Neuse Tile Service

Tile installation and service tips from professional installers

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Tile installation takes math & creativity

We seem to be making lots of circles lately – and, with square tiles, that’s a pretty big accomplishment 😉

When you were in school, you probably wondered if you’d ever use what you learned in math class. Most people don’t need a compass or protractor to accomplish daily tasks, but our profession is based on measurements, fractions, and geometry (with some chemistry and physics thrown in, of course).

It takes skilled craftsmen to install these works of artistry, but behind-the-scenes we’re often using colored pencils and protractors to prep for the laser lines and configurations used on the actual job site.

Detailed measurements and certified installers combine to create beautiful symmetry.

A recent photo of our work on the front page of the local newspaper featured mosaic tiles with concentric metal rings that we fashioned from regular square edging.  And, after we made a circular pattern with changing-colored tiles, an architect wrote to tell us,

“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.”

Geometry & tile artistry make this lobby a work of art.

And, we even won a national award for a combination of tile and marble circles that we formulated to fill the first floor of a commercial space. Good thing we still remember how to use that compass and string from math class all those years ago!

Whether it be in circles or squares, we love a long-lasting and beautiful tile installation.  And, no matter what– it takes math to get there.

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‘Quality’ tile install means what?

     Our industry trade journals have been filled lately with professionals and manufacturers talking about the importance of using a “quality tile installer.” We’re thrilled that this conversation has finally come to the forefront, so we take a step back to ask –what does ‘quality’ mean and why does it matter to you?
     No doubt every tile installer will tell you he or she does a ‘quality’ job, so how is a consumer or contractor to know? How much does ‘quality’ matter anyway, since HGTV makes it look like anybody can install tile with some rented tools and those plastic-spacing gizmos?
     For most, the finished look of a tile project would define its value, but, for true ‘quality’ two 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? are you sure the setting material will 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?
     The Tile Council of North America (TCNA) is updating its handbook this year to include specification language that will help architects and design professionals recommend a level of installation quality, but, in the meantime, homeowners can follow the direction of TCNA executive director, Eric Astrachan:
        “The Tile Council of North America 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. There are excellent programs to help you find those installers: the NTCA Five Star program and the CTEF Certified Tile Installer program are two… For a tile installation with permanence and artistry, find installers who are passionate about their craft. For a permanent finish, the issue should never be who is cheapest, but rather who is best.”

     Neuse Tile Service was the first NTCA Five Star installer certified in North Carolina, and is one of only two NC companies which is both Five Star certified and an employer of  CTEF installers.

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Tile tidbits — did you know?

Some interesting tile tidbits for you today:
–A wet piece of tile that is still dripping when removed from the wet saw will interfere with the mortar bond.
–‘Keying in” tile is covering an area with thinset with the flat side of a notched trowel before tile is placed. A trowel with notches impregnates the substrate with setting material; and thinset bonds to itself really well.
–For proper installation, trowel in one direction at a 45 degree angle, and as you place the tile, press it forward then pull it back to ‘burp’ out any air that might interfere with the bond in the future, as you collapse the ridges the notch trowel has made.
–For appropriate trowelling, 80 percent coverage is necessary. ‘Five-spotting’ just won’t do.
–Only cement-based setting materials can be used in a wet area.
–All installations need movement joints.
–The minimum grout joint for tile is 1/16″. Large format tile and offset patterns must have larger joints.
–Large format tiles require a substrate that is twice as flat (no more than 1/8″ variation from plane in 10 feet).
–Grout joints up to 1/4″ allow for 1/32″ of lippage (variation in the height of adjoining tiles).
–You need 3 times the facial dimension variation of the tile for minimum grout joint width.
–Wall-wash lighting can be a problem unless it’s out 24″ from the wall because no tile is perfectly flat.
–Too much sealer can cause hazing on the surface, damage, or change the color of your installation.
These notes are from a recent National Tile Contractors Association symposium. Yes, it’s more complicated than it looks on HGTV. Call a qualified tile contractor; don’t spend your hard-earned money on second best. Tiled today to last for tomorrow.

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Tile’s Green Squared measures sustainable systems

     “Tile products are durable, inert and intended to last as long as the buildings in which they are installed. Tile and related installation materials are engineered to serve as permanent finishes capable of outliving several generations of building occupants,” writes Bill Griese of TCNA as he describes the importance of a standard which can be used to assess the sustainability of tile and installation materials in today’s ‘green’ building environment.
     In light of tile’s long life-cycle and the increasing movement toward industry-wide sustainability criteria, the Tile Council of North America has announced the establishment of Green Squared SM, the world’s first consensus-based sustainability standard and certification program developed exclusively for tiles and tile installation materials.
     “With the recent approval of ANSI A138.1, the standard upon which the Green Squared certification  program is based, our industry now has a means by which to define and certify the environmental and social sustainability attributes of tiles and related installation materials,” remarked Griese, TCNA standards development and Green Initiative manager.
     ANSI A138.1 is a multi-attribute sustainability standard which was written by an ANSI Accredited Standards Committee, ASC A108, representing ‘green’ building stakeholders, tile consumers, manufacturers, distributors, installers, and many other relevant interests. Encompassing ceramic tiles, glass tiles, setting materials, grouts, backer boards and membranes, this standard allows the tile industry to offer installed systems of conforming sustainable products – the first offering of its kind by any building material industry.
 developed the Green Squared program as a way for tiles and related installation materials to be certified as meeting ANSI A138.1. Products evaluated by an independent, third-party certification agency and verified to meet ANSI A138.1 will appear in the marketplace beginning in April 2012. These products will bear a single, easily recognizable Green Squared Certified mark that will give architects, specifiers, and consumers the confidence that these products are truly sustainable.
(Neuse Tile’s Nyle Wadford serves on the ANSI ASC A108 committee which approved this exciting new standard for the industry.)

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Tile specifications to net best results

To raise the level of integrity and professionalism in the tile trade, and to present project owners, architects and design professionals an opportunity to demand installation excellence, two major tile associations have come together to help ensure project plans are carried out by qualified installation contractors.

The National Tile Contractors Association(NTCA) and the Tile Contractors Association of America(TCAA) have come together to mutually promote their associations’ recognition programs. This unprecedented partnership provides a way for project specifiers, contractors, and owners to ensure tile is installed with excellence.

As architects and designers create plans for their projects, they write ‘specifications’ to make sure the details of their vision are understood by all concerned. In the tile category, these specifications have traditionally only included types of tile, setting materials, and method of installation. As the two associations have come together, they have provided a means for also including the specification of a quality installation company.

Both NTCA and TCAA have recognition programs which feature companies that demonstrate a proven track record of success and ethical business practices. NTCA’s Five-Star Contractor and TCAA’s Trowel of Excellence programs will now be promoted together to provide “an unsurpassed level of comfort that projects will have the highest levels of quality at the national, regional, and local level,” said TCAA president John Trendel.

Specification language will be further developed in 2012 so that it can be considered for inclusion in several important industry installation methods and standards. “This unified language will make it easier for 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. It will also assure manufacturers that their quality products are being installed by knowledgeable craftsmen who will stand behind their work. We are proud to be part of this historic effort,” said NTCA and Neuse Tile president, Nyle Wadford.