Neuse Tile Service

Tile installation and service tips from professional installers


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Removing barriers in good design

As part of ongoing community education efforts by the Home Builders Association, our own Nyle Wadford participated in a local radio program on a recent Saturday morning. WPTF 680’s Eye on Health program featured several members of the Raleigh-Wake County HBA’s C.A.R.E. Council explaining how their companies work together to help make homes accessible for everyone.

Nyle talked about the increased requests we’ve had for curbless or stepless showers. NYLE ON RADIO WPTF 2-13-16Innovations in tile technology have made it possible to keep water inside a shower without the traditional ‘curb’ or step at the doorway (if you have a knowledgeable installer). He explained that the traditional curb is also a point of failure for many improperly installed showers. “To avoid future problems, it’s essential to hire professional trade contractors with credentials that demonstrate knowledge and commitment to their industry,” he explained.

Lewis Sadler of Sadler Construction explained that the HBA’s Council for Ageless Residential Environments (C.A.R.E.) Council was started with a desire to educate the construction community and the general public about all the options available in barrier-free living. By designing to reduce entry steps, widen doorways, incorporate technology, open up bathroom spaces, and think about future use, any home can be built to accommodate future mobility challenges. The intuitive design of this type of ageless home or remodel is a beautiful alternative to the institutional look of historically ‘accessible’ homes.

More Americans are living multi-generationally and our population is aging, so the need for more functional spaces is gaining increased attention, said Nancy Caggia, a Berkshire Hathaway Home Services York Simpson Underwood Realtor and Senior Real Estate Specialist.

Sadler detailed the cost savings achieved by building accessible features into a home during initial construction versus the need to retrofit a space if a family member becomes mobility challenged. As he explained, a person coming home from a rehab center must have a way to enter and exit the home safely as well as have access to a bathroom where they can maneuver. The increased grading costs and upgrades that would make a home fully accessible may cost 2-5% more during the original construction of a new home, but there is a huge savings when compared to going back and remodeling after-the-fact.

Other members of the C.A.R.E. Council specialize in the fields of home technology, cabinets, countertops, flooring, elevators, design, real estate, as well as new construction and remodeling. A full list of members can be found at www.HBAcare.com.

Eye on Health airs on 680 WPTF on Saturday’s at 7 am to help listeners navigate the many choices and issues we face as we age or care for an aging loved one.  You can listen to the show at  http://wptfeyeonhealth.blogspot.com/2016/02/eye-on-health-02-13-2016.html


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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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What do you need to know about tile?

This is the 2nd blog from our magazine interview installment:

What do you wish people knew about tile?

   Television shows might make you think that installing tile is an easy weekend project, but we see first-hand the failures that result from using less-than-qualified tile people.

Tile doesn’t bend, adjust or flex to mask a corner that’s out of line or a slight bump in the underlayment. Therefore, tile installers have to be exacting and precise. Obvious poor cuts and bad layouts aside, what’s under the tile is even more important. If the wrong product is used to “flatten” a floor, it will show up eventually as the tile begins to crack or crunch as you walk on it. And, when you add water to the equation in a bathroom, the need to choose a qualified installer is even more essential.

In a year’s time, far more water runs across the tile in your shower than over the roof of your home, so the people you hire to do your tile (and your roof 😉 should really know what they’re doing. Proper tile installation is actually pretty complicated (with its precision layout, intricate cuts, specialized tools, variety of setting materials, water management issues, and the hundreds of methods), so we make sure our folks are up-to-date and well-trained. {And, as an aside, we don’t believe that our tile training makes someone good at carpet or vinyl installation. We just don’t understand why general ‘flooring’ contractors would say the same crews could install all kinds of materials…}

Look for a certified TILE contractor next time you’re considering a tile installation. The money you invest in getting it done right will be money you don’t have to spend getting it re-done later.


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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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Tile upside down, but not backwards

Neuse Tile is all about customer satisfaction, and we’ve often laughingly said, “we’ll install tile upside down and backwards” if that’s what the customer wants,” but, with this story, we’ll have to modify that when it comes to glass tile.

An out-of-state relative hired a local contractor to renovate their master bathroom. They went to their home show, interviewed prospective contractors, reviewed their references, and selected one that gave them great confidence. We went up to visit, gave them some tips on selecting the tile and some things to look for as the process moved along.

The first text message asking about the adhesive being used in the shower was a little concerning, but not all that unusual. We gave some online references and told him to hold firm with his general contractor that he expected the tile subcontractor to adhere to industry standards. paper-face done wrong-not NTS

However, the text which said “we were awakened at 2 a.m. by the sound of falling tiles” was startling. When we got on the phone and he began to describe the issues with his glass accent liner, we realized the tile setter who had been subcontracted to do the work had installed the glass backwards. Sometimes glass tiles are what we call ‘paper-faced’ meaning the factory rolls an adhesive paper over the front of the tile sheets (usually mosaics) before boxing and shipping. This keeps the individual pieces aligned (for the most part). The intent is for the exposed glass tiles (which sometimes have small holes in them to absorb some of the setting material) to be laid into the troweled mortar and then the adhesive paper peeled off before grouting. However, this tile guy had laid the paper-side of the sheet into the mortar and gone home for the day. As the mortar dried and the tiles broke free from the adhesive paper, the small glass mosaics dropped off one-by-one. Thus, glass tiles hitting a newly tiled shower floor at 2 a.m.

This was the last straw for our relative, and he insisted the contractor hire a different tile installer and re-do the job. When the new – and more qualified- tile installer came, he determined that the whole shower had to come out and be started over. The accent tiles were obviously an issue, but the shower pan had been sloped by doubling up sheets of backerboard- clearly not an industry-approved method!

After 9 weeks, our relatives now have a great, new master bath and further appreciation for all the technical know-how that goes into our everyday work. And, we’ve contacted our national association to see if they can do something about getting more certified tile contractors in that part of his state.

In the Triangle area, you are fortunate to have some well-qualified tile contractors to choose from. Know what’s under your tile – hire a professional and make sure your tile is installed right side out!


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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.