Dal-Tile launches “unique in the industry” exceptional warranty program for customers who use NTCA Five-Star Contractors

Daltile tile being installed

Dallas, TX – Dal-Tile Corporation is currently launching a new program nationwide to benefit tile installers who have attained the coveted NTCA “Five-Star Contractor” level of achievement in their craft and to also benefit their customers.  The NTCA Five-Star Contractor title is granted by the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) to those NTCA members who have objectively demonstrated a proven track record of success in tile and stone installation and business management.  Although Dal-Tile already offers strong warranties to all customers on all of their quality products regardless of who installs, Dal-Tile believes so strongly in the quality of workmanship offered by NTCA Five-Star Contractors that Dal-Tile is now choosing to provide longer warranties to customers on products that are installed by NTCA Five-Star Contractors.  The new warranty program is just one more way that as the leading manufacturer in the industry, Dal-Tile is supporting qualified, superior installers.

“Dal-Tile is now offering end-users a 5-year ceramic tile warranty and a 10-year warranty on porcelain products installed by a NTCA Five-Star Contractor,” said John Cousins, Senior Vice President, Dal-Tile Corporation.  “These are outstanding warranties that no other tile manufacturer in the industry is offering to our industry’s NTCA Five-Star Contractors.  The warranties apply to Daltile, Marazzi, and American Olean products when installed in accordance with approved installation systems.”

“One of the greatest challenges for the tile industry is the shortage of qualified installers,” said Cousins.  “As the industry stalwart, Dal-Tile believes in setting up our industry’s installation leaders for even greater success.  These warranties not only make today’s NTCA Five-Star Contractors’ businesses more profitable, but they incentivize other installers to earn the NTCA Five-Star Contractor designation that represents proven excellence in craftsmanship.  Dal-Tile is committed to continuing our legacy of equipping the installer community for success.”

“NTCA is excited about Dal-Tile’s warranty program,” said Amber Fox, NTCA Five-Star Program Director.  “It not only demonstrates Dal-Tile’s pledge to promote qualified labor; it shows they recognize labors’ contribution to the success of construction projects.”

Dal-Tile’s Hilary Frank will be presenting all details of the new warranty program to contractors attending the upcoming NTCA Five-Star Contractor summer meeting in Canada.  Frank is a Dal-Tile Midwest Regional Vice President as well as a NTCA Board Member. 

“The warranty program is already up and running,” added Cousins.  “For more information, visit daltilewarranty.com.”

To learn more about the NTCA Five-Star Contractor Program, visit www.tile-assn.com/page/FiveStar.


About Dal-Tile

Dal-Tile is the largest manufacturer and marketer of ceramic tile, natural stone, and countertop products used in residential and commercial spaces across North America. Under its powerhouse brands — Daltile, Marazzi, and American Olean — Dal-Tile leads the industry in both design and product innovation, and is committed to incorporating environmentally-friendly materials, processes, and products throughout its organization. 

Dal-Tile has more than 9,000 employees in North America and sells its products through a network of more than 300 company-owned sales service centers, stone slabyards, design galleries, and design studios, as well as through independent distributors and leading home center retailers nationwide. 

Founded in 1947 and headquartered in Dallas, Dal-Tile is a division of Mohawk Industries, the leading global flooring manufacturer that creates products to enhance residential and commercial spaces around the world.  For more information on Dal-Tile and Mohawk Industries, please visit mohawkind.com.  For product information, visit daltile.com, marazziusa.com, and americanolean.com. 

Merkrete Systems provide installation protection to new Naples Fire-Rescue Station

Rescue is one of the most important functions of every fire department. From day one in recruit school, firefighters are trained that life safety is the number one priority. It is a job responsibility that requires continual preparation.

It was not too long ago that mentioning rescue in the fire service meant that someone was typically saved from a fire. Today, rescue comes in many forms, which include responding to vehicular crashes, hazardous materials incidents, and a host of other rescue scenarios such as swift-water, ice, confined-space, structural collapse, or any situation that requires removing someone from harm’s way. 

There are some basic premises that apply to all these potential events and some special preparations for the unique challenges that they may present. Time is critical in rescue situations to contain fires, and transport victims of fire and serious injury incidents to appropriate facilities within a specific time-period or potentially face negative outcomes. Whether it’s police officers, firefighters, first responders, or 911 dispatchers, many dedicated Americans work long hours, and often in difficult conditions, to make sure that when someone is in need, they are there to help.

