All Tile Is Not Created Equally

 

Q: Why is there such a wide range in tile prices?

A: For most of us, shopping for new ceramic or porcelain tile is a once in a decade experience, so even for the savviest of shoppers, the wide range can be confusing. The short answer is, there are marked differences between branded and generic tiles. Continue reading to find out what these differences are.

 

porcelain tile

 

The truth is that many factors affect the price of tile products, including where you buy it. If you’re wondering why tiles can range in cost from $1 to $100 per square foot, there are four main variables that affect the price: material costs, production processes, brands and customer service.

 

Material Costs

While all ceramic tiles are essentially made of the same ingredients, the quality and color of those ingredients can make a dramatic difference in the price. For example, to make a tile with a pure white body requires white clay, which is much harder to find than the red or beige clays found in most tiles. To achieve bright blue and red glazes requires minerals that are much more expensive than cream, brown or even green colors.

Modern digital printing techniques allow for tile that looks like other materials such as wood or natural stone. Higher quality tile will use as many as 36 different patterns to replicate the look of wood or natural stone so that you will not get a repeating pattern that ruins the realism of the tile. Lesser quality tiles will use far fewer patterns and will not come close to the realism that more patterns provide.

 

Production Process

The simplest form of ceramic tile consists of one body color and no glaze, and requires a single firing. But there is a wide variety of production options, so prices for ceramic tiles can vary greatly.

Applying glaze or an additional surface color to the body, cutting down the original pressed size into modular sizes, polishing the surface or straightening the edges to accommodate tighter grout joints are all additional processes that add value to the finished product, but also increase the price. There are a host of tile attributes that affect its price and are very important to know before installing your tile. These important attributes are things like durability, texture and color.

 

wood look porcelain tile

 

Branded vs. Generic Tile

Tile has both branded (often referred to as first quality) and generic versions. Branded-tile manufacturers create beautiful brochures and catalogs that show room scenes and full installations in a variety of formats. This may not seem important but it’s really the only effective way to visualize how tile may look in your room.

More importantly, they also test the materials for qualities such as slip resistance, breaking strength, suitability for exterior or submerged environments, and stain resistance. Generic tiles do not go through that kind of testing and are not suitable for many types of installations such as wet areas, outdoors or high traffic areas such as your kitchen or entryway. The real problem with generic tile is you won’t often find these things out until after it’s installed.

 

porcelain wood look tile

 

Customer Service

 Another cost determinant is the customer service you receive both before and after your purchase. You may find a very good deal on tile at a big box store, for example, but there will likely be no design support, limited or no technical knowledge or installation recommendations.

More importantly, should anything go wrong with the project for any reason, you may not receive the necessary support to back up your claim.

At full-service showrooms like Tiles Unlimited, the tile may carry a higher price tag, but the price will include a showroom designer to help you make your selections, and a knowledgeable staff who can handle a claim if there are concerns with tile quality and/or installation.

Furthermore, a tile installation is more than just the tile you select. Selecting the appropriate thin-set and grout is as important as the tile, as there is a big difference between different thin-sets and grouts and the types of tiles they are meant to be used on. See an earlier story on how grout affects your tile installation by clicking here.

 

Calculating How Much Tile to Buy

We receive many questions each week from homeowners looking for advice on purchasing and installing tile. This week, we’re going to tackle the most frequent question we receive, how much tile do I need to buy?

You’ve put in all kinds of time designing your new tile floor or wall, now it’s time to get serious and talk numbers. How much tile do you need exactly? And how is that affected by the size, shape, and type of tile you choose? All those aspects, and more, influence how much tile you’ll need to purchase. Whether you are ready to buy or you are planning the budget, use these four steps to determine how much tile you’ll need.

Keep in mind that once you calculate the necessary square footage, it is recommended that you purchase 10-15% more tile. This is due to breakage, accidents when cutting tile and to make sure you have tile in case a repair is needed down the road.

 

 

Think About the Room Shape

The general layout of the room is a good place to begin when calculating how much tile you need for your floor.  Most rooms are not perfectly square or rectangle. “L” shapes or “T” shapes are common, but even these are rarely that straightforward. There is always some corner that’s nipped off or a wall that isn’t completely straight. All these elements make an accurate measurement difficult. But if you start with the general shape of the room, you can easily add or deduct for the unique elements of your space. Take the measurements of every angle of your room. Measure everything twice to ensure accuracy.

