Feature Story – Daltile: Arizona Phoenix Children’s Hospital


Although Daltile product was in widespread use in this facility, Interstyle Ceramic & Glass Ltd. is the manufacturer of the glass mosaics that are shown on the gradient wall in the lobby. Donna McClendon of KNOXTILE in Dallas worked directly with the architects to develop the color range and gradation of the glass mosaics. All of the shop drawings, layouts, and mapping of the placement of the mosaic sheets were done by Interstyle at the company’s factory.

Since 1983, Arizona Phoenix Children’s Hospital has provided hope, healing and best-in-class healthcare for young patients and their families. From its humble beginnings, Arizona Phoenix Children’s has grown to become a leading pediatric hospital renowned for a culture of excellence that is woven throughout the entire organization, from medical care and education to research and even the facility’s overall design.

A bold vision of building upon the hospital’s national reputation for the highest quality pediatric care inspired the recent $588 million, multi-year expansion to the existing structure. With the expansion, Arizona Phoenix Children’s Hospital is now a 775,000-square-foot, 11-story tower facility that is one of the largest pediatric campuses in the country. Through innovative products from industry-leading brands like Daltile, coupled with thoughtful design choices based on patient and guest experiences, Arizona Phoenix Children’s is setting a new standard in pediatric healthcare facility design.

While cost, maintenance, code requirements and durability continue to play crucial roles in healthcare building material selection, many facilities are placing more emphasis on thoughtful design choices that positively enhance patient care and the overall experience for guests. This was the case for Arizona Phoenix Children’s Hospital. The design team from global architecture firm, HKS Architects, was challenged to enhance the existing campus and improve upon its planning and flexibility, all while staying true to the facility’s vision of providing children’s care in an inspiring and comfortable atmosphere. For the tile installation, HKS worked with Kitchell Contractors Inc., with Desert Mountain Tile & Marble as the installing subcontractor.

feature-2According to Iris Dates, RID, IIDA, EDAC, LEED AP, vice president, HKS, the overall design concept for the campus was to create a welcoming oasis that provided shade and healing, while emulating the natural beauty of the surrounding mountains and desert. The team based their renovation design on the theme of a desert flower blooming at night. As a result, HKS specified a vibrant selection of Daltile products to help create a welcoming distraction through color and movement for children and their families going to the hospital to receive medical care.

The use of tile continues to reign as a favored design staple in the healthcare industry because of its performance characteristics, design versatility, color options and beauty. Arizona Phoenix Children’s Hospital features several Daltile product lines, including an expansive palette of colors from the popular Semi-Gloss™ glazed wall tile collection. In total, 450,000 1” square glass and ceramic Daltile tiles were used in this project. Other Daltile products used throughout the renovation include, Glass Mosaics™, Monticito™ ColorBody™ Porcelain and Concrete Connection™ Glazed Porcelain. These lines are most prominent in the kitchen cafeteria and all facility restrooms.

feature-3Consistency in manufacturing = predictable results

“Daltile made the entire tile installation process proceed effortlessly,” said Michael Wolfe, Kitchell’s principal-in-charge/project director on the project. “First of all, the product line is massive, offering unlimited options, and the company’s manufacturing process yields an incredibly high rate of consistency. With Daltile, you know exactly how the tiles will perform while installing, and you can anticipate exactly what the end result will be.”

feature-4Arizona Phoenix Children’s Hospital is devoted to providing care and comfort for the entire family, not just the patient, so HSK took special care to ensure that spaces like extended-stay rooms, gathering areas and public corridors felt warm and comfortable, as if the spaces are an extension of their own home. “These types of design choices allow patients to feel more comfortable and out of the mindset of a clinical environment,“ said Lori Kirk-Rolley, vice president, brand marketing, Dal-Tile.

The planning of the campus is based on a north/south and east/west axis to promote logical wayfinding, or ease of navigation. In addition to its performance and design qualities, adding decorative patterns through flooring has been known to aid in healthcare wayfinding – the movement of patients and guests in a desired direction throughout the campus. For Arizona Phoenix Children’s, distinct color palettes, animal sculptures and wall murals also help guide the way. These elements serve a functional purpose, but again provide positive distractions for patients and guests.

feature-5Sustainable strategies

In addition to prioritizing patient care and guest experiences, the design team also implemented sustainable strategies to lower the carbon footprint of the facility, including materials selection. Ceramic tile is one of the most environmentally-friendly floor/wall covering products due to its extremely long life (60+ years), zero VOC content/emissions and extremely low maintenance requirements. To date, all products manufactured by Daltile contain some level of recycled-materials content, including those specified for Arizona Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

Like most healthcare facilities, the first priority is to ensure that it is supporting the care and treatment of patients. Beyond that, it’s all about the experience patients are having, and the renovation of Arizona Phoenix Children’s Hospital has set the bar high. Since opening in January 2011, patient, family and staff satisfaction rates have shot up, a testament to the thoughtful design choices that positively enhance the guest experience.

