Velocity of change: Renewing ASU’s iconic Memorial Union

Artcraft and TEC® partner to perform herculean installation

“Velocity of change” is a premise that is disrupting the traditional concept of higher education at Arizona State University. Accelerating technology is the impetus for the change in teaching, and it’s creating new opportunities for lifelong learning.

In that same dynamic spirit of change, ASU’s Memorial Union (MU) has recently transformed into a modern and beautiful hub to meet the new ways students, faculty and guests spend their time at this central gathering space. Here, too, technology and knowledge played key roles in how a tile contractor and tile setting materials manufacturer were able to partner to perform beyond traditional expectations.

“This was a massive project that evolved into what appeared to be impossible as we learned of one challenge after another,” explained Craig Cummings, Project Manager for general contractor CORE Construction. “Initially, we thought we were dealing with a 50% timeline compression, a complex offset tile pattern, and requirements to keep the businesses and offices open during construction.” 

Knowing that only a technically adept specialty contractor would be able to meet the high expectations and challenges, CORE sought the expertise and experience of Mesa-based Artcraft Granite, Marble and Tile Company. Artcraft understood that planning, coordination, and highly efficient tile installation would be vital on the project. The MU’s banks, restaurants, offices and other services attract some 14,000 to 20,000 people to the historic building each day. So work areas on the three floors to be renovated could only be partitioned off for limited periods of time as the demo, prep work and, eventually, tile installation was being done.

But before any work would begin, the challenges mounted. Artcraft was notified that the 40,000 sq. ft. of porcelain floor tile would be delayed some seven weeks – which further compressed the already aggressive timeline down to just six weeks.

Then, what the construction team found as it removed 25,000 sq. ft. of tile and another 15,000 sq. ft. of sheet vinyl, was a multitude of flooring layers, poor transitions and an aged foundation that had seen many additions and modifications as the building’s footprint more than doubled over its 62 years. 

“The existing floors did not meet the architectural specifications of 1/8” in 10’ for flatness,” explained Artcraft President James Woelfel. “We faced a significant amount of remediation with the MU foundation as the time pressures intensified. Our employees were up for the challenge of this high profile job – and we knew TEC® installation materials would provide the advanced technology to support the hard work we were about to undertake.”

TEC installation materials provide advanced technology

Artcraft used TEC® Level Set® 200 Self-Leveling Underlayment to quickly flatten difficult surfaces. In areas where old terrazzo was being covered, TEC® Multipurpose Primer was applied prior to the Level Set 200 to improve its adhesion and bond strength. TEC® Level Set 200 smoothed and flattened all the different elevations of the rough subflooring and was walkable and ready for crack isolation just three hours after application.

TEC® Hydraflex™ Waterproofing Crack Isolation Membrane, an ANSI 118.12 membrane, was then used to prevent the new tile installation from cracking. Hydraflex dries in as little as one hour, which helped Artcraft save precious time on the project. Woelfel explained that TCNA-125 full coverage method was used on about half of the concrete substrate due to existing substrate cracking and TCNA-125A partial coverage was used for the rest of the installation with limited substrate cracking. 

 With the 2,200 sq. ft. of 2” x 12” glass tile available domestically, and the 24” x 48” porcelain wall tile already in hand, Artcraft began to demo, prep and install the varying applications in 12 sets of bathrooms, mindful that some had to be open at all times. TEC® Super Flex™ Ultra-Premium Thin Set Mortar kept the crews moving without incident as it has a patented bonding formula that is excellent with glass and provides non-slip adhesion for large-format wall tile. Then, TEC® Power Grout® Ultimate Performance Grout was applied to the joints and allowed to dry overnight. 

When the 12” x 24” and 6” x 24” mix of dark grey and black Italian porcelain arrived, Artcraft quickly rescheduled its crews for seven 10-hour workdays. Woelfel saw that the intricacies of the MU’s floor plan would create some problems for expansion joints at every intersection, change of pattern and where sunlight hit the floor. He determined that the “random” pattern had to be reworked to meet specifications. Mindful of accessibility ramps, the multiple surface levels and changes in setting direction, Artcraft provided a series of mock-ups for architectural approval to illustrate how critical expansion joints, pattern and surface breaks would be laid.

