SITI B&T at Cevisama 2018 to consolidate its leadership in the Castellón district.

Formigine,  February 6, 2018 – SITI B&T Group S.p.A., a manufacturer of complete systems for the worldwide ceramics industry and listed on the AIM Italia stock market (Ticker: SITI) is a market leader and a prime choice of technological partner for producers in the Castellón district in Spain, one of the most important ceramics districts in the world.

SITI B&T Group took part in the Cevisama 2018 trade fair (Jan 28-Feb 2, 2018, Valencia) to consolidate its market position and to reaffirm the technological excellence of the solutions it proposes. The success of SITI B&T in Spain is based on an extensive network and a constant local presence – the B&T Iberica branch has been operative since 1981 – and provides a 24/7 service with over 50 specialized technicians, which is perfectly in line with current customer requirements.

Quality and service, on one hand, have made it possible to achieve 90 percent customer loyalty and on the other have allowed the Formigine-based group to add new names to its list of customers each year. During 2017, for example, three major Spanish producers approached SITI B&T for the first time with the aim of developing new industrial projects.

The most popular SITI B&T products in the Spanish market are high-tonnage presses (such as the EVO 7608 and EVO 6608) and Titanium kilns – ideal for firing both tiles and sanitary ware – which for two years running have confirmed their unrivaled record for having the lowest energy consumption among all the kilns on the market.

Further confirmation has come from the outstanding success of the Ancora finishing machines, demonstrating the group’s ability to create high added value to the aesthetics of the finished product. Together with Ancora, the machines and services provided by Projecta Engineering and Digital Design confirm the strong evolution of SITI B&T, which is the leading complete system provider with extensive expertise and excellence both in terms of the implementation of complete systems and the capability to make proposals regarding the aesthetic characteristics of the finished product.

The group had two stands at Cevisama to exhibit various technological solutions, including the Dry Squaring Speed machine fitted with semi-automatic spindles, produced by Ancora and the Evo Dry Fix, the first digital printer that combines drop-on-demand inkjet technology with dry application technology produced by Projecta Engineering, and the group’s range of efficient burners. A gallery area was also be created for the exhibition consisting of 16 large ceramic slabs made entirely at the SITI B&T Technology Centre in Formigine by a SUPERA line using the exclusive STSTM (Structure & Thickness for Slabs) technology. This allows large thicknesses to be produced (large slabs up to 3000 x 1000 mm having a thickness of between 5 and 30 mm) and consequently a deep surface texture (reliefs of up to 4 mm on slabs with a thickness of 5 to 18 mm and reliefs of up to 6 mm on slabs with a thickness of 19 to 30 mm).

For more information, visit www.sitibt.com.

CONSTRUCTION EMPLOYMENT INCREASES IN 269 METRO AREAS BETWEEN DECEMBER 2016 & 2017 AS OFFICIALS CALL FOR NEW INFRASTRUCTURE FUNDING

 Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. and Cheyenne, Wyo. Experience Largest Year-over-Year Gains; Columbia, S.C. and Grand Forks, N.D.-Minn. Have Biggest Annual Declines in Construction Employment

Construction employment increased in 269 out of 358 metro areas between December 2016 and December 2017, declined in 43 and stagnated in 46, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released today by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said new infrastructure funding would help ensure firms continue to expand their headcount in 2018.

“Construction employment continues to expand amid robust private-sector demand in many parts of the country,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “But with public-sector funding lagging, there is little doubt that more firms would be able to expand their headcount this year if Congress would enact a substantial boost in infrastructure projects, as many members of both parties advocate.”

Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. added the most construction jobs during the past year (14,300 jobs, 15 percent), followed by Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nev. (10,800 jobs, 18 percent); New York City, N.Y. (10,100 jobs, 7 percent); San Antonio-New Braunfels, Texas (7,900 jobs, 15 percent) and Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz. (7,600 jobs, 7 percent). The largest percentage gains occurred in the Cheyenne, Wyo. metro area (25 percent, 800 jobs), followed by Wenatchee, Wash. (21 percent, 500 jobs); Punta Gorda, Fla. (20 percent, 800 jobs); Omaha-Council Bluffs, Neb.-Iowa (19 percent, 4,800 jobs); and Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nev. (18 percent, 10,800 jobs).

The largest job losses from December 2016 to December 2017 were in Columbia, S.C. (-3,200 jobs, -20 percent), followed by Kansas City, Mo. (-2,800 jobs, -10 percent); Middlesex-Monmouth-Ocean, N.J. (-1,200 jobs, -3 percent); Bergen-Hudson-Passaic, N.J. (-1,100 jobs, -4 percent) and Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, Wisc. (-1,100 jobs, -4 percent). The largest percentage decreases for the year were in Grand Forks, N.D.-Minn. (-24 percent, -1,000 jobs) followed by Columbia, S.C.; Danville, Ill. (-20 percent, -100 jobs) and Kansas City, Mo.

