Neuse Tile Service

Tile installation and service tips from professional installers


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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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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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Craftsmanship – out of style? Not to us.

We are in the process of tearing out and re-doing a very nice couple’s steam shower. The tile work they had was horrific, the ‘waterproofing’ was non-existent, the framing was a joke, and the ‘finished’ product leaked all over their house. It wasn’t our work – it was the work of someone who claimed to be a ‘contractor’ and who has taken advantage of these unsuspecting homeowners.

This was one of the worst excuses for construction we’ve seen in a while. (Though last week’s shower with 8 nails through the pan liner was bad too!!)

There’s no way this ’tile installer’ thought he was doing a sufficient job for these folks– he stuck cardboard in behind tile as a ‘filler’ in one area of the shower! Yet, he was recommended to this couple by a plumbing manufacturer, so they thought they were hiring someone who would do a good job.

He didn’t; and he’s doing his best to give our industry a black eye. But, to this couple’s credit, they realize he is an exception, and they’ve maintained a positive attitude meeting their adversity by educating themselves. Before they signed on with us to tear out and re-tile their steam shower, they got references, researched the products we suggested, and even came by a steam shower installation in progress to see our guys at work.

Good for them! When you’re not in the construction business, it’s hard to know where to start to find a reputable and experienced craftsman. Certainly, referrals are a good resource, as is doing some research on-line. Other valuable places to get information on potential contractors are their trade associations (ours is National Tile Contractors Association); a certification body (for us its Ceramic Tile Education Foundation); the local Home Builders Association; local business groups; and other people in similar fields. Your money and your home are too precious to entrust to someone who would stick tile to cardboard.

We wish we had met this couple before their bad experience started, and we’re doing our best to create the steam shower they had in mind when this project started many months ago.

In the meantime, we’ll keep reminding everyone how important it is to find a reputable and experienced contractor who will stand behind their work. (Longevity in the business DOES matter, especially in today’s economy.) If you have any suggestions on where else we should be spreading the word, feel free to share.


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Tile shower pan for water management

     A typical residential shower uses 2.5 gallons of water a minute. If you take a 12-minute shower once per day, that’s 30 gallons. Take those 30 gallons x 365 days a year x several family members, and you’ve had 5 times more water in your house than it rains in most places each year.
     So, for anyone with a shower, water management is an important issue. Both tile and plumbing can be part of that effective system. Obviously, most water that sprays from your shower head goes down the drain, but, because tile and stone are not waterproof, there is water that seeps through to the pan liner (a rubber membrane under the tile that directs water to the drain’s weep holes).
For a successful water management system in your shower, you need:
— a waterproofing membrane bed that has been flood tested prior to tile installation (a minimum 24-hour ‘pan test’);
— weep holes that are open prior to & after the installation of the tile mortar bed;
— a tile substrate and setting material that are approved for installation in wet areas;
— positive slope of the finished floor and the pre-slope below the membrane of at least 1/4″ per foot to the drain.
     Without positive slope, water won’t make its way to the weep holes, and that water can become septic causing odor and staining of the grout on the shower floor. In most of NC, the plumber installs the pan material, and some of our favorite plumbers have been going the extra mile for their customers to install a ‘pre-slope.’ Though it’s only a suggestion in the latest local building code, ‘pre-slope’ is the best way to ensure a shower floor meets the positive slope requirement and to cut down on the possibility for mold and mildew. There won’t be any low spots in your shower floor to hold water, and there’s less chance that any debris under the pan liner could make its way through the bottom and puncture your waterproofing membrane.
     A knowledgeable plumber will also ensure that your pan material is no less than 3 inches above the finished curb height and has absolutely NO nail holes or punctures in that rubber membrane. With properly installed plumbing preparation and effective tile installation, the water in your shower should wash away your troubles rather than adding to them.


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Is tile waterproof?

One of the most frequent points of concern for our customers is tile’s ability, or inability, to keep water contained. Tile may slow down water penetration, but the grout joints in between tiles are made from cementitious materials which do absorb water.

In most of our state the plumber is required to install the rubberized pan/ vinyl material that keeps a shower from leaking to the subfloor below. Tile installers work on top of the pan, and any water that seeps through grout joints is, in a proper installation, directed to the weep holes of the drain flange.

The walls of a correctly installed shower are lined with tile backerboard which overlaps the pan material, deflects water, and directs it down to the drain.

ANSI approved tile backerboard is the preferred substrate for tile in a residential shower because it deters water absorption. Sheetrock and ‘greenboard’ will wick water like a sponge, and they are not approved surfaces on which to install tile in wet areas.

New trowel-able waterproofings are available to offer additional protection for seats and steam showers, but, in a standard shower, it’s the pan material that is actually the only ‘waterproofing’     component of the complex water management system.