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Tile base - Why I love it.

I'm a tile guy, so I regularly sing the praise of, you guessed it, TILE. I love tile because it is a permanent finish. Long after wood has swollen and rotted, tile will still be standing tough, ready for whatever you throw at it. No where does that ring more true than when you have tile base.

Tile base is an added feature that we always recommend to our customers. Why not? You have us at your house installing a bathroom or a floor, you mine as well go all the way and have us install the creme de la creme. Most homeowners never think of this added feature and here are my reasons why you should!

1. The ease of cleaning. No matter how tough they say paint is, nothing cleans as easily as tile. If you splash something on it, wipe it off! We all know about the ugly black scuff marks on wood baseboard from your shoes, with tile...you just buff it off!

2. Great for in a wet area. Wood and water do not mix! Tile will always be superior to wood in a bathroom or a laundry room. It's just common sense.

3. As mentioned above, you're already having tile put in, go the extra mile! If you have tile installers at your house, buy a little bit more tile, pay for the extra labor and while they're on site, have them install tile base.

4. The ascetics and individuality of tile base. Your friends and neighbors have wood base, be different and get the ultimate finish.

We like to top ours off with Kerdi Profiles to protect and cover the raw tile edge. As always we fill our bottom gap where the plane changes (between the floor and the base) with silicone sealant. Use a single component grout, like Mapei's Flexcolor for stain resistance and color consistency!

So, on your next tile remodel --- If you aren't presented with the option of tile base, you aren't getting a Hamilton Tile finish! Think about forever and request tile base for that one of a kind, functional finish!

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A tub surround's moisture management... Don't skip it!

When we are putting tile in a tub surround we focus on problem areas that we have seen traditionally have problems with water penetration and moisture resistance. Where your tub meets the backer board and along the edge on the outside corners of the tub are problem areas. In your minds eye imagine using this tub, imagine a child playing in the tub, the splash, the waves...there will be a lot of water action in those spots. We mitigate these issues by installing waterproof Kerdi band and also using a water proof sealant to manage the moisture in these areas. This is a full Schluter Systems product, we're not just throwing up cement board or sheet rock and calling it good. Don't skip out on the water proofing even though "it's just a tub surround." Tile is forever, so think like a rain drop!

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If you put quality first, you'll never lose and other updates.

It's quite difficult for us to book tile floors. It's more than likely because our prices are not competitive compared to the basic builder grade special. To do a floor to a high level, to a lasting finish...the most important aspect is before any tile is even set. Our prices are higher than the competition because of the amount of time we put into floor preparation. Making sure old finishes are ground off, making sure everything is flat. In this particular video we put an uncoupling mat down as a crack suppression. I have to say 80% of companies would have installed right over the concrete. Our business model is long term though, so we're going for 50 years down the road. Let's face it, you pay for that.

My main message to you while you watch this video is, if you've seen tile work done before, do you notice a difference? I could sit here and with skillful rhetoric have you believing wow, those guys are the best there ever will be! That's not what I'm trying to do on this web site. Our world is full of empty words and slogans...I want you to see it with your own eyes and convince yourself. My favorite customer remains the one who takes in some of our content and decides to take the plunge with us! One of my very first qualification questions when people call me is, "Have you researched my company?" It's almost a signal that that particular person cares, and a weight is off my shoulders and they've invested some brain power into the process. A client like that, we can work with!

So, thanks for being here....I value that fact that you've chosen to put some mental juice into your project ----and I want to be the guy who builds you a lasting, beautiful space.

I also received my CTI certification. It was a 9 hours hands on test and I failed it the first time! The first time around I was over 300lbs. Put on a lot of weight during my wife's pregnancy and my body and mind just couldn't hack the brutal test! So I lost 50lbs with the help of Cross Fit 3 days a week and a healthy diet ---and passed it my second go around.

In the tile world this certification is a big deal. There are only 1500 certified tile installers in the whole United States. The hands on test is extremely difficult, not to mention the extensive written test as well. It's a huge accomplishment for me and one that I am very proud of. I could have just gave up the first time, but I chose to come back and try it again. 

