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Bathroom Genie answers your FAQ

Bathroom Genie answers your


  • Why are Porcelain tiles a popular choice for bathroom floors?
    We are often asked what is the difference between porcelain and ceramic tiles? Both types of tile can be used as wall or floor tiles however, porcelain tiles are often favoured as floor tiles as they are stronger, more hard wearing, moisture and stain resistant making them perfect for high traffic or wet areas. The main difference between ceramic and porcelain tiles is the clays and raw materials used and firing temperatures. There are two types of porcelain tiles: Through-body and Glazed porcelain. Through-body porcelain tiles have no glaze and the colour of the tile can be seen all the way through the thickness of the tile. These tiles can have a polished, semi-polished, matt or even slip resistant surface. Glazed porcelain tiles have an impenetrable, baked on glass-like coating that creates the colour and patterns on the surface of the tile, the colour is not carried though the tile thickness. So how can you tell if the tile is porcelain or ceramic and which one should I choose? Porcelain tiles have low water absorption where water will remain on the tile surface for many minutes whereas on a ceramic tile it will be absorbed by the tile within a minute or less. Porcelain tiles are considerably harder to cut than ceramic. This is readily apparent if you ever go to cut them or drill through them. They are denser and you can often tell from just holding a porcelain tile that it feels heavier than a ceramic of identical size. Porcelain tiles are usually up to 40% more expensive than comparable ceramic tiles. Porcelain tiles are often factory cut with lasers after firing to ensure 90-degree edges and near perfect sizing. Ceramic tiles tend to have greater size variance and are not subjected to laser cutting. So, when it comes to choosing tiles it will depend on what areas you are intending to tile, your budget and taste. Increasingly porcelain is preferred over glazed ceramic for the extra durability and performance it offers throughout all areas.
  • What is the difference between wall tiles and floor tiles?
    There is often not much difference however, where floor tiles can be used as wall tiles, not all wall tiles can be used on floors. Floor tiles are typically a denser, heavier tile designed to withstand high foot traffic and weight such as appliances. They are often more resistant to moisture and stains and can have a slight texture to provide a non-slip surface. Wall tiles are often thinner and have a smooth or gloss surface and are not recommended underfoot.
  • How many extra tiles should I buy?
    You can take the measurements of the space to be tiled to most tile shops and they will calculate this for you, however a good rule of thumb is to allow 20% extra for cuts and waste that occur as part of the installation process. For example, if you are tiling a floor that is 2m x 2m (4m2) then add on at least 0.2m2, so you will want a minimum of 4.2m2. Many tile shops will only sell you a whole box so you may end up with more than you feel you need, however it is a good idea to keep a few spares stored away somewhere so that if a tile should get damaged you have a replacement available rather than trying to find a match at a later date when designs are often discontinued with changing trends.
  • What’s the best products to use for cleaning my tiles and grout?
    Grout lines that have changed colour often have mould growing deep within the grout and unfortunately, there is no miracle product to reverse this. You can scrub away the surface mould and it may look great for a few days, but the mould will eventually grow back. The best way to minimise this is to remove as much moisture from the area as possible after use. This can include good ventilation and drying the area with a towel or microfibre cloth. To get the best results from your cleaning products it is essential to leave them on the tile and/or grout surface and allow then to do their job before wiping them off. Here are our step-by-step recommendations: Step 1: Generously apply a non-abrasive PH Neutral cleaner to the grout and tiles, leave to dwell for between 5 to 10 minutes, this will allow the cleaner to emulsify and loosen any soap, body fats and oils on your tiles & grout. Important! Don’t allow the cleaning solution to dry. If it starts to dry apply further solution. Step2: Using a SOFT bristle brush lightly agitate the cleaner over the surface of the tiles and grout. The main objective of agitation is to ensure the cleaner is well distributed into all the nooks and crannies, not to clean by scrubbing the surface off everything! You will produce a better cleaning result if you let the cleaner do the work rather than harsh scrubbing. Step 3: This is a very important step. Rinse the surface with CLEAN cool water. Improperly rinsed surfaces can leave detergent residues and attract dirt. Step 4: Lastly dry the tiles (and grout lines) using a Micro Fibre Cloth or an old towel, this will pick up any dirt residues left on the tile/grout.
  • What's the difference between sand-based and Epoxy grout?
    Traditionally sand-based grout has been used in all tiled areas. If you are experiencing discolouration in your grout it is likely because it is sand based which is very porous. This allows moisture, dirt and bacteria to penetrate deeply into the grout, undermining the grout and causing mould to grow back to the surface which cleaning alone will not resolve. This deterioration can then cause cracks and holes to appear in your grout which overtime may loosen your tiles as water makes its way underneath them. Epoxy is a more modern grout that is resin-based. Its benefits are that it won't crack, shrink, or discolour, making it ideal for applying in wet areas, such as showers and outdoor areas. It's also highly resistant to the harsh chemicals found in cleaning products. As an added bonus, unlike traditional cement grout, epoxy grout does not need to be sealed due to its non-porous nature. These benefits do come at a price. Epoxy grout is a much harder substance to install as it sets quickly and must be applied in small stages with thorough cleaning after application, making it a time-costly process. It also comes with a higher price tag (3-5 times more expensive than sand-based grout) however, the benefits and long-lasting protection of your wet areas make it a wise choice.
