Ringing in the new year with new educational opportunities

By Becky Serbin, Training and Education coordinator

As we start a new year, each of us typically reflects on the previous year and then decides to make resolutions that hopefully we will keep through the month of January.

Well, I wanted to do something similar to start the year.

We completed one full year of offering an online system for training. Within that time, we created several new introductory courses for new hires, moved to a new learning management system to house NTCA University, and created a pricing structure going forward so that all members – no matter the size – could afford to sign up and take courses.

In case you haven’t heard, NTCA University is a member benefit so we wanted to make sure that it was affordable for all members. You can have users come together in a meeting, so only one login is required for your company – or you could have a login for each user. It is up to you.

Here’s the current pricing structure:

1 Person – $50

2 People – $99

3-15 People – $149

16-50 People – $199

51-100 People – $299

101-150 People – $399

151-200 People – $499

Keep in mind that NTCA’s Partnering for Success program now has a $50 voucher for the NTCA store that contractors can choose as one of their vouchers. That means that if you are a one- person shop and choose to use the $50 voucher for access to NTCA University, you would have access for free to the site for the whole year.

To purchase your subscription, you can visit the NTCA store at https://tile-assn.site-ym.com/store/ListProducts.aspx?catid=490398 to make your purchase (or enter http://bit.ly/2taYmOO in your browser).

So what are our resolutions for the year? As I said, many of us break our resolutions early in the year so I don’t plan to make any resolutions that will be quickly broken, but here are some items that NTCA will be working on this year.

We will continue to develop online training for new hires. So if you have apprentices, this means that we will start working on a three-year setter program.  For all others, you can use these courses to train your new hire on how to plan and set tile.

We will also be working on courses from the Training and Education sub-committees.  The CEU Technical sub-committee is working on courses explaining the necessity of documentation and how to properly document and the CEU Management sub-committee is developing introductory courses to estimating.

We will also be assisting Scott Carothers of CTEF with developing courses for people to take prior to completing the hands-on Certified Tile Installer Test.

Again, it looks like it will be a busy year again in 2018.  If you have any questions or have ideas about courses that you’d like to see us pursue, please give me a call or send me an e-mail. 770-366-2566 or [email protected].

Happy New Year!

Becky

The building blocks of a NTCA Five Star Contractor

Amber Fox, NTCA Five Star Program Director

As I wrap up my first year on the job as the NTCA Five Star Contractor Program Director I have been reflecting on some of the items that we are implementing for 2018. One of the first items that comes to mind is the update to our application. This has great significance because it is essentially a roadmap on how to become a Five Star Contractor.

Our new application incorporates the building blocks to a Five Star Contractor: Integrity, Professionalism, and Craftsmanship. In order to build a firm foundation, your company culture must value continual investment in itself. So how do we find companies that have this culture imbedded on all levels, and how do we evaluate them for acceptance into our group?  These are the questions we asked ourselves when we updated our application.

I will touch upon some of the key elements of the application process in the hopes that you can recognize greatness in your own company, and if not that it can inspire you to rise to the challenge.

Integrity – the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles, and the state of being whole and undivided.

All applicants must show proof that they are contracting under the local laws of their state, which means that they carry all licenses and insurance needed.  Stability is important, which is why they must attest that for the last five years:

  1. They have operated under the same company name
  2. The company has not filed for bankruptcy
  3. There have been no federal or state tax liens filed against the company
  4. The company pays all federal, state and local payroll taxes, worker’s compensation, unemployment, FICA, etc. for all employees.

As a Five Star Contractor, you are part of something bigger, which is why you are also required to have been an active NTCA member for at least three years. Active membership does not just mean that you have paid your dues; we are seeking out leaders who get involved and want to help shape our Industry. That’s why you will always see our Five Star Contractors out in force at events like TISE West, Coverings, and Total Solutions Plus.

ProfessionalismExhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace.

This sums up how you do business as a whole. We request resumes for your designated company representative as well as a project manager to help us understand the background of your company. The backbone of all companies is their employees and we want to know that you value them and invest in them. That’s why we require that you have an active Safety Program as well as an Employee Manual/Handbook.

Each day contractors need to interact with many partners such as material manufacturers and distributors.  Successfully navigating these relationships is imperative, so we require that you gather three reference letters from your vendors/suppliers attesting to your professionalism in the tile industry.  How your client sees you is the best judge of all, so we also require three letters of recommendation from your client base such as architects, designers, general contractors, or owners.

CraftsmanshipOne who creates or performs with skill and dexterity especially in the manual arts.

Now we address the heart of our contractors – the artisans. It is our belief that it takes one to know one, so two letters of recommendations from peers or competitors are required.

Since our group encompasses national membership, we needed to find a way to evaluate skill level. To that end, it was decided that at least 10% of your field installers must be Certified Tile Installers through the CTEF or have completed a three-year apprenticeship program approved by the Department of Labor. Although it is required that 10% be certified, many of our Five Star Contractors have fully embraced this program and are far above the minimum needed.

The Five Star Contractor Group is comprised of contractors of all sizes and specialties but what they all have in common is an unwavering drive to exceed expectations, upholding the highest technical standards, and providing impeccable quality and service. Because of this commitment to excellence on every level, I see our group as industry leaders who are creating the change we want to see in our industry. It is my

hope that others see our efforts and are inspired to join us.

If you would like additional information about the NTCA Five Star Program, please reach out to me at [email protected].

Tile setters, suppliers donate labor and materials to the Tile Geeks Project

Good works and camaraderie enjoyed while renovating Madison Fields in Dickerson, Md.

By Lesley Goddin

Madison Fields (madisonfields.org) in Dickerson, Md., is a fully functional farm that offers an inclusive environment where adults and children – many with special needs – can play, learn, and work together. Among the features of the farm is an Equestrian center that fosters a nurturing and healing partnership between horse and rider that benefits children and adults with autism, developmental disabilities, wounded veterans or the local community.

