Neuse Tile Service

Tile installation and service tips from professional installers


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Qualified to talk tile in NJ & at home

Sometimes it takes an out-of-town audience to fully appreciate our hometown know-how. That was certainly the case for our own Nyle Wadford when he recently traveled to Dayton, NJ, to present a large-format tile seminar to an architectural and design community. 

3rd from left, Wadford presented NTCA seminar.

3rd from left, Wadford presented NTCA seminar.

The local American Olean & Marazzi USA distributor wanted a special guest to introduce their services to an important client base, and they asked Wadford to present an NTCA seminar on large tiles and participate in a discussion about qualified labor. The hosts and audience said the seminar was “informative and truly helpful,” and Nyle was glad to participate.

As a long-time tile contractor and Chairman of the Board of the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), Nyle is absolutely passionate about correct tile installations – whether in NC or NJ – he just loves talking tile!

The NTCA is an invaluable association for our industry, and, as a Five-Star Contractor, Neuse Tile is able to present its seminars for continuing education credits to the Architectural and Design communities. As NTCA’s 2012 Tile Person of the Year, Nyle is also quite well-known and respected by his peers in the industry (and throughout the country).

Neuse Tile has no plans to install tile in New Jersey, but the visit is helping open doors for the NTCA and furthering discussions about proper tile installations, so Nyle sees it as a worthwhile investment of time. And, sometimes it’s also nice to get that ‘out-of-town’ recognition as well.

Nyle is also the Vice Chairman of both the NTCA Technical Committee and the ANSI A108 Committee. Great job, Nyle!


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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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Thankful for our tile family!

As we celebrate this season of thanks, we’d like to send a special ‘Thank You’ to our customers and our work family! The past few years have been tough for all of us in the construction industry, and we are very appreciative of the work we’ve been privileged to perform and of those who have been part of our team.

We thank our customers for trusting us with your home and business improvements — we are honored to have provided tile installations and service that will stand the test of time. The tile products we use are of the highest quality, and we are constantly impressed as manufacturers improve and advance their technology. But tile installation remains an artisan craft that, as far as we can see, will always require the human touch. We are incredibly proud of the skilled craftsmen who produce work as beautiful (and technically sound) as any in the industry.

Neuse Tile Team

Neuse Tile Team

Those artisans are the ones you will most often encounter on the jobsite, but equally important is the small, but essential, team of talented and knowledgeable office and supervisory staff that stand behind them. Our work family has been together for 10-15 years, and, as we’ve persevered through these challenging times, we’ve come to really appreciate our diverse skill sets and our united passion for excellence.

The people behind every estimate, every order, every phone call, and every piece of tile are our company’s greatest asset, and we want to say ‘Thank You’ for all the hours, the hard work, the patience, and the perseverance you’ve provided.

We give special recognition to two team members who are concluding their time with Neuse Tile. Leigh, you’ve been that reassuring voice for so many who’ve needed details about their installation schedule or some of your expert cleaning advice, and Scott, your passion for details and drive to get the job done are legendary on commercial construction sites. We will greatly miss you both! You have been a very important part of the Neuse Tile story, and, though we know the folks taking your roles are extremely capable, we want you to know that your contribution here will always be appreciated and remembered.

For you and all those who have kept Neuse Tile going, we are grateful. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and your families!


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Circular project with a straight line to quality installation

The precision cuts of four different sized and colored tiles in concentric circles was certainly challenging for our certified installers, but it was the know-how of our staff and the capabilities of TEC’s products that set them up for a successful installation.

Making circles from square tiles takes math and artistry.

Making circles from square tiles takes math and artistry.

Our experience with the contractor’s team and the architect on this project were great, and the architect even sent an e-mail saying, “Pass along to the tile installer that the floor tile in the lobby is some of the best work I’ve seen in a while. The circles are very close to perfect. The arches are cut in nicely, the joints are very good. It’s just a good, neat job.”

We appreciate this high praise from an architect, and are glad that we, and he, can be sure the products and workmanship underneath this detailed work is as good as what is seen on the surface. Thanks, TEC, for the helpfulness and technical capabilities of your staff and products!

Check out the details about this project from our recent award-winning entry for TEC’s Imagine Achieve contest:
We were asked to participate on a local expansion project because the general contractor knew it would be a specialty installation. The client and architect’s specifications required intricate layout, precision cuts, multiple tile sizes and colors, and working within the parameters of a very controlled site environment.

As is usually the case, our team was involved in multiple communications and meetings long before the tile installation began. The bathroom installations were to be wall-tile only, and the floors were scheduled to receive an epoxy coating. However, the epoxy contractor had no idea how to create the slope to the drains nor how to waterproof the installations. Since bathrooms are our area of expertise, we suggested using TEC’s Hydraflex waterproofing membrane and helped resolve the issue for everyone.

