Trick or Treat: Trade Tips for a Sweet Install

Trick or Treat: Trade Tips for a Sweet Install - Architessa

We all know the phrase: trick or treat! On Halloween, candy is the sweet reward after going house to house in our best robot or superhero costume. When it comes to tile in our homes, we all want a sweet looking space. If the renovation is done poorly, however, the result can be scary. Because very few of us have powers like Superman or Wonder Woman, we may call on the pros. Whether you are working with a designer or like to do-it-yourself, we can all learn from professional tile contractors and installers. In an interview with Vallefuoco Contractors, LLC. we unmask tips and tricks on how to avoid a scary installation and how to set yourself up for a sweet space.

Avoid Spooky Selections

Holy tile variation Batman! It's no secret that natural stone has natural variation. For some of us, the thought of unpredictable veining is just too scary or too overwhelming. Tile contractor and trade professional, Gianna Vallefuoco with the Maryland-based Vallefuoco Contractors, LLC., speaks to a scary common client question: can natural stone can be hand-picked? With nearly 3 decades of tile experience, Vallefuoco knows time after time, the answer is always NO. "If you are ordering marble, limestone, or any natural stone, be prepared to go with flow. Literally, the flow of the veining, color variation, and natural striations will vary," Vallefuoco says. "If you can embrace the shade variation, you know the trick!" For Washington D.C. metro-area designer Cheryll Bowie of CKB Design, her client embraced natural stone and its natural variation. The result is a stunning one-of-a-kind master suite retreat.
Designer: Cheryll Bowie of CKB Design, Vendor: Architectural Ceramics, Inc., Contractor: Vallefuoco Contractors, LLC.
Keeping the look traditional in this DC-area home meant weaving together various shades of warm and cool-toned marbles. From the large format marble tile, borders, and moldings on the walls, to the marble mosaics on the floor, this bathroom makes us feel like we're in an Italian villa. The natural stone tile selections, made with Architectural Ceramics, showcases a wide range in color and veining variation.
Designer: Cheryll Bowie of CKB Design, Vendor: Architectural Ceramics, Inc., Contractor: Vallefuoco Contractors, LLC.
"Stone is beautiful, but it’s unpredictable which can be scary to some people," Vallefuoco says of natural stone variation, "What each person likes is subjective, so I’d say the trick is to know your tile’s potential shade variation and try not to mess with Mother Nature." How do you know your tile's potential variation? The answer is simple: expect the unexpected. Or order samples from the vendor's current natural stone lot before placing your entire order, to see what the color and veining look like. To read or see more examples of tile variation, check out our blog entry: Expect the Unexpected from Tile Variation.

Prepare for Prep-Work

For those do-it-yourselfers out there, your efforts are applauded. You've made your selections and purchased your tile from Architectural Ceramics. Now it's time to install. Or time to prep. This includes preparing your space for tile, as well as educating yourself on the various install materials on the market. "The trick is to never underestimate all the work that goes into an installation," Vallefuoco cautions, "Prep work is just as important as the installation itself." A backsplash install may seem simple enough, but having a clean sub-surface, or having the right tools and knowing how to use them is key. A bad installation can make a great tile look cheap. "You want to ensure all surfaces are level and structurally sound before you start tiling," Vallefuoco advises, "And ALWAYS read the installation instructions." Over time, Vallefuoco has seen a range of tile installation methods and materials. "My husband started our business back in Italy almost 30 years ago, and products and techniques have changed dramatically since then. Even seasoned experts need to be educated as new products come out. Don’t be afraid to read up and ask questions." For installation questions about tile you've purchased with AC, don't be afraid to ask us. We offer tools and setting materials specialized to our various ceramic, porcelain and stone tiles. These products help a DIY client or contractor to successfully execute and complete their installation. Architectural Ceramics also offers online tools like our FAQ and Learning Center pages that provide answers to questions you may have.

The Devil is in the Details

One of the pioneers of modernist architecture, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, famously said, "the devil is in the details." The statement is certainly true of a tile design and installation. "The most important trick is to plan ahead and don’t overlook the small stuff," Vallefuoco advises, "it’s common to miss the less obvious items." Whether working on a backsplash or a bathroom, it's important to make sure you've considered all types of surfaces when making your selections. "When doing a bathroom," Vallefuoco continues, "remember that the installer needs to know what goes on every single surface and how it’s laid." In this master bathroom renovation, designer Jodi Macklin with Meridian Homes, thought through each surface from top to bottom. In the shower area, for example, that meant specifying tile for the shower walls, vertical edging, shower floor, curb, bench, niche and drain. Whew! Macklin made her selections with Architectural Ceramics and Vallefuoco Contractors, LLC. made the installation happen. "It’s a treat for us when all the info is there, and it makes the install much less tricky." Vallefuoco puns.
Builder: Meridian Homes, Designer: Jodi Macklin, Vendor: Architectural Ceramics, Inc., Contractor: Vallefuoco Contractors, LLC.
Looking at the details of the design, the simple black and white space has a few tricks to it. The shower walls, for example, feature two types of tile separated by a white liner. That liner continues above the his and hers vanities and over the spa-like tub, resulting in one cohesive space.
"It’s a treat for us when all the info is there, and it makes the install much less tricky." -- Gianna Vallefuoco, Vallefuoco Contractors, LLC.
Builder: Meridian Homes, Designer: Jodi Macklin, Vendor: Architectural Ceramics, Inc., Contractor: Vallefuoco Contractors, LLC.
To trick your eye into the illusion of more space, the bathroom floor and shower floor use the same mosaic from our New Ravenna line. Instead of making tricky cuts and running the mosaic over the shower curb, designer Macklin opted for a seamless marble threshold.

Happy Halloween!

Our staff loves to have fun, especially during Halloween. Whether it's our corporate offices or our showrooms, we enjoy decorating and dressing up. Stop by to see what our staff has to say about tile tips or tricks, or to see how sweet we look in our costumes. Thinking about a tile you've already seen? We'd love to help. Because nothing haunts you more than what you didn't buy. See you soon! For further questions about tile installation or tile featured here; or to place a tile order, please contact Want weekly updates about Architectural Ceramics and our product lines? Join our newsletterhere.

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