For 10 days at the end of October 2017 into early November a group of 15 tile installers who are members of the Tile Geeks Facebook group came together to donate their time and expertise to renovate various areas of the farm – almost 3,000 sq. ft. in all.

Justin Kyle, owner of Kyle’s Tile in Ocean View, Del., a Tile Geek administrator and NTCA member, set this plan in motion a year prior. He was inspired while at a training session, working with many fellow setters.

“I came to the realization that the same people in our group would travel to conventions and training events at different places in the country,” Kyle said. “We go to classes, drink some beers, walk through the conventions, but never really had a chance to work together. So I came up with the idea of finding a good charity project to do that would give us the chance to get together like we enjoy anyway, and out of that some good could come.”

After a flurry of emails to children’s charities that went unanswered – and a rough poll of Geeks who might be interested in such an endeavor – Kyle received a response from Madison Fields in April 2017, expressing needs that could be met by the tilesetting group. And it just so happened it was virtually in Kyle’s backyard.

“I was willing to organize this project anywhere in the country,” Kyle said. “With Madison Fields only a three- hour drive away, I was able to plan and arrange everything better than I had hoped.”

The original scope of work morphed from a “bunch of bathrooms in an extra house that the foundation was trying to buy on a property next to the farm,” Kyle said. That deal fell through, but instead there was a need for much more tile work in other parts of the farm, including four bathrooms, a tile floor in the barn itself, and a large floor in one of the resident houses.

Donations: labor and materials

When Kyle first hatched this notion, he ran it by those Tile Geeks on a shuttle bus with him at a training class. He got enthusiastic responses, so he set up a separate Facebook group (The Tile Geeks Project) and added the people he thought might be interested in doing it. “From there it just blossomed,” he added.

Those who attended came from all over the country: LATICRETE rep, Jeff Kimmerling, Milwaukee, Wis.; Dennis Pacetti, Pacetti Tile and Remodeling, Inc., Huntingdon Valley, Pa.; tile setter James Morris, Philadelphia, Pa.; Paul Luccia, Cabot & Rowe, Houston, Texas; Ulas Maris, Maris Tile Pro, East Moriches, N.Y.; Metin Gungor, Dekor Construction, LLC., Columbus, N.J.; Jon Appleby, Appleby Custom Tile, Bucyrus, Ohio; Joe Lenner, Infinite Ceramic, Emmaus, Pa.; tile setter Jim Garbe, Schenectady, N.Y.; Joseph Dantro, On All Floors, York, Pa.; Dan Kramer, DKCT, Inc., Buxton, N.C.; Stephen Belyea, JSG Tile and Stone, Weymouth, Mass.; tile setter Bethany Sheridan, Sterling, Va.; Carl Leonard, Cutting Edge Tile, Roebling N.J.; and George Maneira, New Age Stone, Jackson N.J.

A variety of setting materials was used on this project including: Strata_Mat™, Hydro Ban®, Hydro Ban® Board, Hydro Ban® Sheet Membrane, Hydro Ban® Flange Drain, Hydro Ban® preformed shower systems including curbs, and corners, Hydro Ban® Adhesive & Sealant, 3701 Fortified Mortar, PERMACOLOR® Select grout, Tri-Lite™ mortar, and more.

These installers footed the bill for their own transportation and took time away from their businesses to work together for the greater good. As it turned out, there was lodging available in the historic farmhouse that dates back to the early 1800s where the group was able to stay for most of the project. That was a boon for the bonding of the group. “If we had to go to a hotel, the majority of our down time would have been spent in our rooms,” Kyle said. “Having use of the farmhouse gave us a center base to work from. We could go out to dinner and then come back and sit around the living room and talk shop. It was really a fun experience.”

Donations of materials were another story. Since the project was established right before Coverings, Kyle had the chance to speak with Noah Chitty of Crossville in person in Orlando to ask for donations. Crossville was very generous with their tiles, donating 3,000 sq. ft. tile from multiple series for the project, including Nest, Notorious, Speakeasy, Cotto Americana, and Virtue.

Likewise, Kyle had been in contact with LATICRETE’s Ron Nash about this effort, who gave “his blessing. I even got to sit down with Henry Rothberg and he said whatever we need is ours,” Kyle said. In fact, LATICRETE wound up sending materials above and beyond what was requested, which wound up coming in handy when some unexpected situations cropped up later.

“We asked LATICRETE for what we expected to need,” Kyle said. “They sent out some extra materials including the new 257 Titanium thinset, and 2” Hydro Ban board, which was put to good use.

“It was an important step, because without setting materials and tile, we couldn’t do anything,” he added. “But once I knew those two companies were on board, it was just a matter of getting all the details figured out.”

Beyond the donations of labor and materials, Kyle knew that a “slush fund” account was needed for incidentals like plumbing and vanities. To address this, Kyle established a silent auction and Tile Geek members donated items to be auctioned off. Contractors Direct and Norton donated saws, and J&R Tile donated an iQ dustless saw; Shannon Huffstickler from Schluter was instrumental in donating three shower kits, and MLT’s Mick Volponi donated several MLT kits also. All items were sold to the highest bidder, which allowed the group to have some cash to work with.

“To top it off, Justin Ernst of Minnetonka Minn., contacted Kate-Lo Tile and at his request, they shipped a pallet of buckets to the jobsite for us to use,” Kyle said.

In addition, iQ itself donated an iQTS244 dustless saw to the effort that was used on site and then raffled off at the project – Ulas Maris held the winning number!

Working together to meet challenges

Kyle had some concerns bringing so many “Type A” personalities to work together. But it all worked out, he said. Setters buddied up to work on different areas of the project and when they finished, jumped right in to other areas where work was still under way. “We all just blended together as I hoped,” Kyle said.

In fact, Jim Garbe said, “For me, the best part of it was the amazing way that the planning and execution fluidly evolved constantly as the situations were assessed and re-assessed when demo commenced and often revealed things that were worse than we expected them to be. Instead of one large job, it was 10 small ones going on all at once with a limited time frame and constantly fluctuating labor force,” Garbe added. “The ability of everyone to problem-solve and switch gears to be what the current task required was simply amazing to behold.”

