June 2016 Feature: The Club at Ibis

Renovations at The Club Ibis West Palm Beach get CUSTOM system benefits

Legendary country club masters stain protection with Fusion Pro® Groutjune-ibis-01

The Club at Ibis in West Palm Beach, Fla., is the world’s only private country club community with three Nicklaus-designed golf courses. During recent additions and renovations to this world-class facility, the design team sought a grout that is more stain resistant than cementitious options, but less expensive and easier to use than typical epoxies. Specifiers selected a complete system from CUSTOM featuring Fusion Pro® Single Component® Grout – the stain-proof grout – to provide ultimate protection against stains in these high-profile public spaces.

Subfloors for the Club at Ibis were first leveled with CUSTOM’s LevelQuik® RS, then large and heavy tile was set with VersaBond®-LFT.

Subfloors for the Club at Ibis were first leveled with CUSTOM’s LevelQuik® RS, then large and heavy tile was set with VersaBond®-LFT.

“We really wanted to use Fusion Pro on a large job,” said Christian Drehmann, vice-president of Tile and Marble Works, Lake Worth, Fla. “Once we tried the recommended installation method, we never looked back. It was smooth sailing all the way!”

A complete system of CUSTOM tile installation products was specified and used to prep, set and grout tile in the new 80,000-sq.-ft. clubhouse, including formal entries, cultural event spaces, spa-like bathrooms and bar areas.

“My company has a great history with Custom,” offered Drehmann. “The people there are my favorites – always a real pleasure to work with.”

To guard against cracks potentially transmitting up into the tile assembly from the subfloor, CUSTOM’s RedGard® Waterproofing and Crack Prevention Membrane was rolled onto horizontal surfaces.

To guard against cracks potentially transmitting up into the tile assembly from the subfloor, CUSTOM’s RedGard® Waterproofing and Crack Prevention Membrane was rolled onto horizontal surfaces.

Innovative grout installation

All of the tile throughout the property was grouted with Fusion Pro – which is guaranteed stain-proof and color perfect – and never needs sealing. This revolutionary, patented formula features unsurpassed stain resistance, plus it’s ready to use and easy to spread and clean.

Because Fusion Pro is cleaned immediately after application, installers found that this grout is particularly well suited to a team approach, which further increases speed. On large projects, CUSTOM recommends that one installer spreads the grout, another uses the slurry to shape the joints, and one or two teammates clean the tile with a grout sponge and a microfiber towel. Since no mixing or set-up time is needed, the team at Ibis was able to quickly continue this process across expanses of tile. Based on the type of tile, Aqua Mix® Grout Release was applied before grouting to ease grout clean up.

CUSTOM’s Fusion Pro® grout was selected for the project based on its stain resistance and ease of installation compared to typical epoxies. A 3- or 4-person team installed the grout quickly with each person performing a different task from spreading to cleaning.

CUSTOM’s Fusion Pro® grout was selected for the project based on its stain resistance and ease of installation compared to typical epoxies. A 3- or 4-person team installed the grout quickly with each person performing a different task from spreading to cleaning.

Protecting large format tile

The main public areas of the clubhouse were tiled with 18” x 36” porcelain, and bathrooms received 12” x 24” porcelain on both floors and walls.

These large-format tiles were set on floors with CUSTOM’s VersaBond®-LFT Professional Large Format Tile Mortar. VersaBond-LFT is a polymer-modified mortar designed for use with large-and-heavy porcelain, ceramic and natural stone tile. With a non-slumping formula to eliminate lippage, Versabond-LFT can be applied up to 3/4” thick on horizontal applications and exceeds ANSI A118.4 and A118.11.

“VersaBond-LFT really stood up to these big 18” x 36” tiles,” said Drehmann. “We loved it.”

Prior to tiling, surface preparation began by leveling low areas to achieve the stringent floor flatness levels required by an extra-large-format porcelain tile. Installers poured LevelQuik® ES (Extended Setting) Self-Leveling Underlayment over the substrate pre-treated with LevelQuik® Latex Primer. LevelQuik helps to eliminate common problems like bond failure and crumbling. It can be applied up to 1.5” in a single pour and can achieve an extra-heavy service rating.

Tile and Marble Works grouted the showers in the women’s spa and other areas with CUSTOM’s Fusion Pro® Single Component Grout® delivering unsurpassed stain resistance and antimicrobial protection for the end user. 

Tile and Marble Works grouted the showers in the women’s spa and other areas with CUSTOM’s Fusion Pro® Single Component Grout® delivering unsurpassed stain resistance and antimicrobial protection for the end user.

All horizontal substrates were prepared with RedGard® Waterproofing and Crack Prevention Membrane. RedGard is a ready-to-use, elastomeric membrane that creates a continuous waterproofing barrier and reduces crack transmission in tiled floors. The larger the tile, the more important it is to use an appropriate membrane to protect against cracks transmitted by substrate movement.

“We use RedGard all the time for both waterproofing and crack isolation,” said Drehmann.
RedGard liquid membrane meets or exceeds ANSI A118.10 and A118.12, is IAPMO-approved for use as a shower pan liner, and exceeds requirements for a low-perm moisture-vapor barrier. Intermittently-wet areas such as bathrooms, locker rooms, showers and kitchen floors were treated with two waterproofing coats of RedGard.

Water-soluble AquaMix® Grout Release was applied to the tile before grouting to make the installation process as fast as possible.

Water-soluble AquaMix® Grout Release was applied to the tile before grouting to make the installation process as fast as possible.

ProLite® Premium Large Format Mortar was selected for installing all porcelain, glass and stone wall tile. Walls in bathrooms, locker rooms and bar areas were set with 12” x 24” porcelain tile to match the floors, and a combination of glass or stone mosaic trim. ProLite offers high flexibility and bond strength in a lightweight formula with excellent handling characteristics. This versatile mortar is ideal for hard-to-bond tile like porcelain and glass, and is non-slump on floors and non-sag on walls.

“ProLite is one of our ‘go-to products,’ especially for walls,” said Drehmann. “The 30-lb. bags are easy to carry, and it hangs well with no slip. You can keep on setting without changing mortar for different types of tile on a job like this.”

