MAPEI offers certified, sustainable tile mortars and grouts






An important issue that manufacturers must address in today’s marketplace is the ability to balance product performance with environmentally sustainable formulations and manufacturing processes. The clarity with which the manufacturer reports on both of these products aspects is a measure of the company’s transparency to its customers and end users.  Third-party certification of products and their manufacturing processes is one method of displaying transparency.

MAPEI is a champion of the Tile Council of North America’s Green Squared program for third-party-certified green products for the installation of tile and stone. MAPEI has a select set of mortars and grouts that are SCS third-party certified to the TCNA’s Green Squared standard (ANSI A138.1), making them eligible for a special LEED v4 pilot credit.

The TCNA reported in a recent news release, “Specifically, Green Squared Certified products now qualify to contribute toward a new LEED Pilot Credit offered for using ‘Certified Multi-attribute Products and Materials.’ The credit requires that certification details, including which Green Squared electives were satisfied, are disclosed, and that a product lifecycle assessment (LCA) has been conducted.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has also added Green Squared Certified products to its current recommendations made to all U.S. government purchasing officials to aid in identifying and procuring environmentally sustainable products and services.

The MAPEI products that have been Green Squared Certified include MAPEI Ultralite Mortar, MAPEI Ultralite Mortar Pro, MAPEI Ultralite S2 mortar, MAPEI Ultralite S1 Quick mortar Ultracolor® Plus FA premium grout and new MAPEI Flexcolor 3D ready-to-use grout with translucent/iridescent effects. These products can be specified by architects as a sustainable tile installation system.

MAPEI also has TCNA industry-average Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), Health Product Declarations (HPDs) and VOC emission certifications (CA-DPH 01350) for these products and many others, which can contribute to LEED v4 as well as to sustainability programs such as the Living Building Challenge (LBC) and the Well Building Standard.

“TCNA has been a leader in providing sustainable tile system initiatives with both Green Squared certification and EPDs that have benefited both the industry and MAPEI in offering our customers a complete system, from tile to mortar to grout,” said Cris Bierschank, Technical Services Sustainability Manager for MAPEI Americas.


Product Spotlight: Integra Color Grout

Merkrete Integra is an all-in-one thin set and grout, developed specifically for installing mosaics and glass tile of all shapes and sizes on walls and floors. You’ll never have to worry about thin set color bleed-through because the thin set and grout are the same color. Just add water, and you’re ready to start your project.

Integra is available in eight colors.

  • Non-abrasive all-in-one thin set and grout
  • For walls and floors
  • Residential and commercial applications
  • Color consistent
  • Specifically designed for glass and mosaic tiles
  • Exceeds ANSI A118.4 and A 118.6
  • Available in 25 lb. bag 

For more information, click here


At this year’s Coverings, the largest international tile & stone exhibition in North America, more than 1,100 exhibitors showcased the latest tile products—revealing a variety of aspects of tile that reinforce its position as a truly versatile building material. Tile is durable, sustainable, resistant, low maintenance, energy efficient, and healthy. What’s more, tile is beautiful, with many designs for today’s commercial and residential spaces.


“When it came to presenting remarkable solutions, the exhibitors at Coverings 2017 left no stone, or tile, unturned,” said Alena Capra, Coverings’ Industry Ambassador. “Today’s tile offers incredible range of design opportunities for architects, designers, and homeowners. From every aisle of the show floor, there were exciting products that we can look forward to seeing in the market later this year.”


Among the thousands of new tile introductions, here’s a look at the top trends that emerged from the show floor:


The Skinny on Thin Tile

Among those in the tile industry, the new name for thin tile is gauged porcelain tile—a term that helps describe materials produced to a precise thickness, similar to how “gauged” is used to describe wire or sheet metal. With its slim size, one of the main benefits of gauged tile is that it can be installed on top of existing wall or floor tiles. This year, Abitare La Ceramica showcased gauged tile in a cement style with the Icon collection. Iris U.S. Calacatta collection reflected a natural marble look while Cedir Ceramiche’s Iron Mix series presented a stone look.


