Helpful Information

Writing With Hex Tiles

Custom tile can be expensive. With a little creativity, you can create your own custom one-of-a-kind floor or wall installation that is low cost and high style!

Hexagon tiles are one of the most classic looks in the industry. They have been around for decades, creating looks ranging from simple to complex designs with a timeless appeal. Most commonly, you see these tiles with colorful hexagon flowers or dots to add a simple design element to the living space. However, you can also find where people use these tiles to write words and numbers to create custom designs.

Writing with hexagon tiles is great for expressing your creativity, whether it is for something fun to show your personality or for practical use. Business owners and homeowners alike both take advantage of this exciting project. Hexagon tiles can be a creative way to display your address, business or personal name, and give directions, advice or information.

 

GIF.gif

A mashup of projects submitted by our friend Charlotta

Writing with hexagon tiles requires prep work to yield the best results, but all of this hard work will pay off when you see the final outcome. When you know what you want to write, there is a fun website called Grid Paint which is a Google site that allows you to draft up a hexagon grid so you can see exactly how to arrange the hexagons and how many you should expect to need without having them in front of you. Other than the fact that it is just fun to color in these little hexagons, this will make the installation process run smoother. Don’t underestimate the importance of prep work. Doing the simple legwork can help assure that you purchase enough product for the installation and your words don’t come out lopsided, making it less time consuming overall.

Create Gridpaint video  _Thumb.gif

Screen shot from Grid Paint

 

For the most part, these tiles come mounted on a mesh backing, which allows you to easily remove tiles from the mesh where they are not wanted, and replace them with other colors. We do not recommend that you glue these other tiles onto the mesh, but just place them in in their position around the mesh- mounted tiles. Glue acts as a bond breaker and could cause problems for the installation. Before actually using thinset, you may want to lay these mosaics out to see how they look, if they line up where you want them, etc. before permanently bonding them in place. This gives you one final chance to review your project and see how everything is laid out.  As I mentioned, prep work is key, and in my opinion you can never prepare too much.

Now, you need to choose grout color. Keep in mind that grout can change the entire look of this project, so you will want to plan that choice out before as well. To see how drastic of a change grout can make, check out one of our previous blog posts that highlight the effect grout can have on a final project.

Check out this quick step-by-step guide to successfully write with hexagon tiles:

  1. Decide what you want to create and where you want it to be installed.
  2. Figure out what tile colors and grout color you want for your installation.
  3. Use Grid Paint to layout your work. This will also help with deciding how colors look together and getting an estimate on how many tiles you need. (We always recommend buying 10% overage to account for cuts and future repairs)
  4. Purchase all of the tile, adhesive, grout, sealer and tools necessary to complete the project.
  5. Lay out your design in your space without thin-set to get a feel for final look before permanently installing in place.
  6. Install this tile with the thinset.
  7. Use grout to set the look in place.
  8. Seal your project if desired. (Always seal the grout)
  9. Enjoy your new space!
RetroVation_Board.jpg

An example of one of our grouted boards, inspired by our new Retrovation Bays at select Home Depot stores.

I hope that this was helpful for your next creative tile job. Keep in mind that these tips can be used in other tiling projects as well, not just writing with hexagons. If this helped inspire you to try a project like this, you can use our entire collection of hex mosaics to create your own masterpiece. Do you plan on doing this or have you done this before? Send us pictures and tell us about it! We would love to see them and feature them on our website and social media! You can send these to us at photos@merolatile.com or through our social media. Good luck!

Advertisements

Add a Dash of Backsplash

Do you think your bathroom or kitchen is missing a certain something? Are you looking for a relatively easy, cost-effective way to jazz it up? Perhaps we’re biased, but a backsplash is a great answer.  It doesn’t just add color- it totally shifts the focal point of the room, making it feel like an entirely new space.  It’s also possible to find product to suit any décor style.  If your taste leans towards the dramatic, a glass blend mosaic would probably do the trick to add the perfect splash of flair:

This customer-submitted photo of her installation of our Tessera Piano Nassau (available through the Home Depot) is proof that a bold mosaic doesn’t necessarily have to dominate the entire look of the room.

However, if you tend to appreciate a little more subtlety, there are a number of more subdued looks up for grabs, even in glass mosaics.  Take a look at this image of our Tessera Subway Blue Smoke: it’s not intrusive, but it adds a welcoming splash of color.

 

The Tessera Blue Smoke installed in a kitchen.

This is available through the Home Depot.

