Archive for the ‘Tips and Advice’ Category

  • Cleaning Grout Safely

    Date: 2014.07.16 | Category: Bathrooms, Kitchens, Tips and Advice | Response: 0

    We all have come across dirty, stained and sometimes even have mold on our grout.  There are many ways to clean your grout, however some every day house hold cleaning products are too rough and can damage what  you have in place.  You can try using a simple at home application of hot water and dawn dish soap.

    •  The first thing to start with is a deep soak.
    • Make a bucket of very hot water adding dawn dish soap.
    • Apply that on a small area and let sit for about 20 minutes.
    • The dawn soap should start to pull the dirt out of the grout.
    • Use soft clean towels to soak up the water.
    •  If there is still dirt on the grout, use a soft nylon brush and in a circular motion lightly scrub at the dirt.

    After trying this and your grout is not getting clean we suggest you using a commercial grade solution made just for cleaning grout surfaces.  Aqua Mix is a great brand that has many different solutions to help in the care and maintenance of your grout.



  • Porcelain Tile VS Ceramic Tile

    Date: 2014.06.04 | Category: Tips and Advice | Response: 0



    Almost everyone will ask what is the difference between porcelain tile and ceramic tile.  I have a few key points that will help clear that up.

    Porcelain – The Tile Lady has a great article explaining tile.

    • Long lasting
    • Easy cleaning
    • Low moisture absorption
    • Less uniformity of size and shape

    Ceramic - Houzz has a great article on the pros and cons of Ceramic Tile.

    • Very affordable, usually significantly less then Porcelain
    • A large variety of color and sizes
    • Lacks in the strength

    To sum this up, Porcelain is a stronger tile that you would want to use on your floor and high traffic areas.  Ceramic tile is great for places on your walls and as accents pieces such as rails.


  • Help! My Floor Tiles Are Buckling!

    Date: 2013.10.09 | Category: Tips and Advice | Response: 0

    Help! My Tile is Buckling! You might not know that your home is probably moving right now. Depending on the environmental conditions, different construction and flooring substrates will shift, settle or expand seasonally. For properly cured concrete slabs, this isn’t usually an issue.

    Did you know that the average house slab can take up two years to fully cure and settle? Tile installed using an inflexible adhesive over a concrete slab that’s still curing can buckle and pop up unexpectedly as the walls and floors move in different directions.

    Expansion joints are typically installed to allow some lateral movement in the flooring without cracking grout lines or causing tiles to buckle, but if they are improperly installed, you might have a problem on your hands.

    Now what?

    If you were lucky enough to catch the problem early with only a few squares of tile affected, cutting expansion joints could ease the tension and prevent further buckling. A word of warning: this isn’t a guaranteed fix, and the problem could worsen. In most cases, removing the original tiles and retiling is your only recourse. The area to be retiled will be smaller to original specifications because of substrate movement.

  • Don’t Forget About Porcelain Tile!

    Date: 2013.08.28 | Category: History of Tile, Tips and Advice | Response: 0

    There are times when a proper porcelain tile is simply a better choice than ceramic. With a water absorption rate of less than .5 percent, porcelain tiles are available in glazed or unglazed varieties.

    This lower water absorption rate means that porcelain is a very durable choice for floor surfaces and areas of high wear and hard knocks. Because the material is much harder and denser compared to most ordinary ceramic tile, its usefulness in these areas is pretty clear. The dense, hard surface of porcelain can be polished to a high gloss, creating a shine without the need of a glaze.

    Here’s the thing: porcelain and ceramic aren’t actually different types of tile. They’re actually both ceramic tile. Porcelain tile is simply fired for longer and at higher temperatures that what we consider ceramic. At a glance, you really can’t tell the difference between a proper porcelain tile and a proper ceramic tile.

    Courtesy of

    For durability, porcelain wins. It’s a combination of the higher kilning temperature and a higher concentration of feldspar. The resulting density can be a pain to cut and fabricate at the DIY-level. Ceramic tile is quite a bit easier to cut — by hand, wet tile saw, or snap tile cutter.

