By Byron Buchanan
So, you have determined that you need a floor that will stand up to very heavy wear, one that is pet friendly, cleanable and can be scrubbed free of dirt and grease, and will not be degraded by the chemicals used to sanitize it. You may be concerned that an industrial grade finish will result in a cold, institutional look. If you are thinking that such a durable product will compromise your home fashion sensibility, then it is time to look at current trends in tile. If this sounds like a major compromise you will be surprised to see that tile is no longer limited to the solid color one-foot squares that we once used for entries, kitchens, bathrooms and poolside cabanas. Manufacturers now offer a wide variety of woodgrain patterns and natural stone looks to enhance any décor, whether rustic as barn wood, grandiose as a palace, as well as every look in between those extremes.
In broad terms tile is classified as ceramic, porcelain, concrete, Saltillo, and natural stone. For use in home interiors, and for the purposes defined above we will look at ceramic and porcelain products. Each of these is made from clay that is kiln fired. Because porcelain is composed of specific and finer clay products, and is fired at higher temperatures it can be subjected to moisture absorption testing, rated, and specified for outdoor use where it is resistant to the effects of moisture in freezing temperatures. If your application is to be out of doors, this is the better choice in our climate. It is not uncommon to hear the generalization that porcelain tile is more expensive, but this is not always true. There are many other factors that contribute to the price that the consumer pays.
With tile produced around the globe today, the country of origin, current monetary values, and freight factors can affect the price of a product to a greater extent than the materials used to manufacture or the manufacturing process itself. This globally based supply chain has brought innovations and breadth in approach to design and style that were heretofore unavailable. Many fashion-forward products are produced in China, which should come as no surprise since the first successful attempts to produce fired clay products was in this region of the world.
While the science and formulae of clay has advanced greatly, there is still great art that goes into every tile produced. It is not unusual to find variations in size among products mixed and fired at the same time. In order to achieve greater uniformity some tiles are trimmed, or rectified, to very close size specifications. Often this will result in a slight premium, but the greater uniformity allows for smaller grout lines and a far greater consistency in overall installation. It is also important to consider that, since variations are inherent in production lots, you should be certain to order enough to complete your project as planned, as well as some extra “attic stock” for unforeseen future issues.
Now, armed with information to make the best choice for your home, the only wild card is installation, where the combination of experience and art combine to achieve the effect you desire. The craftsman chosen is of no less importance than the material itself. Suffice it to say that no material is any better than another if not installed properly. Often your general contractor may have installers with whom they work, if not rely on the surface professional through whom your product is purchased. Typically following this avenue has the added benefit of guaranteeing the installation for two years. As always, when in doubt: ask! Since flooring and surface professionals stake their reputation on the final result in your home we are your allies.
Written By Rachel Harvey
The biggest trend in design at the moment is the look of Calcutta Marble, it’s gorgeous and can be used in a wide variety of designs and styles. Marble also offers a number of benefits in the kitchen, it ages beautifully and is extremely durable to both heat and moisture.
Not only is cork eco-friendly but it’s inexpensive, water resistant, eco-friendly and has a natural sound absorbing quality that keeps noise in your house from traveling. You can even DIY a cork backsplash project and attempt to do it yourself. Cork has the ability to bounce back to its original shape making it highly resilient to everyday use.
Wood is a creative and rarely seen choice for a backsplash, with its many color options and easy click and snap application, it makes a unique and beautiful option for any kitchen. Once it’s been sealed, wood is durable and adds a warm touch to the kitchen.
Mirrored backsplashes are popular largely in part because of their affordable price point. They’re also easy to clean, brighten up the space they’re in, make the room appear larger than it is, and act as a unique design feature.
METAL OR STAINLESS STEEL
Stainless Steel backsplashes, or any smooth metal like bronze or copper, is an excellent choice for their durability and easy clean up. Metal can be finished in several ways, ranging from smooth to brushed to hammered, making it a versatile backsplash option.
Tile is the most popular backsplash option out there. It’s simple to install, easy to maintain, and comes in a huge range of colors, shapes, and sizes. If you can think it, you can probably find the look in tile. Not only is it water resilient, durable and heat resistant but it’s incredibly easy to replace.
Concrete give a unique and modern feel to the kitchen, it’s very durable and versatile and can be stained or come pre-finished in any color. Concrete must be sealed because its porous and will stain but one could also argue that it might add character over time.
Written By: Rachel Harvey
Tile by itself is nice, but beauty and sophistication is in the details and tile trim can provide just that. Adding tile trim to your floor, wall, fireplace or an outdoor patio can enhance the look of any project and add a polished, eye catching finish. We’ve provided a list of four creative ways that decorative or accent trim can be used to complete your tile project.
You can add a finishing touch to the main focal point of your home, the fireplace!
