New Ceramic Tile - Sales & Installations
Wolfe Flooring sells and installs a complete line of residential ceramic and porcelain tile manufactured by the top brand names in the flooring industry.
We'll make getting a flooring product easy. When you purchase products from Wolfe Flooring, you receive the added benefit of accessibility to technical knowledge, warranty care, routine maintenance and emergency service if calamities strikes for the life of the product.
Please ask us about a FREE home presentation.
We can both provide you with the products your looking for and install the choice of your dreams. Alternatively, we can provide the products without the installation service. Or, we can provide the installation service for the products you provide. The most economical choice for most customers is for us to both supply and install your flooring goods. Most often, this is also the path of least complications.
We at Wolfe Flooring commit to following the installation procedures designated by the manufacturers. If the product calls for a particular brand of pressure sensitive adhesive and a specific notch trial, then that is what will be used. The durability and cosmetic appeal of your new flooring product is determined by two factors: (1) the manufacturer's production of quality goods and (2) a careful and diligent installation. We can get you the quality goods and give you the quality installation. We plan to make you happy!
Getting Ready to Select
It may have been a good five to ten years since the last time you selected a new flooring product. Infrequency makes it difficult to stay up with design trends, brand names, pricing and the myriad of other details that constitute a good choice. Please let us help. Below is a check list that simplifies the process.
Sketch a rough diagram of the floor plan. Your diagram should included the following:
- the names of the areas (e.g., Living Room)
- the approximate measurements
- the type of flooring currently on the floor
- the type of subfloor if known (e.g., wood, concrete, terrazzo)
- the location of thresholds indicated by dotted lines
- the volume of use and type of use (e.g., rarely used/dinner parties)
- the quality of the lighting: low, medium, high
Calculate the approximate square footage of each area by multiplying the length by the width. Add 10% for overage by multiplying your total square feet by 1.10. For example, assume your room is 14 feet wide by 18 feet long.
Actual Square Footage 14' x 18' = 252 sf.
Adjusted Square Footage 252 sf. x 1.10 = 277.2 sf.
Decide how many years you want the new flooring to last. (For example, you may want to remodel in five years in order to put your home on the market.)
Gather color keys and samples of your primary colors in each area (e.g., wallpaper, drapes, paint, fabrics) or take pictures of the areas to help in the color selection.
Identify your decorating style.
Calculate your budget. And, see Pricing and Payments Policies under About Us to learn what payment options are available.
Review your calendar to select a time for the work. Generally, you should anticipate times during the work week. Also, be sure to ask how long the project will take.
Consider what moldings you want around the edges and/or at the thresholds.
Check out our comparison chart of the different flooring products (e.g., carpet, wood, tile, etc.)
Check out our decorating ideas for ideas about styles, colors, patterns, textures, and functions.
Selecting Your Product - Product Review
We suggest that you compare warranties. Warranties often cover a variety of topics like chemical resistance, frost proof resistance, wear/scratch resistance, stain resistance, static electricity resistance, and so one.
Colors on sample boards may be slightly different from the actual color you receive. The variation can appear (1) in the glaze of glazed tiles and (2) in the body of unglazed tiles. The glaze of glazed tiles may have a dye lot difference. The body of unglazed tile may be different due to variations in minerals and clay shades. This is true for all manufacturers. Sometimes tiles are intentionally manufactured with extreme variations in color to add artistic variety. Colors can be solid or patterned. Some glazed tiles are made to look like natural stone (e.g., marble), and some decorative tiles are even hand painted with the glaze. Some glazed tiles are made with crazing (i.e., hairline cracks in the glaze) for a unique look.
Glaze vs. Unglazed.
Ceramic tiles can be glazed or unglazed. Most tiles used in the U.S. are glazed.
Glazed tiles have a glaze applied to the clay body (a.k.a., bisque) to create the tile's surface color and level of shine. Some tiles are made with a clear glaze which allows the clay's natural color to come through the transparent finish. Glazed tile are either single-fired (a.k.a., monocottura) or double-fired (a.k.a., bicottura). Monocottura tiles are more popular because they are stronger. Bicottura tiles are baked twice usually for decorative reason.