 

Convinced that a backsplash is your ideal solution to a lackluster kitchen? Fantastic! Here are some tips on how to plan one out using typical measurements and points of reference.

How do I Plan a Backsplash?

Start by visualizing it.  It’s usually best to center the backsplash behind a sink or a cooktop- there must be a focal point.  Once the focal point has been determined, use graph paper to plan around outlets, cabinets, windows and appliances.  Though the backsplash should cater to your specific requirements (factor in the practical uses of your kitchen, any storage needs, and physical capabilities of those using the space), the average backsplash is about 15”-18” high- the height from the counter to the base of the upper wall cabinets.

 

How do I calculate square footage?

When installing tile, you will be measuring the required coverage using square feet. This entails measuring the length of the space (in feet) and multiplying it by the width (in feet).  If you are tiling more than one room and require a combined number of square feet, simply measure the square footage of each space individually and add them together.

How much overage should I purchase for my project?

We highly recommend purchasing 10% more tile than the exact calculated square footage. This is to account for cuts, possible breakage, and any future repairs needed- if you need to touch it up later on, the tile may not be available, or what we have may not match your current installation.

When purchasing your tile, please make sure to note the square footage per box or sheet.  They aren’t usually split into an even number of square feet so it’s important to know how much you need.

To calculate your total (including recommended overage), follow this example:

If your backsplash area is 10 feet x 3 feet, you have 30 square feet that need coverage. Move the decimal point over once to the left- that’s 3, which is 10% of 30- and then add that number onto the square footage. You would need to purchase 33 square feet of tile in order to meet your requirements plus to recommended overage.

An advantage to having some leftover tile… maybe you can make your backsplash a little bigger than originally planned! Take a look at this one, which goes all the way to the ceiling:

 

If you’re looking for some stainless steel tile, we have a variety of items that make fantastic backsplashes! Check out our whole selection here.

If you have any questions, as always, get in touch! Don’t forget: take a photo of your beautiful installation of our products and send it over to photos @ merolatile.com- you’ll be entered to win a $25 gift card!

Follow us: Facebook :: Pinterest :: Twitter :: Houzz

Glaze Application and Dye Lots

Glazing methods have advanced as the technology has evolved.  While screen printing used to be the primary mode of transmitting the images and color onto tile, the introduction of digital imprinting has revolutionized the industry and provided boundless opportunities for patterned tile.

Even though the patterns are consistent, it’s inevitable that as different batches are produced certain factors vary slightly.  Each different manufacturing run is called a dye lot, and it refers to the tone as well as the sizing of each individual unit of tile- these factors can vary up to 10%.  Acknowledging this is important: the cartons are marked with dye lots (usually abbreviated with a T and a C for tone and caliber) and each individual order will be pulled from the same dye lot.  We advise that you keep the dye lot number handy in case you need additional tile so we can try to provide an exact match.

For reference:

  • Screen printed tile has a “frame” effect, as they are imprinted per individual tile:

Image

Our Westport Marron is a screen printed tile.

  • Digitally printed tile goes right to the edge and continues to other tiles. This is how wood-look tiles are able to look more realistic; the pattern varies on each tile, which helps them look more authentic.
Our Castle Antic is a digitally-printed wood look tile.

Our Castle Antic is a digitally-printed wood look tile available through the Home Depot.

When making your tile purchase, be sure to look at this detail! It’ll be helpful to tell exactly what type of pattern you’ll have.

For Your Consideration: Picking a Tile for Outdoor Installation

It’s no secret: as the weather gets warmer, outdoor home improvement projects dreamed up in the dark recesses of winter start to take shape and become a reality.  Gardens are almost in bloom, lawns begin to grow, and outdoor entertaining becomes an option.  A patio becomes so much more welcoming when it’s given custom touches to make it feel more like a home and less like an appendage onto the house.  Tile is a perfect choice for an outdoor space, as many varieties are durable, frost proof, and slip-resistant.

Durable tile comes in so many designs that it’s easy to get that perfect look.  But what factors should determine whether a tile is suitable for a patio?  Here are some tips on picking the right product.

Make sure it’s suitable to your climate. As previously discussed, ceramic and porcelain tiles differ in the amount of harsh weather they can stand.  In milder climates, either ceramic or porcelain will do- it’s entirely dependent on your taste.  In extreme climes, however, porcelain is denser and more impervious, making it frost resistant.  When choosing the flooring for your space, think carefully about where it will be installed and the weather it will be exposed to.  Your design options are not limited, as both materials offer a wide range of looks.

