Subcontractor’s Corner with Adam Kersnowski

 Adam Kersnowski
Adam Kersnowski

Adam Kersnowski’s masonry experience goes back to high school, when he began working for his future father-in-law, a mason. He started his own business in 2006, and it’s now 17 people strong. While the company initially focused on masonry, it now balances that work with tiling.

We’ve brought on Adam for a number of projects over the past three years. He recently spoke with us about trends he’s seeing in masonry and tiling.

Thin Stone Veneer

“Not so long ago, everyone was using cultured stone — a cement product — as a surface covering for things like fireplaces chimneys, foundations, columns, backsplashes, etc. You could tell it was concrete, but it was the only option out there.

“Then, awhile back, companies started making thin stone veneer. This involves taking a natural thick stone and slicing about an inch off the face of it. You can use stone veneer as a surface covering on a variety of surfaces, inside or outside.

“A lot of homeowners like the look of stone veneer — it’s real, after all — and it’s available from more and more outlets. Cultured stone costs a lot less per square foot, and it’s still popular in commercial building. But on the residential side, we’re pretty much just laying stone veneer these days.”

Bigger Tiles

“Manufacturers seem to have the technology to make tiles much bigger than before. You can even fin tile panels that are 4’ by 8’. And home-owners are responding positively.

“You might think that larger tiles make life easier for someone like me. But in fact, they make my job harder. The reason is, it takes a lot of prep work to make the substrate, which you lay the tile on, flat and even. Not getting the substrate right makes the job a nightmare.

“From the homeowner’s perspective, larger tiles mean fewer grout lines. That means less upkeep. Though it’s worth noting that grout technology has come a long way. Traditionally, grout has been cement-based. But we’re seeing epoxy and urethane grouts that are much less susceptible to discoloration and staining. Epoxy and urethane are more expensive and labor-intensive to install, but they’re worth it.”

Shower Waterproofing

“I’m happy to say that shower waterproofing has come a long way in recent years. I’ve found there are more products out there that are easier to install and do a much better job.

“Traditionally, when installing a shower, you’d start with a copper pan or rubber membrane as the base. Next, you’d do a ‘mud job’ — pour in the cement and then pitch it toward the drain. Finally, if you wanted, you’d waterproof the walls and floor with a membrane before laying the tile on top.

“The problem was, water always managed to get down into the pan or membrane at the bottom. As a result, you’d see efflorescence — that is, mineral deposits — coming up through the tile.

“The systems available now — Wedi, Laticrete, Schulter — are solid foam pans that replace the copper pans or rubber membranes. They also eliminate the need for mud jobs, which avoids the problem of efflorescence The waterproofing is simply a lot better.”


Custom Contracting, Inc. Phone: 781-648-2835
1267A Massachusetts Ave. Fax: 781-648-0907
Arlington, MA 02476 Email: