Sponsor Product Spotlight – LATICRETEⓇ TRI-LITE™

LATICRETE TRI-LITE is a lightweight, high performance tri-purpose mortar designed for large and heavy tile, thin-bed and wall installations. Due to its lightweight formula and smooth, creamy consistency, a 30 lb bag provides the same coverage as a 50 lb bag of traditional mortar.

LATICRETE TRI-LITE can bond to many suitable substrates including concrete, steel and cement plaster. Its incredible non-sag performance is able to support very large and heavy tile with ease.

LATICRETE TRI-LITE can be used for common applications such as countertops, ceilings and bathtub walls. For more information visit, www.laticrete.com.

Sponsor Product Spotlight: LATICRETE® PERMACOLOR® Select

LATICRETE has recently launched PERMACOLOR® Select, which is an advanced high performance cement grout that offers the industry’s first dispersible dry pigment solution. Designed for virtually all types of residential and commercial installation, PERMACOLOR Select allows contractors and distributors to eliminate waste and carry product for five years – much longer than traditional grouts, which requires disposal after only one year.

Contractors gain increased productivity and time savings on the jobsite, with a faster time-to-grout and foot traffic permitted in as little as three hours when using PERMACOLOR Select.

Additionally, PERMACOLOR Select is easy to clean, meets UL GREENGUARD certification standards for low chemical emissions and is a component of the LATICRETE Lifetime System Warranty. For more information,visit www.laticrete.com.

iQ Power Tools introduces New Line of Safety Gear

iQ Power Tools, manufacturer of premium power tools with integrated dust collection systems, introduces a new line of protective eye and ear gear that is the perfect balance of comfort and safety.

Two sleek and stylish safety glasses deliver good looks, comfort and advanced vision protection required to take on any challenge.  They are durable enough to withstand the demands of the jobsite while the ultra lightweight design provides all day comfort. Features include scratch resistant coating, impact resistant and polycarbonate lenses.

iQ Powertool’s hearing protection gear, with a NNR29 rating, offers superior comfort and is designed to be a high noise reducing/protection earmuff. The adjustable headband and premium ear cushioning provide all day comfort and can be folded at the end of the day for storage.

“We are thrilled to be launching this new line of safety products as safety is our number one priority at iQ,” said Joel Guth, president of iQ Power Tools. “We’re focused on identifying and reducing risk from job sites with the development of professional tools and technology and of course, education.”


LATICRETE TRI-LITE is a lightweight, high performance tri-purpose mortar designed for large and heavy tile, thin-bed and wall installations. Due to its lightweight formula and smooth, creamy consistency, a 30 lb bag provides the same coverage as a 50 lb bag of traditional mortar.

LATICRETE TRI-LITE can bond to many suitable substrates including concrete, steel and cement plaster. Its incredible non-sag performance is able to support very large and heavy tile with ease.

LATICRETE TRI-LITE can be used for common applications such as countertops, ceilings and bathtub walls. For more information,
visit www.laticrete.com.

Tools of the Trade: Accessories

Peruse the contractor comments and then shop the product section for some great suggestions for your next accessory purchase!


Check out the Bucket Mortar Mixer on YouTube. This is the best tool/device for mixing mud for shower floors. I thought it was high priced until I bought it and used it. Now it is one of my most guarded tools. I would replace it in a moment if it disappeared. – Tom Hambrock, T & J Construction Services

We love 9mil black nitrile gloves. The winter is here, and keeping our hands from cracking is a must. These gloves are thick enough to last a full day, but still thin enough to feel lippage and texture. – Joe Lenner, Infinite Ceramic


barwalt knee pads

Barwalt Ultralight Knee Pads are the original, world- famous vinyl-fl ex knee pad that start- ed the comfort revolution! The folding accordion top allows for comfort while standing and the tough, yet flexible nonskid outer shell offers excellent grip, maximum comfort and security while on your knees, perfect for the tile industry. In addition these knee pads are totally rebuild-able with replacement straps, buttons and liners. www.barwalt.com