Pretty in Pink

Iris Calacatta U.S. – Mirage Granito Ceramico SpA – PopJob

This year, the show floor saw pops of pink in every corner with an emphasis on blush tones. Cooperative Ceramica D’Imola introduced Play, a line with double-fired tiles that yield a satin finish. Mirage Granito Ceramico SpA unveiled its new collaboration with Studio Job, a Dutch design firm. The collection sports a smooth surface with a thick glass layer on top of porcelain that mimics a wood look in unusual colors—its pink iteration was a standout.  Vives Cerámica brought color to life with the Dolce Vita collection, which merges periods and styles to create tile with a huge amount of personality. The Cíes wall tile, part of the collection, offers a blush tone in a matte finish, providing a truly attractive look.


Bringing The Outside In

Ceramica Fondovalle SpA – DREAM

Creating design inspired by nature gives a serene look to any space. With tile that mimics some of nature’s most coveted looks, homeowners and designers can easily achieve this design trend. Ceramica Fondovalle SpA debuted the DREAM collection with patterns that resemble the sky, earth and greenery, bringing a natural feel indoors.  IBERO Porcelanico showcased the Habita collection, a porcelain tile that sports a real wood look. With four different shades inclusive of cool and warm tones, the collection is extremely versatile and allows spaces to have a rustic, natural wood look and feel with the durability and sustainability of tile. Natucer introduced the DYNAMIC series, which offers 3D wall tiles. The collection’s neutral colors and fish scale patterns evokes a sense of underwater and marine life to the space. Lunada Bay Tile showcased the Watercolor collection of glass tiles with subtle color variation in blues, channeling sea and sky.  Cercan Tile Inc. introduced their line of Semi-Precious Stones set in resin. The tiles are available in any desired size and are custom made allowing for a truly unique installation with real, semi-precious stone for a natural feel.


Beyond Beige

While bold colors are important to design, so, too, are neutrals, which provide visual balance to a space.  At Coverings, exhibitors showcased a variety of looks that prove that neutrals can go in a variety of attractive hues along the muted color spectrum. Dune Ceramics shared the SHAPES series with the Luna shape in bronze and white, featuring a metallic accent, which plays with light and creates reflections and shadows. Marazzi presented MATERIKA, a collection of matte neutrals that are fashioned into over-sized wall tiles. With options ranging from flat to 3D wavy or combed surfaces, the ceramic wall tiles create a feeling of depth while maintaining a neutral color palette. Realonda Ceramica brought the PATTERN series, a collection of square tiles that are distinctive due to their 3D look and bronze color. Clay Decor’s line Imaginatio highlighted the return of brass and copper as neutrals to interior design. The warm hues bring subtle glamour to any space with their metallic finishes.

Dune Ceramics – SHAPES


Get in the Groove

While tile is the star of the installation, several grout manufacturers have introduced products that had show attendees taking a closer look at the installation material. Not just functional, grout can enhance the design quotient of the application. Bostik showcased the new Hydroment Vivid Cement-Based Grout. The grout is available in different colors and dries in just 4 hours, allowing for immediate foot traffic on the newly tiled space. MAPEI unveiled its new collection, Flexcolor 3D, which sports an iridescent quality, taking on the color of the tile it is surrounded by, and is available in blues, greens, metallic gold, or silver hues.

MAPEI – Flexcolor 3D


Dare to be Bold


From prints to metallic hues to bright colors, today’s tile manufacturers are not shy in terms of making a bold statement. Appomattox Tile Art’s Devereaux collection brought bold to a new level with its palm leaf print. Sure to wow, this mosaic adds a pop of color and pattern to any space. Mainzu shared Diamond, a collection of 3D wall tiles that bring together volume, texture, and color. Diamond’s lines, sharp design and plethora of colors bring dynamism to any décor.  Lea Ceramiche presented Waterfall, which represents the natural stone aspects of slate. The tiles are available in various gray scale shades with shapes that span from traditional large formats to decorative mosaics and geometric shapes allowing for patterns resembling real stone looks.


