Slam-dunk Bosti-Set® installation at University of Houston’s Fertitta Center

The University of Houston unveiled its transformed basketball arena on December 1st, 2018, when the men’s basketball team played its first home game in its upgraded facility against the University of Oregon. The “old” arena was gutted in Spring of 2017, and this cutting-edge $60 million renovation project was completed in November. The newly constructed sports center, which was built by Turner Construction, was named after local billionaire Tilman Fertitta, who was fittingly inducted into the UH Athletics Hall of Honor just a few days before the first game took place.

Due to Mr. Fertitta’s generosity, the original 50-year-old University of Houston arena, formerly known as Hofheinz Pavilion, was renovated into a sports venue slated for future UH teams, characterized by a futuristic exterior. Whereas the entire exterior structure and roof were unchanged, just about everything else throughout this building project, inside and outside, was completely updated.

Crossville’s Laminam large-format gauged porcelain panels for the walls of five concession stands were strategically positioned throughout the interior concourse of the arena.

The low interior ceiling was eliminated, replaced by open ceiling space for both the bowl and concourse levels. Other major improvements included reconfiguring the arena’s seating to offer even more premium opportunities, two large VIP club areas, highly upgraded facilities in the Guy V. Lewis Basketball Center via a new tunnel connection, a beautiful new court, and much, much more. 

Architectural plans called for the specification of Crossville’s Laminam® large-format gauged porcelain panels for the walls of five concession stands strategically positioned throughout the interior concourse of the arena. “I met with the installer, Allstate Commercial, along with our Houston distributor, BPI,” said Santiago Hernandez, Bostik’s Texas Territory Sales Manager. “Together we helped train the installation team. But first, I had to convince both groups about the winning characteristics of Bosti-Set®, our state-of-the-art adhesive, formulated specifically for the installation of today’s gauged porcelain tile panels.”

Bosti-Set, Bostik’s state-of-the-art adhesive, formulated specifically for the installation of today’s gauged porcelain tile panels, was used to install the Laminam panels.

Hernandez not only persuaded both firms, but together with Ruben Rivera of BPI, subsequently staged winning educational sessions to ensure that installers from the Allstate Commercial team not only knew all the many attributes of Bosti-Set, but became psyched to work with this space-age material. Bosti-Set is a premium adhesive and sound reduction membrane, created specifically for gauged thin porcelain tile panel installations. It immediately grabs porcelain tile panels in a single coat, does not allow for any sag and makes it possible for panels to be repositionable for at least 30 minutes. Projects calling for gauged thin porcelain tile panels now can be installed in roughly half the time with a smaller crew. Why? A single layer of adhesive is troweled only onto the back of the panel or wall, cutting in half the square footage necessary to trowel. Additionally, with Bosti-Set, installation crew members dedicated to basics such as mixing, running mortar back and forth and similar functions, can be redirected to work on more skilled installation procedures.

Projects calling for gauged thin porcelain tile panels now can be installed in roughly half the time with a smaller crew since only a single layer of adhesive is troweled only onto the back of the panel or wall, cutting in half the square footage necessary to trowel.

Bosti-Set is lighter in weight with much greater coverage than typical mortars. It contains zero VOCs as well as 2% recycled material. Bostik’s patent-pending Thickness ControlTM Spacer Technology built into Bosti-Set, ensures proper membrane thickness is always maintained between tile panels and the substrate. And recycled rubber crumb particles mixed into the adhesive offer optimal membrane sound reduction performance. 

“We first found out about Bosti-Set from our BPI representative, Ruben Rivera,” stated Rusty Dennison, Vice President of Operations at Allstate Commercial Flooring of Spring, Texas. “Typically, we’d use a thinset for wall applications, such as the one slated for the concession areas in the new Fertitta Center. So, during Surfaces/TISE West 2018 in Las Vegas, we met together with BPI and Bostik to get a really good picture of the benefits offered by this new material. We were impressed by many of its characteristics, and I must state, also by the highly professional way in which the product was presented to us. And of course, as businesspeople, we were obviously excited learning that with Bosti-Set, it took fewer workers less time for installations to be completed.” 

Allstate Commercial team not only knew all the many attributes of Bosti-Set, but became psyched to work with this space-age material.

Fast forwarding, once all parties were 100% on the same page, the installation process for these interior concourse areas of Fertitta Center began.

“In many ways, this was a championship, total-team effort installation!” beamed Hernandez. “It was the first time Allstate Commercial had ever worked with Bosti-Set, but we know it won’t be the last. The firm’s installers all had an A-game attitude throughout the entire process. Ruben and I were on-site for a great deal of time. It was awesome to witness a state-of-the-art, architectural conception being transformed into structural reality step by step. And even more so, watching our product being used so effectively by those that we had a hand in training, was truly a gratifying experience.”

