Marazzi Tile

Design with Influence™

Introducing Influence™, an innovative new series exhibiting a contemporary linear metal graphic.  Influence™ ventures into an unparalleled design inspired by metallic colors in steel, silver, iron, brass and copper.  View the full collection online and experience the power of Influence™.

 

Feature Story – July 2018 – Merkrete Systems

After years in the making, the Hotel Bennett perfectly blends unparalleled luxury with an unmatched setting. Fittingly located on King Street, one of Charleston’s most famous addresses, this hotel will be among the most significant lodging developments built in the Holy City and the State of South Carolina.

Prominently located on Marion Square, the hotel’s historic site formerly housed the original west wing of The Citadel, South Carolina’s Military Academy. Most recently, it was home to the Charleston Library. Today, Marion Square, the most celebrated green space in the city, serves as a central gathering location for world-class events, including the Charleston Wine & Food Festival, Charleston Fashion Week, the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition and the popular Charleston Farmer’s Market.

Hotel Bennett features 179 lavish guestrooms and suites, a signature restaurant with stunning views of Charleston’s famed park, and a stylish bar and lounge. The hotel will also include a spectacular rooftop pool with cabanas and bar, a luxury spa, a French patisserie, and a variety of grand event and flexible meeting spaces.

Classic elegance and timeless design

The impressive interior style combines sophisticated, inspired design reminiscent of the city’s rich heritage with a modern perspective. Designed by Fairfax and Sammons Architects, the Hotel Bennett sets the standard for the melding of both new and vintage styles. The tile and stone installations throughout the building perfectly match this high-class, world-traveler aesthetic, as each piece was masterfully chosen and strategically placed for an extra touch of glamour and ensured functionality.

When NTCA Five Star Contractor David Allen Company was approached by Balfour Beatty Construction to supply the cost-efficient, high-performing materials they wanted from around the world, David Allen Company Project Manager Clovis LaCour knew they’d need a trusted and top-quality waterproofing system to ensure a job well done. Upon reviewing the scope of the project, all answers pointed definitively to Merkrete, a leader in waterproofing, crack isolation and underlayment technology. To prevent any potential moisture issues in highly utilized areas such as the hotel’s exterior balconies, Merkrete’s trusted system is a critical component to the installation. 

Since 1920, David Allen Company has been one of the nation’s most recognized and respected tile, terrazzo, marble, and granite contractors.

 

An impermeable solution seals the deal

When it comes to the critical waterproofing under tile on the exterior balconies and surrounding areas, Merkrete’s BFP waterproofing membrane system was the only solution. Durable and long lasting, this membrane system is designed for heavy-duty applications, promising zero leaks or cracks, even with severe exposure and high amounts of traffic. 

Merkrete’s BFP Membrane System is a three-layer system designed to mimic a three-ply roofing membrane. As most architects are familiar with this type of roofing product, BFP is composed of three distinct layers: first, the primer is applied in a liquid state and allowed to cure for several hours followed by the liquid membrane itself. The workhorse latex membrane is an asphaltic liquid latex compound reinforced with a hefty fabric allowing for 40 wet mils. After curing, the third and final layer is applied and it acts as a protective wear surface to guard against construction traffic. All three layers are fully waterproofed within themselves and all act as a crack isolation membrane as well. Merkrete’s BFP Membrane system has been in existence since 1974 and provided millions of square feet of protection over occupied space.

Because of the size of the pool deck and vast number of exterior balconies, LaCour needed a versatile product that could address several specific needs at the same time: a pre-mixed product that could be used to screed and slope the pool deck and exterior balconies to the various area drains while also repairing imperfections in the floors. 

Merkrete’s Sales Representative on the job, Brandan Chastine, said, “I immediately knew that Merkrete’s Underlay C was the perfect product for these requirements. Its versatility allows you to build up to 3” and spread to almost a feather edge (1/8”). You don’t usually get that in a single product.” 

Underlay C is a blend of carefully-selected polymers, Portland cement and graded aggregates that do not require the use of latex admix or jobsite blending. The pre-mixed product is versatile and economical, which helped David Allen Company save time and money by allowing a faster installation.

