President’s Letter – TECH 2015

JWoelfel_headshotKnowledge + experience forms the wisdom at the heart of the NTCA Reference Manual

By James Woelfel, NTCA president and Technical Committee chairperson

NTCA members are receiving this TECH issue of TileLetter packaged with the new 2015-2016 Reference Manual, a critical industry publication that supports the TCNA Handbook of Ceramic, Glass and Stone Tile Installation and ANSI standards with real-world experience to help muscle through or prevent problems encountered on the job. 

In this letter, NTCA president James Woelfel explains a bit about how the NTCA Reference Manual topics are developed and researched, resulting in a publication that benefits the entire industry.

Not yet a member and would like to benefit from using the NTCA Reference Manual? Visit the NTCA Store at www.tile-assn.com and purchase one there. Or, join NTCA and receive this publication – and many other benefits – with your membership. 

– Lesley Goddin

When you look through your NTCA Reference Manual, what is the first thing that goes through your mind? Standards? Knowledge? Wow, really?

To me, the first word I think of is wisdom. Wisdom? Where do I get that idea? Simple: wisdom is knowledge combined with experience. This wisdom comes from tile contractors. The NTCA Reference Manual is edited by the NTCA Technical Committee, a committee whose majority members are tile contractors. The contractors’ experience (which I would say is over a thousand years of combined experience in the history of this committee) is the basis for the creation of this manual and also provides ideas for new documents and perfecting the documents that are already in the manual.

Let me share a couple of examples of how this works. About seven to eight years ago a tile contractor brought to the Technical Committee’s attention a problem of how epoxy grout on a couple of his kitchen jobs was getting “eaten away” out of the grout joints. He thought it was because of the “no rinse” cleaners that had been introduced to clean the kitchen floor. What in fact was happening was these cleaners were combining with the residual oils used for cooking and creating a substance that had the capabilities of breaking down epoxy grout. Over the next couple of meetings the Technical Committee developed a letter that is on page 42 of the 2014-15 NTCA Reference Manual. This letter explains that the cleaners being used to clean the floor tile and the grout must be compatible with both, with the intention of circumventing this problem in future installations.

Let’s fast forward to today. A subcommittee is hard at work right now developing a checklist of what to be aware of when installing stone tiles with various backings like resin and fiberglass. These stones have exploded in today’s marketplace, but there have been failures with the adhesion to the backing materials of some of these stone tiles. NTCA vice-president Martin Howard and Josh Levinson of Artistic Tile(a distributor of stone tile) are spearheading this extremely important endeavor.

I would be remiss if I did not recognize the hard work of the various manufacturers and suppliers on the committee, whose knowledge we depend on to help bring these issues to light. Without these members, our job in developing the NTCA Reference Manual would be infinitely more difficult.

So when you crack open your NTCA Reference Manual the next time, hopefully the first thing that comes to mind is the word wisdom.

– James Woelfel, NTCA president