Challenging mermaid pool and backsplash project

Handmade mosaic murals by Ruth Frances Greenberg required careful prep and attention to detail from Hawthorne Tile

Two challenging hand-made mosaic designs by Portland’s Ruth Frances Greenberg (rfgtile.com) have recently been installed in a Portland residence by Hawthorne Tile. The precision of the design and process of installation initially challenged Hawthorne Tile when the tile contractor set Greenberg’s mermaid mosaic in the bottom of a pool in summer 2017. But once the owner saw the beauty of the expertly installed pool mermaid, she immediately commissioned a Ruth Frances Greenberg backsplash for the pool house kitchen. 

Once the design is created, Greenberg lays the tiles out in place, face-mounts them with plastic, cuts them into sections, and numbers them.

Bringing a mermaid to life

The 14´ diameter mermaid project involved “pretty intense logistics,” said Travis Schreffler, project manager for the install. He explained that after the tiles are made by hand, fired and then re-fired for exterior use and the design is created, Greenberg lays the tiles out in a huge circle and face-mounts them with plastic, cuts them into sections and numbers them. They are then placed on pieces of cardboard to deliver them to the jobsite. 

That required Schreffler to build a map to clarify where the design was going – it had to be laid out and put back together like a puzzle. Compounding the difficulty was the slope of the pool – it sloped from the shallow to deep end on a radiused arc rather than on a straight plane, so it was a perfectly flat curved arc: an intersecting plane that was flat in one direction and arched in the other. 

The crew, with Schreffler, three Certified Tile Installers and two apprentices, started early
in the day while it was cool to keep the ARDEX X77 thinset viable.

The bottom of the pool needed to be prepped first with ARDEX AM100 rendering mortar with a radius established based on the arc; then an installer and an apprentice created a series of screeds that followed the pool’s arc. The installation prep took two and a half days. 

Each piece of the mosaic puzzle had to be moved down to the swimming pool, and the relationship between the pieces appraised since, as Schreffler said, “each piece relates to the other pieces in that they are loosely mounted, and needs the next piece to be adjusted, like a gear.” This meant that once the installation began, it had to be done in one four-hour take. 

Compounding the difficulty was the slope of the pool – it sloped from the shallow to deep end on a radiused arc rather than on a straight plane.

The crew, with Schreffler, two other Certified Tile Installers and two apprentices, started early in the day while it was cool to keep the ARDEX X77 thinset viable. ARDEX’s William White was onsite to help with the logistics, providing extremely attentive support, said Schreffler. 

There were some nail-biter moments during the install. “Every piece you put down, you felt like it wasn’t going to fit,” Schreffler said, so at times he also jumped in to lend a hand. In the end, the job was done by noon, and left to sit protected overnight. The next day, the plastic was removed, loose tiles reattached, and it was cleaned. Two days after the install, it was grouted with ARDEX FL and was ready for the plasterers to come in and finish up with pool plaster. 

The Hawthorne Tile crew admires their work – a job well done: (L to R) Sean Carline; Travis Schreffler; Bo Carney; and Yakov Blashchishchin.

Mosaic mural adorns pool house kitchen backsplash

Installing the mosaic mural are (L to R) Bo Carney, Vladmir Blashchishchin and Yakov Blashchishchin.

The mural for this backsplash was a 6´ x 8´ Hawaiian beach scene with breaching humpback whales, sea turtles and tree frogs, again created by Ruth Frances Greenberg. Plus the homeowner had befriended stray cats while in Hawaii, so the mural included them as well. 

The process of assembling all the parts and pieces was the same as with the pool, but Hawthorne Tile was now familiar with this system. 

Schreffler said, “Ruth laid them out with me so I knew where everything was to go. She gave me some creative license – with relief flowers and some other pieces. Before the first install in the pool, she never experienced CTI installers before, so the experience for her was very welcoming.” 