Bond strength; fast-setting grout

Merkrete proved the perfect match for another specific challenge, considering the strength of the mortar required. “We used very large and heavy natural stone, which requires a mortar with a super-high bondability that can handle the weight of the stone,” said LaCour. Merkrete 820 Merlite is a one-step, polymer-modified, lightweight 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.

In addition to the waterproofing membrane system the hotel required, Merkrete was the trusted source yet again in providing high-performance, sustainable grout throughout the exterior installations. “Merkrete’s ProGrout is a fast-setting, polymer-modified, color-consistent and efflorescence-free high performance grout that exceeds ANSI A118.7 for all types of ceramic and dimensional stone tiles on walls and floors,” said Chastine. “It works for grout joint widths of 1/16” up to 1/2” wide, eliminating the need for different grout products and allowing the versatility required on the job.”

Convenient sourcing speeds project completion

As with all installations, timelines are always important and the Hotel Bennett was on a fast pace, so it was critical that LaCour chose a company who would be able to get the products delivered and the job completed on time. Merkrete is a brand of Parex USA, 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 our products to the jobsite on a timely basis were no problem,” said Chastine. 

Over the past decade, Charleston’s popularity as a travel destination has soared. In 2016, it was ranked as the top city in the world to visit by readers of Travel + Leisure, one of many accolades recently awarded to the Holy City. With the Hotel Bennett set to open in the Fall 2018, the guests will flood in to experience the fine culinary offerings and embrace the tranquil setting and incredible architecture. In the years to come, more renovations may take place, but thanks to Merkrete, you can be sure the stone tiles will be standing strong. 

Avenue Mosaic introduces Gotham glass-and-ceramic combo tile

Avenue Mosaics introduces Gotham, a glass and ceramic mixed-material mosaic, that creates an exceptional array of glistening surfaces and smooth matte textures throughout its design. This collection is available in four color variations, and within each is a plethora of shades and hues. Without overpowering a space, Gotham will standout and make any kitchen or bathroom pop. Overall, in 12″ x 12″ format. For more information, visit http://avenuemosaic.com

 

Gotham’s Brownstone colorway

Avenue Mosaic’s Gotham in the Lexington colorway.

Feature Story – June 2018 – Custom Building Products

Irvine, Calif. is a high-tech economic powerhouse sometimes referred to as “Silicon Valley South.” This fast-growing city’s skyline was transformed by a pair of distinctive glass office towers located at Irvine’s Spectrum Center, an open-air retail and dining district. Each 323-foot tower creates a vertical business campus offering impressive 360-degree views of coastal Orange County and showcasing large-format tile and stone on every floor. Both tile contractors on this project used a Build Green® Emerald System™ of products from CUSTOM to prep, set, grout and seal the assemblies and contribute to expected LEED Gold certification. 

Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, the architecture firm behind the Louvre’s iconic glass pyramid, designed the Spectrum Center’s new glass-walled, 426,000-sq.-ft. towers. Curtain wall construction creates an open, contemporary lobby to welcome employees and visitors to the many corporate offices headquartered here, including Mazda’s North American Operations. This effect is enhanced by the luxurious expanse of oversized natural stone on floors, walls and even inside the elevator cabs. 

Setting large-format tile and stone

Two long-time, family-owned, Southern California firms executed the tile and stone work at the Spectrum Towers. A team from NTCA member company Charles McCandless Tile of Santa Ana set 30,000 sq. ft. of porcelain and Carnevale and Lohr of Bell Gardens installed 20,000 sq. ft. of 3/4” thick quartzite pavers.

Prior to beginning work, samples of the very dense natural stone were submitted to CUSTOM’s laboratory for product testing. Based on their findings, the technicians recommended using ProLite® Premium Large Format Tile Mortar, which was then selected to install all tile and stone materials throughout the project. ProLite is a versatile, polymer-modified, dry-set mortar for large-and-heavy tiles that provides excellent bond strength. This mortar exceeds ANSI A118.15 TE and will not slump on floors or sag on walls. ProLite is formulated with lightweight, recycled aggregate, so it weighs 40% less than other mortars. Environmentally sustainable content delivers superior handling characteristics and also makes ProLite easier to carry and mix on the jobsite. A 30 lb. bag of ProLite typically covers the same area as 50 lbs. of traditional mortar. 

