Neuse Tile Service

Tile installation and service tips from professional installers


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Professional Women in Construction

Ours has long-been perceived as a male dominated profession, but the National Association of Home Builders has designated this week to recognize the amazing contributions of the women in our world.

Neuse Tile is a woman-owned business, and, let’s be honest, the women in our office keep things ticking on a daily basis. 🙂  So, we’re happy to have a reason to give a shout out in recognition of the many contributions of our female workforce, both in the office and on job sites!

The NAHB’s designation of a week to celebrate women in construction is something new, but those of us who have been in the field a while know that women have been working in construction for a very long time. Some don hard hats and kneepads and install tile; others are superintendents; and many are project managers and estimators. The work of both men and women in this field is difficult and underappreciated, no doubt, but no other profession offers such tangible satisfaction at the end of every project.

We applaud all the changing faces on construction jobsites while also giving honor to women who have done the accounting, the purchasing, the scheduling, the inventory management, and the marketing for our profession for all these years. You may not see them on a daily basis, but, without them, the jobs probably wouldn’t happen.

All our team members are essential to getting our work done to your satisfaction, and we know that the person who answers the phone or makes the sale is just as valuable as the technically adept project manager or the master craftsman. It takes us all to get things planned, built, and maintained with quality.

Let’s celebrate all those who work so hard in construction, with a special tip of the hat this week to the women among us!


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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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Terrific tile from 2015

Thanks to some of the country’s best installers, our fantastic customers, and the most knowledgeable tile team anywhere, we’re wrapping up a good year in tile. We’ve been honored to be included in some great projects in 2015, so here’s a sample for your viewing pleasure:

WF Bap entry tile

Large tile is here to stay, & custom patterns add interest.

VAUG- L NEW BATH comp

Intricate cuts and plenty of patience created this fantastic feature bath.

BR curbless fb

Removing barriers – properly installed curbless showers are a new norm.

Subway shower red

Classic subway tile is always a winner.

 

heat mat fb

Practical luxury — heated floors continue to gain popularity.

Stack stone fireplace comp

Stacked stone is a great way to create a fireplace focal point.

mars splash close

Lots of glass on the walls this year. Installed well, it’s a fantastic backsplash.

 

 

 

 

porch floor wa

Upstairs porch tile installations have needed our expertise this year. Done properly, they’re beautiful and functional.

At dedication.jpg

A tiled mosaic in Louisburg features the largest state motto ever. NTS craftsmen & a local artist created public beauty.

VITA VITE MENS BATH

Tile as creative expression takes hold in this new Downtown Raleigh commercial  space.


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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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Miles of Tile for all our great customers

It’s a new year, and we’re hoping for a good one!  As we’ve been doing our end-of-year analysis and new-year planning, we are reminded of those who make our existence possible – OUR CUSTOMERS!

We’d like to say ‘Thank You’ to all who have given us the opportunity to participate in your projects. The miles of tile we’ve installed in the Triangle area wouldn’t have happened without the thousands of homeowners and builders who have trusted us with their installations.

(Our great installers and their consistent good work are a big part of that, too, of course, but we’re focusing on customers today.)

Some of our builder and remodeler friends have stayed busy through the downturn, and, because their business has been built with a reliable team, they stayed true to their high-quality subcontractors. Others have found us more recently because they needed reliable, quality tile installations done at a fair price.

So, in an effort to say thanks and help promote their great work (with positive Google searches), we’ve added some contractor credits to our website photos. They’ve kept us going in 2014 (and in previous ones), and we appreciate them! Check out their beautiful work (highlighting the tile, of course) at www.NeuseTile.com. We’ve labeled photos with a lot of contractor names and are adding to the info. every day.

Also, as we were reviewing our data, we realized that several of our contractor customers have been working with us for almost 20 years, so we’d like to give a special thanks to: Jay at Beaman Building & Realty, Mark at Massengill Builders, Jim and Dan at J.L. Williams Construction, Mark and team at Prime Building Company, Walt at Dillon Construction, and to Kemp Harris Inc. You guys have lived through the ups and downs with us, and we greatly appreciate your loyalty and your good work!!!

Here’s hoping 2015 will be a good year for all our local contractors and for those of us who are part of their teams! We’d love to add to our list and help make sure the area’s quality level remains high. If you have a builder friend who is tired of headaches and no-shows from his current tile guy, tell him or her to give us a call. We’d like to keep adding to the miles of tile we’ve installed for the area’s great contractors. And, if you want a recommendation for a general contractor for your next project, give us a call.


