Editor’s Letter – June 2017

I wouldn’t wish any specific thing for any specific person – it’s none of my business. But the idea that a four-year degree is the only path to worthwhile knowledge is insane. It’s insane.” – Mike Rowe

There’s a Mike Rowe video making the rounds on social media that prompted me to write this letter as a follow-up to the April Editor Letter that addressed the ersatz “job shortage” in our country.

In this recent 58-second video, which can be viewed at Rowe’s website at http://mikerowe.com/2017/05/quixotic-attempt-to-close-the-skills-gap/, Rowe asks the question, “Why do we only glamorize expensive colleges?”  He shows covers of popular magazines that rank top colleges in the U.S. – but points out that NONE of these rankings ever include a trade school. His video notes that even though more students than ever are entering 4-year colleges, trade jobs account for 54% percent of the labor market. His video explains that over the next 10 years, 3.5 million trade jobs will need to be filled, but 2 million of those will go unfilled due to the skills gap.

Every parent wants to be sure his or her child is well-equipped to make it in the world in a fulfilling job that keeps them in good financial health. And yet it is clear that a huge swath of opportunities are going unheeded, ignored and overlooked because they aren’t “college” positions. And jobs available NOW don’t require incurring massive debt from a four-year college.

Maybe part of the evolution to greater respect towards trades- and crafts-people is to start referring to trade schools as “trade colleges” to get them on the radar of those high school students (and their parents) looking to take the best angle for the future.

Rowe’s comment that trade schools are never mentioned in top colleges got me wondering, so I did a Google search for Top Trade Schools.  There ARE resources out there, but they don’t get quite the attention, or seem as valued, as traditional college educations. Or it could be that young people, assessing their future opportunities, don’t want to work with their hands, when technological devices have familiarized them with skills that are attached to keyboards and computer screens.

A little of what I found follows. Trade schools seem to lean heavily on medical, dental, mechanical and computer careers, but some schools offer construction training as well.

https://www.thebalance.com/best-trade-school-graduate-jobs-4125189:  Top 10 Jobs for Trade School Graduates

http://www.10besttrade.com/schools/: 10 Best Trade Schools, which includes Centura College in Virginia and South Carolina that offers studies in tiling and flooring in the Building Maintenance and Repair program; and Stratford Career Institute in St. Albans, Vt., and Fortis Institute Erie in Erie, Pa.,  have study in Construction Management.

https://www.trade-schools.net/articles/trade-school-jobs.asp gives a listing of 43 Trade School Jobs Among the Highest Paying Trades, and includes a search engine for trade schools.

http://www.abouttradeschools.com/overview/vocationalcareers/ provides a listing of trade schools in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., and a list of top 10 trade jobs, with construction jobs coming in at #6.

There are other groups that have made it their mission to promote, educate and prepare young men and women for careers in trades and crafts, such as the Construction Education Foundation of Georgia (cefga.org) and its involvement with the SkillsUSA (skillsusa.org) competition – which NTCA has supported —   and the National Center for Construction Education & Research (nccer.org).

There is heartening news afoot. On its website, CEFGA notes that Georgia public schools have over 150 skilled trade construction and metals programs and the 2016 Annual Report on the SkillsUSA site reports that in 2016, 1,299 middle-school students were enrolled as members of SkillsUSA, and 385 new chapters were added in 2015-16 according. It counts 385,488 members in its 2016-2017 year, which includes 316,197 students, primarily high school members.

What I DON’T see listed that often are tile installer training and programming. Masonry, contracting and construction management are popular curricula, but tile installer training still seems to be the purview of passed on family knowledge, apprenticeships, manufacturer and association training and self-learning.

This is one reason that NTCA University offers such an essential value – courses that support positions as finishers/apprentices in our trade. Visit http://www.tile-assn.com/?page=NTCAU to check out the offerings in apprenticeship, business and continuing education. And maybe pass it on to a young person who’s contemplating their future.

God bless,

Lesley

[email protected]

Business Tip – June 2017

Is your employee handbook up to snuff?

By Bob Scavone, Labor and Employment attorney, Jackson Lewis P.C.

“Do you have an employee handbook?” No matter the size of the business, or type of industry, this is one of the first questions I ask employers when speaking with them about their business practices and how they can lower the risk of liabilities. Having a handbook and providing employees copies, however, may not be enough to protect your business from legal liability or other unintended consequences. Lawsuits and agency claims, employee turnover, and poor public relations are a few examples of the unintended consequences that can result from outdated or unlawful handbook provisions, or ones that are misinterpreted or inconsistently administered by managers and supervisors.

