Daltile Launches Beautiful Nature-Inspired ONE Quartz Surfaces Line Extensions

New quartz slabs offer stunning visuals in an array of white marble looks, earth-inspired colors, and gorgeous contemporary stone designs

Daltile is pleased to launch four new designs into its ONE Quartz Surfaces Nature Series assortment.  This quartz slab series offers beautiful nature-inspired stone designs for countertops and walls, while providing the low-maintenance benefits and durability for which Daltile’s ONE Quartz Surfaces are known.  The latest unveiling features the ultimate in fashion-based designs.

“Quartz continues to be one of the hottest countertop choices for homeowners,” said Roy Viana, director of natural stone and slab for Dal-Tile Corporation, parent company of the Daltile brand.  “With quartz, consumers get the beauty of Natural Stone in a strong, durable, hygienic product that requires little-to-no maintenance and stands up to the demanding conditions of daily life.”

“Daltile’s new Nature Series line extensions offer the height of luxurious fashion-forward style and feature sophisticated design, movement, color, veining, and nuanced shading for highly realistic marble looks in today’s hottest colors,” added Viana.  “Two of our new products offer ‘classic’ marble designs, while the other two provide unique ‘contemporary’ marble looks.”

Daltile Jasmine White

Jasmine White & Kodiak – “Classic” Marble Designs

Jasmine White

“People are still in love with classic, white marbles,” said Viana.  “Our new Jasmine White is a smooth marble design, inspired by classic white Carrara Gioia Italian Marble.  Carrara Gioia is known for its cool white background and thinner, shorter veins.  Jasmine White quartz slabs provide the beauty and elegance of classic marble in a durable, low-maintenance material, giving designers and homeowners the ability to feature the beauty of white marble in areas that would not be conducive to using real marble.”

Kodiak

Daltile Kodiak

“The design of our new Kodiak is a little softer than Jasmine White,” said Viana.  “Kodiak offers a warmer white background with soft veins that are not as distinctive.  This design works well for classic traditional as well as contemporary settings.  Many consumers and designers are moving to what I call ‘modern contemporary’, mixing classic marble within spaces that overall feature a contemporary aesthetic.  Kodiak works well in this setting, adding a splash of a classic touch.” 

Alpine Winter & Aspen Grey – “Contemporary” Marble Looks

Daltile Alpine WInter

“Both of these new quartz slabs feature designs that are ‘contemporary take-offs’ of classic marbles,” said Viana. “Both designs are within the marble family as far as movement goes, but the technology that produces quartz allows us to mix in a lot of different colors and shades; do some tone-on-tone; and mix pigments and aggregates to create really unique marble looks that you don’t usually find in Mother Nature.”

“Alpine Winter presents a larger crystal grain marble visual while Aspen Grey emulates a more fine-grained marble with movement and very fine crystals,” Viana added. 

For More Info

For additional information on the ONE Quartz Surfaces Nature Series, visit daltile.com. 

MSHA Moves Ahead On Silica RFI But Leaves All Options Open

Just before the Labor Day holiday, the Mine Safety and Health Administration published a long-expected silica request for information (RFI) on possible further regulatory action to address silica (most often found as quartz) in workplaces. From past statements by current MSHA officials and the text of the RFI, it remains unclear how fast or how far MSHA may go in further the regulating exposures to one of the most commonly-found elements on Earth.

Silica particles that are small enough to be respirable (inhaled) and deposited in the lungs can lead to various lung diseases. The extent to which quartz exists in mines can vary with the type of rock mined. The extent to which miners are exposed to respirable-sized particles will also depend on their exposure to activities that release silica, including drilling, blasting, or crushing quartz.

While MSHA has sent mixed signals about what it might do on silica, it has also faced pressure to act. On the one hand, the current leadership at MSHA has emphasized that it may get bolder and wants to “put the H back in MSHA” (for health). On the other hand, there have been statements suggesting that MSHA may consider current silica exposure limits sufficient. However, ever since its sister agency, OSHA, significantly reduced silica exposure limits in 2016, MSHA has said it would also look at the issue. In addition, labor unions and members of Congress have called on MSHA to act in response to a spike in coal mine black lung cases in certain geographic areas.

The new RFI does little to reveal MSHA’s intentions. It asks for stakeholder information about all possible avenues which the agency might pursue in adding to or changing the agency’s approach to silica — everything from the feasibility of new exposure limits and control technologies to possible approaches focused on compliance assistance. In this way, the RFI basically leaves open every possibility, from a new rule that follows OSHA’s lead to a much different approach.

What will MSHA have to think about?

Even if MSHA does want to proceed with new regulatory requirements, here are several issues it will have to contend with:

How fast can it move?

It is unclear how quickly MSHA could move on a new rule. In addition to White House policies limiting new regulatory action, there is little time to go through the lengthy notice-and-comment rulemaking process before the current administration’s term is up. OSHA’s rule only took effect after several years of rulemaking, including 1,700+ comments submitted, days of public hearings, and a court challenge.

How to build the case?

