Challenging cladding project takes careful planning, expertise and materials

When an owner of a newly built home in Berkeley, Calif., contacted Martin Brookes of NTCA Five-Star Contractor Heritage Marble & Tile in Mill Valley, Calif., about cladding his home’s exterior, Brookes knew the project was going to take technical expertise and special installation protocols, setting materials and specialized equipment. 

The finished project involved 3,200 sq. ft. of large-format porcelain tile for cladding, upper deck and out buildings.

The homeowner had sourced the 4’ x 4’ x 1/2” porcelain tile through a local vendor from an Italian manufacturer, Brookes said. “We

The Raimondi RAI-FIX Anchoring system provided a simple, effective solution to prevent the fall of the tiles applied vertically with adhesive in case of detachment from the wall.

knew this would be a challenging project and layout would be critical due to the owner requiring full tile on all four sides,” Brookes explained. “We teamed up with LATICRETE, which gave an installation procedure we were comfortable in executing.” Dale Foster, LATICRETE rep, was a huge help in helping things run on time without a hitch.

Though these were large-format tiles, they were thick and rigid at 1/2″ (12.7 mm) – not the thin gauged porcelain tile panels (GPTP) becoming increasingly more popular today.  

“Because of the weight of the tile we also decided to anchor the tile with Raimondi RAI-FIX Anchoring System,” Brookes added. This system provides a simple, effective solution to prevent the fall of the tiles applied vertically with adhesive in case of detachment from the wall. At the time – the project spanned February – May 2017 – Raimondi RAI-FIX was not available in the U.S., so Heritage had the components shipped from the UK to meet the schedule for the installation (Note: the system is now available domestically through Donnelly Distribution at

In addition to the installation protocol, anchors, and setting materials, what helped the job to go smoothly was the excellence and expertise of crew members Gabriel Cortez and Leo Escamilia, who are both Certified Tile Installers and ACT Certified. They corrected the previously installed substrate to provide a suitable surface to be tiled, and layout was thoughtfully calculated to make the finished product shine.

Because the panels were so thick and rigid, crews used suction cups to move the tile from the scaffold to the substrate.

The project started toward the end of the rainy season, so Heritage crews had to protect the work space.

Crews used a large MK Diamond bridge saw on site to cut the material, which worked perfectly, Brookes said. All the corners on the project featured quirk miters. 

Crews, led by CTI/ACT certified Gabriel Cortez and Leo Escamilia, corrected the previously installed substrate to provide a suitable surface to be tiled, and layout was thoughtfully calculated to make the finished product shine.

The contractor had GPTP equipment on hand to move the tile due to its size. But because the panels themselves were so thick and rigid, Brookes didn’t need to use it and opted for suction cups to move the tile from the scaffold to the substrate. It took four crew members to handle the weight and the handling of the tile. 

Heritage Marble & Tile workers implemented directional troweling with LATICRETE 254, which performed exactly as expected. 

“We did not grout the project until we gave the thin-set mortar ample time to cure,” Brookes said. “We felt this would not only benefit the curing process of the thin-set mortar, but would reduce our potential call backs for efflorescence or latex leaching.”

Leo Escamilia (l.), a valued Heritage crew member who is a CTI and ACT certified, along with LATICRETE rep Dave Foster – both of whom were instrumental to the smoothly running project.

The Heritage team – and the client – were thoroughly pleased with the results, which amounted to about 3,200 sq. ft. of tile for the cladding, upper deck and out buildings. “Although this was a challenging project, the guys excelled and the finished product was to the delight of the owner,” Brookes concluded.

MAPEI mortar brings life to National Shrine’s mosaic dome in Washington, D.C.

MAPEI’s Kerabond/Keralastic System was used to install 14 million pieces of specialized Venetian glass tile 

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., is the largest Roman Catholic church in the United States, and the second largest church in North America. As one of the 10 largest churches in the world, the Basilica features over 80 chapels/oratories as well as extravagant domes with detailed mosaics in the Romanesque-Byzantine architectural style. 

As the national Catholic Church of the United States, the shrine has experienced several papal visits including Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and, most recently, Pope Francis in 2015. During his first visit to the United States, Pope Francis visited the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception to canonize 18th century Spanish Franciscan missionary Saint Junípero Serra, who founded 21 missions in California. The canonization of this “Californian” saint at the church was heavily covered in the media, including the New York Times, the front cover of Newsweek, USA Today and C-SPAN.

