Slopes and Soffits

The challenges and successes of the Marriott AC Residence Inn Midtown façades project

Exterior façade installations can be challenging and complex, and the product used in the process can make or break a project. 

For the AC Hotel and Residence Inn by Marriott in Dallas – a $4 billion mixed-use development in bustling Dallas Midtown – the façade installation appeared to be a daunting task at first, but proved to be a success largely due to the material specified.

To reflect the neighborhood’s resurgence, local award-winning architects 5G Studio Collaborative sought an outside-the-box, contemporary design to match the timelessness, comfort and authenticity of the Marriott brand. Particularly, they wanted a natural look; however, genuine rock materials can be susceptible to staining and breakage, requiring copious maintenance.

Distributors and fabricators Holland Marble in Carrollton, Texas, introduced the architects to Neolith®, a market-leading brand of Sintered Stone. They explained the range of possibilities that could be achieved, having used the product in a wide variety of other projects and hotels across the country, including La Quinta, Kriya, Aloft, and Marriott Courtyard. Neolith was the perfect choice as it mimics the appearance of natural stone, without the weight and upkeep.

Impressed by what they were shown, 5G selected Neolith Calacatta, a color that recreates the look of white Italian marble and is characterized by a uniform grey vein with hints of gold, bringing vitality to the exterior of the hotel. The hue was well-suited for the project, as a light-colored façade is essential in a state like Texas due to the fact that it reflects heat and keeps buildings cool. 

Challenges

Marriott AC Residence Inn Midtown façadesThe architects were unsure at first about how to proceed with the project, as the building has an unusual structure. They struggled with the rainscreen system and how to apply it to the exterior sloped soffits, which measured 10’ on one side and zero on the other. Currently, there is no rainscreen system in place that can attach pieces of material that slope down to zero.

The second concern was the shape of the panels. The trapezoidal pieces, up to 10’ long on one side and 44” down to 14” on the other, had to be fastened to the sloped exterior ceiling and intersect the panels on the sloped soffit at the exact correct point, ensuring that when finished the ceiling panels met the top of the glass store front on the hotel. Further, the installers, Tristone Innovation of Houston, whose work was overseen by Holland Marble’s President, Peter Holland, and Commercial Sales Manager, Zuzana Holland, had to rework the fastening system to allow for 8’ light fixtures that needed to be added to the sloped ceiling.

A third aspect was the east feature wall on the building that had to be framed out at a slight angle. This complicated the fabrication details for both the Neolith panel fabricators and the aluminum composite material panels (ACM) fabricators due to the difficulty of meeting and successfully connecting both products at the corner of the building. With several revisions the final install was realized.

The stronger the better

To overcome the project’s challenges, Neolith provided installation and technical support through implementation of its StrongFix system. 

The fastening solution is tailored specifically for individual installation projects offering a complete package: the slabs, anchoring system, cutting and assembling services, and consulting all stem from a single source. This avoids the complications that arise with rainscreen systems, the joints of which have to be attached at certain intervals.

Innovative infrastructure

In a bustling metropolis, the requirements for a hotel to be successful are abundant. It takes a combination of imagination and dedication to create a concept that will work, not only in terms of the hotel’s level of service, but its overall aesthetic.

Together with 5G, Tristone Innovation, and Holland Marble, Neolith has helped bring to life the vision of this hotel brand while setting the standard for future architecture of Dallas Midtown. 

Marriott AC Residence Inn Midtown façades

The top ten requirements for a quality tile installation

In this article, the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) Blog Team updated an earlier piece about what makes a quality tile installation. These pointers are instructional to a wide audience, including A&D professionals, reinforcing the importance of working with skilled, qualified tile installers and writing other important details into the spec like movement accommodation joints and flat and level surfaces to ensure not just a beautiful installation, but a long-term, well-performing one. Read on, and visit www.ceramictilefoundation.org/blog for more informational articles, as well as related links for this story. – Ed.


What does it take to ensure that you have a quality tile installation? Based on our experience, knowledge and work with the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) Handbook, we have identified 10 requirements. Note that these aren’t all industry requirements. However, they all contribute to a quality tile installation. Here they are:

1. Hire only skilled tile installers

Only well-trained and experienced tile installers can produce installations of the highest quality that provide long-lasting beauty and functionality. Realize that tile isn’t just a decorative layer in a home or commercial building. It must meet specific standards so that it performs as it should over time.

In order to differentiate this quality oriented tile installer from others in the field, consider hiring a CTEF Certified Tile Installer (CTI). CTIs have proven that they have the knowledge and skills that meet industry standards and best practices.

2. Incorporate movement accommodation joints in the tile installation

All tile installations, both residential and commercial, will move with temperature and humidity variations.

To accommodate this expansion and contraction activity, the use of expansion joints per the TCNA Handbook for Ceramic, Glass and Stone Tile Installation method EJ171 is essential and required in all tile work. As stated in the Handbook, “The design professional or engineer shall show the specific locations and details of movement joints on project drawings.”

Be certain that all parties involved in the project including the architect, the specifier, the designer, the salesperson and the tile installer know and understand the critical use and placement of expansion joints.

3. Work only with premium materials to install tile

The use of premium quality bonding materials is money well spent.

Merriam-Webster defines premium as: “of exceptional quality or amount; also, higher priced.” 

Exceptional quality comes at a price. The components that are added to these materials provide enhanced characteristics that affect both function and durability. For instance, saving a couple of pennies per square foot on a conventional and less-expensive thin-set mortar rather than using a feature-laden, large-and-heavy-tile mortar is a foolish idea.

Tile industry experts agree this is one of the easiest insurance policies for preventing installation problems. All types of setting materials are available in various performance levels to meet the requirements of the job.

Contact the setting material manufacturer for products with the specific characteristics and performance levels necessary for success. Always pay attention to manufacturer instructions.

Additionally, always read and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines printed on the bag of any product since the mixing requirements and/or application may be different than materials used in the past.

4. Confirm that tile installation surfaces are flat

In order to provide a flat ceramic or stone tile installation, carpenters, masons, concrete finishers and other trades must meet the tile industry standards for flatness tolerances.

If substandard surfaces are encountered, they must be corrected before installation begins. Otherwise, you will not have a quality tile installation: the quality of the installation will be compromised.

