Lunada Bay Tile Introduces Contourz Concrete Tiles

A contemporary concrete tile collection that combines breakthrough engineering and art

(Coverings‘18, Atlanta, GA, May 8-11, 2018) You’ve seen concrete tiles on the floor, used as exterior cladding, and on the occasional feature wall. Now, Lunada Bay Tile is breaking design boundaries with Contourz, a tactile collection of concrete tiles that elevates the beauty of vertical and horizontal planes.

Modern shapes and colors, together with unparalleled artistry and engineering, construct dynamic surfaces for a variety of spaces. Contourz three-dimensional tiles transform walls into sculpture, while flat field tiles create an atmosphere that ranges from quiet elegance to industrial.

“Concrete is a beautiful, sustainable medium,” says Feras Irikat, Director of Design and Marketing at Lunada Bay Tile. “The Contourz collection’s architectural nature, soft color palette and satin matte tactile surface allows it to play well with many other materials.”

Irikat worked on the collection’s design in collaboration with Lunada Bay Tile President and CEO Carl Steadly and Mike Taylor, an engineer with 11 years of experience in the concrete tile industry. Together, they designed and engineered the collection to the highest specifications for residential and commercial installations. The tiles measure just 8 millimeters thick—a similar thickness to standard ceramic and glass tiles—extending design opportunities with the ability to combine easily with other tile collections within the Lunada Bay Tile portfolio.

“Imagine that you can now use concrete on a kitchen backsplash or a shower wall without taking up any more thickness or design real estate than standard tile choices,” Irikat proposes. “It makes it easy to incorporate these tiles into residential or commercial applications, indoors or outdoors, and blend them with other elements to create the look you desire. The collection creates the ultimate toolbox of creativity for designers and architects.”

Designed and manufactured in Lunada Bay Tile’s new facility in Southern California, the collection consists of nine shapes:

  • 3 x 9-inch — rectangular flat field tile
  • 6 x 9-inch — rectangular flat field tile
  • 4-inch Hex — hexagonal flat field tile
  • Fanfare Hex — three-dimensional 4-inch hexagonal tile with raised linear peaks
  • Trifecta — three-dimensional triangular tile with intertwining patterns of slopes and curved lines
  • Zen Break A and Zen Break B — three-dimensional 3 x 9-inch rectangular tiles with angled inclines that can be coordinated to create striped, diamond and chevron patterns
  • Retro Curve — liner featuring soft bullnose edges
  • In & Out — liner featuring a bullnose edge on one side and a cove edge on the other

Contourz is available in 18 modern hues, including warm and cool grays and shades of taupe and brown. The collection can be specified for interior and exterior walls, including wet/dry walls, light traffic floors, and has similar characteristics and care requirements as natural stone..

Member Spotlight – July 2018 – Stoneman Construction LLC

 

Stoneman Construction LLC 
Portland, Oregon

www.stonemanconstructionllc.com

 

Jason McDaniel, owner of Stoneman Construction, LLC in Portland, Ore., was recently recognized as an emerging young leader in the tile industry by his inclusion in the Coverings Rock Star Awards. Here, in his own words, he tells the story of his company and his passion for the industry. – Ed.


I am a custom residential tile contractor, with a background in granite and quartz fabrication. I love creating beautiful spaces that I know will stand the test of time and be something my customers will love.

I started setting tile 11 years ago to keep busy when I didn’t have kitchen countertops to install. Eleven years later I have found that my fabrication ability makes being creative with tile fun and easy. Stoneman Construction is known for templating backsplashes, floors and walls, making it easier to lay out and install complicated projects. We have done many projects incorporating scribe work into the design and we also specialize in self-leveling underlayments. 

My brother, Shawn McDaniel, was a painting contractor for 20 years and came to work with me two years ago. He has become extremely efficient at shower prep and applying liquid anti-fracture membranes. Coming from a trade that required a high level of cleanliness and detail made it a seamless transition for him. I feel very fortunate to have such qualified people working with me on a daily basis. Jeremy Bickett, CTI #1353, moved to Portland a year ago and now works full time with us. His background in self-leveling underlayments (SLU) has made it possible for us to fix and level almost any floor in our market, setting us apart from the competition. Together with Jeremy, Shawn and myself, Robert Brazington rounds out the crew. 

I am a two-year member of the NTCA and a NTCA State Ambassador. Years back, when I started setting tile, I was taught incorrect ways of doing things and had no knowledge of any associations or certification programs in the industry. Since I discovered these organizations existed I have done everything I can to get involved. 

