Installation Criteria

The following is a list of factors that will affect the amount of time and the type of tools and materials required to complete your tile work. Your installer needs the following information in order to give you an accurate cost estimate. Some of these things will be apparent when he comes to inspect the site and take measurements, other things will need to be decided ahead of time. Knowing the criteria ahead of time will help you determine if the estimates you have received are fair.

Substrate- One of the first things an installation professional will look at during a site inspection is the substrate – the surface onto which he must make the tile stick. If the floor or wall material is a substance which reacts poorly to tile adhesives, or is too damaged to support the weight of the tile, it may need to be removed, fortified, or covered with a membrane.

For floors, cement-based poylmer-modified mortar known as ‘thinset’ must be used in order for the installation to be able to bear weight. Thinset only sticks well to three things: cement, plywood, and certain types of linoleum. It will not stick to tar, paint, or dust-covered surfaces and makes pressed boards such as OSB or K3 swollen and mushy.

Plywood floors need to be at least 1.25 inch thick to eliminate any bounce or movement that might crack the tile. Cement floors with cracks or radiant heat will require anti-fracture membrane to reduce the effect of expansion and contraction. Humps, bumps, crests, and trenches might need to be dealt with before tile can be installed.

For walls in dry areas, tile glue known as ‘mastic’ is used. In wet areas, we use a non-sagging wall set mortar. As long as the drywall panels have been taped together and painted, the washing stage of grouting will not dissolve the drywall mud and there will be no movement to crack the tiles. In wet areas, cement board should be used, never drywall. Cement board does not require paint, but the panels must be taped together.

If all of this seems a little excessive, it is important to note that it is the integrity of the substrate, not the strength of the tile, that will determine the longevity of the installation. Laziness or incompetence in dealing with substrates can cause the installation to fail within months of completion.

Square Footage -The installation professional will want to take his own measurements of the job site, even if you offer him yours. Often, laypeople forget to measure the areas under the fridge and stove, or the floor space inside closets. The square footage is what your installer will use to order enough adhesives, grout, and other materials to complete your installation, so it important not to omit areas.

Always ask your installer how much tile to order. You will need more than the exact square footage to allow for waste. Like a tailor making a suit, your installer will be cutting tiles to fit along walls, cabinets and doors, and will be left with bits and chunks he can’t use anywhere else. Your installer will know how to compensate for this in his measurements. Also, don’t forget to ask for some extra tile to keep in case a repair is needed. Within two years of installation, your tile will be discontinued by the manufacturer, and if you do not have enough extras, you may be faced with having to replace the entire installation one day.

Size and Type of Tile -Larger tiles are sometimes faster to install than smaller ones. Oversized tiles sometimes require special equipment to carry and cut them. Ceramic and porcelain tiles require little in the way of special treatment, while natural stone products may need special sealers, thinsets, or polishing equipment. What all this means is that you must select the tile you want before the installer can quote you an accurate price.

Layout and Custom Details- The easiest (and therefore the least expensive) layout is to set the tiles with the grout lines running the same direction as the walls (set ‘on square’). Diamond patterns (set ‘on 45’), brick patterns, and off-set patterns using more than one size of field tile make cutting around cabinets and door frames much more difficult to measure accurately and usually create more unusable waste pieces. Decorative inserts and feature mats are also more time-consuming, requiring greater skill and will therefore be more expensive for materials as well as labour. Again, you must decide on these details before asking for estimates.

Tile Cleaning & Maintenance

Here are a few suggestions to help make cleaning easier and to protect the longevity of your tile work. Although professional cleaning and maintenance services such as stain removal or re-caulking tub surrounds are a part of what we offer at Powerhouse Tile, an ounce of prevention on your part is worth a pound of our cure.

  • Always use plastic or natural bristled brushes. Never use metal or wire cleaning implements on any tile or stone product.
  • Make sure your mop can reach to the bottom of the grout line. We find a string yacht mop or plastic scrub brush works best.
  • Use a dry, clean, untreated dust mop regularly.
  • Always use a brush attachment on the vacuum cleaner. Plastic or metal attachments can sometimes scratch stone tiles or chip ceramic ones.
  • Wash tile or stone with a mild neutral cleaner or stone soap (see Products section) and rinse thoroughly. Vinegar, lemon, or other acids destroy grout and etch stone.
  • Do not use products containing bleach, even if the product is supposedly formulated for tile! To remove tough stains, contact Powerhouse Tile for professional cleaning services.
  • Squeegee shower tile after use to reduce mineral deposits. Open bathroom windows or keep fan on to keep mildew at bay.
  • Remove and replace silicone caulking in wet areas every few years before it wears out to ensure a water-tight seal.
  • Use a quality sealer on grout and natural stone to prevent staining. Re-apply sealer within the timeframe suggested on the label.
  • Many foods and drinks, including alcohol, contain substances that will etch stone. Keep coasters under glasses and mop up spills immediately.
  • Do not place hot items directly on stone surfaces.
  • Abrasion damage to natural stone can be minimized with the use of area rugs and mats inside and outside entrances.
  • Normally it takes about eight steps to shake the dirt from the bottom of one's shoes - make sure the rug is long enough and that the underside is a non-slip surface.

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