Editor’s Letter – July 2018

Lesley Goddin

The only thing worse than training employees and having them leave is not training them, and having them stay.
– Henry Ford, Founder, Ford Motor Company

This month we have a strong focus on education and training. Of course, training and education are core pillars of NTCA’S mission, but this month we get to see how contractor members are taking that mission out into their communities to spread the word about installation that conforms to industry standards and invites the next generation of tile setters to a career in qualified labor. 

Our Training and Education feature takes a first look at the Oregon – Columbia Tile Trades Training Trust, a cooperative of contractors, supported by distributors, manufacturers and other suppliers that are developing an apprenticeship program based on NTCA University courses. Read about this inspiring new program.

In our Qualified Labor section, Nebraska State Ambassador Dan Hecox talks about a presentation on how to avoid tile failures he gave to a group of 28 second-year design students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln earlier this year. Hecox focused on real-world useful information that students can use once they graduate, and got thumbs up from the class. 

NTCA Training and Education Coordinator Becky Serbin discusses how to use the NTCA University courses in DOL-approved programs and apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs in this month’s NTCA University Update. As a member you have access to a fantastic collection of courses that can be utilized in many ways, tailored to your business. 

Our Tech Talk feature this month is derived directly from another avenue of education offered by NTCA – the monthly Webinar series. These free online presentations bring you the wisdom of industry experts on a range of topics that you can access on your phone, tablet or computer, solo or with a group of colleagues. This month, we learn about the benefits and advantages of self-leveling underlayments from TEC/H.B. Fuller’s
Tom Plaskota. 

Jason McDaniel, of Stoneman Construction LLC in Portland, is profiled in our Member Spotlight this month. In addition to being one of the members of the Oregon-Columbia Tile Trades Training Trust referenced above, McDaniel is a Regional Evaluator with the CTEF’s Certified Tile Installer credentialing program, which allows him 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.” With the expansion of the number of Regional Evaluators across the country, the CTI test is much more accessible to more tile setters who want to test themselves and obtain credentials that enhance their dealings with customers and design professionals.

And finally, in this issue we preview the Total Solutions Plus (TSP) all-industry conference coming up October 27-30 in Grapevine, Texas. This conference is a prime opportunity to gain wisdom and share experience about the business and technical ends of the industry, and learn from peers and experts. The full program and relaxed pace give you the opportunity to both learn and network and return home equipped with inspiration and new strategies to take your business to the next level. 

Have a topic you’d like to learn more about? Drop me a line and let me know and we’ll schedule an article in an upcoming issue of TileLetter.

God bless,
Lesley
[email protected]

Publisher’s Letter – Respirable Crystalline Silica Rule discussions create positive results

Bart Bettiga

By Bart A. Bettiga
NTCA Executive Director
TileLetter Publisher

Several conference seminars and forums addressed the OSHA Respirable Crystalline Silica Rule and how it affects the tile industry at the Coverings Trade Show held recently in Atlanta. At Total Solutions Plus, taking place October 27th-30th in Grapevine, Texas, we will continue these lively and productive discussions. This is the best way we at NTCA know how to effectively lead, by facilitating group discussions from leaders from the entire industry to help us better interpret the rule and to address best practices in order to help our members stay in compliance.  

NTCA has supported the Tile Council of North America’s (TCNA) efforts to understand the silica issue as it relates to the tile industry by helping to provide the contractor perspective and to assist their research in field testing for their reports. A new report from TCNA addressing California Proposition 65 will be released later this summer.  

In TileLetter’s June issue of Tech Talk (pages 62-70), we covered topics addressed during a Coverings sponsored forum on the OSHA’s Respirable Crystalline Silica Rule. In our coverage, we correctly outlined the real concern that exists if workers do not follow best practices in the tile industry as it relates to respirable crystalline silica exposure. We followed that with specific examples of installation best practices and products being developed to assist in compliance. 