5. Verify that the tile installation surface is rigid

Ceramic tile installations require a stiff or rigid surface. In some cases, installations, including natural stone, may require additional subflooring, wall studs or bracing. Realize that the substrate for natural stone tile installations must be twice as rigid as that for a ceramic or porcelain tile installation.

Tile contractors should always follow the applicable recommendations of the TCNA Handbook for Ceramic, Glass and Stone Tile Installation, the ANSI (American National Specifications for the Installation of Ceramic Tile) as well as the recommendations of the manufacturer’s products being used in the project.

6. Minimum mortar coverage must be provided

Tile industry standards require minimum mortar coverage of 80% in dry areas and 95% in wet (showers) or exterior areas. Natural stone tile installations require 95% coverage in all applications.

This refers to the contact area of the bonding material (thin-bed mortars, large-and-heavy-tile mortars or epoxy adhesives) with both the back of the tile and the surface being tiled.

7. Ensure that tile site conditions are controlled

Jobsite conditions can have a serious impact on the success or failure of a tile installation.

ANSI A108.02 section 4.1 (excerpted) states, “Installation work shall not proceed until satisfactory conditions are provided.”

Many products used in tile installations require that the temperature be maintained within a specific range and duration. Be certain to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure a long-lasting installation.

In addition, insist on a mockup so you can view a sample of the actual installation, which includes items such as tile color/variation, grout joint size/color and gauge the variation from tile to tile. The mockup ensures that the final installation meets your expectations.

8. Use only the correct tile installation methods and materials

Not all installation methods and/or materials are suitable for all applications. Be certain that your contractor will use the TCNA Handbook method rated for the intended application or a method that is recommended, fully specified, and warranted by the product manufacturer.

Research manufacturers’ websites to determine suitability, application recommendations and product warranty information.

Review the manufacturers’ product data sheets and recommendations for the tile, backer board, bonding materials, membranes and grout that will be used on the job.

Just because a product is available doesn’t mean that it is appropriate for a given installation.

9. Allow for adequate cure time

Allow a tile installation to cure sufficiently per the manufacturer’s recommendations before exposing it to moisture, traffic, temperature changes or overlaying products. Otherwise it will not perform as a quality tile
installation.

The amount of time required will vary based on site conditions and the specific materials being used.

10. Make use of crack-isolation membranes as needed

Cracks in concrete and other areas of movement should be treated with a crack-isolation membrane (ANSI A118.12) to help eliminate cracked tiles. As mentioned previously, the addition of a crack-isolation membrane can be cheap insurance that provides a beautiful and long-lasting installation.

Check with the membrane manufacturer for specific use and application recommendations.

Wood frame construction recommendations for tile and stone floors

Building design guidelines and additional measures to accommodate sustained concentrated loads 

This article was derived from an article by Dr. Frank Woeste, P.E., Professor Emeritus at Virginia Tech and a wood construction consultant, and Peter Nielsen, cofounder of MGNT Products Group, LLC, a consulting and product design company for the tile and construction industries. This version of the information was generated by NTCA to provide a brief overview of their wood framing recommendations for hard surface flooring.


Two kinds of designers are involved in construction: design professionals responsible for performance and structural integrity and interior-focused designers responsible for the final appearance. Although they have very different roles, some of their decisions should be coordinated. For example, they should join forces when hard surface flooring – like tile and stone – is selected since these materials are on the heavier end of the spectrum, requiring more robust structures to support their weight. Hard surface floors are also more susceptible to problems than flexible floor types are when the weight of a concentrated load, like a dreamy kitchen island, is not adequately designed for. This article provides guidelines to design professionals for specifying adequately supportive structures for tile and stone floors in new construction wood frame buildings.

Designing for dead load

Sagging book shelves illustrate the concept of creep deflection; over time, shelves that are not strong enough for the weight they are loaded up with will bow.

A key factor is “dead load,” which is the cumulative weight of everything that a structure needs to support continually, including the flooring. When the actual dead load in a wood frame structure exceeds what was designed for, it over stresses the wood framing and over time can result in excessive “creep deflection,” a permanent bowing of the structure. An easy way to envision creep deflection is to picture an overloaded bookcase. The shelves will bow over time – and permanently – under the weight of the books.

Similarly, a home or building can be overloaded, for example by being structurally designed for luxury vinyl planks (LVP) flooring rather than the interior designer’s vision for ceramic planks. Some creep deflection is inherent and expected in wood frame construction, and not an issue for tile and stone floors. Overloading is what causes excessive creep deflection, possibly beyond what a tile or stone floor can withstand. Potential for and severity of a tile flooring issue because of excessive creep is tied to the amount of overloading and passage of time.

Weighty design features, like large kitchen islands with solid surface tops, and heavier-than-usual appliances, such as a Sub-Zero refrigerator, are examples of concentrated dead loads that additionally need to be designed for, structurally. This is true regardless of flooring type, but something to be especially aware of when the floor will be ceramic or stone tile. That’s because rigid, hard surface flooring materials are where concentrated overloading of a wood frame structure might become visually apparent, in the form of cracks, due to their inability to bend.

Baseline weights to factor into dead load 

To facilitate adequate structural design for tile and stone floors, the TCNA Handbook for Ceramic, Glass and Stone Tile Installation provides the approximate per square foot weight of tile, stone, and installation materials, individually by material type (i.e., 1/2” thick cement board weighs 4 lbs. per square foot) as well as cumulatively by installation method (i.e., Method F144 weighs 8 or 10 lbs. per square foot, depending on whether 1/4” or 1/2” cement board is used). Using this information, located in Appendix B, building designers can arrive at accurate dead loads. 

Appendix B of the TCNA Handbook is a compilation of material and system weights.

Method F141 Stone weighs 23 pounds/square foot with a 1-1/4” mortar bed.

Accurate dead load is important because dead load influences the maximum span (length) of wood joist that can be used, per International Residential Code (IRC) guidelines. These guidelines provide maximum allowable joist span separately for an assumed dead load of 10 psf and 20 psf. Remember though, dead load is not just the flooring. So, while the separate span tables may be generally used according to flooring type (e.g., follow guidelines for 10 psf dead load when lighter floorings like carpet will be installed, and guidelines for 20 psf dead load for tile and stone), one should not assume they apply in all situations. Additional dead load could be present from other elements, causing total dead load to exceed 10 psf where a lighter floor finish will be installed or exceeding 20 psf where ceramic or stone tile will be installed. Not to mention, some tile and stone installation methods on their own exceed 20 psf, which demonstrates that IRC span tables aren’t always enough.