Association officials said that firms in many parts of the country have continued to expand as private-sector demand for new construction projects continues to hit record levels. They cautioned, however, that public-sector funding for roads and bridges declined in 2017 making it hard for many firms that build infrastructure to expand. Worse, lagging investments in infrastructure will lead to greater economic inefficiency as traffic grows, bridges age and waterways continue to degrade, they warned.

“One of the biggest threats to the current economic expansion is that our aging infrastructure will cause shipping and traffic delays, which will raise costs, slow schedules and create new inefficiencies,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Rebuilding public infrastructure will help our economy remain competitive and ensure that construction employers continue to add jobs.”

View the metro employment data by rank and state. View metro employment map.

TECH Tip: Walk in Shower with glass enclosure and swinging door

QUESTION:

I am a homeowner in New Jersey, looking for guidance – be it a recommendation or what’s accepted as standard industry practice concerning a bathroom shower wall tile installation. 

For a walk in shower that will require a glass enclosure and swinging door that sits on a sill, my questions are as follows:

1. For the glass installation, shouldn’t the glass sit centered on the sill?

2. Shouldn’t the tile extend several inches past the length of the shower or at least as far as the sill so that brackets for the glass can be mounted on the wall tile instead of drywall?

3. Would you agree that it is a mistake and poor workmanship to end the shower tile where it meets the sill?

4. Finally – would you agree that it is a mistake and poor workmanship if shower wall tile which is installed outside the shower area extends barely into the shower area once glass is installed?

Photo of my bathroom is attached for your reference. Thank you very much.

ANSWER: 

To my knowledge, a shower door system can be installed at any point on top of the curb as long as the following (and other) considerations are met. These considerations apply to both curbs and walls.

  • Proper structural support for the door, associated panels and fastening system
  • Proper protection of the waterproofing membrane / system when the door system is being installed
  • Proper slope to the drain

Proper planning and layout of all components of any installation is the responsibility of the project designer in coordination with the owner and a number of trades including Mechanical / Plumbing; Framing; Tile; Electrical, and others.  The designer may be an architect or other design professional, general contractor, tile contractor, owner, or others. Regardless of who designs the system, good planning, communication and coordination between all parties for the proper placement of components for structural and aesthetic reasons is critical and must happen before the installation begins and during the construction process.

Design, planning and construction of a bathroom and shower is complex.  The plumbing/mechanical contractor must know where to place the drain, controls and fixtures. The framing contractor must make the wall and floor structure flat, level and plumb and meet requirements for deflection and must install blocking for fastening shower doors and other appurtenances.  The tile contractor must plan for the appearance and use and integrity of the tile and water management systems.  The door / glass installer must understand how to protect system waterproofing.

The type and placement of the shower door system should be considered by all parties during planning and construction.  The designer, general contractor, framing contractor, plumbing/mechanical contractor, tile contractor, shower door/glass contractor and owner must all confer regarding the type of door/glass, it’s fastening mechanisms and it’s placement.  Expectations for tile selection and layout will be a factor in considering the size and shape of the shower and placement of the shower door, curb, drain, controls and structural support.

Mark Heinlein, CTI #1112
Training Director,
NTCA Technical Trainer/Presenter

Technical Feature – Trostrud Mosaic & Tile Co., Inc. spearheads John Hancock health club renovation

By Lesley Goddin

Chicago’s iconic John Hancock building was put into service early in 1970, but 46 years later, one of the world’s highest indoor swimming pools drastically needed an update. Archimage Architects, Ltd. was awarded the project of a full remodel on the existing health club, including the pool and locker rooms. The space was gutted down to original concrete substrates, but until the demolition was complete, no one knew for sure what they’d find.

Clune Construction, the general contractor, awarded the tile contract to Trostrud Mosaic & Tile Co., Inc., early in the bidding process, due to the 10-week lead time needed for procuring the Italian porcelain tiles. This proved to be a fortuitous decision due to the on-the-job meetings with architects Kirk and Sheryl Stevens.

Trostrud was intent on setting a level-of expectation regarding the flow or puddling of water, at the barrier-free showers and the pool deck, insisting on a minimum 1/4” per foot pitch to drain to avoid pooling of water in the deck and locker rooms. The condo association balked, expecting the pool deck to drain just like a large shower floor. This conflict presented significant challenges, including a drainage drawing that was modified three times before getting agreement from all parties.

The existing pool was to receive a new stainless steel coping that would be set as high as possible to allow for the required pitch. At the perimeter of the pool deck Trostrud was required to meet existing aluminum flashing which could not be changed. The final drainage drawing consisted of several linear drains and many spot drains.

