Editor’s Letter – July 2016

Lesley psf head shot“Learning is the only thing the mind never exhausts, never fears, never regrets.”
– Leonardo Da Vinci

 


 

On June 8, I attended a Continuing Education Program, held in Albuquerque, NM, and organized by NTCA State Director Karl Parker and a group of manufacturers. This is a follow up to the first Continuing Education Program that Parker organized, and took place in March and focused on uncoupling. If you missed the write-up, you’ll find a review in the Coverings TileLetter issue.

Yesterday’s eight-hour session focused on waterproofing. Though it was a little more sparsely attended than the March event, I can assure you that those who invested the time came away with a tremendous wealth of knowledge, and opportunity to meet manufacturer reps up close and personal. We also learned about the Construction Industry Division (CID), State of NM developments in re-instituting certification and licensing requirements for tile contractors (after the GS03 license was recently dropped). Representatives of the CID attended to learn about what our trade actually does – and why we contend that a plumber is not able to do a tilesetter’s job of installing showers and pans. More than once they expressed how detailed and precise our trade is and what it involves. Parker himself explained that a test is in development, with support of NTCA and local manufacturing reps, for the “license to prove general knowledge and two years minimum as the lead setter.” There will also be meetings to explore moving installation of the pan, water testing, and backer boards to the setter’s license, versus the plumbing license.

NTCA NM State Director Karl Parker organized this second NM Continuing Education Program on the topic of waterproofing. Eleven manufacturers participated in the program,  with presentations and live demos of waterproofing products and systems.

NTCA NM State Director Karl Parker organized this second NM Continuing Education Program on the topic of waterproofing. Eleven manufacturers participated in the program,  with presentations and live demos of waterproofing products and systems.

Participating manufacturers, who gave short PowerPoint presentations followed by live demos of products, included MAPEI, USG, CUSTOM, Noble, wedi, Schluter, TEC, Blanke, ARDEX, Bostik, and LATICRETE. The demos were outstanding. With each demo, I thought, “Now THAT is a foolproof method…” and then with each NEW demo, I learned more and more about the features and benefits that each product provides.

Bottom line – in this 21st century, be assured that there are 21st century, high-tech products that have been engineered to make your life as a tile installer easier – and to ensure the end-user will have a problem-free shower. From warranted products, to system warranties that go from 5 to 10 years to the life of the installation, to those that not only cover the tile, setting materials and labor in the rare event of a failure, but that will also cover any DAMAGE resulting from that failure. These are phenomenal products. I was blown away by the level of research and development that goes into each and every one of them and the reps who are supremely versed in the needs of this industry and how their particular product can offer advantages and benefits.

As Schluter’s Tim Whittington said, “Every one of these products is phenomenal, if you do it correctly.” Every one of these products are great products, if you use them right. And there is a ton of choice from fabric membranes to liquid trowel-on membranes to closed cell, cement-covered foam shower system components.

There are a couple of rules of thumb. As Tim Ellison of ARDEX emphasized, “READ THE BAG.” His talked centered on knowing the product and asking the manufacturer for clarification or help if you have a question – they are only too happy to send a rep to work with you to be sure your installation is problem free from the get go. If only every industry (hello, computer industry!!!!) supplied the level of support these manufacturers do.

JT Baca (l.) and Pat McMurray from the NM Construction Industries Division, Regulation and Licensing Department, were on hand to update the group about measures to reestablish the NM tile setter license and learning more about the trade, what it does, and its products.

JT Baca (l.) and Pat McMurray from the NM Construction Industries Division, Regulation and Licensing Department, were on hand to update the group about measures to reestablish the NM tile setter license and learning more about the trade, what it does, and its products.

Also, if you are an NTCA Member, take advantage of your Partnering for Success vouchers to try a new system and see how that works for the kind of jobs you do.
As editor of this publication and a faithful attendee at industry events like Coverings, Total Solutions Plus and TISE West, I am aware of the vast offerings for different product categories in this industry. But it was really interesting to see the light come on for contractors who had never heard of, or been exposed, to a particular setting material company’s products as they learned about the possibilities these products held on their jobs.

Kudos to all the manufacturers who willingly played together in the same arena, revealing their products in an open forum. And also to all the competing contracting companies in the same market who came together to learn and grow and better the industry with their knowledge. And of course, thanks to Karl Parker, whose passion and intense dedication to this industry inspired him to develop this continuing education series. Next on tap? It could be grout…stay tuned for more information.

God bless,

Lesley
[email protected]

July 2016 Feature: The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace

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Base of the fountain looking up to the third tier.

Known as “The Shopping Wonder of the World,” The Forum Shops are a must-see, all-encompassing experience at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nev. The Forum Shops include approximately 160 specialty stores, fine restaurants, beautiful attractions and some of the Strip’s most stunning architecture and design. The exterior is based on the Italian Palazzo, and like the original, it has Corinthian columns, balustrades, entablatures and cornices. Also featured is a scale replica of the Italian Trevi Fountain and Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s Triton Fountain. The interior contains striking architectural details designed to evoke the magnificence and grandeur of a marketplace at the height of the Roman Empire. Entering through the hall’s grand archway, visitors and are greeted by rows of marble columns, natural stone, storefronts crowned with statues of Roman gods, philosophers, military heroes and some of the most majestic fountains you’ll ever see.

