Contractors Share Tips and Comments About Pattern Work

You’ve got the job or the contract – now it’s time to determine the pattern.
Installing ceramic/porcelain tile or stone tile in a pleasing, attractive pattern is as critical to the project as the color, size or texture of tile with which you’re working. The pattern needs to compliment the dimensions of the room and the overall setting without overwhelming the demands of the space.
In this story, we’ll talk to two prominent contractors about the intricacies involved in determining and setting patterns: Elizabeth and Dan Lambert of Lambert Tile & Stone from Eagle Colorado and Andre Hutchinson, of Dillon Stone Corp., Virginia Beach, Va.
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The Great Recession Not Slowing The NTCA Train

“What this power is I cannot say; all I know is that it exists and it becomes available only when a man is in that state of mind in which he knows exactly what he wants and is fully determined not to quit until he finds it.” – Alexander Graham Bell

At Total Solutions Plus last month, Nyle Wadford (right) takes on the mantle of the NTCA presidency from outgoing president John Cox.

As executive director of the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), I am proud to say to all of our readers that I believe the organization is on the brink of major growth and influence. I do not say this lightly; the road has not been an easy one. Like many of you, the past three years have challenged our staff and Board of Directors like no other time. In fact, in the past two years our association suffered significant financial losses that had us concerned about the future.

Thanks to a hardworking staff — and more importantly, a group of dedicated members of our Board of Directors and standing committees — a clear direction for the association has been selected and a plan of action is already experiencing positive results.

On November 2nd, our Board of Directors met at Total Solutions Plus and formally approved our 2011 budget. In addition, the Finance Committee was pleased to report that a profit in 2010 was anticipated, creating a remarkable turn of events in these challenging times. It appears as if the financial health of our association continues to be sound. We will continue to utilize our assets to promote the proper installation of ceramic tile and natural stone. Following is a list of 2010 highlights of what the NTCA has done and will continue to do for our members and the industry:

  • Stone Supplement to the 2011 TCA Handbook
    The NTCA Standards and Methods Committee, chaired by NTCA 2nd vice president James Woelfel of Artcraft Granite Marble & Tile Co., in Mesa, Ariz., worked closely with leaders from Tile Council of North America (TCNA) and the Marble Institute of America to develop approved methods for natural stone tile installation. This new section will be a part of the 2011 version of the TCA Handbook, which the NTCA will make available to its members.
  • Certified Tile Installer Program
    The NTCA continues to support the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation in developing and promoting installation certification. Through 2010, the CTEF reports that 500 installers will have successfully passed the criteria to be a certified tile installer. With strong support by the TCNA, Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA), Ceramic Tiles of Italy, Tile of Spain, and Coverings Show Management, plans for 2011 include even stronger marketing and management support of the Foundation, to expand the program in size, scope and effectiveness.
  • Installation Design Showcase at Coverings
    The NTCA continues to spend considerable time and energy developing and promoting programs and seminars at Coverings to bring value to the show. The result in 2010 was an initiative proposed by the NTCA called the Installation Design Showcase. Five leading South Florida designers were paired with NTCA Five Star Contractors to show the importance of both design and installation in our trade. All Five Star contractors used certified tile installers on the job. Attendees at the show indicated in post-survey results that the Installation Design Showcase was one of the main attractions at Coverings 2010. The program will continue in 2011 in a brand new Las Vegas venue.
  • Total Solutions Plus
    In partnership with the CTDA and the TCNA, Total Solutions Plus proved to all attendees that we are united as an industry. It was so powerful to see contractors, distributors and manufacturers interacting with each other during this groundbreaking week in South Florida. With over 450 people in attendance, the future looks bright for this leadership conference.
  • Active Membership
    The association is clearly headed to 1,000 members and beyond. Innovative programs like Partnering for Success will help NTCA members offset any investment they have in being part of our growing association. But the driving indicator to our staff that has us feeling so optimistic is the active involvement of our members. It was never more evident than at Total Solutions Plus. The contractors involved in the NTCA at the Executive, Board and Committee levels are engaged, passionate and united in their support of our mission and goals. The energy of the volunteer officers of the NTCA has motivated the entire staff to match their enthusiasm.
  • Training and Education
    Thanks to a strong partnership with Dal-Tile Corporation, the NTCA Workshop Program reached thousands of installers with important information in 2010. In 2011, we will continue our association with Dal-Tile, as well as other leading distributors of ceramic tile and natural stone. In addition, customized training programs that go into more depth than a traditional evening Workshop will be expanded. The development of installation videos and a renewed focus on training through manuals, videos and webinars will be a part of our 2011 emphasis.
  • TileLetter and TileLetter Canada
    Tile professionals continue to list TileLetter as a leading publication in our industry. We have expanded our digital coverage, reaching over 7,000 email subscribers monthly with our magazine; in addition to our mailing subscription list. We annually publish 13 issues in the United States and three issues of TileLetter Canada, and we are committed to expanding our reach in 2011 to include more professionals involved in design and specification of our products.
  • Final Thoughts
    As executive director of the NTCA and publisher of TileLetter and TileLetter Canada, I am so excited about the future of the association. Our newly elected president is Nyle Wadford of Neuse Tile Service, Inc., in Youngsville, N.C. This excerpt from his highly-effective presentation upon his election sums up my feelings about the NTCA best:

