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5 Benefits of Tile Floors: An Interview with David Rickerson of Gulfport Tile and Marble LLC

By David Rickerson

Please tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

Gulfport Tile and Marble LLC is a small tile and marble licensed contractor located in the sleepy seaside art village of Gulfport Florida. We specialize in the installation of ceramic tile, marble, stone, glass and metal tile. I've been in the construction industry over 40 years and have watched the service part of business degrade over the years. I remember when one could pull into the filling station, you could get the oil checked, transmission fluid topped, tires pumped with air and windshield cleaned without leaving your car.

We at Gulfport Tile and Marble LLC take great pains to give the same kind of service. Each project is carefully reviewed and painstakingly installed to insure long lasting beauty and service. We spend time informing each customer on details pertinent to their project enabling them to make a more sound decision. We install floor tile, bath tile, backsplashes, mudwork to level floor, demolition and more.

For many years bathroom tile was mostly limited to a 4 x 4 wall tile and mosaics for bath floors. Those days most baths were a mudset using lathe, cement and sand mix with dry set mortar. These were extremely strong walls and floors.

Today most baths consist of a cementious wall board and the tile can be anything you find at your local tile store. However something to keep in mind is that tile is not waterproof; a paper backed tile can be a food source for mold growth. Anytime a shower can be waterproofed at least up to the shower head, you're protected.

Schluter Shower Systems offers a water/vapor proof system that we've found unparalleled. Recently we discovered a shower pan that had been chewed through by rodents trying to access water. The leak was cause to have the entire shower redone. Had it been on a second floor it could have been a disaster. The system we installed sandwiched the waterproofing between the tiles as the wallboard denying access to any future rodents and because the mud bed which is normally saturated with gray water is now eliminated and replaced by a water proof pan, the shower is much more sanitary.

What are the basic options that homeowners have when it comes to new tile flooring?

There are many different types of tile, stone, marble, aluminum, glass and granite's available today. There are beautiful hand-painted cement tile available that are custom designed for every desire that can add old world flair to your home. Although these can be very pricey, they will add to the value and beauty of any old Spanish style home or Villa here in Florida.

Do you have any advice for choosing the right tiling for a specific room?

One of the most important tools one can use in choosing tile is patience. In this world of fast paced living we have a propensity to want everything done yesterday.

Tile is something we are going to walk on daily, clean frequently, and look at for years to come. Take your time and choose wisely, especially when it comes to a shower or back splash. They aren't usually a large area so spending a little extra per square foot can go a long way towards giving your home some "ohhhh" power. Some folks may want to contact a decorator if colors are an issue. Magazines and websites have lots of useful information as well.

Flooring in Florida is much different from homes in cooler climates, especially if you're a pet owner. Carpet is almost never a good option in a main living area, where high traffic can take a toll the floor as well as a budget, cleaning and replacing it often. Obviously terrazzo is the most resilient, cleans easily and has the least amount of care. It also adds value to a home much more than, say, tile, laminate or carpet. If your home has a terrazzo treasure hidden beneath some old funky flooring, consider having it professionally polished, not just a topical coating though. A refinished terrazzo floor is ground up to nine times and polished. Most defects like nail pops can be repaired. The finish is like glass and stunning.

If you live in a condo, be certain to check with your association about sound deadening requirements. Many people feel these things may not apply to them. That can be a very costly mistake that could end up in court and become a financial nightmare. Balconies may have more stringent requirements. Always ask first, get the reply in writing. Protect yourself. There are various means of accomplishing sound proofing floor cork, peel and stick underlayment and special thin sets. All have different ratings, product and installation prices will vary. My pick is the peel and stick as it has less deflection than cork.

Is there anything that most people don't know about tile that they should know?

Tile installation can be costly. We all like to save a buck when we can. There are lots of different types of contractors who may use sub-contractors. Be certain everyone has a contractor's license and insurance. It may be the only recourse you have if someone is irresponsible or does poor work. A handyman permit is not a valid contractor's license. Everyone needs to make a living, we all get that. But if a person can't attain a license there's probably good reason for it.

Never pay a contractor in full up front. Save a sizeable chunk to ensure the work gets completed. Get several quotes; always compare apples to apples.

Make sure you understand the tile and proper installation techniques. Standard ceramic tile varies in size, 12 x 12, 14 x 14, 16 x 16, 18 x 18 and on, some tiles have a rounded or eased profile, while rectified are all squared edges like marble. These are mostly installed with close grout joints 1/16" or less which requires a mud set method of installation. This can double the cost of installation or more, because the floor should be absolutely flat, otherwise any lippage could catch the foot, those corners can be sharp. Standard ceramic can be much more forgiving.

Larger areas may need an un-coupler below the tile for expansion. Yes you heard me right. Tile can expand and contract, so does concrete and not always at the same rate. This can cause tile to crack or pop up. One customer was in bed and heard what she thought to be a gunshot in her home. Her story of terror had only begun; she soon discovered an eight foot crack across her living room. She hadn't purchased any additional tile from the company that did her installation. We had to painstakingly remove tile from her bedroom closet and repair the living room floor. She was fortunate it's not always possible.

And matching tile more than a month old is incredibly difficult. Always purchase an extra box or two, line the bottoms of your cabinets with it so it's always available. And consider a floor un-coupler, Ditra is a popular product by Schluter. The Schluter corporation is an expansive website with "how to" videos for every situation for every product. It's German engineering at its best.

Many people prefer to use tile as opposed to Formica, or some other solid surface product for a countertop. I feel grout joints on a horizontal plane collect dust, crumbs, grease and juice or coffee. Sealing grout can help but it's still not a cure all and at best, buys you some time to clean the mess.

My experience with epoxy grout is very limited, I've heard good things. I'll stop with that. Any porous material can effectively harbor bacteria especially on a counter top. I encourage most people to go solid surface countertop if possible, but if you have your heart set on something beautiful and nostalgic it may be worth the extra elbow grease to follow your dreams.

What's the best way for people to contact your company?

I've tried to cover a few bases, to at least clean your windshield a bit, to provide a better line of site to your destination. Perhaps you'd care to take a look at our website . Our maybe you have a question we haven't answered; feel free to call us at 727-543-3343. Our work comes by word of mouth, we stay pretty local because we love it here in Gulfport, it's a little bit slower. Come for a visit.

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About The Author

David Rickerson boasts 40 years' worth of construction experience.

Phone: 727-543-3343

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