To reduce your exposure, your employee handbook must be

1) Comprehensive

2) Tailored to your specific business and industry

3) Regularly reviewed and updated, and

4) Compliant with federal, state, and local laws and regulations.

Liability and an incomplete employee handbook

Why are employee handbooks important? First, handbooks set employer expectations and employee responsibilities. For example, your handbook should explain that the company expects its business practices and internal communications to be kept confidential and outline the consequences for breaching confidentiality. Similarly, your handbook should outline what constitutes prohibited conduct and establish consistent guidelines for disciplining those who violate company policy. Absent such guidelines, your company may be open to legal claims based on arbitrary or inconsistent discipline.

Second, a properly-designed handbook can protect your business against legal liability. For example, handbooks that do not include comprehensive anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies can expose employers to charges of harassment and discrimination. Your handbook should include policies that prohibit unlawful employment practices and explain to employees what to do if they are harassed or discriminated against and how to report such conduct. Ensuring your employees sign an acknowledgement form when they receive the handbook and any updates can significantly improve your chances of avoiding liability.

A comprehensive, carefully-developed employee handbook can be a valuable resource, providing important information about an organization’s history, mission, values, and culture, as well policies, procedures, and benefits. Consulting with an employment attorney is the best way to make sure you are covering all of the bases.

Company- and industry-specific

No two companies are the same, even in the same industry. The employer who uses cookie-cutter or off-the-shelf handbook templates to craft a handbook takes an unnecessary risk. First, templates rarely cover all of the topics that may be important to your business and typically do not address specific state laws and regulations. For example, many states have recently passed laws regulating whether (and under what circumstances) employees may store firearms in vehicles parked on company property. Even if an off-the-shelf handbook covers this issue, it likely will not cover the law specific to your state (or states, if your business operates in more than one). Moreover, a generic handbook may contain policies that are inconsistent with your company’s practices or customs.

Review. Update. Repeat.

Federal, state, and local labor and employment laws are changing constantly. For example, state and federal anti-discrimination laws are in flux with regard to whether discrimination based on sexual orientation is unlawful. Conduct that may not have been illegal when your handbook was issued may now be prohibited. With the assistance of employment counsel, your human resources professionals should monitor changes in the law and update your company’s policies regularly.

In addition to changes in the law, your handbook should keep up with changes in your company’s policies and practices. For example, your handbook should reflect changes in your IT policies or vacation matrix on a timely basis. Your employees must have access to the current policies to reduce your company’s exposure to liability.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” 

Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote is particularly relevant to employee handbooks. Let me be blunt: each of your employees is a potential plaintiff (or cause of litigation). Making sure you have a comprehensive, tailored, up-to-date handbook could save you a substantial amount of time, money, and grief. If you do not have an employee handbook, I strongly recommend that you get one. If you have one, check when it was last updated. If it has been more than a year since its last update, it is time to get your employee handbook up to snuff.

 

Robert Scavone Jr. is an attorney at Jackson Lewis P.C., which represents management exclusively in workplace law and related litigation. Its attorneys are available to assist employers in their compliance efforts and to represent employers in matters before state and federal courts and administrative agencies. Prior to becoming an attorney, Robert was an executive with one of the nation’s largest commercial flooring contractors and a member of the NTCA’s Board of Directors and Technical Committee. He works out of the firm’s Miami office and can be reached at 305-577-7619 or [email protected]

This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice nor does it create an attorney/client relationship between Jackson Lewis P.C. and any readers or recipients. Readers should consult counsel of their own choosing to discuss how these matters relate to their individual circumstances. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without the express written consent of Jackson Lewis P.C.

 

President’s Letter – June 2017

Defining a “Best in Class Tile Contractor”

You have heard me use the term “Best in Class Tile Contractor” in past letters. So, what does that term mean? How do we bring our companies to that level of achievement? These are very good questions, and I’m glad you asked.

In a nutshell, the working definition of a “Best in Class Tile Contractor” is a professional contractor committed to excellence in every phase of their business, utilizing industry best practices, and has been recognized by its customers as a preferred contractor.

Other aspects of a “Best in Class Tile Contractor” are to use the right materials for the application and intended use, and carrying themselves in a professional manner, interacting respectfully with the client and other trades. And “Best in Class Tile Contractors” draft proposals and contracts that are well written and clearly identify the specific scope of work, while quoting a fair price — not a cheap price.

