A “Hospital of the Future” in Escondido, California is a true Custom installation for a San Diego-based stone contractor.

After a two-year long construction project, which began in April 2010, the future home of Palomar Medical Center West in Escondido, Calif., is nearly completed and scheduled to open this summer. Situated on a 52-acre site, the 11-story, state-of-the-art healthcare facility is designed to accommodate 360 patient beds, 12 operating rooms, a trauma center and a nursing tower with a diagnostic and treatment wing. The total budget for the construction project, the second largest building project now underway west of the Mississippi, is in excess of $956 million.


The new hospital is notable for its sustainable design. It is being built with recycled and renewable materials, and once completed, will use a minimal amount of water and electricity. Special features are designed to enhance a healing environment, including a 1.5-acre “living roof” and terrace of drought-resistant, native plants located above the surgery, cardiology and interventional radiology suites. The green roof is also designed to deflect light and heat to provide a natural cooling system for the facility. Even the waiting areas will have access to fresh air and two-story courtyards on each floor, to bring the calming power of nature to patients and families.

“The scope of this project was massive. It’s one of the largest privately funded construction projects we’ve seen in a long time and it has required the involvement of virtually every department at our company — from our research lab to product and technical support to marketing and sales”

Following an extensive bidding process, Wirtz Quality Installations, Inc., of San Diego was awarded the contract to handle all internal and external tile and stone installation. “We partnered with Custom Building Products for the entire construction project. Not only did Custom provide support and information to guide us to which products should be included in the project, they also created complete installation systems and warranties,” said John Wirtz, vice president of Wirtz.

“This was certainly a high-profile opportunity for us, and one of the largest and most intricate we’ve undertaken,” said Amber Fox, president of Wirtz, “The project required more than 70 people working five days a week, plus many Saturdays. Logging more than 87,000 man-hours over 15 months took a well-coordinated team.”

The overall project incorporated 20 different types of finish material including three types of glass tile, nine different porcelains, four types of stone tiles and over 165 tons of natural rock. The 45,000 square feet of lobby and corridor flooring used a porcelain tile with three different sizes that created an intricate pattern that only repeated every 153 square feet.

“The biggest part of the job were the 288 patient toilet/shower rooms that rival most of the finest resorts,” explained Fox. “The rooms measure 8′ x 9′ with a radius wall, bench and shower floor without any curbs. The complete room was tiled, with the exception of the ceiling. We took on this job starting at the studs, created the very critical pitch to the drains and then waterproofed the floors using Custom Building Product’s RedGard® Waterproofing and Crack Prevention Membrane. All floors had to pass a 24-hour flood test before we could continue. There were a total of five inspections that every patient bathroom had to pass before any tile could be installed.”


“Custom’s products offer excellent quality and ease of application and we specify them for our projects. We’ve gotten to know and trust their brands,” said Fox. “But it goes deeper than that. The people at Custom are always here for us — to support us throughout the installation process. Not only did they ensure the proper materials were specified, but at our request, they were there to observe us during the application of their products to ensure we were applying them correctly from beginning to end. It is a true partnership.”


“Finding the right combination of products that factored in all the variables was essential,” said Devin Dickey, Custom Building Products’ territory manager. “We worked closely with Wirtz to determine the best and most efficient way to install the variety of different items that were required for the job.

“The scope of this project was massive. It’s one of the largest privately-funded construction projects we’ve seen in a long time,” continued Dickey. “And it has required the involvement of virtually every department at our company — from our research lab to product and technical support to marketing and sales. Custom has been integrally involved with every phase of this project, including product recommendations, technical specifications, LEED® Certification, and on-site job visits.”

A broad range of Custom products were selected, including CEG-Lite™ 100% Solids Commercial Epoxy Grout, which was chosen for all patient rooms and the kitchen and cafeteria areas because of its 100% stain resistance and its recycled content, which contributes to LEED® Certification. Among other products used in the installation are RedGard® Waterproofing and Crack Prevention Membrane, Prism® SureColor® Grout, ProLite® Rapid Setting Large Format Tile & Stone Mortar and Commercial 100% Silicone Caulk.