The most important point to understand about respirable crystalline silica as it concerns the tile industry was not pointed out or stated emphatically enough in this article. Here is the bottom line – When tile installers cut ceramic tile with either a snap cutter or a wet saw, the risk level has been proven to be very low. If there is one message that should be shouted from the rooftops to every installer in the field, it is the following: Do not dry cut tile using motorized equipment. Only dry cut tile with a snap cutter. 

Two other activities that every tile contractor must follow in order to be in compliance are:

1) mix dry powder products in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions; 

2) provide approved dust collection equipment when grinding or mechanically disturbing concrete surfaces. 

It is important to be realistic in understanding this issue. It does not make a lot of sense to regularly dry cut tile or use angle grinders without utilizing a sponge or shroud to control the dust. So to think that installers are going to have to completely change the way they work is just not true. However, the information we are garnering from this study can be shared with tile contractors to help them create a safer workplace environment and to remove all concerns that the exposure levels of respirable crystalline silica are a risk to our valued installers.  

The NTCA will work with industry leaders to draft a statement that can be used to help tile contractors and affiliates in the industry to communicate inquiries related to OSHA compliance so that others will understand that tile setting is not a health hazard. 

Marazzi Introduces Three Dazzling Product Lines for Summer 2018

The latest collections unite contemporary style with timeless designs

 

ATLANTA – June 27, 2018 – Marazzi is pleased to announce three new collections for summer 2018. Known for pushing the envelope with stunning, cutting edge designs that deliver exceptional quality, the latest collections from Marazzi offer customers three distinct styles inspired by the hottest industry trends.

“We are extremely excited about these three new collections, because each line brings something unique to the table,” said Micah Hand, brand marketing manager for Marazzi. “In recent years, we have seen growth in the tile industry because designers prefer the inherent benefits of tile. With this preference, manufacturers are stepping up with new fashion-forward designs – a leading space where Marazzi has been at the helm, bringing unique, stylish designs to the market, as evidenced with our 2018 summer collections. From dramatic limestone-looks and minimalistic concrete-inspired lines to luxurious metal graphics, we are providing customers with beautiful products that can effortlessly integrate in a variety of designs.”

Bella Vista™ marries bold innovation and striking movement with the look of blended limestone. Inspired by the majestic views found in the Italian countryside, this enchanting collection offers the classic look of a natural stone in large-format sizes, contemporary shapes and a modern color palette.

In line with the on-trend industrial design aesthetic, SistemP™offers a minimalistic concrete-look ideal for commercial settings. This ultramodern collection is available in large-format sizes with rectified edges, simplifying maintenance, and in polished and unpolished finishes.

The captivating Influence™ collection uses a linear metal graphic to create a sleek, contemporary metal effect. This luxurious collection, available in metallic colors including steel, silver, iron, brass and copper, creates a dramatic statement as a visual exclamation point.

To learn more about the new summer 2018 collections, as well as the full line of Marazzi products, please visit www.marazzitile.com.

Riding Shotgun: two weeks on the NTCA Workshop trail

An occasional series by Connie Heinlein

This month, we launch a new section: Training & Education. The intent of this section is to let you know about the ongoing efforts in the industry towards bringing the trade to a new generation of tile setters, recaps or announcements of workshops and regional trainings and how some contractors are devising their own apprenticeship programs, often using materials from NTCA. Are you teaching a class or developing a program or supporting the trade in some way with outside-the-box training, education or outreach? Contact me at [email protected] to let me know!


April 2018 was a busy month for the NTCA van that carries Mark and Connie Heinlein along the workshop trail. Here Connie shares her insider view on workshops and regional training that month. – Ed.


Connie Heinlein

We left home in Michigan’s U.P. on April 10th for a 2,300-mile round trip to New York and New Jersey for workshops and regional training. A trip like that brings many challenges: packing all the necessary equipment from trowels to tablecloths, finding comfortable and affordable hotels, eating healthy, performing a great training even when we are road weary, and discovering some fun along the way. On this particular trip the fun involved Broadway tickets and a birthday celebration. 

