Explaining the Rise of Construction Costs

Source: https://pxhere.com/en/photo/182913
  • After falling or remaining flat for three decades, real construction costs have increased sharply since the mid-2000s. The rise was driven by both material and labor costs.
  • Construction costs are lowest in the South, and are highest in the expensive coastal cities and in remote locations like Honolulu and Anchorage. Material costs vary relatively little across cities, but labor costs differ substantially and account for the bulk of geographic variation in overall cost.
  • Over the last decade, the mix of construction work in some of the expensive coastal cities has shifted away from new construction and towards renovation, which tends to be more labor-intensive. Alongside faster overall wage growth, the shift has resulted in labor cost appreciation in these cities outpacing that of material costs. In contrast, labor and material cost growth in the South has been more balanced.
  • Rising labor costs can fuel a vicious cycle whereby costly construction dampens the supply of housing and exerts even greater upward pressure on labor costs (in several distinct ways).

The housing market appears to be reaching a cyclical peak, with falling home sales suggesting that already-slowed price appreciation may soon turn negative. Yet even now, residential construction still hasn’t recovered to its average historical levels. Rob Dietz, Chief Economist at the National Association of Home Builders, summarizes the headwinds confronting homebuilders as “the five L’s” of labor, lots, lending, lumber, and local regulations. Although lots and local regulations pose the most fundamental challenges to new residential construction, and as lending is finally sorting itself out (the way it tends to ironically at just the wrong time), this study is focused on direct construction costs, which comprise the two remaining L’s of labor and lumber.

To what extent have construction costs risen in recent years, and how do they compare to historical trends? How have material costs fared relative to labor costs, and how has this played out in different parts of the country? This study uses publicly available data as well as construction cost data published by R.S. Means and data from BuildZoom’s national building permit database to sketch out some answers.

Read More…

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My week with the pros, or how CTEF changed how I look at the world, one room at a time

Scott Carothers teaching CTEF course

Many of our mornings started out with the lecture portion of the program.

Spend a little time with me and it’s quickly noticeable that I’ve worked in the flooring industry. The first thing I notice about a room is its flooring – whether it’s hardwood, carpet, stone, tile or (ugh) laminate. Is it real hardwood, wood-look tile, or LVT? I notice how it works with the room and what installation pattern was used. Admittedly, I’m a realtor’s nightmare; I partially rejected a house because it had plank tile that wasn’t installed following the 33% rule. But that’s where my installation knowledge stopped – until I spent a week at CTEF.

The course included choosing and installing your substrate.

I know lots about tile, from how it’s made to recommended usage. What I didn’t know was how to install it, so I jumped at the chance to take CTEF’s Understanding and Installing Ceramic Tile course. This five-day course teaches the basics of tile installation. That description will probably make quite a few seasoned tile guys and gals say they don’t need that course. Think again. 

My class was filled with a mix of seasoned installers, experienced professionals, novice setters, house flippers, and builders. The one thing we had in common is by the end of the week, we all left with a lot more knowledge than what we entered with. 

John Roberts mixing thinset. Mixing thinset is the one thing I didn’t get to try.

The course is structured as part lecture/instruction, part demonstration and part hands-on. We usually started the day in the classroom. Instructor Scott Carothers, aided by John Roberts of John Roberts Designs, Inc., – a NTCA Georgia State Ambassador, CTI #1278 Certified Tile Installer and CTEF Regional Evaluator – encouraged us to actively participate in the discussion and interject our own knowledge, experiences, challenges and successes. It allowed us to apply real-world experiences to what we were learning. (See more on John in the TileLetter December 2018 issue, Member Spotlight column, page 62.)

The demonstrations were the bridge between the lectures and the hand-on portion.

The demo portion really focused on the tools of the trade and how to pick the right tools for the job. This portion of the course really taught you about planning before you even start, choosing the correct tools, substrate prep, cutting tile efficiently, and the importance of correct mortar coverage. We learned everything from what trowel to use to how to use a wet saw (my favorite part).

I was eager and anxious about the hands-on portion. My class was filled with people who did this for living, and this was my first experience even picking up a trowel. We broke up into small groups and were assigned to a room. Throughout the week, we prepped and installed the tile of our choice in our spaces. I partnered with Kathy Meyer, Director of Marketing from the Tile Council of North America (TCNA). Together, we did part of a tub surround. 

Did I say how much I loved the knee pads?!