This project won Wirtz Quality Construction and Anshen+Allen Architects each a Commercial Tile Award in this year’s Coverings Installation Design Awards competition, co-sponsored by TileLetter and TADA magazines. Awards were presented at the Coverings show in Orlando last April. Stay tuned to the July issue of TileLetter for further coverage of the project.


Custom® Building Products is widely recognized as a leading manufacturer of tile and stone installation systems for the North American market. The company’s product brands, including WonderBoard® and EasyBoard® backerboards, Prism® SureColor® and Polyblend® grouts, a comprehensive line of lightweight mortars, TileLab® and Aqua Mix® maintenance products, and SuperiorBilt® tools are considered the most popular and most trusted by industry professionals. Custom Building Products continually raises the standards for the tile and stone industry through its commitment to innovation, performance and exceptional customer service.

Custom’s website offers comprehensive resources including product and warranty information, installation specifications and technical support. For more information on the company’s broad family of quality tile and stone installation products, please call 800-272-8786 or visit www.custombuildingproducts.com.

2012 Coverings Review

Though the economy may have a ways to go, if Coverings was any indication, a sense of optimism and substantial recovery is starting to creep back into the tile industry.

Attendance at Coverings was up by 19 percent over last year’s show, with registration totaling over 22,000, signaling a halt to a decline in attendance over the last three years. Architects and designers attended the Orlando-based event in droves – attendance among that sector jumped 84 percent over 2011 figures. Strong A&D attendance is expected to continue next year, when Coverings debuts in Atlanta amidst a robust regional community of architects and designers.

Other market segments saw a rise at Coverings 2012, as well, with fabricator attendance up 69 percent from last year, distributor attendance up 16 percent and the installer/contractor presence up 26 percent.

“These numbers are valid indicators that the tile and stone industry is in a recovery mode,” said Karen Fendrich, show director of Coverings. “No way has the dust fully settled from the economic turmoil, but there are decided improvements in business, with building projects re-booted and remodeling on the upswing – all good signs for anyone involved in this product category.”

An aggressive marketing campaign, fueled by embrace of social media, helped boost attendance figures. On the show floor, the Coverings Central area allowed attendees to digitally interact, network with one another, and get digital-networking tips in 15-minute seminars throughout the show.

Contractor tours: a hit

More than 160 contractors took advantage of a specially-guided tour of top setting material and tool resources on the show floor as part of the new Contractor Days. This program, in collaboration with the NTCA, helped contractors and installers maximize their time at Coverings without second-guessing which of the 800-plus exhibitors to see. Contractors also got to personally meet and hear from company executives during booth visits, direct access they might not ordinarily have experienced on their own. Tours included lunch, and a happy hour on the show floor in the Contractor Lounge, which afforded additional networking opportunities.

Designers + contractors = stunning projects

Another growing attraction for attendees was the Installation Design Showcase. The 2012 project was a tour-de-force of three room settings starring tile. Three renowned designers partnered with three NTCA Five Star Contractors, who brought the vignettes to life in full view of attendees over the course of the show.

Nationally-known Florida-based kitchen designer Joan DesCombes created a pampering patio setting with magnificent materials sponsored by Tile Council of North America and provided by Florida Tile and Metropolitan Ceramics. She was teamed with Cox Tile of San Antonio, Texas, which faithfully translated her vision, including construction of a working tiled fountain.

Orlando native Grant Gribble, ASID, IIDA, partnered with Collins Tile and Stone of Aldie, Va., in a 70s-inspired bath that emphasized wall art formed from colorful Crossville porcelain.

Foreman Rogers, ASID, a senior designer with tvsdesign, Atlanta, created a boutique hotel guest room. Practiced in hospitality design — having recently completed the Gaylord Palms in Orlando — Rogers was paired with David Allen Company, Raleigh, N.C. This team met the design challenges, creating a visual treat of unorthodox cuts and skilled applications with materials sponsored by Ceramics of Italy, promoted by Confindustria Ceramica, tile provided by Ceramiche Coem, Emil Ceramica, LEA Ceramiche, Architectural Tile Solutions /Marazzi, Naxos Ceramiche and Sicis, and a special thanks to Ceramic Technics. Other sponsors included MAPEI, H.B. Fuller, TOTO, USG Corporation, RUBI Tools, European Tile Masters and QEP.