A 30-lb. bag of ProLite offers the same coverage as a 50-lb. bag of traditional mortar because it is formulated with lightweight recycled materials that also contribute to LEED® certification. ProLite exceeds the requirements of ANSI A118.4TE, A118.15TE and A118.11.

All showers were waterproofed with CUSTOM’s RedGard® Waterproofing and Crack Prevention Membrane. RedGard can be used as a shower pan liner and is approved for use in steam showers.

All showers were waterproofed with CUSTOM’s RedGard® Waterproofing and Crack Prevention Membrane. RedGard can be used as a shower pan liner and is approved for use in steam showers.

VersaBond® was chosen to set the smaller tiles on shower floors as well as quarry tile and 12” x 12” textured ceramic tile behind the bar where potentially slippery conditions require tile with a high dynamic coefficient of friction. Movement and perimeter joints were filled with color-matching CUSTOM Commercial 100% Silicone Sealant for visual continuity and permanent flexibility.

Professional quality

By ranking in the top 5% of private clubs, Ibis has earned Distinguished Emerald Club of the World status by BoardRoom magazine. Quality of life is at the core of this prestigious property, making Custom Building Products an ideal choice. During the grand opening, Jack Nicklaus presented the new clubhouse overlooking his own masterpiece course, The Legend. Members of Ibis enjoy the outdoors, spending a lot of time on the golf courses and an adjacent 12,000-acre nature preserve. When they enter the clubhouse from the links, Fusion Pro Grout is an active partner keeping the floors looking as pristine as the day they were set.

Walls in the men’s locker room showers were tiled with a combination of glass and 12” x 24” porcelain set using CUSTOM’s ProLite® Premium Large Format Tile Mortar.

Walls in the men’s locker room showers were tiled with a combination of glass and 12” x 24” porcelain set using CUSTOM’s ProLite® Premium Large Format Tile Mortar.

The focal point of the country club, the Atrium, has a contiguous tile design that ties the various gathering spaces together. A classic color palette features Napoli Mill travertine porcelain with custom-made ninepin mosaic inserts. The diverse array of large-format porcelain, ceramic, glass and stone tile set at the clubhouse renovation was supplied by Ceramic Technics, DalTile and Walker Zanger.

Construction on the Image Design project was led by The Weitz Company of West Palm Beach, Fla., and tile was installed by Tile & Marble Works, Inc. For their work on this project and others during the year, Marble & Tile Works were awarded 2015 Subcontractor of the Year by the general contractor.

The Club at Ibis earned a 15-year tile installation system warranty based on the CUSTOM products used to create these elegant tile assemblies.

A classic color palette was selected for the travertine porcelain and custom-made ninepin mosaic inserts. Because of the variety of tile types and sizes on the project, subfloors were leveled with CUSTOM’s LevelQuik prior to the installation of tile.

A classic color palette was selected for the travertine porcelain and custom-made ninepin mosaic inserts. Because of the variety of tile types and sizes on the project, subfloors were leveled with CUSTOM’s LevelQuik prior to the installation of tile.

At a glance:

PRODUCTS USED: RedGard® Waterproofing and Crack Prevention Membrane; VersaBond®-LFT Professional Large Format Tile Mortar; ProLite® Large Format Tile & Stone Mortar; VersaBond® Professional Thin-Set Mortar; Fusion Pro® Single Component® Grout; Aqua Mix® Grout Release; Commercial 100% Silicone Sealant
LOCATION: West Palm Beach, Fla.
YEAR COMPLETED: 2015
ARCHITECT: Leo A. Daly, West Palm Beach, Fla.
INTERIOR DESIGNER: Image Design, Atlanta, Ga.
GENERAL CONTRACTOR: The Weitz Company, West Palm Beach, Fla.
TILE CONTRACTOR: Tile and Marble Works, Lake Worth, Fla.
CUSTOM BUILDING PRODUCTS TEAM: Nick Macrino, CSI, CCTS, CDT, CCSMTT, commercial architectural services representative; Patty Velez, CTC, territory manager; Larry Maura, CTC, regional technical services representative.

18” x 36” porcelain tile was set in a running bond pattern to minimize the potential for lippage between large tiles. CUSTOM offers a variety of large format tile mortars, such as VersaBond-LFT, which was used extensively on this project.

18” x 36” porcelain tile was set in a running bond pattern to minimize the potential for lippage between large tiles. CUSTOM offers a variety of large format tile mortars, such as VersaBond-LFT, which was used extensively on this project.

Member Spotlight – June 2016

Christine and John Kotara of J&R Tile. Christine is the CEO and John was the co-founder of the company in 1984, with his brother Raymond.

Christine and John Kotara of J&R Tile. Christine is the CEO and John was the co-founder of the company in 1984, with his brother Raymond.

J&R Tile, Inc.
San Antonio, Texas
www.jandrtile.com

Back in 1984, John Kotara and his brother Raymond, founders of San Antonio’s J&R Tile, Inc., chose NTCA membership, with the intent of emphasizing professionalism, education and industry collaboration of its tradesmen and participants.

Today, 32 years later, following in her father’s footsteps, director of operations Erin Albrecht has taken the lead on continuing J&R’s focus of educating the staff and the industry. Christine Kotara oversees the operation as CEO.

J&R Tile director of operations  Erin Albrecht.

J&R Tile director of operations
Erin Albrecht.

This current generation of J&R Tile leadership has taken participation to the next level, with dedication to certification, NTCA State Directorship, and technical leadership. For instance, Albrecht is a NTCA Training & Education Committee member, serves on the NTCA Thin Porcelain Tile Subcommittee, and is a Texas State Director for NTCA.

NTCA membership – J&R Tile is a Five Star Contractor – has become an essential component in developing partner alliances with training and educational support, manufacturer cross collaboration and recruitment efforts deeply rooted in CTI and ACT-credentialed individuals.

Today, J&R Tile’s impressive roster of work encompasses commercial, design build renovations, architectural support and specification consultation, pre-construction consulting and installation, LTPT, ultra-compact surfaces, specialty glass mosaics, moisture remediation, plaster and mud work, concrete toppings, surface prep, and underfloor heating, as well as high-end residential.

Why does this Woman Owned Small Business consider itself “The Most Qualified Commercial Tile Contractor in Texas,” and THE resource for large and complicated projects in Texas?

