NTCA issues position statement in reference to method EJ 171

One of the most consistent installation replacement or repair claims made in the tile industry centers around problems associated with the lack of accounting for movement of a building and how it affects the tile assembly.  The National Tile Contractors Association felt the issue is so signifiant to tile contractors that it issued a position statement that will be published in its 2017 edition of the NTCA Reference Manual.  At the heart of the concern is who bears the responsibility for designing, specifying or locating movement joints in a tile installation.  It points out that special attention to method EJ 171, located in the Tile Council of North America Handbook for the Installation of Ceramic and Stone tile, should be considered.
The position statement will be made available to all NTCA contractor members to include in documentation and correspondence.  Its intent is to point out that it is beyond the scope and ability of a tile contractor to properly design and specify movement accommodation, for either commercial or residential tile construction projects.

Lack of Movement Joints in a tile assembly can lead to installation failure

Tile Contractors and their installers should be aware of EJ 171 and its requirements, and should use the position statement to request in writing where the movement joints should be located.  They should use this method to point out to the building owner or design professional that the tile industry recommends that movement joints be installed every 20 to 25 feet in each direction in interior applications,and every 8 to 12 feet in each direction on exterior projects.  If interior jobs are exposed to direct sunlight or moisture, it should be treated as an exterior project and have movement joints located every 8 to 12 feet in each direction.

The NTCA recommends that the tile contractor take the responsibility to point out the requirements of EJ 171 before they begin the tile work and to not take on unnecessary liability by proceeding with work until movement accommodation is addressed.

To order your copy of the NTCA Reference Manual, go to www.tile-assn.com and visit the NTCA store.

New Slip Resisting Tile from Metropolitan Ceramics

With the addition of XA Abrasive to their QUARRYBASICS® product line, Metropolitan Ceramics® introduces the next evolution of slip resisting tile. XA Abrasive combines two grip enhancing additives in one tile for decades of slip resisting performance.

During manufacturing, in the raw material blending stage, a metallic additive is incorporated into the mix of natural clays and shales that go into making XA Abrasive. After extrusion, silicon carbide is added to the surface of each XA tile.

This one-of-a-kind combination of a silicon carbide embedded surface and a metallic additive through the body of the tile work together to combat the effects of spills, moisture, extreme temperatures, and heavy traffic.

Like Metropolitan Ceramics other unglazed quarry products, XA Abrasive is low absorption, less than 3% and qualifies as vitreous. And at ½” thick, XA Abrasive is extremely durable and ready for the most demanding environments.

Use XA Abrasive anywhere spills/moisture and heavy traffic combine to create slip fall concerns. Commercial kitchens and food prep areas are two prime examples of spaces that would benefit from using XA Abrasive.

There are four color options available with XA Abrasive, 31XA Mayflower Red, 57XA Puritan Gray, 15XA Buckskin, and 18XA Chestnut Brown. The product line is available in 6” x 6”, 8” x 8”, and 4” x 8” sizes.

For more information about XA Abrasive or any of their other fine products, you can call Metropolitan Ceramics customer service at 1-800–325-3945. You can also visit the Metropolitan Ceramics website – www.metroceramics.com.

BUSINESS TIP – JANUARY 2017

IRS continues to enforce “reasonable” sharehold-employee salaries

 

 

In the ceramic tile industry there are many small businesses which may be Subchapter S Corporations, since there are many appealing tax benefits while still providing liability protection to the shareholders. If you’re a shareholder-employee of an S Corporation, you more than likely considered the tax advantages of this entity choice. But those very same tax advantages also tend to draw IRS scrutiny. And the agency has made clear that its interest in S Corporations – including possible audits – will continue. The IRS focuses on determining whether the salary of the shareholders is unreasonably low. The tactics listed below will help protect your company from this IRS examination.

 

 
What’s the problem?
The IRS pays particular attention to S Corporations because, as you well know, shareholder-employees of these organizations aren’t subject to self-employment taxes on their respective shares of the company’s income. This differs from, say, general partners in a partnership.

 
To better manage payroll taxes, many S Corporations minimize shareholder-employee salaries (which are subject to payroll taxes) and compensate them mostly via “dividend” distributions. If this holds true for you, the IRS may take a close look at your salary to determine whether it’s “unreasonably” low. The agency views overly-minimized salaries as an improper means of avoiding payroll taxes.
If its case is strong enough, the IRS could recharacterize a portion of distributions paid to you and other shareholder-employees as wages and bill the employer and/or employee for unpaid taxes, interest and possibly even penalties.