Again, the mural needed to be installed in one fell swoop, using ARDEX X77 as thinset. “We started this one at 7 a.m. and were done by 11 a.m.,” Schreffler said. This was after the crew spent a day prepping the wall surface to be sure it was flat. “We had the same crew,” he said, “So they knew exactly what they were doing and acted as a fantastic team. They took the bull by the horns, were confident and did a fantastic job, impressing the homeowner.” 

Mural detail. After the CTI-certified install team won the artist’s confidence with the pool install, she gave them some creative license to place flowers and some other pieces at their discretion

This is the kind of work upon which Hawthorne Tile thrives. “We welcome this kind of challenge,” Schreffler said. “Exactly this kind of thing – outside the box – we set out to do this a long time ago. Those moments that feel like you can’t get there from here are extra sweet when you step back and it’s done.”

 

The finished backsplash.

 

 

 

Dan Hecox presents to A&D students at University of Nebraska – Lincoln

NTCA Nebraska State Ambassador schools interior design students on tile failures

 

In March, NTCA State Ambassador Dan Hecox of Hecox Construction, Inc. of York, Neb., gave a class on how to avoid tile failures to 28 second-year interior design students at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.

Interior Design Professor Stacy Spale, IIDA, LEED AP, EDAC, NCIDQ Certificate No. 28851, asked Hecox to present to the IDES 200 Programs, Standards, and Codes class “so our students could better identify standards of installation,” she said. “These students will enter various professions within the design industry, and they should be able to feel comfortable on a job site, or managing a project, and at least having a base knowledge of trade vocabulary.”

Spale believes that it’s a vital skill for interior designers to learn to collaborate with trade contractors. “Early in my career, I drew casework sections the way I’d been taught and never really thought much about it,” she explained. “Then I spent some time learning about custom casework and realized that had I called a fabricator before I drew my custom projects, I could have saved time, money, materials, etc. 

“The jobs where I could collaborate and communicate my design intent – and work alongside the people doing the work always turned out better,” she added. “This seems like generic advice, so I like to show students with real stories so the learning is more applicable.” 

Adapting professional material to college classwork

Hecox adapted the “Tile Failures – Could it Be Me?” presentation normally given by the NTCA and CTEF workshop presenters to the needs of the design students, which was a challenge in itself. 

“It’s one thing to talk to people in the trade and quite another thing to talk with up-and-coming designers,” Hecox said. To not lose students with highly technical details that would have more meaning to professional tile setters, he covered some areas briefly and “brought along a lot of visuals for them to see and touch,” he explained. “I also had some demonstrations for them…I tried to think about where they are in their education and what kinds of things would be important to them in their careers as designers.” 

Dan gave them real-world useful information to use once they graduate. “I really tried to explain to them as designers, that they can spec certain things – like qualified labor, Certified Installers, and material that falls within ANSI specs,” he said. “They should know the work schedules and when things like floor prep will take place and when tile setting will start – and they should be there on the job site to inspect the floor prep and tile install.” Hecox emphasized that they should also ask questions of those involved about what they are doing.

Presentation gets thumbs up from students

Based on the responses from the students, the class was a smashing success.

“I found the tile talk extremely interesting,” said student Sydney Carl. “I feel like it’s extremely important to learn at least a little bit about how to install materials that we would be picking. I think as interior designers we should be educated on the installation of products and not just the application. I learned a lot about mortar and the correct way to lay tile (which from watching HGTV, I was very misled). I definitely feel more knowledgeable now and I have confidence that I could have an educated tile talk with a contractor.”

Keleigh Ketelhut admired Hecox’s passion about his trade – and professionalism. “What came as the largest shock to me was that people have people pay them big money for jobs they do completely wrong but still call themselves a professional,” she said. Excited to hear “Omaha is the first city in the nation to require a tile licensure before one can call themselves a professional,” she added, “This has shown me the importance of being a part of the project even after you’ve handed over the specs, construction documents and the overall design. Not only to check up on the lazy people but I think it is also cool to see things in progress and this thing you once had envisioned come to life.”