    Generally speaking, porcelain tends to be a bit more brittle compared to ceramic, so exercise care if you’re going to attempt cutting it yourself.

    Here’s an installation tip: Be sure to allow enough time for your thin-set to dry before applying any grout. Because porcelain absorbs so little moisture, the only place where the water content from thin set can escape is through the grout joints. Allow at least 24 hours before grouting. This will allow excess moisture enough time to evaporate. Trapped moisture can cause a host of problems with your installation.

    Note as well: typical ready-mix adhesives are not recommended for porcelain due to the material’s weight and density. Only use adhesives specially formulated for use with porcelain.

  • Five Unconventional Uses for Tile in the Kitchen

    Date: 2013.05.29 | Category: Kitchens, Living Rooms, Tips and Advice | Response: 0

    If you’ve been reading this blog over the past several months, you’ll notice that we’ve always written about using tile in a conventional way — that is, as a building material for flooring, back splashs, and shower enclosures or as a decorative accent in mosaics, vaulted ceilings, and the like. However, the durability of tile also lends itself to some rather unconventional uses, especially around the kitchen.

    Pizza stone

    Tile, especially unglazed quarry tiles, are rated to extremely high temperatures and, depending on the specific variety, are non-porous and food-safe.

    Hearth baking stones If you enjoy baking pizza crusts and breads, slip a couple 18″ x 18″ unglazed quarry tiles into your oven. They’ll act as a heat sink and help yield the crisp, crackery crust that wood-oven pizzerias are known for producing. There’s no need to take them out when you’re not using them, either. Even if you’re not baking, they’ll retain heat incredibly well and regulate the temperature inside. Foods will cook more quickly and evenly.

    Bread warmers Smaller unglazed quarry tiles can be used as bread warmers. Preheat them gently in the oven and they’ll keep the bread warm and crisp at the dinner table. Choose tiles that don’t have sharp or rough edges so you don’t mar the finish on your kitchen table.

    Trivets Protect your kitchen and dining room table from just-out-of-the-oven serving dishes with a tile trivet. Food-safe isn’t really necessary here, so you can choose ceramic, slate, granite or other stoneware tiles that suit your decor and personal taste. Tip: glue felt pads using an industrial-strength epoxy to the back of the tiles so they don’t scratch.

    Cheese boards Marble and granite tiles make excellent cheese boards. They can be put into the refrigerator to chill slightly before arranging various cheeses and fruit for entertaining.

    Coasters Small square tiles can be used as distinctive and unique drink coasters. Choose a pattern and finish that works with your decor. As with the trivets, you may want to glue small felt pads on the back to prevent scratching.

    What are some of your favorite unconventional uses for tile in your home?

  • Eco-Friendly Ways to Clean Ceramic Tile

    Date: 2013.05.14 | Category: Tips and Advice | Response: 0

    We know that ceramic tile is durable and easy to clean, but sometimes things get a bit grubby. Commercially available cleaners can be harsh and potentially damaging to the finish and grout of your tile flooring. The good news? Some of the best cleaning agents available are likely sitting in your pantry right now.

    For most light cleaning, a gentle soap and hot water does the trick. For spot cleaning, wipe the affected area with a clean, lint-free cloth and the soap-water solution. For larger surfaces, a damp mop is a better choice.


    If dirt is built up in the tile crevices and grout lines, a mixture of hot water and ordinary white vinegar makes an excellent cleaning solution. Mix one gallon of hot water with one cup of vinegar. Vinegar is an excellent all-natural cleaner that leave tiles bright and return the lustre without streaking. An old toothbrush or similar gently-bristled brush can help dislodge stubborn dirt in the grout lines. Wipe the tile surfaces with a clean sponge or lint-free cloth, or use a mop. A word of warning: mop heads can pick up grit easily that might mar the finish of your tiles. Flush the mop head with clean water thoroughly — and often.

    For really stubborn dirt, use straight vinegar and put a bit of elbow grease into the process.