GS02 Grout Sealer (Tile Letter)Beno J. Gundlach’s No. GS02 Spray-On Grout Sealer provides grout the ultimate protection against oil- and water-based 54 stains while allowing the sealed grout to breathe. The inverted “anyway” spray tip allows for easy and precise application to grout on floors and walls. It can be applied immediately after grouting and leaves no hard-to-remove residue. Grout Sealer can also be used with clean existing grout. The 15 oz. can seals up to 1,000 linear feet of grout. www.benojgundlachco.com


Back Butter Buddy Hi Res

BOE supplies Primo Tool’s Back Butter Buddy™, which fits on the top of a standard 3 or 5 gallon bucket. It eliminates installer fatigue and injury and reduces tile breakage when back-buttering tiles. Capable of supporting up to 200 lbs. of stacked tiles, the Back Butter Buddy was invented by a contractor, for contractors. With its 360-degree spinning capability, the Back Butter Buddy makes the back-buttering process simple and easy. www.primo-tools.com

Bosch L-RACK (2)

Bosch Power Tools has added the L-Rack to its customizable Click & Go™ system, which allows professionals to expand their current storage system for increased organizational capability and versatility. The L-Rack features convenient single-click stacking and can be used to add additional storage to L-Boxxes or to create a custom organization system. The L-Rack is available as a standalone system or as individual pieces. Bosch’s ST72-OD, a thinner drawer that offers users quick- access storage, as well as four new organization sets, make it easy to sort and store large quantities of smaller consumables, creating the ultimate portable tool box. Every L-Boxx quickly fits together with one-click stacking for easy handling and transport with the L-Cart and L-Dolly. www.boschtools.com

dwe315k_k1 (2)

DEWALT®’s new DWE315K corded oscillating multi-tool kit with UNIVERSAL FITMENT™ Accessories combines a powerful 3.0 amp multi-tool motor with the tool-free QUICK-CHANGE™ System that allows users to change blades and attachments quickly. It’s ideal for a range of applications including cutting, sanding, scraping, and material removal. It has a DUAL-GRIP™ variable-speed trigger with multiple options for gripping the tool, a LED light and UNIVERSAL FITMENT™ accessories that fit most major brands of oscillating tools. The included DEWALT Oscillating Tool Guide System allows users to set the depth or height for accurate repeatability when making a series of cuts. Complete with a three-year limited warranty, one-year free service contract, and 90-day money back guarantee. This promotion (valid Oct 1 – Dec 31) is for tile distribu-tion only; reach Kevin Burroughs at 433-677-2972 for questions. www. stanleyblackanddecker.com

ESK (2) revised

Edge Strip Kits (ESK) are a new product that aids with the installation of self-leveling underlayments. When installing electric floor heating systems, either cables or mats, the ESKs help contain the underlayment, protecting and encapsulating the heating wire and ensuring a flat tile surface. The peel- and-stick design makes it easy to apply around the perimeter of the area where you want to contain the underlayment. Install across door thresholds to protect adjacent carpet or flooring. The larger format tiles and mosaic inlays require flat tile surfaces. More info at www.edgestripkits.com or contact [email protected]

rtc hammerheadRTC’s Hammerhead Super Scraper will amaze you with its ability to remove material from a variety of surfaces, using the power of a reciprocating saw. By doubling or even tripling productivity, you can complete a job faster and with less fatigue. The heat-treated shank has a 90° twist which eliminates flexing, and allows the parent tool to be used in the upright position as intended. The Hammerhead is designed to fit most reciprocating saws on the market; is compatible with both corded, and cordless models; has one shank for various blade sizes, eliminating the need for multiple tools; features athicker blade that can be sharpened multiple times and a twisted shank that keeps blade at a comfortable angle. www.rtcproducts.com


tavymallet7x35TAVY Tile Mallet offers a simple way to install tiles properly. The specially formulated mallet head allows for safe, vigorous beating of tiles to ensure a secure, long-lasting installation. The two-sided mallet has a beveled head with dual-groove designs for packing tiles tightly against spacers using angled blows for the straightest grout joints possible. Beating tiles tightly into the mortar below removes unwanted air from below tiles. The mallet is both lightweight and sturdy for use on tile installations, wood flooring projects or other household applications. 800- 367-8289; www.tavytools.com.

qep knee padsQEP 79650Q XL Professional Knee Pads are designed extra large to offer maximum protection. The form-fitting foam pads add comfort and stability and are made of soft perspiration-wicking neoprene for maximum absorption and fast drying. www.qep.com