Lindsay Meyer enjoyed learning from Hecox’s experience and considers it “easiest for us to understand what not to do (and why) by seeing bad examples. Dan did a great job sharing with us, and I learned a lot from him.” These insights include learning about different types of underlayment and backer board, being able to touch the samples to better illustrate the lessons, and ensuring that both GC and tile contractor are reliable, often by working with certified tile setters. 

“Another thing I learned is that it is important for me, as the designer, to show up on the job often to double check the installation process, and if something is awry, to speak with the general contractor about my concerns. I also learned that if there is lippage in a wall application of tile, not having light fixtures wash the wall directly can help hide that. Especially with larger format tiles, the cupping of tiles is inevitable to some degree, so it is up to the designer to make sure it shows as little as possible.”

Truthfully, Becky Virgl wasn’t too jazzed about listening to “some guy talk about tiles all class, but I really enjoyed everything he had to say. It was really nice to learn what good tile installation actually looks like, and see what a dramatic effect it can have on the look of the tiles overall.”

Since the class, Virgl has been noticing bad tile installations in bathrooms and other public places. “I can really appreciate the value of good installation now that I know the difference,” she said, adding that when recently watching videos on Facebook, she came across a tile video in her queue. “I felt so frustrated because they were seemingly knowledgeable, but they were instructing people incorrectly – we learned, you cannot just slap mortar on all willy-nilly without giving the air a place to escape to and you cannot spot-bond tiles. I really appreciated this class because it gave me actual concrete knowledge on a subject that will be incredibly useful to me as a designer and a homeowner in the future.”

It seems from the comments of the students that Spale’s goal that the presentation “allow the students to develop a critical eye and insist that all installations are up to the standards specified,” was achieved.

The student feedback was a big help to Hecox, too. “I’d obviously never given a presentation like this to college students, so I really was unsure of how and what to present to them,” he said. “But hearing how they really enjoyed the presentation, and that now when they are out and about they are inspecting tile work that they see, shows me that what I presented them was spot on.”

Might there be an opportunity to share your knowledge with a university or high school class in your area? 

NTCA starts Kris Nardone on the path towards certification

In the summer of ’17, Kris Nardone, owner of K_Nardone Custom Tile Work, Kennesaw, Ga., became Certified Tile Installer #1364, at a Certified Tile Installer (CTI) exam at The Tile Shop in
his town.

After 20 years as a tile setter – and now with over six thousand followers on Instagram @k_nardonecustomtilework – Nardone said he took the exam because “Being a certified tile installer adds credibility to myself and my business.”

But it all started when he joined NTCA in 2016.

“The NTCA gave me a network of people and information that I didn’t have before,” Nardone said. “I spoke to another Certified Tile Installer about the CTI exam. I had attended a NTCA workshop in 2017 and met a local CTI exam instructor who also spoke to me about the CTI exam.

“After finding out more about the test, I knew that this certification would represent my experience in the trade and allow me to network within the industry,” he added. “I’ve always used industry standards. If I can be a part of a network of people that help add knowledge to my business and continuously improve my trade then I’m all for it.”

Nardone spent time preparing for the exam. “I read the CTEF workbook a couple times and looked at social media to make notes,” he said. “I also brought a list of key components to the test that I thought were important to track my day/progress. Every minute of the hands-on test counts. Layout is key! Other than that, I set tile daily. If you can think of it, I can tile it.”

His job experience made the book section of the exam relatively easy, but the hands-on portion was another story. “I thought the hands-on portion would be a breeze in the beginning, and then I heard from other certified installers not to underestimate the exam,” he said. “After taking the test, I know now that it does challenge your skills and knowledge as well as your time management. There are over 200 cuts in nine hours and it will test you mentally and physically.”

The time management aspect of the job varied significantly from the typical time management employed on a job. For instance, Nardone said, that on a typical job, he estimates “the time to complete the job and [I] push myself to complete the job in a timely manner, but I am always trying to do the best job possible for the homeowner no matter what it takes.