J&R Tile's crew of installers

J&R Tile’s crew of installers

100% qualified workforce; emphasis on training and staff support

For starters, J&R Tile’s workforce is 100% qualified through industry-recognized CTEF Certified Tile Installer (CTI) credentialing and ACT certification. Since May 2015, it has trained and elevated seven CTIs, and two CTI professionals have achieved ACT Certification. Based on the CTI/ACT curricula, J&R Tile is currently developing several apprentice setters as well.

“It is our goal for J&R Tile, Inc. to be the most qualified, trained and technically-sound workforce in the trade,” Albrecht said. “The collaboration and professionalism of our CTIs and staff are what sets us apart, and we pride our business model on the complete experience.”

J&R provided technical expertise for substrate testing and to select and install the proper bonding agents for this Neiman Marcus project, that called for installation of plastic-sheet-mounted mosaics.

J&R provided technical expertise for substrate testing and to select and install the proper bonding agents for this Neiman Marcus project, that called for installation of plastic-sheet-mounted mosaics.

The company prides itself in offering creative, technically sound solutions to large technical challenges that help keep projects on schedule and under budget. Part of this comes from collaboration on pre-construction design and consultation from the project inception, and providing job-specific warranties and maintenance case studies on every project.

Part of the solidity of the company comes from the way it trains and regards its staff and full-time professional setting teams. The corporate strategy revolves around training, education, craftsmanship and quality installation. That includes a raft of weekly accountability and training measures for the company: weekly technical training and demonstrations at the company headquarters/training facility; weekly feedback from professional staff about products; weekly TCNA Handbook Training Topics aligned with product solutions, and an open forum for staff collaboration on new products and methods.

The company doesn’t pay lip service to the importance of training, either – it provides paid initial and ongoing training and incentives in the form of goal-structured project management led by CTIs and ACTs as superintendents/installers, and incentive-based profit sharing for all staff based on goals achieved.

There are other corporate benefits as well that fully support J&R team members: full time medical, dental and company-provided life insurance, and retirement plans with company matching contributions. In addition, the company provides all tools, truck and fuel for projects.

J&R Tile was tasked with massive demolition and replacement of 12 restrooms at Sea World in a three-week timeframe. The company conducted video documentation of substrate testing to substantiate technical recommendations prior to the start of the job. The contractor navigated the short time frame and worked around visitors and customers in the park, using rapid-set technology to meet the goals for the job.

J&R Tile was tasked with massive demolition and replacement of 12 restrooms at Sea World in a three-week timeframe. The company conducted video documentation of substrate testing to substantiate technical recommendations prior to the start of the job. The contractor navigated the short time frame and worked around visitors and customers in the park, using rapid-set technology to meet the goals for the job.

“Every member on our team plays in important role, and we do our best to create an engaging, supportive environment,” Albrecht said. “It shows with the professionalism of our staff from the owners to the newest hire. It’s a very special culture that fosters accountability and trust.”

J&R Tile employs some innovations that helps it uphold its reputation for excellence: real time, cloud- based project documentation and feedback from CTI/ACT professionals; architectural outreach with strategic partners throughout the region through available CEU credits and demonstrations, and showcasing J&R Tile’s professional installers and projects on social media and through a robust website (www.jandrtile.com).

Industry and community outreach

J&R’ s involvement doesn’t stop with its support of internal staff and the architectural design community. It’s invested in raising the excellence of the local industry tile community – as well as giving back with community outreach that also supports the future of the tile trade.

J&R arranges for ACT-certified setters to work with youth in growing interest in construction trades through involvement with Boy Scouts, PACE Program (Builders Exchange of Texas), the Pre-Employment Architectural and Construction Exploration Program, and TCCI (Texas Construction Career Initiative).

J&R Tile was faced with a costly demolition of 62 dormitory restrooms at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, with extended down times. This fast-track project required the work to be completed in phases, where one floor at a time would be completed. Phasing was important due to students occupying the floors above and below where the renovations were being done. The major scope of work was the demolition and replacement of all outdated shower/tub units. The shower valves were replaced by the plumbing contractor, and the existing base and entry to restroom had an outdated tile curb to be replaced. J&R Tile coordinated with the general contractor to have the plumbing contractor stub out for the thickness of the new tile. New 4 1/4” x 8 1/2” tile was installed on existing 4 1/4” x 4 1/4” wall tile.

J&R Tile was faced with a costly demolition of 62 dormitory restrooms at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, with extended down times. This fast-track project required the work to be completed in phases, where one floor at a time would be completed. Phasing was important due to students occupying the floors above and below where the renovations were being done. The major scope of work was the demolition and replacement of all outdated shower/tub units. The shower valves were replaced by the plumbing contractor, and the existing base and entry to restroom had an outdated tile curb to be replaced. J&R Tile coordinated with the general contractor to have the plumbing contractor stub out for the thickness of the new tile. New 4 1/4” x 8 1/2” tile was installed on existing 4 1/4” x 4 1/4” wall tile.

Business Tip – June 2016

mapei_sponsorThe Affordable Care Act: is this the calm before the storm?

By Pat O’Connor, Kent & O’Connor, Washington, D.C.

There is a lull of sorts in Obamacare angst these days. No momentous Supreme Court decisions in the offing. No serious repeal efforts in Congress. It even seems to have faded on the campaign trail.

And, so far, businesses have weathered the initial stages of The Affordable Care Act (ACA) fairly well. Six years after passage, the predicted exodus from employer-provided coverage has not materialized. In fact, according to the RAND Corporation, of the 16.9 million newly-insured people between September 2013 and February 2015, the largest source of new coverage was employer-sponsored plans! (1) And, among companies with 50 to 499 employees, some surveys show 99% offer health insurance to employees. (2) Even the smallest employers (those with fewer than 50 employees) reported an increase in the number of companies offering health insurance (from 51% in 2013 to 61% in 2015). (3)

Does this mean the fear and loathing of the ACA/Obamacare were overblown?

No, probably not. These numbers may simply reflect the fact that health insurance continues to be a valued benefit to attract and retain talented employees. Companies still want to maintain coverage despite the costs and complexities added by the ACA.