Research indicates that an even more important consideration for tile and stone floors in wood frame construction is the thickness/stiffness of the subfloor, although not necessarily because of system-creep-inducing overload. Rather, the subfloor sheathing could simply deflect (bend) between joists under an applied load more than a hard surface tile can withstand, even if the sheathing is otherwise adequate within the full design scheme to support the expected loads. 

In Method F144, the wood subfloor can be 19/32” thick or 23/32” thick and relates to whether the installation methods falls under the residential or light commercial service rating.

This industry-specific consideration, not addressed in IRC, is addressed in the TCNA Handbook through more stringent deflection limits. Specifically, the TCNA Handbook limits deflection under concentrated loads, whereas IRC deflection limits are for uniform loads. What this means for building designers is that the minimum subfloor thickness/stiffness required by code for strength may not be enough. A thicker/stiffer subfloor may be needed to limit subfloor bending between joists. More robust framing may also be needed, again to go beyond the strength consideration to further limit bending related to concentrated loads. The heavier and more concentrated the load, the greater the need to beef up the floor framing to limit bending.

An example: the large kitchen island

As an example, consider the large kitchen island scenario. With 30mm (3cm) thick stone tops and normal contents being stored inside, this popular kitchen feature could present a 40 psf dead load, calculated by using the square footage of the island’s footprint as the area. In service, the framing and subflooring directly below and around the island is subjected to a substantial sustained load that produces creep deflection, but only in that area. As such, for hard surface floors, building design should incorporate more stringent framing requirements in areas where concentrated dead loads are expected, with kitchen islands a particular focus because of their widespread use. 

Because this kitchen island is oriented parallel with the wood joists, its weight is on fewer framing members.

It’s not practical, though, to expect a customized calculation and specification for every kitchen island. A more practical approach would be to follow general guidelines that are widely effective and easily incorporated into documents and processes. 

Since large kitchen islands are frequently paired with ceramic or stone flooring, it makes sense to have the following structural design parameters specifically attached to them: 

  • For solid-sawn and I-joists: joist spacing beneath kitchen islands shall be reduced by one-half and indicated on the joist framing plan.
  • For floor trusses: floor trusses beneath kitchen islands shall be doubled. 

Designing for hard surfaces checklist

These suggestions are in addition to the following recommendations, some of which were provided earlier in the article but are restated here in the interest of supplying a complete “designing for hard surfaces checklist”: 

  • Prepare construction documents that contain:

º the TCNA Handbook installation method

º the weight of the installation method (from TCNA Handbook Appendix B)

º the footprint of the kitchen island (and other heavy equipment)

º a specification that joists shall be doubled, or spacing reduced by half, beneath an island

  • Require floor system designs based on a “total load” that includes the actual weight of the installation method
  • Upgrade subfloor thickness (above what is given in the TCNA Handbook method being used) 
  • Require strongback bracing for floor trusses to minimize differential deflection of joists
  • Offer customers (homebuyers, owners) floor framing and subfloor “upgrades” for added protection against the likelihood of tile and grout cracks and annoying floor vibrations

The generalized “overbuilding” that some of these recommendations suggest may not seem an easy ask in an industry that prizes value engineering. But they do have enormous value – not in material cost savings – but from having effective boilerplate solutions to a common design challenge that are also practical with respect to implementation. Tile and stone professionals would be well served if these guidelines were better known and understood by building designers. TileLetter readers are encouraged to help make that happen by circulating and posting the information freely.

Multifunctional foam building panels offer a myriad of advantages to the tile setter

The quality and integrity of the tile covering is only as good as its foundation. Many substrates are unsuitable, especially in areas with high moisture, requiring comprehensive preparation and waterproofing. Multifunctional foam building panels provide the tile setter with control over the installation by providing the means to simply and easily create ideal substrates for tile.

Control of the substrate

Originally the tile setter was responsible for building substrates using mortar. While this demanded significant skill and labor, the results were flat, plumb, and level surfaces with square corners for high-quality finished applications. As the thin-bed method became predominant, fewer installers were able to remain competitive or float mortar at all. Building the substrate shifted from the tile setter to other trades, and the results were often not suitable for tile, whether dimensionally unstable, moisture-sensitive, or poorly constructed. Comprehensive preparation by the tile setter became paramount. When foam tile backers emerged, control of the substrate was returned to the tile setter.

The foam board

Typical foam boards consist of a foam plastic core (e.g., XPS, EPS, or polyiso), sandwiched by reinforcing layers to provide stiffness. The reinforcing layer may serve as the bonding surface, or another layer may be added for this purpose. Panels are waterproof, stable, lightweight, and easy to handle, cut, and install, making them an excellent substrate for tile. There is often a wide range of thicknesses to suit various applications.

Prefabricated components for shower applications, including niches, benches, curbs, and ramps, are waterproof, stable, and ready to tile. They are easy to install, saving time and increasing productivity, and integrate simply with foam panels or bonded waterproofing membranes.

Curbs can be built-up using conventional building materials, but this is time-consuming and requires complete waterproofing. Foam curbs are fast and can be seamlessly installed into the surrounding waterproofing system. Prefabricated ramps are an excellent option for curbless showers, especially when recessing the substrate is not desired or possible. 

Foam panel applications

Walls: Foam panels can be fastened to framing to replace drywall or cement backer boards. The assembly is completed by sealing seams and penetrations, rather than applying a membrane over the entire surface.

Masonry and finished walls are often unsuitable for tile because they can be uneven or difficult to bond to. Foam panels can be fully embedded in thin-set mortar or spot-bonded to the wall. Spot-bonding, an approved method for KERDI-BOARD panels, allows for adjustment to achieve plumb wall surfaces and square corners.

Partitions: Partitions are commonly used to separate shower or toilet stalls or to divide rooms. Using masonry blocks or framing is time-consuming and often requires further preparation before tiling. Foam panels, typically 2″ thick, provide an efficient alternative. They can be bonded with thin-set mortar or adhesive and anchored to floors and walls, or stabilized with reinforcement profiles.

Shelves and benches: Custom shelves are an elegant solution for storing toiletries in the shower. Simply cut the foam panel and dry fit the shelf prior to installation, using waterproofing accessories as required. The shelf can even be tiled beforehand for quick installation, including retrofit applications in existing showers.