Check for a high PEI rating. A tile’s PEI rating determines how well the glaze will stand up to dirt and wear.  The higher the rating, the more scratch-resistant the tile.  For patio installations that will be getting foot traffic, we recommend a tile with a PEI rating no lower than IV- this is a good way to ensure it can withstand the dirt and foot traffic standard (consider the possibility of pets, kids, and guests) for an outdoor application.

Research slip resistance. Depending on where this tile will be installed, slip resistance can be a huge factor in your decision. Assuming there will be slippery conditions outside (rain, a pool, spilled margaritas), it’s important that you set up a space that’s safe for you and your guests. You can find slip resistance information on the product overview section of any given item on the Home Depot website. See the below screenshot from the Home Depot page for Attica Gris indicating the location of whether an item is slip resistant or not:

Pick one that suits your style! Are you going for a rustic or natural look? Or something sleek and modern? Through tile, any look is possible. Whether you’re building an outdoor retaining wall, lining a pool, or using this as a major focal point and social center for your home, loving your tile is of utmost importance!  Tile lasts a long time (possibly centuries) so if you’re not absolutely positive it’s for you, keep looking.  It’s imperative to love your home- from the ground up.

 

Sources: here, here, and our resident experts.

 

Installing and Caring for Stainless Steel Tile

Our Meta Steel Hex tile, available on HomeDepot.com

Our Meta Steel Hex tile, available on HomeDepot.com

Did you fall in love earlier this week? Was it with our Product of the Week, stainless steel penny round tiles? We don’t really blame you. It’s a seriously fabulous product. But people are a bit leery at the thought of putting metals in their home, specifically a spot like their walls, which may see a bit of wear and seem a little harder to install. Fear not… it’s a lot less intimidating than it may seem, and it’s worth the research to have such a hardy material in your home! Here are some things to keep in mind when installing and caring for stainless steel tile.

  • Measure the surface area you’ll need to cover, and then add 10% onto that to compensate for any damage or extra cuts (this is generally recommended for all tile purchases and installations).
  • Use a silicone-based adhesive or mastic to stick the mesh-backed tile to the surface where you’re installing it.
  • We also strongly recommend using non-sanded latex-based grout, as sanded grout may scratch the stainless steel top.
  • As with all tile installations, it is extremely advisable to use all new products: a fresh, new sponge; new buckets for grout and water respectively (any leftover residue from past projects may wind up in the grout or the water, potentially scratching the surface of the tile); and a brand new float- preferably the softest you can find, as being gentle during installation is essential to the finished look. Here at the warehouse, we use a float that’s a bit foamy.
  • While sponging as you grout, make sure you go in one orientation (up and down or side to side). Swirling the sponge around may leave stains.
  • If necessary, cut this tile from the rear with a diamond-tipped wet saw to prevent uneven edges. You can then treat and smooth the cut edges with fine sandpaper or a metal file.

Once you’ve successfully completed your beautiful installation, all you need to do to keep it clean is use warm soapy water and a soft, clean sponge! Here is a photo from a customer of our alloy quad tile as a backsplash:

Our Alloy Quad series is available through the Home Depot.

Our Alloy Quad series is available through the Home Depot.

These simple steps will keep your stainless steel tile looking great through the years. Just as you bought stainless steel appliances for their durability, the same goes for tile. With a little upkeep, you’ll have this timeless glinting metal for as long as you like!

 

You can find other general tips about installation here.

 

Source: our resident experts.

The Elusive Clean Gleam: Soap & Water Edition

Spring is upon us- and with it, that uncontrollable urge to open all your windows and clean every surface of your house. But while you’re vacuuming your window screens, polishing the silver, and trying not to be too grossed out while purging your pantry, there’s one surface a lot of people overlook: the walls.  Do you have a tile backsplash in your kitchen? Chances are you clean it when you remember to, but it’s been a long time since your tile has gotten a good scrub.  For those of you with an aversion to strong chemicals, fear not: the best way to keep your installation looking fresh is simple, cost-effective, and innocuous.

