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Cantera Stone

Cantera is a natural stone that… More info

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Good Tile Installer

5 Ways to Know you have a Good Floor Installer!

We’ve all heard it before – the horror stories of a floor tile project mid-stream coming to an abrupt halt – left sadly unfinished – because the tile installer hired to do the work has disappeared – with money in hand!  So, your budget has been spent and the floor is a wreck!  Believe it or not, it’s stories like these that prevent people from undergoing home renovations… they fear the horror stories of renovations gone wrong.  We can give you 5 solid tips for knowing if you’re hiring a good flooring tile installer (or just a good contractor in general).  With the right people doing the job, any renovation should be a smooth process that produces beautiful results!rustico tile

Tip #1: References!  Does the person that you’re considering hiring have references?  This is really important because in many scenarios, the hired contractor will be in and out of your home – quite possibly at times when you’re not there (because some of us have to work during the day instead of beautifying our homes!).  Don’t be afraid to ask for references.  And when you get them, call them!  Ask questions that will give you the full story about the person you’re considering.  It’s really important.  It’s okay to ask for references that can speak about having a negative experience too.  Those are the people that can tell you how the tile installer or contractor treated any mishaps and sought (hopefully!) resolution.

Tip #2: Pictures!  Ask to see photos of jobs that he or she has completed.  This will give you an idea of what kind of work the contractor or tile installer does.  Pay attention to the surrounding environment in the photos.  Is there a lot of debris and trash that is unnecessary?  That could be an indicator of sloppy work.  And, those references in tip #1 that you called?? à Ask those people for pictures of the handiwork done.

cement tilesTip #3:  Materials!  Does your installer have a good knowledge of the installation materials that will be used?  For example, if installing floor tile, what is the thinset that is going to be used?  There are a variety of types of tile thinset, underlayments, tile sealer, membranes, grout, etc.  It’s worthwhile asking your contractor what materials will be used, and to explain quality differences.  If the tile installer can’t explain his choices of materials, keep shopping.  It doesn’t do any good buy great flooring if it’s not installed with quality materials.

Tip #4:  Payments!  How does your tile installer want to be paid?  Is it cash up front? Keep shopping!  That type of arrangement almost always leads to horror stories.  Most reputable installers will have some schedule of payments (i.e. Deposit up front and a couple of payments upon reaching certain points in the installation). It’s reasonable to withhold a final small portion of payment to be completed after the job is finished to your satisfaction (and in compliance with any contract signed).

rustico tileTip #5:  Clean up!  Going back to tip #1 about references (see… I told you it’s important!), ask about how clean the tile installer was during and after the job?  A good installer is someone who is organized, efficient and cleanly.  Any completed job is not complete until the installer’s trash and debris or waste has been hauled off (unless otherwise specified in a contract).  To take it a step further, we value tile installers who don’t leave personal trash from snacks or lunches behind.  And if they do, it should be in a trashcan, not just casually discarded.  Manners are okay!

There is so much more that goes into finding the right contractors and tile installers for jobs – especially tile floor installations.  It’s backbreaking work and worth every penny charged by a quality tile installer.  If you just don’t get a good vibe, then keep shopping!  

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Rustico Tile and Stone Wins Award


Best Of Houzz 2014 Award


Annual Survey and Analysis of 16 Million Monthly Users

Reveals Top-Rated Building, Remodeling and Design Professionals for Rustico Tile and Stone


Leander Texas, February 4, 2014 – Rustico Tile and Stone of Austin, Texas has been awarded “Best Of Houzz” by Houzz, the leading platform for home remodeling and design. The wholesale tile and stone company continues to surpass customer expectations in quality, pricing, and global shipping practices. For example, Rustico’s products of Saltillo terra cotta tile, decorative cement tiles and custom cantera stone was chosen by the more than 16 million monthly users that comprise the Houzz community.

manganese tile, manganese saltillo, brown terracotta, rustico tile and stone

 The Best Of Houzz award is given in two categories: Customer Satisfaction and Design. Customer Satisfaction honors are determined by a variety of factors, including the number and quality of client reviews a professional received in 2013. Design award winners’ work was the most popular among the more than 16 million monthly users on Houzz, known as “Houzzers,” who saved more than 230 million professional images of home interiors and exteriors to their personal ideabooks via the Houzz site, iPad/iPhone app and Android app. Winners will receive a “Best Of Houzz 2014” badge on their profiles, showing the Houzz community their commitment to excellence. These badges help homeowners identify popular and top-rated home professionals in every metro area on Houzz.  (more…)

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Renovation Ripoffs – 5 Things to Avoid

The time is approaching to Avoid a Renovation Ripoff!  