Through the NTCA I discovered the Certified Tile Installer (CTI) program, a certification exam administered by the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF). Being a Certified Tile Installer and a NTCA State Ambassador has given me credentials I didn’t have previously. I am taken much more seriously in meetings with architects, general contractors and homeowners, and the amount of knowledge I have gained gives me more value when bidding projects. Being able to answer a wide variety of questions in regards to my profession gives the end user confidence in our company.

In our company of four, three of us – Jeremy, Robert Brazington and myself – are Certified Tile Installers. My brother Shawn aims to take the exam when he is ready. 

The CTEF Regional Evaluator Program has given my evaluator partner and one of my closest friends, Shon Parker of Hawthorne Tile, and me an opportunity to be on the front lines of training and testing installers of all ages who are new to the trade, or veterans wanting to expand their skills and knowledge. (Regional Evaluators administer the CTI exam, and their growing numbers mean that more people across the country have the opportunity to take the exam. – Ed.). In my opinion, getting more people involved and ensuring they have the proper skills going forward is the most important thing any of us can do for our industry. With the help of people like Dirk Sullivan of Hawthorne Tile, Heidi Cronin of The Cronin Company, industry representatives, and Global Tile Posse – the industry-related page I created on Facebook – we are having great success here in the Pacific Northwest.

In fact, creating the Global Tile Posse on Facebook has been a huge help to bring recognition to this amazing family of people and to the NTCA, who are out there working hard to help us as tile setters and business owners. One of the greatest joys I get from being a tile contractor is hearing from people all over the country who are positive and energized about learning and growing and sharing their experiences. In Global Tile Posse we have created a family environment where anyone can come in and talk about their experiences and growing pains in this industry. 

The other great joy I get is creating art. The people in the tile industry are getting more and more requests to create really beautiful and unique spaces for our customers. Being able to help design and execute a truly artistic space is very satisfying. 

Some of the excellent craftsmanship from Stoneman Construction LLC:

Tech Talk – July 2018

Ideal underlayment and tile setting strategies

Tom Plaskota,
TEC® Technical Support Manager

Every month, NTCA offers free online webinars on a range of topics. Industry experts share their wisdom during these one-hour events that can be watched on a computer, phone, tablet or in a conference room with staff and crew. If you miss a webinar, NTCA archives them for watching at your convenience. Visit www.tile-assn.com and click the Education & Certification tab for news on upcoming talks and archived presentations. 

This month, we revisit the March 20, 2018 webinar entitled “Ideal Underlayments and Tile Setting Strategies,” presented by Tom Plaskota, technical support manager for TEC/H.B. Fuller Construction Products – and provide an overview. For the complete webinar, follow the directions above. 

Plaskota addressed several main topics in his talk. For this article, we will focus on the first two topics: 

  • What are self-leveling underlayments and how do they work?
  • Benefits of self leveling underlayments.

What are self-leveling underlayments and how do they work?

ASTM F2873 provides a definition of self-leveling underlayments (SLUs) that hinges on four key concepts:

  • They are poured and flowable mortars
  • They are composed primarily of hydraulic cements such as Portland cement materials and calcium aluminate. These compounds continue to harden under water.
  • They may require a primer to enhance bond strength and reduce development of pin holes.
  • They are designed and intended to provide a flat, smooth surface for the finished floor covering – ceramic tile or natural stone. 

Self-leveling underlayments achieve their high-flow properties through the use of flow agents that produce a pancake-batter-like consistency. They are also formulated to be non-shrinking and non-cracking. Unlike a thin-set mortar, SLUs are commonly set in thicknesses of up to 1/2” to 2”and are formulated to not shrink or crack at that thickness. Components like calcium aluminate allow the SLU to cure quickly, so that in many cases, the underlayment will support foot traffic and allow for tile setting in a matter of hours. 

Benefits of self-leveling underlayments

Plaskota approached the subject of SLU benefits by addressing common questions and objections about self-levelers – and the reality of the benefits they bring.

Self levelers aren’t necessary for tile installations

Reality: You need self-levelers for successful tile installations to ensure that the substrate is flat. They help expedite tile installations and save installers from having to make subfloor adjustments, while improving subfloor quality that reduces lippage and cracked or damaged tile. In addition, SLUs help you more easily and quickly achieve the tighter flatness requirements for today’s popular large-format tile, with in-demand tight grout joints: 1/4” in 10’ and 1/16” in 12” for tiles with all edges shorter than 15” and 1/8” in 10’ and 1/16” in 24’ for tiles with at least one edge measuring 15”. Gauged porcelain tile panels that measure as large as 3’ x 10’ or even 5’ x 10’ are not forgiving when it comes to subfloor flatness and so require the use of SLUs. 

