Lammax! 1/8″ Thick Porcelain Sheets

1/8" Porcelain Sheet Countertop

The lastest in countertops

The latest trend in countertops is using a new product called Lammax, 1/8″ thick porcelain sheets. Lammax comes in 13 different colors (no patterns yet) and the sheets are 147″ x 48″. The sheets are very fragile until they are installed on a solid plywood or cement board substrate.

So far, Queen of the Tile has installed Lammax in a laundry room (including 4″ backsplashes) in a beach house on Boliver, some table tops at a Westheimer Plumbing showroom in Houston and the restaurant installation you see in the photo. Next week we will be installing more lammax in a tile showroom for La Nova Tile in Houston. I’ll be posting some of those pictures soon.

As far as cost compared to other materials like granite and silestone, lammax is comparable to a mid-range granite. If you are looking for a clean, contemporary look, you may want to come by Medusa Tile in Galveston, TX. We have a small vanity with an U/M sink hole in the showroom and all the colors available.

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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!

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!

Jaw-Dropping Kitchens and Baths: Add Unique Touches to Your Home for Improved Function, Increased Value

Hand Made Subway Tile

As Realtors, we notice that many clients, upon seeing a new home for the first time, quickly inspect the kitchen and bath areas. “The kitchen is the heart of the home”, as the saying goes, and we find this to be true: at parties, family gatherings, breakfast on Sunday-the kitchen seems to have a gravitational pull where everyone wants to gather and mingle.
Additionally, bathrooms play an important role in the eyes of homeowners as well. Certainly, it’s a room originally built for function and that alone, but taking things a step further and adding some creature comforts and eye catching features not only attract buyers, but can add to the overall satisfaction and happiness of the homeowner once the purchase is complete.
An effective method to add a little ‘eye candy’ to both kitchens and baths is through the use of unique materials for countertops, back splashes and showers. There are some breathtaking choices available now for countertops, such as amethyst. There is even a technique your local tile and granite specialist can perform that gives the look of leather, imagine that! They provide a refreshing alternative to the ordinary, and certainly make a room stand out. Another item that recently caught our eye while visiting Medusa Tile was glow in the dark tile. Yes, that’s right, glow in the dark! By day, it keeps its wonderful secret hidden, but when the lights go out….Baby, you’ve never seen an effect like this! Tile your shower floor, add a few accents pieces along the wall, or use your imagination to create a dramatic effect no other home is likely to possess.
The way you install your new choices can add function and interest as well. Rounding out the end of a kitchen island to accommodate a seating area is a popular and sought-after feature in many homes. It provides a convenient area for kids to have breakfast, friends to sit and chat, or even to lay out a buffet style dinner for guests.
Perhaps you’ve even considered adding a mural in either room with the use of glass mosaics? There are so many choices that can be made, we’ve seen much of this work firsthand and it truly adds to the beauty of a room and gives a unique twist to it that will set your home apart from the rest of the block. It is proven that updating your kitchen and baths adds significant value to your property’s value when it comes time to sell.
With so many decisions to make and products to choose from, you should contact a local specialist that can give you ideas and educate you on all the materials available for use in your home. Whichever products you choose, your home is bound to stand out above the rest with a little help from the experts. Let Marisa at Medusa Tile help you with your selections and installations and let our dynamic team, Debbie and Natalie, help you get your property sold!

This article was written by Natalie Clark and Debbie Olsen at Galveston Real Estate. Thanks very much girls!!

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.