How do you define it?
By following certain guidelines, your business can ensure salaries paid to you and other shareholder-employees have a higher likelihood of meeting the agency’s typical standards of reasonableness.
For starters, do some benchmarking to learn how S Corporations of similar size (as indicated by capital value, net income or sales) in your industry and geographic region are paying their shareholder-employees. In addition, pay close attention to certain traits held by your shareholder-employees. These include:
Background and experience
Specific responsibilities
Work hours
Professional reputation
Customer relationships

 

The stronger these traits are, the higher the salary should be in the eyes of the IRS. Shareholder-employee salaries should be fairly consistent from year to year, too, without dramatic raises or cuts.
For more in-depth information about the particulars of S Corporations, visit https://www.thebalance.com/the-s-corporation-your-questions-answered-397844 or http://tinyurl.com/hp2qwna.

 
CTDA helps you succeed in your business through a variety of programs and services that include educational opportunities, webinars, and discounts on shipping, client collection services, telephone charges, auto rentals, and more. CTDA offers networking and relationship-building opportunities through participation in Total Solutions Plus all-industry conference and Coverings annual trade show. Membership in CTDA also increases your national exposure and gives you access to the annual membership survey, a valuable resource to evaluate your company in terms of profit improvement, employee compensation, distribution and company performance. The CTDA website, CTDA Educational Opportunities, Weekly Newsletters and TileDealer Blog are all free resources that will “keep you in the loop” as well. CTDA is always looking for ways to improve the benefits of membership. To learn more about membership, please contact [email protected] or 630-545-9415 visit the website at www.ctdahome.org. Like CTDA on Facebook and Twitter @Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA).

BY THE BOOK – JANUARY 2017

ANSI Standards:
a tile installer’s best friend!

 

By Scott Carothers,
CTEF director of Certification and Training

How familiar are you with the ANSI American National Standards Specifications for the Installation of Ceramic Tile? (ANSI stands for the American National Standards Institute.) If you aren’t, and you’re in the tile installation business, it’s time you pay attention. ANSI Standards are a tile installer’s best friend!

Why tile installers should study the TCNA Handbook and ANSI Specifications
For continued success, tile installers should study the TCNA Handbook for Ceramic, Glass and Stone Tile Installation and ANSI Specifications, retaining as much as possible, or at least knowing where to find the answers. These books can be your best friend as this article – based on a true story – explains.
Here’s how the story goes.

 


After successfully completing the Large Format Tile and Substrate Prep test – one of the  ained in the Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT) program – an installer returned to work installing tile while also being the jobsite superintendent.
On this particular day, the superintendent was representing his company at a pre-job conference with the architect since the business owner was not available.
The architect reviewed the scope of the job involving the tile installation and said that the job included a 12” x 24” non-rectified porcelain tile which was specified to be installed in a running bond (brick pattern), at a fifty percent offset and a 1/32” grout joint.

When current ANSI Specifications call for a different application
The now ACT-certified installer politely informed the architect that the current ANSI Specification, A108.02 under section 4.3.8, calls for a much different application.
Here follow the criteria excerpted from ANSI A108.02 Section 4.3.8 regarding grout joint size, particularly in relation to the tile size, dimensional precision, and offset pattern:

4.3.8 Grout Joint Size:
To accommodate the range in facial dimensions of the tile supplied for a specific project, the actual grout joint size may, of necessity, vary from the grout joint size specified. The actual grout joint size shall be at least three times the actual variation of facial dimensions of the tile supplied. Example: for tile having a total variation of 1/16” in facial dimensions, a minimum of 3/16” grout joint shall be used. Nominal centerline of all joints shall be straight with due allowances for hand-molded or rustic tiles. In no circumstance shall the grout joint be less than 1/16”.

4.3.8.1 Running Bond/Brick Joint Patterns:
For running bond/brick joint patterns utilizing tiles (square or rectangular) with any side greater than 15”, the grout joint shall be, on average, a minimum of 1/8” wide for rectified tiles and, on average, a minimum of 3/16” wide for calibrated (non-rectified) tiles. The grout joint width shall be increased over the minimum requirement by the amount of edge warpage on the longest edge of the actual tiles being installed. For example, for a rectified tile exhibiting 1/32” edge warpage on the longest edge, the minimum grout joint for a running bond/brick joint pattern will be 1/8” + 1/32” or 5/32”, on average. Of necessity, in any installation, some grout joints will be less and some more than the average minimum dimension to accommodate the specific tiles being installed.

