Ask the Experts – December

QUESTIONSponsoredbyLaticrete

Here is the age-old question: Should I use caulk or grout to seal a toilet to a tile floor? Whatever is used will go halfway around the toilet. The goal is to protect the front of toilet from “fluids” and to prevent toilet from rocking. What do you recommend and why?

ANSWER

toilet_ATEToilets are designed to be removed and replaced. The tile floor is meant to be permanent. Toilets should not rock on a flat tile floor, but in the real world they often do rock. Most plumbers use wood or plastic shims to steady the installed toilet, and cut the shims with a utility knife so they do not protrude beyond the toilet base. Using grout or sealant to fill the space between tile floor and toilet base is your choice, though in my opinion, sealant is the much better choice. Grout, when cured, will not withstand the movement that will be present with toilet use, so cracks will develop. Also, grout has no water-resistant properties whatsoever. Sealants remain flexible, have sufficient bond strength and do give some water resistance. Be sure to use a sealant that meets ASTM-C920 performance stan- dards (like a 100% silicone) to get the longest-lasting sealant joint. — Michael Whistler, NTCA presenter/technical consultant

QUESTION

I have some tile and it has this statement on the packaging: “Please verify shade, calibre and grading. Claims regarding these items cannot be accepted after tile setting.” Can you tell me what shade, calibre and grading refer to?

ANSWER

boxlabel_ATEShading and calibre (also spelled caliber) refer to the color and size of the tiles, respectively. Each box of tile should be marked with its shade and caliber. Your job is to ensure that all boxes have the SAME shade and caliber before they are installed. If you use dif- ferent shades or calibers, you will be using tiles of different color and size – generally not pleasing to the eye. Every tile run has multiple cal- ibers and shade lots that are sorted and boxed at the factory, but it is possible to receive more than one caliber or shade within an order. You must check before installing so you can either mix the different lots together to avoid blocking, or reject the different lots and try to get all matching lots (which may or may not be possible). Grading is the designation on the label on each box that shows whether the tiles meet ANSI-A137.1 specifi cations (shown as “STD” or “standard”), or if the box contains lesser-quality seconds. – Michael Whistler, NTCA presenter/technical consultant

Tile Patterns – bringing tile to life

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By Corinthia Runge, manager, Daltile Design Studio

Ceramic tile continues to reign as one of the most favored design staples in the floor-covering industry because of its performance, design versatility, color options and beauty. The range of design possibilities with ceramic tile is truly endless, which affords tile manufacturers the opportunity to meet the varying needs of residential and commercial audiences through extensive portfolios of stylish floor and wall tile options – but there’s more to a tile installation than the tile itself.

How tile is laid can change the look and feel of any space – and there are so many exciting tile patterns to choose from and ways to use them to a space’s best advantage. No matter how you want to alter the appearance or scale of an installation, there’s a tile pattern designed to work for you. Using any classic tile pattern can help transform a standard tile job into an extraordinary one. Considering the wide variety of tile and trim tiles available, the possibilities are limitless.

Trending tiles and patterns

Many of today’s most popular tile patterns are inspired by the emerging trends driving modern design. These trends take some time to get seeded, but once a trend is identified, it tends to evolve and last for years. The most popular shapes right now are rectangular large formats and planks, which are often being used on both the floor and on the wall. This results in many more pattern options, which designers are utilizing more frequently to create unique designs. For larger format sizes, the most popular patterns are Running Bond, Straight Joint and Third Stagger.

2-tile-patternsRunning Bond is a basic yet beautiful layout, also called a brick or offset pattern. In this pattern, the tiles are offset by half the width of the tile, offering a timeless look for almost any style. With each joint centered over the tile below, this pattern resembles classic brickwork. Larger formats (any side measuring over 18”) require an offset of no more than 33% when installed in this pattern.

Straight Joint is one of the simplest tile patterns that showcases the beauty of every tile. The straight joint pattern offers a more contemporary, linear look. Whether tile is installed vertically or horizontally, the pattern’s clean lines make any space feel taller or wider.

Third Stagger is a variation of the Running Bond layout that features a stair-step pattern with each joint offset 1/3 from the row of tiles below it.

These larger format sizes (12”x24”, 18”x36” and 24”x48”) offer a more transitional, clean look and have less grout. Running Bond and Third Stagger provide a traditional spin on the modern cut tile, while the Straight Joint offers a more modern look.