One of Stephen Covey’s principles of highly effective people is to “Begin with the end in mind.”  If we want to be successful, profitable, trusted, respected and preferred tile contractors, we must build our businesses on each of these principles. To become a “Best in Class Tile Contractor” we must be willing to invest in every aspect of our business. This means providing the best trained and skilled craftspeople, installing the best materials for the given application, while utilizing the current best practices of the trade.  Each of these elements requires consistent education and updating. Have you heard the statement, “I’ve been doing it this way for 20 years and never had a problem?” I’d say chances are high this individual is not part of a “Best in Class” organization.

Foundational to this is striving to hire and train the best people, and giving them the opportunity to stay on top of the latest industry standards and best practices. If we aren’t aggressively seeking to keep up with these improvements, we will quickly be left behind. Our level of professionalism will gradually decline until we become reactionary in nature rather than proactive.

When I visit job sites and talk with crews of installers and finishers, it becomes clear very quickly that they have received minimal training. They may have had a mentor for a short time, but most have just figured it out in the field, picking up a little here and there. Most of these crews are eager to learn “best practices” because they want to walk away from every completed job with pride in their finished work.

The NTCA has many options for you to take advantage of when considering training and education curricula for your craftspeople. The Finisher Apprenticeship on-line training program is an excellent place to start. Participation and involvement at Total Solutions Plus, Coverings or TISE West (Surfaces) can supplement your regular educational activities. Getting copies of the TCNA Handbook and ANSI A108, and beginning the process of learning how to use these industry recommendations and standards is another great step forward.

We all need to evaluate our businesses and find the areas where we aren’t using best practices and implement procedures to move us toward the goal. The health of our companies is at risk and so is the health of our industry. We all know that skilled craftspeople are in short supply and the only way to improve this is to train and educate those we have and those entering the trade.

Let’s all make a commitment to see the NTCA logo carry recognition and respect from the customers that employ us. Keep on tiling!

Martin Howard, president, NTCA Committee member, ANSI A108

[email protected]

Tech Talk – June 2017

Taking a look at the testing behind the tech: TCNA Lab and its contribution to the industry

Traditionally, Tech Talk is a place to bring information of specific, practical tips for day-to-day tile installation. But this installment will focus on a lot of the technical work that goes on behind the scenes in the TCNA labs, which impact testing, standards and other aspects of tile and associated products that contractors work with every day. This information was made public at Coverings in April.

TCNA Lab active in New gauged porcelain tile standard

When ANSI A137.3-2017 and A-108.19-2017 were approved recently, their 32 cumulative pages represented many hours of work on behalf of “thin tile” advocates across the globe. The science behind the standards, meanwhile, was provided by a tightly-knit group based out of Anderson, S.C., who logged approximately 4,000 hours over six months to make the standard a reality.

“While a number of folks in the industry were absolutely critical in spearheading the thin tile project, and in keeping it moving forward at an incredibly rapid pace, there’s no question our lab played a decisive role in its eventual composition,” said Eric Astrachan, executive director, Tile Council of North America (TCNA). “In fact, our lab plays an integral role in the development of many of this industry’s standards – thin tile is just the latest example. We couldn’t develop consensus as we do today without the lab leading the way through their R&D efforts. We’re very proud of the work they do.”

“Standards development is a challenging and interesting cross-disciplinary project for our staff,” said director of Laboratory Services Claudio Bizzaglia. “We have a standards team that attacks each particular standards project we work on, and then, depending on the nature of the project, we pull in specific additional staff members, depending on their specialties. The standards we’ve worked on recently or we’re working on now include a new surface abrasion method for ceramic tiles, multiple water absorption methods, various aspects of the glass tile standard, ongoing coefficient of friction studies, and the Robinson floor test method.”

“Having a diverse talent base to pull from here at TCNA is a tremendous asset in standards development and other industry-facing projects, just as it is for customer assignments,” Astrachan says. “With standards, the team has the additional benefit of knowing that they’re contributing something to an industry that we care very much about – and then, of course, it’s nice to have that expertise when it comes to helping our customers should a standard be ratified.”

TCNA Lab Technician Scott Davis (l.)  reviews results with Claudio Bizzaglia. Testing and research conducted at the TCNA Lab contributes to the development of many tile (and related products) industry standards—the ANSI A137.3-2017 and A108.19-2017 “thin tile” standards being the latest examples. 

IAS Grants ISO 17025 Accreditation to TCNA Lab; Bizzaglia elected chairman of ISO TC 189 committee

The International Accreditation Service (IAS), a non-profit, public benefit corporation and internationally-recognized accreditation body based in the United States, has accredited the Laboratory Services department of the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) in all of the methods the lab submitted to IAS. Forty-five separate methods were submitted, including those most central and relevant to tile and installation materials testing.

