Why Luxury Vinyl?

What is Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring?  What are the pros and cons of Luxury Vinyl Flooring (LVP & LVT).

 

In this post we’ll discuss what Luxury vinyl is, the good and the bad of luxury vinyl, the different forms/types of the product as well as the acronyms/abbreviations used in the industry (e.g. LVT, EVP, LVP, EVT).

Vinyl has come a long way since its original inception.  There are plenty of different options that feel and look like real hardwood and stone.

 

What do all of the acronyms stand for?

LVP stands for Luxury Vinyl Plank, which are vinyl planks that look like hardwood planks. LVT stands for Luxury Vinyl Tile, which are vinyl planks or squares that look like tile or natural stone.  They are individual pieces, much like tile or stone, and have the added benefit of being waterproof.

LVP/LVT comes in a variety of grades and forms. The innovation in both quality and durability has been evolving extremely fast yearly.  There are more form and color options available than ever.

What is EVP?

EVP short for Engineered Vinyl Plank.  It is a subset of Luxury Vinyl Flooring.  EVP has an incredibly realistic hardwood look and feel and is very durable.  It is waterproof and has a high density core.

EVP – or Engineered vinyl plank, is a thicker form of the standard glue down vinyl.  At an average of 8 mm thick, it’s fairly similar to engineered hardwood or laminate flooring in thickness.  Much like engineered flooring, it is constructed in layers.  The top layer is vinyl, the center is a high density core board and there is typically an attached back underlayment, such as cork for more cushioning.  Like laminate, these floors are designed to click together for easy installation.

Engineered vinyl plank is similar in form and look to engineered hardwood and laminate flooring, but it is much more resilient.  Another great benefit to EVP is that it is waterproof.

Engineered vinyl plank has is a great alternative to more expensive engineered hardwood flooring, that is more durable and attractive to cheaper looking vinyl and laminate.  Both of these have an unfortunate tendency to curl over time.

What are the different forms of luxury vinyl flooring?

 

Years ago luxury vinyl was only available in a glue down form.  These materials could be glued directly to a concrete slab or a plywood sub-floor.  They are fairly thin so when glued directly to a concrete slab, they just lay on top of it without providing any sort of cushioning.  It’s essentially as if you are walking on top of a concrete slab, so it can be pretty hard and cold.

Because vinyl is thin, imperfections in the sub-floor can show through,  it’s very important that you prep the floor before installing vinyl.

 

Eventually, a variation of vinyl was created that was floating.  Floating means that the floor covering isn’t glued or attached to the sub-floor. This makes it much easier to install without hiring a professional, and to replace or repair the floor at a later date.

Big box stores carry some varieties of these materials.  These offerings tend to be lower quality and much less durable than you would find from a vendor that specializes in flooring.  These have a habit of curing over time and delaminating in areas that see more moisture, or where the floor isn’t even.  This could cause the pieces to not line up properly, and in more trafficked areas could be tripping hazards.

What are the advantages of EVP?

 

 

  • Waterproof – Engineered luxury vinyl is a great choice for areas with a lot of moisture such as bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms.

 

  • Appearance – Luxury vinyl looks great, especially engineered vinyl plank.  Many people mistake it for hardwood.

 

  • Price – On average EVP/LVP is less expensive than hardwood or tile.

 

  • Provides more insulation and sound proofing than glue down laminates and vinyls.

 

 

  • Can be installed on top of virtually any surface that is flat.  Luxury vinyl can go on top of plywood, tile or concrete.
  • Easy to install nothing more really needs to be said about that.

What are the downsides to Engineered Vinyl Planks?

 

  • It doesn’t improve the value of your home in the same way that hardwood or tile does.  However, it’s certainly a preferable and longer lasting option vs laminate flooring or your basic cheap vinyl.
  • It can scratch, especially with heavy objects such as appliances.  It’s more scratch resistant than hardwood and bit less resistant than laminate.  You can replace individual pieces if they get scratched, so its handy to have an extra box or two for repairs.
  • May require a lot of floor prep if your floor is uneven or wavy.  If your floor is very uneven or wavy, Engineered vinyl planks (which are rigid) will not line up very well, and they can bounce (just as any floating floor can).  So, if your floors are wavy or uneven, you will probably want to either add self leveling, mix which can be a bit costly, or consider a glue down installation.