“ProLite is a game changer,” said Mark McCandless, president of Charles McCandless Tile. “The guys really like the way it comes out of the bucket on the trowel. It spreads easy, the non-sag is extremely good and its consistency is light and fluffy with very good workability. ProLite pays for itself in increased production,” he offered. 

Craftsmen from Carnevale and Lohr fabricated and set 30” x 30” Taj Mahal quartzite pavers in the ground floor lobby using a dry-pack method including ProLite® as the bonding mortar. Matching material measuring 2.5’ x 5’ was mechanically anchored on lobby walls and 20 stories of tower lobby floors were set with the quartzite in a 24” x 24” format. 

“ProLite is our number one choice,” said Jim Lunn, foreman at Carnevale and Lohr. “The guys in the field really like using it, especially for walls. The workability without sag is phenomenal. The pot life of ProLite is great and being lightweight is also a big plus,” he added. 

Protecting the tile assemblies

Core restrooms on all floors and the parking garage were treated with RedGard® Waterproofing and Crack Prevention Membrane. A ready-to-use elastomeric membrane that creates a continuous waterproof barrier, RedGard has outstanding adhesion and bonds directly to a variety of drain assemblies. RedGard exceeds both ANSI A118.10 and A118.12 for dual protection against moisture intrusion and in-plane crack transmission. Third-party laboratory testing has shown that RedGard outperforms other liquid-applied membranes for key performance attributes as well as actual coverage rate. 

After application of RedGard, bathroom floors were set with 12” x 12” Spec Ceramics Space Taupe matte tile. The porcelain tile installed on the walls was 12” x 24” Pure White matte supplied by Emser. Soft joints at changes of plane were filled with PolyBlend® Ceramic Tile Caulk which is suitable for use in interior, intermittently wet areas like these commercial buildings’ restrooms.

All porcelain and natural stone tile throughout both towers was grouted with Prism® Ultimate Performance Grout in shades to complement the materials for a modern, monolithic look. Fast-setting, lightweight Prism sets a new standard in grout technology. This calcium aluminate-based formula meets ANSI A118.17 high performance standards and will not contribute to efflorescence.  Prism demonstrates uniform, consistent color without mottling or shading, regardless of tile type or variable weather conditions such as humidity. These reliable results were important based on fluctuating environmental conditions at the jobsite due to the height of the towers and the effect of all-glass walls. Recycled aggregate content makes Prism 30% lighter than other grouts and delivers superior, smooth handling in grout joints as narrow as 1/16”. 

“Prism is more colorfast than other cement grouts and we do not see any mottling, which makes everyone happy,” said McCandless.

Aqua Mix® Sealer’s Choice® Gold was applied to protect both tile and grout from staining during and after installation. Premium quality Sealer’s Choice Gold is a water-based formula with low VOCs. This is important for enclosed installation areas like restrooms as well as compliance with California’s environmental regulations. This no-sheen, natural-look sealer maintains the color and character of stone while allowing moisture vapor transmission.

“We like to use Sealer’s Choice to prevent damage by other trades during construction. It’s used as a protectant on about 90% of our jobs and those have fewer callbacks,” offered McCandless. “Sealing per the contract documents is a big benefit.” 

Sustainable building with the Emerald System™

Custom Building Products is committed to environmental responsibility in both product development and manufacturing practices. Over 100 CUSTOM Build Green® products contribute to LEED certification with low VOCs, recycled content and regionally sourced materials. CUSTOM’s Emerald System™ goes a step further, with products that are guaranteed to comply with environmental agency regulations. The Emerald System is also the first line of tile installation products to include Carbon Offset Credits that help reduce greenhouse gas
emissions. 

ProLite mortar and Prism grout are cornerstones of the Emerald System™ and met the environmental standards of the Spectrum Towers’ builders with contributions to LEED® certification and Carbon Offset Credits. In addition, all of the CUSTOM products that were installed – plus the help of the Technical Services team – exceeded the performance expectations of the tile contractors. 

NTCA Awards Night Special Guest: U.S. Army Sgt. Eric Hunter and wife Kenna, Gary Sinise Foundation R.I.S.E. Program smart home recipients

NTCA, Crossville, Inc., and MAPEI are all supporters of the program

One of the most moving moments of the NTCA Awards Night was the talk given by Sgt. Eric Hunter and his wife Kenna, who gave personal insight in to the transforming power of Gary Sinise Foundation R.I.S.E. specially-adapted smart homes.