If, after the RFI, MSHA ultimately does proceed with a proposed silica rule, it will be interesting to see how much it relies on OSHA’s prior work as opposed to building its own case in support of whatever measures it proposes. The 2016 OSHA rule aggressively cut the prior exposure limit in half – from 100 micrograms to 50 – and created significant new compliance obligations. The process was so involved in part because stakeholders raised a number concerns with the direction of the rule. There were, for example, questions about whether sampling devices and laboratories could even measure particle concentrations as small as those regulated.

Whether to revisit the role of PAPRs?

If MSHA moves ahead with a new rule, there will also be an opportunity to revisit issues such as whether powered air purifying respirators (PAPRs) can qualify as engineering controls. Like OSHA, the Mine Safety and Health Administration follows the “hierarchy of controls.” According to this principle, regulations must first require eliminating, substituting, or engineering away any hazard out of the work atmosphere before they can allow companies to rely on administrative controls or personal protective equipment to protect workers.

The theory is that controls which remove the hazard from the entire workplace are more protective and reliable, including because they do not depend on individual workers to follow safety rules. In the case of respiratory protection, in particular, workers sometimes complain that traditional respirators are uncomfortable. However, PAPRs are different. Supporters of the technology would argue that they are effectively mini-engineering controls. They are often loose-fitting half-or full-face face shields, which blow cool, clean air to keep contaminants away from breathing zones. As a result, proponents argue, they create a miniature work environment around each worker. They do not present the typical criticisms that workers raise about discomfort with traditional respirators.

As MSHA notes in the RFI, there have been proposals and debates in the past about whether PAPRs could supplement or even be considered engineering controls. The RFI notes that the Mine Act requires the hierarchy of controls for respiratory protection (citing Section 202, which applies to underground coal mines). When MSHA finalized its 2014 coal dust rule, it did not allow PAPRs as a supplement to achieve compliance. However, the Mine Act language does not appear to apply to non-coal mines, and in any case, PAPRs did not exist when the Mine Act was written. It is an open question whether they should be considered “respirators” under the Act.

The PAPR is just one issue that is sure to arise again. It also may present an opportunity. MSHA might be able to get more buy-in if it recognizes advanced PAPRs as an engineering control.

What does the data say?

It will be interesting to see what the illness and injury data say about silica exposures and illnesses in coal and metal/non-metal mining, respectively. When OSHA proposed its 2016 rule, silicosis had declined by 93% under the prior exposure limit, and critics argued that over 20% of samples were still not complying with the prior limit. In other words, they argued, the problem of remaining cases of silicosis was not because the limit was too high but because it was not being effectively enforced. Will the data within mining look similar?

Can we keep coal and metal/non-metal separate? 

One thing the RFI does suggest is that MSHA may see this as an opportunity to further its Blurring the Lines initiative. The RFI seems to cover both coal and metal/non-metal. However, these two different environments present very different atmospheres, challenges, and exposures to airborne particles. As a result, silica regulation is a poor candidate for MSHA to further blur the lines.

This concern is underscored by MSHA citing two factors in the RFI that are coal-specific, suggesting that its direction could be motivated by coal-driven issues. These include recent spikes and hot spots for black lung among coal miners and the Mine Act sections limiting the use of respiratory protection for compliance in underground coal mines. While there seems to be widespread agreement about the spikes in black lung, engaging in a possible rulemaking that lumps together coal and metal/non-metal as a response may generate significant opposition from non-coal stakeholders.

What MSHA wants to know

MSHA’s RFI says that it is looking broadly for information relevant to possibly lowering the permissible exposure limit (PEL), new protective technologies, and the value of providing companies with more compliance assistance. In particular, it has just four specific information requests, seeking data and information on:

  1. New or developing technologies and best practices to protect workers.
  2. How engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment can be used to protect miners.
  3. Additional feasible dust-control methods to be used during “high-silica cutting situations,” such as on development sections, shaft and slope work, and cutting overcasts.
  4. Any thing else that may be useful to MSHA in evaluating miners’ exposures to quartz.

What should you do?

Nothing specific has changed – or even been proposed – yet. For now, MSHA is just collecting information. However, the information it collects will shape what comes next.

For companies in the mining industry, it’s already important to understand where your dust exposures stand in comparison with current MSHA regulations. Now, it may be helpful to also understand where you stand compared with OSHA’s 2016 rule. Could you comply with the 50 microgram limit and 25 microgram action level? Would engineering controls to limit, suppress, and collect dust be feasible in your workplaces? Would they be effective in complying with such limits?

If the future direction of silica regulation could impact your operations significantly, you should make your voice heard to share your experiences and information. Members of Husch Blackwell’s health and safety team were intimately involved in the OSHA silica rulemaking on behalf of major industry clients. We can help you put together effective comments and submissions in response to the RFI so that MSHA has the full picture about how a new rule would affect you. In addition, you can weigh in as part of a group of like-minded companies through our Mining Coalition (contact us for more information).

Comments are due October 28th.