We're trying to separate ourselves from the pack. I want credibility in this business, I want people to know they're dealing with a serious tradesman and not a basic laborer. There are a lot of the basics in this business and it hurts us all...I'm hoping to see the tradesmen valued again, like a doctor or a lawyer, because we are quite rare in a throw away world, in a "just get it done" world. 

 

 

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We are both certified, ask the competition --- "Are you certified?" 

Learn more about the Ceramic Education Foundation and what it means to you by click HERE.

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Here's a hot take from my Twitter account where I'm constantly posting about the trials and tribulations of a professional tile guy. If you're a trades person, you know what I'm talking about with this post!

 

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We all have heroes in life ---My tile hero is a local guy named Kris Nardone. Be sure to follow him on Instagram @k_nardonecustomtilework . This guy is the real deal! Visit his website at knardonecustomtilework.weebly.com/ He's a fellow certified tile installer and if all tile installers were like him, it'd be a better industry. Guy inspires me! Here's a picture of me wearing his hat in the Smokey Mountains! I'm a bit of a fan! :P

 

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Better safe than sorry...Flood test your shower!

So, you weren't able to hire us for your big shower build. You weren't willing to wait three months for the craftsmen, the specialists at Hamilton Tile.  You had another one of those "tile emergencies" we always hear about... That's fine, but be sure to have the alternative company building your shower do a flood test!

A flood test is when after all the waterproofing is done, you fill the shower pan with a couple inches of water, take a measurement or make a mark, and wait. After 24 hours retake the measurement and see if the level remained the same. Simple as that!

Why do a flood test? The reality is, you shouldn't go backwards once tile work is done. Better safe than sorry, before any tile is set, find out if your pan holds water...

We like to take an opportunity to have some fun and do a photo shoot with floating toys as verification for our customers. This flood test day isn't necessarily expedient for a tile guy, so it often gets skipped. At Hamilton Tile, we do what is in our customers best interest, not what is easiest for us! We've never had a leak, (knock on wood) but you never know!

Hold your installer accountable, be proactive....MAKE THEM DO A FLOOD TEST!

 

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Subway tile in your shower, think about your curb!

Subway tile can look incredible when your installer uses the little details that come along with professionalism. A lot of curbs I see have a full piece at the front of the curb and a small sliver where it meets the floor. Often time, people will want their curb top trimmed with bull nose which adds a lot of different pieces and many different grout joints. I am opposed to that because of the amount of action the top of your curb sees. That's where your shower door will sit and a ton of water will be hitting that spot, so I want as few pieces as possible!

The best option is a hard surface curb (like a piece of granite) but when you may be on a budget or a time crunch, I believe the best option are White Schluter PVC profiles as edging. I also plan ahead and cut the curb to size so there are full pieces on top of the curb. For the front of the curb, instead of a sliver at the bottom where the curb meets the floor, I'll split the distance and use two full pieces.

Doing this takes PLANNING! That's why I always say a good tile guy thinks 10 steps ahead and 20 years in the future....

 

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Schluter Trendline profiles...A better choice for edging.

If you've read my blog before you already know that I'm not a fan of bull nose. Stylistically dated, inconsistently manufactured, addition of unnecessary grout lines to name a couple inherent hindrances of this antiquated edging method.

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In the past when we showed profiles many people would say that they didn't like the metal look of profiles. Well, Schluter has solved that opposition with their new TRENDLINE PROFILES    (yes, you can click the link!) which are a series of colored profiles to match your tile. They come in Quadec, Jolly, and Rondec and they really are a more contemporary look for your shower. Not only that, they serve the same function as bull nose, but do it much better! Less grout lines for dirt to build on leading to a more sanitary space, better quality control coming from the factory leading to a better finished shower! Also, less expensive than bull nose! Who doesn't love that???

Ask your installer about using them on your next shower and add a detail that is sure to impress your neighbors.

Find out more HERE!

 Look at how all the colors and finishes play against each other. Who else in this neighborhood has an inset box like this? Go for originality, forethought and modernity.