The “crowning jewel” of the shrine is the Trinity Dome. It depicts the Holy Trinity, the Virgin Mary and a procession of saints who have an association with the United States and the National Shrine. In celebration of the Basilica’s 100th anniversary, MAPEI provided products to complete the delicate installation of more than 18,300 sq. ft. (1,700 m2) of Venetian glass tile.  

Installation challenge at a height of 159 feet

The Trinity Dome is one of the most visually striking and physically extraordinary mosaics in the world, echoing those from the ancient world. The installation process – which featured MAPEI products – also employed age-old techniques, turning the installers into high-climbing artisans. 

Having previously installed mosaics on three smaller domes within the Basilica, when the crew from Rugo Stone won the bid for the tile installation of the mosaic in the main dome, they immediately began working with the archdiocese, the architects and MAPEI on a plan to install the soaring artwork in the most unobtrusive manner possible. 

Being a sacred place of worship, as well as the National Basilica, the church had to remain open during the installation. Further, nothing could fall from the jobsite. At that height, even the smallest tile could be deadly if dropped. So, an elaborate safety system was devised. The mosaic fabrication and installation processes were completed using a unique scaffolding system anchored into the structure of the Basilica itself. The deck/base of the enclosed compartment was six floors above the central aisle (known as the nave) and featured eight floors of scaffolding rising above the deck in the enclosed compartment to the dome’s apex, where the oculus marks 159 feet (48.5 m) above the nave. The worksite also included an air exchanger and ceiling cover to hide the installation crew from the worshippers below and to avoid interruption of regularly scheduled services. 

MAPEI products on the jobsite

All of the work was completed using MAPEI’s ANSI A118.15E-compliant Kerabond/Keralastic System. An installation of this kind required a tile mortar with a high-performance bond. This two-part system provided exceptional bond strength, flexibility and elongation. A flexible yet strong mortar was imperative, as failure was not an option. The specified mosaic embellishment consisted of 14 million pieces of specialized Venetian glass, totaling 24 short tons (21.8 metric tons) of tile across 18,300 square feet (1,700 m2) of the dome.

First, the Rugo Stone team completely removed all of the old plaster. Then, working in a manner reminiscent of their artistic forebearers in Ravenna, they hand-set the handmade Venetian glass tiles throughout the project. Given the delicate nature of the tiles – and of the setting – through their work, the Rugo crew returned to the classic past.

To complete the complex design of gold and glass tile, installers laid on their backs to individually place each tiny tile. Only a handful of contractors in the United States are capable of completing such a project – especially given the fact that the Trinity Dome project is one of the largest mosaics of its kind in the world – and the tile had to be hand-set. But the crew from Rugo Stone knew the enormity of the task. They had previously completed mosaics in three other smaller domes on the property. And now, thanks to these craftsmen in conjunction with MAPEI, the basilica’s dome is a golden, glittering heaven in celebration of the National Shrine’s 100th anniversary.


The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception – Washington, D.C., USA

Period of construction: 2015

Period of intervention: 2017

Where MAPEI products were used: MAPEI’s Kerabond/Keralastic System was used to install Venetian glass tile on the ceiling of the Basilica’s Trinity Dome.

Project owner: Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington

Charles Donagh Maginnis

Installer: Rugo Stone LLC

MAPEI distributor: Morris Tile

MAPEI coordinators: Gary Waldron, Allen Janofsky,
Vince Linton

Armaly Sponge Company is now the #1 Global Distributor of Natural Sponges with Acquisition of Acme Sponge Company

WALLED LAKE, Michigan, January 3, 2019 –(BUSINESS WIRE)—Armaly Sponge Company – home to the Brillo brand, a global leader in consumer household cleaning products, and Armaly ProPlus brand, which the company claims to be the #1 brand in professional and do-it-yourself surface preparation, finish and cleaning – announced today it has acquired Acme Sponge Company.

Acme Sponge Company, located in Tarpon Springs, Florida, is the #1 distributor of natural sponges globally and in the United States, and traces its roots back four generations to sea sponge merchants and divers in Greece. However, Acme Sponge Company is not just a sponge company anymore. Over the past 70 years, it has grown into a diverse multi-national company. Acme offers a wide variety of high quality products, including natural sponges, synthetic sponges, natural loofahs and loofah products, bath and body brushes, and assorted cleaning products and accessories.

The acquisition will increase Armaly Sponge Company’s market share in the natural sponge segment and provide new distribution opportunities and logistical efficiencies with retailers. This transaction also provides an additional global growth platform for other Armaly branded products while maintaining best in class quality, value and standards.

“We are excited to combine our unique assets and expertise with that of Armaly Sponge Company to create an even stronger company with the same family values upon which both companies were founded and have thrived,” said Jim Cantonis, president of Acme Sponge Company.

“It’s an exciting time at Armaly Brands as we continue to grow our portfolio of brands and products. The acquisition of Acme Sponge Company provides a combined legacy of over 180 years in the natural sponge business and aligns with our growth strategy of becoming #1 in all segments of our business through providing the consumer with innovative quality products and a great value, all while maintaining our family culture and values. Acme Sponge Company is the perfect fit for us today and we look forward to continuing the successful growth with future product innovation,” said John Armaly, president of Armaly Sponge Company.

FinPan, Inc. hosts courses on AEC Daily

finpan logoFinPan, Inc. is proud to announce that it now has two courses on AEC Daily. The second course, “Current Trends in Design: Curbless Shower Systems” finished in the AEC Daily Top 20 courses completed for its first month, over the summer of 2018. It placed 5th overall with 159 hours completed by the specifying community. FinPan’s first course, “Water Management Solutions for Traditional and Curbless Shower Pan Installations” is also available online. 

Jeff Ketterer

Jeff Ketterer

“We are pleased to offer architectural and design professionals an objective overview of trends in our industry all while helping to promote the tile industry,” said Jeff Ketterer, Corporate Trainer for FinPan. “The course is an overview of how curbless shower pans are designed for durability and safety, and meet the needs of accessible designs. Discussions on traditional methods and new modern ones are addressed from a design and installation process along with their associated benefits and drawbacks. 

“In today’s digital age, it is critical to provide sufficient resources towards online educational and training portals as they create a far more convenient and timely platform for the specifying community to broaden their horizons and learn about new and innovative products and methods,” he added. “Lunch and learns are still a great educational tool, but the time limitations from both the supplier and specifier sides make them more difficult to set up than ever before.” 

For those companies looking to broaden their reach to architects, interior designers, contractors and other industry professionals, AEC Daily is a great outlet to consider. AEC Daily is a developer and host of online education courses for the construction industry. It is an e-learning provider and is one of the largest sources for free online construction education courses that offer Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for its participants. It provides the opportunity to manage and satisfy CE requirements in a secure, easy-to-use website that is available 24/7. Course completion is automatically reported to applicable industry associations such as American Institute of Architects (AIA), Interior Design Continuing Education Council (IDCEC) and many more

Several companies in the tile industry already have courses available such as LATICRETE, Noble Company and Tile Redi. Check out AEC Daily online at to learn more. To learn more about the products offered by FinPan check out their website at

CERSAIE 2018: Tiling Town attracts more than 1K visitors

TEC logoAt CERSAIE 2018, the seventh edition of Tiling Town event attracted more than 1,000 visitors (+15%), taking advantage of the new CERSAIE layout that brought together exhibitors of installation equipment and materials in halls 31 and 31A. These logistics facilitated meetings between visitors and tile installers and master tile layers from Assoposa – the Italian association dedicated to ceramic tile installation. Tiling Town offered daily showcases of installation work with large-size panels and slabs. 

There were three separate initiatives devoted to slab installation:

  • Promotion of Assoposa training courses for slab layers. Slab installation is a completely new kind of work that requires specialist skills. With this in mind, Assoposa has organized a specific training course designed to transform tile layers into professionals capable of installing large slabs in compliance with standards in all operating conditions. The four training modules presented at CERSAIE were held at the Scuola Edile (building school) in Reggio Emilia this year on November 29 and 30 and December 1. 2019 dates are:
  • ° January 10, 11, 12, 31 
  • ° February 1, and 2 
  • ° March 14, 15 and 16.
  • Participation is free and reserved for Assoposa members with the professional tile layer or master tile layer credentials. 
  • Seminars for architects and designers that qualify for professional training credits in Italy, organized to encourage design projects using these innovative products and to promote the use of large slabs. All problems relating to the new products can be resolved by qualified specialist retailers and installers.
  • A proposal for managing logistics and transport of these new products by drawing up a series of non-obligatory “Good Practices” for the logistics and transport of slabs in coordination with manufacturers, transporters and retailers. 
A new layout at Cersaie facilitated meetings between visitors and tile installers and master tile layers from Assoposa.

A new layout at Cersaie in halls 31 and 31A facilitated meetings between visitors and tile installers and master tile layers from Assoposa – the Italian association dedicated to ceramic tile installation.

Tiling Town 2018 also hosted installations devoted to special cutting and the “continuous vein” effect. Replicating the successful “RIGHT/WRONG” initiative of previous years, these showcases clearly demonstrated how a carefully designed installation project based on the tile’s vein pattern produces far superior results to a random layout. The exceptional aesthetic results achieved in the floor tile waterjet cutting demonstration further underscored the importance of proper installation.

Software for online compilation of the Traceability Sheet in accordance with Italian standard UNI 11493 was also presented. This sheet must be issued to the client by the contractor or sub-contractor and must provide an orderly and technically correct description of the key aspects of the operations performed, the materials used and the professionals involved. The Traceability Sheet serves as a kind of identikit of a ceramic tile installation, a document that sets out the key characteristics of a floor installation and validates the work of Assoposa member tile layers.

Eight new professional certification courses have been scheduled for the qualifications of tile layer and master tile layer and will be held in the period from October 2018 to March 2019 in the Italian cities of Bergamo, Cuneo, Padua, Reggio Emilia, Avellino, Pisa, Brindisi and Frosinone.

Tiling Town offered daily showcases of installation work with large-size panels and slabs.

Tiling Town offered daily showcases of installation work with large-size panels and slabs.

EITA (European Innovative Tile Academy), an advanced training school for instructors, was presented with the aim of promoting training courses for slab layers organized in accordance with a shared European standard at various national levels.

“What five years ago seemed like a dream – the creation of a highly respected association of professional ceramic tile layers and dealers with hundreds of members and a continuous, high-quality program of activities – has now become reality,” commented Paolo Colombo, Chairman of Assoposa.

There were three separate initiatives devoted to slab installation

There were three separate initiatives devoted to slab installation.

Cersaie 2018 and the activities of Tiling Town also saw a surge in applications for Assoposa membership (30% more than at Cersaie 2017). Following an intense promotional campaign, visitors showed a keen interest in the initiatives organized by Assoposa, including the presentation of a highly popular illustrated tile installation manual entitled “Assoposa per noi” which was distributed free of charge at the show. 

Cersaie large-format modules and slabs offer thin and thick profiles

This year at Cersaie, many Ceramics of Italy companies launched a range of large-format tiles for interior and exterior use and thin tile/gauged porcelain tile products. Here’s just a peek at what visitors to Bologna, Italy, saw on display at the end of September at the show.

Fioranese: Liquida

The Liquida collection, designed by Davide Tonelli for Ceramica Fioranese, evokes 1950s-era wallpaper with its graphic patterns and forms. With a surface inspired by the look of natural limestone, the collection is available in six pastel colors – ivory, dove grey, pink, sage green, powder blue and cocoa – and 8 captivating patterns – Porthole, Frame, Ribbed, Cut Out, Bold, Plaid, Oval, and Block. Liquida slabs (48” x 102”) are suitable for wall applications in residential and commercial projects, and create a seamless, wallpaper-like appearance.

Blustyle: Yosemite

Blustyle’s Yosemite collection is inspired by the look of limestone slabs, carefully produced to reflect the natural characteristics and veining of the material. This porcelain stoneware collection offers solutions for both indoor and outdoor flooring. The 35” x 35” 11mm indoor floor tiles provide guaranteed durability. The 24” x 24” 20mm format pavers, with their textured surface, are suitable for all outdoor flooring – even for use on driveways. The collection is available in three colors – Lake (ivory), Park (beige), and Rock (ash).

Ceramica Sant’Agostino: Oxidart

Inspired by oxidized metal slabs, the Oxidart collection by Ceramica Sant’Agostino beautifully conveys the passage of time. The 10mm porcelain tiles are suitable for both floor and wall applications in commercial and residential settings, and are available in a wide range of sizes and graphic patterns. The glazing technique used on the surface creates a combination glossy/matte finish. Oxidart is available in four colors – black, copper, iron, and silver – and in several large format sizes: 47” x 47”, 35” x 35”, and 24” x 47”.