Throughout the week, I was relieved to find out that everyone was eager to help other groups succeed. The experienced installers often helped us novices figure out next steps. Once everything was complete and set, we pulled pieces of our tiles up to check our coverage. Achieving the correct coverage is much harder than many of us thought it would be, but is a lesson better learned in class than on the jobsite.

I achieved the 95% coverage required in wet areas.

While the hands-on portion was fun, the group contribution and instruction is where I learned the most. I learned that there are common challenges that installers face on the job, just how much installers need to know to be really good at their trade, and that within this industry (unlike any other I’ve experienced) there is camaraderie, support and encouragement.

Now when I walk in a room, I still notice the flooring, but now I also see installation flaws and successes. I can see if the layout wasn’t properly planned, have an idea why the tile might be cracking, and mentally pat the installer on the back for a job well done.

Here is part of our tub surround during installation.

It was an exhausting week and my body hated me for choosing a tub surround, but the class was an amazing experience. I will never be an installer (it requires way more math and science than I care for, and more patience than I have), but I have a new passion for installation. And even though I will be calling a Certified Tile Installer for my next installation project, I’m still asking Santa for a 1/4” notched trowel, those awesome knee pads and a wet saw for Christmas. I think it is well-deserved for achieving 95% coverage on my tub-surround.


2018 annual report: looking back, looking ahead

NTCA annual report header

NTCA rolls out new strategies at Total Solutions Plus

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

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

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

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

Marketing goals for 2019

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

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

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

Working together to solve the skilled labor shortage

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

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

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

NTCA: 1,500+ members strong

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

Daltile creates visually-immersive experience in North Dallas café

Special countertop solutions and wall tile add stunning functionality and panache

Panoramic Porcelain Surfaces™Elemental Selection Statuario matte graces the countertop and Multitude™Origami White wave adorns the back wall.

Hidden amongst the restaurants and night life in Dallas lies the understated Civil Pour café. While Civil Pour may look like a typical coffee shop on the outside, this spot is serving its customers more than just the standard latté. To the guests entering the establishment, the menu instantly reveals what makes this place so special – a vast array of brews of both coffee and craft beer.

Founded by the creators of the Big Texas Beer Fest, Civil Pour is the ultimate Dallas destination to drink quality coffee, experience local beer and savor baked goods made fresh daily. Starting at 6 a.m., guests line up outside the doors to get their hands on a steaming coffee and toasted breakfast pastry. This rush continues until lunchtime as guests begin to place orders for the shop’s famous paninis. As the sun sets, the spot welcomes its final crowd – all eagerly thirsting for a craft beer from one of the 30 signature taps. 

While the Dallas community is familiar with Civil Pour and its iconic offerings, few know the story behind the brand. After seven years of running beer festivals, co-founder Nellie Montgomery and her husband Chad were encouraged to open their own shop. Civil Pour provided Montgomery with the perfect opportunity to not only spread her love for great beer and coffee, but also share her passion for design. 

Determined to create an immersive experience for guests, Montgomery reached out to Daltile early in the design process. Since a space serving both beer and coffee presented design challenges to ensure the surfaces could withstand the inevitable spills, Montgomery knew the space would require a special countertop solution.

A special countertop solution

“I loved working with Daltile,” said Montgomery. “The fact that I could drive down and grab samples to take to the shop was invaluable and helped put my mind at ease before construction even began. I had Daltile reps checking in on me throughout construction, and any questions I had, they were either able to [answer] or refer me to someone that could help.”

Jennifer Voss, owner of Stone Craft of Dallas, installed Panoramic Porcelain Surfaces™Elemental Selection Statuario matte on the countertop and Multitude™Origami White wave on the back wall.

Panoramic Porcelain Surfaces™Elemental Selection Statuario matte on the countertop.

Two of the most crucial aspects of the project were the large countertops central to the design and daily function of the shop. During construction, it was clear that the café needed a counter big enough to serve customers as well as provide a workspace for baristas crafting the coffee drinks and beer orders from the taps. Daltile slabs would not only fulfill the need for large surfaces, but also resist scratches, heat and stains in the long run. 

After reviewing a variety of Daltile slab products for the space, Montgomery ultimately selected Panoramic Porcelain Surfaces for the main coffee bar, and she chose ONE Quartz Surfaces® for the beer tap area. Jennifer Voss, owner of Stone Craft of Dallas, was brought onto the project in June 2018 and tasked with installing these distinct materials. 

“Large-format porcelain slab is relatively new to the Dallas market,” said Voss. “We were working with a short timeline and Daltile was willing to partner with us every step of the way. [Daltile] is the most giving and understanding company to work with in the business.”