 

 

Measuring the Room

The next step is to calculate the square footage of your room. Once again, the little quirks can complicate this, but for now just get the basics. For square rooms, measure the length and width of the room then multiply them together. For “L” or “T” shaped rooms, split them into rectangles that can easily be calculated then add them together.

You haven’t accounted for the quirks of the room, but keep in mind that overage is not a bad thing when installing tile. In fact, we recommend that you get 10–15% more tile than you need to cover for cuts and mistakes.  Keep a box or two of leftover tiles around just in case it goes out of stock or is discontinued–you never know when you’ll need to make a repair. Don’t forget to measure any closets or pantries that you want to include in your calculations.

 

Calculate for Angled Walls and Non-Tiles Areas

Like we said before, no room is exactly square. If you have angled walls or specific areas that will not be tiled, you don’t want to calculate for those spots. The easiest way to account for this is to deduct them from your earlier, general measurements. The easiest way to do this is to draw your room on some graph paper. Let each square represent 12 inches or one foot. With careful measurements, draw in where the angled walls are. You’ll be able to see how much to deduct from the area you calculated earlier.

 

Selecting Your Tile

Now it’s time to determine how much tile you need to cover your room. Several things are important to consider at this phase:

  • Pattern or layout of tile
  • Size of tile
  • Border or accent tile

The pattern and size of the tile are the key influencers in determining how much tile you need. In general, a diamond pattern will require more tile than a grid. See below for some common tile patterns. A word of caution, not all tiles can be installed in various patterns. Before you decide on your installation, check out what the manufacturer recommends.

 

 

If you plan to include a border or accent tiles, you’ll need to calculate separately for each type of tile you are using, especially if you are using different sizes or patterns as an accent.

If you are having difficulty figuring out how much tile flooring you need or you want to double-check your calculations, run them through a tile calculator or collaborate with one of our expert Tile Consultants or your contractor.

Why We Trust MAPEI Tile Installation Products

 

 

Laying tile is an art form. Doing it right takes practice and skill, but most importantly, it takes the right tools to get the job done. Here at Tiles Unlimited, getting the job done right is our top priority so we are very particular about the installation products we recommend. We are committed to providing you with a tile feature in your home that you can enjoy and admire for years to come. For this and several other reasons we are confident in the products available through MAPEI. For years, we’ve seen the successful results of using their products and we now trust that there will always be a positive outcome. More tile manufacturers recommend MAPEI installation products than any other vendor’s products.

 

Because Beauty Begins With What’s Underneath

 Aesthetics aren’t the only reason it’s important to rely on the best available installation products. Certainly, it’s paramount to use the best if the goal is an impressive tile feature in your home. But even the most beautiful tile job loses value if it doesn’t stand the test of time. MAPEI products help achieve longevity by mitigating the typical issues that can arise with poorly installed tile. From their Aquadefense waterproofing products to thin-sets and grouts, these products ensure that finished work doesn’t have leaks, cracks, or other problems. The result is workmanship of the highest quality and our clients are always impressed with the way the finished bathrooms, kitchens, and patios look in their homes.

 

 

MAPEI’s product lines are highly diversified. This allows us to use their products throughout the entire installation. Not only does this help ensure uniformity during construction, but it also allows us to use products that are optimized to work together.

 

High Performance Grout = Outstanding Results

Many homeowners are not very concerned with what thin-set or grout is used for their project. We can’t stress how important these items are in achieving the best installation possible. You may find tile installation products less expensive than MAPEI’s but they won’t give you the same results.

Take MAPEI Flexcolor CQ Grout (available in 40 colors) as an example. More expensive than ordinary sanded or unsanded grouts, it has properties that will save your installer time and money, which should translate into a more affordable installation for you. Flexcolor CQ Grout comes pre-mixed so there are no worries with using thin-set that are too thick or too watery. Flexcolor CQ Grout will not crack, requires no sealing, is stain resistant and offers incredible color consistency not found in ordinary grouts. Once dry, Flexcolor CQ Grout is water resistant as well as mold resistant. These properties will lead to the most professional installations and pretty much eliminate the need to call back your installer to fix thin-set and/or grout issues. Comparison testing of MAPEI Flexcolor CQ versus traditional cement grout has verified that MAPEI Flexcolor CQ is 30% more cost-efficient (based on typical rates of installers) and requires 65% less time to install.