This accreditation – a voluntary, third-party review process — underscores the Lab’s acquisition of numerous “seals of approval” from a panoply of North America’s largest corporate entities following evaluation based on their individual standards and practices.

“Our team worked very hard to make this accreditation possible, and our success is the result of their professionalism, as well as excellent teamwork,” says director of Lab Services Claudio Bizzaglia. “We look forward to retaining our accreditation and perhaps gaining additional accreditations this summer.”

The accreditation comes at a time of exponential growth for the TCNA Lab, whose revenues have more than tripled in over the past five years, growing consistently since 2009, with major growth since 2013. Bizzaglia attributes the growth to the lab’s results-driven professional environment, a recommitment to customer care and customer service, an expanded sales effort, and, as he says, “a little bit of luck.”

Bizzaglia also counts this growth as a big achievement, as are the result good practices of precision and recordkeeping demonstrated by the tightly-scheduled lab, which contributed to ISO accreditation, and to customer satisfaction.

TCNA Lab Technicians Nicole Spandley and Damon McDowell testing the shear bond strength of thin set mortar on the Instron Universal Tester according to the ANSI A118 method, one of the many market-relevant test methods in which the TCNA Lab is ISO17025 accredited.

In addition, Bizzaglia was elected chairman of the ISO TC189 Committee. He will succeed the venerable Dr. Svend Hovmand, former president and former chairman of the board of Crossville, Inc.

Hovmand has served and is currently serving on numerous industry boards of directors, including those of the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation, Porcelain Tile Certification Agency, Coverings, and Tile Council of North America. Bizzaglia will become chair on January 1, 2018.

Hovmand praised Bizzaglia’s extensive international work experience developing laboratory methods and standards and many roles in the tile industry, which includes experience in manufacturing and nearly 10 years leading TCNA’s lab.

“It’s an honor to represent TCNA and serve the industry on this international committee,” Bizzaglia said. “Stepping into this role following Svend will not be easy, but I hope to be up to the challenge.”

Claudio Bizzaglia, TCNA’s director of Laboratory Services, has been elected to chair ISO’s Technical Committee TC189 beginning January 1, 2018. This committee develops voluntary, consensus-based standards for ceramic tiles and related installation materials, including grouts, adhesives, and membranes.

TCNA works to coordinate Global Lab Network

Another aspect of Bizzaglia’s work has been completing several rounds of conversation regarding the assembly of a Global Lab Network.

The goals of the Network include establishing standards for precision in test methods among its affiliates, as well as accepted norms for responsiveness and overall service, while also providing forums for best practices, problem-solving, and networking, Bizzaglia says. “We feel that intercontinental cooperation will be of great benefit to the scientific community – not only from a pure scientific standpoint, but from a business standpoint,” Bizzaglia said.

The Global Lab Network can provide trusted lab resources for colleagues in other countries seeking referrals to a lab in the U.S. or around the world. In addition, it may be a vehicle to bring “education and understanding in lesser developed regions that penetrates into the marketplace,” Bizzaglia noted. “It is possible that through reaching out on scientific matters, we may be able to assist producers, not always in compliance with international standards, and provide some help and assistance. We have had good results with this type of engagement before.”

To date, the Network has commitments from the TCNA Lab, which operates facilities in both the US and Mexico, as well as a lab in Brazil. Plans are underway to engage European facilities in the Network.

TCNA Lab technician Tracy Williams measures the warpage, facial and thickness dimensions, and the wedging of a ceramic tile according to ASTM C485, ASTM C499, and ASTM C502.

Qualified Labor – June 2017

Certification: education and credentials add value to services offered by Mike Sima, Midtown Tile

By Terryn Rutford, Social Structure Marketing

Mike Sima, owner of Midtown Tile in Omaha, Neb., received some hometown advice early on in his career that has stuck with him through the last decade. “Never present anything to your customer that you wouldn’t present to your mother,” Sima said. This advice has served him well over the years. In fact, Sima credits it for his success as a one-man operation that specializes in residential remodeling and new construction.

Moreover, Sima believes in educating oneself to be prepared for any situation on a job site. This is where becoming a Certified Tile Installer (CTI) comes in.

“I feel like [certification] sets me apart from the trowel-and-bucket guys,” Sima said. “I went out to prove to myself (and to my clients) that I have the knowledge and skill set to do my job right. I hold myself to a higher standard.”

Certification, presented by the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) provides the opportunity for tile installers to prove their skill and knowledge of tile installation. Becoming a CTI increases one’s level of professionalism and allows those certified to offer their clients further proof of their dedication and expertise in the field.

