Month: March 2014

Employee Spotlight: Chris

Chris shows off the efforts of the sample department to re-use some old tape. Waste not…

Chris shows off the efforts of the sample department to re-use some old tape. Waste not…

Meet Chris, our marketing guy!  He’s been with us for about two and a half years and takes care of all our front-end marketing needs.  He’s designed our website, packaging, and newer logos, and he helps out in other departments when necessary.  I asked Chris some questions that are extremely important and topical so we can give him the recognition he deserves for his hard work!

 What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on since you’ve been here? Why was it your favorite?

I’ve loved a lot of the projects here, but working on the Merola Tile catalog definitely expanded my horizons, creativity and perfectionism beyond expectation. I knew it was the best way to reach our customers, but it was more than just creating a catalog- it was also about team collaboration. A lot of people helped and supported me throughout the project and I’m really grateful for that. When someone looks through this catalog, I want them to feel the passion that we have for tile and the love we have for our customers.

What’s your favorite tile?

That’s a tough one. I would say my favorite tile is the Griselda Subway Sand. I love the textures and colors and there’s no repetitive pattern.

The Griselda Subway Sand, Chris’s favorite tile. Available through the Home Depot.

The Griselda Subway Sand, Chris’s favorite tile. Available through the Home Depot.

 If you could have any celebrity for a best friend, who would it be?

Easy! Priyanka Chopra. Can we marry the best friend? HEY GURLLL!

Priyanka Chopra, Indian actress.

Priyanka Chopra, Indian actress. Photo credit: Indianexpress.com

(For the record, Chris also thinks this guy is his celebrity doppelganger/gym role model:)

John Abraham, post-corn rows. Photo from styleequation.com.

John Abraham, post-corn rows. Photo from styleequation.com.

You’re put in charge of Free Lunch Wednesday. What type of food are we eating?

We would all have Portuguese food. It’s a must-have for those of you who haven’t tried it.

 If you could have any super power, what would it be?

If I could have any, it would be super strength… I mean… enough to pick up an elephant when it gets stuck in mud. That totally happens every day.

Thanks for your time, Chris! Keep an eye out for posts like this in the future- we’re proud of our team and want to show you what our motley group brings to the company.

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Be All About Grout

The first step to picking out new tile is choosing a tile you like. This can be a somewhat lengthy process on its own, made infinitely easier by the fact that you can just search Merola Tile on homedepot.com.

Step two is less obvious than it might seem, and that is picking a grout.  It’s a step that can occur as an afterthought, but the grout is crucial. It’s the finishing touch in your beautifully decorated space, provides extra waterproofing, and helps lock the tiles in place.  One thing that is definitely understated when making this choice is the color. This is of massive importance- the color can totally alter the look of the tile you choose.  To give an idea of exactly how big an impact it really has, we picked a range of our products and grouted them with four different grout colors.  The results are pretty astonishing. All grout is from Custom Building Products.

Let’s start with a beloved classic: the hexagon tile. This is our Metro Hex Glossy White tile.  This look has been hugely popular in the United States for the last century.  It’s great for a home or business- simultaneously inviting and professional, you can use it in a modern application or to give a historical look to any setting.  Look at how it’s impacted by grout color:

FXLMHW_MetroHexAllGrout

Grout colors clockwise from upper left: #381 Bright White, #390 Rose Beige, #10 Antique White, #60 Charcoal

 

As you can see, the darker grout really makes the hexagon pattern pop, but the lighter selection gives it a more subtle look for applications that don’t need all the attention usually garnered by mosaics.  If you love the geometric pattern, a dark grout is best and also keeps the grout lines looking a little bit cleaner, as it does a better job of concealing dirt in areas with higher foot traffic.  We don’t generally recommend a bright white grout for a floor installation with heavy traffic, as the pure hue requires more fastidious cleaning to keep it looking bright.  The bright white is used more frequently for backsplashes or very light-traffic floors, but don’t let that deter you if that’s the look you want on your floor!  You can always seal the grout to help keep the color bright.

If you choose a tile with a mixed palette, there may be colors in it that coordinate better with your existing décor.  A meticulously chosen grout does wonders for bringing out the color you enjoy the most.  Just see how the four different grout colors work on our Tessera Piano Tundra, which is a mix of glass and natural stone pieces:

GITTPNTU_TesseraAllGrout

Grout colors clockwise from upper left: #115 Platinum, #180 Sandstone, #11 Snow White, #381 Bright White

As you can see, the tan grout emphasizes the warm shades of the natural stone, and the other grout colors seem to bring out the cooler tones in the glass pieces.  Especially take note of the two different whites- the slight difference in shade has a large impact on the tile! Grout color increases the versatility of the mosaic and your range of choices- rather than sticking to a single color that matches your décor, you can now choose something with a mixed palette and pick the most suitable grout color that will bring out the colors in the tile that you prefer.  For glass tiles (and all tiles with grout joints of 1/8” or less), we recommend unsanded grout.