Written by: Husch Blackwell LLP

Do you have to pay employees like superstars to keep them?

Last year, five-time NBA All-Star Kevin Love signed a contract to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers. His new deal will pay him $120M over four years, approximately $30 million per year.

These days, it’s not uncommon to see professional athletes sign enormous contracts punctuated with a staggering number of zeros.

What is uncommon about this particular story is where Love signed his new deal.

The 29-year-old power forward signed his contract extension in front of nearly 100 construction workers who were completing the $140 million renovation of the Cavs’ home stadium: Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.

Imagine for a moment that you are one of those construction workers making somewhere between $50-$80K per year.

You’re busy installing new seats in the upper deck of an arena when suddenly a voice comes over the intercom inviting you to take a short break and come down to the gymnasium floor for an exciting development.

Minutes later, the team’s general manager introduces a nicely dressed basketball player (currently relaxing during a four-month off-season) who, with the effortless flick of his pen, signs a contract that guarantees him 400 to 500 TIMES the amount that will appear on your year-end W-2.

But that’s not all…

In addition to those fat checks, the guy in front of you will be cheered and idolized by tens of thousands of adoring fans all while being treated like the King of Siam everywhere he goes. He’ll never wait in line for anything, nor will he have to hunt for a parking spot. And let’s not forget the beaucoup dollars that will pour in his coffers from corporate sponsorships and endorsements for playing a game you’d gladly play for free.

After a short speech, the star disappears into the locker room signaling that it’s time for you to climb back up to the nosebleed section and go back to installing another row of seats.

Let that scenario wash over you for a minute.

Now breathe as you chew on this:

Why did the construction workers cheer wildly for Love? Why didn’t they rise up, revolt, and shake their fists in outrage, demanding more money for the much harder work that they’re doing?

I think the answer lies in the employee’s perception of fair pay.

Construction workers don’t compare their paycheck to that of an NBA superstar; they compare what they’re making to other construction workers. They won’t revolt if a professional athlete – or a cardiologist – or a mortgage banker makes more than they do, even if it’s multiples of what they’re earning.

But if that guy next to him – or even the worker across town who’s doing the same job for a competitor – is getting noticeably more dollars more than they are, you can bet your hammer drill that there’s going to be some fireworks.

There is no single factor that’s more important to an employee than the compensation they receive for the work they do.

However, if an employee feels as if they are being paid fairly, which is to say equal to another similarly skilled and experienced individual doing the same work under the same conditions in the same vicinity, then they tend to base their level of engagement and their desire to remain with their employer on other cultural factors (i.e. atmosphere, growth opportunities, autonomy, recognition, etc.).

ON POINT – While it improves your attractiveness to job seekers, you don’t have to offer higher compensation than the other employers in your market to win the war for skilled workers. If you offer wages that are deemed competitive, you can dominate the labor market by focusing on continually improving the other six cultural pillars that make you a better place to work:

  • Alignment – meaningful work for an ethical company
  • Atmosphere – a safe, positive, enjoyable environment
  • Growth – an opportunity to learn and advance
  • Acknowledgement – feeling valued, appreciated and rewarded
  • Autonomy – encouraged to think and make decisions
  • Communication – kept informed and being listened to

 

Scribing: demonstrating artistry and craftsmanship in creative tiling

Those familiar with tile recognize that stunning tile installations have stood the test of time and endured as practical works of art for generations and generations.

Today’s tile setters participate in that tradition of precision and artistry with every job. And there are some techniques that take tile craftsmanship to the next level. Scribing is one such technique.

“Scribing is an art form,” said NTCA member Joshua Nordstrom, of Tierra Tile in Homer, Alaska. “It highlights the level of skill, detail, and abilities that you’re capable of.”

Scribing “gives an install a more artistic feel – it’s more personal – which is great for our industry because as tile setters, we are artists, and it’s nice to be able to do something creative to showcase that fact,” agreed Jason McDaniel, NTCA member of Stoneman Construction, LLC, in Tualatin, Ore.

Scribing is done “when a factory tile meets an organic shape such as pebbles, natural stone, or around an irregular shape,” Nordstrom explained. “Pebble scribing is very common because cutting pebbles in a straight line doesn’t look or feel like a natural transition,” McDaniel added. “Over the past few years, it has become more common to see a pebble scribe.

“Personally, because I like to scribe, I decided to do a mosaic hex scribe and see how that would look,” McDaniel said. “It looked amazing and now we scribe everything.”

“Personally, because I like to scribe, I decided to do a mosaic hex scribe and see how that would look,” McDaniel continued. “It looked amazing and now we scribe everything.” 

While there are many ways to customize a project, scribing can make the job truly original. Nordstrom says in his Alaskan community, his clients like to incorporate nature endemic to the area into their tile designs, often in bathrooms and entryways. “I offer my clients a personal touch for their tile install, from an elaborate mural to a simple medallion, he said. “I find that I can sell a scribed mosaic in about six out of 10 jobs. Most people like to add just that little touch to set their home apart from the rest.”