U.S. Army Sgt. Eric Hunter and wife Kenna spoke about the importance of the Gary Sinise Foundation R.I.S.E Program and its specially-adapted smart homes to restore independence and dignity to veterans injured in the line of duty.

Sgt. Hunter and Kenna spoke about the circumstances that surrounded the family’s need for a specially-adapted smart home, provided by the Gary Sinise Foundation R.I.S.E. Program. NTCA, along with ceramic tile donor Crossville, Inc., and setting materials supplier MAPEI, have been supporters of this program.

Sgt. Hunter explained how after suffering injuries in the service of his country, he was denied assistance from other organizations because he wasn’t injured “enough” to qualify for assistance. A cut to his Social Security benefits increased the hardship the family was facing in a home that was inadequate for his special needs. He explained how the Gary Sinise Foundation R.I.S.E Program gave hope to him and his family, and how the specially-adapted smart home will allow him to regain independence and dignity.

While introducing Eric and Kenna Hunter, NTCA assistant executive director Jim Olson said, “These life-changing homes not only provide our injured veterans the opportunity to reclaim independence but also the families that have sacrificed alongside them.The recipients of the Foundation homes are deeply grateful for the support of the many sponsors and volunteers. Every one of them have hand signed a photo of their completed home and have sent them to us.”

He continued with the introduction, saying “ United States Army Sergeant Eric Hunter was first deployed to Iraq in 2010. While there, he connected on the internet with a girl from his hometown named Kenna, and they remained in contact throughout his deployment. On June 1st, 2011, Eric and Kenna married and she and her two children came to live with him in Kentucky.

“Eric’s second deployment in 2012 took him to Afghanistan,” he continued. “On May 31st, 2012, the day before Eric and Kenna’s one year anniversary, while patrolling his unit, Eric stepped on an improvised explosive device. Along with many other injuries, the bomb took his right leg and shattered his left. Eric was flown to three different hospitals before arriving at Walter Reed National Medical Center, where Kenna came to be at his side.

“Eric spent four years at Walter Reed where he has undergone 61 surgeries with the possibility of more to come as he still feels pain in his salvaged leg,” Olson added. “In December 2016, Eric and Kenna welcomed a new baby girl, making them a family of five. They currently reside in a non-handicap accessible rental in Marietta, GA. Since Eric cannot use his wheelchair in his home, he has to cope with being in pain while walking or scooting from room to room. The Gary Sinise Foundation is honored to provide the Hunters a specially adapted smart home to further enable this soldier and his family to move forward with their new life together. The NTCA is proud to be a part of this program and we are particularly honored that they are willing to say a few words to us tonight about the difference the Foundations supporters are making in their family’s life.”

View a video of Eric and Kenna’s remarks on the National Tile Contractors Association Facebook page here: Sgt. Eric Hunter and wife Kenna remarks at NTCA Awards Night

 

NTCA’s Bart Bettiga (l) and Jim Olson (r) with U.S. Army Sgt. Eric Hunter and wife Kenna. NTCA, along with MAPEI and Crossville, Inc., are all supporters of the Gary Sinise Foundation R.I.S.E. Program.

Jim Olson coordinates sponsors and assists in finding NTCA contractors to provide labor to install donated ceramic tile. For information on being involved in the program, contact Jim Olson at jim @tile-assn.com.

Contractors visit a dozen installation products exhibitors in 65 minutes with NTCA tour

Contractors visiting Coverings ‘18 May 8-11 in Atlanta had the opportunity to partake in a full schedule of educational conference sessions, special features on the show floor like the Installation Experience, Installation Design Showcase, demos on the Installation Demonstration Stage, Quickfire sessions on a variety of topics and of course the amazing array of tile and stone products and setting materials, tools and associated products.

One great way to get a crash course of what’s available for contractors was to take part in a NTCA Tour, given Wednesday and Thursday of the show. This tour, led by NTCA assistant executive director Jim Olson with assistance from member volunteers and Ally Jenkins from show management company Taffy Event Strategies, originated from the Contractor Lounge and led participants on a journey through 12 exhibitors in a little over an hour.