I only need SLU for resilient/sheet vinyl – imperfections in substrate aren’t as ‘visible’ with tile.

Reality: The use of bonding mortar to level, flatten or fill substrates does not conform to tile industry standards. Some tile setters mistakenly believe they can “fill” substrates with thin-set or “medium-bed” (now known as large-and-heavy-tile-mortar) mortar. But these products were not made for leveling substrate. Instead, they are designed to accommodate the features of the tile, such as preventing a large, heavy tile from slumping into the mortar. They also address allowable warpage, which is greater in a larger tile, so there’s a need for a bit thicker mortar under the tile to accommodate the irregularity in the tile. Even setting small tiles on an uneven substrate can result in hazardous and unsightly lippage and callbacks. 

Self-leveling runs up extra charges. 

Reality: NOT installing a self leveling underlayment may result in costly call backs. You are going to have to smooth or level your floors. SLU is a great, efficient way of doing that to reduce callbacks. 

Self-levelers are time-consuming to apply; slows down the whole project schedule 

Reality: Efficiencies in installation methods and fast-setting underlayments allow for same-day tile installations. These are not your grandfather’s SLUs – they’ve come a long way and feature enhancements, and advanced technology primers that may eliminate the need for shot blasting over clean concrete, regardless of porosity. They may even go over some types of coatings such as curing compounds, high-performance topical coating like epoxies or cutback residue. In this case, the primer/SLU combo is a great time and money saver. Be sure to consult the SLU manufacturer and confirm the application. In addition, tools and equipment such as rakes, buckets or bucket carts that can be managed by one person can help expedite SLU application. 

Again for details of this talk, click the webinar link under the Education & Certification tab on tile-assn.com. This link also announces upcoming webinars and houses the archives of talks from the last few years.

Inventive Oregon contractors form co-op apprenticeship program

Program kicks off September 2018

By Lesley Goddin

Creativity is afoot when it comes to training the next generation to enter the tile trade. Oregon tile contractors and NTCA members (and some soon-to-be-members) are partnering in a unique co-op concept that provides monthly training for apprentices and different levels of involvement for co-op members. Participants in the co-op – named the Oregon-Columbia Tile Trades Training Trust – are
Hawthorne Tile, Davis Solutions, Stoneman Construction LLC, Campbell’s Custom Tile, Prestige Tile & Stone, Inc., Level Plane Tile & Stone, Columbia River Tile, Classique Floors & Tile, Sustainable Interiors, Designer Floors & Interiors, LLC and AHMS, Inc.

The concept developed when project manager Shon Parker and owner/project manager Dirk Sullivan from NTCA Five Star Contractor Hawthorne Tile in Portland, Ore., started brainstorming about how to get more qualified help in the field. Parker took the lead in conceptualizing an affordable apprenticeship program with industry buy-in and called fellow Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee (JATC) members to participate. An education co-op model was formed, with those members who are able to help or participate with training paying a lower fee to belong to the co-op and those who cannot paying a higher fee. 

Participation might mean helping to build training modules or doing set up with classes. “There are those who could pitch in – in some way – and those who are more commercially oriented, and whose office staff can’t do that, but who are willing to pay at a higher rate to have their people trained,” Parker said.

Classroom and hands-on components

The co-op has a NTCA tie-in: each co-op member must be a NTCA member in order to gain access to the online apprenticeship courses through NTCA University, which will form the backbone of the classroom part of the program. And one Friday a month, student apprentices will receive live training from different manufacturer reps about TCNA methods, and specific product knowledge. “[Manufacturer reps] will teach a method and the products that fit inside those methods will get the manufacturer involved,” Parker said. “It will also serve to introduce students to reps, build relationships, and help reinforce good methods and best practices.” He explained that every manufacturer who wants to be involved will have a balanced presence within the program, without any one manufacturer dominating. So far, ARDEX, Daltile, LATICRETE, MAPEI, and Schluter are on board. 

The hands-on portion of the training will take place at The Cronin Company, headquartered in Portland. “Heidi Cronin is allowing us to use a classroom and space in the warehouse for hands-on mockups,” Parker said. Plus, an arrangement between The Cronin Company and Daltile will allow students to buy hand tools at cost while in the program. Students will also be responsible for building the modules – “thin bed, mortar bed, epoxy installations, depending on what we are teaching,” Parker explained.

