Tips For Designing a Beautiful Outdoor Area

To create a beautiful outdoor area build an outdoor room with a roller blind to provide shade, comfortable outdoor furniture and use stone tiles to pave the area.

It is not difficult to create a beautiful outdoor area and with a little planning and effort you can have your outdoor area perfect for entertaining.  Having attractive stone tiles will make a big difference to the look of your outdoor area and you should also think about creating shade by having a retractable awning or a veranda.

Outdoor Furniture
Buy furniture that would not only look great outdoors but would also look fantastic inside.  Think about comfort as well as practicality.  A comfortable lounge outdoors gives you a great place where you can relax and enjoy the sun.  Choose accessories such as cushions with varying designs and colours that blend well together.  You will need somewhere to eat so buy a large table to accommodate a lot of guests and get matching chairs that are well padded and offer good support.
You can turn your outdoor area into a beautiful space by having stone tiles instead of plain concrete.  Sandstone pavers or tiles have a much warmer look than concrete and will blend in with your garden a lot better.  They are also a good surface to have around the edge of a pool as they are non-slip.
Outdoor Room
Extend your indoors out by having a large folding door.  Your kitchen or living area can easily become part of the outdoors by simply folding back the doors and letting the breeze in.  Directly outside the doors, have a veranda or awning so that the room feels like it is extending out into the garden.  You can decorate the veranda by growing plants or even having outdoor curtains hanging.
Outdoor Kitchen
Outdoor kitchens are becoming more popular and they are great if you plan on entertaining often.  Don't have the host stuck inside in the kitchen away from the guests.  Turn your outdoor area into a working kitchen that is easy to clean and is sturdy enough to withstand the weather.  Install the best barbecue you can afford and have plenty of bench space where you can prepare and serve the meals, have a sink and tap and you might even want to have a wine fridge, which will keep your wine stored at exactly the right temperature.
Finish off your outdoor area by having a beautiful garden.  You can hire a landscape gardener but this can be very expensive.  There are plenty of magazines and books on the subject where you are sure to find inspiration.  Plant a style of garden that is going to suit not only your house but also your lifestyle.  You need to have the time to look after a garden and if you are always out working or don't want to spend the time you are better going for a more minimalist style of garden.

Sustainability Movement – HB Fuller and Welch team up with Today in America

Going green is still on the rise.  Manufacturers of cars, clothing, construction and more are all taking into consideration ways that they can better improve their products and services to give back to the environment.  Welch Tile isn't falling behind on this trend.  Everything from the setting materials we use to the tile we install are all becoming more and more environmentally friendly.  Dan Welch has had the privilege of working with HB Fuller, the maker of TEC, and as seen on “Today in America”  he briefly discussed how and where the products are being made in order to become more sustainable. HB Fuller contributes to the sustainability movement.

Check out more videos on our new youtube channel!

Welch is now on YouTube

Our latest online endeavor is YouTube.  There are two videos posted that we’d like you to check out and let us know what you think.  The Glass Tile Design & Installation video is a time-lapse of our 2010 Coverings Design Showcase Installation.  The Tile Design & Installation video is pictures of our showroom and some of our installations.  Both are very interesting and hopefully show you a little more of who we are.  Let us know what you think by either commenting on this post or joining us on Facebook and Twitter!!

Find a Certified Tile Installer

There are many benefits to hiring a Certified Tile Installer.  Some of those include: they are professional, they know how to install tile properly, they are always continuing their education and gaining experience and they will get the job done right the first time.  To find out more about Certified Tile Installers and the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation go the CTEF website.  Also, check out the brochure that has all the current CTI’s listed.  Below are some of our installers.


Universal Bath – Coverings 2011

Coverings 2011 was held at The Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Coverings is a showcase for exhibitors to come together from all different countries to display the newest tile and stone trends to our industry.  This year there were over 1,000 exhibitors that presented the new products and technologies.  For example the inkjet technology that transforms a porcelain or ceramic tile into what looks like a natural stone or wood planks. Other products included glass that can be used as counter tops or benches, new shapes and forms for tile, thin tile that can be installed over existing floors and tiles that mix elements like glass, metal and porcelain.  There were many videos taken during Coverings.  Even if you just watch the first video, you will be a better understanding of what Coverings is like.