 

Click picture to see video of CQ Grout in action

 

For more information about Tiles Unlimited and the way we use MAPEI tile installation products, we invite you to visit our showroom and speak to our tile experts. In particular, we’d be happy to show your real samples because the natural variation in the shades of their products might appear different according to your computer monitor’s screen colors. We strongly recommend that you make your decision from actual products in stock, rather than pictures from the website.

Create a Stunning Feature Wall

One of our favorite design elements is the “feature wall” and it is becoming one of the hottest trends of 2017. If you’re looking to make a design statement in your home, consider creating a feature wall with tile. No matter which room contains a feature wall, it adds a great deal of depth to the rooms while creating an interesting focal point.

If you are asking what is a feature wall, let us explain. A feature wall is generally one wall or a section of a wall in a room that is different from the other walls, whether the difference be color, texture, size or all of the above.

 

Click the picture to see more photos from this collection.

 

How to Create a Feature Wall

What we love about the feature wall is that it gives you the opportunity to be totally creative and design “outside the box”. If you aren’t into bold designs, you can always choose to be more conservative and just select a paint color a couple of tones darker than your other walls.

 

Click the picture to see more photos from this collection.

 

However, since our true passion is tile and stone, we get much more excited about seeing and creating a feature wall with tile and stone. Depending on the tile you choose, you can create a subtle feature wall that is more about texture and a suggestion of pattern, or is bolder if your tile pattern exhibits a lot of shade variation. The wood-look porcelain plank tile look continues to be stronger than ever as a floor tile and as an exciting wall tile for feature walls.

 

Click the picture to see more photos from this collection.

 

Brick-look tile is also a very popular choice for a feature wall, offering an industrial look with outstanding color variations and texture. As with many of the wood-look tile collections, it’s nearly impossible to tell the difference between real brick and porcelain brick-look tile.

Ready to Create Your Own Feature Wall?

We hope we have inspired you. A feature wall is an easy and effective way to add visual interest to almost any room in your home. With so many product options, creating a feature wall with tile can be great fun. We hope you’ll consider including one. One last tip, any tile can be used on walls even though not all tiles can be used on floors. This means, when creating your special feature wall your options are virtually limitless.

Click the picture to see more photos from this collection.

The design experts at Tiles Unlimited, dual winner in the 2017 Best of the Boro Competition (Best Tile Store & Best Kitchen & Bath Store) stand ready to help you design the feature wall, or any space, of your dreams. Now is the perfect time to visit us as our Semi-Annual Tile Clearance Sale is now in progress. With savings up to 80% off, you won’t find a better time to shop for tile.

Selecting Your Grout Color Should Not Be an Afterthought

So now that you’ve picked out your tile, what grout color should you choose? Grout is often an overlooked design element when tiling floors, walls or backsplashes. Choosing a specific grout color could change the overall color appearance of the tile and the way that your entire project looks! The picture below is the same mosaic tile with three different grout colors (white, black, grey). Note how different the tile looks with each grout.

 

There are three general approaches when it comes to selecting grout: blending with the tile, contrasting with the tile, or neutral colors aka matching the grout. Let the selection of your grout be as important as tile selection and you’ll be able to achieve the perfect design. Make sure you choose the grout color and don’t leave such an important decision to your tile installer.

 

Blending Grout

Blending is the most common approach and what we recommend for most projects. This involves choosing the grout color that matches with the color in your tile. For example, you can blend by using white grout with our Frost collection.

 

 

Contrasting Grout

 

Contrasting your grout can be a bold but beautiful choice. If you’re looking to make the tile stand out, select a contrasting grout color to your tile. This frames each tile and draws attention to them. You will also want to look at using a thicker grout in this instance to really highlight your tile selection. This is a good choice for more decorative tile patterns.

 

 

 

Matching Grout/Neutral

 

If you’re looking for what some feel is the safest choice, select a “neutral” grout color from the beiges or greys. If you want something that will have mass appeal, a neutral matching color is the most widely recommended approach.

 

Other Grout Considerations

 

The selection of your grout color is important to achieve your desired look; however, you still need to consider the type of grout being used. Grout functions to bond tiles and stone edges together and prevent chipping so it is important you or your tile contractor understand the types of grout available.