Another thing that keeps things fun and exciting is that each workshop is different and has its own unique personality and atmosphere. Location, season, attendance, topic, even the dinner menu affect the individuality of an NTCA workshop.

Here is a sampling of just a few of our many amazing NTCA workshop experiences, and a view of a Regional Training Program. 

Daltile, Albany, NY

The first event of this trip was at Daltile in Albany, NY. Manager Tom Drucker and his staff did a tremendous job of planning and putting on an excellent event. Seventy-plus attendees that included representatives of all tile-related professions – architects, designers, general contractors, and of course, tile contractors, project managers, installers, mechanics and finishers – participated in the event, not to mention the Daltile staff and the manufacturer representatives who supported the effort. More than 20 people took advantage of the CEUs available for the two presentations that Mark performed – Failures: Could It Be Me? and Tile Industry Standards.

The workshop was lively and vibrant, fueled by the celebratory atmosphere that comes with a dozen product vendors, a delicious barbecue buffet, enthusiastic learners, a great Daltile support staff, the vision that our host Tom Drucker had for the evening and our tremendous state ambassadors John Mendenhall and Eric Tetreault. 

At the conclusion of the night we celebrated with several new NTCA members, reviewed plenty of standards-based installation questions, and enjoyed the awarding of gift card prizes donated by the manufacturers and vendors. It was amusing to watch Mark run off his barbecue and corn bread calories delivering the prizes to the winners.

Nemo Tile, Red Bank, NJ

Another stop on this trip was Nemo Tile in Red Bank, New Jersey. We had no idea what a tremendous day we had ahead of us as the staff came out to greet us and guide us to our specially reserved parking spot.

The staff at Nemo Tile, led by manager Carrie Bocci and owner Matt Karlin, planned for a full-day event of training for their customers. The early part of the day involved training from manufacturers including Schluter, Bostik LATICRETE, and Alpha Tools. In the comfort and beauty of Nemo’s showroom the attendees learned, networked, and were treated to a delicious breakfast and lunch buffet. They even had a professional technician to make sure that the audio and video ran perfectly, without any glitches.

Mark greatly enjoyed the surprise honor of being introduced by none other than Phil Woodruff of Schluter Systems, who trained Mark as a tile contractor and influenced him to become a Certified Tile Installer and NTCA member contractor.

In attendance were architects, designers, general contractors, distributors, product representatives, and tile installers, including a few true blue NTCA members. Quite a few people were able to earn a CEU for attending an AIA-accredited program. We also had some wise attendees who decided to join the NTCA by the end of the day.

The specifics of the NTCA training for the event included Failures: Could It Be Me?, Introduction to Standards, and the hands-on demonstration segment of the new Tile Matters program. There was genuine excitement for learning how to use ASTM C920 sealant in expansion joints, proper troweling techniques, and the importance of substrate flatness. There were also lively discussion and questions about everything from grout joint sizes to troweling direction for tile set in a herringbone pattern. All in all, many topics were covered, plenty of ideas were shared, and everyone went away with some new learning.

The Tile Shop, Scarsdale and Westbury, NY

And those were only two of the workshops we had on this trip! We also had great workshop events at The Tile Shops in Westbury and Scarsdale, NY with managers Larry Pennica and Krista Van Valkenberg-Green and regional manager Zoe Stewart along with other impressive
professionals.

Daltile Stone Center, Moonachie, NJ

I certainly cannot forget to mention the tremendous member-only regional training at the Daltile Stone Center in Moonachie, NJ. Daltile’s Vinnie Sgro and Rocko Gallotta, along with Jerry Joyce, facilitated an excellent gauged thin porcelain tile training event. The NTCA and its corporate sponsors – Will White and crew of Custom Building Products and tool provider Ben Szell of European Tile Masters – trained 20 NTCA member installers in both classroom theory and practical application that brought together standards-based tile knowledge and this new product that is gauged porcelain tile and slabs.