Look at how all the colors and finishes play against each other. Who else in this neighborhood has an inset box like this? Go for originality, forethought and modernity.

A new shower remodel in Marietta, GA...We're building security in retirement.

This is our latest shower remodel in Marietta, GA. Attached are the before and after pictures, (which I love) a video explanation, as well as our Five star customer review. Enjoyed this project a lot! 

We're building our reputation based on these three words:

Thorough

Conscientious

Competent

 

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The Five Star Review:

 

Eileen Forrester

Relationship: Client

Project Date: March 2018

Project Price: $10,000 - $49,999

Jason and Ben were a delight to work with. They listened to what we wanted, gave relevant advice (including how to care for our new tiles), and clearly communicated each step of our shower & bath replacement. They were diligent in not creating a mess outside the bathroom, and totally cleaned up the debris and dust from inside the work area. We recommend them highly, and would use them again, if we needed additional tile work. Listen to what they tell you, they know what they’re doing!

Before:

 The original shower...The shower door didn't open correctly, the pan was holding water creating a swamp inside Eileen's pristine home!

The original shower...The shower door didn't open correctly, the pan was holding water creating a swamp inside Eileen's pristine home!

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After:

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Take a moment and feel free to watch my over view video! Lots of information on what makes this installation different from your usual basic, builder grade blow out special...

What other company will provide you with a time lapse video of the most important part of your shower installation, the waterproofing. Here, we love transparency. We are proud of our work and we want you to know what we do will last the life time of your home.

An answer to the knee pad riddle.

As a tile guy, I spend a lot of time on my knees. Over the years I’ve tried many variations of the knee pad and none come close to the performance and comfort of the Pro Knee AP-16. Pro knee has been around for a long time and I was first introduced to them by Jason who had a pair of  Pro Knee 0714. I tried them out and found them to be a bit bulky. They were hard to move around in and just over kill for every day usage. So, I forgot about the Pro Knee brand in general.

In the following months I must have tried every kind of knee pad at Home Depot, and all of them caused extreme discomfort behind my knee where the straps were. Man, Home Depot could really make some good money doing two things, selling a high-quality chicken biscuit and also selling a professional grade knee pad! But I digress!

I then started trying out knee pads from the flooring stores. The problem with these were that I would constantly roll out of them. I’d go to kneel, and the knee pad would roll up the side of my knee and my patella would hit the ground! OUCH!

I dealt with that for some time and then the power of Google kicked in. Once I started investigating new knee pad options, Google recommended a new Pro Knee product, the AP-16. The AP-16 was a minimalist version of their main product and it looked perfect for what I needed. At around $90 it was a considerably cheaper than the Pro Knee 0714 which clocked in at $239, and I loved the fact that all the parts on the AP-16 were replaceable and removable.

Speaking of removable parts, another problem with all other knee pads I used was that they started to STINK horribly after a couple weeks of usage, with no way to wash the fabric parts! I can’t go around working in peoples’ home smelling like a locker room, so I liked the fact that I could take the Pro Knee AP-16 apart and wash all the components!

After weighing all my options, (There are many) I decided to purchase the AP-16. It took about a week to get them in and as I took them out of the package I could tell they would soon become my most valuable and trusted tool. They were extremely heavy duty and I loved the flat, gloss leather front surface. Today, when I get thin set on that part, I’ll sand them down with an 80-grit sand paper, so I don’t scratch my customers wood floors. Try that with any other knee pad! I’ve also taken the AP-16 apart multiple times to wash the components! No more STINK!

They are also incredibly comfortable, and I can notice a change in my body after I’m done with a long day of work. The straps that go around your leg are not uncomfortable when you wear them. Most days I put them on when I get to the job and leave them on all day. Walk around, shorts or pants…no problem.

My ankles have always taken a beating in this business, but the difference with the Pro Knee is the actual thickness of the pad. They are about two inches thick, so instead of your ankles having to bend in an uncomfortable manner, your ankles stay at a perfect 90-degree angle which makes all the difference if you are working up and down all day.