 

When does it make sense to do a floating engineered vinyl plank rather than a glue down luxury vinyl?

 

  • When your floors are flat and level, you can use whichever type of vinyl (or other flooring you want).  In these circumstances, most customers prefer an engineered vinyl plank  as it looks and feels nicer. It often costs a bit less, too.

 

  • When you want a floor that is waterproof and moisture resistant.  Engineered vinyl plank is perfect for this, and a way better option vs laminate (or engineered hardwood) that can become ruined just from moisture, let alone a floor or water leak.

 

  • When you’re looking for more stylish colors.  Because the engineered vinyl planks are newer and more popular, they are rapidly expanding their lines and color selection.  It’s often easier to find more options in the more recent hot trends for grays, weathered woods and farmhouse looks in the engineered planks.  There are generally fewer options in the glue down versions.

 

Summary

 

Luxury Vinyl Planks are a quickly growing segment in the market place, and the Engineered Vinyl Planks are the most quickly expanding sub-segment.  They provide a gorgeous real and contemporary look, and they are very durable and versatile.  It is a huge benefit that they are waterproof, so they are great for water or moisture prone areas such as kitchens and bathrooms.

 

Luxury vinyl tends to hold up much better than laminate and engineered hardwood and they can be installed on top of virtually any type of surface.

 

 

 

Ceramic or Porcelain – The Differences

Porcelain And Ceramic Tiles – Whats the difference?

The difference between porcelain and ceramic tiles lies in their makeup.

Ceramic tiles are made using natural red, brown or white clay, baked at high temperatures to reduce water content, and then the patterned glaze is applied.

Porcelain tiles are produced in largely the same way, except using only white clay. Finely-ground sand and feldspar is also added into the clay mixture, and then fired at higher temperatures than ceramic tiles. The result is a harder, much more dense tile, which is less porous.

It’s the permeability of the tile which ultimately dictates whether it is classified as ceramic or porcelain.

All tiles are subject to a water absorption test to determine how porous they are. Tiles are weighed then submerged in water for a period of time. Those tiles that weigh 0.5% more after being put in water, having obviously absorbed some, are classified as ceramic. Those that are denser and weigh less than 0.5% more are classed as porcelain.

The distinction between the two is made after the manufacturing process.

There are then two different types of porcelain tile – through-body porcelain tiles and glazed porcelain tiles.

Through-body tiles (also known as full-body or homogeneous) have no glaze on them and are the same design and color all the way through. Glazed tiles, as the name suggests, have a painted glaze on top which gives the tile its pattern and color.

Should you choose through-body or glazed tiles? In high-traffic areas, such as hallways, through-body tiles may well be a better option. This is because chips and dents in glazed tiles are much more noticeable as the color underneath shows through. With full-body tiles, chips are much less noticeable as it’s the same color all the way through.

NOTE – while porcelain tiles are harder and more dense, this also makes them more difficult to cut and shape. Ceramic tiles can be cut much more easily by hand using a wet tile saw or snap tile cutter, while porcelain tiles require much more experience in order to get a clean, accurate cut.

Should You Choose Porcelain Or Ceramic Tiles?

For most applications, either ceramic or porcelain tiles should be fine. There are certain instances in which one is more suitable than the other.

AREAS WITH HIGH FOOTFALL OR ABRASION

Porcelain tiles are harder than ceramic tiles and can therefore better withstand the abuse of higher footfall or abrasion, so are good choices for entrance ways, hallways and utility rooms. Ceramic tiles are slightly more likely to chip, exposing the different color tile under the glaze.

If you have a children or pets, then porcelain tiles will be better at standing up to wear and tear, particularly if you use through-body tiles.

Ceramic should be fine for wall tiles in these areas, however.