Cersaie 2013


At the end of September, architects, designers, buyers, distributors, trade and design media and other tile industry members make a pilgrimage to Bologna, Italy, to see the rollout of the newest, ground-breaking ceramic tiles to join the market at the event known as CERSAIE.

1-cersaieThis year, your trusty editor and intrepid reporter had the chance to join the fray across the pond in the land of food and wine, as part of a delegation graciously hosted by Ceramics of Italy. Or I should say in the land of tortellini en brodo soup because I came down with the Virus from Hell the day before the show began and it accompanied me for the duration of the show and beyond.

Despite my bleary-eyed, feverish exhaustion, I got to sample several kinds of tortellini en brodo (closest I could come to chicken soup and it was darn good!) while in Bologna, and some other fine foods as well, including a wonderful visit to Opera 02 di Ca’ Montanari in Modena on the last day of the trip. This visit was arranged by Ceramics of Italy after the tour of thin-tile production at nearby Lea, part of Panariagroup (stay tuned for a future story on thin-tile production). The Opera 02 tour allowed us to see how its famed Lambrusco and balsamic vinegar is made.

Oh yeah, and the TILE on the Cersaie show floor was pretty awesome too!

In fact, three days of pounding the pavement at the sprawling Bologna Fiere complex allowed me to send news of the new back to the U.S. via social media. Didn’t catch it? Here’s a synopsis.

2-woodWood aesthetics

By far the most prevalent trend was the appearance of wood EVERYWHERE – in every possible permutation. Weathered, planks, clapboard – you name it – you couldn’t turn around during CERSAIE without seeing some rendition of rustic boards. A study done by Impronta Italgraniti showed the wood look to be the most requested aesthetic in porcelain tile by consumers. The company’s Scrapwood offers the rustic  texture of real wood in pleasing neutrals that work well in homes or in retail stores to create a cozy, natural ambience that wears like iron.

Cerdisa’s Home Teak was shown in linear and clapboard formats.

Designed by Diego Grandi, Lea’s Type 32 comes in 32 different combinations of warm or cool colors and motifs, and available in the 5mm Slimtech thin tile. Thin tile is another tile trend that is not exactly ubiquitous, but increasingly popular – and the large, thin formats showed up in everything from wood looks to gem looks and everything in between.

3-wood 4-woodAt Panaria, the UrbaNature  collection combines different surfaces such as cement, wood, metal, ceramic and majolica in a fresh series of tile effects.


Shape shifting

5-shapeAlong with wood looks are plank formats, which also were prevalent  in a range of patterns and designs. In fact, rectangles are de rigueur right now, whether small in subway tile format or the large format we call planks. Imola returned to its roots with the Imola 1874 collection of rectangular bicottura wall tiles, named for the year the cooperative was established. Images are derived from past historic tiles and from pottery and dinnerware motifs with a unique texture.

6-shapeIn addition to planks, the prevalent shape was the hexagon, with honeycomb  motifs in all shapes, sizes and colors. In a departure from its typical mosaic lines, Bisazza introduced  Frozen Garden, white-body wall tiles designed by Marcel Wanders in hexagonal shapes with 7-shapeflower and star accents in matte-finished white and black tones.


More traditional looks, freshened with metallics or pattern choices, were on display too. From Italian producer Appiani comes Memorie, with 12 designs to mix and match in black and white, with metallic accents. This majolica-inspired mosaic tile collection comes on 12” x 12” sheets that can be used uniformly or mixed and matched to create a more playful setting.8-shape

Tagina showed Deco Perlage, a collection of floral and geometric motifs derived from precious fabrics that come in five designs and six colors with a 60 cm x 60 cm tile that combine geometric and floral motifs in one.

Industrial and shabby chic

1-industrialDistressed, worn, industrial, “rust” – all kinds of aged, worn and used aesthetics permeated new products. Cerdisa, part of the Ricchetti Group, launched Formwork, a distressed rug look in 12”x 48” and 6”x48.”

Developed for Fondovalle in conjunction with the University of Architecture in Milan, Rug combines the look of scrap metal, scrap paper, canvas debris and oil waste into a complex industrial look. In four colors, one 24” x 48” module is composed of 12”x 48”,12” x 12” and 6”x 12” “shapes” giving the appearance of a collection of multiple 2-industrialsizes within one large format tile. Rug has a high coefficient of friction but is easy to maintain.


Impronta Italgraniti showed Empriente, a wall tile with soft, worn designs.


Classics, luxe, and jewels

1-classicsHigh gloss, fine stone and gem looks are convincingly conveyed by up-and-coming new introductions. This neoclassical look from Marazzi in its Evolution Marble line depicts a beautiful Iranian marble with white veining in fashionable light and darker gray tones.