Naples opens new fire-rescue station and emergency ops center

Additional exterior areas installed using Merkrete 855 XXL LHT Mortar.

The Naples Fire-Rescue Department received a massive upgrade last May with the new Fire Station No. 1. The first visible sign began on August 14, 2016 involving the demolition of the old Fire Station No. 1 at 835 Eighth Ave. in Naples, Fla. The razing took about 30 days, clearing the way for a new $6.5 million, two-story, 22,600-sq.-ft. fire station, administrative headquarters and state-of-the-art emergency operations center. 

The new building exceeds FEMA 100-year flood zone levels, has the ability to withstand Category 5 hurricane wind levels and is also the most cost-effective way to get operations and administrative staff all under one roof. This new fire-rescue station will provide critical infrastructure to the city of Naples and will meet the city’s public safety demands for at least 50 years.

Merkrete 855 XXL LHT Mortar used for installing 24 x 24 Coral Stone throughout the exterior.


Developed in collaboration among Manhattan Construction, Creative Stoneworks and Architects Design Group, the new building includes three and a half apparatus bays and associated apparatus support spaces, Battalion Chief office, bunk, and restroom. It also contains general facility functions such as kitchen, dining, report writing, physical agility, dormitories, restrooms, showers, and equipment storage spaces. Fire administration is located on the second floor and includes an Emergency Operations Center and multipurpose room.

Vision and functionality come together

Interior porcelain panels installed with Merkrete’s 855 XXL LHT Mortar.

When Creative Stoneworks was approached by Manhattan Construction to supply the high-performing materials they required, Creative Stoneworks knew they would need a trusted and top-quality installation system to comply with the high-standard building codes and ensure a job well done. Upon reviewing the scope of the project, all answers pointed definitively to Merkrete, the leader in waterproofing, crack isolation and setting materials technology. 

Creative Stonework’s tile installation on the exterior of the new Naples Fire-Rescue Station consisted of approximately 10,000 sq. ft. of 24 x 24 x 1.5 inch Coral Stone. 

A hurricane-proof solution secures the deal

John McIntyre, Technical Sales Representative and Tim O’Hara, Territory Sales Representative from Merkrete submitted a complete installation system including Merkrete Hydro Guard SP-1 waterproofing, crack-isolation and air-barrier membrane, and 855 XXL LHT Mortar, a high-performance setting mortar, providing excellent non-sag characteristics for vertical stone applications in exterior conditions. This sole-sourced Merkrete installation system was submitted and approved by the architectural and design team at Architects Design Group, and the Merkrete team was available as a resource for the project to answer any questions or address concerns relating to the installation system as recommended from Merkrete.

Exterior protected using Merkrete’s Hydro Guard SP1 Waterproofing & Crack Isolation Membrane.

The specifications called for crack-isolation, waterproofing and air-barrier on the exterior parts of installation to meet the new FEMA FIRM map elevations, as well as updated code that required wind and impact-resistant design.

Combined with an aggressive project schedule, work began using Merkrete Hydro Guard SP-1. The liquid-applied, fast-drying Hydro Guard SP-1 combines crack isolation up to 1/8” and a waterproof system to enable crews to prepare the substrate for setting tile at a faster pace. Hydro Guard SP1 contains excellent elongation, adhesion and high-strength properties providing a 100% waterproof membrane that prevents the transfer of substrate cracks to the finished ceramic or stone tile surface. “Merkrete’s liquid membranes have been a staple in the industry for many years and we rely on its performance,” said Eric Gubelman, Creative Stonework General Manager.

There is no doubt that setting these large tile and stones on a vertical surface presents their fair share of installation challenges due to the tight tolerances used to maintain the beauty of the tile and overall aesthetic of the installation. So, selection of the setting material is critical, especially when installing large-and-heavy tile (LHT). LHT Mortars are not for leveling or truing the substrate, instead they are intended to help fill the irregular space between the tile and the underlayment. 

Merkrete proved the perfect match for a specific challenge again, considering the strength of the mortar it called for. “We used large-and-heavy natural stone, which requires a mortar with a super-high bondability that can handle the weight of the panels,” says Gubelman. John McIntrye adds, “Merkrete 855 XXL is a high-performing, multipurpose, polymer-modified setting adhesive for installing extra-large-format porcelain, ceramic tile and natural stone for both floors and walls, and can be used as thin or medium bed setting adhesive for stone. Merkrete proved it could hold its weight allowing Creative Stoneworks the versatility they required.”

