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  D.I.M. STONE  FAQ - CERAMIC SECTION

frequently questions about ceramic

Q. What do I need to know before starting a new tile job?

A. Any tile installation, no matter how small an area, should be thoroughly discussed with the contractor or installer hired for the job so that the scope of the work and the responsibilities of each party are fully understood. 

Possible questions may be: Who will remove the old flooring material if necessary? If the installation is to use a thick-bed method, what provisions will be made for the added thickness at door sills or at the entrance to the next room? If the installation is to be thin-set, what steps will be taken to compensate for the possible flexibility of the existing surface? If traffic must be avoided following tiling, what temporary measures will be provided for necessary passage?

Professional installers will perform their task neatly and efficiently. Whether an installer is recommended by the tile supplier or by friends, it is important to ask for references and speak to those who know the installer's work. Local chapters of tile contractors' associations are a useful source.

A tile installation is only complete when the customer is left with a tiled surface requiring nothing more than ordinary, routine cleaning.

Whether thin-set or thick-bed methods are used, the tile installation follows the same basic steps.

Old floor covering or paint is removed and the surface is cleared of dust and loose particles.

Grout is applied after the tile has set. Depending on the adhesive used, this may be anywhere from 3 hours to 2 days following installation. Grout is mixed to the proper consistency and then applied with a rubber float or squeegee. Rubbing firmly over the tiled surface pushes the grout into the joints and cleans off most of the excess. Remaining excess grout is wiped clean. Heavy traffic should be avoided on newly tiled floors for three to four days following installation to prevent any loosening or dislocation of the tiles. If walking across tiles is necessary, plywood boards should be used to create a path. 

Q. What type of tile do we install on our kitchen floor?

A. Floors in frequent use, such as kitchens, family rooms, and areas where chairs or equipment are often pulled across the floor will need good abrasion resistance. Floors with direct access to the outdoors, as in entrances and some kitchens, will be subject to tracked in sand, dirt or water. These areas will require good abrasion resistance as well as a moderate degree of slip resistance.

For areas in less frequent use-living rooms, dens, sunrooms-most tiles are suitable. In bedrooms and baths, traffic is generally light and footwear is seldom worn; any tile may be selected.

Outdoors, tiles should have low water absorption. Unglazed tiles or frost-proof monocottura are usually selected. Areas around the home such as patios, walkways, or swimming pool decks, must also have high slip resistance.

Areas that are used while wet include shower floors, saunas, and hot tubs, which require low water absorption and good slip resistance. Tile for swimming pool basins must be specified as such. 

Q. A salesperson claimed his tile was a group IV. What does that mean?

A. The following classifications are based on an agreement between European ceramic tile manufacturers and installers and have been adopted world wide. 

Group I

• Light Residential Traffic

• Tiles suited to areas of the home, such as baths or bedrooms where soft footwear is worn. 

Group II

• Moderate Residential Traffic

• Tiles for general resident areas, except kitchens and entrance halls or other areas subject to direct outdoor traffic.

Group III

• Residential Traffic

• Tiles suited to maximum residential traffic in all areas of the home. 

Group IV

• Commercial Traffic

• Tiles suited to public areas where moderate to heavy traffic occurs (such as hotel lobbies, restaurants, Supermarkets and banks). 

Preparing the surface

After the selection, the most important element of a successful installation is the condition of the surface to be tiled. A properly prepared surface is smooth, stable and free of any defects. It also satisfies the requirements of any special conditions that may exist, such as waterproofing. 

Floors

Old floor coverings such as carpet, resilient tiles and sheer floor coverings and their existing glue residues should be removed. Exceptions are non-cushioned sheet vinyl and old flooring known to contain asbestos where encapsulation may be preferred to removal. Concrete floors in good condition are a sound base for a thin-set installation. Minor cracking may sometimes be repaired by applying an anti-fracture membrane which would also allow a thin-set installation. Severely cracked concrete will require a thick-bed. Placing new ceramic tile over old, sound, properly prepared ceramic tile is quite acceptable as tile provides an excellent rigid base. 