The schedule

The program will start in 2018. “We currently have state approval for the program, and we will be updating the new classes to reflect current methods and products from some of the methods we’d used from the 2003 NTCA curriculum,” Parker said. Examples of changes include dropping the hands-on demo for mastic over wood assembly to including updated methods, such as an uncoupling assembly, he added. “This will need to be addressed and approved at the state Apprenticeship Board,” he said, suggesting folks call him with questions at 503-708-1737.

Students are recruited via outreach ongoing at job fairs, high schools and Women in Construction. To date 17 students – including a couple of women – have signed up for the program. 

Once a candidate has been found, co-op members aka “Training Agents” are asked if they are interested in bringing them into the program, with the intent of creating a labor pool. Each student apprentice must be employed by a Training Agent. The program is administered by the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). 

Parker explained how apprentice candidates are culled at Hawthorne Tile: “We may have a worker employed at entry level as a driver,” he said. “If they show aptitude, we give them opportunity to join the apprenticeship program. It’s a stepping stool on our team to get there.”

The program is completely free to the student apprentice, funded by a monthly fee per student paid by the Training Agent co-op members. 

As previously noted, the program is based on the NTCA year one apprentice classes, and will utilize years 2 and 3 as they are completed. “By the end of year three , we should have all the bugs worked out.”

Though Parker calls this venture “uncharted waters,” he added that, “It makes sense up here – being part of a community. Dirk has done a great job as State Ambassador and Regional Director getting people excited about this, and Jason [McDaniel of Stoneman Construction LLC] and I are regional evaluators, so we can get people excited.” Hawthorne Tile’s office manager Lara Walker and project manager Ryan Willoughby have been “incredibly helpful” as well, Dirk Sullivan added. 

And Parker praised the industry for its support, saying, “Our industry is so willing to invest money in education.” 

Becky Serbin, NTCA Training and Education Coordinator, added, “It’s great to see tile contractors in a region coming together to develop a co-op training program to help grow the tile industry. I look forward to working with them through NTCA University. I hope that NTCA members are able to take this concept and repeat it in other areas of the country to help start training the next generation of tile setters.”

Is your life out of balance?

By Steve Rausch, industry consultant

Sometimes you just feel whacked out, or more likely, whack! It could be the lack of proper balance in your life. Just as a pilot must ensure the airplane is balanced properly before flying, we must do the same thing with our lives. If your life is out of balance you’re most likely headed for trouble. Here are several suggestions for your consideration.

  • When was the last time you exercised? Jumping to conclusions doesn’t count. Good physical health is the center of our existence; nothing else happens unless you’re physically healthy. 
  • Medicating yourself? I’m not talking about prescription medicines a doctor has prescribed, I’m talking about all that other stuff you’re shoving into your pie hole. Stuffing yourself with unhealthy foods, drinks, smokes, drugs – or just going shopping spending money you don’t have, on junk you don’t need – are all a signal of lack of balance in your life. Plan to improve your habits starting today. 
  • Do you have squirrel brain? Can’t seem to focus on what’s happening in front of you because you’re checking your cell phone again (for the 50th time this morning), or checking emails constantly? Do you obsessively tap your finger or foot? Is your leg bouncing up and down right now? Do your friends or spouse accuse you of not paying attention when they talk? These are all signs of excessive and unhealthy stress in your life. 
  • Dude, are you alive? Do you leave folks hanging without replying to messages or phone calls? Is your inbox or voice mail so full they aren’t accepting new messages? Are you returning your phone calls within a reasonable time? It’s just plain rude and disrespectful to not respond to messages and/or do what you promise, so that’s another wacky action. Continue this and you’ll quickly discover just how un-needed you really are. 
  • When was your last vacation or time off? Burn-out is one of the worst indications of a life out of balance, and worst of all, it is TOTALLY preventable. Just take a weekend off, that will help. You may find this hard to believe, but the world functions without you. Take some time off and relax. See new things and discover new adventures out there. 
  • Do you have a “short fuse?” A sure sign of lack of balance is when you respond instantly to any unwanted remark or happening. When there are only milliseconds between actions and reactions, you are way too stressed. People will start to avoid you like a landmine. 
  • Have you been called “SNARKY?” Hint: This isn’t a good thing! Are you always resentful or sarcastic? Both are signs of being way overstressed to the point of heart attack time. 