DEWALT® Promotion: New DWE315K corded oscillating multi-tool kit with UNIVERSAL FITMENT Accessories

DEWALT®’s new DWE315K corded oscillating multi-tool kit with UNIVERSAL FITMENTTM Accessories combines a powerful 3.0 amp multi-tool motor with the tool-free QUICK-CHANGETM System that allows users to change blades and attachments quickly. It’s ideal for a range of applications including cutting, sanding, scraping, and material removal. It has a DUAL-GRIPTM variable-speed trigger with multiple options for gripping the tool, a LED light and UNIVERSAL FITMENTTM accessories that fit most major brands of oscillating tools. The included DEWALT Oscillating Tool Guide System allows users to set the depth or height for accurate repeatability when making a series of cuts. Complete with a three-year limited warranty, one-year free service contract, and 90-day money back guarantee.

This promotion (valid Oct 1 – Dec 31) is for tile distribution only; reach Kevin Burroughs at 433-677-2972 for questions. www.stanleyblackanddecker.com

Nippers and cutters


Nippers and cutters are some of the most essential tools to perfect and customize a tile job. Contractors share their favorite nipper and cutter brands and models, and we have some for you to peruse in the product section following the comments.


The cutter of choice for us is the Sigma tile cutter. We have four different sizes that we use as needed.

It is an Italian-made cutting board that scores and snaps a hard porcelain tile like butter. I myself used them in Ireland before I came to the USA, and after a few years of using different cutters here I discovered that they were available here also. My opinion is that the Sigma cutter is the Rolls Royce of cutting boards.

Steve Maloney, Maloney Tile & Marble, Inc. 

Most of our guys use the Troxell carbide tile nippers. They last forever and do a great job with all different types of materials.

When it comes to tile cutters our guys are split between Sigma and Rubi. Both are excellent tile cutters and we cut on average about 10,000 square feet on a single blade. We have purchased some of the new Sigmas that cut up to 30” tiles and the job that they do is amazing! Even cutting large format on a diagonal is a breeze, and the labor we save from not having to set up the wet saw pays for the cutter!

Buck Collins, Collins Tile & Stone.

I use cutting boards from Sigma, great for cutting porcelain tiles both straight and on a diagonal. They have very good rip guides on them to set up for several cuts of the same size! I first started using a Sigma cutting board after I won it as a prize for coming in second place at Coverings doing the CTEF Certified Tile Installer hands-on test back in 2010. I’ve bought a couple more since then!

– Greg Michael, CTI  Michael’s Custom Tile, Inc.


pactoolPacTool International offers Snapper Shear SS424 Backer Board Shear, a contractor-grade backer board shear designed specifically for cutting 1/4” and 1/2” Hardibacker® fiber-cement underlayment. Faster and easier than score-and-snap, dust -free operation enables installers to do all the cutting indoors thereby saving considerable time and effort. The blades are reversible and will perform at least 12,000 feet of cutting before they need to be replaced. The power plant is a 1/2” drive Makita made 6.5 amp motor. www.pactool.us

qep_cutterQEP supplies the durable QEP 10600 24” Tile Cutter, a multi-purpose cutter with a  large, high-leverage bicycle grip handle that makes cutting easier and reduces fatigue, while the side arm extension supports large format tiles.  It comes complete with a replaceable 7/8” tungsten carbide ball bearing cutting wheel and an adjustable measuring guide for accurate, repeat cuts. The QEP 32010Q Glass Tile Nipper easily cuts glass tile without the use of conventional glass cutters. These nippers also quickly cut small mosaic pieces of glass and remove tiny points from glass tile.  The QEP 32035Q Compound Tile Nipper offers up to three times the power of conventional nippers for making irregular cuts in ceramic and porcelain tile.  Carbide tips provide easy and fast cutting. Crafted of very durable forged steel, with comfort-grip handles. Visit YouTube for videos on QEP’s tile cutters and nippers. www.qep.com

RTC_cutterRTC’s Razor Push Tile Cutter is the result of long-term research for the world’s best tile cutters. The new Razor series push tile cutters are made in Italy, and designed with the most demanding users in mind. Research revealed that push-style cutters offer a more accurate and consistent cut, while being more user friendly. The latest in scoring wheel technology gives you a better score line, enabling you to cut the hardest of materials with ease. (Cases available for 22” and 26” models.)

