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 Tile & Stone Contracting

 

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

TILE TRENDS TAKE CENTER STAGE AT COVERINGS 2017

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.

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