The project was not without challenges however. “The biggest challenge was knowing that we were on a set time frame that we had to meet and since we had not demoed anything, we didn’t know what was behind, and under the existing materials,” Kyle said. “There was no new construction. It was a complete remodel.”

Having the materials on hand made things better, Kyle said, even materials that had not been on the original wish list. For instance, the one bathroom in the horse stable was a bathroom someone had tiled improperly. It has a curbless shower, with no slope to the drain, tile stuck to the wall over drywall, and no waterproofing. The Tile Geeks team went in and ripped it all out.

“We didn’t have the room to do a true curbless shower as they had intended, but we were able to build partitions with some of the 2” Hydro Ban board, and make a vanity with the Hydro Ban board,” he said. In addition, “We did a large floor with a failed floating laminate job on top of it,” he continued. “We ripped that out only to find that the original slab had cutback on it. We ended up having some 257 Titanium, LATICRETE’s new thinset there. We knew it would bond to cutback, so we used it to install Strata_Mat. That saved us time from having to grind or scrape the floors.”

Camaraderie – an added bonus

In the end, the project was win-win – delivering renovated spaces for the organization and a time of connection and camaraderie for the setters.

“Tile Geeks Project was my first priority for the year of 2017,” said Ulas Maris, who enjoyed reuniting with Tile Geek friends and meeting some he only knew by name online. “I was looking forward to being there and sharing my skills helping out people in need… It would not be possible for us to be there if we didn’t mean it for real in our hearts. We all wanted to be there and be part of it.”

Tile setter Bethany Sheridan from Sterling, Va., added, “I enjoyed working with a team that accomplished so much in a short period of time, all for a good cause. It was also great getting to know my online friends from Tile Geeks. I would certainly do it again.”

Stephen Belyea, a NTCA State Ambassador as well as a Tile Geek member, said, “It was a pleasure to be a part of the Tile Geeks Project.  It was very rewarding to donate my time to the Autism Foundation. It was a bonus to do so with such a great group of people. Everybody that was willing to donate their time was also there with a great attitude. We all came from different places and different backgrounds, but we all had the same goal. We were all positive and willing to work hard and do what it takes to get the job done.

“It is nice to learn different techniques from different people,” he added. “I enjoyed being around people who are as passionate about tile as I am…We would spend quality time at each meal having great conversations. Sitting by the fire having a drink after a long day of work was great. I look forward to doing this again and hope the same caliber of people show up.”

“It’s amazing to me, anytime I get together with tile guys, especially the ones willing to donate their time and effort to something like this, I’m struck by the fact that they are simply really cool people,” Kyle said. “They are obviously intelligent in the tile field, but that also filters into other aspects of their personalities. I find the same thing when I go to conventions. I’m amazed at how well we all get along.”

Garbe added, “The opportunity to work with these people was as good as I expected it to be,
and I would do it again in a
second.”

Polished concrete floor renovation needs self-leveling treatment for large-format porcelain install


MAPEI products minimize impact of flooring installation in Indiana Greek Orthodox church

Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church sits on a 20-acre (8,09-hectare) site in Carmel, Ind. It was the first church to be constructed in the Triad Byzantine style since the Hagia Sophia, which was built more than 1,400 years ago. The church design includes a dome with a diameter of 55 feet (16,8 m) that was built and raised up from the ground, bronze doors weighing 600 pounds (272 kg) each at the grand entrance, and the ability to accommodate more than 600 worshippers.

Because the expression of creative beauty within the Greek Orthodox Church’s places of worship is a major tenet of the Church, the members of Holy Trinity decided to have the floors and some vertical spaces dressed in tile and stone. CJK Design Group specified large-format 24” x 24” (61 x 61 cm) and 12” x 24” (30 x 61 cm) porcelain tiles from Daltile’s Diamante, San Michele and Continental Slate series for the narthex, nave and sanctuary.

But when the church was built eight years previously, the floors were finished in polished concrete that produced a nonporous, sealed surface that did not offer the proper finish for the installation. Traditional shot blasting could not be used for surface preparation because of the deleterious effect that it could have on the painted frescoes and delicate icons, which were created with a centuries-old process using egg tempera paints.

Innovative technology produced a solution that circumvented tradition and provided a breathtaking foundation to anchor the beauty that lines the walls and ceilings of the narthex, nave, sanctuary and ambulatory at Holy Trinity.

Preparing the subfloor

Installers from Indianapolis-based Starnet contractor Certified Floorcovering Services (CFS) used MAPEI’s ECO Prim Grip primer to cover the polished concrete surface, eliminating the need to shot blast and potentially damage the church’s painted treasures. Next, the crew tested and used Ultraplan LSC – a MAPEI self-leveling liquid skimcoat – to patch and smooth all floor surfaces, again reducing dust worries. The crew also used Mapelastic CI liquid-rubber membrane for crack isolation in the concrete flooring. During the first three weeks of work, the church still held services in the nave.

Once the floors were prepared, the CFS installation crews worked meticulously to the architects’ plans. The crews transitioned between varied types of porcelain tiles and marble to produce a look that complemented and accented the intricate icons and frescoes. The large-format 24” x 24” (61 x 61 cm) and 12” x 24” (30 x 61 cm) Daltile porcelain tiles for the narthex, nave and sanctuary were set with Ultraflex LFT mortar and then grouted with Ultracolor Plus FA.

In addition to porcelain tiles, red “Rojo Alicante” marble tiles were set as borders and for transitions between the white porcelain tiles. The marble tiles were set with Kerapoxy 410 100%-solids epoxy mortar; these tiles were also grouted with Ultracolor Plus FA. The CFS crews hand-cut many of the Rojo Alicante tiles to fit around existing structures in the church and so that they could tile a number of vertical elevations in the floor.