Touchy Feely

As a hard surface, it’s difficult to imagine tile in a range of textures, but with innovative manufacturing, several tiles presented looks that provide a tactile experience.

Sicis debuted Vetrite, which incorporates fabrics underneath glass slabs to give a soft, textured look to any space’s design. American Wonder Porcelain’s Fabric Folio Collection and Landmark Ceramic’s Soul collection both play with textile style as a contemporary interpretation of fabrics creates highlights and natural movement. For those preferring harder surface looks, Keraben Grupo introduced Elven, a collection inspired by metal sheets with an almost metallic finish. Along similar lines, Firenze (Porcelanite Lamosa) brought Oxide, which also encompasses an industrial aesthetic.  Although a porcelain tile, the digital printing technique and textures bring a rusted metal look to life.

Frienze (Porcelanite Lamosa) – Oxide


Retro Revival

Aparici – BONDI

This year, the tile industry saw the return of two specific retro-inspired trends: patchwork and terrazzo. Taking the popular 1970s trend and adding a spin, Ceramica Fioranese introduced the Marmorea series, which gives a visual effect of marble surfaces and pieces of terrazzo. With a more traditional approach to the terrazzo style, Inalco exhibited the Fluorite collection. With a range of sizes and colors, industry professionals can specify the trend in various ways, honing in on their own design style or the needs of their clients. Vintage patterns are also making a comeback, as Patchwork was prevalent among tile manufacturers this year. Aparici showcased BONDI, porcelain tiles that take this trend and add vintage flair to a modern space. In addition to patchwork and terrazzo, parquet inspired floors are making a return.  Crossville shared Nest, a durable tile take on traditional wooden parquet floors. The collection is available in seven different colors, allowing designers and homeowners to achieve any desired look.

The evolution of the tile membrane

By Sean Gerolimatos, technical services manager, Schluter Systems, L.P.

In the beginning

Membranes for tile installation have come a long way since their introduction in the 1980s.  New products with different functions have since been introduced and the range of applications has exploded.  Membranes have created entirely new installation methods in the past decades, leading to improved performance of the assemblies and increased productivity for tile setters.  In recent years we have seen further evolution of this product category with multi-functional membranes, offering tile setters more versatile solutions.

Bonded waterproofing

Bonded waterproofing membranes were among the first tile membranes on the market.  They allowed for the direct application of tile, eliminating the secondary mortar bed.  This made for faster installation and increased productivity in addition to minimizing water intrusion, decreasing drying times, and reducing the risk of mold growth in wet areas.

Preventing cracked tiles and grout
Crack-isolation and uncoupling membranes soon followed, with the primary benefit being prevention of tile and grout damage due to substrate movement.  Crack-isolation membranes are dependent on flexibility from the elastomeric properties within a flat sheet, whereas uncoupling membranes are geometrically configured to limit stress transfer from the substrate to the tile covering.  Applications include tile floors in nearly every environment in both residential and commercial settings.

Sound control
In multi-story construction like apartments and condominiums, controlling sound transfer through the floor/ceiling assembly is essential.  There are requirements for sound control in building codes, and housing authorities may impose stricter requirements.  Both airborne sound (conversation, music, etc.) and impact sound (footsteps, dropped items, etc.) are of concern, but in general the tile assembly has the greatest effect on impact sound.  There are ASTM standard methods for testing and calculating impact sound transmission through a floor/ceiling assembly, with the result being a single-number rating— this is called impact insulation class (IIC for short).