Patterns for planks

1-tilepatternsFor plank sizes, the most popular patterns are Chevron, Herringbone and Random Stagger. The rise in popularity of these layouts is due in part to wood-look tile, one of the hottest trends in the marketplace. What was first introduced as a traditional take on hardwood floors has evolved to include more colors and textures to choose from than ever before. There has also been a significant rise in the selection of natural stone planks due to the beautiful vein-cut natural stone options being offered today.

Chevron is an inverted V-shaped pattern. In this design, all planks are the same length and the pieces are installed at an angle to match up perfectly with one another. This creates a perfectly straight line on both sides of the planks. Herringbone is very similar to Chevron, but instead of having the ends line up with one another, they overlap, creating an entirely different and unique look.

Mosaics are also “must-haves” right now, especially in kitchen backsplashes, shower walls and floor accents. The texture and color movement possible with these mosaics add a depth, sparkle and luminescence to any space.

In terms of mosaic patterns, if you can imagine it, you can create it. From vivid colors and on-trend shapes to unique patterns and bold borders, one simple design can turn any space into an incredible work of art. There are hundreds of patterns and borders available that can be modified to complement any design scheme. Many mosaics are available in custom (made to order) and standard patterns that can be used in any application.

On the level for proper installation

The primary challenges with large-format tile patterns are foundation and installation. For large-format tiles, the foundation must be perfectly level, which at times requires extensive preparation work for the surface. It may also require a crack-prevention membrane. Also, during installation it may require extra setting material and extra manpower, since the large tiles may be difficult to maneuver.

When in doubt, always refer to the industry standards. Industry standards include the 2013 TCNA (Tile Council of North America) Handbook for Ceramic, Glass, and Stone Tile Installation, which includes Natural Stone Tile Selection and Installation and Assembly Methods for the Installation of Stone Tile. In addition, consult the current Version 2013.1 edition of ANSI A108, A118, and A136.1 (Visit the NTCA store at www.tile-assn.com, click on Books & Periodicals).

For more information and diagrams on tile patterns, visit tile manufacturer websites such as www.daltile.com/information/tile-patterns, http://americanolean.com/patterns.cfm, or www.daltile.com/programs-services/custom-tile-services/mosaic-borders-patterns/1-x-1.

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Achieving ambitious design at Coba Cocina restaurant

TEC products provide stunning aesthetic and impeccable performance

coba_restaurant

Coba Cocina Restaurant in Lexington, KY contains more than 60,000 square feet of glass, porcelain and ceramic interior and exterior tile, all installed with TEC® Power Grout® and IsoLight™ mortar.

The design of Coba Cocina was inspired by cenotes, a natural wonder found most often in the Yucatan Peninsula, where land has eroded over centuries to create a mystical underwater world. The focal point of the restaurant is an aquarium that is home to the largest private collection of moon jellyfish in the world.

1-cobaThe project team decided that the best material to simulate the limestone bedrock and underwater atmosphere would be a variety of tile. To achieve this intricate look, the team immediately turned to TEC products because of their wide variety of options and ultimate performance.

“There was really no other choice when it came to deciding which products to use,” said Todd Ott, AIA, Associate with CMW, Inc., architect for the project. “IsoLight™ and Power Grout did everything that we needed for all interior and exterior tile applications throughout the project through a single source. The products enabled us to get the look we imagined, with peak performance.”

TEC Power Grout Ultimate Performance Grout was used for all tile applications on Coba Cocina. It provides permanent stain resistance, crack resistance, efflorescence resistance and superior color uniformity. Power Grout is available in 32 color options that match the latest design trends – yet another advantage for the Coba Cocina design and project team.

2-coba“The design of the floor and walls at Coba is a work of art,” said Ott. “The numerous color options of Power Grout allowed us to choose from a broad range of grout colors to fit our creative design.”

By using ceramic and glass tile of various sizes and colors, including iridized blacks, greens, golds, silvers and aqua, on the floors and walls, restaurant patrons can experience a sense of underwater movement.

