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You never know when the tile setting bug is going to bite. For instance, Ulas Maris of Maris Tile PRO in East Moriches, N.Y. (www.maristile.com) didn’t start his career in the industry. Instead, he was originally in hospitality, hotel and resort administration in Southwest Florida, years before he left his position and moved to New York in search of a new career and life.
He tried his hand at a number of things, but nothing clicked until one serendipitous morning while he was having breakfast out in Long Island. A tile setter working nearby randomly asked if he could help mix mud and carry tiles. “It was fun working with him in the Hamptons and I liked it,” Maris said. “I started going with him regularly and he taught me everything he knew about the tiling trade. It is how my tiling career started a long time ago. I worked with him about three or four years and he encouraged me to start my own business. I have been on my own for 15 years now.”
With his mentor’s encouragement and the encouragement of his wife Rachel, Maris now does high-end, custom installation throughout Long Island and the Hamptons. He works on new homes and renovations. His specialty is mosaics, handmade tile, large-format tiles and natural stones. He also works with glass slabs and other sorts of glass material, and he fabricates custom marble, granite and quartz countertops.
Maris gives equal attention to clients, no matter the project size. “My main focus and priority is my client’s satisfaction,” he said. “I give them quality work installed with the highest standards so that they will enjoy my tile installations for many, many years. I believe this is key to having a successful business.”
This philosophy has worked for Maris – he’s never advertised his business or services. Word-of-mouth recommendations from satisfied clients are all the advertising he has needed.
He takes the time to educate clients about the importance of proper prep work and use of quality setting and waterproofing materials for their investments. Though clearly this is his livelihood, Maris said, “I do not think of money performing my skills. I am in no rush to complete and collect. It is my job to give my clients the highest standard they deserve and maintain a great relationship. I take time and focus on details. This is what sets me apart from the competition.”
Great feedback spurs Maris on to learn even more about new tile and installation systems. “When I see a five-star review online for my work with great comments, it motivates me to keep learning about new systems, to become more efficient and do better with my profession,” he said.
Drive to excel anchors NTCA membership
His drive to rise above the competition drove Maris to join NTCA three years ago. He benefits from interacting with other installers across the country, which positively impacts his business and work relationships.
“Since becoming a member of the NTCA, I have seen that I am taken more seriously at all meetings with my clients, general contractors and architects,” he said. “I have seen that being a member gives new clients confidence in my abilities.
“From a client’s view, a company being an NTCA member and also a CTI/Certified Tile Installer (Maris is CTI #1309) lets them know how serious the company is and that they are in good and professional hands,” he said. “This makes them feel better to hire me to complete their precious projects.”
As the only CTI in his company, Maris installs most of the jobs himself. His staff keeps current by regularly attending manufacturer training classes and available education opportunities. And he is focused on being as knowledgeable about tile systems and “eager to learn more.
“Being up-to-date with everything and being able to answer all my client’s and general contractor’s questions in regards to any kind of tile installation lets them feel better with me and my company,” he explained. “My clients know they are in good hands seeing I am a Certified Tile Installer and an NTCA member. My CTI and all other certifications I have from manufacturers separate me from other installers. I am proud of all the certifications I have. It is the greatest feeling which motivates me to perform my skills at the highest standards.”
Peer and technical support: icing on the NTCA cake
Support from other NTCA members is invaluable to Maris. “I gained a lot of knowledge, experience and professional friends who are some of the best tile installers in the country,” he said of his experience with NTCA. “I have learned so much from the NTCA community, which has helped me improve my skills greatly. Support from a community of tile installers is priceless. This would not have been possible without NTCA. I can also call some members and ask for help and even answer questions when they call me about certain installations. ”
Maris – who is also a NTCA State Ambassador for the state of New York – also values the 24/7 NTCA technical support available to members. “I know they will be there if I ever need help answering questions while working on a complicated project,” he said. And the relationship that NTCA fosters between installer and manufacturer members is beyond measure. “From my viewpoint, NTCA is the ‘bridge’ between us as installers and member manufacturers,” he said. “For example, members have the privilege of having manufacturers contact and inform them ahead of time of all new materials, systems and methods. This is a huge advantage to being a member.”