Custom benches can be installed with an apron similar to the prefabricated variety, or as floating seats. For example, a 2″ thick panel with reinforcing profile installed across the face can be used to create a floating seat that supports loads typical of the application. 

Bathtub platforms: Foam panels can be cut to size to create the supports, decking, and apron for the structure, all to the exact dimensions required by the tile setter. Thin-set mortar or adhesive can be used to install the panels, although mortar will provide more adjustability to ensure level horizontal surfaces. Not only does the tile setter take back control of the installation, he or she can generate additional revenue on the project.

Countertops and Vanities: Gauged porcelain tile panels have created an opportunity for the tile setter to reclaim countertops, particularly when coupled with foam boards. Using these tile panels reduces the number of grout joints on the countertop, and 1-1/2″ or 2″ foam boards can be adhered to the base cabinets instead of plywood.

Foam boards can also be used to create storage solutions to suit the owner’s needs. Even floating vanities can be constructed using multiple layers of foam panels supported by finished brackets or corbels. The vanity is simply bonded to the walls and the top of the supports.

Returning control to the tile setter

Multifunctional foam building panels are a modern incarnation of the mortar bed, in that they return control of the project to the tile setter. Creative applications can be realized using simple tools and materials in a fraction of the time it takes to build using conventional materials. Flat, level, plumb, and square substrates are now within reach, along with reduced labor and increased productivity.

A realistic look at mortar coverage

Poor mortar coverage may not cause a tile failure, but it’s an important factor in tile installation success

News flash: poor mortar coverage doesn’t “cause” a tile failure!  If you’ve ever replaced an old tile installation that seemed perfect, you’ll agree. It took a hammer and chisel to reveal that 20-year old “poor” mortar coverage. The reality is that it always takes a force or condition of some kind to exert stress somewhere in the tile assembly to loosen or crack a tile.

So what are these other forces? What are the best methods to overcome them? How do they relate to coverage? In regards to coverage, what does experience tell us works best to achieve it?

Causes of tile failure

The primary forces that cause tile failures are:

  • Structural movement including shrinkage and creep (sagging over a period of time)
  • Substrate deformation such as deflection, vibration or curvature from load
  • Environmental conditions including thermal growth and freeze/thaw stress
  • Impact – single or repeated

Examples of breakage and delamination as a result of poor mortar coverage

When subjected to these forces, the tile assembly will either accommodate or resist displacement, or fail. Tile and stone are fairly rigid and have a tight limitation for movement, making installation design a major factor for success. Will the structure/substrate provide stability for the assembly? Was the assembly chosen with the building usage in mind? 

In a forensic examination of a failure, low mortar coverage is an obvious deficiency that implicates the installer, but the tile required a force to affect it. Would it have made a difference if better coverage as per ANSI A108 (≥80% interior; ≥95% wet and exterior) requirements were met? Maybe so, but all of the project conditions should be considered. Tiles with 100% mortar coverage have been found to loosen or crack under excessive structure/substrate movement conditions, but it’s much more difficult to prove that a concrete slab or wood framing moved to an excessive degree. 

Two factors that greatly increase the probability of failure and reveal low mortar coverage are:

  • A non-absorptive/contaminated substrate
  • Inadequate frequency and size of movement joints (especially at all perimeters) 

This is because the forces listed above cause action (movement), and science shows that “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” If the mortar wasn’t bonded because of contaminants or lack of porosity, or the tiles have no space to move into, they fail much more easily regardless of mortar coverage.

Effects of ridge collapse based on technique and hammering on tile with mortar cured for 28 days

Insufficient mortar coverage makes projects susceptible to failure

So is there any proof that industry-required mortar coverage makes a difference? In a word – yes! Thousands of projects have told the story that tiles with low mortar coverage are more susceptible to failure. The worst cases are spot-bonded tiles that fail when loads or thermal expansion cause movement. It doesn’t take much force when the tiles are supported by just a few globs of mortar. 

The bigger the tile, the more important the use of the proper mortar and coverage becomes.

Improperly bedded tiles that just rest on mortar ridges are next in line for failure under force. At approximateyly 50% coverage and minimal contact with the cement paste and polymer, tiles can’t resist as many of the normal stresses compared to when the required continuous 3/32” minimum thickness is achieved. When installed in wet conditions, water trapped under a tile can freeze, or when exposed to heat and humidity, tiles expand and failure occurs. Too often, there’s the perfect storm – low coverage, a lack of movement joints, contamination and heavy loads.

Correct directional combing across the short side of the rectangular tile.

So what can we expect from a tile with proper mortar coverage when project application requirements are met? The reality is that there are millions of tiles performing well, lasting for decades, even centuries, with proper coverage! When they’re removed for a new style, it takes a lot of force.

In a study of over 80 residential projects in the Southwest where a random tile cracked and/or loosened over post-tensioned concrete slabs, more than 85% of the tiles had low mortar coverage and over 50% showed substrate contamination. Every adjoining tile with full coverage and without contamination was intact. The exceptions were stone tiles with acceptable coverage, but that had cracked since they can’t resist movement stresses as well as porcelain tiles. On one memorable project, tiles with greater mortar coverage failed because the floors and walls cracked right down the middle of the home. The conclusion was that the more tile and substrate surface areas bonded at 200-400 psi strengths – and with polymer for deformability – provided more resistance to failure.

Impact will also damage tiles, but as shown in the 2016 NTCA Trowel & Error video (see also Spanish version), a tile bond can withstand heavy forces with high mortar coverage compared to those without. 

High mortar coverage for large-format tile

Back butter large-format tiles and lift occasionally to confirm sufficient coverage.  ProLite Premium Large Format Tile Mortar supports the weight of heavy tiles and will not slump on floors or sag on walls.

Is it realistic to believe you can achieve high mortar coverage even with very large formats? There are key items that make a difference: tile warpage, mortar type, trowel size and configuration, and troweling/bedding methods. Note the following for your next project:

Wipe off any residue on the underside of your tile or stone before bedding and be sure to set into mortar while it’s fresh.

Tiles that dome in the center or have some warpage, particularly rectangular formats, may require back-buttering. Lift a tile after setting to confirm your bedding method.

There are mortars specifically designed to support large-and-heavy tiles. This designation will soon be included in ANSI Standards. With these mortars, there’s no need to spot bond to level or support large formats since they mostly are highly thixotropic, and typically contain larger aggregates. Some are lightweight, thus resisting slump and lippage. 