AREAS WITH HIGH LEVELS OF MOISTURE

As we mentioned above, porcelain tiles absorb less water than ceramic tiles and are therefore more suited to areas with high levels of moisture. The most obvious example is the bathroom, where there is likely to be water on the floor and in the air, but you might also want to consider porcelain floor tiles in the kitchen in case of spillages – a low absorption rate also means that porcelain tiles are less prone to staining.

OUTDOORS

If you want to tile outdoors, either as a patio or on a balcony, then you should definitely use porcelain tiles. Being less porous, porcelain tiles will hold up better in rain and other precipitation, which is incredibly important in cold weather – if the moisture freezes then it will expand, which could cause the tile to crack.

PEI Rating

An great way of quickly identifying which tiles are right for your home, is to go by the Porcelain Enamel Institute rating (PEI rating), which is as follows:

PEI 0 – No foot traffic (wall tiles)

PEI 1 – Very light traffic (rooms with infrequent use, e.g. bathroom)

PEI 2 – Light traffic (e.g. bathroom and bedroom)

PEI 3 – Light to moderate traffic (should be suitable for most domestic floors)

PEI 4 – Moderate to heavy traffic (fine for domestic floors and some commercial applications)

PEI 5 – Heavy traffic (all domestic/commercial uses with heavy footfall)

Most ceramic tiles will have a PEI rating over between 3 and 4, while porcelain tiles will usually be harder, with a PEI rating between 3 and 5.

Choosing Carpet – Nylon vs Polyester

When shopping for carpet, a lot of people naturally focus on carpet fiber and often assume that nylon is always better than polyester.  However, carpet fiber is only one of the factors that you need to consider.   Equally important are carpet construction factors like density, filament type and twist level.  All of these elements together determine how a carpet will perform and what it will cost.  When shopping for carpet, it helps to have a general understanding of these factors in order to make the best decision.  In this week’s post, we’ll look the difference between fibers and next week we’ll talk about carpet construction.

Carpet Fiber: Carpet’s Basic Ingredient 

The four basic fibers used in carpet today are nylon, polypropylene (Olefin), polyester and wool.  Since synthetic fibers make up 99% of the fiber in the US carpet industry, we’ll focus on them.   Each type of fiber has its strengths and weaknesses which determine how it can be used and constructed.  Keep in mind there is no perfect fiber and carpet is a fabric that is subjected to incredible abuse – foot traffic, accidental spills and environmental contaminants.

Nylon

Durable, Resilient & Versatile

Nylon is more expensive than other synthetic carpet fibers and is the most commonly used carpet fiber today. Nylon is the most versatile of all fibers, providing flexibility in creating a variety of carpet styles – from sumptuous plush to fashion-forward patterns to low-maintenance loop (Berber).  Its strengths include good resiliency, good yarn memory to hold twist, good stain resistance with stain treatment applied, good soil hiding ability, and good abrasion resistance. It is the strongest fiber, making it an excellent choice for heavy traffic areas, active households or commercial facilities.

Be aware that there can be considerable cost differences even between two similar-looking nylon products. Nylon, for example, may be branded or unbranded and, as we mentioned, carpet construction greatly influences value, price and performance. You really can’t judge a carpet by appearance or fiber weight alone. As an example, Shaw’s Anso nylon is a branded, premium nylon and comes with some of the strongest warranties in the industry, including Lifetime Stain and Soil Resistance (even pet urine stains!).  Anso nylon carpets cost more, but you’re getting a premium nylon with excellent construction properties and the warranties reflect this.  What you care about is that your carpet will look newer longer.

If you are looking for value goods, unbranded nylons offer a considerable benefit for the money. These products may have fewer features and less robust warranties, but you’ll still get the inherent benefits of nylon (durability and resiliency) at a lower price.