Creative Stoneworks’ preferred mortar is MERKRETE’s 855 XXL LHT Mortar for these types of applications. “The smooth and creamy material makes for easy spreading, especially when speed is a factor,” says Gubelman. 855 XXL LHT Mortar works great for both floors and walls and offers high strengths and flexibility.

The Naples Fire-Rescue Department moved into its new home on May 1, 2019.

Broad reach supports responsiveness

It was critical that Creative Stoneworks chose a company who would be able to get the products delivered when required and the job completed on time. Merkrete is a member of ParexGroup, one of the largest companies and a worldwide leader in tile setting materials, façade finishes and technical mortars, established in 22 countries with 68 manufacturing plants and over 4,100 employees. “Merkrete was perfect for this project’s requirements, because we have plants and distribution centers all over the country, so our turnaround time and ability to get products from our Haines City, Fla. location to the job site were no problem,” says O’Hara. 

The Naples Fire-Rescue Department moved into its new home on May 1, 2019 to proudly protect and serve its community. Many thanks to all police officers, firefighters, first responders and military personnel who dedicate their lives to provide comfort and safety to all of us!

The new building exceeds FEMA 100-year flood zone levels, and has the ability to withstand Category 5 hurricane wind levels.

Total Solutions Plus comes to Nashville

All-industry conference offers business-building program amidst Music City backdrop

Each year, Total Solutions Plus (TSP) brings the ceramic tile industry together to network and learn from each other. This year, the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA), Tile Council of North America (TCNA), Tile Contractors Association of America (TCAA) and National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) have designed an itinerary to boost your business, hone your technical expertise, recognize outstanding individuals in the industry and allow plenty of time to network with friends and colleagues old and new. 

Though the conference itself takes place October 27-30, committee and board meetings take place on Saturday and Sunday, October 26-27, with a golf tournament at the Gaylord Springs Golf Links that starts noon on Sunday, and various tours of the area available. The conference officially kicks off with an opening reception Sunday night at 6 pm. 

The Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn., is home to TSP 2019. In addition to its proximity to the heart of Nashville and all the music venues the city has to offer – including the Grand Ole Opry and the historic Ryman Auditorium – the nine-acre property offers SoundWaves, an upscale water experience featuring four acres of combined indoor and outdoor water attractions, which opened at the end of last year. 

The annual golf tournament commences Sunday, October 27 at noon.


Dean Minuto

After a hearty breakfast Monday morning, the program commences with the “Get to Yes Faster” keynote from Dean Minuto of Yescalate. Minuto is an expert in the art of persuasion, that he believes is good communication and understanding. He’s personally coached more than 9,000 CEOs, tens of thousands of other executives, and countless employees in his 25 years as a leading expert in sales. In 2015, he received Vistage International’s 2015 Speaker of the Year award. He loves to weave neurobiology, sales techniques, marketing, history, psychology, and other sciences together in order to create a full tapestry of human behavior. It is only in understanding this that you can learn how to get to yes. He believes that success isn’t about a commission: it’s about making a difference. 

Chris McChesney

The closing keynote on Tuesday morning is delivered by Chris McChesney, addressing “The 4 Disciplines of Execution,” the title of his best-selling book. McChesney is the Global Practice Leader of Execution for Franklin Covey and one of Franklin Covey’s most in-demand speakers worldwide. Over his 20 years with the organization, McChesney has led change efforts that have become many of Franklin Covey’s most noted case studies and include working directly with Georgia Governor Sonny Purdue and the president of Marriott for the Americas, Shaw Industries, Kroger Supermarkets, Coca-Cola, Comcast, Home Depot, Frito-Lay, Lockheed Martin, Gaylord Entertainment and Northrop Grumman. In addition to his keynote, McChesney will also lead a Business Breakout on Tuesday morning, titled “A Deeper Dive Into The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals.”

Al Bates

Breakout groups, tabletops and networking

Education programming continues with an outstanding lineup of speakers and industry experts on Monday and Tuesday. Monday includes a business breakout with Al Bates; Donato Pompo talks about building a bulletproof spec, and there are two technical breakouts before the Awards Lunch. Post-lunch activities include two technical breakouts and Distributor forum. Also scheduled on Monday is a TCNA Board meeting and annual meetings for both CTDA and NTCA.

