Cracks in your New Shower!!

I had a previous customer call the other day that she had cracks in her shower wall corners. Thank God we installed her kitchen countertops and backsplash, not the shower!! So I went over the other day to take a look.

Slight crack in a Backsplash

Very Slight Crack

This is a common occurrence when your tile person does not have enough experience to use grout and matching caulk for your tile project. Let’s face it. All houses move and shift, be it a house on pilings or a house on a slab foundation. All houses move! And where is the first place you will see cracks or movement? Anywhere one plane of material meets another plane. In other words, where two walls meet in a corner, where your ceiling meets your walls, where your backsplash meets your countertop or in the walls of your shower.

Big Crack in the Grout

Large Crack in Grout

As an experienced tile setter, I learned a long time ago that all grouts have a matching caulk of the same color. I rarely buy grout at the box store on the Island because they only carry a few of the matching caulk colors. So I always buy my grout and caulk at Master Tile (now Crossville Tile) since they carry all the grouts and matching caulks. If they don’t have the one you need in stock, they will order it for you.

This is not an expensive step to take, but it is more time consuming on the job site and requires a bit more clean up. If cracking still occurs, there may be more issues at hand since we did all we could to prevent the cracks. If you have cracks after the fact, try and match the caulk as best as you can, scrape out as much old grout as you can and put a nice bead of matching caulk in its place. Caulk clean up is not hard if you don’t cut the caulk tube too far up the nozzle and use a damp sponge for clean up. After a few feet of caulking, you will be a pro. Or just call us at Queen of the Tile and Medusa Tile. We’ll take care of it for you. Happy Caulking!!

Remodeling – Where Do I Start?

I had a customer call the other day and tell me they want to remodel their kitchen and 3 bathrooms! I thought to myself, “Great, that’s a nice job!” Then I thought about all the decisions they will have to make to get to the goal. So I decided to write a “To Do List” for them.

These are My Suggestions Only!
– start with one room at a time. there are many decisions to be made, so focus on one project. you might want to lump your secondary baths together, but probably not so each room will have its own personality.
– decide how much of each room you want to remodel. for example, you may not want to change the layout of your kitchen cabinets because it works for you, but changing the door and drawer fronts will totally change the look, while not hurting your budget as much. even changing the hardware can change the look from traditional to contemporary.
– in each room, pick the focal point. it may be the granite or silestone color you want or that glass backsplash mosaic you have got to have in your kitchen!
– pick the style you are going for: contemporary, traditional, old world, etc. visiting open houses and design magazines will help you with this task. be sure to take pictures of rooms you like or cut out pictures from the magazines so you can show your designer, carpenter or countertop fabricator.

Granite Tub Deck and Glass Mosaic

Gorgeous Granite Tub Deck and Glass Mosaic Backsplash

These are just a few guidelines that may help you on your journey. I think that once you have the style and focal point, other decisions just seem to fall into place. You can expect that some things will not work out perfectly, but if you use quality companies to help you, any obstacles should be easily overcome. And remember…..remodeling should be fun!

Why is There a Huge Range in Granite Countertop Pricing?

Have you seen those signs around town saying “Granite Installed for $ 18.00/SF”? Or the one for $ 99.00 a piece? A piece of what? Why is there such a difference in pricing? There are a few reasons. When shopping for countertops, as with anything else, be sure to compare apples to apples because there is a vast difference in natural stone countertop fabrication.

Many of the less expensive companies can offer a lower price for these reasons:

1. They are using pre-fabricated granite material. This is a 8′ or 9′ long granite piece that already has a Full Bull Nose edge on one of the long run sides. These pre-fabs are cut and edged at the factories in China or India. They are done very cheaply. There are not many colors to choose from. There also is not a consistency from 1 piece to the next, so if your project requires a seam because it is longer than 9′, the seam is likely to look bad. If you are updating a bath vanity, a pre-fab may work okay, but if your project is your kitchen which has a turn or two in the configuration, I would not recommend pre-fabs. (I will go into more details about this at a later date.)

2. This less expensive company probably does not have a true shop or warehouse and is going to cut your pieces in your driveway and make a huge mess.

3. This company may hire illegal workers, pays their workers in cash, does not withhold for social securty,etc. and probably does not have insurance.

The bottom line is this. If you are working on a rental house or something you are flipping, the less expensive guys might be okay. But if you are shopping around for your personal home, I would stay away from the guys with a sign on the side of the road. It’s just like your Mom told you growing up, “You get what you pay for.”

The kitchen project below was NOT done using pre-fab granite and was installed by Queen of the Tile!

Granite Island with Silestone Countertops

Victoria Regio Countertops with Green Beach Sea Glass Mosaic

Mosaic Art

Granite, Marble & Porcelain Mosaic Art

Home on The Range

There are many forms of mosaic art, this piece only being one form.  The original artwork was drawn by my older brother, Richard deLeon.  (He is much more artistic than I am.)  I asked him to draw the design in the exact size I wanted the finished piece to be.  I then transferred it to posterboard and cut out each individual piece of the picture.  I had to keep in mind that the material I was going to be cutting the individual pieces from were mainly 12 x 12 tiles, so i had to make breaks in some of the pieces.  For example, three of the horses legs are made of 2 larger pieces and a separate piece defined the joints in the two front legs.

After I had the pieces cut out of posterboard, I then transferred the shapes onto each of the materials it was to be cut out of.  For example, the horses body was made from Tropical Brown 12 x 12 granite tiles, so i laid out the paper templates and transferred the shape onto the tile.  I think i used a grease pencil because of the next step which was the actual cutting of each piece.

Before Ike, I had a wet band saw with diamond coated blades.  It was pretty fancy.  Too bad it floated away!  Anyway, that is how i cut those curved and in some cases, very intricate pieces.  Then each piece was installed with thinset to hardiboard and grouted.

This is only one example of a mosaic tile piece.  There are many forms of mosaic including using broken pieces of pottery to tiny micro mosaic pieces and even a mixture of different sizes and media, limited only by the artists or customer’s imagination.  There are many talented artists in Houston and Galveston.   I have been amazed at the number of artist on Galveston with their own kilns!  Mosaics are truly a creative and fun way to enhance any room in your home, an outdoor table, a pot to decorate your patio or even the bottom of your pool!

At Medusa Tile, we have some very conservatively material to expensive mosaics.  We even have glow in the dark tiles made from recycled auto windshields.  If you are doing it yourself, or looking for material for an artist you’ve hired, we should be able to fill all your needs.  Come on by the store and talk to Lucy or Marisa.