TEC IsoLight Mortar was used to set all of the tile. IsoLight is a lightweight mortar that protects tile from up to 1/8″ substrate cracking from in-plane horizontal substrate movement. It contains recycled materials that enable superior handling and ease of use. Additionally, IsoLight can be applied over many substrates, an extra bonus for the installer of the Coba Cocina project. “

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The mortar was applied over various substrate surfaces and used with a variety of tile materials,” said Donnie May, president of May Contracting who served as installer on the project. “Not having to change products during installation saved us time and allowed us to focus on the intricate details of this installation.”

The exterior of the restaurant is covered in solid porcelain tile that gives it a travertine look. The large-format 12”x24” tile is set using the same TEC products as the interior. IsoLight and Power Grout are both ideal for outdoor installations.

“I can always turn to TEC products to achieve the desired outcome of any project,” said Donnie May. “Coba is another example of the aesthetic and functional results that TEC products have to offer.”

Coba Cocina was completed in spring 2013. The project team consists of architect CMW, Inc., Lexington, KY, tile installer May Contracting, Lexington KY, and distributor Louisville Tile, Lexington, KY.

Visit tecspecialty.com to learn more about TEC products.

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Tech Talk – November 2013

TEC-sponsorKeys to successful installation of large thin tile panels

tom_plaskota_webBy Tom Plaskota, Technical Support manager, H.B. Fuller Construction Products

Large-format tile has become a popular choice for commercial floor and wall installations. Because it requires fewer grout lines, large-format tile visually expands rooms and produces a neater, modern appearance. Building owners and designers, now more than ever, are demanding these aesthetic benefits. Meanwhile, technological advances have enabled manufacturers to produce larger – and thinner – porcelain tiles, some with facial dimensions as large as 5’ (1.5 m) x 10’ (3 m). Thicknesses are reduced compared to traditional tile, ranging from 1/8” (3 mm) to 9/32” (7 mm).

These larger and thinner tiles can be challenging to handle and install. Here are some key factors to consider:

Handling – Large-format tiles often arrive in oversized crates, which require specific handling equipment. To prevent damage during forklift operation, specific fork sizes must be used. For example, to handle a crate of 3’ x 10’ tiles from the side, 44” long forks are recommended. To handle the same crate from the narrow end requires forks that are at least 84” long. Lifting multiple crates with longer forks may require forklifts with a greater lift capacity.

fig1_tectalkTools and equipment – Specialized tools and equipment are currently available for the installation of large porcelain panels. Innovative trowels with unique notch configurations can help increase the consistency of the mortar coverage on the back of the tile (See fig. 1). As with any size tile installation, full and complete coverage provides a strong bond and minimizes the likelihood of damage from impact or heavy loads.

Fig2-tectalkTo assist in the handling and setting of individual tiles, frames and handles with suction cups can be purchased or rented from tile distributors. Since mis-cuts of large panels can result in costly waste, the use of a rail cutting system is highly recommended (See fig. 2).

Installation materials – Since not all setting materials are appropriate for installing large porcelain panels, setting-material manufacturers have specific large-tile product recommendations. Whether you are installing 1/8” (3 mm) thick tiles that have a resin/mesh backing (See fig. 3) or 7/32” (5.6 mm) tiles with a porcelain bonding surface, the greater bond strength and resistance to impact of latex/polymer modified portland cement mortars are required. The “tack time” of a mortar is another consideration. When troweling mortar onto a substrate, it is important that the mortar surface remains in a wet, tacky state and doesn’t skin over before the tile is set. Tack time is especially important when troweling out the area to set a 30-plus square foot tile.

fig2-techtalk

Setting-material manufacturers must also evaluate grout requirements for reduced thickness porcelain panels. Strong durable grouts are required for these installations for two reasons:

1. Grout-joint depth is limited by the reduced thickness of the tile

2. Reduced-thickness tiles have a rectified corner edge, which may be susceptible to impact damage in some circumstances. Grouts with premium strength qualities address these conditions.

Substrate preparation – First, check with the tile manufacturer to make sure your substrate type is acceptable. For example, some large thin-tile manufacturers limit floor installations to concrete substrates. While a clean, sound substrate is critical to any tile installation, large porcelain panels have the added criteria of substrate flatness. The maximum allowable variation in the substrate for tiles with all edges shorter than 15” is 1/4” in a 10’ span. There should be no more than 1/16” variation in a 10’ span when measured from the high points on the surface. For tiles with at least one edge 15” in length, the maximum variations are 1/8” in 10’ and 1/16” in 24”. For floor installations, a self-leveling underlayment can help meet these substrate requirements.