In the narthex and nave, the crews set four prefabricated mosaic medallions that continued the iconography from the walls to the floor. The crews first used Mapecem Quickpatch concrete patch and Ultraplan Easy self-leveling underlayment to patch and level the substrate beneath the medallions. Then, the crews set the medallions in place with Ultraflex LFT.

The installers also set Daltile Keystone glass mosaic tiles along the inner walls of the baptistery, and they interspersed Glass Horizons mosaic tiles with Crema Marfil marble pillars on the baptistery’s exterior. After waterproofing the baptistery with Mapelastic AquaDefense membrane, installers used Adesilex P10 glass tile mortar to set the mosaics.

Mapesil T sealant was used to fill all expansion joints and soft joints where vertical and horizontal tiled surfaces met.

Innovation and determination bolstered the flooring contractor’s efforts to successfully complete the beautification of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church. Because CFS was so proud of its work, it entered the project in the Starnet Design Awards; the company won the Silver Award for the 2017 Unique Installation Challenge.

 

 

 

 

Member Spotlight – January 2018 – H.J. Martin and Son

H.J. Martin and Son
Green Bay, Wis.
www.hjmartin.com

Lots of good things get their start in the garage. Bands, science projects, and in this case the company now known as H.J. Martin and Son, founded when Henry John Martin began selling paint and tile out of the family garage in 1931.  Eighty-six years later H.J. Martin and Son is a multi-divisional specialty contractor, self-performing commercial and residential flooring, walls and ceilings, glass and glazing, doors and hardware, and fixture and millwork installation nationwide.

The company’s diversity helps it cross-train its installers and helps to retain top talent. If one department is slow and another is busy, it can readily adjust. The company also can offer package discounts to the general contractor or end user on multiple phases of a project.

The contractor gets great satisfaction from the entire process of contracting, from showroom to installation, and the customer’s excitement about the final result.

“We go to great lengths to maintain an extensive selection of tile products within our two showrooms,” said David Martin, the 4th generation of H.J. Martin and Son. “Many of these tiles are exclusive to H.J. Martin and Son, so we often will have customers travel a great distance to purchase from us.”

H.J. Martin and Son prides itself on its team of in-house designers, who have detailed knowledge of its tile products, and are experts at finding the right fit for each individual client.

“We have long believed the thing that sets us apart from other tile contractors is our highly experienced team of installers,” David Martin said. “They are true artisans, who continue to train on the newest installation processes.

“All of our people, from designers to installers, try to delight our customers with an exceptional tile experience to last a lifetime.”

H.J. Martin and Son specializes in ceramic tile and natural stone for both residences and commercial projects. On the residential side, the company displays a wide variety of tile and stone products within its two showrooms and employs a team of aforementioned 14 in-house designers who help guide the client to the perfect tile or stone for his or her home. And company installers are experienced with a popular in-floor electric heating/uncoupling system

The commercial division installs tile and stone in office and government buildings, automobile dealer showrooms, educational and healthcare facilities, hospitality spaces and retail locations, among other places.

In addition, H.J. Martin and Son has an in-house team of floor-care specialists. They are experts at ceramic and natural stone cleaning, sealing and restoration, along with grout cleaning, sealing and recoloring. If a new tile floor is not an option, refreshing existing flooring is a great option.

Since H.J. Martin and Son strives to deliver quality products and installation to all of its customers, it joined NTCA in July 2014, with the belief that existing and potential customers will see its NTCA Five Star affiliation and know that they are receiving the highest quality of installation available.

“As a company, we believe strongly in continuing education for our installers, designers and other flooring specialists,” Martin said. “We always strive for our people to be knowledgeable in the latest product advances and installation techniques through attendance at outside seminars or in-house training sessions. We believe that the mission of the NTCA embodies many of the same ideals.

“NTCA membership, particularly as a recognized Five Star Contractor, assures clients that they are receiving the highest quality of workmanship for ceramic tile and natural stone,” he added. “Having the NTCA member designation helps to communicate our expertise level to those outside the company.”

Although the company does not currently have Certified Tile Installers or ACT-certified installers on staff, more than 80% of its in-house installers are Journeymen and have completed the requisite four-year apprenticeship.

Qualified Labor – January 2018 – Sark Tile supports education by hosting NTCA Workshop and CTI exam

Sark Tile, based in Lincoln, Neb., hosted NTCA Tile & Stone Workshop in October 2017. This is a groundbreaking event, since it’s the first NTCA Workshop ever hosted in Lincoln.

But perhaps it should come as no surprise. Sark Tile has been committed to educating the tile industry in its area for over 20 years. Since Mark Becher founded Sark Tile in 1999, he has been working to educate his clients.

As a national distributor of tile and tile installation products, Sark Tile serves a range of clients from architects to the end consumer, offering an exceptional platform to reach a broad range of people within the industry. Sark Tile took advantage of this platform by hosting the October Workshop, and subsequently, a Certified Tile Installer (CTI) test the next month.

The October NTCA Workshop titled, “Failures, Could it be Me?” was a great opportunity to bring in an expert, NTCA Training Director Mike Heinlein, to show local installers, designers, and clients how to avoid common installation mistakes. The event was described as eye opening and a brilliant refresher, even for a seasoned installer. For those who weren’t as well versed with the tile installation process, it was a first-rate opportunity to learn the correct way to perform basic techniques.

Heinlein began the workshop with a slideshow presentation outlining some common tile installation failures and how to avoid them. The diverse group of attendees was provided a superb opportunity for questions and discussion. Installers raised discussion about hurdles they have to overcome, and designers talked about their struggles. “It was apparent education on all sides of the project would solve most of these issues,” said Dan Hecox, NTCA State Ambassador for Nebraska and Regional Evaluator for the
CTI test.

Sark Tile staff (l. to r.): Katie Danehey, Serina Buchanan, NTCA’s Mark Heinlein, Mark Becher, Brian Glory, John Cury and Faith Allen Peck.