Unglazed tiles provide the natural color of the clay (commonly reddish). Unglazed tile are frequently used in heavy, commercial traffic areas because of their density. The unglazed tile category often includes quarry tile and porcelain tile. Quarry tiles are usually thick, low absorbent, and durable like the reddish terracotta tile. Porcelain tiles are fully vitrified, chemically resistant, strong tiles like some mosaic tiles. (Mosaic tiles are defined by size more than anything. Mosaic tiles can be glazed or unglazed, but are almost always one inch square. Mosaic tiles have been used for centuries to construct murals and floor images. Today, most mosaic tiles come in sheets to expedite installations.)
Textured vs. Smooth.
Tiles can have a very smooth and level surface like glass or can have a highly textured surface. We strongly recommend that textured tiles be used in walk areas that may be exposed to moisture or grease. Although textured tiles provide excellent surface traction, they do require more cleaning. Customers primarily interested in low maintenance will prefer the smoother tiles.
There are three primary finishes: abrasive slip-resistant, matte, and high-gloss. (Some companies break the finishes down into more specific categories.)
Abrasive slip-resistant finishes are the best at preventing slips, and have a dull appearance. Matte finishes reflect more light and still offer a relatively high friction coefficient. High-gloss finishes scratch easily and are very slippery, but cause the atmosphere to shine with light. Thus, high-gloss tiles are most suitable for walls. Usually the highly textured tiles will have a matte finish, but occasionally high-gloss finishes are applied to very textured surfaces.[Areas with exposure to water or oil should have a matte or honed surface, not a polished surface.]
Although tile absorbs very little moisture in comparison to other flooring products, most tile absorbs some moisture. The amount of absorption influences the tiles suggested usage. Tiles are ranked into four categories: (1) non-vitreous, (2) semi-vitreous, (3) vitreous (a.k.a., impervious stoneware tiles), and (4) fully vitreous (a.k.a., impervious or Porcelain or China).
Non-vitreous tiles absorb 7 percent or more.
Semi-vitreous tiles absorb between 3 and 7 percent.
Vitreous tiles absorb between .5 and 3 percent.
Fully vitrified tiles absorb less than .5 percent.
When the tiles absorb moisture, they are susceptible to cracking if exposed to freezing temperatures. Also, absorption indicates density which determines strength. The less moisture absorption, the denser the tile. The non-vitreous and semi-vitreous tiles are designed for residential, indoor use.
Sizes and Shapes.
Tiles vary in size from 1/2 inch square to 24 inches square. Although most tiles are square, there are other shapes. Decorative wall tiles are usually 3/16 thick; while, pavers for heavy traffic may be 1 inch thick. Thickness also indicates a tile's mechanical strength. The thicker the ceramic tile, the less likely a break will occur assuming there is no other reinforcement introduced. As you would imagine, the thicker products cost more.
Sometimes quantitative measurements are available for quality comparisons.
Abrasion resistance measures the tile's ability to withstand traffic before showing wear patterns. Although there is no official rating system, many companies use the testing guidelines of the American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) and the ranking system of the Porcelain Enamel Institute (P.E.I.) to gauge abrasion resistance. Tiles are usually divided into four to six categories (five categories being the most popular scale). The higher the class or group, the better the abrasion resistance. Typically, tiles in the first class are suitable for wall applications only. Generally, only the tiles ranking in Class IV or Class V (in a five-tier scale) are designed for commercial use.
Density (a.k.a., specific gravity or specific weight) measures the weight of a specific volume of ceramic. Density may be measured inversely by taking a unit of volume divided by weight. Ultimately, density influences the mechanical strength, the moisture absorption, the shipping cost, and a building's load capacity. (See Moisture Absorption.)
Traction (a.k.a., slip resistance) is measured by a friction coefficient, the minimum being 0.50. The Americans with Disabilities Act ® (ADA) requires a minimum of 0.60 for general areas and 0.80 for ramps. Traction is predominantly determined by the ceramic tile's texture and finish (addressed above).