Edilgres: I’m Italian Marble

The Edilgres I’m Italian Marble collection draws inspiration from the finest marbles, flawlessly reflecting the material’s natural veining and shades. With this collection, the traditional beauty of marble is met with the modern, high-technology performance of porcelain stoneware. An addition to the company’s Folio 6.0 slabs collection, I’m Italian Marble is available in two 6mm formats (47” x 94” and 47” x 47”), three finishes (Rectified, Opaque, and Polished), and seven colors (Apuano White, Arabesque White, Elegant Grey, Corinthian Beige, Prestige Light Grey, Coffee Brown and Sahara Noir).

Emilgroup: Level

Level, Emilgroup’s new line of large ceramic slabs, opens up new horizons for architects and designers looking for creative ceramic applications. Two size variants – 6.5mm in 63” x 126” and 12mm in 64” x 128” – make the collection suitable for more than just floor and wall applications. These large-format sizes are ideal for use as countertops, backsplashes, worktops, tables, and doors, thus allowing for seamless continuity in the design of a space – from flooring, to wall covering, to furnishings. There are four looks available: marble, cement, solid colors, and design.

Panaria Ceramica: Eternity 0.3

Panaria Ceramica’s Eternity 0.3 collection of large thin slabs is inspired by the aesthetic characteristics of marble with various veining patterns, shades, and elegant designs. Two 6mm size variants – 47” x 102” and 47” x 47” – are available in four different colors: Statuario White, Arabesque Pearl, Breach Grey, and Marquiña Black. The Statuario White and Arabesque Pearl colors are available in a bookmatch design with a Lux finish. Eternity 0.3 is perfect for flooring, wall covering, and custom-built furniture.

Daltile creates visually-immersive experience in North Dallas café

Special countertop solutions and wall tile add stunning functionality and panache

Panoramic Porcelain Surfaces™Elemental Selection Statuario matte graces the countertop and Multitude™Origami White wave adorns the back wall.

Hidden amongst the restaurants and night life in Dallas lies the understated Civil Pour café. While Civil Pour may look like a typical coffee shop on the outside, this spot is serving its customers more than just the standard latté. To the guests entering the establishment, the menu instantly reveals what makes this place so special – a vast array of brews of both coffee and craft beer.

Founded by the creators of the Big Texas Beer Fest, Civil Pour is the ultimate Dallas destination to drink quality coffee, experience local beer and savor baked goods made fresh daily. Starting at 6 a.m., guests line up outside the doors to get their hands on a steaming coffee and toasted breakfast pastry. This rush continues until lunchtime as guests begin to place orders for the shop’s famous paninis. As the sun sets, the spot welcomes its final crowd – all eagerly thirsting for a craft beer from one of the 30 signature taps. 

While the Dallas community is familiar with Civil Pour and its iconic offerings, few know the story behind the brand. After seven years of running beer festivals, co-founder Nellie Montgomery and her husband Chad were encouraged to open their own shop. Civil Pour provided Montgomery with the perfect opportunity to not only spread her love for great beer and coffee, but also share her passion for design. 

Determined to create an immersive experience for guests, Montgomery reached out to Daltile early in the design process. Since a space serving both beer and coffee presented design challenges to ensure the surfaces could withstand the inevitable spills, Montgomery knew the space would require a special countertop solution.

A special countertop solution

“I loved working with Daltile,” said Montgomery. “The fact that I could drive down and grab samples to take to the shop was invaluable and helped put my mind at ease before construction even began. I had Daltile reps checking in on me throughout construction, and any questions I had, they were either able to [answer] or refer me to someone that could help.”

Jennifer Voss, owner of Stone Craft of Dallas, installed Panoramic Porcelain Surfaces™Elemental Selection Statuario matte on the countertop and Multitude™Origami White wave on the back wall.

Panoramic Porcelain Surfaces™Elemental Selection Statuario matte on the countertop.

Two of the most crucial aspects of the project were the large countertops central to the design and daily function of the shop. During construction, it was clear that the café needed a counter big enough to serve customers as well as provide a workspace for baristas crafting the coffee drinks and beer orders from the taps. Daltile slabs would not only fulfill the need for large surfaces, but also resist scratches, heat and stains in the long run. 

After reviewing a variety of Daltile slab products for the space, Montgomery ultimately selected Panoramic Porcelain Surfaces for the main coffee bar, and she chose ONE Quartz Surfaces® for the beer tap area. Jennifer Voss, owner of Stone Craft of Dallas, was brought onto the project in June 2018 and tasked with installing these distinct materials. 

