I’ve mentioned installing hard surface flooring (ceramic / stone / porcelain) over wood sub-floors before but now it’s time for more. A lot is happening out there with “Engineered Wood Products” and I think the retail public needs to look closely at how things are changing. The use of “structural panels” (OSB, COM-PLY), “I-Joists”, “Structural Composite Lumber” and “Glue Laminated Timber” (Glulam) has really added new concerns when determining sub-floor movement as it related to the longer spans as well as increased spacing of joists that we are now seeing in the field. An article published in 2003 by Procon titled “Guidelines for Tile Installation in Engineered Wood Framing Assemblies”, really high-lights the problems associated with these issues.
Companies like Schluter and associations like Terrazzo Tile Marble Association of Canada (TTMAC) are trying to give some direction but I think home owners need to ask their builders and consultants if they have engineered the sub-floors for the finishes that they, the home owners want installed.
Last year I wrote a blog post on stone counter maintenance that tried to emphasize that stone or quartz counters required some level of maintenance other than just cleaning. I mentioned that resealing or using “cleaners” that contained some sealer in them was an important component in maintaining the look and functionality of your stone counters. Just this week I visited a home where the owners took that kind of information to the extreme and it resulted in a maintenance issue.
Last week I happened to run into an old customer while I was out and about. We had installed a counter in his home almost 8 years earlier and I asked how the counter was doing. He looked at me with a pained face and said that he had been meaning to call me because his wife was very unhappy with their counter. I was surprised, to say the least, to hear that from him because it was my understanding that after we had installed the counter his wife had been extremely happy with the work. Immediately I asked him what was wrong and if I could drop by his house to have a look at the counter.
The next day I was at the house and the tops of the counter looked fine but the edges were are darkened in areas and no longer smooth to the touch. It almost looked like these areas had a dirty coating on them. It was funny because the tops were spotless and the whole kitchen was as well so it wasn’t because no one was cleaning up. I asked my client how they cleaned there counters and his wife quickly walked over to a broom closet and pulled out a bottle of stone counter cleaner/protectant. Handing me the spray bottle she announced that she used this product on a weekly basis. I then handed it back to her and asked her to show me how she used it. She took the bottle back, sprayed a generous amount on the counter and then with a cloth she wiped the counter top dry. Then I asked her if she used any other cleaners. No was the answer and that my friends was the problem.
A stone cleaner/protectant leaves behind a sealer/wax finish. Used too often this sealer/wax will build up and form a film on the stone. Not unlike spray applied furniture waxes. Do not over use these commercially available cleaner/protectants. A damp cloth should be all you need for most spills, if there is an oily spill or splashes from frying use a little dish soap and water then rinsed with clean water. Only use those commercially available cleaner/protectants occasionally.
This past year we have done a lot of really specialized work in both the industrial/commercial/institutional (ICI) sector as well as the residential sector. As a result we have had to purchase a number of highly specialized pieces of equipment. For those of you who have read some of my earlier blogs (April 12/2012 – Time for More Equipment) you already know that we have invested a bunch of cash on upgrading as well as purchasing (please pardon the pun) some real “cutting edge” equipment. These investments have helped push our firm to new levels of production as well as allowing us to expand what we can do for our clients and introduced us to a host of new clients.
Now we have to ask ourselves if getting getting bigger will be better?
This is a question that in the past we have asked ourselves a number of times. Each time we agreed that when we looked at the environment around us coupled with our own expectations bigger was better. This time I’m not so convinced. However the one thing that I am certain about is that even if we decide that bigger isn’t better getting better at what we do is always first on our agenda.
I’m not sure how many of you have heard about the College of Trades (Ontario). If you haven’t heard about this initiative and you are involved with construction or you are thinking about having some construction work done in your home then I suggest that you inform yourself. First in an effort to maintain some transparency I must inform you that I am a sitting member on one of the College of Trades’, “Trade Boards”. Before that I sat on a “PAC” Committee that reported to the Ministry of Training, College and Universities ans well as the Service Standards and Management Branch and before that I was president of the Tile Terrazzo Marble Trade School of Ontario for a number of years. In other words I think it is plain to see that I believe in training as well as accredited workers.