“I wanted to test myself and my abilities,” Sima said, when asked why he became certified. “I also use [certification] as a marketing and educational tool. I try to educate every customer about certification and why it is important.” Certification and education in general has also increased Sima’s bottom line. “I find that the knowledge I have learned, the fact that I am certified, and naturally being a people person has helped me gain the trust of clients,” Sima said.

Sima, a member of the Facebook group TileGeeks, found out about certification from his fellow TileGeeks. This highlights the importance of being involved with the industry.

So why should others become certified? “I would tell them to test themselves,” Sima said. “Get in there and push yourself. It is rewarding. It is a marketing tool. It is a brotherhood.” Sima now uses the NTCA and CTEF logos in his correspondence, and will soon be adding them to his business cards and other promotional material.

Being a NTCA member and a CTI gives Sima a leg up in the industry. “With anything I learn, I feel my work should be valued more,” Sima said. “This is just one more reason to feel more confident with my bids for jobs.”

Member Spotlight – D.W. Sanders Tils & Stone Contracting

Creative installation with a strong technical foundation

Woody Sanders

Woody Sanders, founder of Marietta, Ga.’s D.W. Sanders Tile & Stone Contracting, grew up in the tile industry. In the early 90’s, Sanders, had a seven-year tenure in technical services operations at Custom Building Products, getting a first-hand look at the difference between a well-executed, detailed tile job and a failed one. Valuing this technical perspective, and wanting to get back to the creative side of tile and stone installations, D.W. Sanders Tile & Stone Contracting was born in 1994 on a part time basis, then moving to full time in 1996. Today, the company specializes in large residential stone and tile projects in both new and remodeling sectors, plus specialty cladding projects.

The strong technical underpinning of the company shows up in its motto, “Craftsmanship by the standards.” Sanders said, “It is not just about making the work look good; it is the whole installation system that makes it last. What sets us apart in the market is that we strive to be a forward-thinking company. We strive to always grow and be better than we were the day before, from recruitment to the training of our employees, to how we proactively communicate with our customers, architects, and designers and cover every detail on the job site.”  To that end, Sanders said that the company in planning a mobile app this year for all of its job documents, deduction logs, and safety documents.

Sanders has a long history with the NTCA, starting with his grandfather, A.W. Cook, who was an early member of STTMCA, as NTCA was known years ago. A few years after establishing his company, Sanders joined NTCA in 1997, and rejoined in 2013, to be “a part of something bigger than us,” Sanders said. “We are, for the most part, local and regional. NTCA makes you a part of a national tile organization, looking out for the installation contractor.

“Bobby White, a contractor I worked with, said to me many years ago, ‘Show a tile contractor how make his job easier and he will be your partner for life.’ That is what the NTCA does through training and addressing issues we face as an industry and as individuals,” Sanders added.

One of these issues will be labor force in the future, which Sanders is tackling along with fellow NTCA Five Star Contractor, Rod Owen of C.C. Owen Tile Company, Inc., in Jonesboro, Ga.  Sanders and Owen met up at Total Solutions Plus in 2016, and Owen introduced Sanders to involvement with the Construction Education Foundation of Georgia (CEFGA) this past March.

“As a sponsor in the recruitment of young people into the tile industry, we think this is a stepping stone in the right direction to ensure the future of the industry,” Sanders said.

Five Star status

The conversations of like-minded people at Total Solutions Plus last year lit a spark in Sanders to pursue this elite company of contractors.

“We believe that by being a Five Star Contractor member, we have set a high standard for the company and the employees,” Sanders said. “For our employees to learn and work alongside other Five Star Contractors, will only make us a stronger and more profitable contractor. While we do not bid commercial work, we see the ability for Five Stars to present CEU’S (Continuing Education Credits) to architect and designer continuing education in our area will keep our name in the forefront as the ‘go- to’ company.”

Sanders also was excited about the Five Star Contractor requirement of having Certified Tile Installers (CTIs) on board. “Two of my tile setters and I took the test this year,” he said. “It was the hardest and most satisfying 25 sq. ft. you will ever set. We are awaiting the ACT schedule this summer and Scott [Carothers, from the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation] has promised to hold spots for myself and my men to take. We plan to have all of our setters become CTIs, as well as our apprentice setters in the future. Certification for us opened up great discussion, and put the office and field on the same page.

“In the residential side of tile, we rarely receive specs or TCNA Handbook details, so we are forced to create our own series of specs based upon construction practices in our region,” he added. “While we estimate calling out TCNA methods, the CTEF certification process further solidified what and how we should be looking at our projects.”