Walls

Wall surfaces should be inspected for defects. Extensive running cracks will eventually work through to the tile unless the cause is corrected and the surface is patched. Paint, especially water based latex paint, should be removed completely wherever possible. Walls in severely poor condition require a new backing surface before a thin-set installation can proceed. 

Wet areas

Health clubs, saunas, and residential baths are some indoor areas where heavy water usage occurs. Preparing the area to be tiled is an important consideration. Before tiling, a waterproof backing or membrane should be installed on all surfaces where direct water contact occurs. These include the walls of tub and shower enclosures, bathroom floors, and any areas exposed to high temperatures from steam. In addition to waterproof membranes, latex modified mortars and grouts, a thick-bed installation is usually recommended. 

Outdoor areas

Exterior masonry or cement must be in good condition to receive a thin-set installation. For severely cracked or damaged surfaces, the thick-bed method should be used.

Newly constructed floor areas such as patios and courtyards will require slopes to drains and appropriately spaced expansion joints.

Terraces, balconies and roof decks require the same considerations as above and must also be designed to protect against water leakage to the space below. A waterproof membrane should be applied before tile installation.

Swimming pools must be constructed of concrete in order to be tiled. The tank should be tested by filling it with water before the tile work is started. For residential pools, a thin-set installation is generally acceptable. 

Q. Why do you recommend not laying Ceramic Tile over an existing vinyl floor? All of the contractors that I have gotten estimates from so far are leaving the existing vinyl floor in place.

A. The reason we don't recommend this is because of the wide variation of possible conditions that we would have no control over. If your contractor is comfortable with the condition of your floor, then it should be acceptable.

We invested all our efforts to answer to all your questions concerning the purchase and the treatment of your ceramic tiles. If, for any reason, you could not find an answer to your individual needs, please use the contact form to let us know and we will try to answer you as soon as possible. If your submission is relevant to this FAQ we will also include it within shortly. Here are your most Frequently Asked Questions. 

Q. Is there a minimum amount of drop or rise in a subfloor that is acceptable for installing Ceramic Tile?

A. With regular tile adhesive, there can't be any variation in the subfloor or you will have cracks. You can have some variation if you use a more expensive bridging adhesive. You should consult your local ceramic tile supplier for more information on this procedure, though. 

Q. How do you cut tiles to go around a toilet pan?

A. For standard cutting around small, irregular shapes, we recommend using a tile nipper. Tile nippers are available at most home center or floor covering stores. You use the nipper to chip away at the tile to get as close to the shape as possible. 

Q. Is Wonder Board acceptable for floor tile applications?

A. Wonder Board is an excellent subfloor but you must have a minimum of 1 1/4-inch plywood or lumber as your supporting subfloor. Then apply Wonder Board over that. 

Q. What is the best way to take up single tiles to replace them?

A. The easiest way to take up the tile is to hit it hard right in the middle (make sure you wear eye protection) and chip it away from the middle out. Then clean up the old thinset and re-do the tile. 

Q. A friend uses a two-inch grout line between tiles in his home and it creates a beautiful look. Any recommendations or advice on laying tiles this far apart?

A. We don't recommend laying tiles with more than a 1/4" grout line because past experience has shown us that it will eventually crack and chip out. You can talk to a ceramic supplier and get grout that is fortified with epoxy or some other product that will make it stronger, but we don't recommend or warranty such installations. 

Q. I am building a home and looking for Terracotta Floor Tiles for my kitchen. Is this considered Ceramic Tile?

A. Terracotta is not considered ceramic tile. It is generally referred to in the trade as Quarry Tile and is fairly common. It is usually unglazed and requires some kind of coating on the surface. We would not recommend it for the kitchen since it would absorb oil and grease. 