Rusty Dennison added, “Not only was this a winning installation. But at the University of Houston Cougars’ first home game in the brand-new arena, we beat Oregon 65-61!”

Bosti-Set is a premium adhesive and sound reduction membrane, created specifically for gauged thin porcelain tile panel installations that immediately grabs porcelain tile panels in a single coat, does not allow for any sag and makes it possible for panels to be repositionable for at least 30 minutes.

 

2018 annual report: looking back, looking ahead

NTCA annual report header

NTCA rolls out new strategies at Total Solutions Plus

At Total Solutions Plus, NTCA leaders presented a 2018 annual report for its members, coupled with new initiatives for 2019. Highlights included shifting strategic emphasis from new member recruitment towards a stronger effort to providing value for existing members. Examples of new value-added options for members include a Multiple Employer 401(k) Plan for NTCA members, paired up with a payroll service option to complement this important retention tool. NTCA hopes to add a healthcare option for members in 2019. 

Perhaps the most important shift in strategy for NTCA will begin to take place in the second part of 2019, as the association begins to develop plans to promote its members aggressively to designers, architects, general contractors and remodelers. 

At Total Solutions Plus, NTCA leaders presented a 2018 Annual Report for its members, coupled with new initiatives for 2019.

We are committed to investing our resources in the best way we know how; by adding additional professional staff in key areas of need in our association. In 2018, we filled two such needs with the hiring of Stephanie Samulski as Director of Technical Services, and Avia Haynes as director of Marketing and Communications. Stephanie will take a leadership role in NTCA efforts to provide contractor perspective and input in the development and revision of industry standards and methods. Avia Haynes’ main focus in 2019 will center on improving NTCA brand image in all aspects of the tile industry. 

Marketing goals for 2019

NTCA’s 2019 marketing goals are part of an aggressive plan that will lay the foundation for the next two years of initiatives. Our main objectives for 2019 are to strengthen the NTCA and TileLetter brands; to execute an integrated communications process that will enable our email, web, print and social communications to work together; and to put infrastructure in place as the groundwork for future endeavors, like promoting NTCA members in the construction industry. 

NTCA’s big focus will be to generate more engagement between the association and its current members. We are hoping to hear more from our members and learn more about them. During 2019, there will be two main initiatives to help with this. The first, which has a target launch for early 2019, will give the members an opportunity to show off the fantastic work they do. The second, which has a target launch for Q2 in 2019, will help us learn more about our members and allow us to create targeted messages and programs based on the demographics of our membership. 

There will be a concentrated focus in 2019 on overhauling the TileLetter website at Tileletter.com. Starting in the first quarter, visitors will start to notice changes in the site. We plan to reorganize and refresh the site throughout the year to create a better experience for users and our supporters. We are intent on creating a site that will attract more views by year’s end. While we know our 2019 plan is very ambitious, we are confident that with the support of our board, committees and members, we will be able to reach all of our goals. 

Working together to solve the skilled labor shortage

The serious lack of skilled tile craftspeople entering the market was a key concern for all sectors of the trade during the tile industry panel discussion at Total Solutions Plus.

At the state of the tile industry panel discussion at Total Solutions Plus, one of the most important concerns that all sectors of our trade commented on was the serious lack of skilled tile craftspeople entering the market. Despite quality efforts to recruit capable and qualified individuals into the tile industry that have taken place at the grass roots level, everyone agreed that the industry needs to collectively work together in this arena. NTCA and other organizations will look to play a leading role in helping to spark new ideas and in outlining strategies that will work. This was identified as a key NTCA strategic objective for 2019. 

In addition to needing new workers to enter the trade, NTCA leaders acknowledge an additional challenge: the need for additional training and education for the existing skilled workforce, to keep up with changing technology in manufacturing. In 2018, NTCA trainers began offering regional education for our members, and we will expand this effort in 2019. NTCA University, an online training school intended to help foster apprenticeship development and support company training efforts, will continue to expand its offerings. In 2018, over 5,000 courses were completed by people taking advantage of this important educational support tool. 

NTCA: 1,500+ members strong

NTCA now has over 1,500 members, representing thousands of tile and stone installers and industry professionals. Our staff now consists of over 15 full and part time professionals, and we are committed to being accessible, supportive and attentive to our members. We take pride in being the Voice of the Tile Contractor, and we look forward to the challenges we have identified to help our industry to continue to thrive and gain market share. 