Do you recognize any of these signs in your life? Admit it! If you believe you’re not this way then ask your spouse, children, or close friends. They’ll certainly recognize these actions. Then take positive steps to change your actions, TODAY! Your life and your sanity – and likely the sanity of those around you – are at stake.

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Steve Rausch has been involved in the tile and flooring business for over 30 years and is currently an industry consultant specializing in sales, marketing, and interpreting technical issues in understandable terms. You can contact Steve at [email protected] or 404-281-2218

Dan Hecox presents to A&D students at University of Nebraska – Lincoln

NTCA Nebraska State Ambassador schools interior design students on tile failures

By Lesley Goddin

In March, NTCA State Ambassador Dan Hecox of Hecox Construction, Inc. of York, Neb., gave a class on how to avoid tile failures to 28 second-year interior design students at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.

Interior Design Professor Stacy Spale, IIDA, LEED AP, EDAC, NCIDQ Certificate No. 28851, asked Hecox to present to the IDES 200 Programs, Standards, and Codes class “so our students could better identify standards of installation,” she said. “These students will enter various professions within the design industry, and they should be able to feel comfortable on a job site, or managing a project, and at least having a base knowledge of trade vocabulary.”

Spale believes that it’s a vital skill for interior designers to learn to collaborate with trade contractors. “Early in my career, I drew casework sections the way I’d been taught and never really thought much about it,” she explained. “Then I spent some time learning about custom casework and realized that had I called a fabricator before I drew my custom projects, I could have saved time, money, materials, etc. 

“The jobs where I could collaborate and communicate my design intent – and work alongside the people doing the work always turned out better,” she added. “This seems like generic advice, so I like to show students with real stories so the learning is more applicable.” 

Adapting professional material to college classwork

Hecox adapted the “Tile Failures – Could it Be Me?” presentation normally given by the NTCA and CTEF workshop presenters to the needs of the design students, which was a challenge in itself. 

“It’s one thing to talk to people in the trade and quite another thing to talk with up-and-coming designers,” Hecox said. To not lose students with highly technical details that would have more meaning to professional tile setters, he covered some areas briefly and “brought along a lot of visuals for them to see and touch,” he explained. “I also had some demonstrations for them…I tried to think about where they are in their education and what kinds of things would be important to them in their careers as designers.” 

Dan gave them real-world useful information to use once they graduate. “I really tried to explain to them as designers, that they can spec certain things – like qualified labor, Certified Installers, and material that falls within ANSI specs,” he said. “They should know the work schedules and when things like floor prep will take place and when tile setting will start – and they should be there on the job site to inspect the floor prep and tile install.” Hecox emphasized that they should also ask questions of those involved about what they are doing.

Presentation gets thumbs up from students

Based on the responses from the students, the class was a smashing success.

“I found the tile talk extremely interesting,” said student Sydney Carl. “I feel like it’s extremely important to learn at least a little bit about how to install materials that we would be picking. I think as interior designers we should be educated on the installation of products and not just the application. I learned a lot about mortar and the correct way to lay tile (which from watching HGTV, I was very misled). I definitely feel more knowledgeable now and I have confidence that I could have an educated tile talk with a contractor.”

Keleigh Ketelhut admired Hecox’s passion about his trade – and professionalism. “What came as the largest shock to me was that people have people pay them big money for jobs they do completely wrong but still call themselves a professional,” she said. Excited to hear “Omaha is the first city in the nation to require a tile licensure before one can call themselves a professional,” she added, “This has shown me the importance of being a part of the project even after you’ve handed over the specs, construction documents and the overall design. Not only to check up on the lazy people but I think it is also cool to see things in progress and this thing you once had envisioned come to life.”

Lindsay Meyer enjoyed learning from Hecox’s experience and considers it “easiest for us to understand what not to do (and why) by seeing bad examples. Dan did a great job sharing with us, and I learned a lot from him.” These insights include learning about different types of underlayment and backer board, being able to touch the samples to better illustrate the lessons, and ensuring that both GC and tile contractor are reliable, often by working with certified tile setters. 

“Another thing I learned is that it is important for me, as the designer, to show up on the job often to double check the installation process, and if something is awry, to speak with the general contractor about my concerns. I also learned that if there is lippage in a wall application of tile, not having light fixtures wash the wall directly can help hide that. Especially with larger format tiles, the cupping of tiles is inevitable to some degree, so it is up to the designer to make sure it shows as little as possible.”