When the demo was complete and the tile mud beds were removed, it was clear that the existing concrete subfloor at the locker room required significant help. Leaking showers had caused rebar to rust and expand, fracturing areas in the sub floor. With the help of a structural engineer, the slab was rebuilt. All the adjustments resulted in a four-week delay in an already-aggressive schedule.

Once the floors in the locker rooms were resolved, the first phase went off without a hitch. The pool deck was another story. The pool contractor set his stainless steel coping 1/2” lower than agreed. Trostrud discovered the error when setting spot drains, in the beginning of the pool mud-bed installation. This greatly complicated the installation, and correcting the coping was not an option.

“We preceded the best we could,” said Brad Trostrud, vice president of Trostrud Mosaic & Tile Co., Inc. “Mike Miller, our foreman, worked his magic to make the deck drain effectively.”

The new schedule also required Trostrud to mud set over a freshly poured, uncured concrete slab. Even though Trostrud was using a floating mud bed, they worked with Tyler Barton from MAPEI and the concrete contractor to devise a better solution. It was determined that Barrier One Porosity Inhibiting Admixture, added to the mix, would allow Trostrud to cover the slab in 10 days.

The Italian porcelain tile was Caesar Uniqua in Tiburtina, Argentum and Imperium, and well as a solid black tile by Caesar. Glass mosaic was from Island Stone. Products were sourced through Virginia Tile in Wood Dale, Ill., and set using MAPEI products, including Ultracolor Plus, Keracolor U, Ultraflex LFT, AquaDefense, Adesilex P-10 and Mapecem Quickpatch.

When the job was completed, the condo board and Archimage Architects were extremely satisfied with the results.

Stone – Proper selection, preparation, installation and maintenance spell success in stone projects

By Lesley Goddin

For this month’s Stone section, we went to Roy Viana, Dal-Tile Director of Natural Stone and Slab and Carlos Chiu, Dal-Tile Product Manager of Stone Tile and Sourced Mosaics to get an overview of issues pertinent to stone selection, maintenance, and installation for the professional tile contractor.

The first step in a stone installation is to select the stone, not just for aesthetics, but also to be sure the characteristics of the stone match the intended application.

Both Viana and Chiu agreed that natural stones – granite, marble, soapstone, limestone, travertine, etc. – all have specific technical characteristics that make them unique, and make them perform differently in a given setting depending on use and customer lifestyle.

Match stone to application

Chiu recommended knowing the place and type of environment in which the installation will take place – and suggested answering these questions in order to ensure the natural stone is a match for the application:

  • Is it an interior or exterior application?
  • Will it be subject to freezing and thawing conditions?
  • Is slip resistance a concern?
  • Will the stone be in contact with water or humidity?
  • Will it be a floor or wall application?
  • Is it a high or low traffic area?
  • “Once you know the answers to these questions you will be able to narrow down the stones that are suitable for your application,” he said.

Viana added, “Take into account the color, pattern and texture of the stone, paying special attention to the larger overall appearance. Stone finishes, such as polished, honed, antiqued or leathered (to name a few), will play a significant role in the finished kitchen countertop selection.”

Don’t skip the sealer

When working with stone, be mindful of the need for a sealer, Chiu explained. “Most of the time, stone needs to be sealed before applying the grout and after applying the grout. Some other stones need the sealer to be applied on the six sides of the tile to prevent the stone from absorbing humidity and changing color.”

A sealer is important, Viana echoed, as an effective precautionary measure against damage caused by everyday use. “The sealer creates a protective layer over the surface of the stone, preventing liquid from being absorbed and causing discoloration,” he said. “Proper application of a sealer is extremely important.” It’s also important that the proper TYPE of sealer be applied, so become familiar with sealer options and consult with the stone supplier or sealer manufacturer to be sure the product will enhance – and not harm – the stone.

Porous and soft stone need special considerations

During the actual installation process, consider the stone characteristics before selecting setting materials. “For example, there are some stones that react to water and installing them with a regular thinset will cause the stone to curl,” Chiu said. “To prevent this, an epoxy needs to be used. In addition, some stones have reinforced backings, such as resin or mesh backings. Therefore, any stone with these types of backings needs to be installed with epoxy. Exterior applications sometimes require special setting materials.

“In terms of grouts, some stones – specifically soft stones with polished finishes – can get scratched easily if sanded grout is used,” Chiu added. “Therefore, unsanded grout needs to be utilized. However, there are limitations regarding what type of grout can be used based on the grout width. If your grout width is wider than 1/8”, sanded grout needs to be utilized. If the grout width is less than 1/8”, unsanded grout will need to be used. If your grout width is too wide to use unsanded grout, then use sanded grout but apply it carefully to prevent scratching.”

Keeping stone beautiful

Once installed, counsel your client on maintenance to ensure long life and beauty of the stone. “Keeping the surface clean is the golden rule of natural stone,” Viana said. “As a porous stone, it can be susceptible to stains and discolorations from various liquids, especially the acidic ones. Citrus juice, vinegar and common household cleaning products can cause damage to certain natural stone countertops, such as marbles.” Spills should be wiped up immediately.