Donato Pompo

Monday afternoon from 4:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m., the Tabletop Event begins, with opportunities to meet with suppliers and other attendees. 

Tuesday following the McChesney keynote is his breakout group, as well as two technical breakouts plus a session on “How to effectively use Why Tile to benefit your business.” After the Awards Lunch, there’s a Business Breakout titled, “Future of Distribution in the Tile Industry – NAW Fellow Panel/Presentation,” as well as another technical breakout, and a joint panel discussion. A closing reception leads into a closing country-western themed party and dinner. 

NTCA Tile Setter Craftsperson of the Year winner announced

The inaugural NTCA Tile Setter Craftsperson of the Year Award will be announced at TSP. This award will recognize a NTCA member who has proven to be invaluable in the field due to his or her outstanding installations, is passionate and actively engaged in continual self-improvement, leads and/or mentors others, and is devoted to the art of setting tile.  

Off-site fun

If you’re looking to take in a bit of local flavor, visit the TSP website for the schedule of activities. In addition to the golf tournament, other outings include “A Musical Journey through Nashville, Ryman Auditorium and Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum,” a behind-the-scenes tour of the Grand Ole Opry and Ryman Auditorium, a tour through the Hermitage, the former home of Andrew Jackson, visit to Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and Historic RCA Studio B, home to over 200 Elvis Presley recordings, a culinary tour and a chance to try your hand at making Goo Goo Clusters, the iconic Nashville candy that satisfies your sweet tooth with a combination of caramel, marshmallow nougat, fresh roasted peanuts and milk chocolate. 

StonExpo México Premiers at Obra Blanca Expo 2019

Obra Blanca Expo (OB Expo), a new tradeshow of the Tile Council of North America (TCNA), has joined with Informa, the world’s largest exhibition organization, to bring StonExpo to México. OB Expo with StonExpo Mexico will take place October 15–17, 2019, at Expo Santa Fe, México City.

Started in 1987, StonExpo is an international exhibition of marble, granite, and other natural stones, along with the latest trends in stone design and fabrication machinery. StonExpo has been featured at The International Surface Event in Las Vegas since 2004 and this December will also be held in China at The International Surface Event in Shanghai. OB Expo 2019 will be the first time StonExpo is being presented in México.

OB Expo specializes in interior and exterior finishes and materials used in the final stage of a new construction or remodel project, along with those unique items that allow an architect or designer to crown a project with final touches.

OB Expo has been designed to provide a superior experience for the visitor. The exhibition is organized by thematic pavilions where three days of events will provide an international platform for architects, interior designers, contractors, distributors, investors, and real estate developers to come together to strengthen relationships, discover the latest trends and product innovations, and above all, to be inspired.

“This unique environment creates the perfect setting for StonExpo, one of the longest running and influential exhibitions in the world of marble and natural stone,” said Amie Gonzalez, Show Director of The International Surface Event.

Industry manufacturers and business professionals interested in more information about StonExpo and the brand expansion into Mexico, should contact the event team at (972) 536-6431 or via email at [email protected] or visit www.intlsurfaceevent.com/en/mexico


About StonExpo

StonExpo is a B2B stone industry event under The International Surface Event (TISE) brand offering stone industry professionals a global discovery of specialty stone and machinery, stone tools, equipment, services and demonstrations from leading manufacturers and associations. StonExpo’s flagship annual event occurs each January in Las Vegas in conjunction with SURFACES and TileExpo; these three mega events combine to become the largest North American floor covering, stone, and tile event featuring over 800 exhibitors and upwards of 450,000 square feet of exhibit space. Established in 1987, StonExpo is proud to now have brand extensions via pavilions, partner events, and branch-brand events in China, Canada, and Mexico. For more information about StonExpo, visit www.intlsurfaceevent.com

About TCNA—México
Tile Council of North America — México (TCNA—México) was incorporated in 2005 to represent tile and tile-related companies with manufacturing in México, and to develop and expand Mexico’s ceramic tile industry, and advance the interests of Mexican stakeholders in national and international standards.

About Tile Council of North America (TCNA)
TCNA is a trade association representing manufacturers of ceramic tile, tile installation materials, tile equipment, raw materials and other tile-related products. Established in 1945 as the Tile Council of America (TCA), it became the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) in 2003, reflecting its membership expansion to all of North America.

The Tile Council is recognized for its leadership role in facilitating the development of North American and international industry quality standards to benefit tile consumers. Additionally, TCNA regularly conducts independent research and product testing, works with regulatory, trade, and other government agencies, and publishes installation guidelines, tile standards, economic reports, and promotional literature.