Scribing takes a combination of skills, all of which begin with PATIENCE. “Scribing is a game of patience that requires time and experience to master,” Nordstrom pointed out. “It takes as long as it takes,” said Kyle Gaudet of Flawless Floorz, a NTCA member in Brentwood, N.H., “Take your time – even extra time – until you’re comfortable with what you’re doing.”

 

The essential skill of templating

Nordstrom's Kraken drawing and cut out

Nordstrom’s Kraken traced life size on a Tyvek ‘canvas.’

An essential skill to clean scribing is templating. “I template everything when it comes to scribing a mosaic,” Nordstrom said. “It all starts with a scaled drawing that gets blown up with a overhead projector and traced life size on a Tyvek ‘canvas.’ Once it’s all colored and labeled, I go over it with tracing paper creating each individual template. Once everything is cut and installed on a fiberglass mesh, I lay the mosaic over the field tile, trace it out and scribe it in.”

McDaniel’s first step is templating as well. “I precut all of my tiles for the floor or wall and then I overlay the pebbles or mosaic that I am going to scribe,” he explained. “I trace the outside of the tile with a sharpie and then use a grinder and remove the sharpie mark. Once the scribe is completed I take a diamond pad or sanding disc to ease over the cuts and make them look smooth and finished, taking all of the chips out of the scribed area. I have found that precutting the area and overlaying is by far the easiest method to use when scribing.”

“Pebble scribing is very common because cutting pebbles in a straight line doesn’t look or feel like a natural transition,” McDaniel said.

McDaniel’s pebble scribing

McDaniel didn’t always use this method. “The first scribe I ever did was a pebble scribe,” he said. “I made templates using wax paper, which was grueling and time consuming, and not as accurate as overlaying and tracing. Overlaying and tracing allows you to set the field tile first, letting that area dry. Coming back in the next day and setting your scribe mosaic allows you to make the transition between field tile and mosaic tile perfectly flush, as it should be.”

Gaudet uses a “traditional” 2” piece of the tile for a scribing piece, marking every piece contour by contour. “I also use a 5” and 4” angle grinder, nippers and dry polishing pads,” he said.

 

Scribing tools; dealing with varying thicknesses

In terms of tools, McDaniel scribes everything with a grinder with a 6” turbo mesh blade, which gives him the best accuracy given the amount of plunge cutting necessary in scribing. “The larger blade allows you to go deeper into the tile before you hit your grinder. Saw horses and clamps are a must have to hold the pieces in place. After I finish my scribe, I ease all of my edges with a 100 grit sanding disc, or a Dremel tool for tighter corners. I am aware that Joshua Nordstrom does all of his scribing with a tile saw and I find that to be absolutely amazing!”

Nordstrom's Kraken drawing and tile

After everything is cut and installed on a fiberglass mesh, Nordstrom lays the mosaic over the field tile, traces it out and scribes it in.

In fact, Nordstrom uses a 10” wet saw, resorting to a grinder only if it’s necessary to remove some material from the tile back to achieve the same thickness between different tiles. “I have learned over the years that installing a fiberglass mesh on the backs of my mosaics really simplifies the installation,” he said.

McDaniel said scribes can be mounted on membranes or thin backer board, though he prefers to “screed my scribed area with thinset so that I can adjust each piece meticulously, insuring that I have a consistent grout line that matches the rest of my install. It also depends on what you are scribing. Sometimes glass mosaics can be difficult to deal with, so pre-mounting them is a worthwhile step.”

Considering thickness is key when scribing, and matching the tiles or grinding the tile backs is sometimes necessary to achieve the proper thickness. “Sometimes when installing you may need to use different trowel sizes to accommodate the height difference in the tile,” Nordstrom said.

McDaniel said his greatest scribing challenge was installing pebble mosaics around a large piece of walnut in an entryway.

McDaniel said his greatest scribing challenge was installing pebble mosaics around a large piece of walnut in an entryway.

McDaniel tells about his most challenging scribing task – installing pebble mosaics around a large piece of walnut in an entryway. Engineering expansion and elevations among the four surfaces and four thicknesses was tricky, he said. “With anything tile, planning ahead and having a game plan going in is essential to being successful,” he said. “Having a start and stop point, keeping your area clean, making sure you have expansion, using anti-fracture membranes, uncoupling membranes, better setting materials, non-sag thinsets; all of these things make your job easier.”

Pricing the job is personal. Nordstrom figures out how many hours it will take him to cut and install, price it on an hourly or date rate, and figure in a little extra for margin of error. Gaudet, whose company is new to scribing, said his client was initially resistant to scribing and the associated upcharge. But “after showing him a few of the pieces, he was in total agreement with my opinion to scribe that wall,” and to agree to pay the upcharge due to the look.

McDaniel, though, doesn’t charge extra for scribing. “I have never made money on a scribe,” he said. “I do it because I want my work to stand out. I want to be known as an artist and a craftsman. Maybe someday I will make money from my scribing ability, but for now I am okay with being considered a ‘Tile Badass’.”