Q. Can Ceramic Tile be applied directly to a cement slab floor that is dry?

A. Yes, ceramic tile can be installed over a cement slab floor using thinset. 

Q. We need advice on installing a Diamond Pattern tile floor.

A. This is a complicated layout. Lay out your floor with chalk lines in the center of the floor perpendicular to the walls. Then bisect those lines with another line, which will then give you the line for your diamond pattern. This will be centered in the room at 90 degrees from square to the walls. Proceed to lay your tiles from the center out to the edge. You may also want to consider professional assistance for this project if you don't have much experience with tile installation. 

Q. Is tile a good flooring alternative for people who are highly allergic to dogs, cats, dust, cockroaches, grasses, etc.?

A. You are absolutely right. Tile is generally referred to as a hypo-allergenic floor covering. 

Q. I'm installing ceramic tile on an upper level of my home and currently there is a carpet on the floor with a 3-4 plywood underlayment. When installing ceramic tile, should I use a Hardibacker or DuroRock type layer below the tile or another layer of 3/4-inch Plywood? 

A. You have a couple of options. You must have a minimum thickness of 1 1/4 inches of exterior plywood as your subfloor before installing ceramic tile so you can add a 1/2-inch thick piece to your existing 3/4-inch piece to reach the required 1 1/4 inch thickness. You can then either: 1. install the ceramic tile directly over the 1 1/4-inch thickness of exterior plywood; or 2. install HardiBoard, DuroRock, Wonderboard or a similar substrate over the 1 1/4-inch thick plywood for added stability. Those substrates are excellent surfaces for ceramic tile. 

Q. What kind of adhesive do you use for Porcelain Tile? 

A. You can use standard thin-set, which is a concrete-based adhesive. 

Q. I previously had ceramic tile installed incorrectly. I removed the ceramic successfully but I would like to know how I should get the mastic off of the tile and the floor (plywood)? 

A. If the mastic is Thinset you can use a scraper. If it's epoxy, it is virtually impossible to get up. In that case, you would have to use some type of underlayment over the existing subfloor and then tile over of that. 

Q. Tell me, please, what is the best way to clean ceramic tile that will also clean the grouting? 

A. A good detergent cleanser can clean both, but if the grout is really grimy, there are numerous grout cleaners available commercially in any home center or any place that sells ceramic tile. After cleaning the grout with the grout cleaner, you should be able to use the detergent cleanser after that. After cleaning the grout with the grout cleaner, you should be able to use the detergent cleanser. 

Q. What type of tool do I use to cut a hole in ceramic floor tile? 

A. If you are trying to put a hole in the tile you need a diamond drill. You may also place a "hole" in the tile by splitting the tile in half and then nipping out a hole with a tool called "nippers". They should be available at your local tile store or possibly a home center or hardware store. 

Q. Is there a problem with setting ceramic tiles tight to each other so there is no space between them?

A. We do not recommend tiles be set tight. By setting tiles this way, you still can't avoid some minute spacing, and the spaces would be a dirt collector if you didn't grout. Also, even with grouting, this fine of a line of grout would easily crack and not perform properly. 

Q. Will I have to raise the toilet after installing tile because of the added tile and plywood? 

A. You will have to raise the toilet. This will require a new toilet flange at the higher height. 

Q. How can I tell the difference between a quality ceramic floor tile and some of the rubbish being sold?

A. It's a good question, one that you don't have much help answering. However, if you are intending to buy a ceramic tile in the near future, it's a question you will be facing and should take a moment to read and consider the following information:

Notes:

 Ceramic tiles are NOT all alike and some may be considered time bombs ready, waiting, and ticking down until conditions are right to cause you problems. Even the ceramic industry does not make comparative advertising with competition products. Why? By law, much of the European Community is restricted from this activity. Also, it's often viewed as self-destructive.