barwalt_nipperBarwalt introduces its new Ultrabite Tile Nippers. With porcelain tile getting harder all the time, Barwalt designed a new nipper that independent testing proved only requires one-third the compressive force to cut porcelain, which is more accurate and comfortable to use. The molded body absorbs shock and the diamond carbide tips are replaceable! Available in original, No. 70316 and radius No. 70318 tips. www.barwalt.com

sigma_keracutEuropean Tile Masters offers the SIGMA Kera-Cut tile cutters, designed to cut large-format laminated tile, pressed tile and large sheets of glass as well as many other types of materials up to 1/2” in thickness. They are made out of aluminum and stainless steel and have a triple ball bearing system, which makes scoring the tile smooth and accurate. Even after years of use, maintenance is eliminated. Massive tiles are held in place with either suction cups or the lateral turning supports. The 8E model cuts 120” straight and 84” on the diagonal and the 8C model cuts a 60” straight and 42” on the diagonal.

seperator_ETMThe 41D SEPERATOR is designed to break thin panel, large format tiles after the incision is made by the SIGMA Kera-Cut. www.europeantilemasters.com

Tools of the Trade – October 2013


This month we look at systems that safeguard the air quality of the jobsite for you and your crew, and also keep things a little cleaner for your client.


I never believed that “dust containment” was a viable option for the health and safety for myself or my employees. I spent plenty of money on different dry systems, before deciding that any grinding or polishing would be done wet. Even though the dust systems had large CFM capacities and good filtration systems, it always seemed that lots of dust escaped into the work area. We kept dry grinding to an absolute minimum.

I do believe that new innovations are better than the old systems available 10-15 years ago, though. OSHA interest in air quality forced these changes, I believe (since no job can afford to be red tagged). Alpha’s retrofit dust systems seem great, and most manufacturers now seem to have pretty effective dust collection systems. When used in conjunction with a good HEPA-filtered vacuum, I can see my “wet only” philosophy changing if purchasing tools with such better technology.

Michael K. Whistler, NTCA presenter/technical consultant 

We are adamant about keeping our clients’ homes as free of dust as possible. We turn off all HVAC during demo, then cover areas in plastic, including cover vents and intakes. We run vacuums next to grinders, and keep windows open. My favorite piece of equipment is a JET air cleaner meant for wood working shops. It measures 12” x 24” x 30” and uses a disposable per filter and a 1 micron internal filter.

I also find it useful to manage expectations as well. We do our best to contain all the dust, but, we are remodeling. We can’t get it all.

Joe Lenner, Infinite Ceramic & Stone Installations, LLC

While I do not claim to be dust free, I do try to minimize the spreading of dust while working on a project. Since 95% of my work comes from residential remodel, my clients seem to appreciate our OCD cleaning procedures. We follow all Lead RRP requirements for dust containment, regardless of the age of the home. This includes zipper doors, zip walls in large open spaces, and tacky pads as we exit the area of work. I have also been switching as many of my tools over to the vacuum shrouds as possible. I recently purchased a negative-air machine to set up during demo to move as many airborne particles out of the house and through a filtering system as possible. Wet grinding and cutting is hard to do in a residential application. So we try to control the dust as much as possible.

Greg Hiens, Hiens Tile & Stone

There seemed to be many dust vacuums on the market. Initially I thought I’d try an inexpensive attempt by attaching my $100 shop vacuum to my concrete grinder. This provided decent results – for a little over a minute – and after only two minutes the brand new shop vacuum filter was absolutely saturated with concrete dust. There was zero air-flow and consequently plumes of dust pouring from my floor grinders.

I then began to look for a true commercial-grade solution. After a few hours of searching I learned of an award-winning dust vacuum that automatically cleaned its filters every ten seconds while the vacuum was still running. The Pulse-Bac 1250 by CDC Larue automatically reverses the internal airflow for just a fraction of a second, which blasts the filters clean. This machine has paid for itself many, many times over. For instance:

We no longer have to stop production to clean filters.

Due to the high CFM of the vacuum, no dust escapes from the grinders. As a result, we no longer have a need to hang up plastic-sheeting barriers. When the cost of the plastic sheeting and the wages to hang the plastic are combined it is rather costly.