“Large-format porcelain slab is relatively new to the Dallas market,” said Voss. “We were working with a short timeline and Daltile was willing to partner with us every step of the way. [Daltile] is the most giving and understanding company to work with in the business.”

ONE Quartz Surfaces® Micro Flecks Morning Frost glossy is featured on the countertop.

In order to complete the main coffee bar, the project required eight slabs of Panoramic Porcelain Surfaces to ensure full coverage. Within the collection, Daltile provides an exclusive program called FlexFitSize Solutions, which offers seven stocked sizes and custom cut-to-size requests. Voss and her six-person crew were thrilled to find that the Panoramic Porcelain Surfaces slabs were seamless to work with during the installation and that each of the pieces worked with each other beautifully.

“This project is a testament to these great products,” added Voss. “They really demonstrate their worth since they are used all day, every day. Overall, these materials were more manageable to work with and it is a joy to see the end result.”

Wall tile adds extra panache

Opulence™Diamond 3/8” x random linear mosaic decorates the wall.

In addition to the stunning bar counter and surfaces, Civil Pour is filled with bold Daltile wall coverings that distinguish the shop from others in the area. Obsessed with creating unusual scenes, the Montgomery duo features the Multitude collection on the back wall and Opulence mosaic tile behind the painting of Frida Kahlo. 

“I love the Daltile collections that we chose because they have all become an important focal point in our shop,” continued Montgomery. “From the vertical diamond finish of the Opulence glass tile that symbolically cascades over the water station to the Multitude Wave Origami White tile that dances in the shadows of the backlights, Daltile finds a way to retain a sleek modernity to their finishes, while still providing personality through their materials.”

The public response has been overwhelmingly positive since the shop opened in August 2018. Serving up coffee, beer and light fare seven days a week, this spot has quickly become a neighborhood favorite and the Civil Pour team has been delighted with their Daltile experience and the end result. Looking ahead, Montgomery hopes to expand the business in the years to come and is excited to see what the future has in store. 

Opulence™Diamond 3/8” x random linear mosaic creates a stunning effect on the wall.

John Roberts Designs, LLC: from mud to membership and beyond

Roberts tells the tale of 40 years in the tile industry, and still going strong

I started in the tile industry almost 40 years ago, working as an apprentice. My first day on the job was spent at a mud box with a mud hoe in my hands. When I started out, everything we did was mud. All walls and floors were hand mudded. It wasn’t too long that my tile mechanic had a hawk and trowel in my hand and was teaching me how to mud walls and mud floors. We did mostly commercial work and I traveled all over the Southeastern U.S.

We did a lot of work at Walt Disney World, and one of the coolest projects at Disney was working on the world’s largest sundial building, when it opened in 1991. It was designed by architect Arata Isozaki and holds the Guinness World Record of

Roberts worked installing tile on the world’s largest sundial at Walt Disney World, in 1991.

being the world’s largest sundial. We helped tile the outside facade with 3” round green circles, one at a time. 

After traveling for 15 years doing tile work in the Southeast, I hung up my commercial work boots and married an interior designer and formed a design-build business based in Orlando, Fla. I continued to install tile, but in high-end residential projects. One memorable project was in Telluride, Colo., for a vice president of Marriott Corp., who hired our firm to completely remodel a ski house. After living in sunny Central Florida most of my life, I learned quickly about Carhartt jackets and bucket heaters for your wet saw in February.

In 2008, after the economy had crashed and the Central Florida market died, I decided to move to Atlanta, Ga. Fast forward 10 years – I am now outside Dalton, Ga., close to the mountains. 

After many years of commercial tile setting, Roberts now installs tile in high-end residential projects.


Joining NTCA

Roberts is a Regional Evaluator, helping to bring CTI tests to interested tile setters all over the Southeast.

Through social media and tile groups I found out about and joined the NTCA in the fall of 2015 – one of the best decisions I have ever made. I have made many friends in the tile industry and am very proud to call a lot of them tile brothers and sisters. I attended my first NTCA workshop early in 2016 and met Scott Carothers, the director of the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF), who encouraged me to take my Certified Tile Installer (CTI) test. In Dec. of 2016 I took my test in Pendleton, S.C. at CTEF along with a special Tile Love/ Schluter sponsored workshop. The best Christmas present ever was finding out I passed my test to become CTI #1278. I then volunteered to become an NTCA State Ambassador. In 2017 I became a Regional Evaluator for CTEF and hold CTI tests all over the Southeast. This has been truly meaningful to me, as I love teaching younger installers the trade and it has become a passion, to teach them industry standards.