ONE Quartz Surfaces® Micro Flecks Morning Frost glossy is featured on the countertop.

In order to complete the main coffee bar, the project required eight slabs of Panoramic Porcelain Surfaces to ensure full coverage. Within the collection, Daltile provides an exclusive program called FlexFitSize Solutions, which offers seven stocked sizes and custom cut-to-size requests. Voss and her six-person crew were thrilled to find that the Panoramic Porcelain Surfaces slabs were seamless to work with during the installation and that each of the pieces worked with each other beautifully.

“This project is a testament to these great products,” added Voss. “They really demonstrate their worth since they are used all day, every day. Overall, these materials were more manageable to work with and it is a joy to see the end result.”

Wall tile adds extra panache

Opulence™Diamond 3/8” x random linear mosaic decorates the wall.

In addition to the stunning bar counter and surfaces, Civil Pour is filled with bold Daltile wall coverings that distinguish the shop from others in the area. Obsessed with creating unusual scenes, the Montgomery duo features the Multitude collection on the back wall and Opulence mosaic tile behind the painting of Frida Kahlo. 

“I love the Daltile collections that we chose because they have all become an important focal point in our shop,” continued Montgomery. “From the vertical diamond finish of the Opulence glass tile that symbolically cascades over the water station to the Multitude Wave Origami White tile that dances in the shadows of the backlights, Daltile finds a way to retain a sleek modernity to their finishes, while still providing personality through their materials.”

The public response has been overwhelmingly positive since the shop opened in August 2018. Serving up coffee, beer and light fare seven days a week, this spot has quickly become a neighborhood favorite and the Civil Pour team has been delighted with their Daltile experience and the end result. Looking ahead, Montgomery hopes to expand the business in the years to come and is excited to see what the future has in store. 

Opulence™Diamond 3/8” x random linear mosaic creates a stunning effect on the wall.

DoubleTree by Hilton Lafayette East bonds with Bostik

Gisa Ott

Gisa Ott

Set off of I-95, adjacent to major corporate offices such as Subaru, Caterpillar and Alcoa, just minutes from downtown Lafayette or Purdue University, the DoubleTree Lafayette East is one busy hotel. With 128 state-of-the-art guestrooms, great dining, expansive meeting rooms and more, it’s also only one hour’s drive from Indianapolis Airport. It recently went through a major architectural design conversion, the results of which have added even more to its allure.

“This was a really challenging project,” declared Gisa Ott, Vice President of Sales and Management of Indianapolis-based CCI LLC, who served as overall project manager relative to the major amount of tile installed at the DoubleTree. “Architectural designs created by SRA Architects of Milford, Ohio, were outstanding,” she added. “The interior design treatments by Adrian Caradine Contract Design of Memphis, Tenn., perfectly complemented every room throughout the hotel. We knew this was a very, very special endeavor.

“There were so many different tile products specified; just about all of them came from Miles Distributors, our longtime supplier,” Ott said. “To select the best installation system for each of these tiles was daunting. Because we always want to do what’s right for our clientele, I listened to every sales pitch from every rep from every company. Most presentations were very good and very convincing,” continued Ott, “Although some, unfortunately, sounded as if they were being delivered by used car salesmen! One representative, however, Adam Abell of Bostik, came in, took his time, and professionally explained to me exactly why it made sense to have one source, one full system for the installation of all hard surface products specified for the DoubleTree. 

“We were working with wall and floor tile from Landmark Ceramics, Atlas Concorde, Caesar, Ceramic Technics and Daltile. Massive, gauged porcelain panels from StonePeak were specified, as well,” Ott stated. “These are all great products; we needed a great installation system from one company. Adam convinced us to go with Bostik and as it turns out, this might be one of the best business decisions I’ve ever made,” Ott exclaimed.

Porcelain panels adorn lobby

DoubleTree Lafayette East lobbyIn the hotel’s expansive lobby, designs called for a 20’ floor-to-ceiling, freestanding fireplace to be clad with StonePeak’s porcelain panels. “Because of this height, mortars which needed to be applied both on the Durock® substrate and back-troweled on the panels, seemed to make for a very clumsy process,” commented Ott. “Adam explained very patiently to me exactly what Bosti-Set™ was and the advantages it offered. And in particular, how projects calling for gauged porcelain panels could be installed much faster than we ever expected, even with a smaller crew. Adam demonstrated to our installers how Bosti-Set™ immediately grabbed porcelain tile panels in a single coat, did not allow any sag, yet made it possible for these panels to be ‘reposition-able’ for at least 30 minutes. “This was very helpful, as the gauged porcelain panels were beautiful, but frankly, a bit smaller in overall size than we had calculated. This flexibility feature of Bosti-Set™ actually made it much easier for our installers to position the panels perfectly. Mission accomplished!” she exclaimed.