In addition to taking your time, starting small and having patience, McDaniel said the most important thing when scribing is to have confidence. “Know that you can do it; know that you are doing something different that is going to stand out when seen.” He also recommended following the work of several tile setters who have been successful with scribing – and reaching out to them for advice: Robert Davis, Mike Soho, Zack Bonfilio, Tom Habelt, Carl Leonard, and Hawthorne Tile. In addition, he recommended viewing the videos and pictures posted in several tile-centric Facebook groups: Global Tile Posse, Tile Geeks, Tile Love 2.0, The Misfit Tilers, and Tilers Talk to get more information and inspiration.

If you are looking to give it a try, here is the first video in a series Nordstrom created on scribing. The remaining videos are available on the NTCA YouTube channel.

CID Award winners bring beauty through mosaics

Back in April, TileLetter, Contemporary Stone & Tile Design and Tile magazine presented the Coverings Installation & Design Awards (CID) at the Coverings show in Orlando. Many outstanding and stunning tile and stone projects were recognized.

Among them were two mosaic projects, which received Special Recognition honors. The first, “Fractured Fantasies” by Philadelphia-based Trish Metzner and collaborator Oscar Sosa, was awarded in the Mosaic category, celebrating a successful intercultural artistic exchange between creative professionals on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. The second award was in the Education category, this time for a set of murals made for P.S. 19 in Queens, N.Y., by Andru Eron and NY Tilemakers, then based in Brooklyn, N.Y. (and now based in Long Island City, N.Y.). These murals included elements from the 1964 World’s Fair, held nearby in Flushing Meadows Park, Queens, N.Y. 

For this feature, we look at these two award-winning projects in more depth, championing the vision, artistry and craftsmanship that brought them to fruition. 


Fractured Fantasies, Puebla, Mexico 

The Fractured Fantasies mural in the mountains of Puebla, Mexico honors Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.

The Fractured Fantasies mural in the mountains of Puebla, Mexico honors Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.

The Fractured Fantasies mural adorns the main entrance wall at the Luchita Mia Eco-Cabin Resort in a stylish, sustainably-constructed cabin resort property tucked away in the mountains of Puebla, Mexico. Designed and executed by Trish Metzner, owner of Made in Mosaic (madeinmosaic.com), and co-designer Oscar Sosa, an independent mixed media artist and designer who installed the mural, it aims to provide a relaxing, covered outdoor lounge area for guests. 

The mosaic honors renowned Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, to whom one of the cabins is dedicated. It combines tile mosaic, a painted background, cast concrete agave leaves and a natural stone retention wall to support the mosaic. Natural and chemical sealants on both the wall and in the artist’s paint mixture itself addressed the challenge of combating moisture in the rainy region. A lightweight roof provided protection for the mural and a cool oasis for guests.

Paint, stone, and ceramic tile resulted in an interesting contrast of materials, and prompted creative ways for the artists to incorporate the materials into the visual narrative. 

“Here is Frida, painting her own fractured reality, the blue tile at the tip of the paintbrush becoming a blue painted line, swirling outward from the heart, communicating interactions between materials, subject, and creation,” Metzner said. The work embodies sensitivity to the original construction methods and the natural surroundings while highlighting the bold, colorful, complex personality being depicted with flowing lines and repeated leaf imagery in the concrete agave leaves and seats.

No power tools were used in this entire project, artists opting instead for nippers and hand tools. 

Frida Kahlo mosaic using 5 tones of floor tile

The portrait was made using five tones of floor tile. The basic process of mosaic was taught to neighbors and passers-by who made most of the flowers seen in the design.

“Sometimes to innovate, you need to go back to the basics,” Metzner said. “Everything was carved, cut, created and carried by hand. In fact, many hands, including those of local residents who participated by making mosaic flowers and sharing unconventional building techniques.”

Tiles used were ceramic and porcelain floor and wall tile mainly from two manufacturers: Mexican Porcelainite and Italica tile from India, chosen for color, durability, and availability in the small region. The tiles, all broken, are located in the portrait section of the mural. Some tiles were recycled and donated since they could not be sold due to damage or chipping, saving them from winding up in a landfill.

The tiles were set with fortified thinset mortar. For grout, the artists used a ratio of 3:1 Portland cement and ground marble (sand was not available in the region) dyed with masonry pigments to create the desired colors: reddish brown for the face and skin, and black for the hair and clothing. Two distributors in the town center – Pisos y Azulejos la Bodega and Materiales La Bodega de Zacatlan – supplied all the purchased materials. The project was completed in October 2018. 

The worksite was located in a rural farming community. Neighbors and passers-by participated in various parts of the project and even made their own individual projects from tile that was not able to be used in the mural.

The worksite was located in a rural farming community. Neighbors and passers-by participated in various parts of the project and even made their own individual projects from tile that was not able to be used in the mural.