In the end, it’s all about making clients happy. “I get so excited when I see my clients satisfied and happy at the end of a job,” he said. “I am so happy when I receive a call for a new project and hear that I was recommended by my previous client. I am glad I was able to achieve this kind of relationship with them. It makes me proud to be a tile installer.”
Challenging CTI exam demonstrates Welner’s dedication to the technical side of the trade
Matt Welner, owner of Blue Ridge Tile and Stone in Hickory, N.C., and NTCA State Ambassador for North Carolina, started mixing thinset when he was only 15. And six years ago, he struck out to establish his tilesetting business.
He started hearing about the Certified Tile Installer exams on the Facebook group Tile Geeks, and then learned more about it while at a NTCA workshop. “It sounded like a fun opportunity to test my skills,” Welner said. “Also after working by myself for a number of years, I wanted to see how I compared to my peers.”
Like many others who have challenged themselves with the exam, his hope was that by successfully completing it, he would set himself apart from other companies. He also hopes that “my future clients will see that I care about the educational / technical side of the trade,” he explained. “I always include the fact that I am a Certified Tile Installer during an initial consultation and also include it on my written estimates.”
When December 2016 came around, he signed up to take the exam at the headquarters of the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation. Despite his experience in the trade, he found the exam challenging. “Apart from the installation, time management and your ability to follow directions are crucial,” he said. “It was more difficult than I believed it would be leading up to the test.”
Welner prepared for the exam by reading all the supplied material, and then completed the written test a few weeks prior to the hands-on test. “I found the book portion very informative,” he said. “I did a chapter a night and got through it in no time.”
In 2019, Welner plans to take his certifications to the next level by taking the Advanced Certifications for Tile Installer (ACT) exams.
“I think the CTI test sets the bar for those who can produce a quality product,” Welner said. “I do a lot of residential remodel and I feel it sets me apart and helps the homeowners see that it’s my goal to give them a quality job.”
Welner, now CTI #1276, suggests to his peers, “If you’re considering taking the exam, I would highly recommend doing it. Challenge yourself, learn something new, and take yourself to the next level.”
If you’re a small business, one of the things you may struggle with is saving successfully for your eventual retirement, or managing the paperwork associated with a retirement plan. By joining the National Tile Contractors Association 401(k) Plan you are able to provide a powerful retirement plan, help save money, and spend less time administering it.
- No annual audit
- Cost savings on the investments.
- No individual Form 5500 reporting
- Minimal plan maintenance
- Flexible plan features, including safe harbor, Roth, and profit sharing
- Customizable 401(k) plan design options involving eligibility, matches, vesting schedules, and more
- Fully integrated with the NTCA Member-endorsed payroll system NETCHEX
The National Tile Contractors Association 401(k) Plan – from a government reporting standpoint – is treated like one large plan. The end result for you is a 401(k) plan with competitive investments, outstanding service, and someone else doing a majority of the plan maintenance legwork.
Strength in numbers
With 1,500 members in our association, we bring a large, powerful group to one unified plan. When you utilize the National Tile Contractors Association 401(k) Plan, you have all the advantages and flexibility of a stand-alone plan sponsor, but avoid the expenses and administrative burden associated with sponsoring a single employer plan.
By participating in the National Tile Contractors Association 401(k) Plan, virtually all administrative tasks can be offloaded from you to Transamerica and National Tile Contractors Association. These tasks may include:
- Administrative responsibilities
- Employee eligibility tracking
- Distribution processing
- Plan compliance
- Nondiscrimination testing
- Annual reporting
- Participant enrollment/education
The result is that you have to invest less time in paperwork and more time in running your business.