Ott went on to state that every single room in the hotel called for some kind of “very specialized” tile installation procedure, and that to maintain a safe and professional installation throughout each of these spaces and to “preserve her sanity,” Bostik products were called on throughout. In addition to public areas, tile material was installed in guestroom entryways, shower surrounds and both vertical and horizontal bathroom surfaces. 

“In addition to the Bosti-Set™, we used Hydroment® Ceramic Tile Grout™, Bostik Big Tile & Stone™ for the large format floor tile, Bostik Gold-Plus™ for waterproofing and, in particular, Bostik’s TruColor® Urethane Grout, which we absolutely loved.”

Bostik TruColor® RapidCure™ Pre-Mixed, Urethane Grout is a patented, water-based grout offering the ultimate in color accuracy, water resistance, stain and crack protection. This breakthrough formulation installs with better color accuracy than traditional grouts, and never needs to be sealed. Other grouts have loose color pigments, which can become washed out during the installation and clean up process. Additionally, this product never requires application of a sealer, helping to save up front costs and time.

TruColor® RapidCure™ quartz aggregate is color-coated to ensure perfect color consistency for every installation. Additionally, TruColor® RapidCure™ contains Bostik’s Blockade® antimicrobial protection, which inhibits the growth of bacteria, mold, or mildew the hotel guestrooms and public areas simply cannot have.

Bostik’s Abell added, “This was, almost to the day, a one-year tile installation project. Gisa’s team and I stayed in close contact throughout that entire time-span. Her entire organization is very professional, gracious and cutting-edge: the exact type of people that you want to do business with! Clearly, the Lafayette East DoubleTree project proved to be a signature tile installation – the result of great teamwork!”

DoubleTree Lafayette East lobby - alt view


The FlexFit™ Size Solutions Program gives you design freedom when using our Panoramic Porcelain Surfaces™, without impacting your budget. With one extra-large porcelain slab that can be cut into seven sizes, FlexFit provides total flexibility that boasts high impact benefits. Click here to learn more about the FlexFit Size Solutions Program.

NEPAL by Ege is soft to the touch and soft on the eyes


Ege Seramik’s new NEPAL Line offers an elegant matte finish characterized by a fashionable surface, which has a velvety texture and is soft to the touch.

Offering unlimited design flexibility for both wall and floor, NEPAL is available in an array of sizes with its 4×13” “subway” wall tiles spearheading the entire collection. The tiles are available in Cream, Brown, Grey and Cappuccino colors, with coordinating bullnose edges, as needed.

Additional NEPAL sizes include:

  • 4×13” Wall tile – Ceramic
  • 10×16” Wall tile – Ceramic
  • 13×13”– Glazed Porcelain
  • 12×24” Glazed Porcelain
  • 18×18”  Glazed Porcelain

Ege Seramik’s General Manager, Alp Er added, “Our intricate ink-jet techniques and state-of-the-art manufacturing assures all customers of an extremely durable, stain and fade-resistant product.

“The tiles are soft to the touch and very inviting… ideal for both residential and commercial applications,” he said. “They offer the personality and feel of natural stone, but with the strength and durability of a porcelain tile.”

For more information, visit http://www.egeseramik.com.

Ege Seramik’s Nepal, in 4″ x 13″.


Mercedes-Benz Stadium home of the Atlanta Falcons, earns LEED Platinum with help from CUSTOM Tile Installation System

Mercedes-Benz Stadium broke records and earned countless superlatives before the Atlanta Falcons even took the field. The newest stadium in the NFL is also the most sustainable and the first to achieve LEED Platinum status in the U.S. As an integral part of the stadium’s luxurious aesthetics, over 200,000 sq. ft. of porcelain tile at the Atlanta Falcons Mercedes-Benz Stadium was installed using a premium system from Custom Building Products. 

24” x 48” porcelain tiles were installed with MegaLite mortar in this space dedicated for use by the press covering games.

