Tile FAQ

What vendors does Solid Rock Surfaces work with in the Kansas City area and where can I
What is the difference between standard “ceramic” tiles and porcelain tiles?
Can ceramic tile be used outdoors?
What is the difference between glazed and full-body tiles?
What tile cleaner does Solid Rock Surfaces recommend?
How important is the shower pan to a tiled shower?
What is the best way to clean and prevent grout mildew?
Should I seal my tile?
What tile selection tips does Solid Rock Surfaces have?


What vendors does Solid Rock Surfaces work with in the Kansas City area and where can I see samples?

Generally, we prefer to have the homeowners purchase the tile and we provide just the labor contract. We have installed tile purchased from Home Depot and Lowes on many occasions, but if customers want specialty tiles or want to look at a larger selection of tiles, we recommend and have accounts with:

Premier Distributing
9250 Bond St., Overland Park, KS 66214
913-438-3936

Sunderland Brothers
14871 West 95th St., Lenexa, KS 66215
913-894-5515

Central States Tile
8301 West 125th St., Suite 110, Overland Park, KS 66213
913-681-6629

Daltile
15300 West 101 Terr., Lenexa, KS 66215
913-438-6500

ProSource
7228 West Frontage Rd., Overland Park, KS 66203
913-599-4488

These specialty vendors usually carry higher quality tiles (first grade rather than second or even third grade) than that found in the larger big-box home supply stores.


What is the difference between standard “ceramic” tiles and porcelain tiles?

Tile terminology can be confusing. Most types of tiles that are made from clay or a mixture of clay and other materials, then kiln-fired, are considered to be a part of the larger classification called “Ceramic Tiles”. These tiles can be split into two groups, porcelain tiles and non-porcelain tiles. These non-porcelain tiles are frequently referred to as ceramic tiles by themselves, separate from porcelain tiles.

“Ceramic” or non-porcelain tiles are generally made from red or white clay fired in a kiln. They are almost always finished with a durable glaze which carries the color and pattern. These tiles are used in both wall tile and floor tile applications, are softer and easier to cut than porcelain, and usually carry a PEI 0 to 3 rating. Non-porcelain ceramic tiles are usually suitable for very light to moderate traffic and generally have a relatively high water absorption rating making them less frost resistant and they are more prone to wear and chipping than porcelain tiles.
Porcelain tile is a tile that is generally made by the dust pressed method from porcelain clays which result in a tile that is dense, impervious, fine grained and smooth, with a sharply formed face. Porcelain tiles usually have a much lower water absorption rate (less than 0.5%) than non-porcelain tiles making them frost resistant or frost-proof. Glazed porcelain tiles are much harder and more wear and damage resistant than non-porcelain ceramic tiles, making them suitable for any application from light traffic to the heaviest residential and light commercial traffic. Full body porcelain tiles carry the color and pattern through the entire thickness of the tile making them virtually impervious to wear and are suitable for any application from residential to the highest traffic commercial or industrial applications. Porcelain tiles are available in matte, unglazed or a high polished finish.


Can ceramic tile be used outdoors?

To be used outdoors, we recommend the tile must be frostproof and unglazed for floor use. Make sure the absorption rate is 0.5% or less.


What is the difference between glazed and full-body tiles?

Glazed tiles are coated with a liquid glass, which is then baked into the surface of the clay. The glaze provides an unlimited array of colors and designs as well as protects the tile from staining. The unglazed tiles are pretty much the same as the glazed tile, except that their surface is not coated. Full-body porcelain tiles do not show wear because their color extends throughout the tile, making them ideal for commercial applications.


What tile cleaner does Solid Rock Surfaces recommend?

Click HERE. You can purchase these products at Home Depot, Lowe’s, and any reputable tile supplier in the Kansas City Metro Area.


How important is the shower pan to a tiled shower?

A typical residential shower uses 2.5 gallons of water a minute. If you take a 12-minute shower once per day, that’s 30 gallons. Take those 30 gallons x 365 days a year x several family members, and you’ve had 5 times more water in your house than it rains in most places each year.

So, for anyone with a shower, water management is an important issue. Both tile and plumbing can be part of that effective system. Obviously, most water that sprays from your shower head goes down the drain, but, because tile and stone are not waterproof, there is water that seeps through to the pan liner (a rubber membrane under the tile that directs water to the drain’s weep holes).

For a successful water management system in your shower, you need:

  • a waterproofing membrane bed that has been flood tested prior to tile installation (a minimum 24-hour ‘pan test’);
  • weep holes that are open prior to & after the installation of the tile mortar bed;
  • a tile substrate and setting material that are approved for installation in wet areas;
  • positive slope of the finished floor and the pre-slope below the membrane of at least 1/4″ per foot to the drain.