After a quick break for some networking and delicious food, Heinlein finished the workshop with some hands-on demonstrations. This portion of the workshop was an excellent chance to physically show attendees why it is so important to do things correctly, and what the outcome can be if they aren’t. Attendees walked away with many tricks of the trade.

The layout of Sark Tile was ideal for this presentation, with a beautiful showroom for the discussion and a spacious working area in the warehouse for the hands-on demonstration.

Sark Tile’s warehouse was also an outstanding location for the CTI event they hosted in November. With the help of CTI Regional Evaluator, Dan Hecox, local installers were able to test their skills.

Sark Tile hosted the first CTI test in Lincoln, Neb. in November.

Kate Danehey, office manager from Sark Tile, expressed the company philosophy that the health of the industry relies on installers.

“If we have installers out there incorrectly installing our products resulting in failures, the first finger is almost always pointed at the material which is almost never the case,” Danehey said. “Proper preparation combined with the correct setting materials and tools lead to a faster and more profitable install. Consumer’s confidence – and perception that the install will be smooth – is of paramount importance when trying to make a sale, which is why these testing events are so important. The more skilled installers we have in the area, the more likely people will be to use tile in the future for additional projects.”

Sark Tile owner Mark Becher is committed to education and bringing workshops, like this one from NTCA to the local tile trade in Lincoln.

Sark Tile also hosted Lincoln’s first NTCA workshop in October 2017.

 

 

A group of Sark employees ready for the CTI test to be held at the company warehouse, with (from right) Scott Carothers, CTEF; Dan Hecox, NTCA Nebraska State Ambassador and Mark Becher, Sark Tile owner.

Tech Talk – January 2018

The TCNA Handbook for Ceramic, Glass and Stone Tile Installation

By The CTEF Blog

This article is the first of three articles that examine, explore and explain the documents and publications essential to the health of our industry: The TCNA Handbook, the ANSI Standards and the NTCA Reference Manual.

If you spend time with anyone involved in the proper installation of ceramic tile, the TCNA Handbook for Ceramic, Glass, and Stone Tile Installation will be the focal point of the conversation. Why? Because this useful guide assists in clarifying and standardizing installation specifications for tile.

In addition to providing a selection of numbered installation “methods” for differentiating and easy reference, the Handbook includes various product selection guides for ceramic, glass, and stone tiles; guidelines for wet areas; field and installation requirements, and more.

Produced by the Tile Council of North America (TCNA), the TCNA Handbook for Ceramic, Glass, and Stone Tile Installation has been published on a continuous basis since 1963.

Here’s an overview:

First, what is the TCNA?

Tile Council of North America is a trade association representing manufacturers of ceramic tile, tile installation materials, tile equipment, raw materials, and other tile-related products. It was established in 1945 as the Tile Council of America (TCA). In 2003, it became TCNA reflecting how its membership has expanded to include all of North America.

Tile Council is recognized for its leadership role in facilitating the development of North American and international industry quality standards to benefit tile consumers.

Additionally, TCNA regularly conducts independent research and product testing, works with regulatory, trade, and other government agencies, offers professional training, and publishes industry-consensus guidelines and standards, economic reports, and promotional literature.

One of the highlights of the yearly Coverings show is hearing TCNA Executive Director Eric Astrachan review the state of the ceramic tile industry – from an economic perspective as well as from a creative and trend perspective in North America.

TCNA also strongly supports the mission of the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation.

What is the TCNA Handbook for Ceramic, Glass, and Stone Tile Installation?

The TCNA website describes the Handbook as follows:

“A guide to assist in clarifying and standardizing installation specifications for tile. Each installation recommendation, or method, requires a properly designed, constructed, and prepared substructure using materials and construction techniques that meet nationally recognized material and construction standards. Included are: product selection guides for ceramic, glass, and stone tiles; guidelines for wet areas; ISO mortar and grout specifications; information on substrate flatness requirements; information on grout joint sizes and patterns, and workmanship standards excerpted from ANSI installation standards.”

The TCNA Handbook provides installation methods from which to choose, based on the requirements of the installation or the types of applications in which they may be used.

For example, will the tile be installed inside or outside? In a wet area such as a shower or steam room? Or in a dry area such as an entry foyer? Each method includes a generic drawing that shows each component or material required as you can see in the image below, which addresses installing stone floor tile.

How is the Handbook organized?

The TCNA Handbook works hand-in-hand with the ANSI Specifications to provide tile installations that are proven to stand the test of time.

In addition to detailing tile installation methods for ceramic and glass tile and natural stone tile, the Handbook includes:

  • Product selection guides for ceramic tile, glass tile, natural stone tile, setting materials, grout, backer board, membrane, additional products and Green Building
  • Field and installation requirements (i.e., substrate requirements, lighting, mortar and mortar coverage, flatness and lippage, grout joint size and pattern considerations, finished tilework, accessibility and wet areas guidelines)
  • Floor tiling installation guide
  • Environmental exposure classifications
  • Using the TCNA Handbook for specification writing
  • Installer and contractor qualifications guide
  • EJ171 Movement Joint Guidelines for Ceramic, Glass and Stone
  • Appendices and method locators

Each tile installation method details:

  • Recommended uses
  • Service rating
  • Environmental exposure classifications
  • Typical weight of tile installation
  • Limitations
  • Membrane options
  • Requirements
  • Materials (including for Green/Sustainable design)
  • Preparation by other trades
  • Movement joint requirements
  • Installation specifications
  • Notes
The evolution of the TCNA Handbook

The Handbook is truly a living, breathing entity that evolves in lock-step with the tile industry. As new products get introduced – for example, new tile formats and new mortars and tools to support those formats – new installations methods quickly follow to ensure best practices.

