Ken Ballin of Skyro Floors featured on TileLetter Media Planner for bathroom renovation
Over the summer, 2021, we at TileLetter were hard at work at developing the media planner for our magazines and digital products. We needed a dynamic cover photo to catch the attention of our advertisers.
We hatched the idea to run an informal contest in the Facebook NTCA Members Only Group, requesting project photos to be considered for the media planner cover – and the “winner” would also be featured in our January issue in a case study.
A project by Ken Ballin, CTI #1392, CFI #13604, Owner of Skyro Floors (@skyrofloors: IG and FB) in West Creek, N.J. was selected as the media planner cover. And here, we present the rest of the poignant story in our January case study.
The story begins with a local couple who initially wanted Ballin to install some laminate flooring in their home, but after seeing the price quoted for professional installation, decided to do it themselves. “This happens every once in awhile so it wasn’t surprising,” Ballin said. “I wished them luck and told them to give me a call if they had any questions when they got into it.”
The next year, the female homeowner requested a price from Ballin for finishing a backsplash her husband had begun, had gotten frustrated with, and decided to take a break from the project on a weekend trip. But during the trip, he was in a motorcycle accident and never made it back home. “I typically have a zero tolerance policy on finishing other people’s work but I had to make an exception in this case,” Ballin said. “After hearing the story I decided that her backsplash would get finished at no cost to her. She needed to downsize and sell the house as well as gain some closure and I was happy to provide it.”
This customer then contacted Ballin to renovate the master bath in her new home, a room that was a sanctuary for her. Ballin explained:
“The existing 3’x5′ bathtub was not going to meet her needs and the existing walls took up an unnecessary amount of unused space. I called in my friend Danny from Pomponio Construction to take care of all the framing, drywall, etc. and he made sure I was able to execute the vision with as [few] obstacles as possible. My clients typically give me the creative control after they make their tile selections and that’s exactly what this particular client wanted. All the tile from the
12″ x 24″ wall and floor tile to the elongated hexagons on the back wall, to the Island Stone pebbles came from my local Best Tile in Lacey Township, New Jersey.
“Due to some plumbing and heating obstacles found under the sub floor, I decided to use the Rapid Recess kit,” Ballin said. “It’s a great option for quickly recessing a subfloor for a curbless shower without needing another contractor to move any unforeseen surprises once the plywood is removed. Given the size of the shower pan and the distance from the perimeter of the pan to the drain, I decided to add a layer of plywood to the bathroom to ensure seamless transition from the shower to the bathroom floor. “Since the pan was getting pebbles I use the Schluter shower system because there are no size limitations on the tile being installed,” he added. “There was however a small area by the entrance where the pebbles would have to overlap the transition and get installed over the DITRA on the bathroom floor. This required a call to my local Schluter rep, Andrew Rogers, to have Schluter write a warranty for this specific installation, which was important to the client.”
Ballin set all the tile with Bostik Ditraset and Hydroment Vivid grout, which he calls two of his favorites from Bostik. “Ditraset is super fluffy, easy to work with, and easy to clean,” he said. “Hydroment Vivid is the most color-consistent grout I’ve worked with and cleans like nothing else. Both made the installation go much smoother, no pun intended.
“I do a bit of scribing on my projects and I really like seeing it done to make a transition look more natural,” he explained. “We don’t see cut pebbles out in nature, so I think they’re the perfect opportunity to scribe into the field tile. This technique takes some extra cutting time but is entirely worth it and really took this shower to the next level.”
We’re proud to feature this project on our media planner and present the backstory for you here.
Editorial Director and Senior Writer for TileLetter and TileLetter ARTISAN
Lesley Goddin has been writing and journaling since her first diary at age 11. Her journey has taken her through a career in publishing and publicity, landing her the editor position of TileLetter and its special publications in 2006. Her goal is to educate, inspire, recognize and encourage those in the tile industry -- especially the tile and stone contractor. Other interests include the soft, purring marvels known as cats, labyrinth walking, drumming and percussion, and a range of spiritual, musical and artistic pursuits.