"It's cheap and it looks aesthetically the same." These are often prophetic words. It may sound like just common sense remarks but lower priced materials of any kind normally cost less because there are short cuts in manufacturing them. I am told, "it is not possible to convince a cheap customer to neither buy based on quality issues, nor easily convince a customer who is accustomed to quality to buy something based on price alone."

With ceramic tile, an aesthetically nice looking tile doesn't necessarily mean it is a quality tile. Some dealers will purchase inferior low price ceramic tiles and represent them to be superior quality. Your experienced dealer is there to assist you, but the fault lies in NOT understanding the product and that's where a greater knowledge will better prepare you to make a ceramic tile purchase.

What makes a quality ceramic tile different from the others and how can you tell the difference? The expert ceramists intended design, quality of materials, product, manufacturing processes, kiln temperature, duration of firing time, etc. all determine the differences between one tile and another.

Absorption is the primary key factor in determining both positive and negative factors influencing your ceramic tiles nature, installation and bond, maintenance, durability, and long-term performance.

Floor tiles having a high absorption (7% or higher), perform poorly and are often referred to as RUBBISH. These tiles will chip and crack easily, before and after they have been installed. There is often a condition of stress between the tile body (biscuit/bisque) and glaze. Even while inspecting a selection of these tiles, straight from the carton, there are often chips on corners and the dark reddish or brown tone biscuit is exposed. They may exhibit size differences and dye lot variations. Even if this is controlled with sorting, they often expand with moisture absorption, taken from setting materials, which will adversely affect bond-ability to the substrate. Although the surface glaze appears aesthetically similar in nature to superior quality tiles, their performance is vastly different. Avoid purchasing such tiles.

Floor tiles having a water absorption between 4-6% are more stable and considered the lowest acceptable industry limit for targeted quality and economics of production; however, they cannot be viewed as anything more that daily residential performance tiles. Even then, avoid high gloss surfaces and smooth dull, matte textured finishes.

Floor tiles having absorption between 0.5-3percent (vitrified) are often designed with superior attributes. This is the most desired quality range for ceramic tile selections. They can withstand freeze/thaw conditions, have PEI 5 wear ratings / superior traffic and chemical resistant glazes for medium to heavy commercial use, the compatibility of glaze and biscuit are well designed, and these tiles are good value. They bond well, have consistent size, stress tolerances, and are usually well controlled for color, tone, caliber, and finish.

Floor tiles with a lower absorption or 0.5% or lower, often referred to as porcelain tiles, have superior technical properties but are aesthetically limited, compared with 0.5-3% absorptive tiles. In addition, you may be paying more for less. For example, the low absorption means they were kilned longer and hotter, so this means they cost more, but the lower absorption also means that they are harder to bond and may stress to cracking easier than 0.5-3% higher absorption tiles installed on wood composite substrates.

Aside from comparing one ceramic tile to another, quality ceramic tiles are superior in many ways to other materials; although, a consumer is usually predisposed to buying a quality ceramic tile, having been told of the durability, low maintenance, long-term cost saving and maintained beauty benefits.

Here's a short list, from which you can find arguments to favor choosing ceramic tiles over the numerous alternatives of flooring materials:

Glazed or vitrified (low absorption) good quality ceramic tiles are less expensive. Initially, when compared with natural stone tiles, and over the life of the floor; they are easier to install, have low maintenance and maintenance costs, offer an extended color palette, have controlled shade variations, have greater dimensions, shapes, and trims commonly available; they have greater acid, alkali, and chemical resistance, they are usually impermeable and stain resistant; they have harder wearable surfaces with impact and pressure resistance; they have greater bond strength, have a multitude of surfaces and textures, will not decay and are bacteria resistant, weather resistant, color-fast and won't fade; they are ecologically compatible, environmentally green, with no chemical or toxic substances; they have good heat energy retaining and conducting (conserving); they won't burn and are not inflammable; they are scratch resistant, odorless, non-conductive, time resistant, and slip resistant; glazed tiles never need stripping or refinishing, allow for design flexibility, are easily repairable, UV resistant, hygienic, etc.