    Unglazed tile is porous and prone to absorbing grease and oils. An oily or greasy spot on tile can often be removed with cornstarch. Sprinkle cornstarch liberally on the affected area and allow it to sit undisturbed for several hours. The cornstarch will draw the grease and oil out of the tile and can be swept or vacuumed up. You may need to reapply several times to completely remove the spot. After the spot has been removed, you can clean the tile as normal using the vinegar and hot water solution.

  • Six Principles of Designing With Tile

    Date: 2013.03.21 | Category: Ideas and Inspiration, Tips and Advice | Response: 0


    Color is always a designer’s best friend. Color choice sets the mood and tone of a room’s design and aesthetic and reflect our lifestyles and sensibilities. Bold to soft e. Do you want to make a modern statement? Use modern color treatments. More traditional? More muted, natural earth tones and pastel colors. Mixing colors in the same room can have an incredibly dramatic effect.
    Colored Tiles

    Direction and Pattern

    A block or grid pattern can be static and sensible; turning the tile to a 45 degree angle in a diagonal pattern can again add interest and the suggestion of movement. From herringbone to basketweaves, insets to more elaborate inlays, even the ubiquitous 4 x 4 inch tile can have a dramatic and sustaining effect on a room’s overall design.
    Tile Pattern


    Choose your grout carefully. There are a variety of grouts available, specific to installation needs. A grout in a contrasting color will emphasize the tile pattern, a grout in a complimentary colors to the tile will emphasize the tile itself.
    Kitchen Remodel - Nov.  2007


    Don’t underestimate the importance of the size of an individual tile itself! The size of the tiles will affect the perception and appreciation of a design. Small tiny 1″x1″ tiles have a much different look than 24″x24″ tiles. The 13″x13″ tile is the ‘standard’ size for tile. Using larger or smaller tiles and combining them will effect the look will achieve. Too large of a tile overpowers the design, as can too small a tile.


    There are decorative tiles available — listellos, corners, insets and mosaics, for example. Create medallions or an area rug look on a floor or build visual interest with horizontal lines of listellos on a wall.
    Decorative mosaic tiled walls in the Mexuar


    You can use various textures together for unique effects. Insetting river stones into heavy grout lines or creating patterns using small pieces of broken and mixed tile, for example, or using rough, rustic textured tile with polished glass tile or a heavily-glazed ceramic.
    tile texture background pattern

  • Care and Feeding Instructions for Ceramic Tile

    Date: 2013.02.18 | Category: Tips and Advice | Response: 0

    Tile is well known for being durable, virtually stainproof, and easy to clean and maintain, but a little practical know-how will take you a long way in keeping your ceramic tile floor looking its best.

    While cleaning ceramic tile flooring is a simple and straightforward affair, there are some things to look out for so you don’t mar the finish or otherwise damage the finish.

    A few pointers for tending to your ceramic tile:

    • Never use harsh abrasive cleaners that might scratch the glaze.
    • Avoid cleaning unglazed ceramic tiles with acids, strong soaps, or abrasives.
    • Mop ceramic tile with a damp mop and a gentle all-purpose cleaner. Dry the floor with a soft cloth to avoid streaking.
    • Ceramic tile walls and countertops can be brought to a high-sparkle sheen with car wax. Apply as recommended and buff after ten minutes.
    • Strip wax buildup on unglazed tile floors yearly and rewax. Be sure to rinse thoroughly after applying the stripper to flush away excess product.
    • Need some more tips?

      Check out this great video from the World Floor Covering Association:

    • 10 Tips for Installing A Ceramic Tile Floor

      Date: 2013.02.10 | Category: Tips and Advice | Response: 0

      Porcelain Floor Tiles installation

      Getting ready to tackle a ceramic tile installation? Here’s 10 tips to make sure you get the results that you’re shooting for:

      1. Mise en place. When you’re working with tile or any home improvement project, keep materials and tools within reach, as you need them. Efficiency is your friend.