This stadium has transformed the Atlanta skyline in iconic style with its one-of-a-kind retractable roof. Sightlines are paramount during football games, soccer matches and concerts, so this concept is carried through the transparent shell of the building. Sky bridges within the stadium provide views of downtown and visitors can also see inside before entering, adding to their sense of anticipation. 

The finish schedule reads like a Who’s Who of tile: 25 different international and domestic manufacturers are represented. This project perfectly showcases the synergy of tile and installation systems in a high-visibility, high-traffic environment. From 3D and textured tile to natural stone and gauged porcelain panels, all assemblies were installed to meet the demanding service conditions of a multi-purpose sports and entertainment venue. 

The exclusive Gullwing Club features white Carrara marble set on floors, walls and stairs with MegaLite premium mortar.

“If we had questions or concerns on the job, CUSTOM was quick to respond every time,” offered Murray Gardner, project manager with Spectra Contract Flooring. “The reps made multiple trips to the job during the installation to advise and support us.” 

Surface preparation

Surface preparation began with meeting the flatness requirements for large-format tile. Where concrete needed leveling, work started with an application of LevelQuick® Advanced Acrylic Primer. Then, Levelite® High Flow Lightweight Self-Leveling Underlayment was poured on suspended slabs to manage the accrued weight load. LevelLite is formulated with CustomLite® Technology, making it 40% lighter than standard cementitious levelers. LevelLite performed so well that the contractors used it throughout the project wherever leveling was needed. 

Gauged porcelain tiles were installed with ANSI A118.15 TE ProLite mortar in the premium guest spaces of the stadium.

Pre-existing shrinkage cracks and saw-cut control joints in the slab were treated with CrackBuster® Pro Crack Prevention Mat Underlayment. Following TCNA Detail F125 Partial Coverage, they were spanned with a section of mat and new parallel soft joints were added to the tile assembly to relocate substrate movement. CrackBuster Pro is a self-bonding, fabric-reinforced mat that exceeds the high performance requirements of ANSI A118.12 and protects tile from in-plane movement up to 3/8” while providing an extra-heavy-duty service rating. 

RedGard® Waterproofing and Crack Prevention Membrane was specified to perform two primary functions on the project. First, RedGard was applied in all wet areas, including showers and team locker rooms, to provide durable ANSI A118.10 waterproofing protection. Intermittently wet areas, such as kitchens and restrooms, also received two coats of RedGard. Secondly, RedGard was installed over concrete slabs to provide ANSI A118.12 crack isolation up to 1/8” and protect the tile and grout from horizontal substrate movement. 

These 3D tiles are among the many unusual materials used to add texture and depth throughout the project.

RedGard is a ready-to-use elastomeric membrane that creates a continuous, monolithic waterproofing barrier. This versatile product exceeds ASTM E96 requirements as a low perm moisture vapor barrier for continuous use steam rooms and is listed with IAPMO as a shower pan liner. RedGard is rated for extra heavy duty use, anticipating the foot and wheeled traffic levels expected at the stadium. 


All tile on the project was installed using CUSTOM’s premium quality, lightweight mortars designed for large-format tile. 

Both floors and walls received large-format tile in most of the dining rooms and private clubs

“We wanted to showcase large-format tile and really pushed the envelope in the premium spaces,” offered Donna Childs, Principal at tvsdesign. “Given the dimensions of some of the tile, installers had a challenge with flatness and lippage. Between their skill and the right installation materials, the tile looks great and we get many compliments.”

Floors were set with MegaLite® Ultimate Crack Prevention Large Format Tile Mortar for its best-in-class strength and flexural capacity. The primary tile on floors was 12” x 24” porcelain, with 24” x 48” formats from Walker Zanger,

CEG-Lite epoxy grout was used to grout all showers on the project including this team shower.

and planks up to 48” long from Ceramic Technics. White Carrara marble slabs were installed using MegaLite on floors and stairs in the exclusive Gullwing Club. With bond strengths over 800 psi and high flexibility to help withstand substrate movement, MegaLite delivers unsurpassed performance for challenging service conditions. This non-sag, non-slump mortar was used to meet a variety of needs, from thin-set application with small ceramics on shower floors, to 3/4” deep placement for setting the large-and-heavy tile and natural stone at the site. 

All showers including this team shower received two coats of RedGard membrane for ANSI A118.10 waterproofing protection.

