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.

Do Renovations Pay Off?

According to Remodeling Magazine’s annual survey, only steel entry-door replacements can be counted on to boost home value enough to recoup 100 percent of costs. Of course, the value of a renovation doesn’t depend on the resale price alone, which makes deciding whether to do one more complicated than just crunching numbers.

“If the purchaser walks into a home and says, ‘Wow, look at this kitchen, honey, it’s so great,’ and if that home sells quicker, the seller still gets value from the renovation, whether they get the return on investment or not,” says Kit Hale, general manager of MKB Realtors in Roanoke, Va. The home might sell quicker, or the buyer might be so excited about a particular feature that they ignore other problems, such as water damage or much-needed maintenance elsewhere.

For anyone trying to decide whether to take on a home renovation, these five tips can help:

1. Think about what you, the current homeowner, want from your home.

Homeowners can get a lot of value out of renovations before they even put the home on the market. “If you have a dated kitchen or the stove doesn’t work, you can invest money now to glean some enjoyment as well as make the home more appealing when you sell it,” says Hale.

That’s what Erin Schaff and her boyfriend did when they decided to upgrade their two-bedroom condo in Victoria, Canada, several years ago. “It wasn’t in horrible shape, but we wanted to upgrade,” she says, so they spent about $10,000 replacing the baseboards, window trim, and floors. They also remodeled the bathrooms and upgraded the hardware. In addition, they put new cabinets, appliances, and granite countertops in the kitchen.

Schaff and her boyfriend enjoyed all those upgrades before deciding to sell their home earlier this year. She believes the renovations paid off, too. “Had we not renovated, we probably would have lost money as we had purchased the condo at the peak of the real estate boom. Instead, we turned a profit and covered most of the costs of purchasing the house we now live in,” she says.

To see the whole article, please follow this link.

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.

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!

Granite or Silestone: That’s the Question

Silestone Countertops

Blanco-Zeus Silestone Kitchen

Customers ask me this all the time:  What material is better for kitchen countertops, granite or silestone?  Well, I’m a bit partial, but I will be as honest as I can on this subject.  They are both wonderful products and each have pros and cons.

Let’s talk about Silestone first.  Silestone is a man-made quartz product that comes in 2cm and 3 cm thicknesses and a variety of beautiful rich colors.  Silestone is made with anti-bacterial magic stuff put into all slabs, thus the need for sealing is not necessary.  Silestone is also a more flexible material, thus eliminating the need for plywood decking for support.  Although sometimes decking will still be required so the drawers do not interfere with the edge lamination.  Your builder or granite fabricator should be able to help you with this option.

Granite is a natural stone that is quarried from all over the world, sliced to 2 cm and 3cm thicknesses, polished and imported to our area.  All natural stone varies in its porosity, but all natural stone should be sealed.  This may sound scary, but it is not.  Sealing is included in all installations by Queen of the Tile.  This process should last 2 – 3 years depending on how you are cleaning your countertops.  I encourage all our customers to use a Stone Tech product called Revitalizer.  It is a cleaner and a sealer, so everytime you are using it, you are re-sealing your tops and should never have any problems.

Have you figured it out yet?  I believe that  whatever shortfalls granite or silestone  may have, these issues can be easily overcome one way or another.  So I tell my customers to pick the color that best suits their decor and just go with it!