As most people know when you enter a living room, the main focal point of most homes is centered around the fireplace. With the fireplace being such an eye drawing and centralized feature of most homes, it only makes sense to make it ascetically appealing! You can use tile trim as a decorative accent to transform your fireplace from just a functional element into a true work of art.
Add stunning accents to your bathroom or kitchen tile.
Most bathroom tile jobs have one uniformed set of tiles for the floors and shower, you can add incredible visual drama and gorgeous eye catching value to any bathroom design with the help of tile trim. Tiles come in a wide range of sizes and colors, and can be used in all kinds of ways to complete a project. You can choose contrasting tile for borders on countertops and backsplashes or to provide decorative interest in your shower or tub. Cove base tile is another trim option, and will give your floor tile a finished look.
Tile trim can be used to truly define your spaces.
Something often neglected in flooring is transitions between one tile to another or transitions from tile to wood and so on. Tile is available in countless colors and textures such as smooth, carved or textured styled that can be used to define areas of your home. You can use tile to create a border between spaces in an open floor plan design, or to add a visually pleasing effect to your floor.
You can connect indoor spaces with outdoor space.
Most tiles on the market today are good for both indoor and outdoor spaces and can be used to connect the interior with the exterior. Let’s say you use a blue and metallic accent trim in your kitchen and then you decide to build an outdoor kitchen on your patio; you can use that same blue tile trim as an accent for your outdoor patio to connect the two spaces and create a sense of flow.
Using tile trim adds a sophisticated and professional look to your projects, and makes great tile designs even better. Come in to our showroom today and browse all of our tiles and accent tile and let us get started on your home renovation today.
Written by Byron Buchanan
For centuries mankind has used wood as a primary flooring surface. It is available in many species, can be stained to enhance the variations of the grain or to minimize its effect. It is a great insulator for both sound and temperature, and it has natural cushioning for ease of footfalls. With wide varieties of visual effect, today it can be hard to know what kind of surface is underfoot upon a cursory inspection. Unfortunately, today there is great confusion between two materials that are, in fact quite different from one another. While it is possible today to install hardwood plank floors like those that predominated 20th century home construction, it is more likely that the beautiful floor you seek may be engineered wood or laminate.
Engineered wood floors are, as the name indicates, real wood. Typically these have a top layer of specialty or exotic wood with layers of other woods beneath, the grain of each layer set at perpendicular angles to those above and below it. There are several advantages to this kind of construction. While considered a “premium” choice, the ability to use less beautiful and, therefore, less expensive species on the under layers makes this type of flooring an affordable choice. In a high humidity climate such as ours this method of construction also stabilizes the natural tendency of wood to warp and eliminates cupping and peaking of the boards. Because they are natural, allow approximately 2-3 days for the materials to acclimate in the rooms where they are to be installed. They are installed flat, and remain flat.
Every species possesses a signature grain pattern that is recognizable due to the way sap is distributed throughout the tree. A visual test for wood is to see whether the color appears to lighten or darken when walking around a plank. Because of the moisture delivery system throughout the tree this shading effect is unique to real wood. Some woods, like maple, have a very tight and subtle pattern while others like hickory and acacia will have broad variation within the board. Because each tree is a living, natural plant, no two pieces will be exactly the same – one of the signatures of a natural product. Even though you may choose a floor where the color is relatively uniform the manner in which the surface is milled or planed can create dramatic variations, as found in the “hand scraped” planks that are popular today.
Engineered hardwoods are available in a wide selection of finishes. These floors are factory finished so that there is no need to sand, stain or seal in your home. With advanced sealers they will resist surface scratches and spills. They represent the best of latest modern technology combined with the time tested elegance of natural hardwood. Budget a little more for this option, and expect to both enjoy living on the surface and realize the best return when selling your home.
Laminate flooring offers a broad spectrum of styles and finishes. They can be made to emulate every wood imaginable, as well as stone, brick, and tile. The surface patterns and colors are extremely stable from one lot to another as they are, essentially, a series of photographic reproductions. They are composed of a man-made core with the pattern applied to the surface, the upper spectrum may have topographic effects that simulate the surface of natural products. Although all are produced from man-made materials, some of these cores are manufactured from products that render them virtually impervious to moisture and can be installed with confidence in areas that are less suitable for hardwood such as baths and poolside cabanas. They, too, are finished with sealers that resist surface scratches and are easily cleaned and maintained. They require no time to acclimate in the home, so can be installed without delay. Unlike the woods that many visually replicate, they do not absorb sound in the same manner and may have a somewhat “hollow” sound when walking in hard soled shoes.
When in doubt as to the best choice for your home, speak to a reliable flooring professional who can assess your needs, application, and budget in order to achieve the maximum effect for your investment.