Top two tiers of the fountain in The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nev.

Top two tiers of the fountain in The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nev.

Unlike Roman times, these beautiful architectural feats do not take decades to complete. Casinos are constantly remodeling, revising and updating and because they are open for business 24 hours a day, seven days a week, these projects present logistical challenges. Imagine recreating magnificent fountains and remodeling the front entrance and lobby of one of the busiest hotels in the world, never closing the doors, and never disrupting a customer. This was Superior Tile and Stone’s challenge, and its success, on the Caesars Remodel project.

 

San Leandro, Calif.-based, Superior Tile and Stone – an NTCA Five Star Contractor and TCAA Trowel of Excellence-certified company – is known for its interior and exterior tile, marble and natural stone expertise. That’s why it was responsible for the complex tile, stone and fountain renovations. The casino renovation project included over 12,000 sq. ft. of cut-to-size pattern flooring, seven different custom-designed medallions, 30 radius steps, numerous marble columns and stone countertops. Work typically began in the early morning hours around 3:00 a.m. and finished for the day about eight hours later. When they were off the job, it was not apparent that construction was proceeding at all and this portion of the project was completed in less than six weeks.

The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace feature a scale replica of the Italian Trevi Fountain and Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s Triton Fountain.

The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace feature a scale replica of the Italian Trevi Fountain and Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s Triton Fountain.

Fountain installation flows ahead

Over in The Forum Shops, work began in fall 2014 for an impressive multi-level, three-tiered fountain that is one of the key focal points of the facility. Designed in part by Water FX, based in Las Vegas, Nev., this fountain presented many logistical challenges to develop and install. What began as a hand-drawn sketch transformed into a complete functional design that ensured that the fountain would not leak or spray excess water into the path of the shops’ visitors and would also ensure there was not water intrusion between each level of the mall.

Water features using shotcrete applications, such as this one, need to be waterproofed in some way or it is certain that water will find a way to escape. Typically, concrete applied by experts at high levels of compressive strength should not leak; however, when you consider all of the various penetrations, such as water intake and return lines, nozzles, lighting fixtures and other components, the challenge of keeping water where you want it becomes a larger concern. Therefore, the concrete fountains had to be sealed with a trusted waterproofing membrane – enter Merkrete BFP: a waterproofing membrane system is used for severe exposures and high- traffic installations. Durable and long lasting, this membrane system is designed especially for heavy-duty applications and is installed in a semi-fluid state so it can be applied to practically any form or irregular shape. BFP waterproofing membrane was used as another layer of protection by sealing all voids created by the light fixtures, water nozzles and other chasms associated with operation of the fountain. Tile in the fountain was set and grouted using a single product, Merkrete’s Pro Epoxy. Pro Epoxy produces a high strength that is stain resistant, impermeable, and shock resistant, and provides color to blend in with the natural hues of running water.

Spectacular view looking down from the top of the fountain.

Spectacular view looking down from the top of the fountain.

Streaming to the finished product

From the top of the fountain streaming down three levels to the base, this extremely challenging project pushed the Superior Tile and Stone team to its limits. Staying true to the Roman Empire architectural look, Superior installed over 5,000 sq. ft. of natural stone, particularly travertine, marble and limestone. Using Merkrete BFP as the waterproofing membrane, various natural stone and marble were set using Merkrete 855 XXL. This provided Superior the ease to set both large and heavy tile and natural stone on both floors and walls. Many of the vertical applications required installing the natural stone around curves to accommodate the water basins, which added more complexity to the project.

“The non-slip feature of Merkrete’s 855 XXL held the vertical tiles in place, allowing us to move along much quicker,” said Superior’s general superintendent Tim Robinson. “The tile size, weight and radius around the fountains made for some tedious work, but 855 XXL held the tile in place, easing the process along.”

A combination of Merkrete grout products was used to finish off the installation. Pro Epoxy was employed in and around the water features, and ProGrout was applied on the remaining floors and walls.

Lower tier of the fountain featuring travertine installed with Merkrete 855 XXL and ProGrout.

Lower tier of the fountain featuring travertine installed with Merkrete 855 XXL and ProGrout.

“ProGrout is designed to resist stains and will not effloresce, making it the right choice in and around water,” said Clint Anna, Merkrete national sales manager. “It also is fast setting so that helps the speed of the installation.”

The stunning fountain and surrounding stone and marble architectural elements were completed and unveiled to the public in April 2015. “The beautiful three-tiered fountain was a cool and challenging job,” said Merkrete sales representative Ray Hunt. “And partnering with a great tile contractor, general contractor [The PENTA Building Group, Las Vegas, Nev.] and project designers led to a satisfying and successful finished project.”

 

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