Staffing the job properly – Having the right size crew is critical. The largest of these tiles must be handled by at least two people. Back-buttering is typically required, with the mortar being applied to the substrate and the back of the tile by two people simultaneously. To keep pace with the installation, at least one individual will be required to mix and maintain the flow of mortar. Taking this into consideration, even the smallest installations require at least a four-person crew.

Finally, there are additional recommendations that manufacturers can provide, so the best approach is to consult your tile and setting material manufacturer before you begin the installation. That way, you’ll be better prepared for the challenges you may face and have the knowledge to take on large tile installations with confidence.

The TEC® brand is offered by H.B. Fuller Construction Products Inc. – a leading provider of technologically advanced construction materials and solutions to the commercial, industrial and residential construction industry. Headquartered in Aurora, Illinois, the company’s recognized and trusted brands – TEC®, CHAPCO®, Grout Boost®, Foster®, AIM™ and others – are available through an extensive network of distributors and dealers, as well as home improvement retailers. For more information, visit www.hbfuller-cp.com. 

TCNA Hires Lynn M. Zott

zottTile Council of North America (TCNA) has hired Lynn M. Zott as project manager. Zott has joined TCNA to further develop its communications and publications programs, along with TCNA project manager Stephanie Samulski. Zott brings a wealth of experience in publishing, having spent the last nine years as president of Zott Solutions, Inc., an editorial services company that provided contracted project management, editorial, and production services for 175+ reference and textbook titles worth millions in annual revenue.

Both as a small business owner and during her tenure at Gale, a major reference publisher where Lynn served as managing editor in charge of several award-winning, flagship reference series, she has honed her skills in writing and editing, product and marketing conceptualization, researching, designing for print and digital publications, and project management. Lynn particularly enjoys analyzing workflows, locating ways to maximize efficiencies in production, and designing methods and strategies to support optimal individual and team performance.

Eric Astrachan, TCNA executive director, said, “With Ms. Zott on staff, we believe we can better communicate industry initiatives, better inform our members, and make better use of content TCNA develops.”

Business Tip – November 2013

mapei_sponsorFinancial Operations: overhead analysis, accounts receivable and payable and invoicing

In this issue of TileLetter, we continue with the Financial Operations section of the NTCA Business Reference Manual, as found on page 31 in that document. Last month we examined common accounting terms and the labor burden rate. This month, we review overhead analysis, accounts receivable and payable and invoicing. Check upcoming TileLetter issues for more tips and recommendations on running your business efficiently and profitably. To download the entire NTCA Business Reference Manual, visit www.tile-assn.com.

c. Overhead analysis
An overhead expense chart will show items like advertising, sales, office expenses, staff, rent, office equipment, telephone, computer, office supplies, job expenses, vehicles, job supervision, tools and equipment, service and warranty, mobile phone, general expenses, owner’s salary, general insurance, interest, taxes, bad debts, licenses and fees, legal fees, education and training, entertainment, association fees. Make sure all these overhead costs are factored into your job estimates.

d. Accounts receivable and payable
Accounts payable are people or companies  you do business with and whom you need to make payments to. Accounts receivable are people from whom you will be receiving money. Set up a system to track payments due to your vendors and subcontractors, as well as weekly accounts receivable reports so your customer accounts don’t get too far in arrears.

e. Invoicing
Typically, residential jobs are billed upon completion, with a “draw” requested to cover the cost of any materials purchased up front.

Commercial jobs are usually billed in stages. For large jobs, you may need to bill a “materials draw” to cover the cash outlay for materials to be used on the job. Commercial jobs are generally paid more slowly (45-60 days), so you need to plan your expenses accordingly. Most commercial contractors will hold a portion of your payment as retainage and require you to submit notarized applications for payment. Each contractor has specific forms for you to complete, and you need to make sure you read them thoroughly.

Many contracts state that you won’t get paid unless the contractor does (pay-if-paid), but this is not legal in some states. Know the laws of your state, and don’t be afraid to edit a contract accordingly.

