Educating Designers: IMI and industry partners wrap up national ceramic tile education series

Scott Conwell of IMI talked about qualified labor language in the architectural specifications.










2017 was an unprecedented year for education and promotion of ceramic tile!  With the cooperation of several partnering organizations, International Masonry Institute (IMI) led the charge on an exhaustive national tour of tile seminars and demonstrations targeting design professionals and union tile contractors in nine U.S. cities.

Most of the venues were a half-day in length with presentations by a variety of industry experts, offering design professionals 4.0 Health/Safety/Welfare AIA learning units in addition to meeting requirements for IDCEC, GBCI, and Tile Contractors Association of America (TCAA).  Although design professionals were the primary target, in typical IMI fashion, the audiences were a mix of architects, interior designers, tile contractors signatory with the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC), BAC tile setter members, as well as general contractors, construction managers, building owners, public agencies, and national accounts.  The program drew 60-70 attendees per city, on average.

Architects examine exhibitor product literature relevant to their current project.

Art Mintie of LATICRETE delivered AIA-registered presentations on setting materials and grouts.












The program’s content focused on hot topics in the industry like the newly-passed ANSI standards on Gauged Porcelain Tile (GPT) Panels, and the installation of this revolutionary material which architects are specifying more and more. Additionally, the program covered important topics of large format tile, standards for floor flatness and lippage, sustainable attributes of tile, and new developments in setting materials and grouts.  The program also covered the topic of qualified labor in the architectural specifications, addressing the language to recently appear in MasterSpec and in some of the new ANSI standards on this increasingly important requirement of tile installations.

Mike Granatowski (MAPEI), Noah Chitty (Crossville) and Jim Whitfield (MAPEI) presented on the new gauged porcelain tile ANSI standards.

Bill Griese of TCNA talked about tile’s heritage, design flexibility, easy care and health benefits, as part of the #whytile campaign.











Scott Conwell, IMI Director and the program’s organizer and co-presenter, said “Materials, technology, and standards are rapidly changing in the tile industry, so it’s critical that we communicate these new developments to the national design community.  We also want to deliver the message that BAC tile contractors and installers are continuously refining their education and skills through the training and certification programs of IMI and International Masonry Training and Education Foundation (IMTEF), and they are well qualified to install to the latest standards and requirements.”

Hilary Frank of Daltile addressed the audiences on health, safety, environment and sustainable design.

IMI and the team of presenters and sponsors brought this program to nine cities in 2017.










The venue of each program varied by city.  In Milwaukee, Chicago, Kansas City, and Minneapolis, IMI hosted the seminar at their local training centers, which allowed attendees the opportunity to view demonstrations like the one on tile shower assemblies in Chicago, and tour the Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT) certification modules in Minneapolis and Milwaukee. In San Francisco, national architecture firm HDR hosted the program in their large conference room, accommodating attendees from various firms in the city.  New Jersey’s program was held in a tile showroom, and New York City’s was at the Metropolitan Pavilion, a space frequently used by the local AIA and CSI chapters.

In Washington DC, the program was integrated into a large industry conference, Total Solutions Plus, where the contractors in the hotel’s meeting room outnumbered the architects two to one.  This audience was treated to a livestream demonstration via Skype of an installation of membranes, shower receptors, and GPT by IMTEF apprentice instructors at IMI’s national training center in Bowie, Maryland.

At each location, the presentations were supplemented by the tile industry’s top material suppliers offering technical information, samples, and literature at a tabletop display area, providing additional value to the attendees.

IMI and their partner organization on this program, Tile Contractors Association of America, wish to thank the dozens of companies who exhibited their products at these seminars, and to especially thank the program sponsors and presenters:  Tile Council of North America (TCNA), Crossville, Daltile, LATICRETE, MAPEI, and Total Solutions Plus.  Ours is an industry of partnership, and by working together to educate, the tile industry will continue to grow and thrive. — Scott Conwell, FAIA, International Masonry Institute



Editor for TileLetter, TileLetter Coverings, TREND and TECH publications.

Lesley Goddin has been writing and journaling since her first diary at age 11, and drawing and sketching since she could hold a pencil. Her penchant for observation led to her becoming a paid professional as a trade journalist, publicist and is editor for TileLetter. She has also written for Guideposts, Walls, Windows and Floors, Floor Covering Weekly, and Low Carb Energy.