1. Check the estimate
The nature of the flooring business is to bid on a lot of work that you don’t get. But when Gegare Tile does get awarded a job, as project manager Jim always makes a practice of checking the estimate. “If you underbid, that’s the time to catch it—when you can do something about it,” he says. Trying to make up for a shortage of material on the job can lead to project delays, dye-lots not matching, or differing shades of material.
2. Order the material
In the case of Thrivent, Theresa made sure everything was OK. The floor tile ordered for the cafeteria was a special 18” x 36” porcelain tile manufactured in Italy. The wall tile, also from Italy, was 12” x 24”. “We had to make sure my quantities were right,” Teresa says. “I knew if I ran short, I would have to use airfreight to get more tile, and that would be a tremendous expense.”
Teresa knew she had to plan for a 14-week delivery to the site. The area she had to work with was about 3,000 square feet of floor surface in the serving area and 2,000 square feet of wall. She was also responsible for 900 square yards of carpet that would go down in the dining room after the porcelain tile.
3. Demolish and prepare the substrate
For the Thrivent project, the general contractor did the demolition of the existing floor, and all regular cafeteria operation was suspended for the duration of construction. “ We were called in early to look at the existing substrate,” Teresa says. The contractor asked if Teresa could work with it, and her answer was definitive: “No, you need to pour new concrete. I needed a really good substrate, or it would not come out well at all.” Her advice, as it turned out, was sound, and the contractor poured a new slab using a fiberglass-and-steel-reinforced mesh called Novamesh to minimize cracking and allow fewer expansion joints.
4. Test the slab
Before installation begins, Gegare Tile does a relative humidity test of the concrete slab. The firm will typically drill holes in various locations that are 40 percent of the concrete’s thickness, and using computerized probes, the firm will get relative humidity readings measuring the moisture content in the slabs. Different concrete mixtures have varying curing times before installation can be done. “With the computer probe, we get a much more accurate read [of whether] the slab is ready,” Teresa says.
5. Set the cove, floor tile, and wall tile
Because of a compressed construction schedule, the firm sped things up by switching from a three-man crew to a seven-man crew. In addition they started with the wall tiling when normal project sequencing would dictate doing flooring first. The problem was a late color selection on the metal cove piece for the floor-to-wall transition, delaying the material delivery. “We had to shim up the wall tile to start with until we got the cove,” Teresa says. “Once we got the cove we were able to start the floor.”
6. Add grouting and clean
A new high-end grout was specified for the Thrivent project that Gegare Tile had not used before. The firm’s lead installer, Jason Holewinski, did some research and found they had to use a special cleaner to make sure grout haze did not set up on the tile surface. “The grout actually crystallized on the tile surface if it was not properly cleaned,” Teresa says. “The grout is a urethane-based product that is stain-resistant, is premixed, and is easier to maintain.” ABQ