We can now avoid frequently purchasing new filters for the cheap shop vacuums. Filter life has transitioned from hours or days for the cheap ones and is now up to months or years for the Pulse-Bac filters.

I believe the single biggest advantage to having this equipment is the improved air quality for the health of my crews, my customers, and myself.

I believe this new system has helped to set my company apart from my competitors. I have been awarded jobs solely on my company’s ability to control dust at the point of origin. While these machines were no small investment, they do pay for themselves over time. I couldn’t imagine not having our Pulse-Bacs; as far as I’m concerned they are necessary equipment.

Jay Zurn, Precision Surfaces LLC


MK_cubeMK Diamond offers the Ermator A600 Air Scrubber, with a 99.99 at .3 micron HEPA filtration, to constantly recycle the air removing these harmful particles. With a sturdy, lightweight, compact cabinet, the Ermator A600 is quiet, with two airflow speeds of 300 and 600 CFM that only draw 3.2 amps. Three-year warranty.

edco_totEDCO vacuum systems control airborne dust particles and shorten clean-ups while reducing worker’s exposure to dust and debris. These systems work with grinders, scarifiers, scabblers and saws, with optional HEPA filters. Among their many features, EDCO vacuum systems feature state-of-the-art filtration that removes 99% of air-borne dust particles at 0.5 microns.

dewalt_totDeWalt offers the DWV012, a 10-gallon HEPA dust extractor with automatic filter clean, that allows continuous operation without stopping to clean filter. The powerful 15-amp motor delivers 140 CFM of airflow for wet or dry applications, weighs only 33.5 lbs. Packed with a range of features, it also offers variable suction and power tool actuation, which controls on/off operations of the vacuum with a power tool. www.dewalt.com

casellcel_totCasella Cel introduces the Cel-712 Microdust Pro Monitor, a small, rugged, hand-held instrument that measures concentrations of inhalable powders in real-time for graphical display on its high-contrast color LCD. With a wide detection range (0.001 to 25,000 mg/m3) and full data logging, it can be used independently to measure material processes, to capture release events or to be paired with a cyclone, filter cassette, and sample pump for size-selective or gravimetric monitoring. www.casellausa.com

cclarue_totCDC Larue offers the Pulse-Bac® 1250, a HEPA vacuum with a filter fractional efficiency rating of 98.0% at .3 micron at a CFM flow rate up to 311. The 1250 model comes standard with Pulse-Bac® technology, cyclonic debris management system, a 20-gallon steel tank, HEPA H-13 filters, and a five-caster steel dolly with non-marking casters. An optional tank capacity sensor and three options for collecting debris are also available. The revolutionary design automatically flushes the filters clear while you work, using only ambient air and vacuum. www.cdclarue.com

waltale_totBeaton Innovations’ states that Waletale is the first tool engineered for the tile setter to address the negative effects of the inhalation of free crystalline silica in the work environment. Waletale clips onto the rim of a five-gallon bucket and connects to a vac to significantly reduce the dust generated by the mixing of mortar and grout powders. Winner of Popular Science’s “Best of What’s New 2010.” www.waletale.net

gundlach_totBosch offers the Bosch 3931A-PB Airsweep™ Wet/Dry Vacuum, a 13-gallon wet/dry vacuum cleaner that features enhanced filtration and containment options with four operational modes and an electromagnetic filter cleaning system. The Bosch Hammer Dust collection system reduces airborne dust when chiseling, drilling or during demolition, designed especially for use with Bosch SDS Max® Spline hammers. Bosch also offers a range of dust extraction attachments for work with a range of angle grinders.

bosch_totBeno J. Gundlach features FEIN Turbo Vacuums. All FEIN Turbo Vacuums have extremely powerful two-stage bypass soft-start motors with sealed fans for dust and debris suction, and a second fan to blow cooling air across the motor. They have a 5-micron cloth filter that fits the full circumference of the tank and can be converted to a HEPA vacuum. Three-year warranty.

Tools of the Trade – September 2013

0913-ToT-measuringtoolsBy Lesley Goddin

The importance of the correct measurements on a job cannot be overstated. That’s why it’s key to have reliable tools and instruments to measure correctly – the first time! Following are some recommendations from contractors and some products for your consideration.