Sanders takes the work he and his company does to heart, filled with pride for the work done, and the people working together to accomplish the task.

“Our places of work are in the most immaculate homes in America, some historic and some over the top,” he said. “We are trusted to construct lasting beauty with our own flair. People get to see what we do and what we represent, and I get to accomplish this with people who are much more than employees, they are friends.”

 

DW Sanders employees  Janice Hill (l.) and Woody Sanders (r.) showing off CEFGA art piece that was given to CEFGA during CEFGA Career Expo and SkillsUSA, both held at the Georgia International Convention Center March 23 and 24, 2017. 

 

This guest bath features a 4”x 8” crackled wall tile over installed over cement board with a waterjet stone floor. The remodel over old structure floor had to be leveled with self-leveling and crack isolation on top of the self-leveling.

 

This curbless marble shower was new construction, with waterproofing to integrate with the outer floor. Shower floor has Orbit heated floor, with slab components at curb, bench, and window seal.

New construction foyer with waterjet marble over wire reinforced mud bed with crack isolation over pretension precast concrete panel floors.

Ceramic tile shower walls in soldier course over cement board with waterproofing membrane. Bench was built from cinderblock with limestone accents in niche and curb.

D.W. Sanders conducted a complete remodel of the master bath. All walls throughout bath were set with large-format tile with the floor and feature wall set in 24” x 24” matte black porcelain tile. The contractor made its own bullnose of the through-bodied porcelain.

 

Ask the Experts – June 2017

QUESTION

I was on a walk-thru today and attached are photos of a chip on an installed tile wall at the World Trade Ctr.  There are numerous chips like this on the job from damage by other trades after we finished installing.

The architect is calling out these tiny chips on the punchlists and I’m arguing about with him considering the tiny size.

Sure we can remove and replace chipped tile, but I think there would be more of a mess than they might want to deal with.

Is there any criteria for this?  Like if a chip is less than  1/16” it stays?

Please let me know, and thanks in advance.

ANSWER

There are no criteria that I am aware of that states what size chip is acceptable.  It is extremely unfortunate when other trades do not respect our installations.  There is some debate as to whether it is a tile contractor’s responsibility to protect our work, or whether it falls to the trade that comes behind us to use a modicum of precaution and protection.  Perhaps you will be able to bill the contractor that damaged your work for your time to repair the damage they caused.

Please refer to these standards:

  • ANSI A108 is the Tile Industry Standard Specification for the Installation of Ceramic Tile.
  • ANSI A108.02 is the General Requirements for Materials, Environmental and Workmanship.
  • ANSI A108.02 4.3 is the section that discusses Workmanship, Cutting, Fitting and Grout Joint Size.
  • ANSI A108.02 4.3.3 states “Smooth cut edges. Install tile without jagged or flaked edges.”

Other tile industry standards include:

  • TCNA Handbook (2016 Edition)
  • ANSI A108 / A118 / A136 (Installation and Material Standards)
  • ANSI A137.1 (Ceramic Tile)

In addition, you will want to have:

  • ANSI A137.2 (Glass Tile)
  • A137.3 (Gauged Porcelain Tile / Panels – standard just approved at Coverings in April)

I hope to see you later this year when I am in the area.  – Mark Heinlein, NTCA technical trainer

QUESTION

I have a customer who wants wanted to use pebbles on the floor of the shower with grout joints washed really low. Are there standards or guidelines that relate to this type of installation that you can share with me?

ANSWER

The NTCA always encourages our members to use the standards and methods found in the TCNA Handbook for Ceramic, Glass and Stone Tile Installation, and the guidelines in The American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

In response to your question about the depth of grout in a grout joint: refer to ANSI 108.10 Installation of Grout in Tile Work.

In section 5.3.3 it states to “force a maximum amount of grout in the joint.” In section 5.3.4 it says, “All joints are to be uniformly finished.”

Part of the service we offer to members is technical support. We have in the past seen many instances where uncut pebbled stones have inhibited the flow of water in showers even with properly sloped assemblies, which in turn leave small puddles behind the stone affecting the uniformity of grout color. Also these small puddled areas — when not properly and regularly cleaned — can encourage mold growth when organic materials from soaps and shampoos are added to them. This is a significant enough problem that I’ve heard the 1/4 “per foot slope minimum requirements for shower floors may be changed to 1/2 “per foot slope to alleviate some of these issues. Not filling the joints full as directed by the ANSI standards previously cited could increase theses issues. – Robb Roderick, NTCA technical trainer

Low grout joints in a pebble shower floor go against standards and guidelines and can lead to problems. (Photo of correctly grouted pebbled floor courtesy of Stoneman Construction LLC).

