Neuse Tile Service

Tile installation and service tips from professional installers


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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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The tile year in pictures

As we welcome a new year, we’re looking forward to increased opportunities and reflecting on a year of wonderfully creative tile installations. Thanks to the contractors, designers, and homeowners who included us on your projects!!!!! Here are just a few for your viewing pleasure:


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Doing the right thing for the long-term

It’s been a personally challenging year for many of us in the Neuse Tile family, and we’d like to take this opportunity to say how much we appreciate your business, your loyalty, your kindness, and your encouragement. wreath on door

We’ve been blessed once again with miles of tile that needed our installation expertise and with gifted artisans who deliver on each and every project. From estimating, to scheduling, to supervision and installation, the intricacies of each tile project are unique and varied. It truly takes a team with technical know-how, craftsmanship, and flexibility to meet the many expectations we face each week, and we are grateful for every member of our group!

Of course, we are especially appreciative of the contractor friends and homeowners who have trusted us with their tile needs this year! It is significant to us that we’re in our 53rd year of business, and we believe our longevity is, in large part, due to a commitment to do the right thing with a view toward the long-term. We plan to keep that up!

We lean into 2018 excited about how our industry is growing together and looking forward to continued opportunities to bring quality tile installations to the Triangle.  Let us know how we can be of help to you!

 


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Parading the possibilities of last-minute construction

Subway tile with styleThe Parade of Homes sometimes brings out our hidden talents as 2nd story men, parking attendants, and temporary tile magicians. Every year, local home builders showcase their talents, and those of their subcontractors, as they open newly ‘completed’ projects to the public for 3 weekends of touring.

The dates aren’t a surprise, but construction schedules compress, and changes happen, so it always seems there’s a rush to meet the deadline for upcoming Parade entries. WHandmade tile on vent hoode do love working with our builders, so we go to great lengths to help them meet their goals.

We’ve gone up and down a ladder to grout a second-story floor while hardwoods were being finished downstairs, joined other trades to jam 50 work trucks in one cul-de-sac, and worked late nights redoing more than one design because of actual site conditions. And, we’re certain other trade contractors have plenty of similar stories.

So,Bath tile feature in honor of this year’s Parade, we’re sharing these photos to celebrate the impossible achieved on so many beautiful projects again this year! Go out and visit some Parade homes and feel free to offer a cup of coffee to any tired-looking contractors you see on-site.  🙂


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Hiring a tile installer

Every week we get calls from folks who have hired a tile layer who has or is causing them heartburn. Sometimes the job is current and sometimes it’s weeks or months later. Either way, the consumer is dealing with an installation that is less than the best that our industry can offer.

We love to help people, but we’d love it even more if people’s experiences with tile installers were positive and long-lasting from the start.  We have some tips for hiring a tile installer on our website, and we’re working with a group of industry leaders to come up with a list of general questions that customers might ask a potential tile installer. We thought we’d put them out for you to give us some feedback on what we have so far:

  • Will they document their commitment to quality?
  • Are their methods & standards verified by the TCNA Handbook?
  • How will they control site conditions?
  • How will they properly prepare the surface before tiling?
  • Where will movement occur (expansion/contraction)?
  • Will they provide references of similar, successful installations?
  • What is their warranty on labor and setting materials?
  • Do they participate in industry conferences and continuing education?
  • How are their employees trained and kept up-to-date on products and methods?

We like to say that “Tile won’t bend to make up for a bad installation” so it’s essential that you hire your tile contractor carefully. We certainly hope asking the right questions will help consumers be more informed BEFORE they hire their next installer. Let us know if you think of other things we should add to our list.


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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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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).