You should also consider traffic patterns in the room where your tile and grout will be used when selecting a color. A very light grout is probably not a good idea for a busy kitchen, but could be ideal for a less used guest bath.

Ceramic Tile Offers Lowest Total Cost of Ownership

When you begin the onerous task of researching a flooring project, it is easy to see the initial costs in front of you and walk away. However, in these situations it usually pays off to look a little deeper. When it comes to choosing what type of flooring you want to install, price is going to be a major factor in the decision process. This is where being shortsighted can come back to bite you.  Some questions that should come to mind are the scope of the project, your short terms and long term budget and how long the flooring needs to last.

 

If these questions resonate with you in any way, you might want to consider engineering your project for a life cycle value.  By value-engineering your project you can perform a Life Cycle Cost Analysis, also known as a Cradle-to-Grave Analysis, to realize your full investment in terms of how your decision can affect your budget over the life of the floor.  To perform a Life Cycle Cost Analysis, you need to take into consideration all the costs for owning, operating, maintaining, and disposing of the product.

 

Many factors affect the total cost of ownership in addition to the cost of the flooring material. Other factors you should consider are installation materials, labor, contractor overhead and profit, maintenance and removal and disposal costs.

 

The Tile Council of North America, Inc. recently performed a Life Cycle Cost Analysis on 12 of the most popular flooring options, including everything from carpet to porcelain ceramics.  The results are listed in the table below and also shown visually in the chart below.

 

 

As you can see from the results of the test, ceramic and porcelain tiles have the longest expected lifespan with 50 years, driving the cost for its overall life cycle ($0.33 – $0.39) significantly lower than carpet ($1.26) and vinyl ($1.41 – $1.85) products, which need to be replaced periodically.

 

Because properly installed tile can last a lifetime, it is no wonder it is one of the greenest, most sustainable ways to build. By contributing to various credits, ceramic and porcelain tiles can help you attain LEED Certification for your project, while at the same time lowering the overall expenses over the lifetime of the project.

 

According to these results you can see how important it is to plan your project based off its complete life cycle value, rather than the initial cost. Just because something might cost more upfront doesn’t mean it will be less expensive over the lifetime of the floor.

Ancient Techniques…Modern Style

Encaustic tile may be a new term to you, but it’s an antique style making a big comeback. These ornate tiles are at once old-fashioned and modern, so here’s how to incorporate this design trend for 2017.

 

Encaustic tiles were all the rage in the Victorian era and even farther back, in the medieval times. Until recently, these ornate tiles had fallen out of favor as unadorned or glazed tiles took their place. The designs are more complicated and the finished tiles heavier from the layers, making the tiles unique but costly.

Contemporary encaustic tiles can have bold graphics in an array of colors or throwbacks to Medieval or Victorian time periods. The ability to create such intricate patterns is a hallmark of this style. Encaustic tiles are endlessly versatile and can fit into any design scheme, making them a new favorite of designers.

Encaustic tile is gorgeous in an entryway where your visitors can admire it. It is also comfortable in bathrooms and kitchens, natural homes for tile. Encaustic tile is even beautiful and useful in a living room. The design element replaces a rug, acts as a focal point, and dogs and kids can do no harm to the tough tiles. Since the design is inlayed, it will not wear away with use, making it perfect for high traffic areas.

 

Why stop at the floor? Encaustic tile is beautiful on walls or backsplashes, too, in bathrooms or kitchens. A geometric backsplash and accent wall take a streamlined kitchen from simple to high-design. Click here to see design ideas for encaustic tiles. With over ½ million square feet of tile in stock, you’ll find the perfect tile for your project at Tiles Unlimited.

Make Your Tiles Look Showroom New

Impossible Marks on Your Porcelain Floor?

Porcelain tiles are the most frequently used materials for floors, because they are very practical, but if not adequately maintained, they could easily get dirty. The tiles often have a fine layer of residual grouting or concrete, which can only be eliminated with specific products that do not harm the material. Ordinary, often harsh, household cleaners are not up to the task. Tiles Unlimited recommends DETERDEK and CR-10, from Fila Solutions; the ideal products for cleaning floors that were not thoroughly cleaned after installation or that have only recently been installed.