These numbers also do not look at the extent to which the ACA has skewed business decision-making. Some companies have refrained from hiring additional people to stay below the 50-employee threshold or cut worker hours to lower the number of full-time employees. Keeping the headcount low through outsourcing is a prevalent and often necessary small business strategy that can be expected to continue. The impact on individual companies or the economy as a whole is difficult to measure, but unquestionably this has added to the anxiety over Obamacare among small businesses.

Yet, on the whole, has the business community simply adapted? Are we now on a smooth path after a bumpy start?

Not likely. For one thing, the government has not actually assessed employer penalties, but they will begin doing so very soon. Even though the vast majority of subject companies do provide health coverage, we have yet to see how the penalty process will play out for companies with insufficient or unaffordable coverage. For implementation of the penalties, we are relying on the IRS to reconcile the millions of reporting forms that were only recently submitted by employers, insurers and exchanges. No doubt, more rough patches can be expected when penalty notices hit the streets.

Nor are the ACA marketplaces anywhere close to being stable. Conversations about sizeable increases in 2017 insurance premiums are already starting. Many small businesses rely on the individual exchanges as a means for ensuring their employees have access to affordable coverage. Other small businesses would like to see the SHOP (Small Business Health Options Program) exchanges live up to their intended promise as a source for affordable employee coverage for small companies. This is unlikely, however, without greater stability in the individual ACA exchanges.

Last year, we saw half of the non-profit health co-ops on the individual health exchanges fail. This spring, the nation’s largest health insurer, United Healthcare, announced they will leave all but a handful of the nation’s exchanges in 2017 due to expected losses of more than $650 million on its 2016 ACA plans.

The United Healthcare announcement is revealing. Unlike the failed nonprofit co-ops last year, many of whom charged unrealistically low premiums and failed to apply prudent business practices, United Healthcare approached the exchanges with great caution. The for-profit insurer mostly sat out the first year to gain a better understanding of the risk profile of exchange enrollees so they could more accurately price their policies. With shareholders to answer to, United took careful measure to avoid any losses.

What they discovered, however, was lower-than-hoped-for-enrollees and sicker-than-expected customers. Plus, loopholes in the exchanges allowed people to enter and leave the system only when they needed healthcare. United attributed their massive losses to the smaller overall market size and the “shorter-term, higher-risk profile” of enrollees. In a conference call last November, United’s CEO told shareholders: “We cannot sustain these losses. We can’t really subsidize a marketplace that doesn’t appear at the moment to be sustaining itself.”

Some see the United Healthcare departure as the canary in the coal mine, a harbinger of more troubles ahead for Obamacare. Others downplay the significance. At the very least, we know competition will be severely limited in about 10 states, mostly in the South and the Midwest. Most notably, unless a new entrant appears, Oklahoma and Kansas will have only one insurer selling plans on their exchanges.

Other factors will impact premium costs on the ACA exchanges in 2017. The ACA established temporary risk-sharing and risk corridors to assist insurers offering ACA-compliant plans so the insurance companies could charge lower premiums and attract more enrollees. These subsidies to the insurance companies will end January 1, 2017, placing even more upward pressure on premiums.

All of this has some pundits warning that 2017 may be the year of reckoning for the Obamacare exchanges – the year when high premiums push the healthiest participants out, leaving insurers with the costliest enrollees, causing still higher premiums in the following year, the so-called “death spiral.” While that may be an overly dire prediction, Larry Levitt of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation says there will likely be “a significant market correction over the next year.”

Fortunately, employer-provided insurance markets experience much greater stability than the ACA marketplace. Nevertheless, upheaval in the ACA markets can spill over to the broader marketplace, causing uncertainty and higher costs.

We will know soon enough whether 2017 is indeed the cliff that sends Obamacare tumbling or just another painful step in the evolving drama of health care reform.

(1) Trends in Health Insurance Enrollment, 2013-2015, published in Health Affairs, v. 34, no. 6, June 2015, p. 1044-1048.
(2) Transamerica Center for Health Studies, Survey: Companies Navigate the Health Coverage Mandate, December 2015, www.transamerica centerforhealthstudies.org.
(3) Ibid.

Pat O’Connor is a principal in Kent & O’Connor, Incorporated, a Washington, D.C.-based government affairs firm. A veteran of Capitol Hill with particular expertise in health, transportation and the environment, O’Connor works with trade associations and companies to find workable solutions to the most pressing regulatory and legislative issues. For more information, visit www.kentoconnor.com or call 202-223-6222.

Ask The Experts – June 2016

SponsoredbyLaticreteQUESTION
I have a bathroom that was just retiled: floor, tub and shower walls, using ceramic tile, and a polymer-modified, cement-based, sanded grout with a stain-resistant additive. There are a few areas where the grout has set up like powder and can be rubbed out. I’m looking for some reasons that could cause the grout to set up like powder and fall out.

ANSWER
Selection, mixing, installation, curing, cleaning and environmental conditions at the time of grouting all play a critical role in the success of the installation. There are many potential reasons for this to have occurred.

Most are related to improper preparation, mixing, proportioning of powder and liquid, slaking, re-tempering or curing of the grout. Environmental conditions at the time of grouting and curing such as exposure to hot air flow, direct sunlight, a very dry atmosphere or freezing could also cause this condition to occur.

Over-washing of the grout immediately after packing the joints or cleaning cured grout with acidic cleaners may contribute to this problem.

In some instances, a very highly-absorptive tile or foreign material in the joints may cause rapid dehydration of the grout that may lead to this happening.

Without knowing the particulars at the time of your grout installation it is not possible to narrow it down further to a specific cause or group of causes.

– Mark Heinlein,
NTCA Technical Trainer

FURTHER COMMENT
That is very helpful. What would the needed fix be regarding the powdery grout? Does it have to be removed and re-grouted?

RESPONSE
It may be possible to slowly rehydrate the grout by misting with water and covering with kraft paper for several days and re-misting as needed. However, since an additive other than water was used to mix the grout, I would contact the grout manufacturer and ask their opinion regarding rehydration. Otherwise, it will likely be necessary to remove the grout. When removing the grout, take care to not chip the edges of the tiles or damage the waterproofing system under the tiles. – M.H.

QUESTION
This is actually a tool question. I am looking to purchase a snap cutter and wet saw capable of handling larger format tile (up to 48”). Any suggestions?

ANSWER
It certainly is important to have the right tools for the task at hand and to invest in quality tools that will perform well for a long time.