In March of 2018, I helped NTCA Five-Star contractors Woody Sanders (DW Sanders Tile and Stone Contracting, Inc., Marietta, Ga.) and Rod Owen (CC Owen Tile Co., Inc., of Jonesboro, Ga.), and NTCA member Cain Curtis (A Tile Experience, Atlanta, Ga.) with the Georgia Skills/CEFGA high school tile competition. I helped to build the modules and judge the competition. This was a great experience for me, as I got to help instill a love for our industry to these young students.

The camaraderie of Coverings

Roberts joined DW Sanders Tile and Stone Contracting, Inc, to set tile in the Installation Design Showcase Tiny House project during Coverings 2018.

In May of 2018, I was asked by my friend Woody Sanders to help install the tile in a tiny house at the Coverings Installation Design showcase in Atlanta. This brought me back to working my commercial days with big crews in tight spaces. It was a great experience for me, and I am grateful to be asked to participate. These tiny houses were later towed to my hometown of Orlando, Fla., where they were set up in a park and rented out as Air B&Bs. Maybe some lucky person will stay in one of them for the upcoming Coverings 2019, which will be held in Orlando.

I highly encourage everyone involved in the tile industry to attend this show. You will not be disappointed. I have attended many Coverings shows, and Orlando is one of the top venues. This year I met so many people that I knew from the tile groups. One that comes to mind is “the man, the myth, the legend” 2018 Coverings  Rock Star Jason McDaniel. Jason runs a Facebook group called Global Tile Posse (GTP) and it was a pleasure getting to spend time with him at the Golden Trowel Challenge.

Roberts made his mark in wet clay during the Global Monumental Hand Print Mural Project held at Coverings 2018.

I will never forgot attending Coverings in Orlando, back in 2015. While I was online in the Tile Geeks social media group, a guy was disappointed that he couldn’t attend, since his travel partner bailed at the last minute. I reached out to him, offering him lodging at my mom’s house with me for the show. I picked him up in South Georgia, on my way to Orlando and we drove straight to the show. Donovan Lucero of Lucero Flooring Company, Jesup, Ga., and I have become lifelong friends and brothers in the tile industry. 

We also met up with another great guy that I knew online through Tile Geeks, who has become one of my best friends: Ben Ernst. We walked in the Orange County Convention Center, and the first person we ran into was Brad Denny, NTCA Five-Star contractor (Nichols Tile & Terrazzo Co, Inc., Joelton, Tenn.) We knew him from Tile Geeks, but not in person. He grabbed us and brought us over to the NTCA lounge and made us feel at home.  What a great guy; I am proud to call him a friend.


Roberts enjoyed a private, behind-the-scenes tour of the TCNA headquarters while helping present a CTEF introductory course in nearby Pendleton, S.C.

I just finished helping Scott Carothers teach a weeklong class in Pendleton, S.C. at the CTEF in early November. The class was an introduction to ceramic tile and mortar shower bases. It was attended by people from all over the U.S., including staff from the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) – headquartered close by in Anderson, S.C. – and NTCA’s new Marketing and Communication Director Avia Haynes (see related story on page 54 of this issue).  Some of us got a special behind-the-scenes private tour of the TCNA. This was a once-in-a-lifetime event, and am very proud to have been invited. 

Who would have thought that 40 years ago, mixing mud in that mud box, I would be where I am today: a proud member of the NTCA, NTCA State Ambassador, CTI #1278, CTEF Regional Evaluator and a tilesetter who takes pride in doing things that will last the test of time.

DoubleTree by Hilton Lafayette East bonds with Bostik

Gisa Ott

Gisa Ott

Set off of I-95, adjacent to major corporate offices such as Subaru, Caterpillar and Alcoa, just minutes from downtown Lafayette or Purdue University, the DoubleTree Lafayette East is one busy hotel. With 128 state-of-the-art guestrooms, great dining, expansive meeting rooms and more, it’s also only one hour’s drive from Indianapolis Airport. It recently went through a major architectural design conversion, the results of which have added even more to its allure.