Truthfully, Becky Virgl wasn’t too jazzed about listening to “some guy talk about tiles all class, but I really enjoyed everything he had to say. It was really nice to learn what good tile installation actually looks like, and see what a dramatic effect it can have on the look of the tiles overall.”

Since the class, Virgl has been noticing bad tile installations in bathrooms and other public places. “I can really appreciate the value of good installation now that I know the difference,” she said, adding that when recently watching videos on Facebook, she came across a tile video in her queue. “I felt so frustrated because they were seemingly knowledgeable, but they were instructing people incorrectly – we learned, you cannot just slap mortar on all willy-nilly without giving the air a place to escape to and you cannot spot-bond tiles. I really appreciated this class because it gave me actual concrete knowledge on a subject that will be incredibly useful to me as a designer and a homeowner in the future.”

It seems from the comments of the students that Spale’s goal that the presentation “allow the students to develop a critical eye and insist that all installations are up to the standards specified,” was achieved.

The student feedback was a big help to Hecox, too. “I’d obviously never given a presentation like this to college students, so I really was unsure of how and what to present to them,” he said. “But hearing how they really enjoyed the presentation, and that now when they are out and about they are inspecting tile work that they see, shows me that what I presented them was spot on.”

Might there be an opportunity to share your knowledge with a university or high school class in your area? 

Feature Story – July 2018 – Merkrete Systems

After years in the making, the Hotel Bennett perfectly blends unparalleled luxury with an unmatched setting. Fittingly located on King Street, one of Charleston’s most famous addresses, this hotel will be among the most significant lodging developments built in the Holy City and the State of South Carolina.

Prominently located on Marion Square, the hotel’s historic site formerly housed the original west wing of The Citadel, South Carolina’s Military Academy. Most recently, it was home to the Charleston Library. Today, Marion Square, the most celebrated green space in the city, serves as a central gathering location for world-class events, including the Charleston Wine & Food Festival, Charleston Fashion Week, the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition and the popular Charleston Farmer’s Market.

Hotel Bennett features 179 lavish guestrooms and suites, a signature restaurant with stunning views of Charleston’s famed park, and a stylish bar and lounge. The hotel will also include a spectacular rooftop pool with cabanas and bar, a luxury spa, a French patisserie, and a variety of grand event and flexible meeting spaces.

Classic elegance and timeless design

The impressive interior style combines sophisticated, inspired design reminiscent of the city’s rich heritage with a modern perspective. Designed by Fairfax and Sammons Architects, the Hotel Bennett sets the standard for the melding of both new and vintage styles. The tile and stone installations throughout the building perfectly match this high-class, world-traveler aesthetic, as each piece was masterfully chosen and strategically placed for an extra touch of glamour and ensured functionality.

When NTCA Five Star Contractor David Allen Company was approached by Balfour Beatty Construction to supply the cost-efficient, high-performing materials they wanted from around the world, David Allen Company Project Manager Clovis LaCour knew they’d need a trusted and top-quality waterproofing system to ensure a job well done. Upon reviewing the scope of the project, all answers pointed definitively to Merkrete, a leader in waterproofing, crack isolation and underlayment technology. To prevent any potential moisture issues in highly utilized areas such as the hotel’s exterior balconies, Merkrete’s trusted system is a critical component to the installation. 

Since 1920, David Allen Company has been one of the nation’s most recognized and respected tile, terrazzo, marble, and granite contractors.

 

An impermeable solution seals the deal

When it comes to the critical waterproofing under tile on the exterior balconies and surrounding areas, Merkrete’s BFP waterproofing membrane system was the only solution. Durable and long lasting, this membrane system is designed for heavy-duty applications, promising zero leaks or cracks, even with severe exposure and high amounts of traffic. 

Merkrete’s BFP Membrane System is a three-layer system designed to mimic a three-ply roofing membrane. As most architects are familiar with this type of roofing product, BFP is composed of three distinct layers: first, the primer is applied in a liquid state and allowed to cure for several hours followed by the liquid membrane itself. The workhorse latex membrane is an asphaltic liquid latex compound reinforced with a hefty fabric allowing for 40 wet mils. After curing, the third and final layer is applied and it acts as a protective wear surface to guard against construction traffic. All three layers are fully waterproofed within themselves and all act as a crack isolation membrane as well. Merkrete’s BFP Membrane system has been in existence since 1974 and provided millions of square feet of protection over occupied space.