The resort itself was built with minimal harmful impact to the natural environment, and the artists were sensitive to this. They took care to prevent toxic chemicals from entering the nearby water supply and produced only one trash bag full of waste shards, which were combined with excess cement to produce stepping stones in the garden. The cabins were built with a process known as Bio Construction, using adobe and cob, locally-sourced natural stone, packed earth, and clay roof tile.

Metzner said, “While tile is an international industry, it also embodies an international cultural heritage whose value is not only evident as a product, but also as an innovative process with purpose. As a tile artist in 2019, it is worth noting that this project exemplifies a successful intercultural artistic exchange between creative professionals on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. That’s not only real news; it’s something worth firing up the kiln and tiling about!”

Frida Mural Final Metzner

The project consists of a covered seating area with a large tile mosaic portrait, three seats made from concrete adorned with leaf impressions, a stone retention wall, agave buttresses, built in planters and a colorful painted background.

World’s Fair mural: P.S. 19, Queens, N.Y. 

N.Y. Tilemakers (NYT), founded by Andru Eron, has been has been based in New York City for 18 years. This year, N.Y. Tilemakers relocated to Long Island City, in the borough of Queens. It started out designing and fabricating art tiles for residential projects, but it’s now focused on mural making. All tiles are crafted in The Arts and Crafts tradition, a movement in the decorative and fine arts that flourished in Europe and North America between 1880 and 1910. It stood for traditional craftsmanship using simple forms, and often used medieval, romantic or folk styles of decoration. 

N.Y. Tilemakers (nytilemakers.com) has completed two large murals for the School Construction Authority, an agency of the City of New York, with additional murals scheduled for this year and 2020.

The award-winning mural is permanently installed in Public School 19, in Corona, Queens. Work began in January 2018 when artist Cheryl Molnar won a competition to design the mural for a new lobby at the school. She was inspired by the architecture of the 1964 New York World’s Fair, held in Flushing Meadows Park, which borders the neighborhood where P.S. 19 is. 

NYT checked for fit after tiles were bisque fired. All tiles were then glazed, and fired a second time.

NYT checked for fit after tiles were bisque fired. All tiles were then glazed, and fired a second time.

“The composition uses the central motif of the N.Y. State Pavilion and the Unisphere,” Eron said. “Elements of both of these structures are still in the park.”

Molnar hired N.Y. Tilemakers to do the work. Fabrication was done in N.Y. Tilemakers’ 1,100-sq. ft. workspace, then based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The entire project took about seven months, and involved about 60 different glazes. 

Six helpers created numbering systems for the more than 2,600 ceramic pieces needed, created templates, fabricated the tiles, and oversaw the drying, glazing, loading and unloading of kilns. All tiles were fabricated from moist clay, which is low-fire white earthenware. The sky elements are Italian glass mosaic, 1” square format from Bisazza. All glass mosaics had to be cut to fit amongst the crafted tiles. 

The overall length of the mural is 44 feet, and the height is 10 feet, which created a challenge in not being able to see the mural in a vertical and complete layout until the jobsite.“We built a platform so that we could dry-fit and inspect a 10’ x 10’ section,” Eron said. 

NYT adhered sections starting at the bottom of the wall using a full-size print of the artwork.

NYT adhered sections starting at the bottom of the wall using a full-size print of the artwork.

Another challenge is that there was only about one week to install the mural. To expedite this process, Eron said, “When we are sure that the pieces all fit together, and are the correct colors, etc., clear plastic mosaic film is applied to the working area of the mural. That section is cut into (roughly) 24’ x 24’ modules. Everything is boxed up for transport to the school.”

Four people were onsite for the actual installation. “Our regional rep from Custom Building Products consulted with us during the fabrication and installation. We used their appropriate products: ProLite Mortar in white, non-sanded grout in platinum and sanded grout in pewter, AcrylPro adhesive, and PolyBlend sanded caulk in platinum and pewter. We requested that the builders used Hardibacker for the substrate. They did that, which is our preferred backer board because it is smooth (without being slippy) and has an embossed grid pattern.”

View of the completed installation

View of the completed installation

“While much has changed since 2003, some important elements have not changed, (and never will),” Eron said. “All of our products are handmade by skilled artisans in small quantities. We make tiles-to-order; choose a color, choose a pattern, and we’ll put your order into production. Our products are not factory tile – their unique handcrafted characteristics have character and variety. Our tile is handmade. Our tile is handled, cared-for and finished by real people – no two tiles are alike. We think that’s pretty cool.”

Taking The Plunge with MAPEI solutions to resuscitate a historic swimming pool

The year was 1925. Bathtub gin, the Charleston and a new form of entertainment called “motion pictures” were all the rage. Money and people were flowing into California in search of a new gold rush – Hollywood fame. Those newly minted movie stars, as well as their wannabes, made the trek down the coast from Los Angeles to a sleepy little seaside town called San Diego in search of rest and relaxation. The unspoiled waters offered fishing. The mountains provided hiking. And San Diego’s Mission Beach featured the West Coast’s version of Coney Island, The Mission Beach Amusement Center.