MAPEI helps restore Hugh L. Carey/Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel

The Brooklyn–Battery Tunnel, officially known as the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel, is a toll road in New York City that crosses under the East River to connect the Borough of Manhattan with the Borough of Brooklyn. At 9,117 feet (2,779 m) in length, it is the longest continuous underwater vehicular tunnel in North America.

The New York City Tunnel Authority began construction on the tunnel back in 1940, to help relieve traffic on the three East River bridges. In the original installation, 799,000 wall and ceiling tiles were installed in the structure. The job extended a full decade, partially due to a

three-year delay caused by material shortages during World War II*. The

The tunnel after the storm caused by Superstorm Sandy.

Hugh L. Carey Tunnel officially opened in 1950 and consists of twin tubes, capable of carrying thousands of automobiles along four traffic lanes. In December 2010, the tunnel was officially named after former New York Governor Hugh L. Carey.

On October 29, 2012, Superstorm Sandy made landfall on the East Coast of the United States – near Atlantic City, N.J. – with maximum winds of 80 miles per hour and driving rain. The Category 1 storm breached the seawalls in New Jersey and New York, causing massive flooding in streets, subways and tunnels. The Hugh L. Carey Tunnel itself was flooded with 60 million gallons (227 million liters) of salt water that needed to be removed from its two tubes. The damage done to the walls of the tunnel and the removal process required extensive repairs including 800,000 tile replacements and additional enhancements to prevent future disaster.

MAPEI solutions help repair and restore the tunnel

Preparing the installation bed with MAPEI’s Modified Mortar Bed.

Gibraltar Contracting, the tile contractor on the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel project, was asked to float a new mortar bed and install 400,000 sq. ft. (37 161 m2) of 6˝ x 6˝ (15 x 15 cm) Agrob Buchtal “Chroma” façade tiles across walls 15 feet high (4,57 m) of the 1.73 miles (2,78 km) of the Manhattan-to-Brooklyn side of the tunnel in the first phase of the restoration work. The Chroma tiles offer easier cleaning, as well as diffuse light for motorists. These tiles also act as a fire-retardant, providing a protective coating for the tunnel in the event of a fire.

Installing tiles with MAPEI’s Ultraflex 3.

The biggest challenge for the Gibraltar crew came in preparing the mud bed for the setting of the tiles. After the tunnel flooded, the removal of the original tiles left an extreme profile on the surface of the concrete walls. This profile had to be completely filled and leveled with a non-sagging mortar in order for the tiles to properly set. Further, engineers from the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA), operator of the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, required the most efficient system for reconstructing the tunnel and specified very stringent requirements for restoration of the walls and the application of new tiles. The Gibraltar crew turned to MAPEI tile installation products for the high-quality durability the job specified.

View of the exterior entrances of the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel in New York.

The Gibraltar Contracting crew applied two lifts (float coats) of MAPEI’s Modified Mortar Bed, a premixed, cement-based, polymer-modified, thick-bed and render mortar that includes a blend of select aggregates. This was a great solution because, rather than requiring the use of a latex additive, Modified Mortar Bed only requires mixing with water to produce a high-performance bond. This mortar was applied to the damaged tunnel walls providing a smooth, curved substrate for the setting of the tiles.

With that challenge well met, the Gibraltar crew moved on to setting the nearly 800,000 white and

The maintenance access areas are designated with mint-green tiles.

blue tiles with yellow accents. Around the tunnel’s periodic maintenance access areas, they installed mint-green tiles to make these areas easily visible. Regardless of color, all of the tiles were set with Ultraflex™ 3, the strongest mortar in MAPEI’s Ultraflex series. The crew then grouted all the joints with Ultracolor® Plus FA, MAPEI’s fine-aggregate, fast-setting, efflorescence-free grout. Ultracolor Plus FA’s built-in DropEffect™ technology reduces surface absorption, helping to repel water, dirt and grime from penetrating grout joints.

Work on the Manhattan-to-Brooklyn tube of the

The Chroma tiles grouted with Ultracolor Plus FA.

tunnel was completed in March 2017. During the 2017-2018 timeframe, the Gibraltar crew repeated the entire process, heading through the other tube of the tunnel, from Brooklyn back to Manhattan. To ensure future protection from flooding, 44,600 pound bronze flood gates were also installed at either entrance of the tunnel. The 22˝ thick, 29´ x 14´ gates were made by Walz & Krenner, Inc., of Oxford, Connecticut, a marine-based-company specializing in the design and supply of custom watertight closures. MAPEI was honored to help in the restoration of one of New York City’s most historic tunnels. 

*According to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) website.

Source: http://www.nycroads.com/crossings/brooklyn-battery/#HFtSZKQUkU0zI7P6.99

The Hugh L. Carey Tunnel is a 9,117-foot tunnel under the East River that connects Brooklyn to Manhattan.