 


  STONE SECTION


Typical questions about granite and marble 


Q. What affects pricing of granite and marble?

Availability and origin of material.
Edge profile and other fabrication labor.
Seam location.

Q. How do granite and marble compare to other solid surface countertops?
Comparable in price.
Unsurpassed durability of stone and compared to manmade products.
Every countertop, vanity, or fireplace surround is unique.
The depth of color and variety of marking in granite far surpasses that of other solid surface materials.

Q. What should you be paying for when buying granite?
Quality stone, which includes these elements: clear crystals, a smooth surface with even polish, and a good polish without swirl marks from the polisher.
A job that fits well as a result of accurate templating and a good installation.
Highly polished, straight edges.
Timely installation, no hassles, quick response to situations.

Q. Can marble be used in the kitchen?
No! Marble is not recommended for use in the kitchen because of its tendency to stain and scratch. However, because of its unparalleled beauty and classic look, marble is an excellent choice of vanities, wet bars, and especially fireplace surrounds.

Q. Can you cut on granite or marble?
Granite, yes. Granite is an extremely tough, durable material and in most cases can be used as a cutting surface without fear of scratching the stone (although knives may be dulled by repeated cutting on granite).
Marble, no. Using marble as a cutting surface will result in scratches as if cutting on a piece of wood.

Q. Can you set hot pans on granite or marble?
Yes! Granite is ideal for kitchens because under normal conditions it will not burn.
Marble should not be used in kitchens as excessive hear can cause damage and potentially leave sears or burn marks.
Under extreme heat, marble can be damaged; however, granite will not be harmed by hot pans or open flames.

Q. Does granite or marble chip or scratch?
Granite is a very dense material and under normal conditions it is chip and scratch resistant. However, we do no recommend a straight edge polish for countertops, especially around a sink. Pots, pans, and other heavy objects may chip the sharp edge of a straight edge finish. Several other edge options are available that will look beautiful and reduce the chance of chipping.
Marble can be chipped and scratched under normal use and therefore, should be used in low traffic areas and should always be treated like a piece of fine wood.

Q. Will granite or marble stain?
Under normal use, granite is stain resistant. Some granites, however, will accept moisture. There may be space between the crystals, allowing moisture to seep in. However, the stone usually dries out and the markings will disappear. Hot oils will penetrate the stone fairly quickly and will dark the granite and we recommend cleaning up spills and oil residues as quickly as possible.

 

Q. How can you limit the staining of granite or marble?
Wipe up spills on marble and granite as quickly as possible.
Avoid using acidic or oil-based products on marble.

Q. Should granite be scaled?
Though not necessary, all granites are sealed. The sealer used is a penetrating sealer that does not change the color of the stone. It penetrates the stone and will help prevent any staining. However, it will not stop the penetration of moisture entirely. When a liquid that might cause staining spills on top, it should be cleaned up as soon as possible.

Q. Can granite be repaired?
While it is difficult to permanently repair granite, it is also very difficult to damage it. However, if some damage does occur, granite usually can be repaired by a mix of epoxy and ground up chips of granite.

Q. Is granite a completely smooth surface like other Solid Surface Materials?
No. Many granite contain pits and fissures that are natural characteristics of granite. Some granites exhibit these characteristics more than others, and the lighting of the room can make these marks more or less visible. These characteristics should be pointed out to the client prior to deciding on a particular material and pre-approval of the actual slab is recommended.

Q. What do seams look like; will they absorb moisture?
1/16" to 1/8" width.
Filled with clear moisture-proof silicone caulk.

Q. How long are the slabs, and can seams be avoided?
The average slab size is typically 96" to 100" by 55" to 60"
Project Manager will work with each customer to place a few seams as possible in a kitchen. Seams are required based on slab size and may be needed to maintain the structural integrity of the countertop.

Q. How long are the panels?
It is typically safe to have panels that are approximately 6' to 8' long, depending upon the stone type and bowl/cook top configurations.