You should put a payment schedule in your contract to control when you will be paid and the amount. This is new to GCs but if you will start implementing this, it will help your cash flow to know exactly when you will be paid. Poor payment schedules on contracts cause cash flow problems. They should be well defined and followed. If you are unsure, contact your attorney for the proper wording and implementation.

Ask the Experts – November

SponsoredbyLaticreteQuestion
Our soap dishes fell off the tile tub surround, and were repaired by two different installers (using the term loosely). One was reset by using only grout to place it. The other was reset by punching a 2 1/2” to 3” hole in the green board and filling it with grout (not thinset) only. Are my concerns founded that now that the moisture barrier has been breached, the grout can wick moisture into the wall?

Answer
I dislike being the bearer of bad news, but there is probably no good way to re-attach those soap shelves. First, your tile was installed over a paper-covered gypsum product. Although common years ago, this method has not been allowed in wet areas for quite some time.

Second, tile and grout systems are not waterproof, or even water resistant. In fact, the tile system generally pulls water into the substrate (even if it is sealed). Over time, the paper on the gypsum board begins to degrade, and delaminate from the soft gypsum core below. Almost nothing will stick to this raw gypsum for long.

Not seeing the shower in person, I cannot unequivocally say that you are due for a new shower, but soap shelves falling off is usually the first sign of the end for this type of system. What usually follows is grout cracking and tiles falling off.  When these symptoms occur, you will generally find that in removing the old tile and green board there will be much degradation of the board, and likely mold, since the paper and gypsum in a wet, warm environment are perfect food for mold.

Michael K. Whistler, NTCA presenter/technical consultant

Question
(from an architect)
Should I expect wall and floor grout lines to meet as best practice from a tile installer?

Answer
It is not a written industry standard that when using the same tile on walls and floors, or a modular tile (where more than one smaller tile plus grout joints equal the size of one large tile), all grout joints should align at vertical to horizontal tiled surfaces. Unless specified in contractual language, it is more a bonus of using a highly-skilled and quality-conscious contractor. This is the art of “layout” and can sometimes take nearly as long as the actual laying of the tile. There are times when it is physically impossible, as in the case where angled walls meet floors, but generally a quality craftsman will have nearly all grout joints aligned.

Michael K. Whistler, NTCA presenter/technical consultant

Question
I was wondering what the best floor backer board is for porcelain and ceramic tile.

Answer
All the backer boards are good.  Each has different properties that may be needed for a specific project, such as thickness, dimensions of sheets available, ability to use on exteriors, weight, etc. Also keep in mind that if a cementitious backer board or unit (CBU) is specified for a project, substitutions are usually allowed with other brands of CBUs. But other TYPES of backer board, like foam, water-resistant faced gypsum, fiber cement or others will be difficult to substitute.  Not that any are bad, you just need to follow specifications.

So find a type you like, familiarize yourself with the manufacturer’s instructions and go to town!!

Michael K. Whistler, NTCA presenter/technical consultant

Women in Tile – 2013

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According to the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012 saw a 1% drop in construction workers overall from 9,039,000 to 8,964,000. The percentage of women also took a slight dive to 9% of the total – 806,760 women in total – compared to 9.2% in 2011.

However, of the 150,000 carpet, floor and tile installers and finishers in 2012, 2.2% were women – that’s up from .5% in 2011 – a significant increase in distaff installers. Female helpers in construction dropped from 8% in 2011 to 4.5% in 2012, perhaps reflecting more women taking on primary roles as installers and construction workers.

This issue of TileLetter looks at four women and their paths through the tile industry. Nancy Epstein, based in Secaucus, N.J., is CEO of Artistic Tile (www.artistictile.com), an importer, distributor and manufacturer of luxury tile and stone products, with a 110,000-square-foot manufacturing facility,  nine U.S. showrooms and 150 dealers worldwide. Michelle Griffoul, from Buellton, Calif. (www.michellegriffoul.com), has been creating stunning handmade tile for 35 years. Our two tile installers are Michele Kalec, president of Picasso Tile & Stonework in Tempe, Ariz. (www.picassotile.com), and Carole Loquet a.k.a. La Caroleuse (www.lacaroleuse.com) who is a tile installer, trained in France, who now practices the trade in Montreal, Quebec Canada.

epstein_picsEpstein: making tile artistic

Nancy Epstein knew within three months of opening a tile showroom in 1993 that “developing quick-ship, in-stock luxury products would be instrumental to the success of the business,” she said. “The unfolding trends of the new shelter magazines popping up, extended European travel among Americans, and consumers working without the help of an interior designer all led to the increase of requests for rapid deliveries.” This knowledge led to the legendary rise of the luxury supply house that Artistic Tile is today.