 About Informa PLC
Informa PLC is a leading, international business to business information services Group, operating in over 30 countries. We create transaction-led exhibitions and content-based events, specialist data, intelligence and marketing services products, as well as scholarly research and specialist reference-led academic content. Our products and services help businesses and professionals connect, learn, do business and gain an edge over the competition. Informa is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a member of the FTSE 100.

4th Annual Tile Day in Livonia attracts over 50 architects

The 4th annual Tile Day was held May 17th in Livonia, Mich. It  was sponsored by the Great Lakes Ceramic Tile Council, Detroit Ceramic Tile Contractors Association, and IMI. Over 50 architects turned out for this CEU event.

Tile Day

Over 50 architects attended the 4th Annual Tile Day.

Three different programs were offered that covered:

  • Curbless shower applications,
  • Anti-fracture membranes
  • And an update on current grout technology

The Tile Day event was also supported by 26 local and national vendors who displayed their latest tile and tile related technologies. All who attended were presented with the latest developments in ANSI and TCNA guidelines and industry information. In addition, all were provided with the latest TCNA research into plastic-based material (PBM) floors.


Marble tile at historic Hearst Castle pool renovated with full system from CUSTOM

The Roman-themed Neptune Pool was expanded three times between the 1920s to 1936, to hold 345,000 gallons of water.

The Neptune Pool at Hearst Castle is perhaps the most exciting and beautiful renovation project a tile and stone contractor could dream of. Located on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean above San Simeon, Calif., this iconic marble pool was inspired by the stunning location, and rivals the extravagant architecture of the castle itself. When cracks and leaks in the 90-year old landmark required repairs and a complete replacement of the tile, a full system from Custom Building Products was selected to install the new stone work.

Originally designed by publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst’s architect Julia Morgan in the 1920s, the Roman-themed Neptune Pool was expanded three times until it reached its current size in 1936. It now holds 345,000 gallons of water, measures 104 feet long by 58 feet to 95 feet across and reaches a depth of 10 feet. The pool is an engineering marvel, being suspended rather than sunken; this factor added an extra layer of complexity to shell and plumbing repair efforts at the site.

By 2014, the aging pool was leaking up to 5,000 gallons of water daily during a devastating drought. After draining the pool to prevent further leaks and assess damage, all original tile had to be removed to allow extensive repairs to the shell. A complete renovation was commissioned by California State Parks, which owns and maintains this expansive property. Following repairs to fill cracks and other imperfections, the application of a crystalline waterproofing solution and a successful 14-day fill test, tile installation began in earnest.

Stellar products and technical support: a winning combination

The natural stone tile work on this project was awarded to the third-generation marble craftsmen at Carnevale & Lohr, Inc., of Bell Gardens, Calif. Their union stone masons and tile setters are trained in time-tested and traditional hand-fitting methods, but also incorporate modern tile installation technology, standards and techniques. This way, the installers brought together the best of the old and new worlds of tile craftsmanship. 

“Custom’s products are excellent,” said David Carnevale, president of Carnevale & Lohr, “but this project also needed to be about the technical support, best warranty, and partnership of the installation products manufacturer. Custom offered their testing labs and all of their resources to us. That was something different, and it counted for so much!” 

Surface preparation was carried out by experienced union installers from subcontractor and NTCA member Charles McCandless Tile Contractor, Inc. of Santa Ana, Calif. To smooth the surface of the pool shell, workers spread Quikrete® Deck Mud fortified with CUSTOM Thin-Set and Mortar Admix at a depth of 1/4” up to 1” in places. This pre-blended leveling mortar is formulated for low shrinkage and saved the labor of powder-blending at the site, while the addition of polymers improved performance and flexural strength. After curing, a bond coat of thin-set mortar was used to prepare the shell for receiving a membrane. 

RedGard® Waterproofing and Crack Prevention Membrane was specified to help isolate cracks in the substrate and waterproof the surface preparation and mortar bed.

Three full strength coats of RedGard followed an initial primer coat for a total of 45 dry mils.

RedGard® Water-proofing and Crack Prevention Membrane was specified to help isolate cracks in the substrate and waterproof the surface preparation and mortar bed. A liquid-applied, elastomeric membrane was indicated due to the size of the project and the rounded surfaces throughout. The membrane was roller applied for the best control of wet mil thickness to exceed the requirements of ANSI A118.10 and A118.12. Three full strength coats of RedGard followed an initial primer coat for a total of 45 dry mils. After curing, each successive coat was applied at a right angle to the previous one to provide the highest level of protection. 