Although there are no standards for contact/flowable mortars, these mortar types wet out surfaces easier than standard mortars to assist with coverage. They’re best used on surfaces that have been leveled.

SuperiorBilt Premium Notch Trowels make ridges that are easier to collapse for proper coverage

Trowel types: Larger tile typically require more mortar. 1/2”x 1/2”square-notched trowels are commonly used, but they require more lateral movement to collapse mortar ridges than some of the specialty trowels.

Directional troweling is a must! Right to left, left to right, or top to bottom allows for air to escape. It’s best to trowel the ridges perpendicular to the short edge of a rectangular tile. No swirls!

Use enough mortar so when you move the tile to collapse the ridges there are no voids.

Realistically, complete mortar coverage on every tile you set won’t happen but the closer you get, the more success you’ll have. Happy tiling!

The need for cleaning and protecting encaustic floor tiles

What were called “encaustic tiles” during the Victorian Era were originally called “inlaid tiles” during the medieval period. This term has now been in common use for so long that it has become an accepted name for inlaid tile work.

Encaustic (or inlaid) tiles enjoyed two periods of great popularity. The first came in the thirteenth century and lasted until Henry the Eighth’s reformation in the sixteenth century. The second came when these tiles caught the attention of craftsmen during the Gothic Revival era, which after much trial and error, were mass-produced and then made available to the general public. During both periods, tiles were produced across Western Europe, though the center of tile production was actually in England. Companies in the USA also made encaustic tile during the Gothic Architecture Revival period. However, in the 1930s, encaustic tile began to lose ground to more affordable glass and vitreous glass tile material.

After a stretch during which encaustic tiles were seldom called upon, there’s now a huge revival, along with introductions of new designs, in modern geometric patterns and vibrant colors. Whereas encaustic tiles have become increasingly popular, users often aren’t aware that they are highly absorbent and thus, require special treatments for cleaning and protection. After evaluating their properties, specific products should be used for cleaning and protecting encaustics, especially in “wet areas” such as the kitchen and bath.

Generally speaking, encaustic tiles are made up of several layers; the lower layer comprises high-strength cement and aggregate, while the top layer is made of marble powder, white cement and inorganic pigments. This makes the material highly absorbent and extremely sensitive to acid erosion. It is, therefore, essential to use the correct products, from the initial wash and then moving forward.

For both cleaning new tiles right after installation and also for restoring original encaustic tiles, a degreasing detergent is recommended. First, dampen the surface with water, apply the solution to the floor and leave it to “act” for five minutes. Then, scrub the floor with a brush, remove the residue with a cloth and rinse well with clean water. Never use acid products, white spirit solvents or ammonia.

There are specific ways to protect bathroom cement tiles against staining. When applying a protective treatment to cement tile floors, it is essential that the floor is perfectly dry. If the treatment is applied too soon, it may very well block evaporation of the humidity from under the tiles, leaving damp marks.

To protect the tiles against staining without changing their original look, we advise using a solvent-based or a water-based stain proofing agent. Use a flat paintbrush to evenly apply a coat of the product, making sure to impregnate the joints, as well.

Encaustic tiles should be protected using a finishing wax, which guards the surface against grit and grime caused by foot traffic. This process can also restore the pure beauty of original tiles, while at the same time highlighting their color and design. Wax, however, isn’t recommended for bathrooms or other “wet rooms.”

For decorated cement bathroom tiles, use a specially formulated cleaner a couple of times a year or when particularly dirty. FILACLEANER is perfect for this use. Cleaning should be followed with one coat of wax.

In the last six or seven years, encaustic tiles have become extremely popular here in the USA. Due to the high porosity of each tile’s body and the fact that it is so acid-sensitive, this category of tile must be both treated immediately after being installed, and then sealed to ensure its beauty and longevity. With special care, these tile products will perform beautifully for years to come.

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FILA (Fabbrica Italiana Lucidi ed Affini) has achieved international recognition for excellence in providing highly technical, easy-to-use protection and care treatment systems for all surfaces. A family-owned yet strategically structured, managerial company, FILA has become a large international group always maintaining strong core values. With an eye on the future, FILA offers optimal answers to the needs of every client, consistently staying ahead of the market. That’s just one reason why FILA has been endorsed as “#1” by 250 of the world’s leading tile and stone producers.
www.filasolutions.com/usa/

Gauging Savings: USI Porcelain Panel Project Saves Time & Money

More than three decades ago, global tile manufacturers introduced through-body porcelain tile, and it quickly and seemingly became the industry’s cure-all. Being more molecularly compact than typical glazed ceramic tile, it offered the same durability and resistance to moisture, as did solid granite… and, at a lesser price-point. 

Over the years, porcelain formats morphed into gargantuan tile sizes as large as 36” x 48.” And these tiles were no longer just “through-body” versions. Advanced inkjet printing processes were developed that actually gave the tiles both “looks” and textures resulting in it being almost impossible to discern whether or not they were true natural materials. And, this printing procedure was no flimsy topcoat. Airports around the globe, for example, which have tens of thousands of people racing across their terminal floors pulling wheeled luggage on a daily basis, have been successful with their specification of HD printed, porcelain flooring. 

So what was next in the world of porcellanato? In the last few years, a new phenomenon has appeared, now termed “gauged porcelain panels.” These are extremely large tile slabs, produced with fine porcelain clay, manufactured to minimal tile thickness without compromising the performance levels inherent to porcelain tile. Visionary architects are specifying this material for a myriad of applications, including to be installed directly over existing tile (which means the arduous, messy, time-consuming and disruptive process of removing ceramic tile can be eliminated), as monolithic-appearing wall applications… and, even to perform as exterior cladding. Relative to vertical installations, one of the few disadvantages of “regular” porcelain tile is weight. Gauged porcelain panels have become the ideal alternative, because when installed correctly, due to having much lighter weight, various structural components can be reduced… saving a great deal of installation time and out-of-pocket money. A good example of this took place recently at the University of Southern Indiana’s Health & Professions Building. 

Crossville’s Laminam gauged porcelain panels were specified for this interior project, which consisted of 2,500 square feet of wall space for a commercial kitchen classroom. “Originally, we bid the job to be tiled using a traditional mortar system. Adam Abell, our Bostik representative, came in and asked if we would consider an alternative installation system that offered a host of benefits,” stated Danny Fulton, Vice President of Evansville, IN-based Fulton Tile & Stone. “We were ready to begin the project, but because of our strong rapport with Adam, we granted him some presentation time that included having our Crossville representative, Tony Davis attending along with our team. I had no idea of what Bosti-Set™ was… or, what it could do. But in retrospect, granting Adam time to showcase his new product proved be one of the best decisions we’ve made in a long time!” 