Without positive slope, water won’t make its way to the weep holes, and that water can become septic causing odor and staining of the grout on the shower floor. In most of the Kansas City Metro Area, the plumber installs the pan material, and some of our favorite plumbers have been going the extra mile for their customers to install a ‘pre-slope.’ Though it’s only a suggestion in the latest local building code, ‘pre-slope’ is the best way to ensure a shower floor meets the positive slope requirement and to cut down on the possibility for mold and mildew. There won’t be any low spots in your shower floor to hold water, and there’s less chance that any debris under the pan liner could make its way through the bottom and puncture your waterproofing membrane.

A knowledgeable plumber will also ensure that your pan material is no less than 3 inches above the finished curb height and has absolutely NO nail holes or punctures in that rubber membrane. With properly installed plumbing preparation and effective tile installation, the water in your shower should wash away your troubles rather than adding to them.


What is the best way to clean and prevent grout mildew?

Bleach-based cleaners will kill mold and mildew (temporarily) but they will also kill your grout. Over time, these harsh products will turn your grout to chalk, and it will wash out little by little.
The best defense against mildew is prevention! Increase the ventilation in the room. Leave the shower door open after you bathe. Let the exhaust fan run at least 20-30 minutes after use. Open a window. The next best weapon is a squeegee. Run it over your tile before you step out of the shower to eliminate water hanging around inviting the mold and mildew spores to take root.

The best cleaners for tile and grout have a Neutral PH. That means it is neither too acidic or too alkaline and will not harm your tile or grout. Some of our favorites are sold by Aqua Mix: Aqua Mix Products
Sealing your tile and grout may also help. Check out the sealers at TEC Products. These water-based sealers allow moisture and air out but none in, helping starve mold and mildew. Or take the extra step to eliminate future growth altogether with new antimicrobial SHIELD. Check out PowerOfShield.com


Should I seal my tile?

  • Applying a high quality sealant to your tile’s grout can be an extra layer of stain-fighting protection, but you’ll need to know your products to see if it’s necessary in your installation.
  • Traditional cement-based grouts benefit from a topical sealant which keeps stains on the surface rather than allowing them to penetrate;
  • Many of today’s grouts add stain-resisters to the base grout powder, and an additional sealant would be redundant;
  • Additives can add stain-resistance to the water used to mix grout as it is installed;
  • Some grouts are specifically formulated to resist stains and bacterial growth.
  • Natural stones should be sealed because their innate porosity can cause them to absorb pigment from jobsite materials and grout. Most ceramic and porcelain tiles do not need to be sealed because of the protective glaze already fired onto surfaces.
  • Before applying a topical sealant to cement-based grout, allow the grout to completely cure — at least two weeks after initial installation. Don’t take chances with this permanent investment in your home.

What tile selection tips does Solid Rock Surfaces have?

  • It’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the choices and the beautiful tiles when you first go to a tile showroom, so we thought we’d give you a few tips to consider as you’re making your selections.
  • Large tile is very popular right now, and it’s getting larger. We’re glad to install it for you, but it does require upgraded mortars and more time to ensure the substrate is appropriately flat and that patterns flow with the maximum full tiles possible. Therefore, your price will be a little higher for large-format tile (anything larger than 15″). Because most large tiles have some degree of curvature, we can’t install large tiles with anything less than a 1/8″ grout joint.
  • Glass tile and sheeted materials also require different setting materials (and tools in some cases), so there is usually a higher level of skill needed to install these materials. Many sheeted materials may not line up the same way non-sheeted materials will (grout joint widths will vary from one sheet to the next). The nature of the material will usually mean a little higher installation price for sheeted or glass products.
  • Natural stone has a honed surface and will need to be sealed prior to installation (as will some that have polished surfaces). If the stone is pitted, grout will fill any holes and won’t be removed. Filled stones are not a good choice for floors where high-heel traffic may impact these weaker parts of the end-product. Sheeted pebbles/ river rocks will be grouted, and we’d like to make sure you like that look as much as you like the ungrouted version you might see in the showroom. (You might want to see a sample mock up for approval.)
  • Accents and liners should be similar in thickness to the tile being installed. A good tile designer will steer you to products that line up well, so it’s important to take advantage of the talented showroom designers we have in our area.
  • Grout joints are routinely 3/16″, so if you want a different width, please discuss it with the designer and your installer. Some tiles require specific types of grout and joint sizes, so it’s important to be specific in what finish look you want.
  • Patterns, accents, and borders can add pizazz to a tile installation, so they are worth including in your plan. They do take more time to install, so your labor cost will increase each time you add an accent or extra feature.
  • Standard heights of showers are 7′, and tub surrounds are generally 5′ off the tub. If you want a different finish height, be sure to let your designer and installer know that.
  • Niches are more popular than soap dishes these days, and most showers now contain a shelf or foot prop, so be sure to specify which of these you’d like to add to your project. Waterproofing is needed behind that niche, and the best installers will be sure your design flows seamlessly through the indentation. There’s a little extra charge for these items, but having an easy place to keep your shampoo and soap is priceless!