It was a busy and productive couple of weeks on the road. Stay tuned for more reports from the workshop trail!

Member Spotlight – June 2018: NTCA appoints Northern California Tile & Stone, Inc. as 2018’s first Five Star Contractor

The NTCA recently announced the acceptance of Northern California Tile & Stone Inc. (NCTS), Sacramento, California, to its Five Star Program.

Founded by president, Roger Leasure, NCTS began in 2009 as a reliable subcontractor specializing in large commercial and industrial tile and stone installations. Leasure​‘s vision was that the catalyst for success was a driven, trustworthy and high-level experienced team, diligently ​working ​on each project regardless of size or scope. Since that time, NCTS has grown to be a major​ ​installer in Northern California and has expanded its services throughout Nevada, as well.

Roger Leasure

In 2014, NCTS set a goal to expand via training and mentoring employees on standards, stewardship and overall ​excellence. In 2016, Leasure put additional training into practice and implemented Certified Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) programs for NCTS installers. CTEF certification is a total ​validation of industry skills and knowledge, offering training and testing essential in promoting industry-recognized proof of each and every installer’s abilities. These programs effectively ensure that NCTS team members are properly trained on quality workmanship, while continually raising the bar on all quality standards.

“Becoming a Five Star Contractor is the culmination of many years of hard work and attention to detail by our team of Project Managers, Superintendents and most importantly our CTIs (Certified Tile Installers),” stated Eric Witcher, Chief of Estimating at NCTS. “Through their dedication, we have positioned ourselves to be recognized by the NTCA with this classification. It is definitely a distinguished badge of honor, reinforcing to clients​ ​just why we are the best contractor
for the job.”

To obtain Five Star Contractor certification, contractors must be members of NTCA in good standing, and complete an application process that includes submitting examples of work, reviews and recommendations from peers and customers. Furthermore, they must demonstrate a proven commitment to service, quality, safety and superior job performance. Five Star Contractors are also required to certify a minimum of 10 % of their installers through the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) Certified Tile Installer program or, have completed a three-year apprenticeship program approved by the Department of Labor. 

For more information on the Five Star Contractor program, please contact Amber Fox at [email protected] or phone 619-247-1832.

LATICRETE Introduces READY-TO-USE Grout for Construction Professionals Seeking Superior Color Consistency and Excellent Stain Resistance

No mixing or sealing required, making READY-TO-USE Grout an ideal solution for efficient everyday grouting needs

June 20, 2018, Bethany, Conn.LATICRETE, a leading manufacturer of globally-proven construction solutions for the building industry, has introduced READY-TO-USE Grout, an advanced professional-grade, ready-to-use grout that delivers superior color consistency and excellent stain resistance. To save time and money on the jobsite, READY-TO-USE Grout does not require mixing or sealing and can be spread continuously for up to 20 minutes before cleaning is required, which is a significant improvement compared to other products on the market that require cleaning after only 5 minutes.

“Since its inception, the experts at LATICRETE have developed revolutionary grout technology to solve age-old grout problems such as discoloration and cracking. READY-TO-USE Grout is a tremendous addition to our full product portfolio as we continue to develop products that ease the work of the installer and meet the needs of even the most demanding timelines,” said Ryan Blair, LATICRETE Senior Product Manager – Grouts & Sealants.

READY-TO-USE Grout is ideal for both commercial and residential interior installations and re-grouting applications involving ceramic tile, glass tile and stone. In addition to its non-sag formula for walls and floors, READY-TO-USE Grout is crack resistant and inhibits the growth of stain-causing mold and mildew in grout joints that are 1/16 inch to 1⁄2 inch (1.5 to 12 millimeters) wide.