  • What is this hard, white substance that is appearing on my grout and tiles?
    Efflorescence is naturally occurring problem caused by oxidised salt from cement-based products such as adhesives and grout. Cement is used as a binding agent and if the salt in the cement is exposed to moisture for continued periods it can migrate to the surface where it oxidises in the air into a white crystalized substance called efflorescence. This is commonly seen around cracks in concrete paths, or on brick walls, but it is also very common in tiled showers or other tiled wet areas. As these areas are wet much of the time (particularly if they do not drain well) efflorescence may occur as a white stain on the grout or tile, and if not frequently removed can build up into a thick, hard, calcium-like crust that is very difficult to remove. Many tiled showers these days use cement free tile adhesives and epoxy grout (a resin-based grout that contains no cement). These have no salt in them and so cannot produce efflorescence. If efflorescence is a problem in your shower or wet tiled area, the only way to solve this is to mechanically remove the cement-based grout (which is likely the main source of the salts) and replace it with epoxy grout. While this removes the main source of salt, there may also be salt in the tile adhesive which can continue to product efflorescence, however this is usually at much lower concentrations. If left untreated, the salts under the tile can wear away at any waterproof membrane causing severe leaks and damage.
  • Can a damaged tile be repaired or replaced?
    Tiles can become loose, chipped or cracked, sometimes leaving a dangerous sharp edge. There are a number of options to resolve this, the best result is to replace the damaged tile, so make sure you keep any spares! If spares are not available or a match cannot be found, sometimes it is possible to repair a damaged tile depending on its location and the severity of the damage. Either way, it is a specialist job so make sure you use someone with experience.
  • How long will the silicone seal in my bathroom area last?
    There is no real hard and fast answer to this as it greatly depends on how it is installed and how you look after it afterwards. Mould thrives in areas that are dark, moist, and warm, which also describes a typical shower or bathroom! Mould is already prevalent in your wet areas and once established it is impossible to permanently eliminate. To protect any waterproof membranes behind your tiles, only as much silicone as safe to do so, will be carefully removed. Then during the installation process a mould/bacteria inhibitor can be applied before installing new silicone. Many silicones contain mould/fungi inhibitors however at some stage the mould will return, when? This depends on how the shower is maintained. The following things will greatly help to keep the mould at bay: • Good ventilation, this is the most important requirement, just opening a window is not enough, a good powerful extraction fan is required. • Drying the area after it has become wet will increase the life expectancy of the grout sealer and will reduce mould growth and water spotting on glazed tiles and shower glass. • Repairing any defective silicone or sealers sooner rather than later. We recommend that silicone replacement should be included in the regular maintenance of your bathroom approximately every 12-18 months to prolong the life of your shower and keep it looking its best.
  • How can I boost the water pressure in my shower?
    There are some simple ways to slightly boost the pressure at the showerhead, some you can do yourself such as those listed below, others need a qualified plumber. ● Changing out your shower mixer ● Changing your shower hose ● Changing your shower head To an extent, you will be limited by the pressure that is in your pipes but that is where a qualified plumber comes in and options, depending on your budget, could include: ● Up-rating a low-pressure cylinder ● Installing a hot water booster pump ● Up-grading to a mains-pressure cylinder ● Switching to a LPG/Gas hot water system As you can see, improving your water pressure is possible and there are many ways that you can achieve this based on your budget and desired outcome. ● Budget solution…mixers, shower hoses and heads ● Medium range solution…up-rating valves, pump installations or cylinder upgrades ● Best solution (bang for buck)… gas installation Top 5 things to consider when looking at boosting your water pressure Do you own the property? Need more space? What’s your desired outcome (just shower pressure or whole house solution)? Budget, we can design a solution to maximise your budget and give you the best potential outcome. Accessibility. If you are interested in an LPG gas installation, several criteria must be met in terms of location and accessibility. We can discuss these with you.
  • My shower leaks, how do I know if it’s the plumbing or the grout at fault?
    The first response would be to get the plumber. But what happens when the plumber tells you that there are no issues with the shower mixer or pipework as far as he can see. Then you’re left with an invoice to pay and no solution! Some things to think about are; ● Does the shower only leak when it's in use? If so, this eliminates any issues with the water supplies, such as pipework, going to the shower and you should be looking at your grout or silicone. ● Is there any visible damage to the walls or floors of connecting rooms? This could be either the plumbing or the grout/silicone. ● Are there any visible cracks in your grout on the walls or base of the shower? This is most likely to be the root cause of the leak. ● Is there any evidence of a white, powdery substance coming up through the grout lines? If so, this is efflorescence caused by water getting under your tiles and the grout or silicone needs fixing. ● Is there any noticeable movement in the shower base? If so, there could be damage being done to the waterproof membrane under your tiles and water is likely to be penetrating through your grout.