Find out more and get the process started. Contact Rachel Walsh, Transamerica Sales Director at [email protected], 727-221-9126.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium home of the Atlanta Falcons, earns LEED Platinum with help from CUSTOM Tile Installation System
Mercedes-Benz Stadium broke records and earned countless superlatives before the Atlanta Falcons even took the field. The newest stadium in the NFL is also the most sustainable and the first to achieve LEED Platinum status in the U.S. As an integral part of the stadium’s luxurious aesthetics, over 200,000 sq. ft. of porcelain tile at the Atlanta Falcons Mercedes-Benz Stadium was installed using a premium system from Custom Building Products.
This stadium has transformed the Atlanta skyline in iconic style with its one-of-a-kind retractable roof. Sightlines are paramount during football games, soccer matches and concerts, so this concept is carried through the transparent shell of the building. Sky bridges within the stadium provide views of downtown and visitors can also see inside before entering, adding to their sense of anticipation.
The finish schedule reads like a Who’s Who of tile: 25 different international and domestic manufacturers are represented. This project perfectly showcases the synergy of tile and installation systems in a high-visibility, high-traffic environment. From 3D and textured tile to natural stone and gauged porcelain panels, all assemblies were installed to meet the demanding service conditions of a multi-purpose sports and entertainment venue.
“If we had questions or concerns on the job, CUSTOM was quick to respond every time,” offered Murray Gardner, project manager with Spectra Contract Flooring. “The reps made multiple trips to the job during the installation to advise and support us.”
Surface preparation began with meeting the flatness requirements for large-format tile. Where concrete needed leveling, work started with an application of LevelQuick® Advanced Acrylic Primer. Then, Levelite® High Flow Lightweight Self-Leveling Underlayment was poured on suspended slabs to manage the accrued weight load. LevelLite is formulated with CustomLite® Technology, making it 40% lighter than standard cementitious levelers. LevelLite performed so well that the contractors used it throughout the project wherever leveling was needed.
Pre-existing shrinkage cracks and saw-cut control joints in the slab were treated with CrackBuster® Pro Crack Prevention Mat Underlayment. Following TCNA Detail F125 Partial Coverage, they were spanned with a section of mat and new parallel soft joints were added to the tile assembly to relocate substrate movement. CrackBuster Pro is a self-bonding, fabric-reinforced mat that exceeds the high performance requirements of ANSI A118.12 and protects tile from in-plane movement up to 3/8” while providing an extra-heavy-duty service rating.
RedGard® Waterproofing and Crack Prevention Membrane was specified to perform two primary functions on the project. First, RedGard was applied in all wet areas, including showers and team locker rooms, to provide durable ANSI A118.10 waterproofing protection. Intermittently wet areas, such as kitchens and restrooms, also received two coats of RedGard. Secondly, RedGard was installed over concrete slabs to provide ANSI A118.12 crack isolation up to 1/8” and protect the tile and grout from horizontal substrate movement.
RedGard is a ready-to-use elastomeric membrane that creates a continuous, monolithic waterproofing barrier. This versatile product exceeds ASTM E96 requirements as a low perm moisture vapor barrier for continuous use steam rooms and is listed with IAPMO as a shower pan liner. RedGard is rated for extra heavy duty use, anticipating the foot and wheeled traffic levels expected at the stadium.
All tile on the project was installed using CUSTOM’s premium quality, lightweight mortars designed for large-format tile.
“We wanted to showcase large-format tile and really pushed the envelope in the premium spaces,” offered Donna Childs, Principal at tvsdesign. “Given the dimensions of some of the tile, installers had a challenge with flatness and lippage. Between their skill and the right installation materials, the tile looks great and we get many compliments.”
Floors were set with MegaLite® Ultimate Crack Prevention Large Format Tile Mortar for its best-in-class strength and flexural capacity. The primary tile on floors was 12” x 24” porcelain, with 24” x 48” formats from Walker Zanger,
and planks up to 48” long from Ceramic Technics. White Carrara marble slabs were installed using MegaLite on floors and stairs in the exclusive Gullwing Club. With bond strengths over 800 psi and high flexibility to help withstand substrate movement, MegaLite delivers unsurpassed performance for challenging service conditions. This non-sag, non-slump mortar was used to meet a variety of needs, from thin-set application with small ceramics on shower floors, to 3/4” deep placement for setting the large-and-heavy tile and natural stone at the site.