A new ANSI specification
Tile can actually increase impact sound transfer through floors so the sound management challenge is significant.  In general, impact sound control is best achieved with floating systems such as mortar beds, poured gypsum, or lightweight concrete toppings that incorporate resilient materials underneath.  However, progress has been made in developing relatively thin assemblies to help control impact sound.  The first such products came from manufacturers outside the tile industry and didn’t necessarily accommodate the requirements of tile coverings, which are different from other floor coverings like engineered wood or vinyl.  An ANSI specification was developed to qualify sound control membranes for use under tile.  ANSI A118.13 includes various requirements for bonded sound membranes, such as bond strength, Robinson floor test performance, and impact sound reduction performance.

ΔOne key feature of the specification is that the Robinson floor test and impact sound transmission tests are specified to use the same materials so owners and design professionals won’t be misled by the use of different assemblies to maximize performance in each test.  Only one assembly can be installed on a particular job and the owner must be assured that the assembly will provide the expected sound control and still support the tile covering.  Another key feature is that the contribution of the floor covering itself to impact sound control over a standard concrete slab is tested and quantified with a value denoted ΔIIC (delta IIC).  This value can’t be added to any floor/ceiling assemblies other than concrete with no ceiling below.  However, it allows design professionals to compare sound control membrane assemblies directly, without the potential to be misled by other elements in the floor/ceiling assembly tested, such as a sound-rated ceiling.  Still, the design professional will require full floor/ceiling assembly testing to validate specific assemblies will satisfy building code or housing authority requirements.

Warm tiles for comfort

Tile coverings can be cold underfoot, but there are various floor warming systems available to improve comfort and add a touch of affordable luxury.  The heat source for most electric floor warming is a cable system where resistance of the wire causes electrical energy to be converted to heat energy.  Originally, cables were purchased on a spool and anchored to the floor at manufacturer-specified spacing using clips or tracks.  Cable might also be mounted on a mesh or within a sheet and attached to the floor.  Best practice has been to embed the heating cables in a self-leveling underlayment and let it set before installing tiles.

The latest innovation in floor warming is a new form of uncoupling membrane which features studs to secure cables without clips or fasteners.  Cables can be placed wherever heat is desired without creating height differences and self-leveling compounds are not required to encapsulate the cables. Tile can be installed immediately after the cable is placed, thereby significantly reducing installation time.

Swiss Army membranes

With the range of tile membranes growing, we have seen a trend toward multi-functional products.  For example, crack-isolation and uncoupling membranes have often performed as waterproofing  membranes.  The combination of uncoupling, waterproofing, and floor warming in a single membrane is available as mentioned above.  The latest innovation is the addition of sound control and thermal break layers to the existing uncoupling/floor warming membranes.  A thicker bonding fleece on the underside performs two functions: it reduces impact sound transfer through floor/ceiling assemblies and reduces heat loss to the substrate for faster warm-up times.  This type of membrane can be the “go to” product for almost any tile installer, as seen in the project feature below.

Project feature

Mike Gwizdala of Mike’s Custom Tile Company in Bay City, Mich., recently completed a project for Shaheen Development using one multi-function membrane that allowed him to address a range of project requirements.  THE H Residence is an 85,000 sq. ft., mixed-use development in downtown Midland, Mich.  The first floor is home to an art gallery, convention center, and a restaurant.  The second floor features the H Hotel, the third floor luxury condominiums, and the fourth floor residential penthouse suites with an elaborate common area and patio space.

Gwizdala’s team installed porcelain and marble tile over concrete with sound-rated ceilings in all bathrooms, laundry rooms, entries and some kitchens.  The Schluter®-DITRA-HEAT-DUO uncoupling membrane and floor warming system with integrated sound control and thermal break was used under all floor tiles.  “DITRA-HEAT-DUO provided all the functions we needed in a single layer,” said Gwizdala.  “This was critical for us because it reduced our labor, making it a more cost-effective solution than any other sound control system.”

The membrane is relied upon for both uncoupling and sound control in all areas so it provides the performance results required throughout the building.  By using the same membrane throughout, the team knew they would have consistent floor thickness in all tiled areas.  Once the membrane was installed they had the flexibility to install heating cables only in areas where floor warming was specified.  In the bathrooms, membrane seams were sealed with Schluter®-KERDI-BAND for waterproofing.