      2. Larger tiles are much easier to install than small ones. Larger tiles are commonly used for bathroom walls, but are great for kitchens and other rooms too. The smaller 1x1s are going to take longer to set, so choose a small pattern. Those small tiles are going to take considerably longer to place and install compared to larger ones.

      3. Make sure you level the subfloor before you start laying tile. Self-leveling subfloor compound is a popular choice among DIYers and easy to install. For optimal results, the subfloor should be at least 1″ thick.

      4. Squaring a room is as easy as 3-4-5. The best method to squaring a room is using a 3-4-5 Triangle. Measure 3 feet against one wall, 4 feet to the center of the room and connect the two lines to make a triangle with a 5 foot line. If the room is larger, use 6, 8, and 10foot lines. Snap a chalk line along the measurements to mark the lines.

      5. If cutting corners, rent a wet saw. Renting one will save time and frustration. Unless it’s a perfect house with perfect rooms, you will have to cut the tiles. The time saved in cutting all of the tiles perfectly will pay off immediately.

      6. Don’t rush yourself into a poor job. Always take your time and work in a small area to ensure you get everything right. Behind every quality tile job is an installer that chose to take his time.

      7. Butter the tiles. When working in tight corners or edges, the trowel won’t be able to fit.

      8. Don’t rush the cure. Allow the thin-set the proper amount of time to dry or you’ll just wind up damaging the work.

      9. Trowel it diagonally to ensure an even application, never in a straight line.

      10. Want perfect gaps? Use plastic spacers. This will ensure the same exact space between each tile, every time.


      : Seal before tiling. Always waterproof showers and wet areas before tiling them. Tile installations do not act as a 100 percent moisture barrier. They are designed to protect the waterproof surface below them.

      Save the extra tiles. Keep spares for patch repairs.

    • A Simple Guide to Choosing The Right Tile Cutter

      Date: 2013.01.30 | Category: Tips and Advice | Response: 0

      Choose the right tile saw for your DIY project can mean the difference between a problem-free installation and a disaster. You’ve chosen the right materials — tile, grout, beckerboard — for your project and invested in the cost of those materials, so make sure that you’ve choosen the right tools for the job.

      Unless you have incredibly good luck, most tiling jobs are going to require some cutting. But all tile cutters are not created equal. Some tile cutters are designed for making designer and custom cuts and others are made specifically to make straight line cuts only. So how do you choose the right one for the job?

      Start by considering the size of the job and the specific type of materials that will need to be cut — both in terms of thickness and the square footage of the installation area. For relatively small projects using ceramic or porcelain title, a simple snap cutter might do the trick. But if the project is a large one and requires multiple or detailed cuts, a specialized tile saw will make the job easier.

      Snap or Rail Cutter

      A snap or rail tile cutter is a manual cutter. The tile is placed directly on the cutting surface and a scoring wheel is run along the length of the tile. They are an ideal choice for smaller DIY project where simple straight cuts are the norm, and are rated by the size of tile they’re best suited to cut. Be sure to select an appropriately sized snap cutter for your job.

      Note: snap cutters are not suited for stone tiles.

      Handheld Wet Tile Saws

      Combining portability and a powerful self-contained motor, handheld wet tile saws use a cutting wheel impregnated with diamond particles to cut thick and otherwise tough natural or manmade tile material. Corded and cordless models are available, depending on manufacturer. You’ll need to safely secure the tile to ensure clean cuts and prevent injury. Water is used to keep the dust generated by the cutting action out of the air.

      Table Top Wet Tile Saws

      Very similar in construction to a table saw, table top wet tile saws are probably more tool than the occasional DIYer needs, but they are more powerful than handheld units and available in a wider range of styles. The cutting wheel rotates through a water reservoir to eliminate flying particles and keep the wheel itself cool.

      General Tips

      • Purchase a few extra tiles to familiarize yourself with whichever cutter you purchase or rent. You’ll probably break a few as you learn how each tool cuts.
      • The quality of your cuts will improve as you go from snap cutters to handheld cutters to tabletop models
      • Always follow manufacturer’s safety instructions and gloves and eye protection.