Green Squared products debut at Coverings

The Tile Council of North America (TCNA) announced the inaugural class of Green SquaredSM Certified products (www.tilethenaturalchoice.com). Green Squared (ANSI A138.1) is the multi-attribute industry standard for sustainable tile and tile installation products that establishes criteria for environmental and social issues alike, and subjects products to third-party certification through NSF International, Scientific Certification Systems, and UL Environment.

The eight manufacturers with Green Squared Certified products at Coverings included: Crossville, Ironrock, and Porcelanite Lamosa. Daltile, Interceramic, Laticrete International, Mapei, and Marazzi are awaiting certification, and Bonsal American, Florida Tile, Quarry Tile Company, StonePeak, TEC, and Vitromex expect to have Green Squared Certified products by year end.

New developments from TCNA

In addition to Green Squared, TCNA announced a new testing method and standard for dynamic co-efficient of friction (DCOF) to replace the familiar static co-efficient of friction (SCOF) tests and measurements. The new version of ANSI A137.1 Specifications for Ceramic Tile will include the new DCOF AcuTest method, which uses the more accurate BOT 3000 portable testing device. Additionally, for the first time there will be a minimum COF requirement of 0.42 for level interior tile surfaces expected to be walked upon when wet, compared to the old .60 SCOF (static coefficient of friction) wet measurement. For information, see the May issue of TileLetter, page 70, visit www.tileusa.com/test_main.htm or contact TCNA at 864-646-8453.

TCNA announced the availability of the world’s first standard for glass tile, ANSI A137.2 American National Standard Specifications for Glass Tile, which categorizes and defines types of glass tiles and establishes aesthetic and performance standards within each category. This standard criteria establishes a consensus baseline for manufacturing quality and a valuable tool which can aid in the development of new installation standards and in the general specification of glass tile. Contact TCNA at 864-646-8453 for more information.

The Porcelain Tile Certification Agency (PTCA), launched in 2008 by TCNA and the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA), establishes a 0.5% water absorption criteria for porcelain tile. The following companies have PTCA certified products with a total of 367 product lines qualifying for certification since the start of the program: American Marazzi, Bedrosians Tile & Stone, Ceramica del Conca, Crossville, Inc., Daltile, Emser Tile, Exceptional Surfaces, Florida Tile, Inc., Florim USA, GranitiFiandre USA, Interceramic, Mannington, Ragno USA, Royal Mosa, StonePeak Ceramics, The Tile Company, Tile Optima, and Vitromex.

A new program now allows tile retailers and distributors to use the PTCA logo if they first register with PTCA and sell PTCA certified tile.  Lowe’s is the first retailer to take advantage of this program.

Since its establishment with five founding members in 2005 to today, TCNA – Mexico’s membership has grown to 36 companies supporting Tile Council projects in Mexico. This total includes 11 tile manufacturers (representing 98% of the tile manufactured in Mexico), 11 associate installation materials members, and 14 associate raw material supplier members. For complete information on TCNA-Mexico activities, visit www.tcna.com.mx.

New developments from CTEF

The Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) announced the total number of CTEF Certified Tile Installers (CTIs) has grown to 752, with certified installers now in 27 states. The goal is to have a total of 1000 installers certified by the end of 2012. The new one-day test format and online written test have contributed significantly to the growth of the program.

The online test has also allowed CTEF (www.tilecareer.com) to launch the Fundamentals of Thin Bed Knowledge (FTBK) exam for non-installers such as sales staff, technical staff, estimators and superintendents who want to boost their knowledge of product and installation standards and best practices. Those who receive an 85% or higher score are recognized by CTEF as FTBK professionals. The FTBK credential is valid for three years; re-testing is required to maintain the credential. A valuable Field Manual is provided as a study guide, “which explains how to use the TCNA Handbook and ANSI standards,” said Scott Carothers, CTEF executive director. “The Field Manual is something you keep and can refer back to over and over again.”

NTCA demos, seminars and awards abound

NTCA training director Gerald Sloan and NTCA Tile & Stone Symposium presenter Michael Whistler had a robust schedule of demonstrations ongoing at the TCNA Installation Stage throughout the show.

In addition, NTCA members and staff participated in a number of seminars and workshops as part of the Coverings Conference Program.