“With RedGard, the ease of application and not having any seams is a huge plus,” offered Mark McCandless, president of McCandless Tile. “On top of that, the team at Custom provided a great system, technical assistance, coordination with the design team and a warranty.”

Attaining historical accuracy

Hearst Castle is a designated National Historic Landmark to protect the architectural masterpieces located at this unique site in California history. This status required an exact color and material match to reproduce the classic patterns of the original marble tile installation. Prior to demolition, 3D laser scans were used to map the tile in the pool to within 1/8”. From these calculations, dimensioned shop drawings were produced to plot the location of individual tiles and their relation to other pool elements. 

Since the site is a National Historic Landmark, an exact color and material match was required to reproduce the classic patterns of the original marble tile installation.

Honoring its first builders, the original Vermont quarry locations were located by a team from the state and used to source the new marble and serpentine needed to bring the pool back in all of its glory. 

All of this planning was followed by the painstaking installation of over 19,000 stone tiles involving countless referrals to photos, plans and other documentation of the original pool. Tiles were carefully fabricated and sorted by character to best replicate every detail of the historic project. Skilled masons set 3,000 sq. ft. of Vermont Verde Antique® serpentine and 7,000 sq. ft. of Olympian White Danby® marble. To match the original pool, the new stone was also cut to 3/4”-thick, so it was quite heavy at 12 lbs./sq. ft. MegaLite® Ultimate Crack Prevention Large Format Tile Mortar was specified for the setting the natural stone in this challenging environment. This mortar exceeds ANSI A118.15 TE for use up to 3/4” thick to support heavy tile and prevent lippage. 

According to the company, MegaLite offers the highest bond strength for the most demanding installation requirements and has the flexibility to withstand horizontal substrate movement. The lightweight formula provided excellent handling characteristics, including

Each stone tile was back-buttered prior to being placed.

less fatigue for installers working with heavy materials. Thixotropic properties provided the non-sag, non-slump performance needed for setting natural stone on both the bottom and vertical sides of the pool. 

Achieving 95% coverage

The adhesive mortar was keyed into the substrate. Then, additional mortar was combed in straight lines using the SuperiorBilt® Premium Notch trowel; this tool is designed to promote ridge collapse once the tile is set. Following industry best practices, trowel ridges were placed running parallel to the shortest side of rectangular tiles to facilitate air release. Each stone tile was back-buttered prior to being placed. Finally, tiles were moved across the trowel ridges to collapse them, release air and prevent voids behind the tile. 

An installer checks the back of a Olympian White Danby® marble tile to ensure 95% coverage.

The stone workers used soft rubber mallets to beat in the bedded tile for a flat tiled surface. Suction cups were used to periodically check mortar coverage and transfer to ensure that it met the 95% requirement for natural stone, exteriors or wet areas. With the pool combining all of these elements, proper ridge collapse and coverage were especially important to protect the tile per ANSI A108.5.2.5. 

The Neptune Pool’s marble and serpentine tiles were grouted with PolyBlend® Non-Sanded Grout. After testing with samples of the stone and historic small joints between tiles, the sand-free formula proved ideal for the project. This durable, non-shrinking, polymer-modified grout can be used to fill joints up to 1/8”. Bright White was the shade used to replicate the original grout, which long pre-dated
colored grouts.

The Neptune Pool’s marble and serpentine tiles were grouted with PolyBlend® Non-Sanded Grout, in the Bright White shade to replicate the original grout.

“As Californians, we take tremendous pride in this project,” said Jim Christenson, field superintendant at Carnevale & Lohr. “Everyone was very excited to watch the pool come back to life.” 

PRODUCTS USED: RedGard® Waterproofing and Crack Prevention Membrane; MegaLite® Ultimate Crack Prevention Large Format Tile Mortar; PolyBlend® Non-Sanded Grout; Commercial 100% Silicone Sealant 

LOCATION: San Simeon, Calif.


ARCHITECT: Page & Turnbull, San Francisco, Calif.

GENERAL CONTRACTOR: T.B. Penick & Sons, Inc., San Diego, Calif.

TILE CONTRACTORS: Carnevale & Lohr, Inc., Bell Gardens, Calif.; Charles McCandless Tile, Inc., Santa Ana, Calif.

