Monday, September 17, 2018

Fireplace Surrounds

Here are a series of photos showing different parts of the process in removing existing marble mosaic tile around a fireplace and installing 6x24 ledger stone panels from floor to ceiling (click on photos to enlarge):

1. Removing marble mosaic tile & installing new drywall and priming existing and new drywall:

2. Beginning stages of ledger stone installation:


3. Job complete - New fireplace surround with ledger stone floor to ceiling:


Another existing fireplace surround with 12x12 brown travertine tile and the finished installation with the new 12x24 polished Carrara marble tile:


Saturday, July 21, 2018

Recent jobs in the Frisco area

1.  Kitchen tile grout lines can get really dirty and seemingly embedded with grime. Here are some photos showing the changed that can take place with a good cleaning (click on images to enlarge):
Contrast before and after




New look with cleaned grout lines

2.   Changing the look of your bathroom floor from something average to something that pops. This project involves a little bit of work. But the result hits the mark the owner was hoping for.

Before demolition

During demolition
New tile floor
3. The wall under a bar top can get pretty dirty and scuffed up over time as people sit on the stools. The solution? - Tile that wall...

In progress...

Newly tiled wall area

Monday, May 14, 2018

Tile Ideas for Upgrading Your Home

Some photos of past tile jobs that I installed. With summer approaching, maybe one of these will give you an idea for upgrading area of your home:
4x8 Paver Front Entry and Walkway

Kitchen Counter 6x6 Handcrafted Tile

13x13 Tile in Family Room and Sun Room

Spanish 12" Paver with Deco Riser at Entry

Patio 4x8 Porcelain Tile Herringbone Pattern

Bathroom Counter/Wainscot Tile and Splash

BBQ Brick and Tile

 Italian Terracotta Hex on Patio

Friday, January 12, 2018

Classy and Affordable Tile from The Tile Shop

If you're living in Frisco and looking for a one stop shop for tile, setting materials, and tools you might want to check out The Tile Shop in The Colony. They have one of the largest selections of manufactured and natural stone tile I have seen under one roof.

Recently I installed a kitchen back splash with a tile called River Glass Silver that the customer purchased from them. She got a great deal and the tile was a classy upgrade to her kitchen.

The address of The Tile Shop is 6240 Morning Star Drive, The Colony, TX 75056.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Sealing Porous White Granite Countertops...

Majestic White Granite treated with Meta Crème
Not all granites are created equal. For a homeowner this can be a concern when it comes to granite countertops, especially if the counter in question is a white or light colored granite. The reason is that lighter colored granites tend to be more porous than darker granites. Often these lighter granites are coated with epoxy at the quarry factory in order to help prevent staining. But that is more the exception that the rule. More often than not these granite slabs come to the fabricator untreated and unsealed. What this means practically is that for an unprotected or inadequately sealed counter not only water, but also various liquids (coffee, red wine, etc.) and food oils. can more easier seep into the pores of the granite. What to do?

Majestic White Granite treated with Meta Crème
First, whether your granite is dark or light, perform a water test. Pour a small amount of water onto an area of the granite and let it sit for ten minutes or longer. Then wipe up the water. Does the granite appear somewhat darker? If so, that means your present sealer isn't doing the job or there is no sealer there at all. Now water doesn't stain even though it darkens the stone. Over a period of time the granite lightens up again as the water evaporates and the stone dries. But other non-H2O liquids and food oils, if left on the granite long enough, can leave the granite with a discolored/stained appearance.

Majestic White Granite treated with Meta Crème
We started by stating that all granites are not created equal. Well, all sealers are not created equal. In my house at Frisco Lakes I have granite counters. The granite I have is Majestic White, a fairly porous stone. Nonetheless, when I moved in I treated them with a top tier silicone-based impregnator that I already had on hand. For a time it seemed to do the trick. Yet gradually I noticed darkened areas where water had been left on the granite. I decided to retreat the counters, but this time with a non-silicone impregnator called Meta Crème that I knew to be a superior impregnator. This product is somewhat more expensive but worth it. The technology of Mete Crème works on a microscopic level in which the treatment becomes a permanent part of the stone. And it does so without changing the natural appearance of the counters. Suffice to say, the naturally porous Majestic White granite counters, having been treated with Meta Crème are no longer darkening from water and are protected from even oil-type foods and liquids!