Cleaning the stone should be done with specially formulated cleaning products designed for natural stone, Viana said. Also he suggested keeping stone away from toiletry products which may contain chemicals that damage stone. Keeping products on a mat or in a decorative basket can protect stone, as does using coasters on bathroom countertops.

“Being proactive about keeping your natural stone clean will significantly increase its longevity while maintaining its beauty,” Viana said.

Direct heat can also discolor stone, so stone countertops should be protected from hot pots, plates and pans by using trivets and mats as barriers between the hot items and the stone. “Bathroom counters are especially vulnerable to forgotten hair curlers or straighteners, which can burn, and even crack, some stone due to ‘thermal shock’,” Viana said.

With proper care, protection and preparation, stone can be suitable for almost every area. However, Chiu said that stone isn’t a suitable choice when it would be “submerged in water and the water contains some type of chemicals, such as chlorine. Pool or fountain chemicals will discolor the stone. Stone is suitable for all other types of applications. It is just a matter of finding the right stone, installing it correctly and maintaining it well.”

HOT TOPICS – Dealing with substandard tile, part 1

By Lesley Goddin

On Dec 29, 2017, on the NTCA Members Only Facebook page, a discussion developed from comments from NTCA Member Damian Arine of Sun Country Customs in Arroyo Grande, Calif., about the challenges of contractors dealing with substandard tile.

Arine, frustrated with a proliferation of flawed product, asked why companies are “allowed to stamp a regulatory committee stamp on their stuff when it is obviously not up to any standards? It’s an ongoing thing. If you call and bring it to their attention, you might get an apology and some money taken off your order. But it still doesn’t change their methods.”

Arine continued, “I used to just deal with the problems. Now I bring it up to everyone who will pay attention. The distributor. The rep…even the company itself. Maybe one day it will make a dent but until then I’m blessed with being given different but ‘the same material,’ or tee shirts.”

The situation is compounded by the real-world situation the contractor is up against, Arine said. “It’s a horrible situation. You bitch at the distributor too much; well, they’re going to stop referring you. The homeowner wants it done and you want to save face.”

This discussion spurred the desire to investigate how contractors around the country are dealing with similar challenges, in two parts – looking at the problem; then looking at the solutions.

We do not have the space here to detail ALL of the horror stories about substandard, out-of-caliber, incorrectly fired, etc. tile, but suffice to say that every contractor we contacted had experienced this at one time or another.

For instance, Arine sent this photo of this unevenly-mounted tile. He said, “Best solution is to take them all off the sheets and install individually. Now this was a small shower floor so it didn’t add a ton of time. But it was still time. If I wanted compensation who do I go after? The homeowner didn’t know what they were buying. The distributor just sells it.”

Jeremy Waldorf of Legacy Floors in Howell, Mich., described a nightmare 550-sq.-ft. job in which the 12” x 24” porcelain tile sourced from a local distributor started breaking “in strange patterns” and resulted in pieces “literally falling out of the middle of the tile.” No matter what Waldorf tried, this continued. When he contacted the supplier, the rep told him that it was a firing issue that made the tile brittle and the installed tile would be durable, but each tile would have to be waterjet cut. “That just wasn’t going to happen,” Waldorf said. Though the supplier took the tile back and refunded the client’s money, it still meant this one-man business had to load up 550 sq. ft. of tile back on the truck, have the client re-select a new tile and then deliver the new truckload of tile three days later. His solution was to never use that brand of tile again.

Dealing with the problem

So, what to do? In broad strokes, these are the suggestions by small contractors and NTCA experts who have wrestled with this problem:

  • Understand the standards and know the TCNA Handbook methods
  • Don’t buy the tile
  • Order extra and do mockups
  • Stay ahead of the job
  • Do not install substandard tile
  • Be wary of homeowner-purchased product from big box stores
  • Keep clients informed of the twists and turns and progress of the job – both good and bad
  • Work with reputable distributors
  • Request all technical information before starting a project when working with unfamiliar suppliers or owner-supplied material; clarify that numbers for the project are based on it meeting standard
  • Educate the client to have reasonable expectations of what to expect from the job

Stay tuned to the April 2018 issue of TileLetter, when we’ll look at these suggestions in a little more detail. Want to add to the discussion? Feel free to email
[email protected] with your suggestions, experiences or observations on this topic.

Ask the Experts – February 2018

QUESTION

We found the stress cracks in the floor several days after the tile was installed. I had never seen anything like this in my 40 years of being in the trade, and neither had my tile man. They showed up as slightly wavy white lines in the marble. There was not a black line or crack you feel.