“The test is a set amount of time to get it right and get it completed,” he added. “It mentally tests you. Stay focused. Believe in yourself and get the job done.”

Being in an atmosphere of earnest demonstration of a tile setter’s skills was inspiring to Nardone. “You are working around others taking the test,” he said. “It was great to see that others take as much pride in their work as I do. Like any job site, if you can work well with others, you’ll get the job completed faster.”

Nardone, who plans to also pursue Advanced Certification for Tile Installers (ACT), recommends taking the exam to expand setters’ businesses and further their personal development and knowledge. “Though taking the test, you’ll make new contacts, friends, and learn more about the industry,” he said. “Those who don’t consider the exam should look more into the benefits of taking the test. It’s there to help you, your career, and the consumer.”

Nardone emphasizes that the CTI credential “assures the customer that they are receiving a quality install the first time… I have spoken to customers that have used other companies to meet their deadline or their budget and less than a year later – sometimes a month later or upon completion of install – the tile installation starts failing with cracking grout, unbonded tile, shower pan leakage, excessive lippage, etc. Hiring a Certified Tile Installer assures the homeowner that the installer is up to date on industry standards and is qualified to set the materials needed.”

Qualified Labor – January 2018 – Sark Tile supports education by hosting NTCA Workshop and CTI exam

Sark Tile, based in Lincoln, Neb., hosted NTCA Tile & Stone Workshop in October 2017. This is a groundbreaking event, since it’s the first NTCA Workshop ever hosted in Lincoln.

But perhaps it should come as no surprise. Sark Tile has been committed to educating the tile industry in its area for over 20 years. Since Mark Becher founded Sark Tile in 1999, he has been working to educate his clients.

As a national distributor of tile and tile installation products, Sark Tile serves a range of clients from architects to the end consumer, offering an exceptional platform to reach a broad range of people within the industry. Sark Tile took advantage of this platform by hosting the October Workshop, and subsequently, a Certified Tile Installer (CTI) test the next month.

The October NTCA Workshop titled, “Failures, Could it be Me?” was a great opportunity to bring in an expert, NTCA Training Director Mike Heinlein, to show local installers, designers, and clients how to avoid common installation mistakes. The event was described as eye opening and a brilliant refresher, even for a seasoned installer. For those who weren’t as well versed with the tile installation process, it was a first-rate opportunity to learn the correct way to perform basic techniques.

Heinlein began the workshop with a slideshow presentation outlining some common tile installation failures and how to avoid them. The diverse group of attendees was provided a superb opportunity for questions and discussion. Installers raised discussion about hurdles they have to overcome, and designers talked about their struggles. “It was apparent education on all sides of the project would solve most of these issues,” said Dan Hecox, NTCA State Ambassador for Nebraska and Regional Evaluator for the
CTI test.

Sark Tile staff (l. to r.): Katie Danehey, Serina Buchanan, NTCA’s Mark Heinlein, Mark Becher, Brian Glory, John Cury and Faith Allen Peck.

After a quick break for some networking and delicious food, Heinlein finished the workshop with some hands-on demonstrations. This portion of the workshop was an excellent chance to physically show attendees why it is so important to do things correctly, and what the outcome can be if they aren’t. Attendees walked away with many tricks of the trade.

The layout of Sark Tile was ideal for this presentation, with a beautiful showroom for the discussion and a spacious working area in the warehouse for the hands-on demonstration.

Sark Tile’s warehouse was also an outstanding location for the CTI event they hosted in November. With the help of CTI Regional Evaluator, Dan Hecox, local installers were able to test their skills.

Sark Tile hosted the first CTI test in Lincoln, Neb. in November.

Kate Danehey, office manager from Sark Tile, expressed the company philosophy that the health of the industry relies on installers.