Back again this year was the Installation Design Showcase, but with a spin.  Three bathroom vignettes were installed during the show.  There were three designers who each worked with their own tile contractor.  Ali Azhar from HGTV’s Design on a Dime worked with Artcraft Granite, Marble & Tile on the Spa Bath.  Annette Denham of Annette Denham Interiors worked with Lambert Tile & Stone on the Master Spa Bath.  Lastly, Laura Yorba of LCY Designs worked with both Welch Tile & Marble and Cox Tile on the Universal Bath.

Our spa vignette was designed around being universal yet still looking "cool and hip" as designer Laura Yorba stated.  One of the newer products we used was the linear drain.  All of the tile used on our vingnette was donated from the US manufacturer Crossville.  Laura Yorba was interviewed days One, Two, Three, and Four of the installation.  Click on the each day to watch her masterpiece come together.  Artcraft was able to catch all the installations on video.  To watch them go to Artcraft’s YouTube Site.

Universal Bath – Designed by Laura Yorba and installed by Welch Tile & Marble and Cox Tile

Master Spa Bath – Designed by Annette Denham and installed by Lambert Tile & Stone

Spa Bath – Designed by Ali Azhar and installed by Artcraft Granite, Marble & Tile

More of the Coverings photos will be uploaded to our Facebook page… be sure to check them out! 


300 Samples of Natural Stone – Granite, Marble and More

If you’re looking for natural stone, you’ve come to the right place.  We have over 300 samples of natural stone; which include but are not limited to marble, granite, limestone, travertine and onyx.  Along with the abundance of selections available, we have experienced staff members that can help with any questions you may have.  Whether you have questions about how to clean your granite counter top, how to refinish a historic buildings marble floor, or just what stones can go where – we will be able to answer them. 

Natural stone has come a long way from the tumbled 4×4, which is still a great look.  But for those of you who want something a little more contemporary, there is now something for you.  The new plank sizing and the precisely cut edge give a cleaner look.  Sizes include 2×4, 3×6, 3×12, 6×36, 4×4, 12×24 and more.  The smaller sizes look great on a backsplash and the larger for the floor.  Stop into our showroom to take a look at all the new products that we’ve been getting in!

Below are just a few of the natural stone samples that we have on display.


Expand Living Space by Tiling an Outdoor Room

Have you ever wished for a larger area for entertaining or a comfortable space outside to relax in?  Consider expanding your living space by tiling your patio, grill or pool areas.  Creating this area will allow you to extend the design concept of your home outside.  Whether the look you are after is clean and contemporary or the Tuscany look from Italy, with the right selection of tile and a qualified installer, it can be accomplished.  This will bring additional beauty and value to your home for years to come! 

Tiling an exterior space is a risky install and should be handled by an experienced tile installer.  There are three main challenges that your installer needs to be aware of, and if they are experienced they will already know how to overcome them.  One of those challenges is thermal stress, which is rapid changes in temperature that cause movement in tile.  This is why expansion joints are needed every 8 ft to 12 ft, the size and placement of those joints are very important.  The next challenge is moisture migration.  You can protect yourself from this by choosing a tile that has low moisture absorption, such as a porcelain tile, and also a tile that is frost proof.  Having the correct pitch also helps with moisture migration, it gets the water moving out and away from the installation.  If these two challenges are cared for the third challenge, freeze/thaw cycling, shouldn’t give you any trouble.  For information on tiling over a deck or balcony check out the TCNA’s Technical Services on "How do I tile over an exterior deck or balcony?"

Keep in mind that nothing is fool proof.  There are other products and installation methods available, for more tips visit our showroom!

Below are photo’s from the Verplank’s Residence.  This was a project we did with Bosgraaf Company out of Hudsonville.


Welch Tile Finishes Terrazzo Project in Pocatello Idaho

January 2011, I traveled to Idaho for our final walk through and punch list with Layton Construction Company.  Welch Tile started this project in July 2010, our workforce installed over 13,000 square feet of epoxy terrazzo floor and 1,800 lineal feet of poured in place base.  The five different colors encompass arcs and radiuses with areas highlighted with 1/8” strips laid in a diagonal pattern. As you view the pictures and see the final results, I want to personally thank the men who spent several months away from their families. Welch has performed work in areas all over North America but not nearly to the time & extent of this project. 