  • What causes watermarks on my shower glass and fixtures?
    Over time, a frosted effect can form on your shower glass and shower fixtures. This happens when mineral-rich water dries on these surfaces rather than being wiped off. As the water evaporates these mineral deposits are left behind and harden on the surface causing the frosted, water-marked effect.
  • What do I need to consider when buying new taps or shower fixtures?
    Adding new tap/shower-ware can instantly give your bathroom a facelift but there are things you should consider when making your purchase. Most importantly you must match your tapware to your water pressure. Across New Zealand homes can have low, unequal or high-pressure water and most imported tapware only works with high pressure. These days there are many different finishes available from your classic chrome to on-trend black or gun metal. When looking at anything other than chrome, it is important to look at quality as many on-trend items can have low-quality finishes that won’t last the test of time, especially in a high-use area like your bathroom. Make sure that you consider practicality in your decision making. A high tap over a low basin may make a statement but it will also make a big splash from such a height as water hits the shallow basin, so make sure your tapware is proportionate to your basin. When looking at shower heads, opt for a multi-function head for a variety of spray settings and make sure that the hose connection will work with your current shower configuration.
  • How long does waterproofing typically last in a tiled shower?
    A common mistake people make on building projects is to try and cut corners (time and investment) by not using quality products or qualified tradesmen. The importance of what cannot be seen (behind wall and floor coverings) is often overlooked and can be very costly to remedy when things go wrong. When it comes to anywhere water is found, waterproofing is a crucial component and is worth investing in so ensure you get the best advice and ensure you are provided with a waterproofing certificate and warranty after work is completed. A waterproofing membrane is really only as good as the substrate that it’s sitting on. Without a good foundation, if the building moves later on, the substrate and linings could move, and the waterproofing membranes will break. There are many types of waterproofing systems available for wet areas from paint-on liquid rubber that is applied to GIB, through to WEDI an all-in-one waterproof extruded polystyrene foam board. In all instances you need to have a qualified installer to complete the work for any warranties and guarantees to be valid. Most waterproofing solutions offer a minimum of 10-years warranty.
  • What steps can you take to eliminate mould and mildew in bathrooms?
    It is not possible to permanently eliminate mould and mildew from your bathroom, but there are some easy things you can do to minimise its growth. Water molecules in the air and direct from your shower or tap heads carry bacteria along with body fats, dead skin cells and any products you use in your shower. Wherever this moisture lands it is either absorbed into your grout or evaporates leaving behind the bacteria and other substances. It is primarily the bacteria that forms the mould and mildew that appears over time. The following things will greatly help to keep the mould at bay: - Good ventilation, is the most important requirement, just opening a window is not enough, a good powerful extraction fan is required to remove as much moisture from the area as possible. - Drying the shower after use will increase the life expectancy of the grout and any silicone seals, reducing mould growth and water spotting on glazed tiles and shower glass. - Repairing any defective silicone or sealers sooner rather than later will remove any bacteria that has taken hold and stop it from spreading. - Installing a ShowerDome can help contain moisture inside the shower cubicle minimising the spread of mould to the rest of the room.
  • Are there any safety considerations with gas hot water heating?
    Yes, safety considerations are crucial when it comes to gas hot water heating systems: 1. **Ventilation**: Proper ventilation is essential to prevent the buildup of carbon monoxide (CO), a potentially lethal gas. Ensure vents are clear and unobstructed. 2. **Regular Maintenance**: Schedule regular inspections and servicing by qualified professionals to check for leaks, corrosion, or any malfunctioning parts. 3. **Carbon Monoxide Detectors**: Install CO detectors near gas appliances and sleeping areas to alert you to any dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. 4. **Temperature Settings**: Keep water heaters set at safe temperatures to prevent scalding and ensure efficient operation. 5. **Safety Shut-Off Valves**: Know the location of the gas shut-off valve in case of emergencies. Ensure it is easily accessible and everyone in the household knows how to use it. 6. **Professional Installation**: Have gas appliances, including water heaters, installed by licensed professionals to ensure they meet safety codes and standards. 7. **Awareness of Symptoms**: Educate household members about the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning (headaches, nausea, dizziness, etc.) and what to do if they suspect a leak. By adhering to these safety guidelines, you can enjoy the benefits of gas hot water heating while minimizing potential risks to your household's safety and well-being. Gas water heaters come equipped with safety features, including temperature controls and pressure relief valves. Regular professional maintenance ensures the system operates safely, providing peace of mind for homeowners.
  • How do you identify and fix a shower leak?
    Sometimes the source of a leak is obvious and at other times it can be quite elusive! A great question to start with is does the leak only happen when the shower is in use? - If the answer is Yes! Then it is likely that the shower grout or silicone seals have failed. - If the answer is No! Then it could be the plumbing that is at fault. The solution will largely depend on what is causing the leak. During a site visit, we will conduct a variety of tests to identify the source and then recommend the best plan to resolve the issue.
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