    “As I have continued to watch our industry grow and change, I am constantly reminded that it is people who make this change happen –PASSIONATE PEOPLE. Passion for the tile industry is the common thread that you will find running through this business and your association. It is this passion and love that drives us to better this industry on a daily basis.”

Our staff is proud to be working closely with these great tile contractors who are driving the association. I urge you to join us in 2011.

Ask The Experts


I have a house built in 1985 built with a 250 square foot room that has a good 3/4-inch plywood subfloor on wooden joists. It feels solid, level, and no bending when walking. I wish to install slate tiles and intend to add 1/2-inch of plywood to the subfloor. In the corner of the room was a fireplace which I’ve demolished and will replace with a wood stove. The fireplace had a 6-inch thick cement pad under it which is higher than the plywood surface in the rest of the room. I wish to make the whole floor at one level, so I’m lowering the cement with a demolition hammer, to the level of the 1 1/4-inch subfloor. Can I transition from slate on 1 1/4-inch mixed plywood to slate on cement, or would it be safer to cover the whole floor with the same layer before tiling?
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New Profit Opportunity for Installation Contractors

Sealing offers protection for consumer, new revenue stream for contractors.
By Michael Sawicki, Miracle Sealants, Sales Manager

Have you recently purchased a new TV, computer or camera? How about a new appliance, a
refrigerator or stove? Maybe a new piece of furniture, a sofa, bed or recliner?
What do these purchases all have in common when you made the buying decision? I’ll bet the sales person offered you an extended warranty, service contract, or some other form of protection for your major purchase!

Customers are searching for best value, and want to be covered in case something goes wrong with their major purchase. And yet, when we install a new marble shower, porcelain tile kitchen, travertine lobby, etc., we typically say the job is done when we finish grouting, pack up our tools and drive away from the job. But times have gotten tougher, and the wait in between jobs has grown longer. How about looking at each job as an opportunity for additional sales and profits? At the same time, how about giving the customer better value with stain protection and maintenance cleaning?
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The Green Tip

Once considered the “green standard” of the sustainability movement, recycling has become such a common practice that it is essentially considered standard operating procedure. While the importance of recycling should not be minimized, businesses and individuals committed to a more sustainable future are moving beyond recycling to embrace the zero waste movement. In the zero waste movement, waste is not only recycled, but virtually eliminated through more efficient processes and introducing materials back into the marketplace in a usable form in addition to conventional recycling.

In addition to zero waste processes, many organizations now strive to be net consumers of waste, meaning, they consume more waste than they produce. They do this by introducing waste generated by other industries into their own processes and therefore diverting them from landfill.

As zero waste and net consumption of waste become increasingly mainstream, environmentally-minded designers and consumers alike will begin to make product and installation choices based on which organizations incorporate these processes into their sustainable initiatives. To learn more about applying the principles of zero waste, visit the following resources:


IIEA C-course: How To Interpret New Trends

“Introduction to Trend Research” is the latest innovative e-learning course proposed by International Industry E-learning Academy (IIEA), the e-learning school for industry sponsored by Associazione Costruttori Italiani Macchine Attrezzature per Ceramica(ACIMAC). It teaches how to interpret current trends and use them to obtain a competitive advantage in the market.