Abell demonstrated how projects calling for gauged porcelain panels could be installed in roughly half the time, even with a smaller crew. He showed how Bosti-Set™ immediately grabbed porcelain tile panels in a single coat, did not allow any sag, yet made it possible for these panels to be “reposition-able” for at least 30 minutes. “As a business owner, I’m always looking for efficiencies that are timesaving and ultimately, cost saving,” added Fulton. “So ultimately, we decided to work with this newer product. 

“We had a lot to learn,” Fulton continued, “as the panels basically had to be ‘picked up’ using suction cups with aluminum spines, not unlike the way glass panels are installed. A single layer of adhesive is troweled only onto the back of the panel, cutting the square footage necessary to trowel in half. This also cuts down on weight… and, deadline stress on our installers.”

Fulton went on to state that he was so captivated by this project… he actually put on his accountant’s hat and followed every single step to measure the overall savings. “There is no mixing needed with this system,” he mentioned. “It’s just ‘open and go.’ Other systems require a 50 lb. bag of thin-set per panel. This project had 70 panels to install, and I estimated that without mixing, we could roughly save 30 minutes per panel on the installation alone, not to mention the mixing time and chasing water that was completely eliminated. Ultimately, for this 2,500 square foot project, even though Bosti-Set™ is a bit more costly than other products, we may have saved close to $5,000 just by using it. “And, that number is very conservative!” Fulton beamed.

He added that the project worked out so well, “Fulton Tile & Stone has begun to use Bosti-Set™ on a regular basis for other projects we have in the queue, including ‘phase two’ at the USI facility.”

Gauged porcelain panels have certainly become the rage. According to Martin Howard, Executive Vice President of David Allen Company and current President of the National Tile Contractors Association, “This newer product offering has been accepted in the marketplace because, in particular, architects and designers see the advantages offered by a large panel format that is much lighter in weight than other high-performance surfacing options. And due to their expansive size, there are less grout joints visible. That means a wall application, for example, can give the appearance of stone veneer at a lower price point, because single slab appearance is now possible.” 

“You can’t learn how to use the system overnight,” declared Fulton. “So, we decided to have all of our installers take as much time to learn this system as they needed. Both Bostik and Crossville helped us with educating our team at optimal levels. Generally in our business, some of the more seasoned installers want to stick with methods they’ve used in the past. I thoroughly understand that. But when we were able to prove to all our installers that not only was Bosti-Set™ easier to use… it allowed them to finish projects earlier and the move on to the next one…  I think they were all very much sold!”

Fulton Tile & Stone depends upon its major distributor, Louisville Tile for the great percentage of tile and sundry materials used in the many installations for which the firm is engaged. Don Kincaid, Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Louisville Tile, believes gauged porcelain tile panels have a very, very bright future. “In particular for the commercial sector, these materials are gaining more and more acceptance. Designs calling for gauged porcelain, at this early stage of its existence, most likely are coming from savvy architectural designers who understand it doesn’t just add a monolithic look due to having minimal grout lines. It offers many more solutions, one being because it is so much lighter in weight than natural stone… it can be directly installed on vertical surfaces as a viable alternative. And, because of the realism generated by today’s amazing high-definition inkjet printing processes, very few people will not know the product isn’t an actual stone slab. 

“We also believe,” continued Kincaid, “that gauged panels will soon be specified on a regular basis for residential applications, one example being shower walls. Forward-minded installation professionals such as those at Fulton Tile & Stone, understand how glass panels are adhered to walls, and will continue to embrace the best ways in which to install these products.  Now that there is a product such as Bosti-Set™, which offers so many installation performance benefits, we at Louisville Tile are even more positive about this product category.”

Kincaid was also extremely positive about the University of Southern Indiana gauged porcelain panel project. “And why not?” he declared. “That’s my alma mater!”

 

 

 

Keeping beautiful stone tiles beautiful

By Jeff Moen, General Manager, FILA USA

In addition to its inherent beauty, natural stone is globally acknowledged as the most time-honored and time-tested building material. Now easier to work with than ever before, durable and of course, a product of Mother Nature, it clearly stands up to the challenges of tomorrow. 

But realistically speaking, not all stone is alike. Because of that, to maintain, protect and regularly restore the “look” of natural stone, especially for indoor horizontal surfaces, certain regimens are absolutely necessary. 

Step one: is your stone acid resistant or acid-sensitive?

Step one is to know if the stone’s characteristics include being acid-resistant or acid-sensitive. 

Should the stone surface be an acid-resistant stone such as natural granite, post-installation cleaning and maintenance procedures (provided the optimal products are used) should be less worrisome to end users than if they had recently installed acid-sensitive stone material such as travertine or limestone.

Often times, especially for commercial flooring installations where epoxy grout is specified, there is a great deal of grout haze/residue on the surface of the tile, even after the entire project has cured and cleaned. If the cleaning agent contains any acidic formulations, after the surface is cleaned, porous limestone and travertine will become impregnated with chemicals which over time, can become very destructive to the stone tile’s body. Cracking, breaking, efflorescence and even the emission of harmful VOCs possibly can result.

It’s highly recommended to use a grout release product to thoroughly clean the surface of the flooring. In some cases, but not all, this process can actually be considered as sealing the stone material. There are various educational programs and tutorials offering solutions from surface care professionals that clearly outline the best methods for post-installation stone floor treatments. Consider these as “insurance investments,” because if applied correctly, building owners don’t have to worry about down-the-road failures of their stone floor expenditures. Rather, they can be confident that their beautiful stone flooring will continue to perform and look great for years and years to come. 

But, there is a bit more to  consider. 

Ongoing protection and maintenance

After the stone flooring has been thoroughly installed, cleaned and sealed, a program should be discussed regarding ongoing protection and maintenance. One doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand the need or simplicity of these regimens. But one does need to be a reasonable businessperson to recognize the fact that stone flooring, like every sizable investment, requires a certain amount of care to continue performing at optimal levels. 

Selection of protection, maintenance and sometimes, restoration materials is absolutely key. And again, step one is simply to know the composition of the stone materials that have been specified. For example, most people don’t realize that quartzite, which is a durable product of nature, can contain a certain degree of marble elements. Which surface care products to be selected should be dependent on knowing the percentage of that within the body of the quartz tile. 