There are many manufacturers that produce the type of equipment you are looking for. While I can’t provide a recommendation for a particular make or model, I can give you a listing of some of the tool and equipment manufacturers that currently sponsor Partnering for Success and are Workshop/Educational Program Trailer sponsors. Some of them make the type of equipment you are looking for.

I recommend you take a look at what these manufacturers have to offer and talk to other craft persons that may have experience with similar tools.

Here is a list, but it may not be all inclusive:

  • Alpha Professional Tools
  • Corona Bellota
  • Dewalt
  • European Tile Masters
  • Husqvarna
  • Mark E Industries
  • Marshalltown
  • Miracle
  • MLT
  • Progress Profiles
  • QEP
  • Rubi Tools
  • Russo Trading Company
  • SGM
  • Tuscan Leveling

It doesn’t appear that you are a member of the NTCA. As a professional tile contractor you will find membership to be extremely rewarding and can get in on the effort to achieve Qualified Labor status and grow your professional potential. There is more information at www.tile-assn.com or you can contact me for information how to join this amazing group.

Thanks for the contact and good luck with your research!

– Mark Heinlein,
NTCA Technical Trainer

President’s Letter – June 2016

JWoelfel_headshotGiving credit when credit is due

One of the great things about our industry is the finished product when we are done installing. Some of these projects are literally a work of art. This is a true feeling of accomplishment, not only to installers but to tile contracting company owners, employees, staffs, and even spouses and children.

I think this deserves a pat on the back, a “great job,” or even a cold, frosty beverage. As tile manufacturers, distributors, mortar manufacturers, etc., great work is a special way of showing off your product as well. General contractors, home builders and home owners can also share in the fact they helped to facilitate these fantastic installations. At the end of the day, great installations show off the professionalism of our industry.

For the truly special, technically-perfect or unique installations, national industry awards are the prize.

However, the flip side to these recognitions or awards is the fact a lot of great installations are not credited to the installer or installer’s team. This happens when people are not doing their due diligence, being lazy or just flat-out taking credit for other people’s hard work.

This problem is not an isolated incident. I have read a lot of trade magazines where the stories or the advertisements acknowledge manufacturers, designers, construction companies, etc., without recognizing the installer or installation companies that put it all together and made it look gorgeous – and who did it correctly, so it will perform for years!

My own company felt a little of this sting at Coverings this year, when the tile and setting material manufacturers were recognized in one of the booklets for the Installation Design Showcase, but all of the installation companies (Welch Tile & Marble, Trostrud Mosaic & Tile Co., Grazzini Brothers & Company, and our company, Artcraft Granite, Marble & Tile Co.,) were left off the page. It kicked me in the stomach.

Quite a few installers have told me this issue happens all of the time on the internet, especially with social media. This is WRONG: the installers and their companies need and must be recognized. Installers are called out when the installation is bad, but when an installation is special enough to be shown off, the recognition and credit needs to be given. If you are a manufacturer, architect or designer looking at an installer’s website, I implore you, if you see an installation that involves your materials, just ask permission before you use it elsewhere. Most of the time you will get a yes. Please don’t just list it to show an example of design, architecture or product without giving credit to the installer.

At the beginning of a job, you have boxes of tile, bags of mortar and grout, buckets or rolls of membranes, but the installer puts all of that together to create beauty. Without good professional qualified labor those boxes, bags and rolls will look better in their pre-installed state than on the walls or floors. All I am asking is that as reputable manufacturers, distributors, architects, designers, construction companies and home builders, do right by your installers and their teams, and give credit when credit is due. It will buy you good will and may help you earn a good installation partner and a customer as well.

James Woelfel, President NTCA
480-829-9197
www.artcraftgmt.com

Editor’s Letter – June 2016

Coverings in Chicago means experiencing new things – like this Skydeck Ledge Experience at Willis Tower during the Aperitivo Italiano sponsored by Ceramics of Italy.

Coverings in Chicago means experiencing new things – like this Skydeck Ledge Experience at Willis Tower during the Aperitivo Italiano sponsored by Ceramics of Italy.

“If you want something in your life you’ve never had, you’ll have to do something you’ve never done.”
– J.D. Houston

 

So, last month, we started teasing you with reports from Coverings. This month, we launch fully into people, products and news from the show. In this issue, you’ll get an overview of the show, as well as reports from the Coverings Installation Design Awards (CID) Opening Ceremony and Reception, the Installation Design showcase (IDS) and NTCA Award night. Learn about which companies and people are doing an outstanding job in their sector, are working to promote qualified labor, and see the result of designer/installer/supplier partnerships in the IDS recap – including the novel approach Welch Tile & Marble took to constructing its vignette – in a container, so it could transport it back home and use it for educational purposes!

We have a generous collection of products seen at the show for you – and we’d also love to hear what knocked your socks off on display at Coverings. Just email me at [email protected] – and if you have a picture to go along with it, that would be dynamite!
We also have a recap of NTCA Awards night, a relatively new event at Coverings. Ten years ago, when I first began working for NTCA, we didn’t have a NTCA Awards Night at Coverings, per se – we had the TileLetter Installation Awards, which examined many of the technical feats accomplished by installers on stunning projects. Coverings was sponsoring the Prism and Spectrum Awards. Over time, the Prism and Spectrum awards merged with the TileLetter Installation Awards, morphing into the CID Awards, which TileLetter co-sponsored, held the third night of the show.

But three years ago, Coverings management and ownership shook things up and moved the CID Awards to the first night of the show, to welcome visitors and kick off the event with a festive gathering. NTCA leaders saw an opportunity to have a special NTCA night again at Coverings and seized the third-night spot for a brand new event: NTCA Awards Night. In addition to the awards at the Total Solutions Plus gathering in the fall, this spring ceremony allows NTCA to honor and recognize stellar residential and commercial work from our NTCA Five Star Contractors, present Special Recognition Awards to two individuals for their dedication to promoting the tile trade and membership, and to present the NTCA Tile Person of the Year, and Joe A. Tarver Lifetime Achievement Award.

In addition to those awards, presented in a warm, family-type atmosphere, this year NTCA offered something new: The Tom Ade Ceramic Tile Scholarship Award, which was established by the NTCA to provide educational opportunities in college or trade for children or grandchildren of NTCA contractor members. This year, two scholarships were awarded, and NTCA hopes to raise additional funds to offer multiple scholarships in the future.