“This was a really challenging project,” declared Gisa Ott, Vice President of Sales and Management of Indianapolis-based CCI LLC, who served as overall project manager relative to the major amount of tile installed at the DoubleTree. “Architectural designs created by SRA Architects of Milford, Ohio, were outstanding,” she added. “The interior design treatments by Adrian Caradine Contract Design of Memphis, Tenn., perfectly complemented every room throughout the hotel. We knew this was a very, very special endeavor.

“There were so many different tile products specified; just about all of them came from Miles Distributors, our longtime supplier,” Ott said. “To select the best installation system for each of these tiles was daunting. Because we always want to do what’s right for our clientele, I listened to every sales pitch from every rep from every company. Most presentations were very good and very convincing,” continued Ott, “Although some, unfortunately, sounded as if they were being delivered by used car salesmen! One representative, however, Adam Abell of Bostik, came in, took his time, and professionally explained to me exactly why it made sense to have one source, one full system for the installation of all hard surface products specified for the DoubleTree. 

“We were working with wall and floor tile from Landmark Ceramics, Atlas Concorde, Caesar, Ceramic Technics and Daltile. Massive, gauged porcelain panels from StonePeak were specified, as well,” Ott stated. “These are all great products; we needed a great installation system from one company. Adam convinced us to go with Bostik and as it turns out, this might be one of the best business decisions I’ve ever made,” Ott exclaimed.

Porcelain panels adorn lobby

DoubleTree Lafayette East lobbyIn the hotel’s expansive lobby, designs called for a 20’ floor-to-ceiling, freestanding fireplace to be clad with StonePeak’s porcelain panels. “Because of this height, mortars which needed to be applied both on the Durock® substrate and back-troweled on the panels, seemed to make for a very clumsy process,” commented Ott. “Adam explained very patiently to me exactly what Bosti-Set™ was and the advantages it offered. And in particular, how projects calling for gauged porcelain panels could be installed much faster than we ever expected, even with a smaller crew. Adam demonstrated to our installers how Bosti-Set™ immediately grabbed porcelain tile panels in a single coat, did not allow any sag, yet made it possible for these panels to be ‘reposition-able’ for at least 30 minutes. “This was very helpful, as the gauged porcelain panels were beautiful, but frankly, a bit smaller in overall size than we had calculated. This flexibility feature of Bosti-Set™ actually made it much easier for our installers to position the panels perfectly. Mission accomplished!” she exclaimed.

Ott went on to state that every single room in the hotel called for some kind of “very specialized” tile installation procedure, and that to maintain a safe and professional installation throughout each of these spaces and to “preserve her sanity,” Bostik products were called on throughout. In addition to public areas, tile material was installed in guestroom entryways, shower surrounds and both vertical and horizontal bathroom surfaces. 

“In addition to the Bosti-Set™, we used Hydroment® Ceramic Tile Grout™, Bostik Big Tile & Stone™ for the large format floor tile, Bostik Gold-Plus™ for waterproofing and, in particular, Bostik’s TruColor® Urethane Grout, which we absolutely loved.”

Bostik TruColor® RapidCure™ Pre-Mixed, Urethane Grout is a patented, water-based grout offering the ultimate in color accuracy, water resistance, stain and crack protection. This breakthrough formulation installs with better color accuracy than traditional grouts, and never needs to be sealed. Other grouts have loose color pigments, which can become washed out during the installation and clean up process. Additionally, this product never requires application of a sealer, helping to save up front costs and time.

TruColor® RapidCure™ quartz aggregate is color-coated to ensure perfect color consistency for every installation. Additionally, TruColor® RapidCure™ contains Bostik’s Blockade® antimicrobial protection, which inhibits the growth of bacteria, mold, or mildew the hotel guestrooms and public areas simply cannot have.

Bostik’s Abell added, “This was, almost to the day, a one-year tile installation project. Gisa’s team and I stayed in close contact throughout that entire time-span. Her entire organization is very professional, gracious and cutting-edge: the exact type of people that you want to do business with! Clearly, the Lafayette East DoubleTree project proved to be a signature tile installation – the result of great teamwork!”

DoubleTree Lafayette East lobby - alt view


The FlexFit™ Size Solutions Program gives you design freedom when using our Panoramic Porcelain Surfaces™, without impacting your budget. With one extra-large porcelain slab that can be cut into seven sizes, FlexFit provides total flexibility that boasts high impact benefits. Click here to learn more about the FlexFit Size Solutions Program.

1 2 3 68