The bottom line

Tile membranes have changed installation practices significantly by reducing assembly thickness, weight, and labor to produce high-performance applications and increased productivity.  Membranes have evolved from single-function products to highly innovative, multi-function solutions for virtually any application.  Consistent use of a single product or system can simplify planning, bidding, purchasing, and installation from project to project.



The tile inlay in the entryway was carefully laid out.  The inlay was surrounded by a frame of rectangular marble tile.

The Pinnacle Design exterior of THE H Residence in Midland, Mich., a highend mixed use facility that opened in spring of 2017.


Gwizdala always takes photos of the placement of items like thermostat wires for heating cables so he knows where things are after the tiles are installed.

 Tiles are installed over the waterproof membrane in one of the showers.

This is the completed shower


In the bathrooms, DITRA HEAT DUO membrane seams were sealed with Schluter®-KERDI-BAND for waterproofing.

NTCA Benefit Box

My Plan It Traveler:

Vacations at a deep discount

Getting valuable time away with family and friends — or even traveling to industry events to enrich your knowledge of the industry and network with likeminded people — can be costly, when you add up airfare, hotel, car rentals and more. But My Plan It Traveler is a new travel benefits partnership, offered free for all NTCA members (a $49/year value), that helps you trim your travel costs and keep more money in your pocket to enjoy on your time away. is a next-generation, travel membership site that provides wholesale pricing on hotel stays, vacation resorts, car rentals, cruises and travel activities.

As a member you will find insider deals not available to the public, on world-class brands like Hilton, Sheraton, Holiday Inn, Wyndham, Disney, Hertz, Avis, Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises and much more. And, there are no blackout dates and no restrictions.

With advanced search technology, finds you the lowest public price on the web and displays it so you can see the amazing savings and value your exclusive membership has to offer. With your signature membership, you will find rates up to 35% lower than what’s available on popular travel sites.

Your free My Plan It Traveler membership entitles you to exclusive access to deep discounts on hotels, car rentals, cruises and tons of fun family activities!You can also earn rewards for shopping online.

My Plan It Traveler offers deals on over 400,000 hotels and resorts, 8,000 car rental locations, theme park and excursion activities, guaranteed lowest rates and a 100% money back guarantee policy!

You can also upgrade your free annual membership anytime after you register for only $69 (That’s $30 off the regular price). With your upgrade, you will be able to basically double your savings.

So, no more searching countless websites for the lowest price on travel. No more second-guessing your deal.  Join the club. The My Plan It Traveler benefit through NTCA will take good care of you.

For more information, visit

Business Tip – May 2017

NC changes tax requirements on installation labor


Labor may now be subject to state sales tax

By Paige W. Smith, Neuse Tile Service, NTCA Region 3 Director

This is an important development in tax laws that affect contractors that is taking place in North Carolina. Important in its own right, it holds even broader importance when one considers that once a single state passes this sort of law, other states will likely consider it or follow suit. Tile contractors should check with their tax accountants about any changes or revisions to laws in their own state related to sales and use tax. Forewarned is forearmed. – Ed.

Tile installation contractors who work in North Carolina should be aware that some of their labor may now be subject to state sales tax. Previous legislative changes had only applied to installers who were also retailers, but, on Jan. 1 of this year a new state law was enacted which requires the application of sales and use tax to all “real property contracts.”

The N.C. legislature has come up with its own statutory definitions of “real property,” “real property contract,” and “capital improvement” as well as a new tax form, E-595E. Tile contractors will most likely fall under the classification of “specialty contractor.” There have been several attempts to clarify which types of work are considered repair/ replacement/ reconstruction/ vs. remodeling, but the distinctions remain open to some interpretation.

The N.C. Department of Revenue Directive issued 11/15/2016 included 15 pages of definitions and “clarifications,” and on 3/17/2017 another 12-page Notice of “Additional Information” was issued. Accountants in the state have issued differing opinions on which aspects of tile work will be taxable, and contractors will definitely want to get in touch with their own tax advisor.