4.3.8.2 Running Bond/Brick Joint Offset:
For running bond/brick joint patterns utilizing tiles (square or rectangular) where the side being offset is greater than 18” (nominal dimension), the running bond offset will be a maximum of 33% unless otherwise specified by the tile manufacturer. If an offset greater than 33% is specified, specifier and owner must approve mock-up and lippage.

The ANSI Standard-based solution
The installer paraphrased the ANSI specification saying, “The tile is to be installed in a running bond offset at a maximum of 33% with a 3/16” grout joint.”
The architect asked the installer where he found this information and how he knew it so well. The installer showed the architect the portion of the ANSI book containing that standard, and told him that he became aware of this and many other aspects of the industry standards through his studies in preparation for the ACT certification tests. The architect reviewed the ANSI listing and agreed that the specifications would be modified to follow the standard that the installer had described. The tile was installed successfully and everyone involved was satisfied with the end result.
The owner of the tile company, who was absent through this process, is convinced that had they installed the tile as originally specified, the job would have been rejected due to edge lippage, requiring it to be removed and replaced.

Get to know the tile installer’s best friend!
The ANSI Standards-based knowledge saved this contractor a significant amount of time and potential expense. Using knowledge wisely can reap large benefits. Wouldn’t you agree?
Have you encountered tile installation situations where the ANSI Standards were truly your best friend? Please share your experiences with us at [email protected]

The Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) is an educational institution that offers local, regional, and national training programs for consumers, installers, construction professionals, architects, designers, building inspectors and sales associates interested in the sale and installation of ceramic tile. Find out more at ceramictilefoundation.org.

 

QUALIFIED LABOR – JANUARY 2017

CTEF, NTCA develop Regional Evaluator program to facilitate CTI testing

By Kevin Insalato,
Regional Evaluator Coordinator

The CTEF and the NTCA are listening. The demand for qualified labor is RED HOT. If you are a talented and quality-oriented tile installer, you are in demand. The best way to prove to a dealer, tile contractor or consumer that you are a qualified installer is to pass the Certified Tile Installer (CTI) test.
In the past, the demand for CTI testing outpaced the supply. But NTCA’s Bart Bettiga and Jim Olson and CTEF’s Scott Carothers heard the screams to be tested and took action. The NTCA has tasked me to develop a plan to meet the demand for testing installers across the United States.

Invested in training
My name is Kevin Insalato, Region 5 Director and Board Member for the NTCA. I am the owner of California Flooring, which installs all types of flooring and performs full-bathroom remodeling. Our employees believe in training. Five are CTIs, one installer just took the CTI test, and our newest employee is taking the online Apprenticeship Program at the NTCA University (http://www.tile-assn.com/?page=NTCAU). Two of our CTIs are also ACT-Certified in Large Format Tile. California Flooring is a small residential business.

The CTI Evaluator program expands
Originally, the CTEF had one evaluator, but the demand for additional testing grew that number to four evaluators testing new candidates. We started a Regional Evaluator (RE) program to add and localize our REs. The training for this new group of REs began in November 2016. We held a three-day session for eight new evaluators in Chicago. All 12 Regional Evaluators worked together to revamp the original evaluation program and streamline the testing. Our intention is to provide a grading system that is transparent, fair and maintains the integrity of the CTI test.
The future of CTI testing will continue to pair candidates and distributor / manufacturer host sites. The mobility and regional advantages of our new REs will benefit NTCA members and non-members alike. The honor of hosting a CTI test is now available to those dealers and contractors willing to share their facilities. Contact me at [email protected] and we will get you on the list to be tested.

New program details:
Discounts and coupons
The amazing news about the test is the cost is only $495. This covers both the cost of your written test and hands-on skills test. All the materials you will need to prepare for this test are included. There are also videos available that will assist you to prepare for the hands-on test section.
The manufacturers recognize the importance of this test and support it strongly. You will receive $1,200 in manufacturers’ coupons after successfully passing your test.
Great news for dealers or contractors planning to test three or more employees at one time – we have a discount for you. The test price is lowered to $395 and you still receive $950 in coupons for each candidate that passes the CTI test. If you are a large dealer or contractor and we test 10 or more of your employees at one time, your test price is only $295 each, with coupons worth $ 700 for every candidate that passes the CTI tests.
The CTEF wants to continue to thank past supporters of the CTI program. For this reason, after you pay for 10 candidates to take the CTI test, every additional candidate will qualify for the top discount price of $295 with a return of $700 in coupons for every successful test candidate. We will meet your demands and get you tested. The tile industry wants you to become a Certified Tile Installer and they are willing to prove it!