NHL Arena targets LEED Silver goal with a high-scoring tile installation system from CUSTOM

Rogers Place, the new home of the Edmonton Oilers, anchors a 25-acre development downtown that has been dubbed the “ICE District” in honor of the hockey team.

Spectacular, iconic and inspiring are just some of the words being used to describe the new home of the Edmonton Oilers hockey team.  Rogers Place expects to be the first LEED Silver National Hockey League arena in Canada – yet another glittering achievement for the five-time Stanley Cup champions.  To protect 130,000 sq. ft. of tile, at the Edmonton, Alberta, Canada facility, a complete tile installation system from CUSTOM was specified and installed throughout the project.

All levels of the new indoor sports arena and entertainment venue, designed by Calgary, Alberta-based HOK, display highly decorative tile work.  Large-format porcelain and glass mosaics are prominent in the public as well as private team spaces.  However, tile dimensions reach their pinnacle in the Oilers’ locker room showers and steam room.  These distinctly designed wet rooms were set with Ergon Cornerstone porcelain tile in 18″ x 36″ and 12″ x 48″ formats.

Surface preparation

Surface preparation began with crews shotblasting all floors to a level 3 roughness prior to application of primers or membranes.  Leveling was also required in some areas to attain the completely flat surface required by large-format tile.  To improve the bond and seal the surface, LevelQuik® Latex Primer was roller-applied to these floors.  Then, LevelQuik® RS Rapid Setting Self-Leveling Underlayment was bucket poured from a feather edge up to 1-1/2″ deep.  LevelQuik RS achieved an extra heavy duty service rating for this high-traffic commercial venue and cured in just four hours to allow same-day tiling.

The facility’s many shower floors in the home team, visiting team and other locker rooms were floated with CUSTOM’s Thick Bed Bedding Mortar.  This 3:1 pre-blended underlayment provided an easy to install, high strength surface.  Non-porous substrates on the site were treated with MBP Multi-Surface Bonding Primer before setting tile.  MBP is formulated with aggregates that improve mechanical adhesion where proper bonding can otherwise be difficult.

“MBP worked very well.  It was easy to use and the ‘stick’ was great.  We are already using it on other jobsites,” said Craig Henkelman, president of Cralan Enterprises, the tile contractor at Rogers Place.

Waterproofing, vapor barrier and crack isolation

Throughout this large project, RedGard® Liquid Waterproofing and Crack Prevention Membrane was applied on floors to help protect tile by isolating cracks from in-plane substrate movement.  RedGard liquid is a ready-to-use, elastomeric membrane that creates a continuous waterproof barrier behind tile in addition to reducing transmission of cracks up to 1/8″.  Structural slabs were treated with RedGard in compliance with TCNA F125 and ANSI A118.12.

RedGard was also extensively applied on walls and floors to waterproof all showers and other wet tile assemblies in the facility.  This versatile membrane exceeds the requirements of ANSI A118.10, is listed with IAPMO as a shower pan liner and delivers outstanding adhesion to drain assemblies for monolithic protection.

“It was very important to us to have RedGard specified for both crack isolation and waterproofing on this job,” offered Henkelman.

RedGard is the first liquid-applied membrane to exceed industry standards as a low-perm moisture vapor barrier for continuous-use steam showers.  Treatment with RedGard ensures the highest level of impermeability in the Oilers’ steam room.

To ensure the team’s steam room looks great for years to come and to guard against movement from thermal cycling, specifiers selected MegaLite® Ultimate Crack Prevention Large Format Tile Mortar.  MegaLite was perfect for these very demanding requirements, as well as setting the large 12″ x 48″ tiles on the ceiling.  In accordance with industry standards, the steam room ceiling is sloped 2″ per linear foot towards the back wall to manage condensation.  MegaLite performance was also called on to install the massive “Blue Jeans” marble slabs measuring 4’ x 6’ on a wraparound fireplace in the hockey team’s executive offices.

Tile setting

The high percentage of large and heavy or difficult-to-bond tile drove most the mortars chosen for Rogers Place.  ProLite® Premium Large Format Tile Mortar was the most frequently and diversely specified.  A lightweight formula with excellent handling characteristics, ProLite offers high flexibility and bond strength.  ProLite® will not slip on walls or slump on floors, and can be placed up to 3/4″ thick to support heavy tile.  ProLite was used to install up to 48″ tile on walls and for select floor tiles up to 18″ x 36″ throughout the project.  Because of its tenacious bond, ProLite was also specified for installing 20,000 sq. ft. of glass mosaics.  Both MegaLite and ProLite meet ANSI A118.15TE for thixotropic and extended open time performance.