2-classicsMirage introduced large faux gemstone panels that are finished with a hand-applied glossy resin. The 35”x70.5” Privilege tiles are available in a variety of rich colors and precious stone looks to create eye-catching wall cladding or decorative interior elements.

3-classicsPecchioli showed metallic-kissed sculptural tiles paired with mosaics, tumbled stone with gold accents and Old World pottery majolica decorative motifs.


From thin to thick

1-thin-thickFrom super slim to super thick, the concept of 2cm thick porcelain pavers offers skid resistance and ease of maintenance to incredibly high breakage loads (up to 2,000 pounds). They can be dry-laid onto grass, dirt, gravel, sand or terraces using raised supports for gardens, terraces and high traffic outdoor areas. They now come in a range of  formats, designs, and trims, offering a completely versatile system for designing outdoor spaces, such as Century Two.0.


Special features

MAPEI launched its new logo at CERSAIE, with a large upper floor exhibit. President and CEO, MAPEI Americas, Luigi Di Geso, explained the drawing-style landscape by famed Milan illustrator Carlo Stanga depicts prestigious projects worldwide in which MAPEI products have been used, making up the “World of MAPEI.”


A Vision is Indeed Reality Tribute to Paolo Soleri – featured the film “Paolo Soleri Beyond Form” by Santa Fe, N.M.-based filmmaker Aimee Madsen. It traced the legendary artist’s life from Italy to Arizona and the creation of his art at Cosanti, his work with ceramics and his dream of creating Arcosanti, an urban community that existed in harmony with the land.

3-specialTiling Town Tile Workshop and Exhibition offered a range of tile installation-related activities. The Three 2013 World Championships at CERSAIE showcased three first-place World Skills at Leipzig tile installers. Sponsored by MAPEI, in collaboration with EUR and support from Schluter Systems and Marazzi, Thomas Fabian Sigenthaler from Switzerland, Thomas Liebenauer from Austria and Bjorn Bohmfalk from Germany each completed a tile module to show world-class installation techniques.

Tiling Town also offered ongoing training courses for tile installers and a demonstration area for new tiling and installation techniques and equipment including installation and grouting of thin and large-format tiles; cutting and finishing of tiles; dry and floating tile systems; tiling systems on non-rectilinear surfaces and cleaning and treatment of ceramic surfaces.

Benefits Box – December 2013


New NTCA/Firestarter VT online training partnership features key factors

wally_adamchikOnline training systems are flooding the inboxes of contractors as they become must-have tools for training employees. But leadership consultant Wally Adamchik asks, “How can a busy manager in a construction firm decide which system is the best to use?”

The good news is NTCA has done the research for you. NTCA has partnered with Adamchik to provide contractor-focused, time-efficient, engaging, online employee training as a new benefit to members, starting in 2014. Adamchik is president of FireStarter Speaking and Consulting, a Raleigh-based leadership consulting and development firm, and a presenter of keynote speeches about leadership, management and training issues at construction industry meetings and conventions, including Coverings. He is author of Construction Leadership From A to Z; 26 Words to Lead By.

“Online training has come a long way in just a few years. It doesn’t have to be the clunky, ineffective, and painful process many of us have experienced,” said Adamchik. “Savvy contractors are aggressively integrating online learning into their training curriculum. Previously hard-to-teach subjects, such as supervisory skills, are finding a new home online. The payoff is having a better-trained employee while maintaining production because you don’t shut the job site down for a few hours to bring the leaders in for training.”

“In the past few months I researched what is out there from a technology perspective and what is actually being used by contractors,” Adamchik said. “I did user demonstrations on nine different online platforms. I interviewed more than 20 contractors across disciplines. This research led me to 13 key factors to consider when buying training systems,” said Adamchik. His new system, FireStarterVT.com, has all these essential features. View it at www.firestartervt.com.

He suggests considering these four tips when contemplating bringing online training into your company:

1. It is not about the technology – it is about the return on your investment. The technology you select to meet your needs should actually train people and improve performance.

2. Full-motion video – is the instructor talking to you directly? Most online learning is mind-numbing voice-over-PowerPoint or a bad recording of a live presentation. That is so 2010! Best-in-class today features the speaker delivering content.

3. Interactive questions – Just like in a live classroom where the instructor asks questions, in the best virtual classrooms the instructor asks questions, too, before users can continue.

4. Other language subtitles – In our increasingly diverse society, it is important to make training available to students who are not fluent in English by using subtitles. However, most programs do not support this option.

Adamchik listed several benefits for contractors with the NTCA/FirestarterVT partnership.

• New employees will view you as a progressive firm that invests in people.

• The cost advantage gained from effective implementation of a blended employee development curriculum is compelling. You train more people for less money.

• You maintain production while training employees.

• You make yourself more attractive to the next generation while educating all your leaders.

“We are finally at a time where new technology is creating real value in employee learning,” Adamchik said. “Your key to recognizing maximum value is to get the right system. These tips will point you in the right direction. Ask your training provider or potential technology provider if they have these features. The savvy buyer recognizes the payoff delivered from these features and reaps the benefits.” Contact Adamchik at [email protected] to learn more about the NTCA/FirestarterVT partnership.