“If we have installers out there incorrectly installing our products resulting in failures, the first finger is almost always pointed at the material which is almost never the case,” Danehey said. “Proper preparation combined with the correct setting materials and tools lead to a faster and more profitable install. Consumer’s confidence – and perception that the install will be smooth – is of paramount importance when trying to make a sale, which is why these testing events are so important. The more skilled installers we have in the area, the more likely people will be to use tile in the future for additional projects.”

Sark Tile owner Mark Becher is committed to education and bringing workshops, like this one from NTCA to the local tile trade in Lincoln.

Sark Tile also hosted Lincoln’s first NTCA workshop in October 2017.

 

 

A group of Sark employees ready for the CTI test to be held at the company warehouse, with (from right) Scott Carothers, CTEF; Dan Hecox, NTCA Nebraska State Ambassador and Mark Becher, Sark Tile owner.

Qualified Labor – December 2017

Cersaie’s “Tiling Town” showcases qualified labor

By Chris Woelfel, Contributor

Qualified labor was prominent at Cersaie 2017, the Italian ceramic tile industry’s 35th annual show in Bologna, Italy, held at the end of September. Even before attendees could enter the vast corridors of new tile products, they were lured into “Tiling Town,” a conference hall dedicated solely to the installers who bring the industry’s products to life.

Here, the Italian labor association Assoposa exhibited the knowledge and skill required in successful installations as they demonstrated work with new products, tools and methods.

“This is where our craftsmen get to really show their talents,” explained Paolo Colombo, Assoposa’s President. “We have several levels of certification and specialization. It’s always impressive to see these fixers (setters) in action.”

Tiling Town at Cersaie is dedicated solely to installation.

Symbolizing the industry’s vast offerings, technological advancements and improved installation methods – as well as the origins of tile – a massive globe structure featuring quadrant impressions of earth, water, air and fire coalesced in the center of Tiling Town. Here, jagged surfaces of thin tile, flexible strips of oly-tile (a resin-based mosaic tile, custom-made for each project), and row upon row of shimmering mosaics made it clear that this was the work of artisans. Onlookers were captivated as they watched the installations.

Presentation booths in Tiling Town featured expert talks on installation methods, illustrations of good versus poor installations, and clever demonstrations that showed the effectiveness of new products.

Assoposa tile “fixers” (setters) demonstrate large panel mortar application.

The Italian tile industry is supporting qualified labor more than ever, explaining that all sectors of the industry must understand the important role of proper installation.

“While we focus heavily on educating installers, we also work to inform architects, dealers, construction firms and the public on installation’s critical role,” explained Francesco Bergomi, Assoposa’s Director. “Qualified installers are foundational to the overall success of our industry because their work often determines if the end user is happy with the product,” he said.

Assoposa, the Federation of European Tile Fixers and the NTCA are partnering to strengthen education and awareness about the need for certified installer artisans.

 

1. Origins of Tile installation at Tiling Town. 2. Glass mosaics wrap around cloudlike
formations to emulate wind. 3. Thin porcelain applied to backer board creates a dramatic “rock” formation. 4. Flexible strips of “poly-tile,” a resin-based mosaic tile, custom-made for each project – is trimmed to illustrate water’s role in tile production. 5. Tile fixer (setter) installing the glass mosaic wrap for the massive globe structure.

 

Several workshops focused on large panel tool use.

Tiling Town displays proper installation

NTCA President Martin Howard examines thick tiles on display. 

NTCA Board Chairman James Woelfel tests for lippage at Tiling Town.  

A designer visiting Tiling Town examines the installation process.

Qualified Labor – June 2017

Certification: education and credentials add value to services offered by Mike Sima, Midtown Tile

By Terryn Rutford, Social Structure Marketing

Mike Sima, owner of Midtown Tile in Omaha, Neb., received some hometown advice early on in his career that has stuck with him through the last decade. “Never present anything to your customer that you wouldn’t present to your mother,” Sima said. This advice has served him well over the years. In fact, Sima credits it for his success as a one-man operation that specializes in residential remodeling and new construction.