For color customization to enhance grout lines and complement the chosen tile, READY-TO-USE Grout is available in 40 colors, including a unique Translucent option that contains glass beads which allow for light to pass through and reflect the colors of the surrounding tiles.

“Thanks to its exceptional color consistency and high-performance stain resistance, builders and homeowners can enjoy a uniform color that brings their design visions to life,” added Blair.   

Available in a gallon (3.8 liter) pail, READY-TO-USE Grout is a component of the LATICRETE 25 Year System Warranty.

 

Teaching your kids the tile trade: yes or no?

One recent Tuesday, Dave Clark, owner of Clark Flooring LLC in Jackson, Miss., posed a question on the Facebook group, Global Tile Posse, about working with young family members – who’s done it and how is it working out?

“Working my son this summer, he’s 12 and never really done anything like work. Mainly just want to spend time with him and teach him a trade and the value of a hard-earned dollar. Any of you guys or gals ever work your youngsters? What would you pay them? Would you let them run a saw?”

This is an interesting question, since one of the main challenges in our industry is the dearth of tile setters and interest in the trade in the next generation. But after reading these responses, there is hope!


Sean Burkhart, Burkhart Construction Management, Richfield, Wis.: My son helps me every now and then. He is 9. I taught him how to run a tile breaker when he was 4. I don’t even have to explain it to him now. Just hand him a cut with a mark and he breaks it then stones the edge! Great help!

Brad Tremain, Tremain’s Top Tile, Winona, Minn.: Run a saw and wipe grout. Simple cuts. I’ve let my 8-year old run straight cuts.

Charles Nolen, Prestige Custom Tile, Logansport, Ind.: I get the awesome privilege of having my son install right along with me every day and I can say it’s truly the best ever watching your kid turn into a mini you. It’s pretty damn rewarding, not to mention the whole being proud thing, so here’s to you, Caleb Nolen. Let them do whatever they feel comfortable with. One of many good things about a wet saw is it’s hard to cut fingers off with it.

Kevin Green, Artistic Marble & Tile, Columbus, Ohio: $10 an hour. I tell him he has to save half of it, and yes I show him how to use the tools.

Cody Laws, Cody Laws Contractors, Wadmalaw Is., S.C.: I started when I was about 6. I got a dollar a day to pick up carpet scraps and blades. I had my own pair of pliers to pick them up with and put in a can.

Clayton Knutson, Final Touch Contracting, Dallas, Texas: I started real work and paying taxes/social security at 8 in a shipyard. My son is 4; works harder than most men.

Joseph Maiuri, Shores Tile Co., Roseville, Mich.: Yes sir. 12. First job I had was removing the paper between the quarry tile base and cutting the cardboard off the top: “Police the area.” I also cleaned my brother’s truck. I think I got $10/hr back then. That’s awesome – teach them young!

Matthew Allcott’s 11-year-old son grouting a floor…

Matthew Allcott, MGA Tiling, Frome, Somerset UK : I’ve let my boy have a go on the dry cuts (subway tile) and grout a small floor; he’s 11. He got 15 pounds for the day.

Dave Morgan, CA Flooring, LLC, Clinton, Miss.: My son helps my brother some throughout the summers. He’s 14 now and has been helping for the past few years.

Nathan N Michelle Mikoski of Batharium, Kannapolis, N.C.: Depends on the kid. My oldest started when he was 9, and around 13 things clicked for him. By 14 he was straight up setting small jobs and tub surrounds on his own. He’s started back today for the summer and will be 16 in a few weeks. He’s paid for his first car (a 1970 Beetle) and his own monster gaming rig. His younger

…and doing dry cuts on subway tile.

brother is 11 and still isn’t ready to handle a power tool, but he has other skills neither I nor his older brother have

Greg Dawson, Greg’s Flooring, Quesnel, B.C.: Pay $15/hr. Make him work, but try to have fun. Every dollar you pay him now is money that you won’t give him later to go out and do stuff. And he will feel like he earned it. It’s coming out of your pocket either way; just let them work for it.