Tile generally doesn’t require a whole lot of heavy cleaning, which is one of the many reasons it’s such a popular choice for homes and heavy-duty areas.  Sweeping it free of dirt and dust (or in the case of backsplashes/wall installations, wiping with a dry cloth) every day is incredibly helpful. If you can’t do it daily, try to do it at least twice a week.  Dust and dirt are the top offenders when it comes to scratching tile, and getting rid of them on a regular basis will preserve its luster.  However, sometimes a deeper cleaning is necessary.  In this case, soap and warm water is best- that’s it.  As many products as there are marketed as tile cleaners, we have found that the best way to keep your tile looking brand new is with the ages-old soap and water formula. Other products can dull the glaze, which is probably one of the reasons you purchased the tile in the first place! Take good care of your tile with these regular maintenance steps and you’ll get the long-lasting beauty your home deserves.

Keep the Fronda Perla wood look tile looking new for years with a simple scrubbing.

Keep the Fronda Perla wood look tile looking new for years with a simple scrubbing.

Cleaning the grout lines

Grout is a bit porous and usually a lighter color.  As a result, stains and dirt tend to appear much more quickly and require a little more diligence than cleaning the tile.

Bob Vila’s website has an excellent mildest-to-strongest list of cleaning methods for grout, but we stand by the soap-and-water method.  Warm water with a lot of suds, elbow grease, and a toothbrush will help you get the mold, mildew, and soap scum out of your grout until it’s as clean as the day it was installed.  If you need something a little stronger, you can always turn to the refreshingly dependable household staple of distilled white vinegar. Vinegar is lauded for its versatility, but it’s still highly acidic and must be watered down for this particular application.  A common ratio is one part vinegar and one part water. Put the mixture into a spray bottle, grab a stiff-bristled toothbrush, and get to it! Spray directly onto the grout and scrub it. If need be, briefly leave the mixture on the grout line before cleaning.

Our Metro Lantern Glossy White can be shiny forever!

Our Metro Lantern Glossy White can be shiny forever!

Everyone wants their home to be clean, but that doesn’t mean it has to be toxic.  Your tile can stay looking great for years using these practices on a regular basis (we stress the “regular” part!)- simple household products that won’t emit hazardous fumes or compromise the integrity of your tile are the best approach after all!

Quick Reference Installation Guide

Need some quick pointers but don’t feel like digging through the great wide Internet? Here are some concise tips covering everything from prep to post-installation maintenance.  The tips provided above are suggested guidelines and do not imply warranty.

Our Galan Iris series.

Our Galan Iris series, available through HomeDepot.com.

Tools: Have the right tools and installation products before you begin your mosaic tile installation.  Some of the supplies you may need are a wet saw, tile nippers, trowels, sponges, grout, tile spacers, thinset, gloves, and a few buckets.

Thinset: Be sure to select the correct type of adhesive or thinset suitable for your installation.  Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer of your chosen adhesive.

Cutting Tile: If you need to cut the tile, use tile nippers, tile cutter, or a diamond-tipped wet saw to cut it to a desired size.  Not all cutting tools are suitable for every purpose; please read on for specifics about cutting stainless steel and metal mosaics.

Mesh Backing: Our mosaic tiles have a mesh backing that ensures appropriate bonding during installation.  For optimal performance, avoid exposing the mesh to excessive moisture before installation, which could result in the tiles falling off the mesh backing. For this reason, it may be beneficial to remove the tile from the mesh and cut them individually with tile cutters or nippers rather than with a wet saw.

Stainless Steel and Aluminum Mosaics: You can prevent scratches on these surfaces by using a clean sponge, keeping the protective cover on and applying non-sanded grout during installation. If necessary, cut this tile from the rear with a diamond-tipped wet saw to prevent uneven edges.  Cut edges can then be treated and smoothed with fine sandpaper or a metal file.

Our Meta Steel Hex tile, available on HomeDepot.com

Our Meta Hex stainless steel tile, available on HomeDepot.com.

Grout Selection: Non-sanded grout is recommended for wall applications, products with glass or metal finishes, and installations with a grout joint less than 1/8”.  Sanded grout is recommended for most floor applications and most installations with a grout joint more than 1/8”.

Grout Cleanup: With a dry, lint-free cloth, remove excess grout from the surface of the tile.  Dampen a sponge with warm water and continue to clean grout off of the tile.  Once it appears to be clean, wipe it down again with a fresh damp sponge to remove any grout film. After about 15 minutes, buff the tile with a soft cloth.

Maintenance: The best way to keep your tile looking fresh and new is to engage in regular upkeep.  Keeping sandy dirt (especially from shoes) away from your tile is the best way to protect the surface.  We recommend sweeping daily and using warm soapy water for regular cleaning. Non-acidic and non-abrasive cleansers can also be used for spot cleaning.