Moreover, Sima believes in educating oneself to be prepared for any situation on a job site. This is where becoming a Certified Tile Installer (CTI) comes in.

“I feel like [certification] sets me apart from the trowel-and-bucket guys,” Sima said. “I went out to prove to myself (and to my clients) that I have the knowledge and skill set to do my job right. I hold myself to a higher standard.”

Certification, presented by the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) provides the opportunity for tile installers to prove their skill and knowledge of tile installation. Becoming a CTI increases one’s level of professionalism and allows those certified to offer their clients further proof of their dedication and expertise in the field.

“I wanted to test myself and my abilities,” Sima said, when asked why he became certified. “I also use [certification] as a marketing and educational tool. I try to educate every customer about certification and why it is important.” Certification and education in general has also increased Sima’s bottom line. “I find that the knowledge I have learned, the fact that I am certified, and naturally being a people person has helped me gain the trust of clients,” Sima said.

Sima, a member of the Facebook group TileGeeks, found out about certification from his fellow TileGeeks. This highlights the importance of being involved with the industry.

So why should others become certified? “I would tell them to test themselves,” Sima said. “Get in there and push yourself. It is rewarding. It is a marketing tool. It is a brotherhood.” Sima now uses the NTCA and CTEF logos in his correspondence, and will soon be adding them to his business cards and other promotional material.

Being a NTCA member and a CTI gives Sima a leg up in the industry. “With anything I learn, I feel my work should be valued more,” Sima said. “This is just one more reason to feel more confident with my bids for jobs.”

Qualified Labor – May 2017

The Tile Shop, Rubi Tools team up for CTI tests in Lombard, Ill.

Both companies provide perks, benefits to CTI candidates

By Terryn Rutford, Social Structure Marketing

In seven years, the number of Certified Tile Installers has grown from zero to over 1,308. With the establishment of Kevin Insalato as the Regional Evaluator coordinator and a team of 16 Regional Evaluators, the potential to certify many quality installers and elevate the quality of tilework around the country is growing.

Industry sponsors have kept the program going, providing locations for testing, materials, and catered meals and  snacks for CTI candidates. Back in March, The Tile Shop and Rubi Tools teamed up for one of many Certified Tile Installation (CTI) tests at The Tile Shop in Lombard, Ill.

Both companies are providing some great benefits to all CTI candidates. When you register with the Ceramic  Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) to take the CTI test and request to take the test at a Tile Shop location, registration will only cost $200. Once the CTI candidate passes the written test, the hands-on test will be scheduled at a Tile Shop location; if that is successfully passed,  The Tile Shop will pay the balance of the CTI test registration. The program is available nationwide.

Rubi Tools is also providing a bonus to all CTI candidates. Along with a trowel and spacers, Rubi will provide its new Rubi rubber bucket, which is designed to allow installers to hammer out dried mortar or grout without damaging the bucket. The bucket should not only save time, but money as well. In addition to the tool kit, Rubi will also be offering a $50.00 coupon as part of the CTI vouchers provided to every CTI candidate who successfully passes the test.

The CTI test in March was a success thanks to the Tile Shop regional sales manager, Dacy Corlee, and Rafael Rodriguez of Rubi Tools. The CTI candidates at this event were Nicholas Roth from All about Tile in Adrian, Mich., John Martin from John Martin Tile in Decatur, Ill., Greg Twarog from Surfaces 15 in Downers Grove, Ill., Omar Delacruz from Omar’s Custom Flooring in Chicago, Ill., Jamiel Sabir from California Flooring in Manteno, Ill., and Joe Voss from Voss Home in Frankfort, Ill.

For more information about taking the Certified Tile Installer exam, visit www.ceramictilefoundation.org/tile-certification-overview-ctef.

 

 

(l to r) Nicholas Roth, The Tile Shop regional salesmanager; Dacy Corlee, John Martin, Greg Twarog, Omar Delacruz, Jamiel Sabir, Joe Voss, and Regional Evaluator Rafael Lopez.

