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.
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!
If your New Year’s exercise program started off with a solid plan and workout gear that was well-suited to your routine, then you might have made it into February with some success. But, if you made up a plan as you went, then January probably didn’t bring much change in your health.
In the same way, starting off with a good plan and quality materials can help ensure a beautiful and long-lasting tile installation. However, when initial corners are cut due to ignorance or cost-cutting, the final finishes will suffer or fail –either immediately or over time. Tile is meant to be a permanent finish, so it has to begin with the proper foundation.
When a job goes to the lowest bidder, it’s usually because something has been left out or a specification wasn’t followed, and the easiest thing to hide from an end user are the steps needed to get an area ready for tile. Before a tile installation should begin, the surface needs to be solid (no deflection or de-lamination), free of previous residue, dry, and within the flatness tolerances to install the chosen tile. If slope to a drain or zero-entry is needed, then often additional surface prep methods have to be used. A good tile contractor will know when to use a membrane, cement backer board, mud beds, or other required installation materials. Much depends on the existing surface, the budget, the application desired, the material to be used, and the skill of the installer to perform a quality, long-lasting installation.
One solution just won’t work in every application, and the tile installer who only has one tool in his box probably hasn’t been tested over time. Be sure to ask why he’s recommending the particular system to be used, and ask him or her to show you the method details and/ or standards involved.
We’ve had projects where we’ve been told to skip the preparatory steps needed in order to save some money, but that’s just not in our DNA. The long-term success of our installations depends on starting off correctly, so we’re pretty passionate about good prep. After all, don’t we all want our ‘outfit’ to look as good as possible?
The common denominator in our installations is that the products on the top layer are rigid — they don’t flex or bend. And the factors beyond that are as varied as all the possible sandwich combinations in a New York deli.
Each project is as different as the location to be tiled, the material, the substrate, and the customer’s preferences. We enjoy the challenge of making sure we’ve selected the proper tile installation method and products to accommodate your surface, your application, your needs for the space, and the material you’d like us to install.
Some of the things we’ll be factoring into our estimates (and our conversations) are:
Floor deflection (the up and down movement of a floor should not exceed L/360 for tile and L/720 for natural stone)
Floor preparation (remove any existing adhesives, flatten problem areas by bringing substrate into required tolerances, scarify if needed)
Needed coverage (required mortar contact on the back of tile in a dry area 80%; wet area 95%)
Grout color and its impact on setting materials as well as end results (highly contrasting grouts can present a visual framing on some sheeted materials)
Sealant needed prior to installation to protect the material from any staining during the grouting process (natural stones must be sealed prior to grout due to their susceptibility to staining)
The size of the material to be installed (any tile more than 15” in any one direction is considered ‘large format’ and requires different mortars and substrate tolerances
Composition of the tile itself (stone, glass, metal, sheeted mosaics, and accents with combinations of these –all require different setting materials, blades, tools, and care)
Trowel and spacer type and size (tile, mortar, pattern, installer preference all factor in here)
Movement joint locations and treatment (to allow for the movement that occurs as structures expand and contract)
Pattern selected and its impact on installation waste factor as well as installation difficulty
Job location – what it takes to get our heavy materials into the area, what hours we can work, how much protection of adjoining areas we’ll need to do, etc.
Wet area/ interior or exterior/ angle of lighting/ long-term use & traffic in the area
Base surface to be used (mud-set, backer board, membrane, etc.)
Those in our industry who tell you they can give you a ‘quick’ price per square foot for tile installation are either clairvoyant walking encyclopedias of construction, or they haven’t thought about all the factors that make up a long-lasting and beautiful tile installation. Most of the time, the best and most accurate things come to those who put some experience and careful consideration into all the options available. #ExperienceMatters #NTCAfivestar
Take a break from Thanksgiving family dynamics and enjoy these photos of our recent tile installations in the UNC men’s basketball locker room at the Dean E. Smith Center in Chapel Hill. Mud bed floors flowing to 12 different drains, large-format glass in an expansive area, polished stone, 2×2 mosaics, large-format porcelain in multiple sizes, and honed decorative stone made this one a technical treat. Thanks to Vision Contractors and the facility managers and coaches for adding us to the team for this special, world-class project!
We’ve been asked to address a problem with a small crack running through the marble in an entrance area. While the underlying problem is movement in the concrete slab under the tile (installed by others), an additional issue is matching the stone.
Natural stones like marble are just that — natural. The chances of duplicating the colors and veining in marble after several years are like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. As you can see in this photo, marble is cut in quarries (this one 490+ feet deep so far) which produce tons of material each year. This material is shipped over the world, and tracing it back to a particular point of origin is often an impossibility.
While we can order samples, and try to get close, it’s doubtful that we’ll be able to keep the consistent look of the original installation. So, does the customer learn to live with the crack, accept an area of marble that isn’t the same color as the original, or remove the entire area and replace it with a new material?
Here’s the caution from us: When natural stone is used in an installation, it is imperative that extra material be ordered and stored as ‘attic stock.’ Make sure you ask your installer to order extra materials, and be sure you store them in a safe place so they’ll be available should you ever need them to preserve your installation.
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!