Product Spotlight – November 2013

TEC® products endorsed for use with Laminam® by Crossville®

Products from TEC® have been endorsed by Crossville for use with its Laminam® by Crossville® line of large thin porcelain panels.

Crossville recently launched its line of large porcelain panels for wall and floor applications through an exclusive distributorship with Italian manufacturer Laminam S.p.A. The line features the first-ever large format slab with a thickness of as few as 3 millimeters.

tec-laminam-partnershipTEC and Crossville have jointly developed Laminam-specific installation guidelines, since the revolutionary panels require different handling and installation techniques than traditional products.

Successful installation of large format thin panels requires specific materials. TEC offers a variety of setting materials for use with Laminam by Crossville – including surface preparation products, mortars, grouts and caulks.

“Our goal is to educate contractors on the methods and products that will help them deliver high quality results,” said Tim Bolby, executive technical service director at Crossville. “Our recommendations, which include select TEC products, specify the equipment, materials, handling, storage and installation methods to help contractors achieve success.”

As part of the collaboration, H.B. Fuller Construction Products, the manufacturer of TEC brand products, offers an extended limited warranty (available through a TEC associate or via the tecspecialty.com website) for TEC bonding systems used with Laminam by Crossville.

“We’re excited to collaborate with Crossville on their large format panel initiative,” said Grant Huffine, senior market manager for H.B. Fuller Construction Products. “The installation system we’ve developed with Crossville for these innovative products reflects our commitment to expanding design possibilities for both those who imagine spaces and those who build them.”

New Products – November 2013

procolor plus grout 25lb bag (2)ProSpec® recently launched ProColor Plus Grout, an extension of its ProColor line as the first of several new grout lines planned for the ProSpec ProColor brand. It provides durable grout joints that are color-consistent, efflorescence-free and rapid-setting. It is a portland cement-free, highly-engineered blend of special cements and additives which will eliminate common problems with portland cement grout. Offered in 20 of the most popular colors found in the ProSpec ProColor Grout line, it incorporates proprietary ProSpec Rapid Cure Technology for high strength and durability, and Expansion Stabilization Technology for improved crack and shrink resistance. ProColor Plus Grout can be opened to foot traffic within three to four hours, shower use within 24 hours and water immersion within seven days. With increased stain resistance, it can be used both indoors and outdoors and in residential, light commercial and heavy-duty commercial installations. ProSpec ProColor Plus Grout is a part of the ProSpec limited lifetime system warranty and is available in 25-pound bags. www.prospec.com

durock shower system portfolio (2)USG Corporation introduces its new DUROCK Shower System, a fully-bonded waterproofing system for tiled shower installations, designed to control moisture independently of the tile covering, while creating a solid base for a long-lasting shower. The system reduces installation time by featuring 2% pre-sloped molded EPS foam shower trays in three sizes that install quickly and  accommodate center and off-center drains; a thin, pliable, and extremely-durable high-density polyethylene waterproofing membrane with a cross-laminated core that provides strength and tear resistance at 0.12 mil – and that is ideal for showers, wet areas and continuous-use residential and commercial steam showers. The easy-to-install drain assembly that accepts all DUROCK Shower System 4” or 5” grates (more 50 options in 10 finishes) and can accommodate ABS or PVC waste lines with an integrated bonding flange featuring a nonwoven fleece on the bottom and top of the flange for superior adhesion and bonding. The Durock Shower System also includes shower benches and niches. The benches are made from durable solid 3-lb. density EPS, offering superior strength and can be cut to any size or shape. The niches are constructed from rugged ABS plastic and feature a nonwoven fleece that is co-molded with the ABS plastic structure on the flanges and interior surfaces, which provides a superior bond to thin-set mortar. The system can be purchased as a kit or as separate components, yet all pieces work harmoniously together as a proprietary system. www.DurockShowerSystem.com or www.USG.com.

emser-pergamoEmser introduces Pergamo glazed porcelain, which captures the dramatic movement and vivid colors of Cabos Valencia travertine with the aid of HD technology. Available in five colors, in 12” x 24,” 13” x 13” and 18” x 18” formats with V4 variation rating. www.emser.com

blast-seriesInternational Wholesale (IWT) introduces the Blast Series from Tesoro. A never-before-seen, eye-catching multi-marble blended-look porcelain tile series, Blast from Tesoro is a one-of-a-kind extreme pattern range series that is an immediately remarkable line.

The Blast series will be available in a 12″ x 24″ format with a 3″ x 24″ bullnose trim. Blast is also created using high-definition inkjet technology.

For more information regarding the Blast series, please contact Ken Baker, director of customer relations at: 772/223-5151 or [email protected]iwttesoro.com.


