Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Tiling Expansion Joints Essentials.

"The tiles in my floor have loosened and tented." Close inspection often shows that when tenting occurs more than one area of tiles has separated from the subfloor or "delaminated". The tiles may not have lifted or cracked but are now loose. The floor will sound “hollow” instead of solid.

There are several reasons why a tile floor might delaminate: the floor might not have been cleaned prior to tile installation; the setting mortar might have partially dried before the tiles were placed in it; the tiles themselves might have had dust or other contaminants on their backs. The most common reason that tiled floors delaminate and tent, is a lack of movement accommodation. Ceramic tile has a different rate of expansion and contraction (coefficient of expansion) than does concrete, for example, a material that ceramic tiles are often installed directly upon. Other common tiling substrates will also expand and contract differently than ceramic tiles. It's important to realize that everything expands and contracts constantly..

All subfloors move but concrete expands and contracts to a greater degree than most. The difference between concrete’s rate of expansion (and contraction) and that of ceramic tile is about 10 to 1. A concrete slab thirty metres across can expand and contract by well over a centimetre. It only takes a fraction of that movement to cause a tile floor to delaminate. Knowing this, tile setters create breaks in tiled floors to accommodate that movement. Soft “movement joints” at specified intervals will effectively divide large tiled surfaces into smaller expanses and thus lessen the effect of subfloor movement. The joints are then filled with flexible material or a commercial expansion strip instead of grout.
In addition to movement joints in the tiled field, perimeter movement joints are used where tile floors are against impediments to movement like walls, columns and cabinets. Whereas smaller tiled floors may not need movement joints in the field of tile, all tile floors need perimeter movement joints, and it is the lack of perimeter joints that most often contributes the greatest force although other factors like contaminants, skinned over setting mortar and other installer errors may also be a factor. Perimeter joints should be at least 6mm wide.

In small rooms, a gap at the perimeter of the room (often hidden by the skirting) is sufficient. For larger areas, the movement joints will be visible. The spacing of joints should be calculated for each situation but as a rule of thumb there should be an expansion joint at least every 5m indoors and 3m outside.

Areas that get warm (or wet) may experience greater amounts of differential expansion. If the areas exposed to sunlight are warmer than surrounding areas, movement joints should be used more frequently. This will be the case in very sunny rooms.

For the key requirements common to all tiling situations, refer to the SABS 0107:1996, Code of Practice for the Design and Installation of Ceramic Tiling.

Properly installed tile floors will last virtually forever. Movement and expansion joints help assure that they do.

Contact us with any enquiries about tiles.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

8 Ways to Advise Customers to Protect & Clean Tiles.

What follows are eight brief pieces of advice for tile customers that every sales person should have on the tip of their tongue.

1. Protect Tiles from Furniture.
Tile is hard but it will crack, chip or scratch if enough force is exerted on it. Protect your tile surfaces by using furniture protectors on the bottom of chair and table legs. When moving furniture be especially careful. Be sure to use protectors on the bottom of any potted plants as well.
2. Seal Your Tiles.
Tile surfaces that are exposed to water need to be sealed. Sealing will also protect your grout from damage and wear and tear and also offers more stain protection.Check your manufacturer's instructions for a recommended schedule for sealing, and the type of sealer you need for your tile.
3. Use Door Mats.
Most of the dirt that comes into homes comes in with human feet. Be sure to position a door mat outside and inside each entrance. You'll catch most of the dirt before it even has a chance to get near your tile.
4. Sweep and Mop Often.
Dirt is the worst enemy to a tile floor. Tile floors need to be swept/vacuumed and mopped regularly to prevent damage to the grout and finish. A quick daily sweep, and a light weekly mopping are usually all that is required to keep your floors looking great.
5. Do Not Use Too Much Water.
Using an overly wet mop, or not drying up spills can damage and stain your tile. Minerals in tap water can leave behind discoloration. Wetness can lead to mildew and dingy grout lines. Floors that are left to dry slowly can have a dull or dingy look. Try hand drying floors to buff and polish them.

6. Clean Up Quickly.
Don't let spills sit for any length of time. The same stains that will discolor your clothes, will seep in and discolor your tile and grout. Oily stains, tomato stains, and drink stains in particular can all sink into your tile and your grout, so wipe them up quickly.
7. Do Not Use Bleach or Ammonia Based Cleaners:
Just don't. There are plenty of other products that are milder and will give excellent results. Bleach and ammonia based cleaners will discolor your grout lines over time. It may happen very gradually, but it will happen. 
8. Do Not Scrub Tiles.
Never use steel wool, abrasive scrubbing powders, or any other scrubbing material on your tile. Your tile has a finish on it that will be damaged with any of these products. Soft cleaning cloths and mops are all that is required.
Contact us with any enquiries about tiles.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

What is Terrazzo?

We recently had an order for terrazzo tiles, but do you know what terrazzo is really?