“Our employees really like using ProLite and we use it everywhere we can.  It performs especially well on walls,” said Henkelman.

The balance of the ceramic and porcelain tile was set on floors with VersaBond® Flex Professional Thin-Set Mortar or VersaBond®-LFT Professional Large Format Tile Mortar, depending on size and location.   This included traditional quarry tile at concessions, dramatic black ceramic tile in washrooms and wood-look planks to add a sauna-like feel to the hydrotherapy room.  The tile contractor mandated optimum mortar coverage throughout the installation, which was achieved by backbuttering and ensuring that all tile in wet areas reached 95% coverage.

Grouting

Four CUSTOM grouts in 12 different colors were used to complement 40 types of tile materials and formats.   Most of the dry and intermittently wet areas received PolyBlend® Sanded Grout.  Non-sanded PolyBlend was chosen to grout the extensive mosaic installations to prevent any scratching of the glass.  Prism® Color Consistent Grout was applied in some of the high-traffic wet areas like the community ice rink showers and public bathrooms.  CEG-IG 100% Solids Industrial Grade Epoxy Grout was used in spaces such as the steam room for its resistance to high temperatures.  Movement joints within the tile assemblies will remain permanently flexible after treatment with color-matching CUSTOM Commercial 100% Silicone Sealant.

The project was completed in 2016, with expert assistance from Custom Building Products team John Alley, commercial architectural services representative; Jamie Tilbury, territory manager; and Michael Mastel, regional technical sales representative.

Building Green with CUSTOM’s Emerald System™

The use of sustainable, lightweight products such as ProLite mortar and Prism grout help to meet environmental standards and LEED goals at projects like Rogers Place.  Both ProLite and Prism are part of the Emerald System, a green building program with a proactive approach to stewardship and compliance.

Custom Building Products is committed to environmental responsibility in both products and manufacturing practices.  Over 100 CUSTOM Build Green® products contribute to LEED certification with low emissions, recycled content and regionally sourced materials.  To help ensure the beauty and integrity of the tile assemblies, an Aqua Mix care and maintenance system was implemented.  The Aqua Mix line of low VOC, pH neutral and biodegradable cleaners are formulated for safe every day as well as deep cleaning of tile, stone and grout.

Partnership

PCL Construction, an international firm known for its expertise with airport and entertainment projects, served as construction manager.  Edmonton-area large commercial specialist Cralan Enterprises, Ltd. was the tile contractor at the arena.  Both of these construction partners worked closely with CUSTOM to ensure that every detail of the tile installation at Rogers Place exceeded expectations.

In describing the level of service the contractors received on the project, Cralan’s Henkelman offered, “I was very impressed with how responsive CUSTOM was and how quickly they could get us product when we needed it.”

The steam shower was set with 18″ x 36″ and 12″ x 48″ Ergon Cornerstone using MegaLite® Ultimate Crack Prevention Large Format Tile Mortar to protect the tile from movement due to thermal expansion. CEG-IG 100% Solids Industrial Grade Epoxy Grout was used for its resistance to high temperatures.

Ready-to-use RedGard® Liquid Waterproofing and Crack Prevention Membrane was applied on floors to help protect tile by isolating cracks from in-plane substrate movement. RedGard was also used to waterproof all showers and other wet tile assemblies in the facility.

Quarry tile in all bar and kitchen areas was set over RedGard® with VersaBond® Flex Professional Thin-Set Mortar.

Installers used ProLite® Premium Large Format Tile Mortar for setting the extensive glass mosaics as well as large format wall tile. ProLite offers high bond strength, superior handling and a thixotropic formula for non-sag performance on walls.

Four durable CUSTOM cement and epoxy grouts in 12 different colors were used to complement 40 types of tile materials and formats.

The Oilers’ team shower features luxurious 18″ x 36″ Ergon Cornerstone and Viva Ceramica Hangar porcelain tile, both imported from Italy.

This scene from the Curve bar is representative of the variety of tile and tile setting materials used throughout the Rogers Place project.

Even the washrooms at Roger Place gleam with floor-to-ceiling tile.

Attractive and interesting juxtapositions of tile enhance the visitor experience throughout Rogers Place.

Porcelain tile in front of the bar was set with VersaBond®-LFT Professional Large Format Tile Mortar.

Curvilinear walls covered with glass mosaics are a hallmark of Rogers Place.

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

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