 

Rubi Tools provides a bonus to all CTI candidates. Along with a trowel and spacers, Rubi provides its new Rubi rubber bucket, which is designed to allow installers to hammer out dried mortar or grout without damaging the bucket, and a $50 coupon as part of the CTI vouchers for those who successfully pass the CTI exam

When CTI candidates request to take a CTI test at a Tile Shop location, registration will be only $200.Once the candidate successfully passes the exam, The Tile Shop will pay the balance of the CTI test registration.  The program is available nationwide

 

Qualified Labor: The Benefits of Certification

The Certified Tile Installer (CTI) program run by the Certified Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) encourages installers to test their skills against industry standards. It offers industry members the chance to establish their place among the best and brightest installers. During Total Solutions Plus in Palm Desert last October, Becky Serbin interviewed several NTCA members about the benefits of certification.

Sullivan

“It really is a way for me to categorize my installers as well as let them know where they stand,” said Dirk Sullivan, NTCA state ambassador for Oregon and owner of Hawthorne Tile, and State Ambassador. “It helps them want to move forward in the industry and to know what they have to do to get there.” The CTI program leads to bet- ter installations and increased wages across the industry.

Brookes

Martin Brookes, with Heritage Marble and Tile in Mill Valley, Calif., and NTCA 2nd vice president, said, “We’ve had great Brookes success using the program to elevate workmanship, to elevate the confidence of our guys to do higher-end installations, and higher commitment to the standard of quality of work. It’s been really advantageous to Heritage Marble and Tile.”

Denny

As the industry rises in reputation and reliability, its members benefit. “The CTI program allows me to offer something to my customers that not Denny everyone else can,” said Brad Denny, NTCA regional director and State Ambassador, and project manager at Nichols Tile & Terrazzo Co. Inc., Joelton, Tenn.

 

Albrecht

In addition to being a benefit to the installer, the CTI program is a boon to the installation company. “We’ve been located by people across the country using the database through the CTEF and NTCA websites,” said Erin Albrecht, chief operations officer of J&R Tile in San Antonio, Texas. And every year the construction industry is recognizing certi cation as more important.

Woelfel

Artcraft Granite, Marble & Tile Co. saw a huge financial benefit after
receiving a request for certified installers. “Five years ago
we had an owner call us and say, we’re looking for CTEF-certified installers and we can’t find anyone who knows what they’re doing,” said James Woelfel, Artcraft vice president and NTCA chairman of the board. “It generated at least a billion dollars worth of work over the last six years,” he said.

Overall, certification raises the industry standard and encourages
quality installation.

Fox

“I think what we have seen is a different culture of professionalism in the trade,” said Kevin Fox, president and owner of Fox Ceramic Tile, Inc., in St. Marys, Kan., and chairman of the NTCA Methods and Standards Committee. “It took us a while to get a buy-in on it. We have a lot of installers that have been doing [installation] for 20 to 30 years, so it took me a while to convince them to validate their skills. We need those skills validated as a company as we’re talk- ing to general contractors, especially those who aren’t familiar with us. And we also need it validated for even repeat custom- ers that are looking for clients that will provide a consistent product.”

Howard

The tile industry toward certification as a standard. Martin Howard of David Allen Company in Raleigh, N.C., and current NTCA president, observed, “It really does set you apart from your competitors and it also validates your skill and it validates the knowledge that you have and the hard work you’ve put in to get where you are.” The more installers who are certified the better off the industry is as a whole.

Hohn

Jan Hohn of Hohn & Hohn, Inc., in St. Paul, Minn., said, “It was a selling point I could talk to general contractors about, to architects, and designers to let Hohn them know we had passed a national test and it said we were qualified to install tile.” As more contractors, architects, and designers recognize certification as evidence of quality installers, certification will become ever more important to the industry and its members.

For more information, visit https://www.ceramictilefoundation.org/certified-tile-installer-cti-program.