Our next challenge was in the 4000-square-foot lobby, cafeteria and kitchen areas. Because of the high-PSI requirements for the concrete on the plant floor, all the concrete on the project was poured to that specification, including the lobby and kitchen areas. The concrete had been ‘wet-cured’ which produced an extremely hard and impervious surface on which we were to bond our tile flooring. The welded sheet vinyl contractor on the project had tried to shot-blast the surface of the concrete, but had absolutely no success. Our superintendent did a water-penetration test on the lobby concrete and knew there would be issues in achieving proper bonding when the tile was installed.

We called the technical support staff of TEC products and asked if their new Multi-Purpose primer could be used to rectify the problem. They provided assurances and written warranty explanations that helped convince the general contractor that the proper use of TEC’s primer over this substrate would provide the best possible solution. This process would also require less labor, time and materials than the usually prescribed subfloor treatments of shot-blasting or scarification, and would also allow the project to stay within its already tight construction schedule.

We proceeded with installation of the lobby, cafeteria and kitchen tile with TEC Three-in-One mortar and Accucolor grout. (These TEC products had been in our original submittal package due to the project’s high visibility and challenging installation specifications.) The general contractor was very comfortable with these products and helped convince the architect and owner that TEC products would give them the long-lasting installation performance they wanted. Excellent materials combined with the know-how of your local Five-Star Tile Installation Contractor once again achieved great results!


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Tile trade from start to ‘finish’

Tile is a finish trade (meaning no one comes behind us and covers our work). Framers, electricians, plumbers, and even drywall contractors, have at least some of their work covered over by the trades that come after them.  This doesn’t make their work less important or expert, of course, but it does mean that small miscalculations by their workers can be covered over by the craftsmen who come later.

Tile has no such luxury. Our work is going to be there for you to evaluate every time you take a shower, sweep your floor, or clean behind your stove. And the material we work with is pretty unforgiving. 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. The good ones are pretty adamant about things being flat before they lay one piece!

It was interesting recently to watch two brothers-in-law working together on a home improvement for the family. Both are highly skilled and exacting in their trades — one a carpenter, and one a tile installer.  However, the slight adjustments that the carpenter is used to making with his final trim were driving the tile guy crazy. Whereas the “wood guy” knew that his final product offered a little bit of flex and adaptability; the “tile guy” is accustomed to working with an unforgiving and inflexible end product. Therefore, their approaches to the sub-surface work they were doing were completely different.

In our blog and trade meetings, we talk a lot about the importance of “what’s under your tile” because it really will make the difference in your final outcome. The true expertise for the “wood guy” comes as his last finish nail is recessed, but for the “tile guy” it comes before the first piece of tile is laid.

A fair number of “tile guys” can make a beautiful finish out of an ugly start, but they think the end-look is the only thing that matters. We disagree whole-heartedly because, if the wrong product is used to “flatten” a floor, or even out a wall, then it will show up eventually. We’ve seen tile applied directly to dry wall that lasted through a one-year warranty — and then fell off the shower wall. We’ve seen thinset used to slope a floor — and then tile that began to crack and crunch after the floor was used for a few years.

Tile can cover up poor choices for a while, but with a few years of usage, that corner that was cut or sub-par product that was used will show up in cracking tiles, crunching noises, or even water leaks. Pay for your project only once, by choosing tile professionals who are as skilled at the finish of their trade as they are at the beginning approach.

Selecting a craftsman is an investment in your home or business.  Hiring a low-bid tradesperson is an opportunity to spend even more money later.  Choose wisely.


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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


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Tile selection tips from your installer

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the choices and the beautiful tiles when you first go to a tile showroom, so we thought we’d give you a few tips to consider as you’re making your selections.

— Large tile is very popular right now, and it’s getting larger. We’re glad to install it for you, but it does require upgraded mortars and more time to ensure the substrate is appropriately flat and that patterns flow with the maximum full tiles possible. Therefore, your price will be a little higher for large-format tile (anything larger than 15″). Because most large tiles have some degree of curvature, we can’t install large tiles with anything less than a 1/8″ grout joint.

— Glass tile and sheeted materials also require different setting materials (and tools in some cases), so there is usually a higher level of skill needed to install these materials. Many sheeted materials may not line up the same way non-sheeted materials will (grout joint widths will vary from one sheet to the next). The nature of the material will usually mean a little higher installation price for sheeted or glass products.

— Natural stone has a honed surface and will need to be sealed prior to installation (as will some that have polished surfaces). If the stone is pitted, grout will fill any holes and won’t be removed. Filled stones are not a good choice for floors where high-heel traffic may impact these weaker parts of the end-product. Sheeted pebbles/ river rocks will be grouted, and we’d like to make sure you like that look as much as you like the ungrouted version you might see in the showroom. (You might want to see a sample mock up for approval.)

— Accents and liners should be similar in thickness to the tile being installed. 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 we have in our area.

— Grout joints are routinely 3/16″, so if you want a different width, please discuss it 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 are worth including in your plan. They do take more time to install, so your labor cost will increase each time you add an accent or extra feature.

— Standard heights of showers are 7′, and tub surrounds are generally 5′ off the tub. If you want a different finish height, be sure to let your designer and installer know that.