Because of the size of the pool deck and vast number of exterior balconies, LaCour needed a versatile product that could address several specific needs at the same time: a pre-mixed product that could be used to screed and slope the pool deck and exterior balconies to the various area drains while also repairing imperfections in the floors. 

Merkrete’s Sales Representative on the job, Brandan Chastine, said, “I immediately knew that Merkrete’s Underlay C was the perfect product for these requirements. Its versatility allows you to build up to 3” and spread to almost a feather edge (1/8”). You don’t usually get that in a single product.” 

Underlay C is a blend of carefully-selected polymers, Portland cement and graded aggregates that do not require the use of latex admix or jobsite blending. The pre-mixed product is versatile and economical, which helped David Allen Company save time and money by allowing a faster installation.

Bond strength; fast-setting grout

Merkrete proved the perfect match for another specific challenge, considering the strength of the mortar required. “We used very large and heavy natural stone, which requires a mortar with a super-high bondability that can handle the weight of the stone,” said LaCour. Merkrete 820 Merlite is a one-step, polymer-modified, lightweight setting adhesive for installing extra-large-format porcelain, ceramic tile and natural stone for both floors and walls, and can be used as thin- or medium-bed setting adhesive for stone. Merkrete proved it could hold its weight.

In addition to the waterproofing membrane system the hotel required, Merkrete was the trusted source yet again in providing high-performance, sustainable grout throughout the exterior installations. “Merkrete’s ProGrout is a fast-setting, polymer-modified, color-consistent and efflorescence-free high performance grout that exceeds ANSI A118.7 for all types of ceramic and dimensional stone tiles on walls and floors,” said Chastine. “It works for grout joint widths of 1/16” up to 1/2” wide, eliminating the need for different grout products and allowing the versatility required on the job.”

Convenient sourcing speeds project completion

As with all installations, timelines are always important and the Hotel Bennett was on a fast pace, so it was critical that LaCour chose a company who would be able to get the products delivered and the job completed on time. Merkrete is a brand of Parex USA, one of the largest companies and a worldwide leader in tile-setting materials, façade finishes and technical mortars, established in 22 countries with 68 manufacturing plants and over 4,100 employees. “Merkrete was perfect for this project’s requirements, because we have plants and distribution centers all over the country, so our turnaround time and ability to get our products to the jobsite on a timely basis were no problem,” said Chastine. 

Over the past decade, Charleston’s popularity as a travel destination has soared. In 2016, it was ranked as the top city in the world to visit by readers of Travel + Leisure, one of many accolades recently awarded to the Holy City. With the Hotel Bennett set to open in the Fall 2018, the guests will flood in to experience the fine culinary offerings and embrace the tranquil setting and incredible architecture. In the years to come, more renovations may take place, but thanks to Merkrete, you can be sure the stone tiles will be standing strong. 

Business Tip – July 2018

OSHA issues RFI to consider expansion of construction tasks and silica control measures

In a recent article concerning the lack of leadership for OSHA as nominee Scott Mugno awaits Senate confirmation, authors Leah Kaiser and Avi Meyerstein of Husch Blackwell LLP reported that OSHA has moved ahead with its Spring 2018 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions, outlining the current status of both pending and anticipated rulemaking efforts. OSHA looks as though it will have its hands full with twenty agenda items, up from fourteen on the Spring 2017 list.

In a new request for information (RFI), OSHA wants to determine if it should expand its list of construction tasks and associated control measures that construction workers can use to comply with its 2016 silica rule for construction. Table 1 of the rule listed dust control methods that employers could use for common construction tasks.

The purpose of the table is to provide a clear path for compliance. It spares construction employers from verifying exposure levels (with data and monitoring) if they employ accepted methods for controlling silica dust. Per OSHA: “Employers who fully and properly implement the engineering controls, work practices, and respiratory protection specified for a task on Table 1 are not required to measure respirable crystalline silica exposures to verify that levels are at or below the PEL for workers engaged in the Table 1 task.”

OSHA intends to use the additional information it gains in response to the RFI to revise Table 1 if deemed appropriate. OSHA currently classifies this rulemaking agenda item as “substantive, nonsignificant,” so it is unclear whether we should expect substantial movement in the near future.

Ask the Experts – July 2018

Ask the Experts Q&As are culled from member inquiries to NTCA’s Technical Support staff. To become a member and make use of personal, targeted answers from Technical Support staff to your installation questions, contact Jim Olson at [email protected]

 

QUESTION

I have these photos from a customer who is adamant that the chipped tiles are defective. The tiles are butted up and were installed without grout. Would the inability to allow deflection be the cause of breakage?