So if you couldn’t attend the show – and even if you did, because no one can be everywhere – enjoy the reports on the event, beginning on page 70. And remember, if you found something new and outstanding at the show or had an amazing experience meeting up with old friends or meeting new colleagues, feel free to share it for publication in a future TileLetter issue!

God bless,
Lesley
[email protected]

May Feature – Cevisama 2016

Cevisama showcases a range of trends to international audience

By Lesley Goddin

may-cevis-01

From left, Javier Rodriguez Ejerique, technical secretary of Qualicer, NTCA executive director Bart Bettiga, and NTCA president James Woelfel at Qualicer 16 in Castellon, Spain.

Cevisama was an especially important international event for NTCA this year, as NTCA executive director Bart Bettiga and NTCA president James Woelfel were both invited to participate in the Qualicer ‘16 conference taking place in Castellon, Spain, right before the show. The trip marked the first time a contractor had been invited to present during the conference – and it helped to open up a dialogue between Proalso – Spain’s counterpart to NTCA – and NTCA to foster knowledge and international collaboration as regards ceramic and porcelain tile installation. For more information, read Chris Woelfel’s story in this month’s Business Tip on page 26 and consult past issues of TileLetter for a more detailed chronicle of the events: March 2016, page 72: “NTCA meets strategic objectives at Qualicer 16;” Coverings 2016, page 10: President’s Letter.

In addition to these groundbreaking events, Cevisama – which takes place in Valencia, Spain, each year – offered up a dynamic range of new tile products to answer and establish trends within the world of fashion and design in tile. Here is a range of new trends seen at the show:

Main trends seen in ceramic tiles in recent years will continue in 2016, with updates to meet the new demands of interior design today. These include innovative formats in terms of size and thicknesses, more sober basic colors, combinations of rustic and elegant styles, a mix of designs and revived classics – a collection of trends that range from rustic to refined.

Sensory tiles offer novel texturing like pleats, folds, carvings, bas relief or other effects that create an interplay with light and position of the viewer, as in Dune’s Folding Roses.

Sensory tiles offer novel texturing like pleats, folds, carvings, bas relief or other effects that create an interplay with light and position of the viewer, as in Dune’s Folding Roses.

  1. Single colors. Color can create continuity between walls and floors, creating a uniform backdrop against which furniture or decorative items can stand out. Sober, neutral tiles in dark or stone colors often generally come in matte finishes with subtle shade variation to evoke nature and the passage of time.
  2. Subtle designs. Taking a cue from single-colored tiles, décors have been developed with subtle designs and slight contrasts that interrupt the uniformity of walls and floors. They feature faded, randomly arranged finer details with no apparent order or criteria, adding a harmonious sense of rhythm and highly personal touch.

    Nora Plus from El Molino takes wood as an inspiration and gives it a glossy finish for a unique interpretation of nature.

    Nora Plus from El Molino takes wood as an inspiration and gives it a glossy finish for a unique interpretation of nature.

  3. Interpreting nature. These ceramic tiles faithfully reproduce the beauty of nature, sometimes with modern or artistic license such as in the case of more contemporary looking wood-effect collections. Not-found-in-nature colors add interest, combined with shade variation and different designs that create a lived-in feel, with all the advantages of long-lasting ceramic tiles.
  4. Endless different designs. Any visual you can imagine, you can create in ceramic tiles. This year, delicate floral patterns will again feature alongside abstract models and geometrical motifs.
  5. Mosaics and more mosaics. Visual rhythm is created with small mosaic tiles in varying shades of the same glossy or matte color.

    Aparici’s Blue Natural uses traditional motifs in delicate colors.

    Aparici’s Blue Natural uses traditional motifs in delicate colors.

  6. Mix & Match. This trend is still a must in 2016. Traditional motifs, in gentle delicate colors, are mixed with different materials, textures, colors, formats, patterns etc.
  7. Unique Tiles. Instead of just being laid in rows, ceramic wall and floor tiles are now being used in designs that transform them into a star feature of the rooms they occupy in new and different ways. This can be angled layouts that offer a fresh perspective to traditional straight layouts; oversized and unusual formats that when combined in different colors can create 3D effects and optical illusions; sensory tiles that offer novel texturing like pleats, folds, carvings, bas relief or other effects that create an interplay with light and position of the viewer. Very delicate floral or plant patterns, perhaps also in gold to evoke the idea of jewelry bring interest, delicacy and a glint of metal.
Unusual formats, like this boomerang shape in Vives’ Titan, when combined in different colors, can create 3D effects and optical illusions.

Unusual formats, like this boomerang shape in Vives’ Titan, when combined in different colors, can create 3D effects and optical illusions.

Speaking of metal, a trend is the use of metal coating through physical vapor deposition (PVD) technology. These tiles are delicately coated with a layer of titanium nanoparticles, resulting in beautiful, functional, durable tiles. Digital printing techniques also continue to evolve to allow the creation of hyper-realistic designs, or patterned tiles combined in such a way that it is hard to find two identical models. By randomly mixing tiles with photographic designs, settings can be given a strong sense of personality.

In addition to these trends, attention and playfulness with tile shape are lending new effects to floors and walls, inside and out. For instance, manufacturers are exploring new uses of hexagonal tiles, mixing them with traditional shapes; integrating shades of grey, veined patterns, earthy colors, shade variation and “worn” effects, often with subtle polish or natural-looking glazes.

Square and rectangular tiles in a range of sizes are always popular, and are being used with traditional, vintage motifs, often with handcrafted looks in soft colors like whites, blues, greens and greys that evoke a sense of simplicity. Vintage designs are also updated with contemporary spins.

Elements from Alea mix hydraulic designs with gold or silver finish, as well as black or white, for a glimmering take on traditional patterns.

Elements from Alea mix hydraulic designs with gold or silver finish, as well as black or white, for a glimmering take on traditional patterns.

Tempus fugit is a continuing trend that focuses on the passage of time, creating sophisticated contemporary compositions with classical styling like black and white, symmetry, octagonal tiles, baroque decorative touches, and developing a sense of visual rhythm through tile arrangement.