Q. What is the difference between 2cm and 3cm? And what is the most appropriate thickness for the tops?
The 2cm thick stone is approximately 3/4" thick. The 3cm is approximately 1 3/16" thick. We recommend using the 3cm for the kitchen countertops for both aesthetic reasons and structural reasons.

 

Q. How much overhand can you have without supports, and what type of supports is required?
For 3cm stone, we recommend supports with overhangs that are 10" or greater. For 2cm stone, we recommend a cantilevered bracket or corbel that matches the cabinet. The brackets should be spaced every 3' to 4'.
As to the type of support needed, we recommend a cantilevered bracket or corbel that matches the cabinet. The brackets should be spaced every 3' to 4'.

Q. What type of sink can be used?
There are few requirements when it comes to sinks. In order to maintain the structural integrity of the countertop, we require at least 3" of stone in front and back of the sink cut-out. Additionally, when using a cast iron sink, we will require the cabinet installer to build a 2"x4" wood frame under the sink to support it. Additionally, we recommend that if 2cm stone is being used, and over mount sink should be provided.

D.I.M. STONE  will need to know the sink type prior to templating the job.

Q. Is it okay for the homeowners to stand on the tops if they need to reach a high place?
Though it is unlikely that this would cause a problem, we strongly recommend against standing on granite countertops.

Q. How does the dishwasher attach to the granite tops?
The best way to attach a dishwasher is to silicone a small strip of wood under the counter. Once dry, the dishwasher can be screwed into the wood. You may also use dishwasher straps and attach them to the back wall or to the cabinets. This option will make the dishwasher more difficult to service.

 

Weight
3cm granite weighs approximately 21lbs. per square foot and 2cm granite weighs approximately 15lbs. per square foot. 2cm marble weighs approximately 13.5lbs. per square foot. Both granite and marble are easily supported by standard floor and cabinet systems. For safety requirements, pieces weighing more than 550lbs. may require a seam.

Thickness
All or our granite is available in 3cm (approximately 1 3/16") thickness, and some granite as well as all of the marbles are available in 2cm (approximately 3/4") thickness. We recommend using the 3cm because its structural integrity is superior to the 2cm and it is aesthetically more pleasing than the thinner stone.

Seams
The average length of a slab is 96", runs longer than this may require a seam. Other additional factors that may require a top to have a seam include: weight of material, cabinet structure, access to job, and type of material. D.I.M. STONE  will work with the Dealer and the customer in every way possible to ensure that seams are kept to a minimum and are discretely place, while maintaining the structural integrity of the stone. Seam location and quantity of seams may affect pricing.

Edges
Edges include Straight, Eased, Full and Half Bullnose, Bevel, and Ogee. All edges are priced separately.

Overhangs
An overhang of stone in excess of 10" past the edge of a cabinet should be braced from below.

Sinks
In order to maintain the structural integrity of the countertop, at least 3" of stone is required in front of and in back of the sink cut out. Additionally, when using a cast iron sink, the cabinet installer needs to build a 2"x4" wood frame under the sink to support it. If a 2cm stone is being used, an overmount sink should be provided.

Appliances and Cut-Outs
The width of material and front and behind appliances and cut-outs is a critical issue that will vary from job to job depending on material selection, dimensions, and appliances.

Cabinets
Cabinets must be permanently set and levelled prior to field dimension by our templating team.

Job Site Conditions
Each job is different and will offer unique challenges. Therefore, seam placement, cut-out options, and support requirements will vary from job to job. Please discuss all issues and preferences with your D.I.M. STONE  Manager prior to confirmation of details with your client.

Material Variation
Stone is product of nature and difference in color and vein characteristics are to be expected. Viewing and approving material prior to fabrication is recommended. 2cm granites will not always match 3cm slabs or the same material. Back splashes generally will be cut from 3cm stock unless otherwise indicated by the designer or project manager.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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