Living Room Interior With Ocean ViewMediterranea utilizes Dynamic HD Imaging design technology to blend the modern look of cement with delicate veining and coloration from unique stones in its new Ocean Drive glazed porcelain series. Available in four neutral colors derived from Miami Beach, Art-Deco and surfside influences in 12” x 24”, 18” x 18” and 13” x 13” formats with matching bullnose trim and 2” x 2” mosaics. http://mediterranea-usa.com


feet-heated-floorsBostik is proud to introduce HeatStep™, a safe, comfortable and cost-efficient electric radiant heat system that can be used on concrete slab or plywood substrates. Almost every type of floor covering can be warmed with HeatStep, including engineered hardwood, ceramic and porcelain tile, stone, laminates, vinyl, or carpet. www.bostik-us.com

ARDEX Americas announces ARDEX WA™ Epoxy Grout and Adhesive. ARDEX WA has two components and a unique creamy consistency that is easy to apply. It is cleaner than traditional epoxies, yet delivers the durability required in the most difficult environments where epoxies are typically specified.

ARDEX WA is ideal for tile installations in swimming pools, food processing facilities, industrial areas, breweries and other installations where maximum chemical resistance and cleanliness are required.

ARDEX WA provides excellent color consistency and stain resistance in the most demanding environments and is available in the most popular colors. It is available in 9 lb. units at ARDEX Tile & Stone Installation Systems distributors throughout North America. www.ardexamericas.com

Bosch Measuring Tools combine the precision of laser measures with the convenience of Bluetooth® wireless technology with the launch of the GLM 100 C Laser Measure. Featuring an extended measuring distance, best-in-class memory storage and angle measurement in two axis, this innovative product allows users to make accurate measurements that are instantly transferred to smart devices via the free Bosch Measurement mobile app.

With the help of the mobile app, professionals can easily store and manage measurements without relying on pen and paper, making it fast and easy to calculate material needs and estimate labor costs on-site. Measurements also can be superimposed on jobsite photos, allowing users to quickly create and share detailed quotes containing pictures and comments. The device boasts first-in-its-class remote control functionality, and professionals can control the GLM 100 C from smart phones or tablets to make steady measurements along long range, short range targetless measurements or in hard-to-reach spots.

Bosch_mobileappFeaturing an extended measuring distance of 330 feet, increased memory storage of up to 50 measurements and angle measurements in two axes, the GLM 100 C offers multiple features for increased versatility. The integrated 360-degree tilt sensor provides improved angle functionality, while the large, automatically illuminated flip display makes measurements easy to read and interpret. As with all Bosch measuring tools, precision is important, and the GLM 100 C is accurate up to 1/16 inch.

The versatile and easy-to-use Bosch GLM measure and document mobile app allows users to sketch or overlay measurements on jobsite photos, calculate measurements or assume control of the tool’s measuring functions from their smart devices. For further processing, measurements and photos also can be transferred from smart devices to personal computers (PC) via USB. When connected to a PC, the GLM 100 C’s integrated Li-Ion battery conveniently re-charges.

The GLM 100 C will come complete with a Li-Ion battery charger, USB cable for data transfer, hand strap and belt pouch. The Bosch GLM measure and document mobile app is available for download and works with Bluetooth® Smart Ready devices on Android and iOS operating systems. To find out more or to find a local dealer, visit www.boschtools.com or call 877-BOSCH-99.

Feature Story – Custom drives high-speed, large-format tile installation at immense New York mall



Palisades Center Mall in West Nyack, N.Y., is the third-largest shopping mall in the U.S. Only 20 miles from New York City, and featuring over 220 retailers, the mall draws 24 million visitors annually – making it one of the busiest malls in the country. An impressive array of upscale attractions includes an ice rink, a Ferris wheel and an IMAX theater along with the largest indoor climbing attraction on the east coast. The mall’s owners, Pyramid Management Group, decided to transform and refresh the space by adding premium porcelain tile to the heavily-trafficked aisles.

With more than 600,000 square feet of public access areas to tile, the sheer scale of the project required extensive planning and consultation. Pyramid called on the expertise of Kevin Killian, owner of ProFast Commercial Flooring of Ijamsville, Md. Kevin knew right away he wanted to partner with the tile installation experts of Custom Building Products.

2-mall“I wanted to put together the very best team in the industry,” said Killian. “That means heading the list with Custom Building Products. Not only does Custom have the best setting materials and warranty available, but their national construction systems manager, David DeBear, is one of the most knowledgeable people in the country.”




Keeping up with demands

3-mallLarge-format porcelain tiles manufactured by Iris U.S. were chosen for their superior design and easy maintenance qualities. These 24″ x 24″ and 12″ x 24″ tiles were sourced by Ceramic Technics of Alpharetta, Ga., who worked with Iris U.S. to rapidly deliver the significant quantities needed to keep up with installation demands. This was especially important with everyone on the team working to keep the project ahead of schedule.