Not to be confused with quartzite, quartz engineered stone tiles and slabs are agglomerates consisting of durable quartz chips held together by a binder of either cement or resin (epoxy). The surface care products you select should be determined by which kind of binder is used in the original manufacturing process. Obviously, cementitious materials are more porous and thus are subject to more staining than materials made with an epoxy resin binder. But whatever quartzite is being used, sealers, cleaners and other protectant chemicals produced with any concentration of alkalines should be avoided, as they can attack even the strongest of resin binders, ultimately causing deterioration.

Surface maintenance programs ensure beauty and longevity

Not only is natural granite beautiful, it is one of the most durable natural stones offered by Mother Nature. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that just a regular program of wet-mopping will maintain its look. Even with grout joints so tiny that they look almost invisible, grouting between each individual tile needs to be regularly cleaned. And even granite material contains tiny pinholes and fissures into which contaminants may penetrate. To cut to the chase, the most hearty of granite material also needs a surface maintenance program to ensure its longevity in both aesthetics and performance.

It’s obviously vitally important for buyers and specifiers to know the characteristics of ALL the stone flooring they are buying. And it’s just as important for them to know the characteristics of the surface care products needed to clean, protect and maintain these natural surfaces. 

Many of today’s surfacing materials produced for both the commercial and residential construction marketplaces can contain harmful substances. In spite of the global outcry relative to climatic change, they continue to be specified. Even building materials that claim to be recyclable can end up in a landfill. It’s time for you and your customers to acknowledge the need to consider more environmentally friendly building materials such as natural stone. And in doing so, to consider the best possible ways in which take care of this time-honored material.

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FILA (Fabbrica Italiana Lucidi ed Affini) has achieved international recognition for excellence in providing highly technical, easy-to-use protection and care treatment systems for all surfaces. A family-owned yet strategically structured managerial company, FILA has become a large international group always maintaining strong core values. With an eye on the future, FILA offers optimal answers to the needs of every client, consistently staying ahead of the market. That’s just one reason FILA has been endorsed as “#1” by 250 of the world’s leading tile and stone producers. www.filasolutions.com/usa/

TTMAC newest publication: the Tile Installer Technical Handbook

New publication draws on wisdom in the NTCA Reference Manual 

By Dale Kempster, Director of the International Technical Network, North America | Schluter Systems

This year is the 75th anniversary of the Terrazzo, Tile, and Marble Association of Canada, more commonly known as the TTMAC. This association is made up of both union and non-union tile contractors and there are currently 291 contractor members, 139 supplier members and 17 professional members. The

TTMAC provides online education, testing (ASTM C627, DCOF), on-site inspections, regional conferences, and an annual national convention. This year, the convention is being held in beautiful downtown Toronto, ON. The TTMAC also produces several technical publications and for the first time this year it is proud to announce its newest addition, the new Tile Installer Technical Handbook. 

The Handbook, launched in July, was created to address specifically the challenges and predicaments that tile installers face on job sites almost daily. A large part of the content of this Handbook was reprinted under the permission of the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) located in Jackson, Miss., from the NTCA Reference Manual. All content was reviewed, modified, converted, and Canadianized, for the Great White North. This means that all the measurements are in metric, which was no small task, but for those of you who are still not that comfortable or familiar with metric, there’s a pretty comprehensive conversion chart in the back. Certain words had to be converted from American to Canadian such as vapor to vapour, color to colour, recognise to recognize, and uh huh to eh!!! 

All references to details in the TCNA Handbook have been converted to the appropriate details from the Canadian 09 30 00 Tile Installation Manual, as well as any relevant Canadian standards such as the Canadian National Building Code, CSA, CGSB, etc. This Handbook has a wealth of information drawn from years of experience from tile contractors from coast to coast who have shared their lifetime of knowledge and expertise. 

Following a similar NTCA Reference Manual format, The Problem, the Cause, the Cure and Prevention in the Future is how the Handbook has been organized. In addition, when appropriate, a template with an informative letter is included after each topic. These letters can be used to inform customers what the issue is and what the appropriate solution may or may not be or what standard or code may or may not be met. 

Key topics

Some of the key topics that are discussed are: 

  • General Statement on Moisture Emissions, 
  • Curing Compounds and Release Agents, 
  • Movement Joints, 
  • Engineered Wood, 
  • Division 3 vs Division 9 Floor Flatness Tolerances, 
  • Questionable Substrates, 
  • Poured Gypsum Underlayments, 
  • Waterproof Underlayments, 
  • Crack Isolation Underlayments, 
  • Uncoupling Underlayments, 
  • Critical Lighting Effects on Tile Installations, 
  • Gauged Porcelain and Porcelain Slabs, 
  • Exterior Application Guidelines, 
  • Radiant Heat Issues, Efflorescence, 
  • Steam Rooms, 
  • Natural Stone Problems and Maintenance, 
  • Glass Tile Installation Challenges, 
  • Grout Problem Solving Guide, 
  • Coefficient of Friction and DCOF, 
  • General Care and Maintenance, and an extensive Glossary. 

Canadian-specific challenges and construction methods

In Canada there are of course some different challenges and construction methods, and as such this is where there are some major differences between the NTCA Reference Manual and the TTMAC Tile Installation Handbook. One such difference is with the recognition of the installation of Gauged Porcelain Tiles and Tile Panel/Slabs on wood substrates as identified in ANSI A108.19. In Canada, the minimum thickness by code for the subfloor is 15 mm (5/8”) thickness on 400 mm o.c. (16”) (not 20 mm (3/4”) as in the U.S.) so the use of these panels on wood substrates is not recommended, and will have to be researched and tested extensively by the TTMAC before it can be affirmed for the use over wood substrates. Other areas where there are some measurable differences between the US and Canada are: movement joint requirements, the use of partial coverage in crack-isolation membranes, back-buttering requirements, just to name a few.

Unlike the TTMAC 09 03 00 Tile Installation Manual, which is designed and targeted for the architectural and specification community, the Tile Installer Technical Handbook was designed specifically for the end user, the grass roots of our industry: the “tile installer.” A large portion of the photos are from the TTMAC library and many are past recipients of the Hard Surface Awards.