Dennis Pacetti, Pacetti Tile & Remodeling, Huntingdon Valley, Pa.: Pay him what you’d pay an actual helper, and work him like an actual helper.

George Adams, ST Tile, Wellington, Ohio: My son has been on jobs since about 4. I was self-employed for 15 years and a single father, so my son came to work with me as often as possible. When he was 16, he started working for the same company I do. This is his second year here and he earned himself a $3 dollar/hour raise.

Tom Welch, Welch Bros, LLC, Woodland, Wash.: I don’t have a son but I do have two nephews that spent summers working on my tile jobs that are now both licensed full-service tile contractors. They were 14 or 15 when they first started and are now in their mid thirties. They started by just doing housekeeping and cleaning tools and buckets, buffing grout jobs, and just getting acquainted with construction in general by working around other tradesmen. I always made sure they got paid so they understood the value of working. I couldn’t be more proud of both of them and their accomplishments.

Matthew Felton’s stepdaughter Natalie helping on a waterjet mosaic, grinding off knobs where the mosaic broke off from the original stone tile. (In all other work she wore eye protection, Felton said).

Matthew Felton, Mattheworks.com, Milwaukee, Wis.: My dentist was kind enough to give my stepdaughter free braces. She was 10. So when his bathroom project came up in the summer, you should have seen the look on his face when he came home to see her outside in his driveway by herself making cuts for me.

I obviously didn’t just throw her out there. She learned everything – especially safety wise – that she needed to know and was more capable than most hired help I hired after the same amount of training. Pay for your son? As much as you would pay for what you would get out of any other trainee with whatever skill level he performs at. But agree there should be a lesson in saving as well.

Shaun Skeen, Home & Business Renovation Solutions, Okeechobee, Fla.: This is awesome seeing the next generation. I will start my son next year when he turns 4. We all better watch out for DCF showing up at our doors for child labor laws, LOL. Seriously though, let him enjoy just being with his dad then slowly start working him. Trash clean up, getting buckets filled, pulling spacers, cleaning thinset out of joints etc.

Dave Clark, Clark Flooring, LLC, Jackson, Miss.: All great responses. Thanks GTP! My kid makes great grades, just finished 6th grade with one B and the rest As. He likes to brag on being one of the smart kids and his achievements. I really just wanna spend time with him and teach him something that we know can be valuable. Kid saves all his money. I give him cash usually twice a year and he puts it wherever he puts it. He’s probably got more stashed away than I do. Lolz. Happy Tuesday, y’all!

Partnering for Success voucher program

One of the benefits of becoming a member of the NTCA is the “Partnering for Success” program. The manufacturing sponsors of this program feel strongly about the value NTCA provides and have agreed to offset your investment by providing these product vouchers. As a paid new or renewing contractor member of the NTCA you will choose $2,000 of FREE product vouchers from four categories of the $6,960 that is available. Each year the program will continue to grow as more sponsors come on board.

NTCA members applaud vouchers

This is a highly heralded benefit. Hear what a few NTCA members have to say:

“Aside from the obvious joy of free stuff, the program has allowed me to try some different products I might not have been able to before,” said Jason Jones, owner of Jones Tile, Columbiana, Ala. “Also, it’s helped to expose me to products I might not have known even existed.”

Matt Byars of Tiling Solutions, LLC, Gaffney, S.C., said, “The voucher program has turned into a rewarding opportunity for me. It allows me to try new products that I normally wouldn’t, as well as get some I am comfortable using. This year I will be able to provide 90% of the materials for a small bathroom remodel to a client who is down on their luck, and could use a helping hand. It’s a win for the client, a win for me, and a win for the industry!”