Tiles Unlimited Tile Showcase NY

Thanks to its acid-based formula, it effectively removes building site dirt without harming metal profiles. Let’s take a look at how to use it properly: first wet the floors, then dilute DETERDEK in water and apply this solution a few meters at a time, waiting 2-3 minutes and then rubbing hard with a flat brush. At this point, the floor can be rinsed with plenty of water.

If your surface has tiles with epoxy grouting, use FILACR10, the cleaner for epoxy residues ideal for walls and floors in porcelain and glazed ceramic tiles as well as glass mosaics. Its viscous formula makes it the ideal product for washing vertical surfaces and it also works on larger, old residues.

Tiles Unlimited Tile Showcase NY

DETERDEK can also be used to combat efflorescence or ‘white spots’ on your outdoor tile. The white substance forms a powder-like coating made up of soluble salts and moisture, which migrate to the surface, evaporate and leave a salt deposit behind. As well as affecting porous masonry, efflorescence can also migrate through a grout joint, so it’s a problem that can affect both natural stone and ceramic installations.

Tiles Unlimited Tile Showcase NY

Sealing and Enhancing Stone Floor Tiles

When a newly installed stone floor doesn’t look up to scratch, the tiles are often blamed. Many mistakenly believe that the tiles are inferior in some way, or that there is an issue with the installation. More often than not, it comes down to one small thing; a poor initial cleaning. After a stone floor has been installed, it should always be cleaned thoroughly, using a quality pH-neutral detergent – like FILACLEANER – not just with a bucket of warm water! It takes a bit longer but it can make or break an installation.

If you use water alone, you’ll effectively be sloshing manufacturing dust, dirt and grout residues across the surface of the tiles. Once the floor is dry, the film of residue – or grout haze – will become visible. Then, when you seal the tiles, this residue will become sandwiched between the tile’s surface and the sealant. As well as ruining the look of the installation, it will also store up problems for the future: The sealant won’t be able to absorb properly into the tile, so its performance will be compromised. Dirt will be built-up on the surface more quickly, making the problem even worse.

Tiles Unlimited Tile Showcase NY

To avoid these problems, always ensure that the floor is cleaned properly after installation with a pH-neutral cleaner such as FILACLEANER as it is safe to use on all natural materials including stone.

Water Jet Mosaics – Imagination Is The Only Limit

Tiles Unlimited, voted Best Tile Store in Queens, is committed to searching for and offering the latest in tile technology. We are very excited about several new lines of water jet cut mosaics. These intricate designs allow you to express your style and taste like no other tile offerings.

Tiles Unlimited Tile Showcase NY

Mosaic art has been prevalent for centuries, adorning famous architecture all over the world. The centuries old method of mosaics entailed taking tiny pieces of stone, glass, and other materials to create pixelated, impressionistic works reminiscent of Monet. This required physical space and distance to be fully appreciated.

Tiles Unlimited Tile Showcase NY

Water jet machines are the new “mosaic artists” giving a more intimate design to rough, faceless slabs of material. Water jet tiles are formed with high-pressure streams of water (here’s a video of the process) that allow for exact precision to cut ornate patterns that were previously impossible to achieve. Whether your style is edgy or classic or somewhere in between, water jet mosaic tiles will allow you to express your true inner aesthetic, making it all about you.

Once the mosaic tiles have been produced, they are assembled on mesh backing. The advantage of mounting the tiles on mesh is that the mosaic can be cut to different shapes and sizes, permitting customization of the final result and making it easy to cover curved surfaces such as columns, wavy dividers, chairs, rounded edges, etc. as the tiles are mounted on a flexible base.

Tiles Unlimited Tile Showcase NY

With over ½ million square feet of tile in stock, you’ll find the perfect tile for your project at Tiles Unlimited. Whether you’re looking for water jet mosaics, encaustic tile or more traditional offerings, our expert designers, who received 107 five-star reviews in 2016, stand ready to assist you in realizing your design dreams.

How to Select the Best Tile For Your Project

When you’re redoing a room or other part of your home, selecting porcelain or ceramic tile is one element you can really have fun with. But, while shopping around and seeing all the different types and styles of tile that are available are exciting, the amount of choices you have can also make it an overwhelming endeavor. Here are some basic guidelines that will help you narrow down your choices and ultimately select the best tile for your home remodeling project.