Built on the sands of Mission Beach by one of San Diego’s leading developers, sugar magnate John D. Spreckels, The Mission Beach Amusement Center was designed to draw tourists to San Diego. The center promoted the city and – not so coincidentally – Spreckels’ real estate ventures. It featured the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster, a 2,600-ft.-long wooden thrill ride with two 18-passenger trains. 

Showers and bathrooms after large panel installation.

The center’s other main attraction was The Natatorium, an indoor swimming pool constructed from stucco and steel in Spanish Renaissance style as the centerpiece of the park. Later renamed The Plunge, the pool measured 60’x175’ with a capacity of 400,000 U.S. gallons, making it the world’s largest saltwater pool for its time. 

By 1940, however, the saltwater had begun to damage The Plunge’s filtration system. So with a few modifications, it became the largest indoor, heated freshwater pool in Southern California. The center was sold to private owners in 1955 and renamed Belmont Park. Over the years, due to outdated safety codes, The Plunge closed and then was revamped in 1988 with modern safety codes. Although much of the original tile work was removed, some historic features were left intact, including steps leading into the pool and a pedestal at the bottom of the steps. But in 2014, the waters of The Plunge once again, became troubled, and the historic public pool was closed for “unexpected repairs.”

Large-format tiles installed using MAPEI Ultralite S2.

MAPEI products on the jobsite

Pacifica Enterprises (a San Diego-based development company) owned the property since 2012 and used the closure as an opportunity to completely renovate the natatorium literally from the ground up, or rather from the roof down. Pacifica spokesman Chris Wahl said that initially the company believed that they could simply repair the building and the pool, but deeper inspection revealed other issues besides the leaking roof, such as corrosion in the structure’s steel columns and beams. 

As the inspections progressed, it was determined that all 21,000 sq. ft. of the building had to be demolished, leaving only girders surrounding the historic pool. The new natatorium features a glass facade instead of the original Spanish Renaissance stucco walls that did not withstand the constant buffeting from saltwater spray. The historic pool was also given a facelift and returned to the splendor of the past – courtesy of Lusardi Construction and NTCA Five-Star Contractor Christian Brothers Flooring & Interiors, working with MAPEI. 

Steam rooms waterproofed with Mapelastic AquaDefense.

“From the beginning, Pacifica and the general contractor, Lusardi Construction, knew that they wanted a period-correct feel for the tiling in the pool and the surrounding rooms,” said Dennis Sandell, MAPEI’s TSIS sales representative for San Diego and Palm Springs. “They contacted Mark Columbus at Christian Brothers to act as the consultant and installing contractor. It was Mark who brought MAPEI on board early on. In fact, he and I helped to put the specification together.” Columbus and Sandell proposed using MAPEI for a full system that would allow the pool to be filled with water 72 hours after the tile was installed.

“The pool’s surface was shotcrete,” Sandell continued. “It was in bad shape. The Christian Brothers crew had to float the substrate with a dry pack of Mapelastic 315 with Planicrete AC in the mix to adhere to the surface, as well as to add flexibility to the mortar bed.” 

Finished tiling grouted with Ultracolor Plus FA.

The spec from architect Fredrick Clemeshaw called for period-correct 3/4” x 3/4” (19 x 19 mm) tiles, which were installed using MAPEI’s Granirapid System. The rapid-setting, flexible tile mortar allowed for the “quick” installation of 1,700 sq. ft. of mosaics in the Olympic-sized pool. The tiles were grouted with Ultracolor Plus FA. The pool’s perimeter was caulked with Mapesil T. “The tiles mark the water line, they mark the depth, they decorate the historic pedestal, in addition to tiling the pool,” Sandell explained. 

The Plunge at Fit in San Diego, CA, USA.

In the showers, steam rooms, bathrooms, pool area and a gym rechristened with the name “Fit,” the Christian Brothers crew first roller-applied Mapelastic AquaDefense waterproofing membrane. They then installed large-format tiles with Ultraflex LFT mortar and grouted them with Ultracolor Plus FA. For the exterior cladding, the large panel tiles were installed with MAPEI Ultralite S2 mortar and grouted with Ultracolor Plus FA.

The tile installation portion of the sprawling renovation took one year from start to finish, beginning in 2018 and ending in 2019. 

“The biggest problem actually gave us a great opportunity to provide a solution,” Sandell said. “After the tile contractor waterproofed the pool, the GC had to cut out several holes in the pool walls to raise the drains. We specified Planitop 330 Fast for the vertical repair. This product allowed them to achieve a quick cure so that they could quickly turn around and re-waterproof these areas.” 

The Plunge at Fit is now open to the public in all its former splendor, thanks in large part to MAPEI products, the Christian Brothers Flooring & Interiors installers and Lusardi Construction.

Period-correct 3/4”x3/4” (19×19 mm) tiles decoratively mark the water line, the depth and the historic pedestal.

Sky-high office building undergoes dramatic front lobby makeover

TileLetter August CoverAt 18 stories high, Atlanta’s 7000 Central Park office tower occupies a prominent position in the city’s central perimeter skyline. 