As a result, the Handbook has increased in size. A press release detailing changes in the 2017 issue includes the following:

  • The new sections “Tile Layout Considerations” and “System Modularity” are geared more toward those involved in tile selection and design. As an example of the various revisions to Handbook existing language, (Astrachan) noted the further explanation this year of substrate flatness requirements, which (he) calls “essential but too-often ignored.”
  • A prime example is the new Handbook section to address the newer type of steel studs commonly referred to as “equivalent gauge” or “EQ” studs. The new Handbook language helps people understand the most important considerations for avoiding tile problems when these thinner studs are used. Stephanie Samulski, Handbook Committee Secretary and Technical Content Manager, noted that “the specific design criteria that are ultimately needed will likely get hashed out in ANS.”
  • Other noteworthy changes that 2017 Handbook users will see include significantly more information on how to avoid the undesirable effects of wall-wash lighting on tile installations, new “Visual Inspection of Tilework” and “Design Considerations When Specifying Tile” sections, significant changes to the EJ171 movement joint guidelines, and a new method for tiling an exterior deck or balcony over unoccupied space (tile and stone versions).
What makes the Handbook unique?

The Handbook comes to life each year thanks to the Handbook Committee that includes representatives from the entire tile industry and all those touched by the tile industry – backer board, mortar, grout, membrane, tile and more manufacturers, industry associations, standards groups, construction specification groups and regional groups. It’s a balanced assembly of stakeholder voters that comes together to prioritize and address topics of concern.

The TCNA Handbook Committee determines Handbook content through significant group discussion and consensus efforts, and through meetings in person biennially and more frequently in workgroups.

As Astrachan explained, “The Handbook is a vehicle for providing industry consensus, but it’s not a standard and therefore not set up like one, enabling the committee to provide information in non-mandatory language when needed. It’s a particularly useful means of addressing conflicting recommendations or specifications, as can easily occur when a producer or another trade makes a major shift in product or practice in a way that impacts tile installations.”

Proposals for changes, often referred to as “submissions,” are welcome from any individual or organization.

Would you like to become involved in the TCNA Handbook?

All Handbook meetings are open to non-members, who are encouraged to participate in the discussions. If you would like to become involved, you can find meeting dates and locations posted on TCNAtile.com.

January 2018 Feature Story – MAPEI

Anaha® (which means “reflection of light” in Hawaiian) is a magnificent new condominium complex on the island of Oahu. Made of concrete, glass and steel, it is part of the Ward Village master-planned community near Kewalo Harbor in Honolulu. This new luxury high-rise was planned by Howard Hughes Corporation and designed by architects Solomon Cordwell Buenz of Chicago and Ben Woo Architects of Honolulu. The interiors were designed by global design leader Woods Bagot Interiors.

The complex is composed of the Anaha Tower, housing eight residences per floor plus penthouses on Levels 36-38, as well as the Podium townhouses and flats, which occupy the first six floors and extend from the tower. The roof of the Podium (adjacent to the seventh floor of the tower) hosts an amazing selection of indoor and outdoor activity areas, including a cantilevered pool that extends 13 feet beyond the building’s edge and features a glass bottom.

The LEED Platinum building was designed with the environment in mind – harmonizing with sea, sky and mountains. The exterior of the entrance area sports a “living wall” of plants and water elements framed with lava stone veneer that surround tile walkways forming the signature “W” for Ward Village. The interior of Anaha is just as awe-inspiring, with floor-to-ceiling windows that open every residence to views of the Pacific Ocean or the Honolulu skyline. Some expanses even look out toward the historic Diamond Head landmark.

Floor and wall coverings received all manner of treatments, including stone and stone veneer in public areas indoors and out; (at the owner’s option) carpet, wood and tile in living spaces; stone and tile in bathrooms of the residences; and resilient floor coverings in service areas.

The Hawaii branch of A-American Custom
Flooring, Inc. (a member of the Tile Contractors Association of Hawaii), was in charge of all aspects of the tile installations for interior and exterior walls, floors and specialty elements with the exception of the interior tile walls of the pool on the amenities deck. Their installers also handled moisture mitigation work and installation of wood, carpet and resilient floor coverings. A-American worked closely with General Contractor A. C. Kobayashi, Inc., to complete all the aspects of the installations on schedule, including the mega-challenge of zero tolerance in transitions between flooring types.

Zero tolerance transitions moisture mitigation and waterproofing

Anaha’s 236-unit residence tower and 81 townhomes and flats were architecturally designed with a zero tolerance scheme for all finishes in the flooring landscape of the building. From interior to exterior, zero tolerance requirements meant that all transitions could hold no change in height from tile to wood to carpet to resilients, to respect accessibility for disabled persons according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

This zero tolerance created building and flooring challenges that were met by a wide variety of MAPEI’s concrete repair and flooring installation systems products for construction, surface preparation and floor-covering solutions. The fast-track schedule of the 38-story tower and the six-story podium required coordination and solutions for arising jobsite problems involving moisture mitigation and slab deformation involving post-tension concrete pours.

A-American used MAPEI’s Planiseal VS alkali-resistant, epoxy moisture-reduction barrier for moisture mitigation throughout the complex. Planiseal VS expedites floor-covering installations by eliminating the traditional wait time required for new concrete slabs to reach moisture levels suitable for installations. After the concrete surface was properly profiled, the Planiseal VS was poured to cover each level in the building.

After moisture mitigation, the floors were primed with one of three primers – Primer L, Primer T or ECO Prim Grip – where appropriate. Then the installers selected two MAPEI self-leveling underlayments – Novoplan® 2 Plus and Ultraplan® 1 Plus – to use in appropriate areas in order to produce a smooth, level surface for installing tiles and stone. Both of these products are quick-setting, self-leveling underlayments and repair mixes for interior concrete and engineer-approved floors.

MAPEI’s Mapelastic cementitious membrane was used for waterproofing and protecting exterior horizontal and vertical concrete spaces, while Mapelastic AquaDefense with Reinforcing Fabric, an advanced liquid-rubber, extremely quick-drying waterproofing and crack-isolation membrane, was used on interior surfaces before the tile and stone installations. Mapelastic AquaDefense dries after about 30 to 50 minutes and is then ready to receive any MAPEI polymer or epoxy mortar.