OSHA to delay enforcing crystalline silica standard in the construction industry

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration today announced a delay in enforcement of the crystalline silica standard that applies to the construction industry to conduct additional outreach and provide educational materials and guidance for employers.
The agency has determined that additional guidance is necessary due to the unique nature of the requirements in the construction standard. Originally scheduled to begin June 23, 2017, enforcement will now begin Sept. 23, 2017.
OSHA expects employers in the construction industry to continue to take steps either to come into compliance with the new permissible exposure limit, or to implement specific dust controls for certain operations as provided in Table 1 of the standard. Construction employers should also continue to prepare to implement the standard’s other requirements, including exposure assessment, medical surveillance and employee training.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

TileLetter and NTCA will keep you informed on developments regarding the standard.

Qualified Labor – April 2017

For John Mourelatos, CTI testing is about proving your skill as a professional

Raising the bar and learning time management skills are bonuses of the CTI test

By Terryn Rutford, Social Structure Marketing

John Mourelatos recently became a Certified Tile Installer (CTI) in January after successfully completing the hands-on portion of the test at The International Surfaces Event (TISE West) in Las Vegas. After 20 years in the tile industry, Mourelatos knew that in order to take his company to the next level he needed to get certified.

John Mourelatos, a NTCA member for 11 years, an Arizona State Ambassador and now a member of the NTCA Training and Education Committee.

My goal to become a CTI started shortly after the program was developed,” Mourelatos said. He tried to get enough interest to bring testing to his home city of Tucson, but after failing for several years, he decided it was time to take the test however he could. “Ed Siebern, my installer of 12 years, and I are now the first and only Certified Tile installers in our area of Tucson, Arizona!” Mourelatos noted.

Mourelatos Tile Pro Inc. was founded by Mourelatos in 2004. It has three employees including Mourelatos, two of which are now CTIs. “I was interested in [becoming certified] not only to support the CTI program, but also to take my skill to the next level, to demonstrate that I am dedicated to continuing education in our industry,” Mourelatos said. Certification is especially important in places like Tucson where there is no institutional standard for tile installers. Because of this lack of formal standard, Mourelatos said, “I feel it is imperative to support continuing education opportunities locally and nationally.” He added, “I am working on coordinating more awareness about the value of educational opportunities as well as CTI and ACT (Advanced Certification for Tile Installers) in my area.”

Mourelatos works hard to further the goals and vision of the National Tile Contractor’s Association (NTCA). He has been an NTCA member for 11 years. Five years ago he became an Arizona State Ambassador, and more recently joined the NTCA Membership and Training and Education Committee. “I believe that the NTCA is working hard to help the tile contractor succeed in business and installations,” Mourelatos said. “And I want to be a part of that. I want to bring that back to my local area and share it with other contractors and installers.

Mourelatos believes in the value of becoming a CTI. “Being able to demonstrate your skill in a testing

John Mourelatos is intent on his task, as he takes the hands-on portion of the Certified Tile Installer exam during TISE West 2017 in Las Vegas.

environment by a third party,” said Mourelatos, “that shows the value of the CTI program.”

Such an exam is only valuable if it really tests the mettle of those taking it. Mourelatos stated, “The CTI test challenges your skills in all facets of ceramic tile installation, from the details of prep work, the layout, cutting and installing of the tile, to the finish work.” Moreover, Mourelatos believes time management is a key lesson of the CTI test. “A well-managed day can bring production up to a profitable level,” he said.

Mourelatos encourages all tile installers to take the CTI. “I think that today’s tile contractors are continually striving to define their company’s strength and to show the benefits of hiring a qualified installation company,” Mourelatos said. “The CTI and ACT programs set the bar higher for installers to demonstrate their knowledge, which will result in respect for the tile installation trade. In this day and age of 30-minute ‘How to Install Tile’ sessions at your local hardware store, CTI and ACT help in proving your skill as a professional.”

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