I found my Leica laser measuring tool was an extreme help to me. I used it not only to measure jobs onsite, but also to verify that structures were built to plan dimensions when I had to bid from plans only. Funny how seldom I was alerted when room sizes had changed (generally larger) by the GC.

– Michael Whistler, NTCA presenter

A 16´ tape measure and a 2mm mechanical pencil hooked to the collar of my shirt are my best measuring tools.

– Joe Lenner, Infinite Ceramic 

With all of the technically advanced measuring devices out there today we still rely on the basic 25’ Stanley measuring tape. Old fashioned, I know, but it has limited parts to break, doesn’t need batteries and I don’t get massively upset if it gets lost. If we are measuring larger areas we use the Stanley rolling type.

– Scott Heron, Precision Tile Company

We like to use the Stanley Fat Max measuring tape for layouts and marking cuts.

We use the Magic Mark It for a lot of diagonal work. Magic Mark It speeds up the marking process and eliminates mistakes that could be made by reading the tape measure incorrectly.

My personal favorite measuring device when it comes to estimating is the Bosch DLR130 distance measurer. It calculates the distance with a laser. It’s accurate and a lot easier to use than dealing with the hassle of a tape measure. Sometimes the ceiling is high and a tape measure is impractical or hard to read. Measuring around furniture can be a chore with a tape measure. The DLR130 saves time and it doesn’t hurt that it makes an impression of professionalism with the customer as well!

– Michael Weaver, Trendsetter Tile & Stone



Pacific Laser Systems offers the PLS HVL 100 multiple beam laser, a bright, fully-automatic laser layout tool ideal for tile contractors working with complicated layout patterns on floors, walls and even ceilings. Laser beams project 360-degree horizontal level and vertical assist with right angle configuration for square on floors and walls. Powered by four AA rechargeable batteries, the HVL 100 is compact and durable with an accuracy of 1/8” at 60’ maximum error. www.plslaser.com

The DeWALT 3-Spot Laser DW083K projects three spot beams – one up, one down and one horizontal. The working range is 30 meters, with best-in-class accuracy of +/- 0.2mm/n. With a raised down beam, locking pendulum and magnetic pivoting base, the 3-Spot Laser provides dot visibility and clearance for wall track layout. DeWALT has a comprehensive range of spot, line and combination lasers in its line.



March Tools of the Trade Bits and Cores

This month we take a look at bits & cores — essential sawing accessories for work with ceramic and porcelain tile, glass tile and natural stone.  For expanded product information, visit www.tileletter.com.

We are always looking for the best bits for glass tile, and new and better glass-cutting blades.  One bit in our toolbox is the Ridgid Diamond 1-3/8″, 35mm. – Gianna Vallefuoco, VALLEFUOCO Contractors, LLC, Rockville, MD.

I have not found one brand of regular diamond core bits better than others but a requirement that we have is that they be able to be used both wet and dry.  The carbide ones are pretty much worthless. – Scott Heron, Precison Tile Company, Lexington, S.C.

As always, you get what you pay for.  We like either Pearl or Alpha.  We pretty much don’t go outside these two unless it’s glass – then we use CR Lawrence, which is a glass-specific supplier of tools and consumables. – Martin Brookes, Heritage Marble & Tile Inc., Mill Valley, Calif.

As for core bits, here is a little tip.  We have taken 1/4′ plywood, approximately 3′ x 12″, and drilled different size holes at both ends to accommodate different size diamond core bits.  You can clamp the plywood to a tile, or just hold it in place to start your hole.  you don’t have to worry about the bit running across the tile. — Joe Kerber, Kerber Tile, Marble & Stone, Shakopee, Minn.

You’re wasting your time purchasing a bit that will not cut through hard, dense, porcelain tile efficiently. — Nyle Wadford, Neuse Tile Service, Youngsville, NC

Our core bits are supplied to us by European Tile Masters.

They produce Sigma tile cutters and their core bits are awesome.  Theer are a lot of core bits on the market that you get 2-3 holes out of and they’re shot.  We have some of the Sigma, but with well over 40 holes and still going strong! — Buck collins, Collins Tile and Stone, Aldie, Va.

The Pearl P5 core Bit features Pearl’s ADM



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