We removed a couple of tiles where two stress cracks intersected. The tile was well bonded to the 1/2” cement board below the tile. There was no intersection of sheets of cement board below the crack. The cement board looked sound. We removed the cement board to expose the tongue-and-groove plywood subfloor below. Where the cracks intersected in the floor was exactly where a sheet of plywood stopped and started. The cracks lined up with long 8’ run and one 4’ run. So, somehow whatever movement took place in the sheet of plywood transferred up through the cement board to the tile. There were no cracks in the cement board and it was firmly bonded to the plywood.

We took up all the tile and cement board. We checked the subfloor with a laser to see if the floor was showing any signs movement. The entire floor was within 1/8” of level everywhere we checked. There were no ridges in the plywood where the sheets butted together. The only suspicious thing I found was an area along the 8’ side of the plywood where the tongue of one sheet was not fully engaged in the groove of the other. This meant that there could be more flex in the plywood than there should have been.

We removed the sheet of plywood and checked the framing. The new joists we sistered onto the existing joists were 2” x 8”. They were nailed soundly to the existing 2”x 10” that were all over 2” thick. These joists spanned from the living room wall to the exterior wall. They also pass over the wood columns and beams that divide the stair well from the entry hall. The floor platform was really strong and robust. The plywood had been installed with construction adhesive and ring shank nails. It was fully bonded to the framing and very difficult to remove.

We could not see any good reason why the tile came to show the stress cracks. The only reason that I could come up may have had to with using adhesive to bond the plywood to the framing. I have seen problems in other areas due to adhesive shrinking as it dries. We have found when wall board is installed with adhesive and screws that the screws and plaster above them can show up as little humps on the surface of the board as the adhesive dries and pulls the wall board closer to the framing. It is only a fraction of an inch but I have seen this happen many times before – as the board moves closer to stud and the screw stays fixed, you get a hump.

This is only a theory but if the plywood got pulled tighter to the framing as the glue dried, could that small shift in the floor sub floor cause the crack in the tile? Total guess.

Also the non-fully-engaged tongue could have had something to do with it on the long side. Though short side of the ply was firmly seated on a joist, and we had stress crack here, too.

Marble is much softer than other stones or porcelain tile. Like I said before, I have never seen this happen before and we have used this type of assembly successfully for many years.

Anyway, we decided to add rows of blocking between the joists along the 8′ length to make sure that side of the plywood was more secure. We re-installed the plywood and were planning on using uncoupling membrane under the tile to avoid further stress cracks in the marble.

I suggested to the client that he might like another type of floor material to avoid any other chance of this happening again due to the softness of the marble. I understand everyone’s reluctance to do this, but I just wanted to increase our chances of having no further complications.

The tile installer feels pretty confident the uncoupling membrane will do the trick. My stone guy examined our tile and he said the product was as sound as you are going to get with Carrara marble.

What do you think?

ANSWER

Good to hear from you. As you are aware, the NTCA always encourages people to follow industry guidelines set by both the Tile Council of North America (TCNA), and American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

I was able to read the correspondence about this stone tile failure. The questions raised are covered in our industry standards.

The assembly that failed was a backer board installation over plywood. Attached is the diagram from the TCNA Handbook method F250, which is the closest method to what was described. If you notice two layers of plywood are required underneath the backer board install. For a similar installation using ceramic only one layer of plywood would be required. That detail is found in method F144 on page 162 of the 2017 TCNA Handbook.

There are two standards for allowable deflection in tile installation. For ceramic and porcelain tile, the standard is L/360. For stone tile installation the standard is L/720.

The L in this equation is the length of unsupported span under the installation in inches. This means that only half of the movement which would be allowable with a ceramic install would be allowable with a stone installation.

The question about adhesive under the plywood against the floor joist is addressed in ANSI A108.11 it states “…a 1/4” bead of construction adhesive should be applied to the center of the top of the joist and the plywood fastened to joist with 6d ring shank nails. There should be a 1/8” gap between the subfloor sheets.”

There was a mention of using an uncoupling membrane for the second installation. A second layer of plywood is required when using uncoupling membrane. Check with the uncoupling membrane manufacturer for complete instructions on this type of installation.

I hope this information helps. – Robb Roderick, NTCA presenter/trainer

Be well prepared before making the leap from installing tile to teaching tile installation – Business Tip – February 2018

Recently, NTCA trainer/presenter Robb Roderick fielded a question from an installer who was inquiring about the best way to transition from installing tile to teaching or training others in tile installation. Robb’s experienced response follows:

Robb Roderick,
NTCA technical presenter/trainer

In response to your question of how to move from installing tile to teaching or training tile installation, I would give you two pieces of advice: increase your credentials, and increase your exposure. 