Polypropylene (Olefin)

Color Fast, Naturally Stain Resistant, Economical

Olefin is one of the most colorfast fibers on the market.  Unlike the other fiber types, polypropylene will not absorb water and must be solution dyed to impart color.  Solution dyeing is a pigmentation process in which color is actually built into the fiber when it is formed, thereby becoming an inherent part of the fiber.  The color will not fade, even when exposed to intense sunlight, bleaches, or other harsh chemicals.  However, since it is not as resilient as other fibers, polypropylene is better suited to low-profile loop (Berber) carpets in which there is less need for superior resiliency.   The one exception to this is a type of olefin called “Comfortouch” by Shaw.  This new fiber is softer to the feel because it is scoured three times during production. Then the fiber is treated with Shaw’s R2X, a patented Stain and Soil inhibitor for enhanced protection against spills and tracked-in dirt. The result is a fiber that feels like cotton, resists soil and stains, and wears better than other olefin carpet.

Olefin carpets work well anywhere you need fade and stain resistance – in rooms with strong sunlight, indoor/outdoor rooms, kitchens, children’s bedrooms & playrooms, and basements.

Polyester

Exceptionally Stain & Fade-Resistant, Soft, & Budget-Friendly

If you need stain-resistance, this is your carpet!  Just to give you an example, we know a customer who spilled hair dye on her 6 month old polyester carpet. Although hair dye is on the list of stains that are NOT warranted, this customer got the stain out with laundry detergent and water. Now that’s impressive!

While not as inherently resilient as nylon, polyester carpets will perform well if constructed well.  So choose a polyester carpet with a higher pile and medium-high density to ensure maximum appearance retention and long-term wear.  You can also refer to the durability ratings on the back of carpet samples to help you assess how a carpet will stand up to traffic.

If you’ve never considered polyester carpeting before, you might want to look at Shaw’s New ClearTouch carpets which are made of a new type of polyester called PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate).  This new polyester “ups the ante” in terms of performance.  ClearTouch carpets feature:

  • exceptional softness
  • natural and permanent stain resistance, including pet urine stains
  • improved strength and better abrasion resistance
  • excellent appearance retention and long-term wear
  • 25% recycled content from recycled soda and water bottles

The new PET polyester carpets pack in a lot of performance for the money! They are a great choice for children’s bedrooms & playrooms as well as for people who don’t want to put a lot money into their carpet.  We highly recommend you choose a PET polyester with a higher pile and medium-high density to ensure maximum appearance retention and long-term wear.

Shaw Lifeguard – Life Happens

 

Life Happens is a new residential carpet collection from Shaw that features their new LifeGuard protection system. LifeGuard is a revolutionary protection system that covers the entire product, from face fiber to backing. All of the Lifeguard carpets are treated with Shaw’s patented R2X Stain and Soil Resistance protection. In addition, the thermoplastic backing gives the carpet a waterproof barrier that prevents liquids from soaking into the carpet padding and the subfloor.

The LifeGuard’s patented backing system keeps liquids from seeping into the carpet backing, which allows for an easier cleanup and protection against odor-causing spills and pet accidents. In addition, the R2X Stain and Soil Resistance System gives the carpet an exceptional level of liquid stain resistance because of the liquid will stay on the surface of the carpet, just like the picture shows below. Since the liquid will stay on the top of the carpet and not soak through the backing, you will have more time to discover the spill and clean it up. After the mess has been cleaned up, the carpet will dry quickly.

The Life Happens carpets also combat household odors, and they retain their appearance because of the Anso CrushResister High Performance Nylon. These carpets are resistant to becoming fuzzy, the carpet tufts resist being pulled out, the edges will not ravel easily, and the carpet/backing is less likely to suffer delamination. In addition, the carpet is easy to install because the backing is flexible. This carpet bends well so it is perfect for stairs, and the softness of the carpet backing helps protect painted baseboards and door casings.

The LifeGuard products are designed to be recyclable at the end of their lives. Every part of the carpet is completely recyclable, and they are Cradle to Cradle certified. The video below will explain more about how the carpet is recyclable and Eco-friendly.

Here are the warranties for the carpets in the Life Happens collection.

Lifetime Warranties: Waterproof Backing, Stain & Soil, No Wrinkle, No Edge Ravel, No Delamination, and Tuft Bind.
25 Year Warranties: Texture Retention, Abrasive Wear, and Quality Assurance

There are many beautiful carpets to choose from in this collection, and they feature the newest design and color trends.