The new law is very confusing as evidenced by the continued “clarifications.” I’ve been to quite a few seminars on how we should interpret the new statute, and each time the answers seem to be slightly different.

Sales tax on repair work

Generally, for any repair work or replacement of existing tile, contractors should now be charging  — and paying to the state — sales tax on the total invoice amount (both material and labor). The sales tax is based on the rate for the county where the work is done. Most installers will want to become “tax exempt” for their purchases so that some material tax will be paid in as “use tax” and some as “sales tax.” It has been explained that those who work exclusively for general contractors will usually be exempt from the new tax on labor IF the tile installer gets the general contractor to complete the “blanket use” portion of the new tax form.

Repairs or replacements in which the tile contractor is including the work of other trade specialists (i.e. a plumber & glass door company) are not so clearly delineated as to whether they are “repairs” or “capital improvements” under the legislation’s definitions. I went to a forum in which even the head of the N.C. Sales and Use Tax Division said he was still trying to figure out how to answer many of the construction industry’s questions.

For now, contractors should be sure to speak with their local tax advisor, set up a system for tracking county tax rates, and charge sales tax on their work when required. The link to the N.C. Department of Revenue’s March notice can be found at


NTCA works hard to put together framework of industry involvement

President’s Letter – May 2017

It was great to see so many old friends and meet new ones at Coverings in Orlando. I was fortunate to have several opportunities to work in one of the two NTCA booths during the show. This afforded me the chance to meet and talk with many contractors from all over the country working in several different segments of the industry.

I know that we are all challenged to find enough time each day to run a business, finish an estimate, meet with a client, get our crews working in the right direction, meet the payroll and oh yes, everybody’s favorite task, collecting the money we’re owed!!!! Yet that is what we signed up for when we decided to scratch that entrepreneurial itch and start our companies.

So, back to what I learned from these conversations at Coverings: some of our members — and those who haven’t joined NTCA yet — don’t really understand all that we offer to the industry. Early on, I had several encounters where a contractor would say, “I’ve got two minutes before my next meeting, so tell me everything I get if I join NTCA”, while their sales resistance slammed closed like a bank vault.

I changed my strategy to answering their question with a question, “What is your biggest need that will make you more successful and profitable?” This seemed to open a dialog on a different level, and I could explain the education and training available to them through the association. Some chose to sign up and some said they’d think about it. Either way, I hope that I communicated that the NTCA is here to be a resource and advocate for tile contractors. But that’s not all we do.

The staff of NTCA works extremely hard to put together a framework of industry involvement that will represent the tile contractor’s interest. From membership on the TCNA Handbook Committee to the ANSI Committee, to all the groups working with the NTCA Board of Directors on numerous committees, these individuals are tile contractors who donate their time and expenses to participate for the good of the tile industry and specifically for the advancement and protection of the tile contractor — regardless if they are a member of NTCA or not.

Maybe this will help explain a little better. Here is a list of the number of tile contractors working on each of these committees on your behalf.

7 – Tile Council of North America Handbook Committee

6 + 6 Alternates – ANSI A108 Committee

7 – NTCA Executive Board

19 – NTCA Board of Directors

60 + State Ambassadors

27 – NTCA Training and Education Committee

22 – NTCA Membership Committee

11 – NTCA Standards and Methods Committee

19 – NTCA Technical Committee

3 – NTCA Convention Planning Committee

These contractor businesses range in size from two-employee companies to hundreds-of-employee companies, and they cover the residential and commercial markets. Each of them has chosen to give of their time and resources to make this industry better. Your voice is needed and welcome so let us know what’s on your mind and how we might be able to help you. Consider getting involved if you are member and consider joining if you aren’t a member.

Underlying all of this is our strategic objective, which is to see every member of NTCA be a Best in Class Tile Contractor –dedicated to continuing education, training, craftsmanship, integrity and customer service. We all have the choice to purse excellence or accept mediocrity. The NTCA stands for Excellence.