ANSWER

You are correct. These tiles have very likely chipped along the edges where they touch each other because an appropriate grout joint was not installed in the system. 

Appropriately-sized grout joints are required by tile industry standards and are an integral component to successful tile installations. One of the purposes of a grout joint and grout is to protect the edges of the tiles from damage such as this. 

Mark Heinlein, NTCA Training Director, Trainer/Presenter

QUESTION

Have you seen a rise in issues with tile crazing? I’ve had several issues with a few different factories with different dye lots. From both Italy and Spain, all glossy. ALL of these jobs used one form of waterproofing; all used premium thinset and premium grouts. All of the factories pass the crazing test and also ANSI. Without seeing into the walls, the jobs looked solid, very good craftsmanship. I have had a total of seven jobs with this issue (three of one color – two dye lots. Four others in all different colors and lots). I figured job complaints would go up with the amount of ceramic tiles that are sold but this seems like an issue that maybe needs an installation adjustment? Looking forward to your thoughts.

ANSWER

I have done some checking and discovered one similar job that was having a crazing problem. On that job, actual tiles from the lot that had been installed were tested and found to not actually meet the ANSI requirement for crazing resistance. I suggest having tiles from the actual, installed lots tested to determine whether they actually pass the ANSI and/or ISO tests for crazing as indicated by the factory. The tests will be able to determine if there is proper fitment of the glaze to the tile body.

The Tile Council of North America (TCNA) operates an independent laboratory that can do this testing for you. Katelyn Simpson is the laboratory manager and can provide information on cost and the testing procedure. Katelyn can be reached at (864) 646-8453 or [email protected]

Depending on test results, you will be able to contact the factory with detailed information to discuss resolution. 

Mark Heinlein, NTCA Training Director, Trainer/Presenter

President’s Letter – July 2018

NTCA success story

Martin Howard, 
NTCApresident,
Committee Member ANSI A108

As business leaders and entrepreneurs, we usually enjoy the chance to share our successes because we all like to WIN! I hope you will indulge me the opportunity to congratulate the NTCA on achieving major growth as an association. Back in 2003 the association had approximately 400 members and five full- time staff. Since that time, NTCA has grown to almost 1,600 member companies representing tens of thousands of tile professionals. We now have 15 full-time and two part-time employees serving our members and industry. One of my strategic goals as president is to work with the excellent staff, Executive Committee and Board of Directors to structure the organization for the future. 

In 2003 the staff had an all hands on deck mentality in which each wore many different hats in order to get the job done. As the years went by and membership continued to grow, staff was added to fill the needs that seemed most urgent at the time. This is probably not much different than what has happened in many of our businesses. The traveling workshop program has grown exponentially to now offering more than 130 half-day events around the country. All are completely free and open to the public. This year we are rolling out a new program to serve NTCA members and Five Star Contractors by offering 20 Regional Training events specifically tailored to the needs and requests of the members in each region. These events are one- and two-day educational and training sessions available for up to 20 attendees at no cost to our members.

Okay, enough bragging and back to the organizational structure. During many discussions with the Executive Committee it became clear that Bart Bettiga, Executive Director, and Jim Olson, Assistant Executive Director, were assigned too many of the major responsibilities to allow them to effectively lead the association overall. It was decided to implement a plan to create a Director level of key leaders within the staff to share and focus on various responsibilities. Recently we’ve announced the addition of Stephanie Samulski as Director of Technical Services and Avia Haynes as Director of Communications, who will be joining Amber Fox as Director of the Five Star Contractor Program, Mark Heinlein as Director of Training, Michelle Chapman as Art Director, Becky Serbin as Education and Training Coordinator, and Lesley Goddin as TileLetter Editor. Our association is ready to take on the future growth of our membership and the services they need to succeed. All of this will allow Bart and Jim to focus on providing vision and leadership on a global level. 

I can’t close this letter without expressing my sincere gratitude to the entire staff for their dedication, commitment and hard work. I know that you see your work as much more than a job, it’s your passion to serve the members and the industry at large that makes your effort so effective. There are many volunteers who have labored long and hard to help us attain the success we now enjoy and we all owe you a huge thank you for your dedication and the countless hours and service you have provided.

Keep on tiling!

Martin Howard
NTCA president,
Committee Member ANSI A108
[email protected]

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