Carpet flooring – How is it installed?

Carpet flooring is one of those things you things you probably ask yourself how it’s done, right?

Hire a professional – that’s how.

Can you do it on your own?  Sure.  If you have the proper tools, and know how.  Is it worth the headache of trying?  Not really.

That being said, here is a pretty simplistic run down of the process.

1. Determine the Area of the Room

Measure the longest walls in your room.  Next, multiply the length and width, and divide by 9 to determine the square yardage. It’s always best to add 10% to allow for irregularities, errors, waste, and pattern matching.

2. Clean the Sub-floor

You want the surface to that is going to be carpeted to be smooth and clean. Scrape any paint or joint compound, sweep and vacuum the floor thoroughly.

3. Remove the Doors

If you can, remove the doors from the rooms you are carpeting so you won’t have to work around them. Having the doors out of the way will make it easier for you to cut off the bottoms of the doorjambs if necessary.

4. Install the Tack Strips

Cut the tack strips to size with a strip cutter or heavy snips. Nail the strips 1/2 inch from the wall.  Do not install tack strips across thresholds or doorways; the tacks on the strips are pretty sharp and could poke through the carpet and hurt your feet. Tack strips come in a variety of heights, thicknesses and widths. You want to make sure you are using the correct size. If you are installing carpet over a concrete sub-floor, use masonry tacks or epoxy adhesive to hold the tack strips in place.

5. Install the Carpet Pad

Lay out the carpet pad perpendicular to the direction you plan to install the carpet, and staple it near the tack strips with a staple hammer.

6. Staple Any Pad Seams

Staple the seam of the pad, alternating staples so that they are not beside one another. Stretch the padding so that the pieces are butted tightly together.

7. Trim the Pad

Feel through the padding to locate the tack strip, then use a utility knife to cut away the padding along the interior edge of the strip so that all the tacks are exposed.

8. Notch Corners for Trimming

Measure the room at its longest point, then add 3″ to the measurement. If you an, take the carpet outside, and notch the back on both sides at the appropriate length. The carpet will be easier to handle outside. If possible, have someone help you.

9. Trim the Carpet to Size

Roll the carpet with the back facing outward until the notched areas show. Then run a chalk line from notch to notch. Cut the back of the carpet along the chalk line, roll up the carpet, and take it back inside.

10. Trim the Excess Carpet

Roll out the carpet into the room. Keep it as straight as possible. Cut away excess carpet, but leave about 3″ extra next to the walls. Lay out any additional carpet needed to fill the room.

11. Glue the Seams Together

Where the carpet edges join, you’ll need to create a seam. The seamed edges of both carpet segments must be straight. Check the edges: don’t assume that a factory edge is straight. Place a piece of seaming tape under the seam, adhesive side up. Heat the seaming iron to the temperature recommended by the tape manufacturer, and rest it directly on the tape for 15 to 30 seconds. Then slowly slide the iron along the tape, and press the seam into the melted glue behind the iron. After the pieces are joined, place heavy objects on the seam to hold it in place as the glue dries. Seams should run parallel to the room’s main light source. And make sure the pile of both pieces leans in the same direction.

12. Trim Around the Obstacles

Dry-fit the carpet, butting one end against a wall. Use a carpet knife to trim the carpet to fit around obstacles.

13. Attach the First Edge of the Carpet

Attach the carpet to the tackless strips at one end of the room, using the knee kicker. Place the face of the knee kicker against the carpet about 3″ away from the wall, and forcefully strike the padded end to stretch the carpet over the tackless strips.

14. Trim the Excess from the Edges

Trim excess carpet with a wall trimmer, which rests against the wall and provides a straight cut at the correct spot. Use a stair tool to press the cut edges underneath the baseboard trim.

15. Stretch the Carpet

Use the power stretcher to attach to the strips on the other side of the room. For corners and alcoves where the power stretcher can’t reach, use the knee kicker and stair tool.