Portneuf Medical Center is "a renown health care system of hospitals, clinics and doctors that provide a full range of medical services."  This $150 million facility has 187 beds throughout the 297,500 square foot building, 37,000 square feet of that was renovated.  To catch up on previous stories from Portneuf Medical Center, flip through the construction photos and stay up to date on their progress check out their Facebook Page.

Welch Tile is proud to have been a part of this exciting project so far from home.  We enjoyed learning about the Idaho landscape that is much different than Michigan’s. We met some great people who made it a joy to work with.  I can only hope we made an impact on the project and people of Pocatello, showing them the work ethics and personality of our company and West Michigan community.

Thank you,

Daniel Jay Welch

 We’d also like to invite you to our Facebook Page to browse through more pictures of our trip to Idaho.


Finish Home Improvements Before Graduation Openhouses Start

Graduation is creeping up fast.  Yes, it may only be January but once you dive into your projects you’ll wish you would have started them earlier.  So get a jump start on your home improvements now, and let us help.  We would like to send our recognition out to the parents of all the 2011 graduates, whether they are graduating high school or college, by giving them a 15% discount on materials.  This discount will be running now thru April 30th, 2011, just mention this blog. 
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with other projects or just don’t think your up to par on your DIY, we’d be more than happy to install your tile backsplash, tile floor, or countertops.  With two designers in the showroom and 34 Certified Tile Installers, we have a lot to offer.  Our designers can help with making proper selections, coordinating materials with existing surroundings, and help with pattern ideas and layouts.  Then, if you’d like us to install, the designers hand off the project to an estimator.  They oversee the project from there making sure it gets done right.  When making selections bring in everything you can; a cabinet door, paint colors, fabrics, pictures of the house and pictures of the room you plan to update.  This all will help you and the designer narrow down the selections in the showroom.  That way, the ones you bring home to see in your home’s lighting will already be coordinating with the other materials in the room.
Below are pictures of a local residential kitchen remodel that we did recently.  By replacing their countertop, backsplash and window they updated the look of their kitchen in just a few easy steps. 

For Best Results, Hire a Certifed Tile Installer

Welch Tile employs 34 Certified Tile Installers as of today, December 23, 2010.  Dan Welch and Tyler Nequist were the first in the nation to become certified back in 2008 and we have been passing our installers through ever since.  The CTEF ended the year certifying tile installers at Daltile in Grand Rapids, bringing the total of Certified Tile Installers to 500 in the nation.  Welch Tile supports the CTEF because it is the only way of validating skills in this trade.  Word of mouth plays a big part when a client is choosing both their materials and installers.  Having certified installers will give piece of mind to our clients, they will know that they are getting top quality installations.  At first, some of our installers were apprehensive about testing.  Now that they have finished the two day test, they have a better understanding of how important it is to validate their skills and knowledge in the trade. 
Part of our crew was working at Ravenna Schools when a local marketing designer, Mike Farrar, took the photos for the CTEF brochure below.  Pictured on the second page, bottom left corner are just five of our crew members.  From left to right: Tony, Pete, Nate, Jesse, and Mark.  Brian is also pictured on the second page, very right hand side.  Brian has been with Welch Tile since April 1997.  He was also one of the first installers to become certified and now teaches CTEF classes.
For any further information please feel free to post a question or visit the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation website.


Greenville’s “Mini-Museum”

Welch Tile just finished up a project in the Greenville bike path tunnel under M-57 directly in front of Meijer.  The Fred Meijer Flat River Trail circles the City of Greenville and the tunnel will provide a safe and accessible connection between the north and south ends of the trail under M-57.
The City of Greenville received grant monies along with some generous private funding for the project which is intended to provide universal accessibility in the area.  The mini-museum will provide continuing education with the mural tiles being supplied by art students from different age groups including elementary, middle and high school, community college and adults.  The W.K. Kellogg Foundation awarded a grant to the Greenville Area Community Foundation to develop the concept for the Museum exhibit.  Larry Hutchinson consulted on the project and the City of Greenville was also heavily involved.  Tunnel sections were precast concrete delivered to site and set in place.  Normally theses tunnels are just used as a watershed, to our knowledge tile has not been set on these types of walls.  Walls were flattened, waterproofed and precast was cut to achieve a straight line.  The tiles are actually set 4" out of level from one end of the 100′ tunnel to the other.  Field tile was grouted with epoxy grout and the murals were grout bagged with sanded grout, a technique usually done by a stone mason.  The whole project took about 1-1/2 work weeks to complete.  You may notice in some pictures that next to each of the four tiled murals there is an opening.  The opening will be filled with plastic laminate graphic panels which will be installed by Welch Tile when they are produced. 
There is a lot more information on this project.  The Daily News wrote an article on the project called "WATCH: Tunnel tiles being installed" which also has a video clip.  If you would like to see pictures of the Greenville community making the tiles, see the finished tiles before they were installed and find out more on what went into this project go to the Greenville "Access to Recreation" Tunnel Mural and Exhibits Facebook page.