A primary consideration behind the choice of the installation products was driven by the Custom Building Products System Warranty. Product performance, workability and compliance with current standards – plus prompt customer service – were of the utmost importance to ProFast Commercial Flooring. Surface preparation of the existing stained concrete flooring was also a significant factor.

4-mallThe mall chose to remain open for business throughout the renovation process. To accommodate this, the use of rapid-setting patching and leveling materials as well as installation products from Custom minimized the time needed for each area to be closed off to the public.

David DeBear of Custom developed installation system recommendations for the team, conducted due diligence and performed field evaluation. DeBear also coordinated a 20-year Installation System Warranty for this specific tile installation. Custom technical services representative Matt Grandinetti regularly visited the site to advise the installers and inspect subfloor conditions.

Surface preparation began with Custom’s new TechLevel XP-1 Self-Leveler and CrackBuster® Pro Crack Prevention Mat Underlayment. These two products were specified to address the uneven condition of the cement substrate and ensure an installation system designed for large-format tiles. The size of the tiles and the requirement for speed dictated the use of Complete Contact™ Rapid Setting Fortified Mortar. Complete Contact eliminates the need for back-buttering, allows grouting in two hours and traffic in as few as four. Both characteristics – along with Complete Contact’s ability to hold its ridges for deeper trowel notches – were vital to this project’s success.

8,000 square feet of tile set and grouted each shift!


“Our crews worked day and night averaging over 8,000 square feet of tile set and grouted each shift,” said Kevin. “That is insanely fast!  With the size of these tiles, not to mention the size of the mall, having the precise installation materials we needed for this job saved us weeks of time.”

The tile installation was completed with PolyBlend® Sanded Grout and 100% Silicone Caulk. Custom’s exclusive line of Profiles and Transitions products was specified to create smooth, code-compliant transitions between flooring finishes, such as tenant spaces and carpeted areas.

6-mallPalisades Center’s owners did not wait for a grand opening before starting to showcase the work in progress on their website. Shoppers are expected to be very happy with the inviting new look and feel of their favorite mall when the project is complete. With a 20-year Installation System Warranty in place, all involved with the project know that the quality of the installation products used are the best in the industry – backed by Custom Building Products.


Tile Patterns – bringing tile to life


By Corinthia Runge, manager, Daltile Design Studio

Ceramic tile continues to reign as one of the most favored design staples in the floor-covering industry because of its performance, design versatility, color options and beauty. The range of design possibilities with ceramic tile is truly endless, which affords tile manufacturers the opportunity to meet the varying needs of residential and commercial audiences through extensive portfolios of stylish floor and wall tile options – but there’s more to a tile installation than the tile itself.

How tile is laid can change the look and feel of any space – and there are so many exciting tile patterns to choose from and ways to use them to a space’s best advantage. No matter how you want to alter the appearance or scale of an installation, there’s a tile pattern designed to work for you. Using any classic tile pattern can help transform a standard tile job into an extraordinary one. Considering the wide variety of tile and trim tiles available, the possibilities are limitless.

Trending tiles and patterns

Many of today’s most popular tile patterns are inspired by the emerging trends driving modern design. These trends take some time to get seeded, but once a trend is identified, it tends to evolve and last for years. The most popular shapes right now are rectangular large formats and planks, which are often being used on both the floor and on the wall. This results in many more pattern options, which designers are utilizing more frequently to create unique designs. For larger format sizes, the most popular patterns are Running Bond, Straight Joint and Third Stagger.

2-tile-patternsRunning Bond is a basic yet beautiful layout, also called a brick or offset pattern. In this pattern, the tiles are offset by half the width of the tile, offering a timeless look for almost any style. With each joint centered over the tile below, this pattern resembles classic brickwork. Larger formats (any side measuring over 18”) require an offset of no more than 33% when installed in this pattern.

Straight Joint is one of the simplest tile patterns that showcases the beauty of every tile. The straight joint pattern offers a more contemporary, linear look. Whether tile is installed vertically or horizontally, the pattern’s clean lines make any space feel taller or wider.

Third Stagger is a variation of the Running Bond layout that features a stair-step pattern with each joint offset 1/3 from the row of tiles below it.

These larger format sizes (12”x24”, 18”x36” and 24”x48”) offer a more transitional, clean look and have less grout. Running Bond and Third Stagger provide a traditional spin on the modern cut tile, while the Straight Joint offers a more modern look.

Patterns for planks

1-tilepatternsFor plank sizes, the most popular patterns are Chevron, Herringbone and Random Stagger. The rise in popularity of these layouts is due in part to wood-look tile, one of the hottest trends in the marketplace. What was first introduced as a traditional take on hardwood floors has evolved to include more colors and textures to choose from than ever before. There has also been a significant rise in the selection of natural stone planks due to the beautiful vein-cut natural stone options being offered today.