Epstein was armed with a B.S. degree in business from Syracuse University, design classes at Parsons School of Design in New York City, and retail experience in furniture from her work with a luxury furniture importer, and exposure to retail from her father’s floor covering and furniture retail stores. “I took the retail knowledge I had absorbed and a personal love for luxury and combined them into one business,” she said.

Griffoul_picsGriffoul: from sculpture to tile

Award-winning handmade tile manufacturer and artist, Michelle Griffoul, started making her first site-specific tile projects about 1980. In 1989 she started selling to Ann Sacks and was included in her first catalog when Sacks, impressed by Griffoul’s ceramic sculpture and furniture, asked Griffoul to design a line. Griffoul snapped up the opportunity as steady income to support her two children in her work as a ceramic artist. “I could still be a very creative artist and make functional art as floors, walls, pools, kitchens, bathrooms,” she said.

Griffoul‘s art perspective allowed her to think outside the square – shape of tile – that is. “I was used to being different. When I started making tiles in the shape of squiggles, leaves, fish, etc. many people told me that I cannot make tiles the way I made them as far as design. Those comments gave me more energy to prove them wrong and be really successful at it.”

Griffoul brought her Masters of Fine Arts into her craft, but learned about the tile industry by “listening and participating in it,” she said. “By being a member of the Tile Council of North America I learned about specifications and expectations from customers. Michael Byrne taught me about installation,” she added.

kalec_picsKalec: choreographing beautiful tile and stone work

Michele Kalec – whose Picasso Tile & Stonework won the 2012 Contractor of the Year Recipient & Fabricator of the Year award from the Ceramic Tile & Stone Association of Arizona, and is a 2013 MIA Residential Interior/Exterior Pinnacle Award of Excellence winner – has been making art and building things since she was a child, learning how to handle tools from her woodworker dad. “With tile and stone, I combined my love of creating something with my hands into an art form. I’ve been hooked ever since,” she said.

Kalec joined the tile industry in 1988, incorporating as Picasso Tile & Design, Inc. in 1994. The company added a fabrication division in 1996 and has since been doing business as Picasso Tile & Stonework.

“With a bachelor’s degree in both sociology and choreography, I used what I had: the ability to listen, learn and make all the parts of the industry move in a beautiful dance,” she added. “Once I got my feet wet, I researched everything I could find online, in books and spoke with distributors and manufacturers about available seminars and training venues. My best asset was the fact that I am a perfectionist when it comes to tile and stone. I tried to leave no stone unturned in the learning process.”

la_caroleuse_picsLa Caroleuse: dedicated and passionate

French-born Carole Loquet has been a tile setter since 2002, originally studying to become a social worker. While she was demolishing the outdated bathroom in an old house she was renovating  with her boyfriend, she realized she wanted to become a tile setter. She chose training with Les Compagnons du Tour de France, even though she faced a lot of opposition from women in the organization’s administration who felt tile setting was a man’s job. She prevailed through the year of intensive training with work placements throughout France, getting work immediately after graduation with various companies.

In 2005 she created La Caroleuse in France to “do my work in accordance with the rules of art and my values,” she explained. “I wanted to offer customers quality and personalization of their work.” After five years, she and her boyfriend immigrated to Canada, where she worked on mosaic murals for a year. After becoming licensed in Quebec and working on a large hotel job, she again felt the passion to start La Caroleuse in Montreal.

“La Caroleuse” is a play on words: The word for tile setter in French is carreleur for men and carreleuse for women, so she made a pun using her name “Carole.” Suprisingly, the word “caroleuse” is now known in France and other countries as the name for her craft!

Building credibility

Almost universally, at one time in their careers, the women in our story were not taken seriously, but over time, their business or technical prowess woke business associates up to their competency. “It wasn’t until I placed container orders that they would take me seriously,” Epstein said.

“There is a learning curve of acceptance in this business as in most construction industries,” Griffoul said. She enjoyed greater acceptance once she won the Spectrum Design Awards Grand Prize.