ProLite® Premium Large Format Tile Mortar was specified for setting all wall tile. On a job of such scope – encompassing tile ranging from 30” x 60” and 60” x 120” gauged porcelain panels by Stonepeak and Transceramica in VIP spaces, to penny rounds and mosaics at beverage stations – ProLite performed with a range of bonding challenges. ProLite provides over 600 psi bond strength in a non-sag, non-slump formula that delivers superior handling. Both ProLite and MegaLite exceed ANSI A118.15 TE for thixotropic performance on walls and extended open time for adjustability.
“The ProLite on walls and MegaLite on floors performed great!” said Gardner.
High-performance grouts were specified throughout the stadium for beauty and durability.
Prism® Ultimate Performance Cement Grout was used to fill grout joints in all dry tiled areas. Prism’s calcium aluminate formula delivers uniform, consistent color without shading or efflorescence. This lightweight, rapid-setting grout meets ANSI A118.7 and is walkable in four hours. Prism creates dense, stain-resistant grout joints up to 1/2” and has a smooth consistency with excellent handling characteristics.
All showers at the stadium, including the Falcons’ team shower, were grouted with CEG-Lite™ 100% Solids Commercial Epoxy Grout. CEG-Lite provides chemical and stain resistance with a fast cure time. The lightweight formula makes it easier to spread and clean than traditional epoxy grouts. Food preparation areas create a harsh environment for tile and grout, so kitchen floors received CEG-IG 100% Solids Industrial Grade Epoxy Grout, which delivers even higher chemical resistance. Movement joints and perimeter joints throughout all tile assemblies were filled with Commercial 100% Silicone Sealant for permanent flexibility and protection.
“Our installation crews liked working with all of the CUSTOM products,” said Michael Wadsworth, Field Superintendant with Spectra Contract Flooring.
contributes to LEED
The LEED Platinum-certified Mercedes-Benz Stadium earned the most credits ever for a professional sports stadium (88). The project achieved this distinction through rigorous engineering and specification of qualifying materials. Five of the LEED-contributing products from CUSTOM – LevelLite, ProLite, MegaLite, Prism and CEG-Lite – are formulated with CustomLite® Technology. All CustomLite products incorporate lightweight, post-consumer recycled content in place of heavy aggregate sand. This makes products up to 40% lighter, so a 30-pound bag of ProLite covers the same square footage as a 50-pound bag of traditional mortar. These premium products are part of CUSTOM’s Build Green® family as well as the elite Emerald System® which qualifies projects for carbon offset credits.
Specifications for the tile installation materials were written by Tony Riddle, former Senior Specification Writer at HOK.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium will host Super Bowl LIII on February 3, 2019.
I am in need of your expertise! We received photos of an installation of glass mosaic tile that did not exactly go smoothly. A client wanted someone to come check it on site to see if it is an installation issue, so I am in need of some industry advice. Could you speak to the photos below?
It appears from these photos that this installation suffers from a lack of proper grout joint / sheet alignment and possibly inadequate substrate flatness, (but that could be an optical illusion).
Was this tile manufactured to meet the standards and tolerances of ANSI A137.2? This is the American standard specification for the manufacture of glass tile. It and ANSI A137.1 (for the manufacture of ceramic tile) include the manufacturer quality control and test requirements for sheet-mounted mosaic tiles. If these mosaics were not mounted to meet the specifications found in these standards, it may not have been possible for the installer to correct for any potential gross manufacturing deviations during the installation process. However, it is the responsibility of the installation contractor to notice such deviations and bring them to the attention of the owner or the owner’s representative before the installation begins.
