An Alternative to Tile Surface Caps

Have you noticed that the selection in tiles has come a long way in the past 5 years. The basic 12 x 12 and 18 x 18 square tiles are disappearing in favor of more interesting sizes like 12 x 24, 4 x 12 or 16 x 24 shaped tiles. The good news is that ceramic tile, much more inferior to porcelain tile, is also not so popular.

But one of the drawbacks to the new porcelain tiles is that they are not being imported with the matching surface caps or bullnose pieces. This is a drawback for inexperienced tile setters and designers.

There are 3 solutions to this problem. The first solution is to use a neat grout v-joint where the tile meets the wall. This solution is the least expensive one and looks very nice.

The second solution is to have your tile setter fabricate a half-bullnose edge on the tiles that edge your installation. This costs a bit more but looks very professional.

Granite Edging in Tub Surround

Contempory Black and White Tub Surround

The third solution, as pictured above, is to have granite or marble edging fabricated from your vanity top leftovers. This is the most expensive solution, but as you can see, looks very beautiful and helps to tie all aspects of the bath design together. In this picture, Absolute Black granite was used to make 4″ wide bands with a Straight Polish on both sides. These trim pieces can also help disguise the fact one of the walls in this installation was not vertical, leaving a growing thinset line as the tile was installed. Since the granite pieces are 3/4″ thick, you can easily hide an “out of square” problem wall.

An experienced tile setter/fabricator can help you with either choice you make for your own bath remodel.

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A New Choice for Pool Coping

Are you tired of the same old choices for your pool coping? Or maybe you are looking for something more contemporary. La Nova Tile and Queen of the Tile have begun offering a new option.

Rectified Tile Swimming Pool Coping

Another Choice for Pool Coping

For a more contemporary look around your pool, Queen of the Tile can take any rectified tile you chose and turn it into swimming pool coping to match your tile decking. We mitre one edge of your tile, mitre a 1″ strip of matching tile and mount them both to a 3/4″ granite slab remnant. The look is clean, simple and elegant. These pieces can also be used for stair treads.

The sample in the photo is a 12 x 24 Ontoria Marfil available from La Nova Tile.

Pre-Fab Granite Means An Ugly Installation

Custom outdoor planter by Queen of the Tile

No Pre-Fabs Used For This Project

This post relates to an earlier post about why granite pricing varies so much. I brought up the fact that lower granite priced fabricators are probably using pre-fabricated granite tops. This post will explain why Queen of the Tile dislikes using these for a granite project.

As a fabricator of any slab material, we make many decisions about your granite installation. These decisions are based on a few things like the layout of your kitchen, the length of your countertops, how big your island is, where your kitchen sink and stove/cooktop are located and how big your actual slabs measure. These are all important because of minimizing seams in your kitchen.

Seams are a dirty little word in the granite fabrication business. They are necessary, but not fun! The goal of any good fabricator is to minimize the number of seams in a kitchen because this is about the only thing a customer might complain about. But often our hands are tied since we can’t stretch out a slab to make it fit your kitchen project. For example, if you have a galley kitchen with your tops measuring 10′ long and your fabricator is using pre-fab granite that only comes in 9′ long pieces, you will end up with a seam in both of your 10′ long runs. If your fabricator gives you the option of going to the slab yard and choosing a slab (a good fabricator will!), you will have many choices of granite colors measuring more than 10′ long. Thus your kitchen countertops will have no seams in either run.

What if your kitchen configuration is a U-shaped kitchen and your fabricator only uses pre-fab granite? Since the pre-fabs only come in 9′ lengths, you will have at least 2 seams in your kitchen because everytime your countertops change direction, the pre-fab granite has to be cut and seamed. And worse yet, if your countertops are longer than 9′ in any of your 3 runs, then you will have 2 seams PLUS a seam on the run longer than 9′! So you will have 3 seams now!

Does your kitchen have an island/peninsula or a highbar? Using pre-fabs, your island or peninsula will have to have a seam since the pre-fabs are usually only 26″ wide. This makes for a very unsightly installation with seams which would not be necessary using slab granite.

At Queen of the Tile, we pride ourselves on minimizing seams in your kitchen remodel. If we do need a seam, it will very likely be hard to see. We have had customers say they searched for the seam for 10 minutes before they found it!! Seams are necessary in the granite fabrication business, but why accept more seams than is really necessary? We invite our customers to participate in the layout of their project to show off veins and unique areas of the granite and to ask their preference in seam placement. Call us today for all you natural stone or silestone needs!

Granite and Silestone Edge Options

Edge Options for Granite and Silestone Countertops

3 Edge Options for Slab Countertops

There are 4 things that will decide how much you pay for your granite countertops.  The material and color  you choose, the edge option you choose, the slab yard your material comes from and the fabricator you choose to do the fabrication and installation.  I have already touched on the slab yard experience that is a must for your project.  In fact, if your granite fabricator or remodel store does NOT let you select your own slabs*, you should not use them!!  This means that they might be buying inferior material from an natural stone importer that is bringing in poor quality slabs.  If you are “flipping” a house or your project is for a rental property, this might be okay.  But if your project is for your home, I would run away from this fabricator or remodel store!  I encourage customers to make that trip to the yard so they know exactly which granite slabs (and color shading) will be going into their home.

Let’s talk about material thickness today.  Natural stone and quartz slabs come in 2 thicknesses:  3/4″ (also called 2 cm) and 1 1/4″ (also called 3 cm).  You have 3 common options on what edge thickness you will have installed.  Please see the sketch I have drawn to better illustrate the edge options.  What’s the difference in the two materials, you ask?  Obviously, 2 cm material costs less(on average about $ 5.00-$ 7.00/SF) than the 3 cm material because you are buying less material.

The common edge choices when using the 2cm thickness is a 3/4″ edge or a 1 1/2″ laminated edge.  The second choice is laminated because a 1 1/2″ strip of material is glued to the bottom edge of the countertop, making the edge 1 1/2″ thick.  When using 3 cm thick material, the common edge is 1 1/4″.  We have laminated the 3 cm material before, making the final edge thickness equal to 2 1/2″ thick.  We have also used 2 laminations on the 2cm material, making the final edge thickness equal to 2 1/4″.  These were done due to the need to cover 2 layers of plywood decking for a bartop or just due to customer preference.  You must be careful that your granite laminations do not interfere with the drawers opening after installation.  On some occasions, more plywood decking must be installed.

As noted earlier, the 2 cm natural stone material costs less than the 3 cm material and there are often more color choices in 2 cm material.  I’m not quite sure why, but the Houston countertop market has focused more on the 2 cm material, while the Austin and Dallas markets install more 3 cm granite material.  It is also a common miconception that using 3 cm material will lower your labor costs since the fabricator is skipping the lamination step. While this is true, 3 cm material is so much heavier to install that 4 – 6 men or more are required to lift these pieces when a 2 cm job is usually installed by 2 men.  You will save some money due to the fact that plywood decking** is not necessary for a 3 cm installation.

*  If your selection of countertops is a quartz product like Silestone, you won’t be asked to go select your slabs because this product is a man-made product.  While some specific colors will probably vary a bit, the overall color and pattern remain fairly consistant to the samples you see in the store.

**  Plywood decking is not required when installing a quartz material like Silestone since these quartz products have a bit more flexibility than a natural stone has.