How to select your vouchers

Receiving your vouchers isn’t automatic – you need to select what you’d like, so you can tailor your selections to what’s best for your business. How does it work? Once you sign up as a contractor member, you’ll receive an email with a custom link to the vouchers. Go to the link, select vouchers from all four categories up to the Section Allowance for each category and submit your selections by November 15. You’ve got to choose all your vouchers at once and remember, vouchers expire December 15 of every year, so joining early in the year gives you the most time to use them. 

Here are the categories and sponsors for 2018: 

Category 1: Tile OptionsSection Allowance $600  –Sponsors include: American Olean, Crossville, Daltile, Emser Tile, Florida Tile, Marazzi, Metropolitan Ceramics, The Tile Shop.

Category 2: Tools/ Heat Systems Section Allowance $350 –Sponsors include: Alpha, ATR, Gundlach, Mark E. Industries, Miracle Sealants, NTCA Tile Tool, Nuheat, Porcelain Plus Speedbit, QEP, Rubi, SunTouch, Warmly Yours, Just Warm It.

Category 3: Sundries Section Allowance $400 – Sponsors include: Aqua Mix, Blanke, Ceramic Tool Co., Compotite, Contractors Direct, Hardiebacker/Home Depot, Hollspa, MAPEI, MD Pro, NAC Products, National Gypsum, Noble Company, NTCA Online Store, NTCA University, Oceancare Enhancer, Oceancare Sealer, Proflex, Schluter Systems, Trimaco, USG, VanHearron, wedi.

Category 4: Setting MaterialsSection Allowance $650 –Sponsors include: ARDEX, Bostik, Custom Building Products, C-Cure, LATICRETE, MAPEI, MERKRETE, TEC, Texrite. 

Here’s a detailed list of what’s available. http://www.tileletter.com/vouchers/. 

Do you have more questions? Call Jim Olson at 601-942-2996 or email [email protected].

Feature Story – June 2018 – Custom Building Products

Irvine, Calif. is a high-tech economic powerhouse sometimes referred to as “Silicon Valley South.” This fast-growing city’s skyline was transformed by a pair of distinctive glass office towers located at Irvine’s Spectrum Center, an open-air retail and dining district. Each 323-foot tower creates a vertical business campus offering impressive 360-degree views of coastal Orange County and showcasing large-format tile and stone on every floor. Both tile contractors on this project used a Build Green® Emerald System™ of products from CUSTOM to prep, set, grout and seal the assemblies and contribute to expected LEED Gold certification. 

Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, the architecture firm behind the Louvre’s iconic glass pyramid, designed the Spectrum Center’s new glass-walled, 426,000-sq.-ft. towers. Curtain wall construction creates an open, contemporary lobby to welcome employees and visitors to the many corporate offices headquartered here, including Mazda’s North American Operations. This effect is enhanced by the luxurious expanse of oversized natural stone on floors, walls and even inside the elevator cabs. 

Setting large-format tile and stone

Two long-time, family-owned, Southern California firms executed the tile and stone work at the Spectrum Towers. A team from NTCA member company Charles McCandless Tile of Santa Ana set 30,000 sq. ft. of porcelain and Carnevale and Lohr of Bell Gardens installed 20,000 sq. ft. of 3/4” thick quartzite pavers.

Prior to beginning work, samples of the very dense natural stone were submitted to CUSTOM’s laboratory for product testing. Based on their findings, the technicians recommended using ProLite® Premium Large Format Tile Mortar, which was then selected to install all tile and stone materials throughout the project. ProLite is a versatile, polymer-modified, dry-set mortar for large-and-heavy tiles that provides excellent bond strength. This mortar exceeds ANSI A118.15 TE and will not slump on floors or sag on walls. ProLite is formulated with lightweight, recycled aggregate, so it weighs 40% less than other mortars. Environmentally sustainable content delivers superior handling characteristics and also makes ProLite easier to carry and mix on the jobsite. A 30 lb. bag of ProLite typically covers the same area as 50 lbs. of traditional mortar. 