EDITOR’S LETTER – JANUARY 2017

“Our business in life is not to get ahead of others, but to get ahead of ourselves – to break our own records, to outstrip our yesterday by our today.”
– Steward B. Johnson

1947. Do you remember what you were doing then? Maybe you were graduating from high school or starting a business, or maybe you weren’t even a twinkle in your mom’s and dad’s eyes yet.
1947 is a popular date here in New Mexico, where I have my home office, since that was the year of the “Roswell UFO Incident,” which purports that an unidentified flying object crashed near Roswell.

It was an important year for India and Pakistan, since both countries gained independence from Great Britain.

 
Harry Truman was the U.S. president, and signed The National Security Act of 1947 into law; the Cold war began; The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank was in the bookstores; The United Nations voted to create an independent Jewish State of Israel; the film “Miracle on 34th Street” premiered in the U.S.; The first of the Dead Sea Scrolls was discovered in Qumran; Princess Elizabeth married the Duke of Edinburgh; Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers; and “I’ve Got a Crush on You,” and “Always” sung by Frank Sinatra were on the top song charts.

 
1947 was important for another reason too – that’s the year that NTCA began as the Southern Tile Contractors Association (STCA) in Birmingham, Ala., under the direction of executive director Jim Trimm. STCA catered to tile contractors in 13 southern states, promoting ceramic tile and quality installation. From humble beginnings (and several name changes), it has evolved into the largest tile contractor association in the world. Joe Tarver took over the leadership of the association in 1972 when it was known as the Southern Tile Terrazzo Marble Contractors Association, and with other dedicated industry members, spearheaded the NTCA Workshop Program which took education on the road around the country; and then in 2002 Bart Bettiga took the reins to develop it to where it is today – expanding the nonprofit association’s charter of education, training, networking.
You’ll undoubtedly be hearing a lot about NTCA history over these next 12 months as we celebrate our 70th Anniversary – from the evolution of the industry convention into Coverings and then spinning off a little management and leadership conference we now know as Total Solutions Plus; the development of the Technical Committee and those first NTCA Reference Manuals and of course TileLetter, which was produced tirelessly by Myra Caldwell, who passed away last year.

 
As we skip down memory lane, I invite you to share with me your favorite memories of NTCA over the years. Maybe you were part of those early “road shows,” committees or conferences; maybe you have a unique perspective of how the industry and association has evolved over the years. Please share at [email protected], and let’s skip down memory lane and celebrate our association’s accomplishments together!

God bless,

Lesley
[email protected]

 

Ask the Experts – January 2017

QUESTION

Attached are pictures of an exterior grout leaching problem we are having on concrete, waterproofed with a membrane with a latex-modified thinset mortar and sanded grout with additive. Latex leaching (or efflorescence?) came through the grout not long after installation.
We removed all the grout three weeks ago and covered with plastic as you can see. It never got wet for those three weeks and we had fans on the tile. Yet when a penknife was pulled through the joints, the material was still a little damp and the latex is still coming through.
We feel it is in the mortar we used. A manufacturer rep is supposed to look at it. The manufacturer said for us to use unsanded grout with an additive. I do not feel like that will work at all – the latex is leaching through, even with no grout in the joints.
We felt like an epoxy grout would be the answer to fix this. What is your professional opinion on this?

ANSWER

My suspicion is that this is latex migration coming from the mortar.
This does not necessarily mean it is a problem with the mortar itself. I suspect the latex in the mortar may not have been allowed to fully coalesce and may continue to be an issue. Have you lifted a tile to examine the coverage and condition of the bond coat?
It is good that you have asked the manufacturer for a review. They will be able to assist you in determining whether this is efflorescence or latex migration, and its source. If the residue is powdery and salty it is efflorescence. If it is hard and more difficult to remove it is likely latex migration.
It is important to solve the problem then select the grout. Trying to lock in the migration with epoxy grout is not necessarily a cure for the issue. The source of the efflorescence or latex migration must be determined then remedied to ensure a long term successful solution.
If epoxy is eventually selected as a grout, ensure it is rated for UV exposure on an exterior installation.
– Mark Heinlein
CTI #1112,
NTCA Technical Trainer/Presenter

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