CUSTOM BUILDING PRODUCTS TEAM: Brian Swann, District Manager; David Stephens, Territory Manager 

NTCA Apprenticeship Guidelines Program Approved by U.S. Department of Labor

The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), the world’s largest tile contractor association, is pleased to announce it has received formal acceptance into the National Apprenticeship System from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). In a letter dated May 23rd, 2019, the DOL informed NTCA that its National Guidelines for Apprenticeship had been reviewed and found to be in compliance.   

The NTCA Apprenticeship Guidelines Program, which combines field experience with online learning and designated classroom training, is designed to provide members an opportunity to attract new skilled labor into the ceramic tile industry. The program will offer guidance to NTCA members in developing their own tile finishers and tile setters apprenticeship programs.  

NTCA Apprenticeship Guidelines Program

“A primary strategic goal of the NTCA is to provide our membership with resources to recruit and train new and existing employees,” said NTCA Executive Director Bart Bettiga.  “These apprenticeship guidelines are so important because without a formal career path outline to a prospective worker, it is hard to compete with other industries who are vying for these same individuals.”   

Becky Serbin, NTCA Education and Curriculum Director, has been working with volunteer leaders and supporters to develop NTCA’s apprenticeship guidelines program. “This program will allow us to navigate our members through their individual apprenticeship application process. We are looking forward to working with our members to attract and train new talent into the industry,” said Serbin.   

Currently, assistance in developing apprenticeship programs is available only to NTCA members. Potential apprentices do not have to be members. 

For more information on the NTCA Apprenticeship Guidelines Program, visit www.tile-assn.com/page/ntcaapprenticeship. For details on how to apply or to attain more information about the program, contact Becky Serbin. Serbin can be reached at [email protected] 




The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) is a non-profit trade association serving every segment of the industry, spearheading education for the professional installation of ceramic tile, natural stone and allied products.  For more information, please contact NTCA executive director Bart Bettiga at [email protected].com, via telephone at (601) 939-2071, or visit www.tile-assn.com.  

Tom Vaughn retires from NTCA Technical Committee

Vaughn served the committee as the longest-standing member, for over 30 years

Tom Vaughn, the longest standing member of the NTCA Technical Committee, serving for well over 30 years, has announced his retirement from the Committee, and attended his final Technical Committee meeting at TISE in Las Vegas this past January. 

“Tom Vaughn has been a valuable and productive member of the NTCA Technical Committee since its reactivation in 1985,” said NTCA Executive Director Emeritus Joe Tarver, a contemporary of Vaughn, who along with David Allen Company’s Bob Roberson was one of a group of about 10 individuals who worked to form the Technical Committee, which was responsible for the development of the NTCA Reference Manual.

“There is no way to evaluate his contributions not only to NTCA but to the entire industry,” Tarver continued. “Always there; first to volunteer; calmly and accurately providing information on a broad spectrum of subjects. Tom truly is a role model for what a Technical Committee member should strive for. It takes a special person to remain non-proprietary while pursuing solutions that will benefit the entire industry without regard for an individual or an individual entity. I never knew Tom to do anything other than that. Present and future members of all NTCA committees can’t go wrong by emulating the passion, commitment, dedication and concern for his proprietary concerns, NTCA and the total industry.”

NTCA Executive Director Bart Bettiga added, “Tom served on this committee for over 30 years, and was the longest standing active member. NTCA is sincerely in Tom’s debt.”

Some of Vaughn’s many articles and/or contributions include:

  • Latex-modified grouts
  • Cement grouting procedures
  • Inconsistent grout color
  • How to use water-cleanable epoxy grouts
  • Dealing with efflorescence
  • Considerations to reduce tile tenting
  • Exterior tiling and panelized exterior tile systems
  • Tiling over engineered wood systems
  • How to incorporate radiant heat into tile and stone installations
  • How to use self-leveling underlayment with tile and stone
  • Overview: Underlayments, trowelable and poured

Historic projects

Tom Vaughn circa 1985 as Technical Director, Building Products Division of H.B. Fuller Company.

In addition to his work on the NTCA Technical Committee, Vaughn had a pivotal role in his work as Technical Director, Building Products Division of the H.B. Fuller Company in the 1985 construction and tiling of the Baltimore Fort McHenry Tunnel, which according to Vaughn was the largest single project that the National Interstate and Defense system had built at the time. 