16. Use the Binder Bar

Nail a binder bar to any areas where the carpet ends without abutting a wall such as a threshold. Stretch the carpet with the knee kicker to link to the hooks in the binder bar then use a wooden block or scrap piece of lumber to close the binder bar onto the edge of the carpet.

17. Finish Trimming the Carpet

When all the carpet is in place, cut out the vent openings. Attach shoe molding around the room if desired.

All of that should be more than enough to deter even the most determined DIY types.

But…  Before all of that happens, you still have to pick out the carpet you like.

Shaw has quite a broad selection of carpets to include their Truaccents collection.  You can also find some great selections at Dreamweaver.

Be sure to check out our website for great offers, or better yet, come to our showroom at 8643 W Kelton Ln Suite 105 in Peoria!

How to install a tile shower

 

A tile shower install can be a difficult task for even the most experienced tile setters. All tile install jobs require a strict attention to design, layout, placement, and bonding. With a shower install, though, you need to address some additional and unique challenges. Waterproofing, incorporating plumbing fixtures, achieving proper drainage and meeting code requirements. Changes in waterproofing, drain and tile-setting technologies will allow you to more easily meet these demands. Here are some things you need to know before tackling a tile shower installation:

Completed custom shower install

1. Understand the installation requirements of the drain assembly waterproofing system.

Not so long ago, shower installers only really had one option for waterproofing showers: hot-mopping. That process involved installers applying a thick layer of hot tar to the floor of a shower pan, creating a waterproof seal that prevents leaks from damaging the subfloor. Hot-mopping is still done, however, today’s installer has a variety of other waterproofing options.  These include roll-on, trowel-on, and sheet products. Installers typically place the waterproofing materials just below the surface of the tile, bonding the tile directly to the waterproofing membrane. This allows water to run off the surface and down to the drain before saturating the walls, avoiding any potential fouling spaces.

tile shower install

Regardless of what waterproofing system you decide to go with, you must completely familiarize yourself with all of its elements – to include the drain assembly. Failing to follow the specifications or the manufacturer’s directions can end up causing the need for expensive repairs. The entire system is critical: from the waterproofing product itself to the drain.

2. Test the waterproofing after it is installed, but before the tile is installed.

All too often Tile setters ignore testing. This is a final and critical step of the waterproofing process. Once the system is in place, but before installation of the tile, you must ensure waterproofing is completely effective. This confirms that you have a functioning system, which is absolutely essential to a long lasting installation. If a leak is found, it can be repaired before it causes any damage.

3.  Be sure of the compatibility of the materials involved.

After the waterproofing system is in place, you can go back to the basic aspects of installing tile. Using the proper setting materials, ensuring 95% coverage and achieving straight and plumb lines. When you are choosing setting products, be sure that they will work with both the type of tile being used and the waterproofing system. For example, mastics are not acceptable for bonding tile to membranes. Normally, in a shower installation, you will need to use a modified bond mortar; though some uncoupling membrane manufacturers require the use of unmodified mortars. Whenever possible, try to use the same manufacturer’s materials for all steps of your installation. Having one point of contact for all installation materials simplifies things should any issues come up.

Linear drains have allowed for the use of large format tile in shower environments. Not so long ago, tile 6 inches or smaller could form the proper slope to the small drains. With linear drains, however, it is possible to place larger tile on the shower floors, giving both the owner and designer additional options.

4. Ensure sure you achieve 95% mortar coverage.

When working with large format tile, setters commonly make the mistake of using the “dot method” of installation. Using this method, the installer puts blobs, or dots, of mortar on the back of the tile, instead of carefully troweling it. The dot method might seem like a time-saver, but it will not provide a successful installation in the long run. It does not create full substrate contact or proper embedding and may cause voids behind the tile that collect moisture and potentially house bacteria. When using natural stone, there are even instances when the dots of mortar are visible through the tile.  This can leave unsightly circular stains, efflorescence and color variation.

Remember that tile installations in wet areas, such as showers, requires 95% mortar coverage. When using natural stone, that requirement increases to 100%.