Chemical resistance speaks to a ceramic's ability to resist damage alkaline and acidic solutions (mild to harsh).
The grout between your tile plays both a cosmetic and a structural role. Some customers attempt to blend the grout color in with the tiles. In contrast, others choose grout with distinctly different but complimentary color to the tile causing the grout lines to draw as much attention as the tile. Structurally, grout adds strength to the individual tiles. Joints less than 1/8 inch wide use non-sanded grout; joints between 1/8 inch and ½ inch wide use sanded grout. There are three primary types of grout: Portland cement based grout, latex based grout, and epoxy grout.
Portland cement based grouts are good for general use with moderate traffic. Latex based grouts are used when extra strength is needed or the grout needs to have added water resistance. Epoxy grouts are know for their ability to resist some chemicals, stain resistance, moisture resistance, color consistency, and strength. Stone products are often butted together so as to eliminate grout joints. [We suggest an upgrade to an epoxy grout when the chemical-resistance, impact-resistance, or stain-resistance is greatly needed. We also suggest epoxy grout be used in heavy industrial environments.]
Waterproof membranes, crack isolation membranes, and sound control membranes are available for ceramic tile products. The membranes are installed between the substrate and the ceramic.
Waterproof membranes may needed because most grout and some ceramic are porous. The waterproof membranes prevent water from seeping up through the substrate or from seeping down through the ceramic to the floor or wall. This is especially important in some outdoor settings. Crack isolation membranes can prevent cracks and shifts in the concrete slab (up to 1/4 inch) from causing cracks in the ceramic tile on the surface. Sound control membranes reduce the sound both above and below the floor. This is especially helpful in multistory buildings such as condominiums, and high rises.
The following preparations should be made before your flooring product is installed. Some of these preparations may be unrealistic given your circumstances and may not have an affect on the success of the installation. However, we've included these manufacturer and regulatory agency recommendations in hope of the optimal installation and for disclosure reasons. Manufacturers may vary slightly. The manufacturer of the product you select is the final authority for their product.
A layout should be agreed on. Tiles may have accent pieces you want positioned in a certain spot in the room, or you may want the tiles angled to a particular degree.
Doors may have to be adjusted or cut at the bottom (i.e., planed) after your flooring is installed. Determinations as to whether such alterations are needed may not be possible prior to the installation. Door adjustments are priced separately.
Moldings are located at thresholds and around the room's perimeter. The molding may have to be removed, replaced, or added. A broad variety of moldings are available for all flooring products. Molding are made of wood, vinyl, rubber, metal, carpet, stone, and ceramic. Some moldings are designed to draw attention; while, others are designed to blend in with the primary flooring products. Moldings are priced separately.
- If you have a concrete subfloor and it is new construction, the concrete needs to cure for 45-120 days before installing the flooring (90 day average).
- The porosity of the subfloor (wood, concrete, etc.) should be tested. This indicates how well the adhesive will bond with the subfloor. Testing of the subfloor should be done early in order to deal with any problem that you may possibly detect. This test is usually just a matter of formality.
- Customers will need to verify that the relative humidity of the building is between 30% to 70%. High humidity may hinder the mortar's curing time which will delay the grouting. Low humidity may accelerate the mortar's curing time which could lead to cracking. Most customers have the proper relative humidity.
- Condition the room to between 60° and 90° F (suggested 75°) for 48 hours before the installation. Temperatures below 50° will slow the drying time which will delay the grouting for 2 to 4 days and could lead to cracked tiles a few months later.
- After the temperature has been properly set, acclimate the new tile or stone to the room 24 hours prior to the installation.
- Pick up all personal items from the floor, and secure all delicate breakables (e.g., dining pieces and figurines in a China cabinet) prior to our arrival.
- Disassemble complicated electrical equipment like computers prior to our arrival.
- If the building is new construction, the building should be presented broom swept and free of all equipment, etc.
- The furniture must be carefully removed and put back in place. About half of our customers choose to handle their own furniture; therefore, furniture handling is priced separately. If you elect to handle the furniture, please remove the furniture prior to our arrival. Some manufactures recommend that furniture not be returned onto the new flooring for a period of time. See directions below under "Follow-up Activities and Initial Maintenance."