“ProLite is a game changer,” said Mark McCandless, president of Charles McCandless Tile. “The guys really like the way it comes out of the bucket on the trowel. It spreads easy, the non-sag is extremely good and its consistency is light and fluffy with very good workability. ProLite pays for itself in increased production,” he offered. 

Craftsmen from Carnevale and Lohr fabricated and set 30” x 30” Taj Mahal quartzite pavers in the ground floor lobby using a dry-pack method including ProLite® as the bonding mortar. Matching material measuring 2.5’ x 5’ was mechanically anchored on lobby walls and 20 stories of tower lobby floors were set with the quartzite in a 24” x 24” format. 

“ProLite is our number one choice,” said Jim Lunn, foreman at Carnevale and Lohr. “The guys in the field really like using it, especially for walls. The workability without sag is phenomenal. The pot life of ProLite is great and being lightweight is also a big plus,” he added. 

Protecting the tile assemblies

Core restrooms on all floors and the parking garage were treated with RedGard® Waterproofing and Crack Prevention Membrane. A ready-to-use elastomeric membrane that creates a continuous waterproof barrier, RedGard has outstanding adhesion and bonds directly to a variety of drain assemblies. RedGard exceeds both ANSI A118.10 and A118.12 for dual protection against moisture intrusion and in-plane crack transmission. Third-party laboratory testing has shown that RedGard outperforms other liquid-applied membranes for key performance attributes as well as actual coverage rate. 

After application of RedGard, bathroom floors were set with 12” x 12” Spec Ceramics Space Taupe matte tile. The porcelain tile installed on the walls was 12” x 24” Pure White matte supplied by Emser. Soft joints at changes of plane were filled with PolyBlend® Ceramic Tile Caulk which is suitable for use in interior, intermittently wet areas like these commercial buildings’ restrooms.

All porcelain and natural stone tile throughout both towers was grouted with Prism® Ultimate Performance Grout in shades to complement the materials for a modern, monolithic look. Fast-setting, lightweight Prism sets a new standard in grout technology. This calcium aluminate-based formula meets ANSI A118.17 high performance standards and will not contribute to efflorescence.  Prism demonstrates uniform, consistent color without mottling or shading, regardless of tile type or variable weather conditions such as humidity. These reliable results were important based on fluctuating environmental conditions at the jobsite due to the height of the towers and the effect of all-glass walls. Recycled aggregate content makes Prism 30% lighter than other grouts and delivers superior, smooth handling in grout joints as narrow as 1/16”. 

“Prism is more colorfast than other cement grouts and we do not see any mottling, which makes everyone happy,” said McCandless.

Aqua Mix® Sealer’s Choice® Gold was applied to protect both tile and grout from staining during and after installation. Premium quality Sealer’s Choice Gold is a water-based formula with low VOCs. This is important for enclosed installation areas like restrooms as well as compliance with California’s environmental regulations. This no-sheen, natural-look sealer maintains the color and character of stone while allowing moisture vapor transmission.

“We like to use Sealer’s Choice to prevent damage by other trades during construction. It’s used as a protectant on about 90% of our jobs and those have fewer callbacks,” offered McCandless. “Sealing per the contract documents is a big benefit.” 

Sustainable building with the Emerald System™

Custom Building Products is committed to environmental responsibility in both product development and manufacturing practices. Over 100 CUSTOM Build Green® products contribute to LEED certification with low VOCs, recycled content and regionally sourced materials. CUSTOM’s Emerald System™ goes a step further, with products that are guaranteed to comply with environmental agency regulations. The Emerald System is also the first line of tile installation products to include Carbon Offset Credits that help reduce greenhouse gas
emissions. 

ProLite mortar and Prism grout are cornerstones of the Emerald System™ and met the environmental standards of the Spectrum Towers’ builders with contributions to LEED® certification and Carbon Offset Credits. In addition, all of the CUSTOM products that were installed – plus the help of the Technical Services team – exceeded the performance expectations of the tile contractors. 

1 2 3 4 5 75