Range of mortars and grouts meet varying project demands

Installation of exterior and interior tile and stone also used a variety of MAPEI’s mortars and grouts. For the ultimate bond, Lava Stone Veneer pavers and curbs surrounding the building were installed with MAPEI’s two-part Kerabond/Keralastic system – a premium dry-set mortar that is combined with a flexible acrylic latex additive.

Where there was a need for speed, the A-American crews used the Granirapid® fast-curing system. Outdoor walls and benches that used Lava Stone Veneer and Cremino Stone Veneer in all sizes from mosaics to large-format tile were also installed with these two systems. All of these installations were grouted with MAPEI’s powerful Ultracolor® Plus FA – an ultra-premium, fine aggregate, fast-setting, polymer-modified, color-consistent, non-shrinking, efflorescence-free grout that can fill joint widths from 1/16” to 3/4”.

In the residences and townhouses, tile and stone played a dramatic role as field tile and accents on floors and walls. Types and brands included Caesarstone for countertops; Atlas Concorde floor tile in Seastone Greige and floor, wall and door accent tiles in Black for residences and public areas; Marmi porcelain wall tile in “Thassos”; Natural Stone Design’s porcelain floor and wall tile in Dark, Basaltina, plus mosaic tiles of the same material for residences and public spaces; Daltile’s quarry tile in Arid Gray for laundry rooms in residences; “Luce Glass” glass wall tile from North Shore for public restrooms; Ann Sacks’ 2” x 8” “INCA” brushed aluminum tiles for kitchen backsplashes; stone tiles in travertine, basalt, tundra stone and granite; “Nublado Light” and “Walnut Brown” wall base tiles from Stone Source; and many additional tile and stone selections that were optional for residents at time of purchase.

All interior tile and stone was installed with MAPEI’s thixotropic mortar, Ultraflex™ LFT. This mortar has a high content of unique dry polymer, resulting in excellent adhesion to the substrate and tile and is formulated with Easy Glide Technology™ for ease of application. Both wall and floor tiles were grouted with Keracolor® S (sanded) and Keracolor U (unsanded) grouts from MAPEI’s grout color collections. The quarry tiles in laundry rooms and in the kitchen and prep rooms on the Amenities level were grouted with Kerapoxy CQ. This grout uses a proprietary aggregate to achieve its durable color, making it excellent for countertops, high-traffic areas, and areas needing stain and chemical resistance. Easy to maintain, Kerapoxy CQ will clean to the original color and contains BioBlock® technology to help protect against mold and mildew.

High anxiety?

The A-American installers performed exceptionally well with the many different types of installations in many different parts of the project, but they truly excelled on the installation of the tile on the inside and outside of the cantilevered leisure/lap pool extension on the Amenities level. Working on a crane that lifted them seven stories into the air, the crew set sheets of black glass mosaic tiles on the interior and exterior sides of the glass-bottomed portion of the pool that extends 13 feet out from the building. They used MAPEI’s Adesilex P10 bright white, multipurpose thin-set mortar formulated with non-sag properties to set the tiles. The Adesilex P10 was mixed with Keraply for increased performance in a submerged installation. After removing the protective cover sheets, the tiles were grouted with Ultracolor Plus FA.

A total of 40 different products supplied by MAPEI – from substrate preparation to installation of all types of finished flooring – allowed the owners, architects, general contractors and installers, the peace of mind of sourcing all their needs from a single manufacturer to create a true island beauty.

Cyber Insurance: can you afford to ignore it?

Business Tip – January 2018

If you’re in business, here are five reasons why you really do need cyber insurance

Think identity theft and cyber crime can’t happen to you? Think again. Read on for reasons cyber insurance protects you, your business and your customers.

1. Everyone has and uses a computer

Cyber insurance (also known as cyber liability insurance) was unheard of 15 years ago. Today, it’s as necessary as worker’s comp. If you lived in a flood plain would you not purchase flood insurance?

If you rely on a computer – in any way – to run your business, you need cyber insurance. Consider what would happen if your computer was hacked, and someone gained access to the private information of all of your customers, including their credit card details? Even if you do not do credit card transactions, your data is at risk.

The fallout could put any operation out of business, which is especially scary given hacking is a significant and real risk.

2. You don’t have an IT department or a risk management team

Big corporations can have whole departments dedicated to creating policies and action plans, which deal with potential risks, including cyber crime. If you’re a small or even a medium-sized business, chances are you don’t have a risk management team.

A good cyber insurance policy bridges the gap for businesses that don’t have the luxury of a risk management team. Many carriers offer preventive guidelines and services that will help reduce the chance of a cyber attack. In addition, they will be there to provide the necessary people and specialists and more importantly supply the funds should you have a breach.

3. Your general liability policy will not cover cyber crime

Most general liability policies do not include losses incurred due to the Internet. A comprehensive cyber insurance policy fills this important gap.

You might be wondering why a general liability policy doesn’t cover you for cyber-related injury. A general liability policy covers your legal liability for 3rd party property damage and personal injury. This means someone needs to be identified as responsible for the loss, and some physical damage needs to occur.

As electronic data is not considered to be “physical property”, it cannot be physically damaged. Cyber insurance offers tailored coverage for your business for 1st party and 3rd party losses, breaches to the Privacy Act and loss of profits following the insured event.

4. You may be responsible for data, even if you use a 3rd party cloud provider

If you have information stored on a cloud database, you may be surprised to know that in many cases, you are still legally responsible for how this information is handled.  Your 3rd party vendor has very little protection for you, and at the end of the day it is your responsibility to get a problem fixed and pay for the damages.

This is why it is important to read the fine print of your cloud hosting contracts. If you do find that your cloud provider is not responsible for mistakes or breaches to your data, at least you are protected.

5. It’s affordable

Securing a cyber liability policy doesn’t have to break your budget. With the right broker, such as NTCA Affiliate Member Schechner Lifson Corp., and partner insurers, you can secure affordable coverage that will provide the level of protection that is needed in today’s fast-paced world.