Increase your credentials

There are many ways you can increase your credentials. One way is to become certified as a Certified Tile Installer (CTI) with the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation. After successfully passing the CTI exam, I would suggest taking as many of the ACT (Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers) tests as possible. Complete the online NTCA University courses. Attend as many NTCA and or manufacturer workshops as possible. Investigate training and education offered by your local union hall. The Ceramic Tile Institute also has some training and programs that may
benefit you.

Increase your exposure

To increase your exposure, I would encourage you to attend trade shows, conventions and conferences and network with as many people as possible. A few to attend would be TISE West/Surfaces, Coverings, and Total Solutions Plus. Also getting involved with Facebook could help you to meet more people who may help you with your endeavor. I would suggest joining and being an active part of sites like NTCA Members Only, Tile Geeks, Global Tile Posse, Tile Love 2.0, etc.

The NTCA website (www.tile-assn.com) now has Career Center page, which includes both employers and job seekers. This is a place where you can create an account and post your resume, and search possible employment opportunities. Many manufacturers also have employment opportunities listed on their website.

It’s said that success is when preparation meets opportunity. Hopefully the information above will help you prepare for your opportunity.

Does lack of 80% mortar coverage mean that a tile installation will fail? – Tech Talk – February 2018

By Tom D. Lynch, CSI

Not on your life! But you’d never know it by the way most professionals view this issue. The TCNA Handbook and ANSI A108 strongly recommend that 80% coverage should be attained for most installation scenarios, and rightfully so (exterior projects and showers recommend a minimum 95% coverage). The Handbook even goes so far as to offer explicit instructions as to how this can be obtained (thanks to Joe Tarver’s research years ago at the NTCA).

I agree wholeheartedly that the 80% goal should be reached on every tile installation; but I disagree that if it is not attained it will doom an installation to failure. I have seen too many installations that have been in for two years, three years and more that have never had the slightest inkling of failure until dramatic structural movement triggered lateral stress – most times as a crack in the concrete slab – that caused tile to dis-bond and shear loose. Then, if the coverage was something less than 80%, the tile contractor got blamed for the entire failure, or at least the vast majority of it. Never mind that the floor never failed for several years. Never mind that it is obvious that a crack in the concrete triggered the stress put on the mortar. It becomes the fault of the tile contractor because of the less-than-80%-coverage issue.

I disagree! I’m 100% on the side of the tile contractor here! Let me shed some needed light on this topic.

Let’s go back to the 1950s and ’60s when thin-set mortars were first being introduced to the market. ANSI was tasked with evaluating these new mortars that were beginning to replace full-blown mud-bed installations. ANSI A118.1 was developed, which included a porcelain tile shear strength rating of 150 psi. ANSI A118.4 came in at a porcelain shear of 200 psi. It was determined (and still is) that A118.4 has the desired mortar strength for installing porcelain tile. You with me so far?

Realizing that human beings are incapable of 100% perfection at all times, the Tile Council of America (now TCNA) and ANSI deemed it permissible to allow only 80% coverage for most installations. This is cool, but the one factor missing is that the ANSI testing is performed with 100% coverage on the test samples.

Oops! Now what?

If 100% coverage yields 200 psi, then it might be safe to assume that 80% coverage would yield only 160 psi. Make sense? Okay, so now let’s improve our installation mortar upwards to the newer A 118.15 mortars that achieve 400 psi shears with porcelain. 80% coverage with this mortar would yield a 320 psi shear strength which is exactly twice as strong as what A118.4 mortar achieves. This could also mean that only a 40% coverage rate with an A118.15 mortar would equal the required A118.4 rate of 160 psi at 80%.

What?? Am I suggesting that the rate of coverage be dropped to 40% minimums? Absolutely not! But what I am advocating is that if an installation has the tile edges and corners adequately supported and yet the coverage rate is something less than 80% it is NOT necessarily a cause for failure, and the tile contractor should be given the benefit of the doubt until the actual cause of the failure is discovered.

Up until now this 80% minimum coverage rate has been the death knell for tile contractors. It is unfair and needs to be stopped.

Here’s another point to consider. If the coverage on a particular failure was 80%-95% and a crack appeared in the slab causing the tile to shear loose, whose fault would it be? Obviously the concrete guy’s, right? So who can determine how much lateral stress the cracking of the concrete caused? 100psi, 200psi, 500psi, 1,000psi? It’s humanly impossible to determine, so let’s give the benefit of doubt to the tile contractor. Remember, when concrete cracks it’s generally like a mini explosion taking place – sudden and violent. It is never a silent and gradual separation.

I would venture a guess that there are more un-failed and completely successful tile installations in this country with less than 80% mortar coverage than there are with it. As professionals, let’s concentrate on solving failures rather than copping out by simply calculating coverage issues that more times than not unfairly condemn the tile installers.

Tom Lynch is a 55-year veteran of the tile industry and one of the NTCA’s initial Recognized Industry Consultants inductees. He can be reached at (336) 877-6951, [email protected] or at www.tomlynchconsultant.com. 