To reposition the tower as a top-tier office building, former building owner CBRE Global Investors revealed ambitious renovation plans in June 2017 for the 30-year old tower. The plans included a front lobby renovation, a full-service and high-tech fitness center, a collaborative co-working space and conference center, an expanded café area, a meeting space and a trendy outdoor “living room” to provide a gathering space for tenants to socialize.

With architect tvsdesign leading the way on the front lobby design, which included 2,000 sq. ft. (approximately 186 sq. m.) of large-format gauged porcelain panels climbing 30 feet (9 meters) up the walls, general contractor Hitt Contracting Inc. enlisted the help of installing contractor David Allen Company to get the job done. With green and sustainable construction currently an industry wide practice, NTCA Five-Star Contractor David Allen Company chose to utilize products that not only benefit the environment, but are top quality and aesthetically enhanced. 

Close-up of the 5’x10' panels David Allen Company extended 30’ high on the walls.

Close-up of the 5’x10′ panels David Allen Company extended 30’ high on the walls.

“Immediately when we landed 7000 Central Park, we decided to use LATICRETE® products for the installations,” said David Allen Company Project Manager Eric Knight. “We’ve worked with LATICRETE for years and can always rely on their quality of product and high-end customer service. The products we used were instrumental in making sure the large-and-heavy gauged porcelain panels specified for the walls of the lobby would hold up.” 

The challenges 

Defying gravity: Not only did the large-format panels extend 30 feet (9 meters) up the walls, the enormous panels themselves were 5 feet (1.5 meters) by 10 feet (3 meters) in size. To make this installation possible, David Allen Company needed the specified LATICRETE products to deliver superb bond strength. 

Installation interference: During the renovation process, 7000 Central Park remained open for tenants to conduct business, requiring David Allen Company to work during the night. Products used needed to be formulated with fast return-to-service properties to be able to withstand the high traffic of the office building within hours, rather than days, for public use. 

After installing floor tiles, David Allen Company prepped the walls for the large-format gauged panel installation.

After installing floor tiles, David Allen Company prepped the walls for the large-format gauged panel installation.

A LATICRETE solution 

To adhere the large-format gauged porcelain panels to the wall in the front lobby, David Allen Company chose 257 TITANIUM™. Selected for its strong bond and ease of use to work out air pockets, 257 TITANIUM exceeds ANSI A118.15, the industry’s highest performance standard for a cementitious-based adhesive mortar, providing durable, worry-free installations. 257 TITANIUM is also silica sand-free, which both reduces exposure to respirable silica and contributes to the easy-to-spread creamy consistency. For added security to ensure the installation would cure in time, 257 TITANIUM utilizes LATICRETE HYDROMATIC CURE CHEMISTRY™ that accelerates the hydration process to rapidly consume water in the system – allowing the material to cure in a predictable manner and providing peace of mind for David Allen Company. 

The steel stairs used LATAPOXY® 300 Adhesive, a chemical-resistant epoxy adhesive that is easily spread and cleaned with water while fresh, and tenaciously bonds to challenging substrate types. The floors utilized 4-XLT, a multi-use, polymer-fortified adhesive mortar. 4-XLT boasts a smooth and creamy consistency, making tile installation applications of this product faster and easier. 

Prepping the floors in the lobby for installation.

Prepping the floors in the lobby for installation.

Customer-favorite PERMACOLOR® Select was used to grout tiles throughout the lobby. This advanced high-performance cement grout offers the industry’s first dispersible dry pigment solution and offered David Allen Company increased productivity and time savings on the jobsite, thanks to a faster time-to-grout, with foot traffic permitted in as little as three hours.

All of the products used received UL GREENGUARD Gold Certifications for low chemical emissions for sustainable building. Additionally, each of the LATICRETE products used has a Health Product Declaration (HPD), with the exception of LATAPOXY 300, which has Product-Specific (Type III), and Environmental Product Declarations (EPD), which help manufacturers create – and helps buyers identify – tile and flooring installation materials’ impact on the environment. 

 

 

Architect tvsdesign led the way on the front lobby design, which included 2,000 sq. ft. of large-format gauged porcelain panels.

Architect tvsdesign led the way on the front lobby design, which included 2,000 sq. ft. of large-format gauged porcelain panels.

Outcome 

Close-up of the completed 7000 Central Park office tower lobby installations.

Close-up of the completed lobby installations.

“Just as expected, the LATICRETE products selected for the 7000 Central Park lobby renovation worked like a charm,” added Knight. “Adam Marks, the local LATICRETE representative, was with us every step of the way. At any given time, we were able to meet with Adam onsite, resulting in yet another job well done for both our company and LATICRETE.”

7000 Central Park was recognized as Georgia’s 2018 Outstanding Building of the Year. 

 

The floors utilized 4-XLT, a multi-use, polymer-fortified adhesive mortar.

The floors utilized 4-XLT, a multi-use, polymer-fortified adhesive mortar. 4-XLT boasts a smooth and creamy consistency, making tile installation applications of this product faster and easier.

 

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.

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