And for those contractors interested in what they get for being a NTCA member, check out the list of member benefits here:

Keep on Tiling!


Martin Howard

President NTCA

Committee member, ANSI A108

[email protected]



Tech Talk – May 2017

New ANSI Gauged Porcelain/“Thin Tile” Standards debut at Coverings

More than four years of cross-disciplinary industry collaboration and 4,000-plus hours of research from the TCNA Laboratory Services team have culminated in the announcement at Coverings of two new standards: ANSI A137.3, the American National Standard Specifications for Gauged Porcelain Tiles and Gauged Porcelain Tile Panels/Slabs, and its companion, ANSI A108.19, Interior Installation of Gauged Porcelain Tiles and Gauged Porcelain Tile Panels/Slabs by the Thin-Bed Method bonded with Modified Dry-Set Cement Mortar or Improved Modified Dry-Set Cement Mortar.

Currently known in industry parlance as the “thin tile” standards, the standards use the term“gauged” to cover a range of precise thicknesses that can carry different loads and be used in different ways, taking a similar approach to standardized wire gauges and gauged sheet metal. Two classes of gauged tile products are defined—those for wall applications from 3.5 to 4.9 mm and for floor and wall applications from 5.0 to 6.5 mm.

ANSI A137.3 standardizes the minimum required properties for the products themselves and ANSI A108.19 standardizes the methodologies for installing the products in interior installations by the thin-bed method with specific mortars.

These standards, developed for the benefit of all tile consumers, are the result of a multi-year consensus process of the ANSI Accredited A108 Standards Committee, which maintains a broad and diverse group of participants reflecting stakeholder interests in all aspects of the tile industry.

“Interest in gauged tiles has been growing exponentially the last few years,” says Eric Astrachan, executive director, Tile Council of North America (TCNA), which serves as secretariat of the committee. “Such growth encourages more products to enter the marketplace, but without standards tile consumers would have no way to know what to expect in terms of performance.

Installers especially were asking for standards to allow for installation practices to be developed based on consistent tile properties. Without such, it was feared that problems resulting from an undefined range of products could have hindered growth of this exciting market segment. We are very pleased to announce these standards today and congratulate and thank the many across our industry that worked for years on their development. We hope these standards, the first of their kind in the world, will help lead the way forward to international gauged tile standards.”

A free download of a preview copy is available from TCNA at, and a professional publication of both standards will be available for purchase from TCNA in July.

Qualified Labor – May 2017

The Tile Shop, Rubi Tools team up for CTI tests in Lombard, Ill.

Both companies provide perks, benefits to CTI candidates

By Terryn Rutford, Social Structure Marketing

In seven years, the number of Certified Tile Installers has grown from zero to over 1,308. With the establishment of Kevin Insalato as the Regional Evaluator coordinator and a team of 16 Regional Evaluators, the potential to certify many quality installers and elevate the quality of tilework around the country is growing.

Industry sponsors have kept the program going, providing locations for testing, materials, and catered meals and  snacks for CTI candidates. Back in March, The Tile Shop and Rubi Tools teamed up for one of many Certified Tile Installation (CTI) tests at The Tile Shop in Lombard, Ill.

Both companies are providing some great benefits to all CTI candidates. When you register with the Ceramic  Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) to take the CTI test and request to take the test at a Tile Shop location, registration will only cost $200. Once the CTI candidate passes the written test, the hands-on test will be scheduled at a Tile Shop location; if that is successfully passed,  The Tile Shop will pay the balance of the CTI test registration. The program is available nationwide.

Rubi Tools is also providing a bonus to all CTI candidates. Along with a trowel and spacers, Rubi will provide its new Rubi rubber bucket, which is designed to allow installers to hammer out dried mortar or grout without damaging the bucket. The bucket should not only save time, but money as well. In addition to the tool kit, Rubi will also be offering a $50.00 coupon as part of the CTI vouchers provided to every CTI candidate who successfully passes the test.