If done correctly, the College of Trades will work along the same lines as the College of Teachers, the College of Physicians and Surgeons, the College of Nurses, etc. The College will work to develop training guidelines, accreditation in the various trades and policing. What will this mean? Well from my perspective it means that there will be a body, separate from government, that will work to make sure when you hire a plumber, painter, drywaller or other trades person you will be able to ask if they and/or the company they work for is accredited with the College. If they are then you should feel confident that the trades person has, at the very least, a certain level of training and competence. Not a bad thing to know when a stranger is working in your home.
The College of Trades will take some time to set-up and there will definitely be “hick-ups” along the road but I think it is a good idea and one that is too long in coming.
Marble and onyx are beautiful stone types to consider for your home. Marble is a rock that is formed by heat and pressure from carbonate minerals (ie limestone and dolomite) while onyx is a crystalline rock composed of silica based minerals. The various types of banding and colours that can be found in both these stones offer another side to decorating with stone in comparison to granite. The softness and depth of colours found in marble and onyx are a delight to home owners and interior designers. The colours found in some of the specialty marbles are very deep and penetrating while onyx with it’s translucent nature can be back-lit to add a real splash of colour. Those more “flamboyant” marbles can really spice up the look of a room and if you back-light onyx the effect can be spectacular.
By their very nature marble and onyx are more delicate and can be prone to damage in heavy use areas but if you use these stones in the appropriate locations in your home the effect can be simply captivating.
Last week we did some in house testing on the new quartz slabs that we took delivery of the week before. Of the four types of quartz three were completely non-reactive when we applied a mild acidic solution and one was slightly reactive but only after the solution was allowed to remain in contact with the stone for an extended period of time. We have tagged this information to the stones so that our sales staff can advise their clients accordingly when they are choosing stone.
As I had mentioned in my last post, not all quartz slabs are created equally and therefore do not assume that because you are looking at a quartz product it will live up to your expectations with regard to wear and tear. Ask questions, understand how you want the stone to perform. When shopping for stone counters you really do have to be an informed consumer.
When is comes to natural stone long term beauty is more that “skin deep”.
Since my last post we have purchased several more bundles of unique “quartz” slabs. All of these stones are spectacular to look at but we haven’t done the homework yet to determine how they will react to household products like lemon juice and red wine so at the present I’m not sure if they are good products for our kitchen counter market. Our sales staff is in love with the look of these stones and I’m sure that our clients will be as well. There is an almost white/creamy stone, a simply stunning black stone and a highly variegated white/gold stone. Visit our Centis Stone Facebook page to see some of the pictures.
Over the next little while I will follow-up with how our shop floor employees like working with these stones and how well they do with our in house testing. Until then I have to admit that these stones are extremely beautiful material and even if we decide that they aren’t the best for kitchen use I’m sure that they will be be eaten up by our vanity market. Stay tuned.
Natural quartzite slabs have been around for a long time but for most of us this product is a newer material. Quartzite is sandstone that has been changed to quatzite through heat and pressure. Quartzite slabs are often called quartz but for me that is a bit of a misnomer since pure quartz (orthoquartzite) is almost 99% SiO2 and clear or milky in colour with possible rose or greenish hues. Quartzite can retain some of the features of the sandstone that it was created from and these slabs are what appears to be grabbing centre stage in stone shops.
Before you choose these newer quartz slabs for your kitchen check if the shop you are dealing with has experience in working with quartzite and ask if they have worked specifically with the slabs you have chosen. We have found some quartzite slabs that were not a hard, dense or chemically inert as we would have expected and in those cases we have advised our clients against using the material in certain applications. As in all things new I think some suppliers are a little too quick in defining some new stones as quartz or quartzite.