- Fixtures (e.g., toilets), doors, appliances, and other items may have to be removed and reattached. This service is priced separately.
- The old flooring must be removed and disposed of in accordance with local ordinances. We provide this service for most of our customers, but occasionally customers elect to do this themselves. Therefore, take up and disposal are priced separately. (Sometimes, new tile or stone can be installed over existing products like vinyl, V.C.T., etc.)
- When the products arrive at your site, please verify the products are the correct color, style, and quantity you ordered. The earlier the detection the better. Flooring products that are installed create more warranty complications than products still on the truck.
- Once we begin your installation, the work area should be restricted from all foot traffic. Unfinished thresholds, flooring products and tools can pose TRIP HAZARDS. PLEASE BE CAREFUL. Please restrict the work area during the entire project.
- Please secure your small children and pets from following us out of your home while the exterior doors are open.
The subfloor must be in suitable condition. Your subfloor may or may not require floor prep. The amount of preparation varies depending on: the type of subfloor, the subfloor's condition, and the manufacturer's specifications. Subfloor preparation is priced separately. The stability and precision of the subfloor will have a bearing on the long-term success of your new flooring. BE ASSURED THAT FLOOR PREP IS USUALLY ONLY A NOMINAL EXPENSE. MANY CUSTOMERS HAVE NO FLOOR PREP EXPENSES.
Here are some of the common preparations made on the different floor types: concrete, terrazzo, wood, or metal.
- Plywood joints should be level within 1/16".
- Reinforce subfloor to stiffen and smooth the surface with backerboard, Wonderboard®, wood underlayment, lauan plywood panels (Type 1, exterior, OVL grade, solid core mahogany), or plywood.
- Treat for urine contamination.
- Abrade glazed surfaces.
- Replace weak boards and secure loose boards.
- Seal with primer.
- Grind away concrete curing agents, parting agents, or surface hardeners.
- Grind down high spots.
- Chip away wall plaster, etc.
- Fill holes and cracks up to ¼" thickness with patch and/or leveling compounds.
- Fill in and level depressions up to ¼" deep with patch and/or leveling compounds.
- Nail down protruding nails.
- Remove old adhesive completely.
- Remove paint, varnish, wax, pigmented material, solvents, grease, oil, etc. completely.
- Sand away rust of metal substrates.
- Sweep clean.
- Plan the grouting to take place 1-4 days after the tile installation depending on curing conditions.
Follow-up Activities and Initial Maintenance
The following pertains to ceramic tile, porcelain tile, and glass.
- Documentation. Process the billing and get a hand written or published warranty. Retain the sales receipt and any product description from the purchase of the goods. If possible, document the manufacturer's name and the manufacturer's full product description including color. Furthermore, retain a sample of the ceramic or glass for comparisons. For insurance purposes, it's good to have a picture of your new product in a safe place.
- Attic Stock. Retain extra pieces (field and trim pieces) for possible repairs that may be needed in the future. Store the tile pieces on a flat surface, no more than three boxes high.
- Wolfe Flooring picks up all flooring product scraps. The customer may need to mop the ceramic or glass tile. The ceramic tile should not be swept or mopped for 24 hours after the grouting is finished. Be sure the grout is dry.
- Do not expose the tile to any foot traffic for 24 hours after it is installed. Be sure the tile is firmly set before walking on it. Then, do not return the furniture or step on the grout lines for 24 hours after the grouting is finished. Be sure the grout is dry. The mortar and the grout need time to cure.
- Maintain the same temperature for 48 hours after your ceramic tile installation.
- Sealing. Seal the grout seven (7) days after the installation with grout sealer to add stain resistance and cleanability. The grout should be clean at the time of application. This is optional, but highly recommended.
- If your tile is a porous tile (e.g., saltillo), then your tile may need sealer depending upon whether it was included in our contract.
Read: How to Maintain Ceramic Tile
Read: Ceramic Tile Spot Cleaning Guidelines
Read: How to Protect Flooring