5. Using 100% silicone caulk can prevent mildew and cracking in the grout joints.

Improvements in grout and sealant have expanded the variety of products available to setters and their customers. For wet areas, many owners request grouts that are low in absorption, do not require any sealing, and are stain resistant. These types of grout are now available and recommended for such use. 100% silicone caulking has become the product of choice for the flexible sealant required in showers. These caulks prevent mildew and cracking in the grout.

Tile shower caulking install

6.  Know the cure time requirements of the of the setting materials before putting the wet area into use.

Once installation is complete, be sure to abide by the cure time requirements of the setting materials before the shower is put to use. This can prevent potential problems or mishaps for the customer. It also shows the owner that you know and understand your craft and want to give them the best work, from beginning to end.

Advances in products and installation techniques have expanded the performance and aesthetic possibilities for tile and stone shower installations. In the tile industry, one trend remains constant: the perpetual introduction of new and exciting tile and stone goods along with the materials to set them.Completed custom shower install

What is that white stuff? – Grout Efflorescence

Have you ever seen discolored grout after you finished your tile installation? That discoloration may be something called “efflorescence.” Efflorescence is a whitish crystalline or powdery deposit on grout lines and tile surfaces that can mar even the best looking grout-tile combinations. It will turn grout from an accent to eyesore. Luckily, grout efflorescence can be removed, and even prevented with proper tile installation technique.

efflorescence

How to prevent efflorescence
Grout contains Portland cement. Efflorescence can occur in any Portland cement product. It occurs when water-soluble minerals dissolve and migrate to the installation surface.  You can interrupt this process and help prevent efflorescence. 

1. Keep Out Moisture: Waterproof membranes installed close to the installation surface can help prevent grout efflorescence. Tile can be bonded directly to the membrane, which will work to deflect water from the installation and prevent its absorption into the substrate. Products like these are especially important in wet areas like showers, spas, pools, hot tubs and fountains. It is always best to confirm that your membrane, tile, mortar and grout are compatible, and make sure your installation is capped and has the correct flashing as necessary.

Also consider using a penetrating sealer on your installation. Penetrating sealers can form a water-resistant shield over your installation without changing its appearance. Just be sure the grout is cured, prior to sealing the installation.

2. Choose the Right Products:  Look for high performance tile setting products with lower absorption rates.  It should be noted that even the best quality mortars require proper coverage. Incomplete coverage can allow water to enter the system, ultimately leading to efflorescence.

Some grouts are specifically designed to deliver color consistency and reduce the risk of efflorescence. Look for grout that exceeds ANSI A118.7 when efflorescence is a concern.

Removing Efflorescence
If you think you see efflorescence, there are a few simple tests that can confirm your suspicions. Efflorescence will turn into a powder when pinched between fingers and will dissolve in water. If you positively identify efflorescence, you can take the following steps to remove it:

1. Dry Brush: If you notice the efflorescence soon after it appears, you may be able to remove it simply by scrubbing the grout gently with a stiff nylon brush.

2. Use a Mild Acid: If water alone does not do the trick, try using a mild acid to remove efflorescence. Products with sulfamic or phosphoric acid can be used effectively, but stronger acids can burn fixtures and tile. Be absolutely sure that when using an acid to dilute it.  A 1 part acid to 10 part water for example. If you do not have an acidic cleaner on hand, you can create your own by mixing 1 part vinegar with 1 part water. Be sure the grout has cured 10 days and wear gloves when treating efflorescence with an acid. Apply it with a sponge or brush. If your problem is truly efflorescence, it should react to the acid immediately.

 

Make sure you rinse the installation surface with clean water once grout efflorescence removal is complete, and use acid cleaners sparingly. Acidic cleaners should not be used on marble, limestone and travertine. Check with manufacturer of your tile to make sure an acidic cleaner will not alter your installation’s appearance.

Grout – It shouldn’t be an after thought

Dal Tile put out a good article a little while back about selecting grout for your tile.

Most people are so focused on picking tile, trying to figure out patterns, directions, and the rest of their home improvement that it often gets forgotten about, and overlooked, which can be detrimental as the color can make or break the look of your floor.