Tile setters, suppliers donate labor and materials to the Tile Geeks Project

Good works and camaraderie enjoyed while renovating Madison Fields in Dickerson, Md.

By Lesley Goddin

Madison Fields (madisonfields.org) in Dickerson, Md., is a fully functional farm that offers an inclusive environment where adults and children – many with special needs – can play, learn, and work together. Among the features of the farm is an Equestrian center that fosters a nurturing and healing partnership between horse and rider that benefits children and adults with autism, developmental disabilities, wounded veterans or the local community.

For 10 days at the end of October 2017 into early November a group of 15 tile installers who are members of the Tile Geeks Facebook group came together to donate their time and expertise to renovate various areas of the farm – almost 3,000 sq. ft. in all.

Justin Kyle, owner of Kyle’s Tile in Ocean View, Del., a Tile Geek administrator and NTCA member, set this plan in motion a year prior. He was inspired while at a training session, working with many fellow setters.

“I came to the realization that the same people in our group would travel to conventions and training events at different places in the country,” Kyle said. “We go to classes, drink some beers, walk through the conventions, but never really had a chance to work together. So I came up with the idea of finding a good charity project to do that would give us the chance to get together like we enjoy anyway, and out of that some good could come.”

After a flurry of emails to children’s charities that went unanswered – and a rough poll of Geeks who might be interested in such an endeavor – Kyle received a response from Madison Fields in April 2017, expressing needs that could be met by the tilesetting group. And it just so happened it was virtually in Kyle’s backyard.

“I was willing to organize this project anywhere in the country,” Kyle said. “With Madison Fields only a three- hour drive away, I was able to plan and arrange everything better than I had hoped.”

The original scope of work morphed from a “bunch of bathrooms in an extra house that the foundation was trying to buy on a property next to the farm,” Kyle said. That deal fell through, but instead there was a need for much more tile work in other parts of the farm, including four bathrooms, a tile floor in the barn itself, and a large floor in one of the resident houses.

Donations: labor and materials

When Kyle first hatched this notion, he ran it by those Tile Geeks on a shuttle bus with him at a training class. He got enthusiastic responses, so he set up a separate Facebook group (The Tile Geeks Project) and added the people he thought might be interested in doing it. “From there it just blossomed,” he added.

Those who attended came from all over the country: LATICRETE rep, Jeff Kimmerling, Milwaukee, Wis.; Dennis Pacetti, Pacetti Tile and Remodeling, Inc., Huntingdon Valley, Pa.; tile setter James Morris, Philadelphia, Pa.; Paul Luccia, Cabot & Rowe, Houston, Texas; Ulas Maris, Maris Tile Pro, East Moriches, N.Y.; Metin Gungor, Dekor Construction, LLC., Columbus, N.J.; Jon Appleby, Appleby Custom Tile, Bucyrus, Ohio; Joe Lenner, Infinite Ceramic, Emmaus, Pa.; tile setter Jim Garbe, Schenectady, N.Y.; Joseph Dantro, On All Floors, York, Pa.; Dan Kramer, DKCT, Inc., Buxton, N.C.; Stephen Belyea, JSG Tile and Stone, Weymouth, Mass.; tile setter Bethany Sheridan, Sterling, Va.; Carl Leonard, Cutting Edge Tile, Roebling N.J.; and George Maneira, New Age Stone, Jackson N.J.

A variety of setting materials was used on this project including: Strata_Mat™, Hydro Ban®, Hydro Ban® Board, Hydro Ban® Sheet Membrane, Hydro Ban® Flange Drain, Hydro Ban® preformed shower systems including curbs, and corners, Hydro Ban® Adhesive & Sealant, 3701 Fortified Mortar, PERMACOLOR® Select grout, Tri-Lite™ mortar, and more.

These installers footed the bill for their own transportation and took time away from their businesses to work together for the greater good. As it turned out, there was lodging available in the historic farmhouse that dates back to the early 1800s where the group was able to stay for most of the project. That was a boon for the bonding of the group. “If we had to go to a hotel, the majority of our down time would have been spent in our rooms,” Kyle said. “Having use of the farmhouse gave us a center base to work from. We could go out to dinner and then come back and sit around the living room and talk shop. It was really a fun experience.”

Donations of materials were another story. Since the project was established right before Coverings, Kyle had the chance to speak with Noah Chitty of Crossville in person in Orlando to ask for donations. Crossville was very generous with their tiles, donating 3,000 sq. ft. tile from multiple series for the project, including Nest, Notorious, Speakeasy, Cotto Americana, and Virtue.

Likewise, Kyle had been in contact with LATICRETE’s Ron Nash about this effort, who gave “his blessing. I even got to sit down with Henry Rothberg and he said whatever we need is ours,” Kyle said. In fact, LATICRETE wound up sending materials above and beyond what was requested, which wound up coming in handy when some unexpected situations cropped up later.

