’t gone as planned.

And then there’s the expertise to actually do the tile installation correctly… On remodeling shows, it looks like some mortar out of a bucket is troweled onto the wall and then in the next frame all the tile is up and being grouted with one stroke. Granted it wouldn’t be the most exciting thing to show all that happens before tile gets installed: floor flattening, weep-hole protection, ‘mud’ mixing, slope checking, layout manipulations, stud shimming, waterproofing applications, backerboard placing and taping, transporting heavy tile, keying in, back buttering, measuring and cutting, grouting and cleaning and cleaning some more.

We love tile, and the intricate, hand-made craftsmanship that makes it beautifully unique and long-lasting is one of our favorite aspects. However, a quality tile installation from substrate to finish just doesn’t happen in quick video-driven time. Let’s all try to enjoy the great things being done with tile today, and remind ourselves that the time-honored craftsmanship and know-how under the tile are an integral part of the beauty of a well-done installation.


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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!

Life_Cycle_Costs_Table-2018_TCNA_Tile-the-Natural-Choice-1


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Shedding light on a tile problem

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.

elli splash

Under cabinet lights require prior planning by all involved.

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:

  1. using professionals in the selection process who are knowledgeable about potential “gotcha’s”;
  2. using high-quality materials produced by known manufacturers (not necessarily high-priced);
  3. 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 🙂

#NotAsEasyAsItLooksOnTV


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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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Why pay for tile twice?

We often write about coming in behind tile placers who have done residential jobs poorly or left homeowners with failed installations, but this happens on the commercial side as well. One of our local contractors recently called us in to evaluate and tear out SCHMALZ STEPS compressed the tiled steps in a commercial building.

The tile installer they hired initially had little experience installing tile on steps, and their finished work showed it. The  building owner was not satisfied, and the contractor called us to correct the problems. We completely re-worked the steps, and they look great now since we used the proper adhesives, planned the layout before setting any tile, and finished it all with Schluter’s Trep-E stair nosing profiles.

But, why do things have to be done twice?

General contractors feel tremendous pressure to produce the lowest bid when vying for projects, and, to get there, they feel they must take proposals from low-cost providers. The end result is sometimes adequate, and sometimes, as in this case, more expensive. The cost of increased supervision, project delays, multiple change orders, and potentially unsatisfied customers is real. If only we could get those making the ultimate decisions on selecting a contractor to understand that Quality Should Not Be Cheap. The low bid contractor or tile installer should be the first bid thrown out because someone has missed something or cut a corner that will be costly later on.

Knowledge and craftsmanship are costly to obtain, and it’s fair to ask the end user to pay for that high-quality work. Long-lasting, beautiful tile installations with no hassles, no headaches, and no callbacks should be the expectation, and a ‘Schmuck in a Truck’ can’t get there with his low-ball price.

 


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Tile in the Triangle for 50+ years

cake compWe celebrated a big birthday last week with a party for our local contractors and industry friends. The party was our way of saying ‘thanks’ to the ones who keep our business going: our great customers, our supportive community, and especially our fantastic staff. staff comp

We had a great time collecting photos and reflecting on the personalities and talents of folks we’ve worked with through the years. The types of tile we install and the sophistication of our methods have certainly advanced through the years, but the reliance on talented people has never changed.

Sometimes we get calls from homeowners who need a grout touch-up 30 years after their original install, and we’re honored that they remember us and still count on Neuse Tile to provide them quality service. That kind of continuity is a tribute to our family and the quality of our employees’ work over time.

Neuse TCake cut compile Service was incorporated May 22, 1964, by founder Homer Wadford and his business partners. In 1967, Homer’s brother Al came into the business and soon assumed the company’s leadership when Homer moved on to other pursuits. In 1987, Al’s son Nyle took over as company president, and daughter Paige joined the company in 1995. Today, we are North Carolina’s only residential 5-Star Contractor recognized by the National Tile Contractors Association.

A big thanks to the sponsors of our birthday celebration event: Best Tile of Raleigh, Mosaic Tile Company, Florida Tile, and Laticrete. Thanks for the journey, and here’s hoping we’re here to serve you for many years to come! Cheers!