Chevron is an inverted V-shaped pattern. In this design, all planks are the same length and the pieces are installed at an angle to match up perfectly with one another. This creates a perfectly straight line on both sides of the planks. Herringbone is very similar to Chevron, but instead of having the ends line up with one another, they overlap, creating an entirely different and unique look.

Mosaics are also “must-haves” right now, especially in kitchen backsplashes, shower walls and floor accents. The texture and color movement possible with these mosaics add a depth, sparkle and luminescence to any space.

In terms of mosaic patterns, if you can imagine it, you can create it. From vivid colors and on-trend shapes to unique patterns and bold borders, one simple design can turn any space into an incredible work of art. There are hundreds of patterns and borders available that can be modified to complement any design scheme. Many mosaics are available in custom (made to order) and standard patterns that can be used in any application.

On the level for proper installation

The primary challenges with large-format tile patterns are foundation and installation. For large-format tiles, the foundation must be perfectly level, which at times requires extensive preparation work for the surface. It may also require a crack-prevention membrane. Also, during installation it may require extra setting material and extra manpower, since the large tiles may be difficult to maneuver.

When in doubt, always refer to the industry standards. Industry standards include the 2013 TCNA (Tile Council of North America) Handbook for Ceramic, Glass, and Stone Tile Installation, which includes Natural Stone Tile Selection and Installation and Assembly Methods for the Installation of Stone Tile. In addition, consult the current Version 2013.1 edition of ANSI A108, A118, and A136.1 (Visit the NTCA store at www.tile-assn.com, click on Books & Periodicals).

For more information and diagrams on tile patterns, visit tile manufacturer websites such as www.daltile.com/information/tile-patterns, http://americanolean.com/patterns.cfm, or www.daltile.com/programs-services/custom-tile-services/mosaic-borders-patterns/1-x-1.


Achieving ambitious design at Coba Cocina restaurant

TEC products provide stunning aesthetic and impeccable performance


Coba Cocina Restaurant in Lexington, KY contains more than 60,000 square feet of glass, porcelain and ceramic interior and exterior tile, all installed with TEC® Power Grout® and IsoLight™ mortar.

The design of Coba Cocina was inspired by cenotes, a natural wonder found most often in the Yucatan Peninsula, where land has eroded over centuries to create a mystical underwater world. The focal point of the restaurant is an aquarium that is home to the largest private collection of moon jellyfish in the world.

1-cobaThe project team decided that the best material to simulate the limestone bedrock and underwater atmosphere would be a variety of tile. To achieve this intricate look, the team immediately turned to TEC products because of their wide variety of options and ultimate performance.

“There was really no other choice when it came to deciding which products to use,” said Todd Ott, AIA, Associate with CMW, Inc., architect for the project. “IsoLight™ and Power Grout did everything that we needed for all interior and exterior tile applications throughout the project through a single source. The products enabled us to get the look we imagined, with peak performance.”

TEC Power Grout Ultimate Performance Grout was used for all tile applications on Coba Cocina. It provides permanent stain resistance, crack resistance, efflorescence resistance and superior color uniformity. Power Grout is available in 32 color options that match the latest design trends – yet another advantage for the Coba Cocina design and project team.

2-coba“The design of the floor and walls at Coba is a work of art,” said Ott. “The numerous color options of Power Grout allowed us to choose from a broad range of grout colors to fit our creative design.”

By using ceramic and glass tile of various sizes and colors, including iridized blacks, greens, golds, silvers and aqua, on the floors and walls, restaurant patrons can experience a sense of underwater movement.

TEC IsoLight Mortar was used to set all of the tile. IsoLight is a lightweight mortar that protects tile from up to 1/8″ substrate cracking from in-plane horizontal substrate movement. It contains recycled materials that enable superior handling and ease of use. Additionally, IsoLight can be applied over many substrates, an extra bonus for the installer of the Coba Cocina project. “


The mortar was applied over various substrate surfaces and used with a variety of tile materials,” said Donnie May, president of May Contracting who served as installer on the project. “Not having to change products during installation saved us time and allowed us to focus on the intricate details of this installation.”

The exterior of the restaurant is covered in solid porcelain tile that gives it a travertine look. The large-format 12”x24” tile is set using the same TEC products as the interior. IsoLight and Power Grout are both ideal for outdoor installations.

“I can always turn to TEC products to achieve the desired outcome of any project,” said Donnie May. “Coba is another example of the aesthetic and functional results that TEC products have to offer.”

Coba Cocina was completed in spring 2013. The project team consists of architect CMW, Inc., Lexington, KY, tile installer May Contracting, Lexington KY, and distributor Louisville Tile, Lexington, KY.

Visit tecspecialty.com to learn more about TEC products.