Here are the highlights:

Raimondi/Donnelly Distribution : Lindsey Madrid introduced tour participants to the Italian-made RLS leveling system, Buzon pedestals and a range of cutters and blades. A new product is the Roboslab, a hydraulic-operated mobile lifter for gauged porcelain tile panels.

European Tile Masters: Ben Szell showed a range of products and tables for handling, moving and working with gauged porcelain tile panels.

Roboslab hydraulic-powered GPTP panel lifter at Raimondi/Donnelly Distribution

European Tile Master’s (ETM) Ben Szell talked to the group about the company’s line of tables and handling devices for GPTP panels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

USG: USG’s Leo Pena displayed USG’s Shower System featuring Durock with EdgeGuard. This improved edge protects again blowouts. USG also offers the ability to custom configure a shower project, with materials easily sent to the site or contractor via UPS.

RUBI: Albert Mendez demonstrated the company’s TZ Cutter, as well as a vacuum attachment that eliminates dust from cutting tile and stone products.

 

USG’s Leo Pena talks about USG’s custom shower program, standing in front of a display of Durock with EdgeGuard.

At RUBI, Albert Mendez shows a vacuum tool that eliminates dust when cutting holes in tile or stone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Schluter: Bobby Linam talked about DITRA-HEAT, which combines an uncoupling mat with a thermal break with customizable heating cables for electric heat installs. He also talked about the range of Schluter’s edge protection profiles, in metallic or textured powder coat styles, as well as movement joint products.

MAPEI: Brian Pistulka talked about the company’s Planitop 330 Fast quick-setting, polymer-modified, fiber-reinforced, cementitious rendering, patching and leveling mortar for interior and exterior walls, floors and submerged areas as well as Mapeguard UM uncoupling membrane, Flexcolor 3D translucent, iridescent ready-to-use grout, and mortars that conform to ANSI 118.5 for gauged porcelain tile installations.

Bobby Linam discussing DITRA-HEAT at Schluter.

At MAPEI, Brian Pistulka tells the group about Planitop 330 Fast Patching and Rendering Mortar, Flexcolor 3D translucent and iridescent grout and other MAPEI products.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tile Eze: Niels Mierendorff discussed the company’s Keil concealed anchoring system for ventilated facades which is proven in extreme weather conditions and offers a simple three-step process that allows for panels to be hung as easily as a picture. In addition, Tile Eze demonstrated its automatic grout cleanup machine, which cleans 1,000 sq.ft./hour residentially and 1,500 sq.ft./hour commercially.

Lackmond: Justin Thomas demonstrated the Beast 10” saw and the Beast B-BTEC Rail Saw.

Neils Mierendorff at Tile Eze presented information about the KEIL concealed anchoring system for ventilated facades.

At Lackmond, Justin Thomas talked about the BEAST line of saws and cutters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CUSTOM: Russell Brown discussed the benefits of SpeedSlope Rapid Setting Sloping Mortar and RedGard SpeedCoat for speeding waterproofing and tile setting in shower installations.

LATICRETE: Spencer Maheu conveyed the benefits of STRATA_HEAT Thermal Pack, which is the first heat diffusion additive designed exclusively for the STRATA_HEAT electric floor heating system. The STRATA_HEAT Thermal Pack eliminates cold spots between wires, reduces energy cost by 15%, and ensures heat from the STRATA_HEAT wire is distributed evenly throughout the adhesive.

LATICRETE’s Spencer Maheu explaining the STRATA_HEAT Thermal Pack technology and the STRATA_HEAT radiant heating system.

CUSTOM’s Russell Brown told contractors about the SpeedSlope Rapid Setting Mortar and RedGard SpeedCoat waterproofing for fast shower installations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TEC: Loren Doppelt told the group that with TEC’s Ultimate 6 Plus Mortar (TEC 487), projects can be grouted in as little as six hours. The product has a two-to-three hour pot life and 60 minute working time.

Loren Doppelt at TEC talked about Ultimate 6 Plus Mortar, for set to grout in six hours.

 

Exhibitors handed out information, cards and giveaways, with contractors returning after the tour to discuss products individually with suppliers.

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