Tiles Unlimited Tile Showcase NY

Durability

If the tile will be placed in a high-traffic area, such as a kitchen floor or entryway, you’ll want to be sure to get a floor tile that is highly durable and can withstand the wear and tear of everyday use. You may have heard about PEI ratings for porcelain and ceramic tile. While not required to do so, any respectable tile company will publish PEI ratings.

PEI Rating Uses
PEI-0 Tiles technically not suitable for floors. These are generally used as wall tile.
PEI-1 Tiles suitable only for locations where softer footwear is worn or where shoes are not frequently used, for e.g., residential bathroom or other areas with light traffic. Also for interior commercial and residential walls.
PEI-2 Tiles suited for general residential traffic. For areas that are walked on by soft soled or “normal” footwear with very small amounts of scratching dirt. Not for kitchen, entrance halls, stairs and other areas subjected to heavy traffic.
PEI-3 Tiles suited for all residential and light commercial areas such as offices, reception areas, boutiques, interior walls, countertops and residential bathroom floors. Not recommended for commercial entryways.
PEI-4 Tiles suited for regular traffic. Recommended for medium commercial and light institutional use, such as restaurants, hotels, hospital lobbies and corridors.
PEI-5 Tiles suitable for areas with heavy traffic, abrasive dirt and moisture, and where safety and maximum performance are required. Examples are shopping malls, public buildings, building entrances, or swimming pools.

The PEI rating only refers to a tile’s strength and suitability for a particular application; it is not an indicator of the tile’s overall quality or value. In many cases, some of the most beautiful and costly tiles have a PEI 1 or 2 rating. The PEI rating is simply a guide to help you choose tile that will hold up to the demands of the environment in which it will be used. If you’re doing a tile shower surround, for example, the PEI rating isn’t such a big deal, but when you’re choosing tile for counters and floors, check the PEI before you buy.

Tiles Unlimited Tile Showcase NY

Texture

The texture of tile is an important consideration, particularly when you’ll be using tile for flooring in areas prone to moisture, such as kitchens, bathrooms, entryways, and pool areas. For example, kitchen tile flooring with a textured or matte finish will be less slippery than tile with a smooth or shiny one. However, if you’re heart is set on a certain tile, don’t let this one factor deter you from choosing it. Many homeowners love the look of polished marble or porcelain tile and feel the beauty outweighs the lack of slip resistance. Keep in mind that textured tile may be more difficult to clean.

Tiles Unlimited Tile Showcase NY

Color
While color is a very personal choice, there are a few general rules to keep in mind. Lighter colors make a space appear larger and are an excellent choice for smaller rooms while darker tones can add warmth and make a space more inviting. Neutral colors give you more freedom in selecting and changing accessories and other décor while bright colors can add character and create a cheerful atmosphere. Much like the PEI scale, manufacturers rate the color variation of their tile.

Tiles Unlimited Tile Showcase NY

Within each style, and even within each production run, color shades can vary to differing degrees between each tile. While many products have little to no variation, there are options that display a moderate to dramatic range of variation – each is a stylistic choice. Here’s a breakdown of how ceramic and porcelain tiles are graded for color shade variation.

Color Rating Description
V1 Uniform Appearance – differences among pieces from the same production run are minimal or none at all.
V2 Slight Variation – Clearly distinguishable differences in texture and/or color.
V3 Moderate Variation – While the colors present in a single piece of ceramic tile may indicate the color patterns to be expected on other tiles, the amount of colors on each piece might vary significantly.
V4 Random color variation from tile to tile, so that one ceramic tile may have a totally different color from that on other tiles. Thus, the final installation will be unique.

One Final Note
While tiles can appear identical, each piece will have color and shade variations that come together to create a distinct look once completely installed. This is true for both manufactured tile and natural stone slabs. If you’re able to, get a few sample pieces of the tile you’re considering and lay them out in order to get a better idea of how it will actually look in your home.

You can buy with confidence at Tiles Unlimited. With Queens’ largest selection of tile, 101 five-star reviews in 2016, an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and the winner of the Best Tile Store in the 2016 Best of Long Island competition and 2017 Best of the Boro competition, you can be sure the experts at Tiles Unlimited will help you realize your renovation dreams. To find out more about selecting the best tile for your project, stop by Tiles Unlimited to speak with one of our professionally trained design consultants.