Generally, you have three options:

  • Match the tile
  • Contrast the tile
  • Go neutral

grout-charts

Matching

If you want a less pronounced grout look, you might want to pick a color that “matches” the tile you chose. Picking a color that is somewhere around one shade lighter or darker helps pull everything together. This course is also an advisable  when your tile only has one color because it helps create a more fluid look.

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Contrast

If you want to make your tile stand out, you might want a contrasting color. This will frame the tile and will draw attention to them. It might also be advisable to use a thicker grout in this instance to really bring out your choice in tile.

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Neutral

If you want something that feels like the safest choice, you might want to go with a “neutral” color from the tans, beiges, or grays. Neutral colors tend to have mass appeal, a neutral matching color is the most widely recommended approach.

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Other considerations
Your grout color is important to achieve your desired look; but, you still need to consider the type being used on your floors. Grout functions to bond tiles and stone edges together and prevent chipping.  It is important you understand the types available.

You need to consider traffic patterns in the room where your tile and grout will be used when choosing a color.  A light color is probably not a good idea for a busy kitchen, but could be ideal for a less used guest bath.

It should be noted that darker colors will fade more quickly, while a lighter color will show stains and dirt.

Tile repairs can be fun…

Tile repairs can be fun ….not really.

We had recently finished installing some 20×20 squares in a house in Peoria.  Within 2 days, the customer had called that another contractor (electrician?) had done some damage.

By damage, I mean apparently dropped a 10lb sledge hammer from the top of an 8 foot ladder, and busted 4 different tiles.  How does this happen?  Beats me.

All I know is cutting away grout with a utility knife, smashing what parts of the tile weren’t already broken by the above magic flying sledge hammer, and scraping away thinset is not fun.  Nor is fun to discover that 3 of the 4 tiles had been placed over flex-guard which is an absolute joy to try and scrape up.

Anyway, complaining side, tiles were fixed, customer was happy, all is well in the tileverse.

Wood look Tile vs Real Wood

Tile flooring comes in many shapes, sizes and textures these days, and a wood look is no exception.

Wood tile planks are a big seller today.  With manufactures printing a high definition wood look on tile textured to simulate wood, even savvy homeowners can be fooled.

tile vs wood

Which one is the tile?

In addition to that realistic look, you do not have the traditional problems of real wood floors.  Wear and tear is a non issue.  You are not going to see fading, gouges, wear patterns on high traffic areas, and you won’t have to sand and reseal them.  If you spill water on your floor, you’ve got nothing to worry about.  Its tile.  It isn’t going to warp on you if you leave it sit too long.

Now, with everything positive, you’re probably wondering what the downside is.  Truth is, depending on the tile, they can get pretty expensive.  They do a great job of helping keep your home cool in the summer, but in the winter, they may not be so comfortable to walk on bare foot, especially in a cooler climate.  Tile flooring can be unforgiving.  If you drop a glass or plate, chances are better than not that they are going to shatter.  They can also be uncomfortable to stand on for long periods of time.

wood tile

 

Pros:

  • Gorgeous look – Self explanatory.  These tiles look great.
  • Durability – Tiles can take quite a bit more of a beating than a wood floor.
  • Longevity – You don’t have to worry about wear patterns on high travel areas, sanding, and refinishing every few years.  Tiles are not going to fade.
  • Plenty of options – Manufactures are releasing a huge variety of sizes, colors and finishes.

Cons:

  • Installation can be tricky – The installer needs to be aware of how to use the proper width of grout, and find a matching color to the tile to really bring that wood look out, other wise it will be pretty obvious the floor is actually tile.
  • Its a hard surface – If you drop something fragile on it – it will break.  Standing on it for long periods of time can be uncomfortable.
  • Tile doesn’t retain heat – Walking around on tile flooring in the winter barefoot can be fairly uncomfortable.
  • Repairing a damaged tile can be tricky later down the road – Generally, installers will leave you with extra tiles after an installation for repairs later down the road, but eventually they might run out.  If they do, trying to find a matching tile can be extremely hard, or even impossible as finding a matching dye lot  can be like finding a needle in a haystack.

plank