“On many job sites I have been treated as if I didn’t know anything and should not even be there,” Griffoul said. “That was before they knew that I designed and manufactured the project they were installing. I never let anyone on the job site intimidate me, but that’s easier now than when I started 35 years ago.”

Kalec, who said she hopes “the undertone of ‘the boys club’” is obsolete by the time her daughter takes over the business, has seen a lot of acceptance and improvement on the jobsite, where “women are filling lots of different construction positions and have added a value and perspective that didn’t exist before. I think that competition in the field has provided an opportunity for new creative ideas and improvements in efficiency,” she said.

Peers and bastions of the tile industry have generated a lot of support, as have family members. Epstein’s husband constantly encouraged her – and then Epstein herself went on to be an inspiration and support for Michelle Griffoul, as were Michael Byrne, Bob Daniels, and NTCA’s own Bart Bettiga.

A local licensed contractor taught Kalec how to do her first Roman tub, just for the asking. “I will never forget that kindness,” she said. Fellow women in advertising, the A&D community and in related construction fields bolstered her confidence and knowledge as well.

Loquet gained knowledge and support from a visit to the Porcelanosa factory and continues to get feedback from professional tile setters around the world through her website and professional Facebook page. She’s also received a lot of support from U.S. tile setters.

“I never imagined such support from my peers,” she said. “I am honored.” In fact, it was a group of tile setters on a Facebook group that first introduced me to Loquet and praised her professionalism and setting skills.

The bottom line

The bottom line is that our group of professional women endorses tile setting for those who love the building industry, are competitive, strong and not easily intimidated, and have passion and fresh ideas.  “Never strive to keep up with the competition, strive to outpace them,” Epstein said.

Education is a common thread from all our luminaries in this story. Said Griffoul, “Educate yourself so you are the smartest person in the room or job site. Know design and the technology of manufacturing and installation. They are all integrated in a good job application. Learn from others around you and be open.”

“Do what you love and the money will follow,” said Kalec. “Know your passion and know your trade…It can be very rewarding to see projects come to fruition.”

Loquet summed it up, saying “This is an industry with numerous possibilities, changing where you learn every day. The tiles are endless, and manufactured throughout the world. It’s just exciting!”

DCOF Testing Mandated in 2014

eric_DCOFThe requirements for coefficient of friction – a measurement of a tile’s frictional resistance, closely related to traction and slipperiness – for ceramic tile have changed. The measurement is now DYNAMIC coefficient of friction (DCOF), which measures COF when in motion, vs. the old testing standard that measured a static COF. Any individual or firm involved in the manufacture, specification, sales, installation, or maintenance of ceramic tile floors must understand the new requirements for tile.

Many manufacturers continue to report COF numbers from the older method (specifically, SCOF values from the ASTM Intl. C1028 test method) along with newly-required COF numbers prescribed by the new ANSI A137.1-2012 standard for ceramic tile, which mandated this change in test methods.

The new test protocol is found in Section 9.6 of the A137.1 standard and is commonly known as the DCOF AcuTestsm.

Starting early in 2014, the old ASTM C1028 method is headed for obsolescence, so many ceramic tile manufacturers will only report their tile’s COF per the DCOF AcuTest.

In addition to the change in test methods, A137.1 now specifies a required DCOF AcuTest value for level interior tiles that will be walked on when wet; the required value is ≥0.42. Previously, there was no required COF value in A137.1 for wet floors, although a minimum SCOF value of 0.6, measured by the ASTM C1028 test method, was commonly specified for ceramic tiles in commercial project specifications. DCOF AcuTest values cannot be compared to old SCOF values due to the use of different wetting agents. For an accurate measure and assurance that the tile meets the minimum 0.42 AcuTest criterion, tile manufacturers MUST use the DCOF AcuTest method.

The technology on which the DCOF AcuTest is based was not available in the United States until recently. The DCOF AcuTest in particular offers several benefits over other methods of measuring COF: it is highly repeatable, it more accurately measures the COF of very smooth surfaces, it correlates well with European measures of COF, and it is portable.

If you haven’t switched yet to specifying/reporting/using/requiring DCOF Acutest values, make the switch today and don’t get left behind when the January 2014 deadline strikes. For more information, visit: TCNAtile.com.

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