 

Our Crag Subway Sunset tile, made from natural slate, is a complex piece; in addition to its many colors, it also has a natural texture that varies from tile to tile.

GDXCSWS_CragAllGrout

Grout colors clockwise from upper left: #381 Bright White, #165 Delorean Gray, #335 Winter Gray, #60 Charcoal

The different grout colors change the look considerably.  Brighter colors add definition and give it a more industrial look, but the neutral colors blend in better with the slate to lend a more free-flowing, natural aesthetic.  Personally, we think that neutrals may be the best selection for a unique tile like this one- the grout doesn’t upstage the complexity of the tile, which is always something to consider with a more pronounced color.  Obviously this is just our office consensus- do with your tile what you will!

We finish with our crystalline Tessera Subway Ice White tile. One thing that people admire about this tile is the breathtaking clarity of the glass and the pure white color that catches light in such a prismatic fashion.  Those same qualities make working with it so engaging. When it’s installed with a brighter white grout, the look is sleek and pure.  Take a look, though, at the radical change that occurs when it’s installed with a darker grout:

GDMSBIC_TesseraAllGrout

Grout color clockwise from upper left: #381 Bright White, #60 Charcoal, #180 Sandstone, #11 Snow White

The look changes so much that it appears that the photos were taken in varying lighting conditions, but they weren’t.  The ambiance changes when the color does; the difference between sterile and glittery and a little more moody rests almost entirely on the grout.  Something to keep in mind is that these tiles are back-painted, which is where they get the white color.  The grout actually winds up being reflected through the side of the glass, which is why darker grout looks more like a shadow and less like a definite line.  The photograph isn’t out of focus- that’s just how the tile plays with the light.

Hopefully this post will be helpful when you’re working on your renovation and ensures that you won’t overlook the very important grout color choice.  For some help with selection, here’s a handy guide for some of the things that may factor into your decision.  Also check the post sources for some more helpful links and information. Good luck!

Sources: Herehere, and our resident experts.

UPDATE: we set up a Pinterest board for this post. Compare the images side-by-side, take a look at the tiles on Home Depot’s website, and follow us on Pinterest, Instagram, Houzz and Facebook!

Ceramic and Porcelain 101: The Fundamentals

In the face of a renovation project, there are a lot of big questions to cover before even starting on the fun, creative questions.  Picking out a tile is the same as any other part of the project! That being said, there’s one question we get more often than others here at the office:

What are the fundamental differences between ceramic and porcelain tiles?

Here are some tips and facts that may be helpful when it comes time to redecorate your space and decide which material is best suited for your intended purpose.

Let’s start with porcelain tile, which is fired in a kiln at a higher temperature and greater pressure than ceramic tile, so it’s denser and more water-resistant. This makes it great for exterior applications in harsher climes that see a lot of frost and colder weather.  If you’re putting your tile somewhere where the weather is a little more extreme, don’t feel too restricted in terms of design. The possibilities with porcelain tile are endless – from breathtaking mosaics to subtler floor tile, a practical need for porcelain tile won’t hinder the capacity for the tasteful, stylish application you’re looking for.  However, a big misconception about porcelain tile is that if you chip the surface, it will be the same color all the way through. This is what’s called through-body porcelain.  A vast majority of porcelain tiles are glazed, which means that the color or pattern is on the surface only.  An exception is our Gotham series, which is a through-body porcelain.

On the other hand, ceramic definitely has some perks of its own. It may not be able to withstand the elements in extreme climates, but in milder areas, installing it outdoors is a popular choice.  Ceramic also tends to be less expensive by the square foot, and it’s a little easier to cut through than porcelain because it’s been fired at a lower temperature, making it preferable for smaller DIY projects.  Ceramic is also constantly evolving, with Spanish manufacturers applying tremendous effort and creativity to boost your options for colors and textures. Some of our options include the Duna Trencat, with its eye-catching concave and convex checkerboard effect and pearlescent coating:

Duna Trencat

Photo by Merola Tile.

Or even the Ocean Beige:

Ocean Beige

Photo by Merola Tile.

 So now you know the difference between ceramic and porcelain tile. Don’t get this confused with  P.E.I. ratings (more on that here), which can be the same between ceramic and porcelain tiles.

Whether you’re installing a small accent design or fully remodeling a space, going into it informed is important!  Hopefully this will give you some tips on what to look for when you start your project. If you have any questions, feel free to give us a call, leave a comment, or drop us an e-mail!

Don’t forget to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and take a look at our Pinterest boards.

Sources: here, here, here, and, of course, our resident experts.