NTCA celebrated 65 years as an association. NTCA president Nyle Wadford and NTCA executive director emeritus Joe Tarver recounted NTCA history and accomplishments over the last 65 years and vision for the future.

NTCA’s TileLetter and TADA co-sponsored the Coverings Installation Design Awards, a celebration of synergy between the A&D community and tile/stone installers and contractors, exhibited in stunning projects. See more detailed information on this award ceremony on page 26 in this issue.

Exhibitors applaud Coverings ROI

Exhibitors expressed their satisfaction with the ROI delivered by Coverings 2012, and expect more of the same in the Atlanta edition in 2013.

“We’ve exhibited for eight years now, and are happy to report another very busy and successful show,” said Darren Caraway of Vidrepur, a Spanish producer of glass tile that uses 100% recycled content. “We saw a variety of attendees. Most strongly represented were distributors. It’s great to see distributors you currently work with, and, of course, show product to those who are learning about your company. We look forward to exhibiting next year, for sure.”

Esther Halferty of Lilywork – a handmade tile producer from Quakertown, Pa. – was pleased with this year’s show. “We did have good foot traffic this year, and are looking forward to exhibiting next year in Atlanta, which we know is rich with architecture and design professionals.”

“We will definitely be back next year,” said Enrico Guazzi, area manager of Italian tile producer LEA Ceramiche. “We had a very good show this year, with great response to the very design-oriented products.”

Next year Coverings is scheduled for April 29 to May 2, 2013, in Atlanta at the Georgia World Congress Center.

LATICRETE School Donation Put on a Pedestal

LATICRETE, a global manufacturer and leader of premium installation and finishing systems for the building industry, recently donated tile installation products to the Evergreen, Colorado Elementary School. The products are being used for a project that consists of four large pedestals, each clad with creative mosaic tile designs which are located in the school’s main lobby.

The mosaic tiles, which were donated by Becoming Tile, were to be installed by those students who also created their own designs for the pedestals. “I became involved with this project because the school’s art teacher is an acquaintance of mine,” stated Keith DeWald, President of Becoming Tile. “The students put together some really great designs and did some of the initial installation work themselves. Now that summer has rolled around, their teacher and I are picking up some of the additional installation work when the school is open.”

Although DeWald is not usually an installer, he is able to get the job done using high-technology LATICRETE products along with some solid input from the LATICRETE technical department. Steve Rampino, LATICRETE Technical Service Training Supervisor stated, “We believe in good corporate citizenship and are committed to the communities where we work and reside. Clearly, we believe in supporting deserving projects such as this one.”

“The products donated were very helpful,” added DeWald. “For thin-set, we used LATICRETE® 254 Platinum, and the grout we selected was LATICRETE PermaColor™ Grout.
These products were very easy to use. Even a guy like me who does not know a great deal about mosaic tile installation was able to use these materials quite well. Knowing I can do
that makes me positive that I can continue to complete the next phase of the job, and do it nicely.”

LATICRETE International, Inc. is a US-based, family-owned global manufacturer and leader of premium installation and finishing systems for the building industry. LATICRETE® products are produced and distributed worldwide in the commercial and consumer channels. The company’s philosophy of innovation and technical expertise has led to an
unparalleled reputation and commitment to superior quality, performance and customer service. Manufactured in state-of-the-art ISO 9001:2008 certified facilities, LATICRETE offers a broad product portfolio including an extensive line of low VOC sustainable products independently certified by GREENGUARD. LATICRETE®, LATAPOXY®, SpectraLOCK®, Hydro Ban® and DRYTEK® are registered brands of LATICRETE International, Inc. Corporate Website: www.laticrete.com.

Epoxy grout + enzymatic no-rinse cleaners = grout disaster

By Kevin Fox, Fox Ceramic Tile Inc., a NTCA Five Star Contractor

Several years ago my MAPEI sales representative, Dennis Sandell, made me aware of a grout-failure phenomenon that was studied for a restaurant chain in Texas. At the time it seemed interesting but I really never thought much about it until I got a call from a restaurant manager. It seems that his kitchen grout was significantly degraded, and there were many areas in which the grout was virtually gone. This concerned me, since my company installed this floor just a few years ago, and it was grouted with a 100% solids epoxy grout. Luckily I did remember the conversation with Dennis.