If the mosaics were within standard tolerance for mounted sheets, the installation is likely out of tolerance for grout joint alignment (ANSI A108).
Or, the problem could be a combination of out-of-tolerance deviations from standard in both manufacture and installation of the mosaics.
From this distance, I can only speculate as to the cause(s) of the issue. Your client is thinking in the right direction for determining the precise cause(s). I recommend that an Industry-Recognized Consultant be contacted to conduct a review of all aspects of the installation. A list of Industry-Recognized Consultants can be found on the NTCA’s website at this link: https://www.tile-assn.com/page/recconsultants.
Depending on the client’s location, you may want to begin by contacting Donato Pompo and Kent Klaser of Ceramic Tile and Stone Consultants. CTaSC has nation-wide consulting services. They can be reached at: www.CTaSC.com, 866-669-1550, [email protected], [email protected].
Crossville’s porcelain tile panels and an innovative cladding system satisfy Miami Beach’s building codes and historic preservation standards
Built in the late 1950s, Bhojwani Tower was designed by Albert Anis, known for his Art Deco architecture throughout Miami. Originally a bank, the Bhojwani, located on the corner of one of Miami Beach’s busiest pedestrian intersections, operates as a mixed-use building with residential and retail areas. When beginning the renovation process, Kobi Karp Architecture and Interior Design not only had to consider updating the building’s exterior to stringent building codes but also meeting the requirements of the Miami Beach Historic Preservation Board.
Due to hurricanes, South Florida’s coastal areas fall into the High Velocity Hurricane Zone. Miami-Dade identified that it isn’t wind and rain that causes the most damage in strong storms; its exterior building pieces that come loose and turn into projectiles during extreme conditions. The International Building Code doesn’t allow anything larger than 3 square feet to be attached to the outside of a building because the adhesives used would cure before the cladding pieces are properly placed – especially in the area’s warm climate. This would make cladding more prone to fly off during storms.
To meet all code and preservation requirements, the Kobi Karp design team specified Crossville’s I Naturali collection of gauged porcelain tile panels to cover the exterior walls of the Bhojwani Tower. The team also advised Miami-Dade County officials that the Crossville material would meet stringent building codes and come in on budget if mounted with HyCOMB USA’s innovative cladding system.
The HyCOMB USA team worked with D&B Tile Distributors – a frequent host of CTEF’s Tile and Stone Workshops – to deliver the solution for installation of Crossville’s gauged porcelain tile panels for this project. Daniel Slain of HyCOMB USA explained that the company’s system works with Crossville’s surfacing solution because of the unique backing configuration and proven performance during testing for extreme conditions.
During testing, a standard piece of 2” x 4” lumber is shot out of an air cannon at a rate of 50 feet per second (fps). That’s over 34 miles per hour. This exercise shows simulated impact from airborne objects in hurricane situations.
“We have a honeycomb backer that is .75” thick,” Slain said. “We bond the gauged porcelain tile panels to our core.” After testing, the HyCOMB panels sustained minimal damage from the projectile 2” x 4”s, and remained intact, he said.
Crossville’s panels are 1M x 3M and relatively simple to work with for experienced installers who have received training with the material. The bonding of the tile panels to the HyCOMB USA core offers distinct efficiencies unparalleled by other surfacing options.
Slain said, “To direct bond, it would require more time because each row would have to set for a day. Our panels are independent of each other and held in place by mechanical fasteners. They do not rest on the layer below. On normal-size stone panels we would need a five-man crew. With the Crossville porcelain tile panels, we use three people and produce twice the square footage each day.”
Lightweight, heavy duty
Another major advantage of using the Crossville tile panels is the weight compared to other cladding options. These panels are lightweight enough to be handled by fewer workers. This is important to note for the Bhojwani project because of its location on a busy street corner in the heart of the tourist district. If the architects had specified natural stone, the project team would have faced more time-consuming challenges and safety issues. With the porcelain panels, the three-man crew was able to lift the tiles through the scaffolding and put them in place using HyCOMB’s fastening system – reducing both time and risk factors for the project during installation.