In fact, Schechner Lifson Corp., has been helping NTCA members for years for cyber security issues and a range of other business-related issues as well. For instance, Marci Miller of Infinity Floors recently praised the work of this company and its staff:

“I have been a member of NTCA for several years,” Miller said. “We take advantage of our annual rebates, we learn from the newsletters and TileLetter, on a few occasions we have even called and spoken with someone for technical support regarding installation.

“Recently we experienced the most valuable benefit of all. We were having a terrible issue with our workman’s comp – that is a problem that can cripple any tile contractor,” she added. “We had a broker who was completely useless and refused to help. I contacted NTCA to see if there was a comp policy or agency available to members. I was given the name of Schechner Lifson Corp. I called and was put in contact with Roseanne Gedman. We stayed with the same insurer, but had Schechner Lifson become our broker. Roseanne has worked with me and has been amazing! They are extremely professional and understand the market and the client’s needs. I highly recommend them to all NTCA
members.”

Schechner Lifson Corporation is a large regional insurance and financial company, based in New Jersey. Its mission is to provide superior insurance and financial services to customers through a diverse, highly creative and intellectual staff of over 40 associates who have the unique capacity to deliver a total insurance and investment program to customers. As both broker and agent, Schechner Lifson Corporation writes all forms of property and casualty coverage, life and group insurance, supplemental compensation plans, business continuation programs and qualified plans. For more information, contact Marc Rosenkrantz, CRM, CIC, AAI, President, Schechner Lifson Corporation, (w) 908-598-7813, (c) 973-766-3914 or email
[email protected]

Ask the Experts – January 2018

QUESTION

I’m having issue with glass tile for one our customers. We’re trying to determine what’s causing the cracking. I believe it might be due to the thinset shrinking. Is it possible that it may be the tile?

ANSWER

Yes, it is possible that the glass cracking could be due to thinset shrinkage as it cures, especially if the maximum bond coat thickness of the thinset was exceeded. But looking at the two photos you sent, here are my guesses.

In the first photo that includes the glass door and hinge, it appears that the glass may potentially have cracked from:

  • over-tightening of the screw through the hinge
  • a minor misalignment of the hole drilled in the glass to accept the screw
  • weight of the door on the fastener at the pressure point if all components of the door installation were not properly aligned or balanced.

In the second photo showing the closeup of the grout joint, it is difficult to know what caused these small fractures. The photo is taken too close to see a context of the location in the shower. It appears that the photo was taken very close to the glass and the fractures are fairly small. My guess is the fractures may have been in the tile at the time it was installed and they weren’t noticed by the installer.

If you need a solid determination of these fractures, a third party consultant that can make an onsite evaluation may be needed.

I hope this helps.

Mark Heinlein – CTI #1112, NTCA Training Director, Technical Trainer / Presenter

QUESTION

We are members of NTCA and would love some technical advice on thin panel installation.

We are supplying large-format, thin porcelain panels for an exterior façade in Oakland, Calif. It is approximately 2,500 sq. ft. at 102˝ x 47˝ x 6.5mm and we are researching installation options for the owner that do not involve the normal setting method.

It would be great to know what options there are for a “rail & clip” system versus full contact installation.

At the very least, it would be great to get some information on the guidelines and practices for installing thin panels using some sort of clip or fastening system.

ANSWER 1

Thanks for contacting us. I took a quick look at the manufacturer’s instructions. They are very typical of most gauged porcelain tile panel manufacturers. I did not see anything other than the direct bond method as an option for installation. Most distributors of thin porcelain tile have been working with installation product manufacturers and tool companies to present a system approach to installation. Some even require the use of manufacturer trained installers.

Last April there were new standards added for this product. ANSI 137.3 and ANSI 108.19.

ANSI 137.3 deal with standards for the product itself. ANSI A108.19 deals with the installation of the product.

I would encourage you to reach out to the manufacturer to see if they would recommend another fastening system. We always encourage our members to follow manufacturers’ instructions explicitly. It decreases your liability in projects.

Robb Roderick, NTCA Trainer/Presenter

ANSWER 2

Thank you for contacting our NTCA Technical Team with your question.

Robb is correct. ANSI A137.3 and ANSI A108.19 are the industry standards adopted this year for the production and installation of gauged porcelain tile and panels/slabs. These standards call for the installation of this material in a thin-bed type system with special emphasis on the installation process for floors and walls outlined in A108.19.

As Robb stated, it is important to follow the tile manufacturer’s instructions. Contact them to be sure you understand their instructions thoroughly. Deviation from installation instructions can result in lack of warranty coverage and/or acceptance of risk by the installation contractor.

The Tile Council of North America (TCNA) has the new standards available on its website for electronic download and it is taking pre-orders for a limited-edition hard copy. You can find the information to purchase an electronic version or reserve your hard copy on the TCNA website www.tcnatile.com/products-and-services/publications/218-english-publications/227-ansi-a137-3-and-a108-19.html or http://bit.ly/2i4iP4p.

Local codes will likely have specific requirements for installing tile above a certain height, especially on an exterior.  Please be certain to contact the code official responsible for the municipality this installation is located in.

Many setting material manufacturers make specialty mortars for installation of these tiles.  You will want to involve your setting material manufacturer to help you determine the best mortar for the application and ask them to work with you to write a site-specific system warranty based on their instructions and industry standards.

I am not aware of any mechanical rain-screen type fastening systems for use with gauged porcelain tile/panels; however, some tool and equipment manufacturers make a clip-type system that is used in conjunction with a thin-bed bond coat installation to provide additional mechanical attachment of large tiles in a vertical installation. One such system is manufactured by Raimondi. For more information about that system please contact Donnelly Distributing/Raimondi USA at 262-820-1212 or [email protected]

Mark Heinlein – CTI #1112, NTCA Training Director and Technical Trainer/Presenter

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