If you are interested in having your granite or marble counters treated with an impregnator to protect against staining and moisture intrusion I'd be more than happy to give you an estimate. Cheers...

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Less is More: Simple Design Idea for Backsplash...

You are thinking of tiling your backsplash with a 3x6 or 4x8 subway tile. You think to yourself, "I want to jazz it up a bit!" So you start to consider different kinds of decorative tiles to intersperse as accents or a band. That can be a good idea, but not always. Backsplashes are narrow areas set between the counter top and the bottom of the upper cabinets. Often decorative tiles or accent bands can end up causing the splash area to feel busy or congested, i.e. too much in too small of an area. This can be especially true when the tile is set over a "busy" granite countertop. Still, it's a subjective judgment. What seems crowed to one person appears just right to another.

So, here's a simple idea to create an appealing look with a subway tile backsplash without adding deco tiles. Using the subway tile, simply change the layout at the bottom two rows of the backsplash lining up the vertical joints. Add a pencil liner or half round tile as a border division.

Then install the subway tile in the customary split joint fashion. Grout with a closely matching grout color. The result is an elegant look that will wear well on the eyes for years to come.
Less is often More...


Monday, August 7, 2017

Small Porch with Big Tile Makes Big Difference...

Typically the front and back patio areas of the homes in Frisco Lakes are simply concrete slabs with a broom finish. Adequate yet rather drab. An easy way to transform that drab to fab is to simply tile these areas. The accompanying photos show a typical before and after

Before beginning to lay the tile consideration needs to be given to whether the porch area is square on the two open sides as it is preferable to start with full tiles along these edges. If that isn't the case then adjustments need to be made. 

This particular porch gets an 18x18 tile. It's important to use a large square notch trowel with this size tile in order to insure proper coverage and bonding on the back of the tiles with the thinset mortar. Also, less grout lines with the large format tile helps make the 60-plus square foot area seem bigger!

Finally, grout color selection is an important factor in the final overall look of the floor. Although picking a grout is a somewhat subjective process (light, medium, or dark color?), it is important to pick a grout that draws out colors that are in the tile itself. This helps focus visual attention onto the tile (the main star) and not the grout color (the supporting actor) when the job is finished.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Sealing Granite Counter Tops

Recently Treated with Stone Tech Impregnator Pro
Why seal granite counter tops? 

To many people's way of thinking it would seem to be an unnecessary job and expense. Their reason is based on the fact that granite is so hard and the assumption that the hardness of the stone makes it almost impervious to staining. Wrong assumption! The hardness of a stone slab and its porosity aren't connected in a causal way. In fact some of the hardest stone slabs are natural quartzite. Yet they can be very porous.

What does a good sealer protect against? First, what don't they protect against...
What sealers don't protect against are acids in foods and liquids that over time can dull and etch the surface of granite. This is even more of a reality with marble and limestone which are softer stones and thus more easily impacted by food acids. So a good rule of thumb is to immediately wipe up that lemon juice spill and do not use cleaners that are acidic, or for that matter, alkaline. PH neutral cleaners made for stone are the way to go. 
Penetrating sealers will not prevent that calcium/mineral build up that one often
Clean Counters First
finds around the water faucets. Water deposits that over time regularly collect and sit around the counter plumbing fixtures gradually leave a mineral build. That process occurs as the H2O evaporates and the minerals in the water are left behind to bond to the surface of the stone slab. So fix the leaky faucet and give a regular dry wipe to those areas.
Penetrating sealers will not protect against water rings and water marks. These annoying discolorations are a variation of the above mineral deposit problem. One usually doesn't see this on granite counters but it can be a problem with marble, limestone, and travertine. Again, dry off those wet areas and don't leave wet glasses regularly standing for long times.
So to the question: What does a good sealer protect against? Some sealers will protect only against water working its way into the stone. They are basically water repellants. They can be excellent as a water sealer but will be ineffective against protecting the stone from stains of the most common liquids found in kitchens such as coffee, red wine, and oil. 