ProLite® Premium Large Format Tile Mortar was specified for setting all wall tile. On a job of such scope – encompassing tile ranging from 30” x 60” and 60” x 120” gauged porcelain panels by Stonepeak and Transceramica in VIP spaces, to penny rounds and mosaics at beverage stations – ProLite performed with a range of bonding challenges. ProLite provides over 600 psi bond strength in a non-sag, non-slump formula that delivers superior handling. Both ProLite and MegaLite exceed ANSI A118.15 TE for thixotropic performance on walls and extended open time for adjustability. 

“The ProLite on walls and MegaLite on floors performed great!” said Gardner. 


High-performance grouts were specified throughout the stadium for beauty and durability. 

Prism grout’s nature-inspired palette of 40 colors allows exact color matching.

Prism® Ultimate Performance Cement Grout was used to fill grout joints in all dry tiled areas. Prism’s calcium aluminate formula delivers uniform, consistent color without shading or efflorescence. This lightweight, rapid-setting grout meets ANSI A118.7 and is walkable in four hours. Prism creates dense, stain-resistant grout joints up to 1/2” and has a smooth consistency with excellent handling characteristics. 

All showers at the stadium, including the Falcons’ team shower, were grouted with CEG-Lite™ 100% Solids Commercial Epoxy Grout. CEG-Lite provides chemical and stain resistance with a fast cure time. The lightweight formula makes it easier to spread and clean than traditional epoxy grouts. Food preparation areas create a harsh environment for tile and grout, so kitchen floors received CEG-IG 100% Solids Industrial Grade Epoxy Grout, which delivers even higher chemical resistance. Movement joints and perimeter joints throughout all tile assemblies were filled with Commercial 100% Silicone Sealant for permanent flexibility and protection.

“Our installation crews liked working with all of the CUSTOM products,” said Michael Wadsworth, Field Superintendant with Spectra Contract Flooring. 

Emerald System™
contributes to LEED

RedGard membrane was used to provide ANSI A118.12 crack isolation protection over suspended slabs as well as on-ground slabs.

The LEED Platinum-certified Mercedes-Benz Stadium earned the most credits ever for a professional sports stadium (88). The project achieved this distinction through rigorous engineering and specification of qualifying materials. Five of the LEED-contributing products from CUSTOM – LevelLite, ProLite, MegaLite, Prism and CEG-Lite – are formulated with CustomLite® Technology. All CustomLite products incorporate lightweight, post-consumer recycled content in place of heavy aggregate sand. This makes products up to 40% lighter, so a 30-pound bag of ProLite covers the same square footage as a 50-pound bag of traditional mortar. These premium products are part of CUSTOM’s Build Green® family as well as the elite Emerald System® which qualifies projects for carbon offset credits. 

Specifications for the tile installation materials were written by Tony Riddle, former Senior Specification Writer at HOK. 

Mercedes-Benz Stadium will host Super Bowl LIII on February 3, 2019. 

Mosaic tile mishap


I am in need of your expertise! We received photos of an installation of glass mosaic tile that did not exactly go smoothly. A client wanted someone to come check it on site to see if it is an installation issue, so I am in need of some industry advice. Could you speak to the photos below?


It appears from these photos that this installation suffers from a lack of proper grout joint / sheet alignment and possibly inadequate substrate flatness, (but that could be an optical illusion).

Was this tile manufactured to meet the standards and tolerances of ANSI A137.2? This is the American standard specification for the manufacture of glass tile. It and ANSI A137.1 (for the manufacture of ceramic tile) include the manufacturer quality control and test requirements for sheet-mounted mosaic tiles. If these mosaics were not mounted to meet the specifications found in these standards, it may not have been possible for the installer to correct for any potential gross manufacturing deviations during the installation process. However, it is the responsibility of the installation contractor to notice such deviations and bring them to the attention of the owner or the owner’s representative before the installation begins.

If the mosaics were within standard tolerance for mounted sheets, the installation is likely out of tolerance for grout joint alignment (ANSI A108).

Or, the problem could be a combination of out-of-tolerance deviations from standard in both manufacture and installation of the mosaics.

From this distance, I can only speculate as to the cause(s) of the issue. Your client is thinking in the right direction for determining the precise cause(s). I recommend that an Industry-Recognized Consultant be contacted to conduct a review of all aspects of the installation. A list of Industry-Recognized Consultants can be found on the NTCA’s website at this link: https://www.tile-assn.com/page/recconsultants.

Depending on the client’s location, you may want to begin by contacting Donato Pompo and Kent Klaser of Ceramic Tile and Stone Consultants. CTaSC has nation-wide consulting services. They can be reached at: www.CTaSC.com, 866-669-1550, [email protected], [email protected].

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