The course can be accessed over the internet at any time of the day; it is an effective and economically advantageous alternative to classroom activities. It offers essential tools for decoding trends in progress in society and for using them to design and market products that meet consumer needs. The course provides keys for understanding megatrends, macrotrends, seasonal trends and fads, for analyzing the behavior of different generations of consumers, and for constructing effective moodboards.

Trend research has become a very important tool not for creatives, product designers, entrepreneurs and managers to enable fine tuning of company vision and market positioning; generating ideas for developing new concepts, and helping marketing and advertising personnel draw up communication strategies.
The course is led by trend hunting expert Valentina Durante.

For further information visit the internet site

Coverings Spectrum Select Call for Entries

Coverings has issued a Call for Entries for its Coverings Spectrum Select competition, now in its second year. This partnership between Coverings and Contract magazine honors those tile and stone products that reflect outstanding design, engineering and technological innovation, and that set new standards in aesthetics and performance.
The Call for Entries is open only to Coverings 2011 show exhibitors who, may submit up to four candidates in any of the following categories: Artisan Tile/Stone; Porcelain/Ceramic Tile Wall; Porcelain/Ceramic Tile Floor; Mosaic Tile; Glass Tile; Natural Stone; Installation Material Systems; and, Equipment and Machinery. For a product that might not fit into these eight definitions, the judges will consider prospects classified as Other. Coverings 2011 is slated for March 14-17 at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas.

The deadline for submissions is Friday, February 4, 2011, with entry forms available at Visit the website for entry details and fees.
Patterned on Contract magazine’s Best of NeoCon concept, judges personally visit the each entrant’s exhibit space on Monday, March 14 to see products first hand and probe for additional details that may factor into their decision, said Jennifer Hoff, president of National Trade Productions (NTP), which manages and produces Coverings. Spectrum Select honorees are announced the following day—featured in a flyer that is distributed to attendees. Additionally, all “selectees” will receive added exposure in an upcoming issue of Contract, as well as on the Coverings website.
“Coverings Spectrum Select is a badge of distinction that helps bring to light the extraordinary caliber of these materials and tools of the trade,” Hoff said.

For more information on Coverings Spectrum Select, or on Coverings 2011, visit or contact NTP, Coverings Show Management, at (703) 683-8500.

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AO hosts “The Proprietary Spec: A Blueprint”

American Olean recently hosted approximately 100 architectural reps in Tulsa, Okla., as part of an educational event that spanned two days in September. The meetings, titled “The Proprietary Spec: A Blueprint for Success,” brought together architects, designers and customers to discuss the latest developments in the industry and to provide customer insights into how to better do business.

A tour of the American Olean manufacturing plant also exposed attendees to American Olean’s focus on new and innovative technologies, including Reveal Imaging™, OutStand Technology™, infusion of Microban® Antimicrobial Technology, and the use of consumer recycled material content in the manufacturing process.

American Olean is dedicated to the commercial market with a strong portfolio of commercially focused products, including Shadow Bay, Terreno, Volcano Rock and Antissa Colorbody™ porcelains, launched in 2010 and Infusion™ Colorbody™ Porcelain launching in February 2011. More information is available at .

AO Designer panel.jpg
The Architectural/Designer Panel Discussion at AO’s educational event in Tulsa. Shown (l. to r.) are: Melanie Vieux, WMB Architects; Lillian Giering, Gensler; Calista Fitzgerald, LRS Architects; Tiffany English, Ware Malcomb and Lauren McColl, Derivi Architects.

In Memory of Roy E. Gorton

Roy E. Gorton, age 74, passed away peacefully at home on August 26, 2010. He received a Bachelors of Science degree in Ceramic Engineering from Alfred University where he met Peg, his wife of 53 years. He spent his entire career in the ceramics industry and was a life member of the American Ceramic Society. He served as president of Aztec Tile and Mannington Tile, and as senior vice president of engineering of Metropolitan Industries, from which he retired in 2001. Gorton also served as president of the Tile Council of America from 1980 to 1982. Gorton is survived by Peg, three sons, three sisters and one granddaughter.

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