The CTI test in March was a success thanks to the Tile Shop regional sales manager, Dacy Corlee, and Rafael Rodriguez of Rubi Tools. The CTI candidates at this event were Nicholas Roth from All about Tile in Adrian, Mich., John Martin from John Martin Tile in Decatur, Ill., Greg Twarog from Surfaces 15 in Downers Grove, Ill., Omar Delacruz from Omar’s Custom Flooring in Chicago, Ill., Jamiel Sabir from California Flooring in Manteno, Ill., and Joe Voss from Voss Home in Frankfort, Ill.

For more information about taking the Certified Tile Installer exam, visit



(l to r) Nicholas Roth, The Tile Shop regional salesmanager; Dacy Corlee, John Martin, Greg Twarog, Omar Delacruz, Jamiel Sabir, Joe Voss, and Regional Evaluator Rafael Lopez.


Rubi Tools provides a bonus to all CTI candidates. Along with a trowel and spacers, Rubi provides its new Rubi rubber bucket, which is designed to allow installers to hammer out dried mortar or grout without damaging the bucket, and a $50 coupon as part of the CTI vouchers for those who successfully pass the CTI exam

When CTI candidates request to take a CTI test at a Tile Shop location, registration will be only $200.Once the candidate successfully passes the exam, The Tile Shop will pay the balance of the CTI test registration.  The program is available nationwide


NTCA University Update

By Becky Serbin, NTCA training and education coordinator

We have had several members asking why they should purchase NTCA University.  Here are a couple of testimonials on how others are finding it valuable.  Both Mike, a business owner who has registered some of his employees on his site, and Dan – who is relatively new to the industry – are looking for education. Here’s what they have to say about NTCA University:

Mike Degiusti, Terra-Mar, Inc., Oklahoma City, Okla., a NTCA Five Star Contractor

“For those of you who are looking for more knowledge of the tile trade and business, I encourage you to look at the NTCA University. After months of procrastinating I finally started the program…and was surprised at how much info there was. The program covers a lot of topics. I will say maybe every module is not for everyone but there are definitely some topics for everyone.

“The beauty is one cost for as many employees you have and you can do it as you have time. In fact while I was watching one of the modules yesterday two of my people came in saw what I was viewing and said they wanted to do it.

“Just a side note for those that don’t know me, I am not saying you have to do it to be a good tile setter. I just think you should check it out. I have been in the tile business in every aspect for over 50 years and I learn all the time. It takes a lot to impress me and this program does. Thank you for reading this and I hope everyone has a great year.”

Mike Diguisti

Dan Heinlein, apprentice for Kerber Tile, Marble and Stone, a NTCA Five Star Contractor in Shakopee, Minn.

Heinlein, who happens to be the son of Mark Heinlein, NTCA technical trainer and presenter, recently entered the tile industry after working in the culinary field. He’s been working as an apprentice since December 2016.

Heinlein explained, “I decided to go into tile setting because it’s a field of construction/measuring with decorative/artistic application. To me it seems like a reasonable balance of the two aspects. I decided to take the NTCA courses simply to have a credible background with working experience, and to keep the wheels churning off the clock.

“I’ve been studying NTCA University online, and these certificates are available at the end of each section for the apprentice stages (0-6 months),” he added. “I’ve taken the 0-6months courses, and the other part I’m getting ready to engage in. The first section of courses was really helpful when confronted with the application of grouting knowledge.”



Dan Heinlein proudly displays all the certificates he’s earned in NTCA University for the 0-6 month courses. 

Dan Heinlein (far right) with father Mark Heinlein (center right) during a recent visit. Also pictured at left are Dan’s sister Megan and her fiancee Colin Pugh.

No matter your skill level or number of years in the business, there is always something new to learn, something you may have for gotten, or you could just be looking for a refresher on a topic.

Interested in NTCA University? Click on NTCA University at the NTCA webpage,, or contact me at [email protected]

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