Now, occasionally, I’ll get on my knees without my Pro Knees, and I instantly confirm to myself that they are the best because the degree of discomfort I experience is so immense. Another example is when I forget to bring my Pro Knees to a job site or leave them on another job and I need to use the back up pair, what a horrible day that is!

So, on this peaceful Sunday morning, I give a full-throated endorsement to Pro Knee and their AP-16 professional grade knee pad. If you do anything on your knees, gardening, flooring, cleaning….I recommend you spend the extra money and go for quality and performance. If you’re like me, you’ve already spent hundreds on other knee pads that under perform, so this should be a no brainer! Your body will thank you later and tell Pro Knee…Hamilton Tile sent you!

 

Purchase the Pro Knee AP-16 here!

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How to de-construct your AP-16

CTEF has the information you need before hiring tiling professionals!

Time after time after time after time, I receive phone calls from people under stress because they hired the wrong people to complete their tile work.

"O stop, Ben you're just trying to scare me!"

"O Ben, you're just trying to up sell."

NO, NO, NO!

Let me scream it from a mountain top! Beware of who you hire. Tile is a skilled trade, not for the faint of heart.

The only way to "fix" bad tile work is to tear it all out! That's why I wrote a blog post called, "The top mistakes homeowners make when hiring a tile guy"   It explains the ins and outs of recruiting a professional grade tile person.

Another great resource and one that backs up EVERYTHING I say in my blog post is a post by the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation by the master himself, Scott Carothers. My only advice for you today is to not take a bathroom remodel lightly, or any other tile work. Follow the guidelines and take a principled approach to recruitment. PAY MORE, RESEARCH MORE, CARE MORE. If you value your time and your emotions, don't set yourself up for a construction nightmare!

Click here to learn more about hiring a qualified tile installer from Scott Carothers, at the Ceramic Education Foundation!

Great YouTube channel repost.

I don't usually share YouTube channels I enjoy, but I thought I'd start doing it more often. I really enjoy this man's videos! I can really tell he speaks from a place of DEEP knowledge and passion.

Notice how he mentions that the walls lasted 800+ years and how he thinks that's how it should be. I would say him and I are kindred spirits! We want the same thing in our line of work, long lasting finished products! In a 'throw away' world, longevity is STILL king. Dismiss anyone who says otherwise.

Hope you enjoy the videos as much as I do.

Be sure to subscribe and tell him I sent you.

 

Recommended reading list.

My recommended reading list has helped me become a better professional. It could also help you. It only requires 1000 hours of dedication and focus.

If it was easy, everyone would do it.

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Discover how the details of your glass installation can make or break your shower!

This post is about the danger of putting glass door hardware (clips) on top of waterproof curbs and knee walls. It’s done constantly, and as a homeowner you need to watch out for this, because this has the potential to make your shower fail. Curbs and knee walls are a place that makes contact with an exorbitant amount of water during a shower. We spend so much time making our showers vapor and water proof and unscrupulous glass companies will come in and put penetrations through the water proofing which will allow water to penetrate your home’s sub-structure.

We tell the glass guys all the time, “Don’t put screws into our curbs.” And what do we get but the kiss of death, “This is how we’ve always done it.”

Does it sound logical to you to drop a 2” screw into a FOAM curb? What kind of hold do you think that screw gets in foam? One response to our contention we got from a glass guy was, “What happens if there’s a slip and fall and the person hits the glass?” To which we rebutted, “Have you ever torn out one of these glass panels?”

When you tear out glass panels the professional grade 100% silicone caulking is SO tough you can NOT move the panel unless you cut the silicone 10x. Believe it or not a high-grade silicone is more than sufficient to hold the glass panel. A couple clips strategically placed on the wall(not on the curb) will more than hold a panel. It's about trusting your building material.

My question to these glass door people that want to build a glass bomb shelter, dropping screws everywhere with not a care in the world is this, Do you think people are playing football in these showers? Taking a shower is one of the most delicate, personal practices you perform in a day…. You’re not hitting these panels with cinder blocks!