By: Byron Buchanan
There are many reasons that contribute to the eventual decision to undertake a renovation or remodel. It can be as simple as need: something has worn out, or one’s personal style has evolved and the environment no longer represents current taste. More likely lifestyle changes have rendered the function of a room inconvenient or obsolete. Regardless of what creates the motivation to begin the process of redefining the style or the space itself, there are a few things to consider that will reduce or eliminate aggravation, making the process more pleasant.
First, and above all, consider the function. Is the room working well? Do the traffic patterns make sense, is seating ample, or necessary? Is lighting adequate for the intended use? Were the existing materials good choices for the level of wear? The answers to these questions will likely underscore the scope of a project, and indicate whether you are looking to DIY or if it is time to consult a professional.
Second, do some exploring. Shop the magazine stands or websites whose covers express styles that best reflect your taste. Stop by model homes to see what finishes are currently considered desirable in your market. This will help you come up to speed on current trends and finishes that might not have existed when you were last in this process. Styles evolve, just as your personal tastes, and materials and finishes continue to advance.
Third, consider your budget. Neighborhoods in the same general market will have vastly different rates of appreciation, and this alone may well help determine the amount that is prudent to invest in your home. This is when to begin thinking in terms of the scope of work it will take to achieve your new lifestyle vision. Don’t be afraid to think big – your project does not necessarily have to be completed at one time. Most of the time work can be done in phases. With proper planning these smaller jobs may result in an even better overall effect. The ability to finesse a plan is a signature of taste. The most warm and beautiful environments are the result of evolution; a home that is stagnant, or without change, soon becomes tired, stiff, and uninviting.
If you are not a DIY devotee, now is the time to start talking to people. If you do not have a designer or decorator, ask friends for referrals. Next, meet those professionals, or start shopping. There is no substitute for a face to face meeting to determine if you can be confident and comfortable in a relationship through a sometimes lengthy process. Be frank. The more information a professional has will enable them to understand your point of view and bring your ideas to fruition. On the other hand, if you sense that they just don’t “get it”, there is a great likelihood that they never will, so, walk away! Rest assured there are professionals who are more interested in your vision than their branded look.
Remember that you are dealing with the most intimate environment – your home. You deserve that it should be a true reflection of your singular and inimitable style.
Picking flooring is not an easy task; especially when there are so many options available. Wood flooring is a popular choice in Houston. It has a timeless appeal, natural variation and texture. It is also warm to touch which is perfect to walk barefoot on cold nights. It offers shock absorption; especially important for athletic surfaces. It also is recommended for people who are prone to allergies since it is easy to keep dust free. Minor scratches can be hidden when re-oiled. The final benefit is the resale value of a home. Buyers are willing to pay more for a house with hardwood.
Unfortunately, depending on the species wood can become very expensive to purchase. Wood is at higher risk of damage when exposed to liquids. If the wood is not dried immediately, it will warp. It can get scratches and dents from furniture legs, heavy traffic, high heels and pet nails. The wood’s natural color can fade overtime, depending on the type and quality, from UV light exposure. With all these factors in mind natural wood will require money to be spent on re-sanding, re-staining, and re-finishing. If the wood is dented or deep scratches, replacing the flooring will be the only option. These steps can add up in labor costs close to the same as a new installation. Wood expands and contracts with humid and dry weather. The recommended time wood needs to acclimate in the space is a minimum of forty-eight hours before installation. If that is not done the installation will not be successful.
For those who want the wood look without the maintenance, wood-look porcelain is the best choice. There are many benefits including durability, multiple application uses, and customizable patterns and less labor intensive. Due to porcelain being non-absorbent and dense, exposure to liquids or pets’ nails will not harm tile. This results in lower long-term maintenance costs. Instead of having to transition from the wood to tile in wet areas, the wood-look porcelain can be continued through all the spaces. It can also be installed on walls and ceilings in areas exposed to heavy moisture. With natural wood, to create custom patterns is time consuming and therefore costly. Porcelain can be cut and laid to the pattern without higher labor costs. The bonus feature is with today’s advanced technology; high definition printing evoking a realistic appearance and texture of wood. The print is not a repeat on every tile making the pattern more convincing.
With positives of any material, there are always cons. Tile is unavoidably cold to touch. Many home owners will automatically turn down porcelain for that reason alone. Proper underlayment will need to be used to avoid the tile being too noisy when walked on to provide some sound absorption. Wood look porcelain, in most cases, is glazed on the surface. The color of the tile is only on the surface; not through the whole tile. If the tile gets chipped, there is no way to hide it. The final disadvantage is tile always needs to be grouted. Even when the tiles are separated by one-sixteenth inch grout joint, it will still be slightly visible. If a low-quality grout is used, moisture will inevitably be absorbed causing darkening and discoloration of the grout.
Both options offer great benefits but some disadvantages. When making the final decision on which flooring route to take it will always be a matter preference in the end. As long as the final result makes you happy, then that is all that matters.