This new publication has 11 chapters and 306 pages of content. Since this is a relatively thick publication to print and to be environmentally responsible the TTMAC is also having this Tile Installer Technical Handbook available electronically. Lastly, the Tile Installer Technical Handbook is dated 2018-2019 and the goal of the TTMAC is to have it revised and reprinted approximately every two years, similar to the TTMAC 09 30 00 Tile Installation Manual.

Canadian tile setters and other industry members can obtain a copy of the TTMAC Tile Installer Technical Handbook, by visiting https://ttmac.com/en/technical/specifications. The Handbook is available for both members and non-members at a nominal charge.

Make sure things “pan out”


By Dean Moilanen, Director of Architectural Services, The Noble Company


“We are very aware of the various prefabricated foam trays and pans available for shower pan waterproofing, and they are not created equal. Strength and durability of the tile substrate is paramount in our selection process.”

– Michael Lee, Senior Associate, CDC Consultants


Back in the 1940s, when Ray McIntire of Dow Chemical was laboring to create flexible electrical insulation, he could not have foreseen that his efforts would someday evolve into routine tile-setting practices such as prefabricated foam shower pans and other shower waterproofing elements. McIntire’s experiment involved gases directed into heated polystyrene – and a “happy accident” resulted: a product that was 95% air! This product became best known for use in disposable cups, coolers, and packing materials: “Styrofoam” was the end result.

From these humble beginnings, Styrofoam™ (aka EPS or expanded polystyrene foam) is now used extensively in construction, from road building to home building. In the late ‘90s a U.S.-based company and another in Europe started to explore ways in which EPS foam might be used as part of the shower pan waterproofing system.

The practice of using EPS foam as a substrate for tile and stone which functions as a suitable foundation for a shower pan, has grown to become a legitimate alternative (not replacement), to conventional dry-pack mortar substrates. Product offerings have increased as more vendors offer EPS foam shower pans and trays as part of their waterproofing solutions. Their growing use in a variety of residential and commercial applications is driving the demand for a method in which established norms of performance can be determined, (good, better, best), amongst the various offerings.

One of the earliest offerings focused on creating the required “pre-pitch” beneath loose-laid shower pan. EPS foam was prefabricated to create the sloping 1/4” per foot template, and when glued to a laminated/corrugated “shell,” it replaced the traditional dry-pack, pre-pitched mortar bed. The EPS foam pre-pitches were typically offered in a variety of popular shower pan dimensions. A shower pan was loose-laid over the foam template pre-pitch, and a mortar bed was then installed over the shower pan.

Prefab molded EPS trays: scrutinizing performance

By 2002, the next step in the foam shower pan evolution came from Europe, in the form of a molded EPS sloped shower tray onto which a sheet membrane would be directly bonded. Thinset was used to bond both the tray to substrate, and sheet membrane to the foam tray.

As acceptance and popularity of this European offering grew, a number of similar, competitive products were introduced, in some cases offering a significant difference: a waterproof “skin” or membrane, already bonded or adhered to the foam tray by the manufacturer, which eliminated the need for the installer to apply a waterproof membrane. The shower walls still need to be waterproofed according to industry standards.

XPS (extruded polystyrene) has also been introduced as a material solution, with a cementitious/fiber mesh exterior coating on the foam surface. This coating adds a higher compressive strength value to the waterproofing attributes of the foam core. 

Initially, the majority of these products found acceptance and success in the residential, remodeling, and custom home market. These lightweight, prefabricated foam trays/pans reduced installation time, and promised more consistent end results, with regard to slope to drain.

As the ranks of competitors offering these products increased, and scrutiny with regard to product durability and performance intensified, the need for a more codified system of evaluating the products grew. 

Part of this increased scrutiny was also due to heightened marketing and sales efforts for these products on commercial projects such as hotel showers where architectural and design professionals raised concerns about durability, point loading, compression, etc. Currently, there are no ANSI standards, or TCNA installation methods that address the needs of a contractor or architect seeking to ascertain performance variables amongst various foam tray offerings. The primary concerns are focused on these products’ ability to withstand point loading and compression forces that may occur during installation, as well as when the completed wet areas are put into service.

Michael Zafarano, Project Architect, Station Casinos, observed, “Many of the foam pans and trays we review appear to be suited for residential projects, and we question the resilience and compressive strength of some of these products. Our projects demand these types of products will hold up in a demanding hospitality environment on a long term basis.” 

This growing awareness of the need to accurately identify the performance variables that may exist between different available products has not gone unnoticed by the industry. What’s needed is a way to standardize and identify acceptable levels of performance amongst the numerous tray/pan offerings. This would help to erase skepticism that still lingers among some in the design and construction community.

Towards establishment of an ANSI standard

Maribel Campos, Director of Standards, ICC-ES PMG (International Code Council Evaluation Service for Plumbing Mechanical and Fuel Gas), in particular has been a driving force in her efforts to establish an ANSI standard for a “field fabricated tiling kit.” In her previous role at IAMPO (International Association of Mechanical and Plumbing Officials), and in her current position at ICC, she has worked with industry contacts to create an ANSI standard that includes prefabricated foam shower pans/trays as part of the system.

Campos’s efforts have their origin in IAMPO standard PS106, which has a number of test criteria and requirements. Perhaps one of the most critical and scrutinized portions of this standard focuses on the means and methods to evaluate and assign compressive strength and point loading characteristics of these foam trays.

Campos’s efforts to develop an ANSI standard are now part of a committee review for a new ANSI standard for a field fabricated
tiling kit. Elements of IAMPO PS106 are part of a proposed ANSI standard for these products.

As with any proposed ANSI standard, divergent, opinionated, and sometimes differing viewpoints need to come into alignment. While this proposed ANSI standard is a work in progress that is still in committee, all agree there needs to be more work done to finalize standards and methods that ensure the right product for the job is installed the right way.

So, what to do in the meantime? The awareness that some of the foam pans and trays available may have compression/point loading issues, which could impact tile selection, is a good start. Your own survey of the products available might be required to vet the tray or pan that meets your needs: some pans have the waterproofing built in, while others require you to tackle the task. There are also varying methods of pan or tray construction, with reinforced or multilayer systems offering higher compressive strength.

In most parts of the US the concept of an EPS or XPS foam shower pan or tray is viewed as yet another accepted installation method. Whether you are a staunch advocate of this product/method, or just contemplating the concept, it is beneficial to be aware of the issues, concerns, and innovative advances associated with this product in your
installations. 

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