Tile continues to evoke or incorporate stone and stone looks for timeless sophistication, often utilizing large-format, neutral colors of grey, beige and cream to blend harmoniously with other decorative features. Matte or mirror-like polishes can be mixed, zigzagged or combined in different shades of the same color for interest and dynamic effect.

Cervisama 17 will take place in Valencia February 20-24, 2017. Visit http://cevisama.feriavalencia.com/en/ for more information.

Large-format Marguerite tiles from Peronda mix florals, polka dots and grey for a new spin on vintage looks.

Large-format Marguerite tiles from Peronda mix florals, polka dots and grey for a new spin on vintage looks.

This large format stone-look tile from Azteca brings harmony and sophistication to the home.

This large format stone-look tile from Azteca brings harmony and sophistication to the home.

Dacha from Ceranosa combines a hexagonal format with cross-cut wood motif for delightful effect.

Dacha from Ceranosa combines a hexagonal format with cross-cut wood motif for delightful effect.

Tech Talk – May 2016

New product technology for trendy bathroom remodels

tec-logo

Sponsored By TEC

Bathroom remodels are sound investments for your customers. The rate of return tends to be 75% or more of the initial investment, which is significantly higher than many other home renovations. The 2016 Kitchen & Bath Design Trends Report predicts that “transitional” style will dominate this year’s bathrooms. Transitional style blends the traditional with the contemporary – balancing comfort with sophisticated, clean lines. You can provide your customers with transitional style by incorporating the following three types of products.

Preformed components

One way the 2016 Kitchen & Bath Trends Report suggests that transitional style can be achieved is with open storage and built-in shelving.

may-tech-01Preformed components – like niches – can provide unique open storage options for residential bathrooms. Preformed components are consistent and easy to install – great for fast multi-unit residential and hospitality installations. Look for products like TEC® Preformed Components that integrate seamlessly with existing surface prep solutions, mortar, tile and grout. For protection against mold and mildew, choose a product that comes coated with an IAPMO-approved, waterproof membrane that meets ANSI A118.10.

Preformed components are a great way for tile installers to add a design element that fits with today’s building trends.

In-floor heat innovations

In-floor heating systems also align with the transitional aesthetic. They serve as an “updated classic” for stone and tile floors. Moreover, they are a great selling point when listing a home. They may reduce heating costs, so they are a true investment – not simply a design trend.

Beyond adding value to the home, features like in-floor heat bring a feeling of luxury and warmth (literally) to bathrooms, to make getting up in the morning and getting home in the evening more relaxing. Although they are considered luxury items, improvements in efficiency have made them a more viable option for both building owners and contractors.
The right products can also cut down on the special ordering and lag time associated with radiant heat installations. For example, TEC™ In-Floor Heat is customizable on-site to fit any space – eliminating the lag time of special orders.

may-tech-02Advances in technology have made installations more efficient as well. In the past, in-floor heating installations had many cumbersome steps: the system had to be installed, anchored and encapsulated in a self-leveling underlayment. Today, some products – including TEC In-Floor Heat – can simply be embedded in mortar. Then, tile and stone can be installed directly over them.

Despite many advances, the wiring of installation systems can still present a challenge. Look for products that offer the simplest wiring available to avoid frustrating installations. The new TEC In-Floor Heat mat does not have coils or wires that require patterning—saving installation time. For all systems, be sure to use an electrical source with the correct voltage. If you hook up to a power source with the wrong voltage, it could damage the system.

Before adding radiant heat installation to your repertoire, check your local building codes. Some areas of the country require a licensed electrician to complete the installation, while others allow a tile contractor to do so. Almost all manufacturers recommend that a licensed electrician complete all electrical work.

may-tech-04In-floor heat systems are available à la carte or in kits. Since they are luxury items, look for products with touchscreen or programmable thermostats to provide the utmost convenience for your clients. Most thermostats can be set for either ambient room temperature or floor temperature.

Grout color trends

This year’s trends also include neutral colors – like greys, whites and beiges. Look for grouts that fit this description. Although beautiful, these light colors can also be more subject to unsightly staining than darker grouts. With that in mind, you should recommend stain-proof and mold- and mildew-resistant grouts, like TEC’s DesignFX® grout, shown below. These durable characteristics offer convenience to your customers and help preserve the aesthetic of their spaces.

may-tech-05New product innovations have made installing high-end bathrooms easier. By carefully selecting the most efficient products, you can make stylish bathroom remodels more convenient for your customers and more profitable for your business.

The TEC® brand is offered by H.B. Fuller Construction Products Inc. – a leading provider of technologically advanced construction materials and solutions to the commercial, industrial and residential construction industry. Headquartered in Aurora, Illinois, the company’s recognized and trusted brands – TEC®, CHAPCO®, Grout Boost®, Foster®, ProSpec® and others – are available through an extensive network of distributors and dealers, as well as home improvement retailers. For more information, visit www.hbfuller-cp.com.

Business Tip – May 2016

SponsoredbyMAPEINTCA forms new bond with Spanish labor group Proalso

With the goal of sharing installation challenges as well as successful methods and standards, the NTCA has opened a dialogue with Proalso, the Association of Professional Tile Installers in Spain. NTCA president and Technical Committee chairman James Woelfel met with Proalso’s secretary general, Matias Martinez Trilles, recently during Qualicer, the world congress on tile quality, and Cevisama, Spain’s international tile show.

“With new technologies in tile and setting materials production, it’s more important than ever for labor groups to work together to ensure successful installations,” explained Woelfel. “We can learn from each other because of, and in spite of, differences in the way our countries handle construction projects because different perspectives and experiences will ultimately strengthen our work and our industry.”

Proalso is working with ASCER, Spain’s association of tile manufacturers, in developing their country’s tile installation standards.

ASCER’s Industrial Affairs director, Alejandra Miralles, said while most manufacturers provide brief guidelines for the installation of specific products, there’s an understanding among members of the Spanish Standardization Committee for ceramic tile and adhesives (AEN CTN 138), that cohesive installation standards are needed.

“We have tried to involve all parties, including installers, in the development of this work, since their input is vital to harmonize best practices and guarantee the quality of the tiling,” said Miralles. “ASCER also supports and highly respects the activity been carried out by Proalso in relation to certification and qualified tile installers.”