“With over 1.3 million sq. ft. of tile, it was also the largest project I had worked on at the time,” he said. “This project led me to being involved in coming up with a bonding system for the Holland Tunnel reconstruction in New York and the tallest panelized tile project in Seattle, Wa., called Watermark Tower. The building is 22 stories or about 276 feet high.”

Early beginnings

Vaughn got involved in the tile industry in 1973 and became a member of the Southern Tile, Terrazzo Marble Contractors Association (STTMCA – one of the previous monikers of NTCA) in about 1975. He recalled, “It wasn’t long before I met people like Joe Tarver, Paul Dinkel, Leigh Hightower, Brannon Murray, Bob Young and Virgil Smith. All of these people were interested in helping the industry grow and shared their technical expertise to all who would listen.

“Joe Tarver tried to harness as much technical power as he could to help spread the word to the tile and stone industry,” he added. “Soon, others like Butch Woelfel, Jess McIvain, Steve Young, Rich Deutsch, Bob Roberson, Harvey Powell, Gerry Zakim, as well as others joined the group.

“With a lot of work, the Technical Committee was well on its way creating and distributing information to the entire industry. Over the years, more members were added and the committee went from distributing a handful of documents to nearly 300 pages of information today. I’ve been very fortunate to be a part of this group for so many years. I continue to be amazed at how the tile industry has changed, but I’m so impressed with the technical expertise the committee currently processes.”

Vaughn also served on the NTCA Board of Directors as an Affiliate Distributor member in the early ’90s, representing Minnesota Tile Supply. Both NTCA Executive Director Bart Bettiga and Assistant Executive Director Jim Olson worked for him there in the late ’80s to mid ’90s. “I believe Tom was instrumental in helping me to become Executive Director at NTCA,” Bettiga added.

He called his involvement with NTCA back in the ’70s “one of the most rewarding decisions I made in my career. Not only did I learn a great deal over the year, I met many lifelong friends along the way.

“I’m glad to have been able to participate in the Technical Committee and watch the ceramic and stone industry grow immensely,” he said. “In the beginning, the industry was much simpler and one could have a pretty good understanding of nearly all the products and installation procedures. In fact, the tile Handbook only had about 16 pages of details.

“I’m grateful to those that helped me learn about our great industry and hope I was able to help others improve their understanding of installation methods and practices,” he said. “Looking back, I’m totally amazed at how many documents and papers have come from the group. The hours spent both in meetings and on our own time have help shaped the direction of how tile is being installed. With the number of really talented members the committee currently has, I’m confident the committee will continue to make significant contributions in the months and years ahead.”

The NTCA Technical Committee bids a fond farewell to Tom Vaughn in Las Vegas after its final meeting.

Importers Challenge Ceramic Tile Antidumping Petition

Washington, DC: May 17, 2019 – On April 10, 2019, the Coalition for Fair Trade in Ceramic Tile filed petitions with the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission seeking antidumping and countervailing duties on imports of ceramic tile products from the People’s Republic of China. The Coalition consists of U.S. ceramic tile producers American Wonder Porcelain, Florida Tile, Inc., Crossville, Inc., Florim USA, Dal-Tile Corporation, Landmark Ceramics, Del Conca USA, Inc. and StonePeak Ceramics (all members of the Tile Council of North America).

In response to that filing, a broad representation of North American based importers, distributors, retailers, and design professionals have formed the Ceramic Tile Alliance.  The group (CTA) is strongly opposed to the tariffs and believe they jeopardize the long-term health and growth of the entire ceramic tile industry against other competing floor and wall products. The group (CTA) is united in a single effort to save American businesses and the thousands of American jobs which will be at risk if these tariffs are imposed.

The focus of the Ceramic Tile Alliance is to both inform the industry through an awareness campaign and present a united front in the legal proceedings regarding the petition. The (CTA) believes it is important highlight the fact that these tariffs will only benefit domestic ceramic tile manufacturers at the expense of ceramic tile distributors, retailers, installers and design professionals. This campaign is supported by counterclaims against the antidumping and countervailing petition; which shows that Chinese imports have not negatively affected the growth of domestic manufacturing and Chinese imports are not the lowest-cost products imported into the market.

The Ceramic Tile Alliance has started a petition at change.org in hopes of giving a voice to the tens of thousands of ceramic tile industry professionals that will be negatively impacted by these tariffs.

For more information visit www.ceramictilealliance.com

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