Terrazzo is a composite material, poured in place or precast, which is used for wall and floor coverings. Traditionally it consists of marblequartzgraniteglass, or other suitable chips poured with a binding agent. Terrazzo is cured, then ground and polished to produce a smooth, uniformly textured surface.

Terrazzo is thought to have been invented by Renaissance Venetian construction workers as a low cost flooring material using marble chips left over from cutting expensive solid marble. The workers would set them in clay to surface the patios around their living quarters. Consisting originally of marble chips, clay, and goat milk (as the sealer), production of terrazzo became much easier after the 1920s and the introduction of electric industrial grinders and other power equipment. Similar aggregate floors have been found in Turkey however and date back as far as 8000 BCE.

Terrazzo artisans create walls, floors, patios, and panels by exposing marble chips and other fine aggregates on the surface of finished concrete or epoxy-resin. Much of the preliminary work of terrazzo workers is similar to that of cement masons. Marble-chip, cementitious terrazzo requires three layers of materials. First, cement masons or terrazzo workers build a solid, level concrete foundation 10cm deep. After the forms are removed from the foundation, workers add a layer of sandy concrete. Before this layer sets, terrazzo workers partially embed metal divider strips in the concrete wherever there is to be a joint or change of color in the terrazzo. For the final layer, terrazzo workers blend and place into each of the panels a fine marble chip mixture that may be color-pigmented. While the mixture is still wet, workers toss additional marble chips of various colors into each panel and roll a weighted roller over the entire surface.
In the 1970s, polymer-based terrazzo was introduced and is called thin-set terrazzo. Initially polyester and vinyl ester resins were used as the binder resin. Today, most of the terrazzo installed is epoxy terrazzo. The advantages of this material over cementitious terrazzo include a wider selection of colors, a thinner installation layer, lighter weight, faster installation, impermeable finish, higher strength, and less susceptibility to cracking. The disadvantage of epoxy resin–based terrazzo is that it can only be used for interior, not exterior, applications. Epoxy-based terrazzo will lose its color and slightly peel when used outdoors, whereas cement-based terrazzo will not. In addition to marble aggregate blends, other aggregates have been used, such as mother of pearl and abalone shell. Recycled aggregates include: glass, porcelain, concrete, and metal. Shapes and medallions can be fabricated on site by bending divider strips, or off site by water-jet cutting.
When the terrazzo is thoroughly dry (or cured in the case of thin-set terrazzo), helpers grind it with a terrazzo grinder, which is somewhat like a floor polisher, only much heavier. Slight depressions left by the grinding are filled with a matching grout material and hand-troweled for a smooth, uniform surface; it is then cleaned, polished, and sealed.

Engineered stone as it is known in the US, is also commonly referred to as 
agglomerate or agglomerated stone, the last term being that recognised by European Standards (EN 14618). The Quartz version (which end consumers are much more likely to directly deal with) are commonly known as 'quartz surface' or just 'quartz'. As you can see in the photo above the agglomerate particles occur throughout the material.

Terrazzo tiles on the other hand are porcelain or ceramic tiles that are printed with a design resembling terrazzo. With modern ink jet techniques these designs are absolutely indistinguishable from real terrazzo.

Contact us with any enquiries about tiles.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

8 Ways to Encourage Tile Customers.

Make sure your sales assistants offer their business cards to prospective customers. If sales staff are properly trained and project an attitude of helpfulness, every call or enquiry will bring the sale and subsequent 'loyalty' sales closer.


Of course the first thing to establish from your customer is where the tiles are going to be laid. This will determine whether porcelain or ceramic is appropriate and what ranges are suitable. Get 'fitness for purpose' right first! 


Suggest light colour tiles to make a small or dark room feel bigger and brighter as a starting point then lead on to accent pieces in other colours and textures..


Point out bright colours in accent tiles, mosaics, rivens and other pieces that can be used for strips and details. Encourage customers to loo at complementary colours which can create unique effects and environments. Accents immediately frame and enhance tiled surfaces and add richness. These effects add far more in aesthetic appeal than their actual value in a home. 


Encourage customers to see their tile purchase as an investment, not a cost; never compromise on quality, which can still be picked up at great prices. Good tiles increase the value of a home in a permanent way and enhance the look of a home immeasurably.


Always ensure the purchase of an additional 10% more tiles than are actually needed. This allows the tiler to compensate for cuts and breakages and ensures the same batch and shade should the customer need additional tiles later on. Of course this also increases the value of the sale. 


Recommend a tile grout colour that complements the tiles chosen to help blend in grout lines. Never compromise on cheap grout or adhesive for that matter, it will just have to be cleaned or replaced later.


If your customers room seems like it will require a lot of tile cuts around fixtures or fittings or if there are curved surfaces to deal with recommend smaller tiles or mosaics to give a better flow. Smaller formats also provide a better non-slip surface.
Contact us with any enquiries about tiles.