Beyond the benefits of installation efficiencies, the tile panels’ classic, timeless look answers aesthetic demands and is actually more consistent in appearance than other materials such as natural stone.
The panels not only offer a beautiful appearance for the building, but they will also be able to withstand the harsh South Florida elements. They’re innately resistant to UV rays and are highly scratch-proof and resistant to deep abrasion. Also, the panels are eco-friendly, as the body of the tiles is comprised of natural raw materials, and the tile does not release toxins into the environment.
Right style, right performance, right for the environment – Crossville’s porcelain tile panels are ideal for Miami Beach’s preservation standards and the seasonless appeal of this iconic destination.
I am looking for installation guidance for 30” x 60”, 1/4” thin porcelain panels in a floor application over concrete. It is a high rise building so I assume it is post-tensioned concrete assembly for the floors. Does TCNA have any guidelines?
Furthermore, the City of Minneapolis requires a sound damping product be used under hard surface flooring such as porcelain tile.
While I have received information from one thin-panel distributor and from LATICRETE that this thin material should not be used over a sound control membrane, the architectural rep for the product manufacturer says their thin panel can be treated like any other porcelain tile. However, she will not provide any documentation that validates that statement. Can you perhaps help me get something from the manufacturer that sheds light on this question?
There are several points necessary to discuss regarding your concerns.
Do you own a copy of ANSI A137.3 / ANSI 108.19? These are the material specifications and installation standards for Gauged Porcelain Tiles and Gauged Porcelain Tile Panels/Slabs. I refer to these as “GPTP” for short. This standard defines what GPTP is, where it can be used, how to properly install it and specifies the training required for persons installing it. If you do not own a copy of this standard, it is available for purchase from the NTCA’s bookstore at: https://www.tile-assn.com/store/ListProducts.aspx?catid=398904 or https://bit.ly/2oLCCsL.
You are correct that any installation on a post-tensioned above ground slab will require special considerations. TCNA Handbook method EJ-171 addresses some of these concerns. It is the responsibility of the project’s specifier (i.e. architect, structural engineer, etc.) to develop the jobsite-specific drawings, material and installation specifications that will guide your installation. This includes details for movement joint placement. If these documents and clear instructions are not included as part of the statement of work or drawings, you need to request them.
ANSI A137.3 / A108.09 defines the “Gauged” (thickness) component of Gauged Porcelain Tile / Panels (GPTP) in two categories: 3.5mm – 4.9mm thick and 5.0mm – 6.5mm thick. The standard allows for installation of the thicker 5.0-6.5mm material on floors and walls. The 3.5-4.9mm thick material is for use on walls only (not floors). Some manufacturers will allow for the use of their thinner GPTP material on floors. I strongly recommend you make absolutely certain that you receive a jobsite-specific warranty from the GPTP manufacturer before installing thinner (3.5-4.9mm) tiles/panels on a floor.
Regarding use of a sound damping product under GPTP – ANSI A108.19 Section 3.0 (Existing Surfaces/Substrates) states in subparagraph 3.3 “Do not install over unstable, compressible surface materials or coatings.” I suggest contacting the sound reduction membrane manufacturer for more specific information for use of their product with GPTP.
Proper substrate preparation and selection and use of membranes and mortar and trowel and installation techniques are very critical for the successful installation of GPTP. Proper training for installation of this product is required by the A137.3/A108.19 standard. NTCA and product manufacturers provide this training for persons who will be specifying and installing the material. In summary, the specification should be very clear in referencing all industry standards for installation of GPTP. The GPTP and setting material manufacturers should provide you with a clear jobsite-specific warranty and installation instructions for use of their product(s). The installers are required to have training. If this is not the case, you will want to carefully consider your acceptance of risk with this installation. If the manufacturer cannot provide you a clear warranty, I would consider that a red flag.
I hope this helps.
– Mark Heinlein,
NTCA Training Director,
NTCA Technical Trainer
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