Tech Talk – November 2013

TEC-sponsorKeys to successful installation of large thin tile panels

tom_plaskota_webBy Tom Plaskota, Technical Support manager, H.B. Fuller Construction Products

Large-format tile has become a popular choice for commercial floor and wall installations. Because it requires fewer grout lines, large-format tile visually expands rooms and produces a neater, modern appearance. Building owners and designers, now more than ever, are demanding these aesthetic benefits. Meanwhile, technological advances have enabled manufacturers to produce larger – and thinner – porcelain tiles, some with facial dimensions as large as 5’ (1.5 m) x 10’ (3 m). Thicknesses are reduced compared to traditional tile, ranging from 1/8” (3 mm) to 9/32” (7 mm).

These larger and thinner tiles can be challenging to handle and install. Here are some key factors to consider:

Handling – Large-format tiles often arrive in oversized crates, which require specific handling equipment. To prevent damage during forklift operation, specific fork sizes must be used. For example, to handle a crate of 3’ x 10’ tiles from the side, 44” long forks are recommended. To handle the same crate from the narrow end requires forks that are at least 84” long. Lifting multiple crates with longer forks may require forklifts with a greater lift capacity.

fig1_tectalkTools and equipment – Specialized tools and equipment are currently available for the installation of large porcelain panels. Innovative trowels with unique notch configurations can help increase the consistency of the mortar coverage on the back of the tile (See fig. 1). As with any size tile installation, full and complete coverage provides a strong bond and minimizes the likelihood of damage from impact or heavy loads.

Fig2-tectalkTo assist in the handling and setting of individual tiles, frames and handles with suction cups can be purchased or rented from tile distributors. Since mis-cuts of large panels can result in costly waste, the use of a rail cutting system is highly recommended (See fig. 2).

Installation materials – Since not all setting materials are appropriate for installing large porcelain panels, setting-material manufacturers have specific large-tile product recommendations. Whether you are installing 1/8” (3 mm) thick tiles that have a resin/mesh backing (See fig. 3) or 7/32” (5.6 mm) tiles with a porcelain bonding surface, the greater bond strength and resistance to impact of latex/polymer modified portland cement mortars are required. The “tack time” of a mortar is another consideration. When troweling mortar onto a substrate, it is important that the mortar surface remains in a wet, tacky state and doesn’t skin over before the tile is set. Tack time is especially important when troweling out the area to set a 30-plus square foot tile.


Setting-material manufacturers must also evaluate grout requirements for reduced thickness porcelain panels. Strong durable grouts are required for these installations for two reasons:

1. Grout-joint depth is limited by the reduced thickness of the tile

2. Reduced-thickness tiles have a rectified corner edge, which may be susceptible to impact damage in some circumstances. Grouts with premium strength qualities address these conditions.

Substrate preparation – First, check with the tile manufacturer to make sure your substrate type is acceptable. For example, some large thin-tile manufacturers limit floor installations to concrete substrates. While a clean, sound substrate is critical to any tile installation, large porcelain panels have the added criteria of substrate flatness. The maximum allowable variation in the substrate for tiles with all edges shorter than 15” is 1/4” in a 10’ span. There should be no more than 1/16” variation in a 10’ span when measured from the high points on the surface. For tiles with at least one edge 15” in length, the maximum variations are 1/8” in 10’ and 1/16” in 24”. For floor installations, a self-leveling underlayment can help meet these substrate requirements.

Staffing the job properly – Having the right size crew is critical. The largest of these tiles must be handled by at least two people. Back-buttering is typically required, with the mortar being applied to the substrate and the back of the tile by two people simultaneously. To keep pace with the installation, at least one individual will be required to mix and maintain the flow of mortar. Taking this into consideration, even the smallest installations require at least a four-person crew.

Finally, there are additional recommendations that manufacturers can provide, so the best approach is to consult your tile and setting material manufacturer before you begin the installation. That way, you’ll be better prepared for the challenges you may face and have the knowledge to take on large tile installations with confidence.

The TEC® brand is offered by H.B. Fuller Construction Products Inc. – a leading provider of technologically advanced construction materials and solutions to the commercial, industrial and residential construction industry. Headquartered in Aurora, Illinois, the company’s recognized and trusted brands – TEC®, CHAPCO®, Grout Boost®, Foster®, AIM™ and others – are available through an extensive network of distributors and dealers, as well as home improvement retailers. For more information, visit www.hbfuller-cp.com. 

Metropolitan Ceramics adds new features to site

Metropolitan Ceramics®, has recently updated its website metroceramics.com.

The new site is designed for easy navigation throughout with a clearly-defined menu bar and drop down menus. The site includes a combination of installation photography, technical data, downloads and pertinent information about the complete Metropolitan Ceramics product line.

The site is designed in a format that fits well with both wide-screen and tablet viewing. A mobile version is also part of the design. The site features rotating installation photography on the home page highlighting various design themes.

One other feature of the site is a plant tour video (fashioned in the same vein as the popular show “How It’s Made”) that shows the behind-the-scenes manufacturing of quarry tile.

The site also links to the Metropolitan Ceramics blog site which contains technical and informative posts about Metropolitan Ceramics products and tile in general.


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