Now if you look through my site at all our finish shower photos, you will see a large amount of them have clips on the shower curb. We are not proud of this. Any job you see with bad clip placement is a job we did working under a builder. When you hire us privately, your door will NOT have clips on the curb tops or knee walls. We use Chattahoochee Glass in Johns Creek, GA and yes, you pay more for their service, but they are true professionals who know and more importantly understand the dangers of penetrations through waterproofing.

We only have so much fight in us when dealing with a builder and their glass guy. We could raise a stink, but ultimately once the glass company decides to make those penetrations, it’s on them. Of course, they’re not the first one who gets the phone call, (It’s us) but the responsibility is quickly turned to the guilty parties. They should know better, but as Mark Twain said…”It’s not what we don’t know that gets us, It’s what we think we know that isn’t so.”

I’m more than happy to debate any glass guy on this topic, but I want to talk to one who has had to pay for a shower failure because of their mistake. That’s the guy who is going to be  conscientious when it comes to putting penetrations in waterproofing. Like Chattahoochee Glass Doors for example, they’ve had to pay for that mistake, so they don’t make it again. We asked our builder’s glass door guys, is there a chance you could be wrong seeing that a company with 10x your volume does it like this…? The response…” This is how my boss wants it done.”

I'll warn you, be aware of penetrations on curb tops and knee walls. Ask your glass guy, Do you make penetrations in the waterproofing on top of my curb or knee wall? Are you as conscious of waterproofing as my tile guy?

Please, don’t hold the photos on our website with curb top penetrations against us. Again, our private customers get a shower that will truly stand the test of time, that obeys national standards, and we are true sticklers for waterproofing. We supervise the glass installation ON SITE as well! But when we work for a builder, after we leave the job, things are out of our hands. We’ve expressed our opposition to curb top penetrations till we were blue in the face, what more can we do? Hopefully with time and the education of homeowners, things will indeed change for the better in this business. Remember, you have the ultimate power during your home's remodel...so say something to your glass installer...You write the check!

 Unnecessary clips. Illogical explanation based on arbitrary opinion, Sad!

Unnecessary clips. Illogical explanation based on arbitrary opinion, Sad!

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 Chattahoochee glass, after being in business for a generation, does not penetrate shower curbs and knee walls, honoring your sacred water proofing. 

Chattahoochee glass, after being in business for a generation, does not penetrate shower curbs and knee walls, honoring your sacred water proofing. 

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 The illogical opinion of glass guys based on anecdotal evidence is pointless! The most important aspect of a shower is to have it WATERPROOF! Please, glass guys....don't ruin it!

The illogical opinion of glass guys based on anecdotal evidence is pointless! The most important aspect of a shower is to have it WATERPROOF! Please, glass guys....don't ruin it!

Brinno Time Lapse camera initial review.

I purchased a new time lapse camera today and I'm having a blast experimenting with it. Let me be up front with you, It's a ton of work to do content marketing! I'm talking about taking photos, making videos, how to's, doing commentary...Why do you think not many companies do it so well if at all? Imagine the effort involved in messing with cameras, getting the right shots, hours of editing and the struggle of making your content into something people want to read/watch. Now imagine doing that with water and thin set on your hands, focusing on your tile lay out and proper installation practices and interacting with clients... It's tough to work and create content at the same time!

This Brinno TLC200 Pro seems to be the solution to this problem. It's a set it and forget it type of tool. Say it with me, "Set it and forget it!" What's not to like? 

My inspiration for the purchase was a pole barn builder from the Midwest I follow on Instagram @RRbuildings. He builds these barns and uses this time lapse camera to catch all the action. He has a considerable following and his reviews are on point, so check him out! He's my hero because he's changing the game by providing tons of content of his work so there's no mysteries!

Another killer aspect of this tool is its simplicity of use. I took the footage today and made the video this evening. Not complicated at all! It runs about $128 too, so if it's destroyed or lost on the job site it's not a huge loss. Not to mention it's an improvement on just using your phone or GoPro for time lapse because the batteries last for weeks. I used it all day and I'm still at full power. I like it so far, but the real test is a year or two down the road. Let's see what kind of content I can produce with this thing!

Here's my first try...

Click the link below if you want to try one for yourself.