The study involved the extreme rapid degeneration of epoxy grout. The results of the study concluded a new type of cleaning chemical using enzymatic cleaners (also known as “no-rinse” cleaners) was used. These cleaners have become very popular in commercial kitchens.

Since this initial call I have been consulted on several other kitchen grout failures. Now, the first thing I do is find out what they have been cleaning with, and without any exceptions, they have all used no-rinse cleaners. Yet often before I can tell the operators the source of the problem, they strongly assert their belief that the original tile-installation company must have performed their work incorrectly. Many times the operators required them to come back and regrout, only to have the same failure occur.

Unfortunately for these tile-setting companies, their name is dragged down due to a failure not under their control. I remembered a friendly conversation I had with a competitor. He told me his company recently regrouted a very large kitchen where grout had failed under his one-year contractual warranty. The original grout was a 100% solids epoxy, and the regrout was again with the same 100% solids epoxy grout. He was very troubled to learn the regrout was also failing. After I informed him about the destructive nature of no-rinse cleaners, he was relieved that the failure was not a result of improper workmanship or faulty grout. It was clear that he wished knew about this information many thousands of dollars ago.

The problem with enzymatic cleaners

The problem with these cleaners and 100% solids epoxy grouts is this: although harmless to the epoxy grout alone, these enzymatic cleaners accelerate the breakdown of products such as sugars, fats and proteins, which commonly appear on commercial kitchen floors.

To break down these products, the cleaner is left on the floor overnight (thus the name “no rinse”). The byproduct of the breakdown of the fats (grease) is acidic, and cumulative. After days, weeks and months of cleaner use, a highly acidic solution develops that rapidly deteriorates grouts.

Since the above-mentioned study, several manufacturers have developed an epoxy grout that can be subjected to these cleaners. We have had great success at regrouting failed original installations using these epoxies. These 100%  solids epoxies are listed to comply with ANSI 118.5.

A word of caution: use of these 100% solids epoxies is still limited. When used with newly-developed accelerated enzymatic cleaners, to my knowledge, no grout manufacturer will offer a warranty on their 100% solids epoxy products – even the new ones that meet the ANSI 118.5 standards.

With new installations, my company has taken the approach to educate the end user. If these no-rinse cleaners are used, the only grout which can be used is the above 100% solids epoxy grout meeting ANSI 118.5. We educate the end user about the lack of manufacturer warranty on these ANSI 118.5 grouts if they are using an accelerated enzymatic no-rinse cleaner. These ANSI 118.5 grouts are more expensive than other epoxy grouts and typically are more difficult to use. Yet if traditional cleaners are used, many other grouts can be used successfully. We always give the advice under consultation of a trusted grout manufacturer representative.

For more information, contact Kevin Fox at [email protected]

2012 NTCA Tile & Stone Symposium


NTCA began 2012 with an expanded schedule of NTCA Tile & Stone Symposiums with Gerald Sloan, NTCA training director, and Michael Whistler, NTCA trainer and Symposium presenter, imparting their knowledge and experience to installers and other personnel spanning the U.S. Here’s just a sampling of events that took place through May, in an all-new Symposium format and curriculum.

Plano, Texas  

The March 7, 2012 Symposium at Daltile in Plano, Texas, presented by Michael Whistler, was hailed as a great success. Paul Hansen, Daltile senior director of allied products sales, noted, “This was a fantastic production with excellent turnout and tremendous supplier support. We consider this a slam-dunk event!”



Boynton Beach, Fla.

Scott Lang, branch manager of Keys Granite, a Daltile company in Boynton Beach, Florida, complimented Gerald Sloan on the April 25, 2012 Symposium. “You certainly have this road show program presentation engineered to be self-sufficient, productive, and very informative. I received many positive comments during the event, and every participant felt it was valuable time spent. Well done!”


Farmington Hills/Detroit, Mich.

On May 2, Michael Whistler rolled into the Farmington Hills/Detroit area Daltile, where he was welcomed by a crowd of 111. A seven-piece Mariachi band played during the Mexican-themed meal hour to celebrate upcoming Cinco de Mayo.

