Neuse Tile Service

Tile installation and service tips from professional installers


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Slam-dunk tile in UNC locker room

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!


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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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Coach, father, friend –gone too soon

Scott DeShieldsWe said goodbye to a longtime co-worker and friend this past week. And, judging by the hundreds of people at his remembrance gathering, his life had a powerful impact. The eloquent reflections presented at his service provided a summary of a man who could teach us all a few things.

There was coaching and leadership: Scott ‘Stump’ DeShields was a mentor who made a difference to future generations. We met Scott because he coached our brother in high school in the early ’90s. In more than 25 years on the sidelines, Scott never hesitated to get in a player’s face and order him to “get his head out of his duffle bag,” but he also didn’t hold back with an arm around the shoulders for a player who needed encouragement or support. They knew his booming voice of instruction, but they also discovered that he really cared.

There was a passion for excellence: Scott held us all to the highest standard. Whether it was in tile, football, or being on time, Scott didn’t accept excuses. “Do your job,” meant Scott was calling you to do your best, to do what you were capable of, to not accept less than your 110 percent.

There was loyalty: Scott was the essence of a ‘foxhole buddy.’ If Scott counted you in his inner circle, he’d do anything in the world to back you up, to come alongside – no matter what. He might call you to task later on, but there was no question as to whether he would be there for you. Even when our dad was in his last days and struggling with his surroundings, he frequently asked for ‘Stump’ to come help him.

There was family: Scott loved his wife and kids beyond measure. His face lit up when he talked about their achievements and plans for the future. He always wanted the best for his children, and they are truly excellent young adults. They will continue to be a very proud legacy for him.

There was personality: Scott would agree that he wasn’t always the easiest person to work with, but he was always himself. Our homogenous world has watered down the ‘characters’ among us, but Scott wasn’t really bothered by social norms. He was true to what he believed, to the people he loved, and to his passions in life. He was true to himself.

Nyle’s salute to Scott at the service was perfect: “To you and those like you. Damn few left.”  May we all try to take the best of ‘Stump’ with us into our coming days.


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Low price won’t turn clay & powder into tile artistry

“Without the tile installer, the tile and installation materials are nothing more than boxes of baked clay and bags of powder; the installer has everything to do with how the tiled floors and walls will look and how well they will hold up over time. Yet, there is very little – in most cases, nothing – to ensure that tiles will be laid straight, even and flat, or that they will not come unbonded or have other installation-related issues. Often, and especially on commercial projects, the first and sometimes only, consideration is the tile contractor’s price, and the lowest bidder is awarded the job,” says Stephanie Samulski, Project Manager at The Tile Council of North America.

“When it comes to hand-crafted work, there is, by necessity, more to the selection process than checking the price tag,” Samulski continued in a recent TILE magazine article. “When a brand new hospital or casino has to repair leaking shower units or cracked tiles, wing-by-wing or floor-by-floor, by rotating areas closed off for business, it’s not a stretch to say that the general contractor’s, architect’s, and building owner’s reputations and profit margins are literally in the tile installer’s hands.”

We couldn’t agree more, Stephanie!! As a former installer and current industry leader, Stephanie helps champion qualified contractors at all levels. She has been involved in the development of Qualified Labor language added to Master Spec and available for architects and specifiers to use in their projects. And she has participated in the curriculum development for the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation’s (CTEF) certification programs.

With those designations available from CTEF and the National Tile Contractors Associations Five-Star Contractor program, you can choose a tile installer, like Neuse Tile, that is fully capable of turning boxes of baked clay and bags of powder into long-lasting, useable art.


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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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What do you need to know about tile?

This is the 2nd blog from our magazine interview installment:

What do you wish people knew about tile?

   Television shows might make you think that installing tile is an easy weekend project, but we see first-hand the failures that result from using less-than-qualified tile people.

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. Obvious poor cuts and bad layouts aside, what’s under the tile is even more important. If the wrong product is used to “flatten” a floor, it will show up eventually as the tile begins to crack or crunch as you walk on it. And, when you add water to the equation in a bathroom, the need to choose a qualified installer is even more essential.

In a year’s time, far more water runs across the tile in your shower than over the roof of your home, so the people you hire to do your tile (and your roof 😉 should really know what they’re doing. Proper tile installation is actually pretty complicated (with its precision layout, intricate cuts, specialized tools, variety of setting materials, water management issues, and the hundreds of methods), so we make sure our folks are up-to-date and well-trained. {And, as an aside, we don’t believe that our tile training makes someone good at carpet or vinyl installation. We just don’t understand why general ‘flooring’ contractors would say the same crews could install all kinds of materials…}

Look for a certified TILE contractor next time you’re considering a tile installation. The money you invest in getting it done right will be money you don’t have to spend getting it re-done later.


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Builders rely on specialty subcontractors

Ours is not a glamorous profession. What we do involves lots of craftsmanship and behind-the-scenes know-how, some heavy-lifting, and, frequently, getting a little dirty. But we’re good at it, and we’ve made lots of functional spaces in the Triangle look a whole lot better because we were there.

Tile craftsmen at work

Tile craftsmen at work

That, in itself, is rewarding most days, but sometimes it’s also nice to be recognized by the people who use our services. The National Association of Home Builders recently published an article which highlighted subcontractors as, “an often over looked but essential part of the home building industry.”

Interesting facts in the article included that it takes, on average, 25 subcontractors to build a single-family detached house. About 71% of those employed in the home building industry are subcontractors.  (Total employment in the industry breaks down to 647,000 builders and 1.584 million residential specialty trade contractors.)

During the past 40 years the use of subcontractors has “significantly accelerated.” (Construction costs subcontracted in 2012 averaged 75% vs. 31% in 1959.) The diverse amenities offered in housing and the increasing complexities of each trade are cited as reasons for this shift. Code requirements are more complicated, materials used are more technically diverse, and the labor force is drastically different now than it was in 1959.

We have great appreciation for our general contractor customers. They must have a vast knowledge base and be planners, jugglers, and, sometimes, babysitters. They take big personal and financial risks, and their work is often unappreciated. The best ones know that it takes an amazing amount of teamwork to get a project completed. Having their respect and appreciation makes it easier for us to go the extra mile when needed. So, today we celebrate being one of the “often overlooked but essential,” and we get back to getting it done!