Springtime is around the corner and those warmer temps bring out new energy and dreams of luxury style at home!  So, you’ve decided that it’s time to take on a home renovation – new cement tile flooring, painting your home, building an outdoor kitchen… just to name a few ideas.  cement tiles This should be a fun and exciting adventure but unfortunately, so many people just like you have had bad experiences that result in BIG BUCKS!  You’re a homeowner, not a construction professional, afterall right?  How are you to know if you’re being told the truth?  If a price estimate is fair?  Will the work actually get done?  Will you be happy when it’s complete?  How can you avoid a renovation ripoff?Contractor-2-225x300

Here are five tips to consider for your upcoming project:

  1. #1) Be wary of the word “FREE” or of an extremely low cost estimate.  This is a common ingredient in renovation ripoff reports.  If the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is! In our experience with cantera stone and cement tile flooring projects, for example, there is no such thing as free.  Materials cost money.  Labor is time.  And we all know that Time is Money.  The only thing worth having done for free is the initial estimate.  That’s an opportunity for the contractor to come and evaluate the task to be completed.  Many contractors will not charge a fee for this (but if they do charge a fee or a trip-fee, don’t be scared off.  It may be worth the cost if they have a reputation of good work.).  The result is their proposal for the estimated cost that will be involved in the project.  It should include a detailed description of exactly what is to be completed, materials used, and any warranty offered.  If it is heavy-laden with the word “free”, this is often a gimmick.  If it just seems far too inexpensive as compared to other bids you’ve received, something’s probably not right.  Either the contractor is concealing costs in order to win your business… OR, the contractor is inexperienced and is overlooking processes or materials that will be required.  Don’t select a contractor based on just a cheap price.  This could ultimately end up in a very expensive or incomplete renovation.

  2. #2)  Be wary of contractors that show up “out of the blue.”  Have you had a recent large storm or natural disaster?   Some construction “professionals” chase storms the way that some attorneys chase ambulances.  This is a recipe for a renovation ripoff.  If the contractor has a P.O. box, refuses to provide a physical address, wants payment in terms of cash up front or western union wires, you’re probably best to avoid this person.  Contractors have reputations to uphold and are usually established with at least a physical address (even an office out of a home) in your geographical area, a local phone number and a scheduled system for billing.  Western Union requests for payments can certainly be legitimate but it’s also a tool commonly used by crooks.  Be cautious!handshake

  3. #3)  What are the payment terms for the contractor you’re interviewing?  It’s common practice to request a deposit up front.  This is certainly reasonable because it’s your way to “reserve your spot” basically.  Your contractor will be all yours when it’s your turn in his or her lineup of projects.  Common deposits required range from 10% to 30% of the total project cost.  If the contractor wants up-front payment to purchase material (like tile flooring or paint) for you, be cautious.  How do you know you’ll actually receive that material?  If he needs your funds to subsidize this project, offer to just buy the materials direct from the source.  Then, at least you have the material and you’ve avoided a total renovation ripoff.   cantera stone tileThere should be a contract provided to you upon hiring the contractor that details a payment schedule.  A reasonable expectation is to make set amount payments as specific goals of the project are completed.  For example in a cement tile installation, expect to pay after the cement tiles are set in thinset.  Next, expect to make a payment after the cement tile floor is grouted and cleaned.  Expect to withhold the final 10% payment (perhaps in escrow) until the final cement tile sealer  is applied.  This would be the completion of the job when the contractor can collect the final 10% escrow payment. DO NOT pay in full until the job is 100% complete and you are 100% satisfied, according to what’s promised in the contract.

  4. #4)  Are you getting bills from your contractor that don’t match the bid or contract?  Ask questions.  No one is perfect and it may be that a contractor came upon a hiccup with your renovation that is out of the scope of what he bid.  This is truly not uncommon but it should be communicated to you immediately before the contractor undertakes any expense in the “surprise”.  Then, you can make a decision on how to move forward and discuss costs that may be beyond your initial contract.  You should not receive a bill at the end of the project for a bunch of undisclosed hidden surprises – with no documentation to support extra work completed.  The contractor is in charge of the work being done but you have a right to know.  You are the ultimate boss.contractor cartoon

  5. #5)  Do you just get a bad vibe from a contractor?  Trust your gut. Avoid the renovation ripoff.  Check references or online resources such as BBB or Angie’s List databases.  Get second opinions.  Verify facts.  Research materials that the contractor plans to use and verify warranties on those materials.  If you just don’t feel good about it, keep shopping. 

Lastly, it’s beneficial to be a good customer.  Once you’ve decided upon your contractor, trust him or her to do the job they have contractually agreed to do. Don’t ignore the process because it’s okay to be involved and to ask questions but let these hardworking people have the chance to do their jobs and make you happy.  In our experience with tile flooring installations, outdoor kitchen projects, cantera stone installations, and bathroom remodels, our happiest customers are those that grill us in the beginning with their due diligence and then allow our craftsmnn to do their jobs.  If something goes wrong along the way, we fix it.  No construction project goes exactly as planned but with the right contractor leading the way, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be 100% satisfied upon completion and avoid the renovation ripoff experience. 

Happy Flooring!  Make Every Space Count!
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