“The Dal staff did incredible work to transform a mundane warehouse setting into a very nice show area,” Whistler said. “First, they curtained off most of the surrounding pallet racking, hung numerous banners to further cover racks, and then they laid carpeting over the concrete. They even had a carpet runner leading from the showroom area, where the food was set up, to the show area.”

Joining in the event in the newly remodeled showroom were Jeff Glazier, branch manager, Daltile royalty Harold Turk and many Dal upper echelon management in attendance. Also in attendance were Dave Rogers, NTCA Area 5 Board Director, who volunteered as cameraman and erstwhile assistant, Steve Maloney and Frank Fazi, NTCA Five Star contractors, and TCNA’s Stephanie Samulski with her husband Phil, tile contractor.

Albuquerque, NM

On May 23, Whistler engaged an attentive crowd of contractors and architects at Daltile in Albuquerque. TileLetter/TADA editor Lesley Goddin, who makes her home in Albuquerque, helped welcome guests and photographed the event, while her sweetie John Vandermey operated the video camera. (This is how Goddin and Vandermey spent their 11th anniversary!)

Angelica Saiz of Creative Touch Interiors called the Symposium “interesting and informative. My big takeaways from the presentation were the coverage example of thin-set with straight trowel lines vs. swirl. The pros of using medium bed thin-set mortar for large format tile made a lot of sense. I enjoyed the presenter – he engaged the audience and was very knowledgeable.”

Architect  Ken Cook, AIA, CSI from The Hartman + Majewski Design Group added, “The substrate requirements will probably affect how we do specifications and details.”

Plymouth, Pa.

On May 29, 35 people joined Gerald Sloan at the Plymouth, Mass., Daltile for a highly interactive and enthusiastically-received Symposium. “People were thrilled to get information from the TCNA Handbook,” Sloan said. Three memberships resulted from this event, spurred on by a huge interest in the NTCA Reference Manual and its highly-useful cause/cure/prevention format. “They were very impressed with information from the Reference Manual, and wanted to know more about it and get involved with NTCA,” he said.

NTCA Tile & Stone Symposiums are an excellent way for installers, designers, specifiers or salespeople to stay abreast of rapidly-changing information and products for the tile and stone community. Each Symposium includes information on the many changes in the TCNA Handbook for Ceramic, Glass and Stone Tile Installation, such as installation of large format tile, glass tile and mosaics, membranes, backer boards, and shower receptors, pans and moisture management. Two Symposium programs educate architects and designers on the avoidance of specification pitfalls with tile, stone, and setting materials. All programs provide live demonstrations, with an open forum for discussion and networking, potentially solving installation challenges before they occur.

A schedule of future Symposiums is included in each issue of TileLetter, and the full schedule for the rest of 2012 is also posted on NTCA’s website at www.tile-assn.com. Take advantage of this educational opportunity when you see an event listed in your city; it will be well worth the time and effort invested.

Ceramica Sant’Agostino suffers losses in recent earthquake

Amidst the destruction in the Emilia-Romagna region in Italy, where a 6.0 magnitude earthquake on May 20 destroyed ancient buildings and left thousands homeless, were tragic losses suffered by Ceramica Sant’Agostino, a Confindustria Ceramica tile manufacturer.

Two of Sant’Agostino workers, Nicola Cavicchi and Leonardo Ansaloni, died in the Sant’Agostino factory when the building collapsed early Sunday morning. In addition, the company’s automated warehouse and monocottura production facility were damaged.

A statement posted by the company on its website reads, “First and foremost, Ceramica Sant’Agostino would like to express deepest sympathy for the victims of this terrible tragedy, the destructive consequences of which could undoubtedly have in no way been predicted or imagined. The disturbing events of last night leave all of us speechless, powerless to express our immense grief. Ceramica Sant’Agostino is a family business, not only because it is now in the hands of the third generation, but because it has always had a close, sincere bond with the area it operates in and with the people who work there. The loss of Leonardo Ansaloni and Nicola Cavicchi leaves a gap it is impossible to fill, and the Company extends its deepest sympathy to their families.”