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Tile installation by the book(s)

It takes more than a tool bucket to be a successful tile contractor; you’ve got to use the right reference books as well!

Many contractors, architects, designers, specifiers and industry partners are familiar with the Tile Council of North America Handbook for Ceramic, Glass, and Stone Tile Installation (TCNA Handbook) and the American National Standard Specifications for Installation of Ceramic Tile (ANSI Book).

The TCNA Handbook is “a guide to assist in clarifying and standardizing installation specifications for tile,” while the ANSI book is a compilation of voluntary standards that “define the installation of ceramic tile as well as the test methods and physical properties for ceramic tile installation materials.” Each is representative of the consensus efforts of national as well as regional organizations and individuals who volunteer their time to serve on each committee. Both of these publications are widely used throughout the industry.

Less widely used, but equally relevant is the National Tile Contractors Association’s Reference Manual. While the NTCA Reference Manual also focuses on tile installation and its many facets, it’s written for the benefit of professional tile installation contracting firms and individuals who are committed to installation excellence and the best interest of the industry.

Its purpose is “to identify recurring challenges to successful installations of tile and stone, recognize potential problems, and to gain consensus from industry experts on offering solutions.”  In this respect, the Reference Manual is different from both the TCNA Handbook and the ANSI Book,  because it takes things several steps further and details information for issues before, during and after the installations are performed.

This publication is valuable “feet on the ground” information about tile installation. It’s produced by the National Tile Contractors Association Technical Committee (comprised of highly skilled and experienced members providing perspectives and expertise from all segments of the tile industry).

Great effort has been given to provide consensus answers to issues tile contractors, manufacturers and distributors face daily. This unique compilation, its explanation of problems, causes and the listing of their cures is invaluable to the installation trade. The proper use of this manual will save its user the cost of an annual NTCA membership several times over. The education it provides represents sincere efforts by those on the committee who have “been there and experienced that,” and have the desire to see others in our industry avoid the pitfalls that often occur without this knowledge.

We encourage our peers in the industry to get this valuable reference tool and to apply it correctly as the problem preventer it is designed to be. Successful tile installations are the goal for all of us!


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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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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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Specify tile installations that last

To help architectural and design professionals demand installation excellence, the tile industry approved historic new language for its 2012 Tile Council of North America (TCNA) Handbook. This update details the credentials an installer needs to complete a specific project so that the customer can rely on both the beauty and longevity of the tile.

In the past, correct tile specifications have included types of tile, setting materials, methods of installation, and any mention of installer qualifications has been vague at best.  However, this new TCNA handbook, “strongly recommends using installers who have demonstrated their commitment to their craft and taken the time to stay current with the latest materials and methods.”

Listed are recognized certifications and programs which give an indication of a tile professional’s qualifications. Also referenced is a Contractor Questionnaire developed by the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) which can be used “to aid in evaluating and comparing contractors.”

“Well-established and recognized programs like CTEF Certification, National Tile Contractors Association’s (NTCA) Five-Star Contractor designation, and Tile Contractors Association of America’s Trowel of Excellence distinction allow specifiers and owners to feel confident that their material is being installed by a company which has the expertise and integrity to do the job correctly. They also assure manufacturers that their quality products are being installed by knowledgeable craftsmen who will stand behind their work,” said NTCA and Neuse Tile Service president, Nyle Wadford.

This industry-approved language has also been added to MasterSpec and other systems designed for use by engineers, architects, specification writers and owners.

Most tile installers will tell you they do a ‘quality’ job, but for true ‘quality’ other things MUST be considered:

-How long will the installation last?  will it move when the structure breathes? how much use can the surface withstand? will the setting material keep the tile in place when water seeps through? how challenging will it be to maintain the surface?

-What are the consequences of a project’s failure? grout coming up or ‘crunching’ heard each time you walk across a floor? tiles popping loose and creating a trip hazard? down-time and money to re-do the project; or water seeping through the downstairs ceiling?

As TCNA executive director Eric Astrachan said, “For a tile installation with permanence and artistry, specify installers who are passionate about their craft. For a permanent finish, the issue should never be who is cheapest, but rather who is best.”


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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