“We asked LATICRETE for what we expected to need,” Kyle said. “They sent out some extra materials including the new 257 Titanium thinset, and 2” Hydro Ban board, which was put to good use.

“It was an important step, because without setting materials and tile, we couldn’t do anything,” he added. “But once I knew those two companies were on board, it was just a matter of getting all the details figured out.”

Beyond the donations of labor and materials, Kyle knew that a “slush fund” account was needed for incidentals like plumbing and vanities. To address this, Kyle established a silent auction and Tile Geek members donated items to be auctioned off. Contractors Direct and Norton donated saws, and J&R Tile donated an iQ dustless saw; Shannon Huffstickler from Schluter was instrumental in donating three shower kits, and MLT’s Mick Volponi donated several MLT kits also. All items were sold to the highest bidder, which allowed the group to have some cash to work with.

“To top it off, Justin Ernst of Minnetonka Minn., contacted Kate-Lo Tile and at his request, they shipped a pallet of buckets to the jobsite for us to use,” Kyle said.

In addition, iQ itself donated an iQTS244 dustless saw to the effort that was used on site and then raffled off at the project – Ulas Maris held the winning number!

Working together to meet challenges

Kyle had some concerns bringing so many “Type A” personalities to work together. But it all worked out, he said. Setters buddied up to work on different areas of the project and when they finished, jumped right in to other areas where work was still under way. “We all just blended together as I hoped,” Kyle said.

In fact, Jim Garbe said, “For me, the best part of it was the amazing way that the planning and execution fluidly evolved constantly as the situations were assessed and re-assessed when demo commenced and often revealed things that were worse than we expected them to be. Instead of one large job, it was 10 small ones going on all at once with a limited time frame and constantly fluctuating labor force,” Garbe added. “The ability of everyone to problem-solve and switch gears to be what the current task required was simply amazing to behold.”

The project was not without challenges however. “The biggest challenge was knowing that we were on a set time frame that we had to meet and since we had not demoed anything, we didn’t know what was behind, and under the existing materials,” Kyle said. “There was no new construction. It was a complete remodel.”

Having the materials on hand made things better, Kyle said, even materials that had not been on the original wish list. For instance, the one bathroom in the horse stable was a bathroom someone had tiled improperly. It has a curbless shower, with no slope to the drain, tile stuck to the wall over drywall, and no waterproofing. The Tile Geeks team went in and ripped it all out.

“We didn’t have the room to do a true curbless shower as they had intended, but we were able to build partitions with some of the 2” Hydro Ban board, and make a vanity with the Hydro Ban board,” he said. In addition, “We did a large floor with a failed floating laminate job on top of it,” he continued. “We ripped that out only to find that the original slab had cutback on it. We ended up having some 257 Titanium, LATICRETE’s new thinset there. We knew it would bond to cutback, so we used it to install Strata_Mat. That saved us time from having to grind or scrape the floors.”

Camaraderie – an added bonus

In the end, the project was win-win – delivering renovated spaces for the organization and a time of connection and camaraderie for the setters.

“Tile Geeks Project was my first priority for the year of 2017,” said Ulas Maris, who enjoyed reuniting with Tile Geek friends and meeting some he only knew by name online. “I was looking forward to being there and sharing my skills helping out people in need… It would not be possible for us to be there if we didn’t mean it for real in our hearts. We all wanted to be there and be part of it.”

Tile setter Bethany Sheridan from Sterling, Va., added, “I enjoyed working with a team that accomplished so much in a short period of time, all for a good cause. It was also great getting to know my online friends from Tile Geeks. I would certainly do it again.”

Stephen Belyea, a NTCA State Ambassador as well as a Tile Geek member, said, “It was a pleasure to be a part of the Tile Geeks Project.  It was very rewarding to donate my time to the Autism Foundation. It was a bonus to do so with such a great group of people. Everybody that was willing to donate their time was also there with a great attitude. We all came from different places and different backgrounds, but we all had the same goal. We were all positive and willing to work hard and do what it takes to get the job done.

“It is nice to learn different techniques from different people,” he added. “I enjoyed being around people who are as passionate about tile as I am…We would spend quality time at each meal having great conversations. Sitting by the fire having a drink after a long day of work was great. I look forward to doing this again and hope the same caliber of people show up.”

“It’s amazing to me, anytime I get together with tile guys, especially the ones willing to donate their time and effort to something like this, I’m struck by the fact that they are simply really cool people,” Kyle said. “They are obviously intelligent in the tile field, but that also filters into other aspects of their personalities. I find the same thing when I go to conventions. I’m amazed at how well we all get along.”

Garbe added, “The opportunity to work with these people was as good as I expected it to be,
and I would do it again in a
second.”

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