To protect against staining one needs a sealer that is made for that purpose. There are several very good ones on the market. Different people have their own favorites. In a future post I'll discuss the different types and compare the tradeoffs between them. 

Then Apply Sealer
The main point of this post is to simply explain what a good sealer can and can't do and why treating your stone countertops with one of them shouldn't be neglected. A good sealer applied correctly can give several years of stain protection until needing a reapplication. But keep in mind, no sealer guarantees against staining. The sealer's function is to greatly inhibit staining, making it very unlikely in most normal situations. Also, the sealer helps prevent that coffee or oil from bonding to the stone so that in the event of a stain showing up, removing it is much easier than if no sealer were previously applied.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Focal Point and Layout...

Following up on my last post, I want to continue with the topic of layout by simply showing a series
of photos of a backsplash I recently installed in a home at Frisco Lakes. The tile is Dal-Tile Biscuit color/beveled subway tile. In this kitchen we have two long walls that make up the backsplash. Where to begin? It doesn't take much thought to realize that the window over the sink is the main focal point, i.e. to where one's eye is drawn. The question then is where to begin tiling in order to have symmetrical cuts, and thus balance, around the window.

Since the subway tile is being installed with a staggered joint or brick pattern consideration needs to go into how large or small the 3x6 tile cuts should be in each row around the window and how those choices will effect the cuts in other areas of the backsplash. Determining the right size cuts that will meet the vertical 2x6 surface bullnose trim on either side of the window will not only give the window area a balanced look but allow for decent size cuts on the rest of the backsplash wall and an overall successful installation.

Beginning around the window:

Symmetrical cuts around the window:

Tile layout into corner of wall:

Completed tile job:

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Key To A Successful Tile Installation...

Tile Vanity Top with Hammered Brass Sink, Hope Ranch CA
The key element to a successful tile installation and also the most neglected is?? Layout!... arguably the most under appreciated install-element. This despite the fact that proper layout is crucial if one is to produce a visually pleasing tile job. So then, why is this initial phase often given so little attention or even neglected? One reason is that proper layout takes time and thought. It is somewhat like solving a puzzle (how best and where to begin?) which can be frustrating to the over-eager tile setter who wants to start setting tiles and complete the installation. The irony here is that a well considered layout IS where the installation begins.

So the tile setter must begin well to finish well. Put another way - setting a proper course is necessary in order to reach the desired destination. Without proper planning the outcome of a tile job is often less than satisfactory. Yet when the layout part of the installation has been well executed, the result is a completed tile job that simply looks right. When that end is reached there will be no regrets on the part of the tile setter and certainly the customer for the time spent on this initial stage of installation.

The above photo is of a small vanity top that I did years ago in Hope Ranch, CA. The tile is the 4-1/4" Cobalt gloss tile manufactured by Dal-Tile. Notice that the tiled top has a symmetrical appearance, i.e. there are mirrored cuts around both sides of the sink trim tile. To accomplish this the tile setter needs to plan out a pattern and decide where he must begin setting the tiles. This takes time. How to proceed? In order to have the same cuts around the hammered brass sink, it was necessary to put a "dutchman" (a tile cut to a particular size in the middle of the field to create visual balance) in the center of the front edge trim tiles. Determining the need for a dutchman and its size was the key to the layout and a successful installation. Once the right size dutchman cut was set along with the rest of the front trim, the equally-sized cuts on the vanity top around the sink trim tile fell automatically into place. The saying in real estate is "location, location, location." In tile setting it is "layout, layout, layout!"