Getting Cold Feet? Heat Your Floors With Nuheat!

No, I’m not talking about on or before your wedding day.  I’m talking about when you are walking across your floor; whether it’s tile, stone, laminate or an engineered wood you might notice that your cold feet are making your entire body cold.  Do you immediately put slippers on when you come into your house because your feet get cold?  When you step into your shower, does the cold floor send a chill down your spine?  This can all change by installing a mat underneath your tile or stone, etc.
Nuheat has been around for a while and is the leading manufacture of electric radiant floor heating systems.  Mats are often used on the bathroom floor so when you step out of the warm shower your feet will stay warm and you stay comfortable.  Now they have a mat that can be installed in showers, so you will no longer have to step onto a cold shower floor!  The mats have a few different thermostat options, two of which are programmable.  Just program the thermostat to come on a little before your normal "wake up and get ready time" and you will walk onto a warm bathroom floor, and then have it set to shut off when you are normally done getting ready or are going to be gone.  But remember, you don’t have to stop with your bathroom – just think of how nice it would be to walk around your house without getting cold feet or having to wear bulky slippers all the time! 
To learn more about Nuheat and using it as a heat source follow this link: Nuheat as a heat source.  This link also has useful tools, such as operating cost calculator and BTU output calculator.

Niches – Not Just For Showers!

Niches come in different shapes and sizes.  They are most commonly found in showers, however that is not the only place they can be used.  In showers, they are a nice replacement for the traditional ceramic soap dishes because they fit into the wall which allows for more elbow room.  Everything from razors to the largest shampoo and conditioner bottles will fit in a niche – depending on which one is selected.  Some other possibilities, keeping within the bathroom, would be to hold everyday use toiletries or just for some extra storage.  For easy access, they are best placed by sinks or toilets.  If a cleaner and more organized look is desired, put items in a basket that would fit into the niche.  Another great place for these – The Kitchen. Niches can showcase spices, oils, wine bottles, and other decor or they can be very functional if used to keep all the most used items in close reach (without cluttering up the counter top).  For more information including sizes, shapes, and pricing stop into our Kent City showroom!


Concrete Countertops

The possibilities are almost endless with concrete, with different colors and different aggregates you can personalize your top to make it look rustic, modern or anywhere in between.  Whether you want your kitchen counters done, a bathroom vanity, tabletop, desktop, fireplace surround, or even a sink, you can have a one of a kind piece. 

Below are just a handful of the samples that we have available.  We also have the different colors and sizes of aggregates that you can pick and choose from at our Kent City showroom, so stop in and check them out!!

Before & After Pictures of Marcelo’s Kitchen

After working with Marcelo on our website, we had the pleasure of helping him update his kitchen.  We replaced his plain white countertop with a very rich colored natural stone.  The color of the cabinets, walls and even the chairs are all brought out in the stone, tying everything together.  NEXT, a backsplash!

New Look Coming to Bathrooms – Linear Drains!

The linear drain systems that are now coming out, allow for large format tiles to be installed in showers and bathroom floors because they only need a single slope.  Before these types of systems were available, a 3" x 3" tile or smaller was recommended to accommodate the slopes to a center drain.  These new drains will forever change the look of tiled showers.  Leave us a comment if you would like to know more about sizes, styles, and finishes that are available. 


Welch Donates to the Symphony Show House

Welch Tile had the pleasure to work with designers Anna Donahue and Roberta Lathrop on this entryway for the Symphony Show House in East Grand Rapids.
For more information on the Wilcox Estate along with historic photos click here.  If you would like to see a few more photos of the updated estate and news article clippings from the Show House event click here.
If you would like more information on the designers that worked on this project you can go directly to their websites just click on the following links:  Anna Donahue or  Roberta Lathrop