Ceramica Sant’Agostino is a third-generation business, which was set up in 1964 in the Province of Ferrara in the Emilia-Romagna region (about 35 km north of Bologna). It’s been 800 years since an earthquake of this magnitude has affected the region. The company website noted that buildings were constructed with “the maximum safety criteria” and it has cooperated with examination of company structures by officials in the wake of the quake.

On May 22, Sant’Agostino received a visit from the Italian Prime Minister, Mario Monti, who has promised to help small-scale businesses, especially factories and farms, in the region. The government has approved temporary tax relief to owners of property damaged from the earthquake and $64 million in emergency funds have been made available for use by the national Civil Protection Agency providing quake assistance.

Sant’Agostino is still assessing the damages on the whole plant but hopes that many of their problems can be resolved in the next few weeks, and remains optimistic about the future of the company.

“Despite the tremendous blow suffered, Ceramica Sant’Agostino is determined to get back on our feet and resume production, above all in order to honour the memory of those we have lost,” the statement continues. “The Company intends to continue to be an important resource for the local area and for the numerous families that depend on it. This is what it means to believe in one’s work. Ceramica Sant’Agostino strongly believes in the quality of its products and of the human resources that have made it the business we all know today, and will continue to be the serious, qualified point of reference it has been for many years for the large number of customers who choose our products and appreciate the service we offer.”

Florida Tile, Metropolitan Ceramics announce Green-Squared certification

Florida Tile recently announced that all  Kentucky-produced Florida Tile products have been certified   Green Squared by Underwriters Laboratories (UL). In addition, Metropolitan Ceramics announced that a large selection of unglazed ceramic quarry tile products have been Green Squared Certified by Scientific Certification System (SCS).

Sean Cilona, Florida Tile marketing director, noted a “Certificate of Conformity” was issued to Florida Tile by UL for the following U.S.-made products, which all were all manufactured at the company‘s facility in Lawrenceburg, Ky.: Ankara, Ashton, Berkshire, Cinema, Contessa, Creekside, Fontana, Formations, Grandeur, Hamlet Manor, Highlands, Horizon, Legend, Livingston, Mendocino, Millenia, Montana, Paramount, Phoenix, Pristine, Quartez, Renaissance, Retroclassic, Savannah, Taconic Slate, Terrace, Topeka and Tuscania. Florida Tile was an integral part of the five-year development of the Green SquaredSM standard (ANSI A138.1), and its products were among the first groups of products to achieve that certification.

Metropolitan Ceramics® is part of a fifth-generation family-owned company located in Canton, Ohio. The company’s location in the same community for well over 100 years gives it a stake in the community and sense of stewardship. Being one of the first ceramic tile manufacturers to have third-party certification for the Green Squared sustainability standard is a concrete way of showing commitment to continuing efforts in all aspects of environmental management

Laminam by Crossville: large format tile panels for U.S. market

Crossville Inc. is launching “Laminam by Crossville,” a full line of lean profile, large format porcelain products through an exclusive distribution agreement with Italian manufacturer Laminam, a division of Systems Group. Under the agreement, Crossville is the sole source for Laminam’s innovative large unit porcelain panel products throughout the U.S. The distribution agreement is effective immediately, with product availability anticipated in early June.

“This is a landmark agreement and another example of Crossville’s commitment to meeting the needs of the U.S. market,” stated Crossville president John Smith. “We recognized the growing demand for very large format, thinner tile, so we searched the globe to source the best products that would appeal to the American aesthetic and match the Crossville quality standard.”

Laminam by Crossville products – each selected expressly for the U.S. market – are suited for interior wall installations and for an array of surfaces. The initial offering of 3mm-thick, fiberglass-reinforced porcelain panels will be available in over 50 items. As Smith explained, the extremely lean profile of these reinforced panels results in durability, versatility and “unparalleled technical performance.”

“These products are game changers,” Smith continued. “The colors and styles of Laminam by Crossville are right for the American market. These thin-but-extremely-durable large panels are very simple to work with and install and will invite innovative field applications. Architects and interior designers should really have fun exercising their creativity in new and unique ways with these products.”

Crossville’s logistics and Laminam’s leadership in production and technology will ensure ready availability for American specifiers. As Smith stated, the partnership with Laminam reflects “true synergy and smart international procurement” to “not just meet but lead” domestic demand for the most cutting edge products available globally.