Proalso certifies installers through a program using two comprehensive training manuals. Yet Martinez Trilles believes much learning can be done regarding the development of installation standards. “Product standards are especially important, and the professional tile installer needs to know them in depth,” he said. “Nonetheless, we consider product standards are not sufficient to improve installation processes and to prevent defects or pathologies. It is most important that we are able to work together in the development of specific standards on installation that allow unifying global criteria on tile installation systems. In this sense, we find most interesting the work being carried out in ISO/TC 189 in relation to Thin Ceramic Tiles and Panels and on tile installation recommendations.”

To help Proalso understand the work the NTCA does, Woelfel gave Martinez Trilles a copy of the NTCA Reference Manual, which the labor leader found extremely practical and useful.

The meetings were facilitated by Javier Rodriguez Ejerique, Qualicer’s technical secretary, who invited Woelfel to speak about the development of industry standards in the United States at the world congress on tile quality in Castellon, Spain.

“It is important for manufacturers and distributors to understand that there are highly skilled installers available and willing to take on the challenges involved in the installation of new products,” said Rodriguez Ejerique. “For example, the difficulties of thin panel tile installation should prompt them to seek out qualified installers to recommend to architects to ensure job success, rather than allowing the project to forego technologically advanced products out of fear of job failure.”

Looking forward, Woelfel said he hopes Martinez Trilles will be able to accept his invitation to Total Solutions Plus this October in Palm Springs. “We need to continually find ways of getting manufacturers, architects, designers, distributors and qualified installers to the table for discussion on quality installation. This is in the industry’s best interest now and in the future.”

Ask the Experts – May 2016

SponsoredbyLaticreteQUESTION

Is there any TCNA or industry information that indicates that rounded-top porcelain cove base is not meant for situations where tile is installed on the walls above the base (since it has a rounded top)? I’d also like to know how the cove base is to be installed in conjunction with floor tile. I stated in my RFP to “install metal trim strips when coordinating porcelain tile pieces are not available.” Given that the cove base option for a selected tile series has a rounded top and foot, this causes a potential for an unclean install. The options that the contractor has given us are:

  • Using the wall base and filling in the rounded top with an enlarged grout joint,
  • Cutting the wall tile and butting it to the floor tile with either a grout or caulk joint at the connection, or
  • Field-cutting the rounded tip of the wall base off

These are not preferred options for the government, as these lead to maintenance issues down the road for the facility.

Do you have any idea how I can respond to this or help with any industry or TCNA info? Thanks so much!

ANSWER

There is no such language in the TCNA Handbook or in any of the ANSI manuals.

I believe that the #3 solution is the proper method, and how my contracting company usually accomplished this detail if round top cove was the only cove available (if cove was required). Be sure to stone the cut, and although it will have a slightly different appearance than a factory edge, it will not be a maintenance issue. Since the tile cove is round footed, it is designed to be top-set.

There is another option that is very effective, if somewhat more expensive. Profile and edge manufacturers make stainless steel coves (with corner trims available) with different sizes available to match the thickness of your tile. Very beautiful, easy to install, and cool, too!

If cove is not required by code, then just use the field tile at all inside corners with a joint filled with foam backer rod and ASTM C920 sealant (100% silicone or single part urethane). Be sure that the tile is not set tight and that the joint is completely free of mortar and grout.

– Michael Whistler,
NTCA technical trainer

QUESTION

We are currently working on a project that includes 30,000 sq. ft. of penny round tiles that were manufactured in Japan. It’s our understanding that penny rounds are classified as a specialty tile and therefore, very little criteria has been set regarding the mounting of them. We are having some issues with the specified product and need a third party to evaluate the mounting of the tile. Can you offer some assistance or point us in a direction regarding mounting issues with mosaics, in particular penny rounds?

experts-01 Attached are pictures of some of the mounting problems, including inconsistent spacing, sheets not being square and excessive mesh where the sheets meet up with one another. Another problem is that the individual tiles release from the mesh backing as soon as they get wet (from thinset).

may-experts-02Two manufacturers’ reps were here last week to review the problems. Their solution is to either send us a video or one of their Japanese installers to show us how to install the tile. As you may imagine we took exception to their suggestion. We have plenty of experience with the installation of penny round tile and have processed through many issues regarding sheeting and wall-washing concerns. What we are in search of, is some guideline or criteria that we can show ownership so they can assess their expectations more in line with industry standards. Any assistance you can share with us would be greatly appreciated.

ANSWER 1

You certainly seem to understand all of the issues and have the experience to install penny round mosaics, which are difficult at best. The tiles you have been provided appear to have an especially flimsy mesh backing, and the inconsistent spacing and water-soluble adhesive is not going to help matters.

Obviously, a proper substrate that meets minimum deflection and flatness requirements and using the correct mortar and troweling method to achieve a minimum of 80% coverage on each tile with no squeeze-through will be critical.

I’m almost thinking that to have the manufacturer send their installer to show you how it’s done (for the duration of the project) might be a way to bring the manufacturer on board with some liability for the installation.

Has all of the tile been manufactured and delivered? Have you discussed the matter with the owner and architect?

Other than what Katelyn has provided below and the general workmanship requirements found in the TCNA Handbook and ANSI standards, I am not immediately coming up with anything that I can send you. I will check with my colleagues and get back to you.

Perhaps the best approach will be to hire a recognized consultant to come in and serve as a third party to view the tiles and installation area and scope of work and provide you with a written opinion.

– Mark Heinlein,
NTCA technical trainer

ANSWER 2

From a third party testing lab’s perspective, there is no way to measure mounting variation of penny round, mounted ceramic mosaic tiles. The mounting variation test methods for mounted tile are only performed on square mosaic tiles. I’ve included an excerpt from ANSI A137.1 Specification for Ceramic Tile below:
9.5 Test Method for Mounting Variations
9.5.1 This method is only valid for mosaic tiles with the following characteristics:

  • Nominally square
  • Nominal sizes of 1 inch x 1 inch (25.4 mm x 25.4 mm) to 3 inches x 3 inches (76.2 mm x 76.2 mm)
  • With straight edges

Our lab does not provide reports based on expert opinion so you may need to hire an independent consultant if that is something you are looking for. Please let me know if you are interested in an independent consultant and I’d be happy to send you the contact information for one.

– Katelyn Simpson,
TCNA laboratory manager

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