— Niches are more popular than soap dishes these days, and most showers now contain a shelf or foot prop, so be sure to specify which of these you’d like to add to your project. Waterproofing is needed behind that niche, and the best installers will be sure your design flows seamlessly through the indentation. There’s a little extra charge for these items, but having an easy place to keep your shampoo and soap is priceless!


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Tile Person of the Year – congrats, Nyle!

Our very own Nyle Wadford was recognized as Tile Person of the Year by the National Tile Contractors Association at Coverings 2013 in Atlanta this month. Since 1958, NTCA has been honoring a tile professional each year who is dedicated to supporting the non-profit trade association and its service to all segments of the tile and stone industry.

NTCA Tile Person of the Year

NTCA Tile Person of the Year

Nyle joins a prestigious group of tile professionals who have received this honor, and, we’re pleased to say, he was completely surprised at the ceremony (good job team!).  Nyle’s work to create qualified labor specifications for the tile industry and his contributions to the growth of NTCA were cited among his many industry accomplishments.

The whole Neuse Tile team shares Nyle’s passion for correct tile installations, but it’s Nyle and the team at NTCA who have worked so diligently to make sure all tile contractors have the technical instructions they need to perform installations that will last. When Nyle was President of the NTCA, the organization experienced record growth in membership, expanded its Partners for Success program, formed an historic partnership with Tile Contractors Association of America, and significantly expanded the NTCA’s Five-Star Contractor Program.

Nyle will continue to represent the NTCA on the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) Handbook Committee, and serve on the ANSI ASC 108 Committee, making Neuse Tile Service one of two contractors worldwide to sit on all three committees! He currently is the Chairman of the Board for NTCA.

Way to go Nyle! We’re proud of you!

Check out this interview with Nyle from the floor of the Coverings Show in Atlanta:

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid1137610517001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAAi5oby5k~,gf8A03pw9syJ8i8_PnfPj-SRCKEGXH2m&bctid=2379083272001


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Know what’s UNDER your tile!

As another year comes to a close, we’ve enjoyed reflecting on  some wonderful

installations and some great general contractors and homeowners on projects large and small. But if we had to single out one project from this year that speaks volumes, it would be a local homeowner’s steam shower.

Unfortunately, we were called in after a so-called “tile contractor” had completed his ‘installation’, and the homeowner had experienced the resulting rain in their kitchen below. This one had to go all the way back to framing to correct the plethora of mistakes that had been made (including cardboard shims under the tile).

The incompetence of the work is outstanding, of course, but the project itself is indicative of so much more. These very nice homeowners had taken the recommendation of a someone in the industry and had invested their hard-earned money. What they got was barely passable on the surface, and horrific underneath. It’s a good thing that it started raining in their kitchen;

otherwise, it might have been a year or two before the extent of this travesty was revealed. So many of the jobs we’ve had to tear out and replace this year have been 2 years or 5 years old, and the original contractor is long gone. We were honored to help this family get the steam shower they paid for, but it would have been so much better if they had not had to endure the process and the expense of a project done twice.
We hope and pray that in this coming New Year, quality and integrity will come back into style; that the professional businesses in the construction industry will

Steam shower tranquility.

Steam shower tranquility.

be allowed to thrive; and that homeowners and contractors will remember that the lowest bidder is always going to cost someone in the long run.

A successful business is one which delivers on its commitments AND prices its work so that it can be around to serve customers in the future. Here’s hoping we are one of those in 2013!


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Ageless design incorporates both access and beauty

Our profession has always been a long-term construction solution, so we’re glad to be part of the nation’s first CARE Council of the Home Builders Association (HBA). Emphasizing building with the future in mind, select members of our area’s HBA have come together to form the Council for Ageless Residential Environments (CARE).

Representing some of the most experienced and dedicated industry professionals in our area, “this group is a great resource for anyone looking for information about ageless design in home construction,” said Council Chairman Lewis Sadler of Sadler Construction. It’s never been more important to make sure the investment in your home is protected, and the members of the CARE Council have a reputation for quality work as well as an increased focus on barrier-free home construction and remodeling.

As people stay in their homes longer, and our population ages, homeowners should take a long-term look at the features of any remodeling project. Whether it’s accommodating aging parents, thinking about future physical challenges, or just increased re-sale value, incorporating accessible features can really pay off.

Local realtors tell us that homes with truly accessible and well-planned designs are challenging to find in this market, and homeowners who plan for the long-term as they remodel could see an increased marketability of their property.

With all the possibilities available to today’s designers, an ageless home doesn’t need to have institutional features. Wider doorways, varying cabinet heights, multi-level closets, and curbless showers can be beautiful as well as functional – both now and in the future.

In addition to being a resource group for homeowners, HBA members and those interested in ageless design, the CARE Councils’ goals are to offer educational events and classes on barrier-free design topics, to serve as a champion of universal design in homebuilding, and to be a networking group for local industry professionals. Check out the Council website at www.hbacare.com