“Crossville’s commitment to quality, excellent logistics team and established relationship with the A&D community make this partnership truly ideal,” added Laminam’s CEO, Alberto Selmi. “We are excited for Laminam by Crossville to launch in the U.S. market.”

For details on the Laminam by Crossville products, visit LaminambyCrossville.com.

NTCA Benefits Box – June 2012

The Certified Tile Installer (CTI) program

The Certified Tile Installer (CTI) program administered by the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) is a comprehensive testing of the skills and knowledge of experienced tile installers which includes a 155-question, multiple-choice, open-book exam and hands-on test. Both are based on current industry standards and best practices for producing sound installations that exhibit good workmanship. The tests – considered validation of ability and not a training program – require that both the observable and non-observable characteristics of a finished installation are executed properly.

Installers who pass the written and hands-on exams receive a certificate, an identification card and most importantly, marketing materials developed by CTEF. For example, certified installers may display the CTI logo on business cards, vehicles, and clothing. Additionally, CTEF provides promotional brochures that encourage consumers and general contractors/builders to use certified installers.

“In less than four years, the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) has validated 750 members through the Certified Tile Installer (CTI) program,” said Scott Carothers, CTEF executive director. “While this is quite an accomplishment, we realized that for the CTI program to achieve critical mass, it must move up to the next level quickly. For 2012, the goal is to confirm 200 more CTIs in one year, effectively totaling 1000 qualified installers. The ultimate goal of the CTI program is to provide the end user with a choice of an installer who has the skill and knowledge to install ceramic tile correctly the first time with high quality at a fair price.”

Another benefit of being a CTI is that the 2012 TCNA Handbook includes language that recommends the use and specification of qualified installers, validated through a number of programs and measures, including the CTI test. In addition, similar language has been added to MasterSpec, published by Arcom, that includes references to the importance of qualified labor in the Installer Qualifications section of the Division 9 specifications for tile work. (www.masterspec.com).  Brandishing one’s CTI qualifications sets installers apart from the crowd and sets the stage for lucrative work.

The cost of the CTI exam is normally $295, but current NTCA members in good standing receive a $100 discount, so CTI testing registration is only $195. What’s more, all installers who pass the CTI exam get to pick $300 worth of manufacturer’s free product coupons.

For more information about the testing protocols, visit www.tilecareer.com/Certification.htm or www.tile-assn.com/Member/CTEFCertification.aspx?mid=92.

Five Star Contractor – JP Phillips Inc.

JP Phillips, Inc. is a commercial tile contractor located in Pittsburgh, Pa. With over 37 years of experience, JP Phillips has established a strong foundation and reputation for integrity, commitment and teamwork. In 2008, the NTCA inducted JP Phillips, Inc. as one of the first members of its Five Star Program.

The company specializes in the installation of ceramic tile, porcelain tile, quarry tile, paver tile, marble, slate, granite and polished concrete.  To date, JP Phillips has installed millions of square feet of hard surface materials in a variety of sectors including hospitality, casinos/gaming, healthcare, foodservice, industrial, academia, and government.

Predicated on the values of honesty, hard work, and trust, JP Phillips has established itself as a leader in the commercial market based on quality craftsmanship and timely completion. This approach has facilitated market growth throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina and Alabama.

Featured Projects:

Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA

In 2010, JP Phillips, Inc. was proud to partner with the Pittsburgh Penguins on the construction of the new Consol Energy Center.  The new home of the Pittsburgh Penguins is the first LEED Gold Certified NHL arena in the world.  JP Phillips provided glass mosaic tile and porcelain tile in all luxury boxes, porcelain tile in public restrooms and concourses, and polished concrete on upper level concourses. JP Phillips also installed tile in the locker rooms, training rooms, and therapy rooms. In total, JP Phillips installed over 80,000 square feet of tile and stained and polished over 30,000 square feet of concrete.

Hilton Baltimore Inner Harbor, Baltimore, MD

The Hilton Baltimore Hotel & Convention center is located near the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, Md.  JP Phillips supplied and installed ceramic, marble, and granite tile in areas including 754 guestrooms, two full service restaurants, three bars/lounges, and a fitness area including a swimming pool and sauna.

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