TEC Power Grout speeds access to floor traffic

Artcraft selected TEC® Ultimate Large Tile Mortar for its superior bond strength, and crews deployed to strategic areas to begin the herculean installation effort. Artcraft setters and finishers worked around the clock. As sections of the newly set tile dried, finishers began grouting the areas that had already dried. TEC® Power Grout® Ultimate Performance Grout was the ideal choice for this challenging job. The predominant factor in choosing Power Grout was its fast-setting properties. It’s ready for foot traffic in just four hours. That meant Artcraft could grout at 4:00 a.m. each day and open sections of the new floor to foot traffic by 9:00 a.m. Additionally, Power Grout’s breakthrough technology is easy to use, stain proof, guaranteed color consistent and highly resistant to shrinking or cracking – all important considerations in the highly traveled MU. “I credit Power Grout as one of the main reasons we were able to pull this off,” said Woelfel. 

To further ensure the integrity of the installation and prevent cracks, Artcraft added TEC® AccuColor 100® Silicone Caulk at the expansion joints in key locations across the varied elevations and at dissimilar planes per TCNA standards.

“It’s beautiful and we plan on this installation lasting for years to come,” said Executive Director of ASU’s Memorial Union, Michele Grab. “Despite the high level of renovation activity, we required that the building be open and accessible at all times. Artcraft respected our needs while ensuring students, faculty and guests remained safe and minimally inconvenienced by the remodel.”

“Without TEC products and technical support, we couldn’t have turned this project around,” Woelfel commented. “This was really an intense collaboration to resolve issues with technologically advanced products, technical installation knowledge and pure hard work.” 

Throughout the project, TEC Territory Manager Steve Besendorfer was on-site to support Artcraft. Additional support came from Jeff Williams, Manager at Tom Duffy, the setting materials distributor who kept extra TEC product in stock and available six days/week, specifically for the ASU project. Also, TEC’s excellent system warranty further reinforced TEC products as the right choice. 

The transformation of the ASU MU was truly a remarkable example of a motivated team coming together to achieve a nearly impossible goal. The beautiful new building is a testament to the success of their collaboration.

Hollow-sounding tiles and spot bonding

Inspections can be revealing or misleading


Delving into the deep, dark corners of the internet yields some useful intelligence – no, not the dark web, but rather the back side of NTCA-managed websites. Here, using analytics software, plugs-ins, and other virtual gadgets, it’s evident there’s considerable interest in information about hollow-sounding tile as well as the sometimes related topic of spot bonding. It’s no surprise; the contributing factors for both have been on the rise, prompting articles, white papers, and revisions to industry standards over the last several years. This article is being added to the collection to give an overview and to generate member discussion online about these not-always-black-and-white topics.

A hollow-sounding floor is probably fine

When a floor sounds hollow, it may seem as though something is amiss, but usually it’s nothing more than the natural sound transmission of the installation. Central to the question of whether there is a tile installation problem is whether the tile just sounds hollow or if there are visible issues occurring. Because of the various reasons a proper installation can have a hollow sound, language to clarify that a hollow sound alone does not indicate an installation problem was added to the TCNA Handbook in the Membrane Selection Guide. This is a clue that use of a membrane is one of the most common reasons a perfectly-good installation might sound hollow. Other reasons a good-quality installation might have a hollow sound include:

  • a less-dense substrate material, for example, wood versus concrete
  • a substrate or configuration that has open (hollow) spaces, for example, a wood-framed floor or steel-framed wall
  • an installation substrate or component with intentional voids – for example, some uncoupling membranes and hollow-core concrete slabs. 

As flooring materials go, ceramic is more of a transmitter, so hollowness will typically be more obvious, whatever the cause.

A real issue will probably be obvious

Unfortunately, sometimes a hollow sound is because of a tile problem or is worsened by a tile problem. But when this is the case there will generally be more apparent evidence such as cracked, loose, or missing grout or cracked or loose tile, for which there is no other explanation. It might be possible to remove whole or large pieces of tile – without force – to check for any easily identifiable causes or contributing causes – such as “spot bonding” – a means of adhering and leveling tiles with “spots” or blobs of mortar instead of properly troweling out mortar to arrive at a more uniform, consistent bond coat that minimizes the amount of empty space between tile and substrate. (Note: this article applies only to tile intended to be installed by a thin-bed mortar installation method, not to the spot-bonding style installation methods that are used and acceptable only on walls and only in specific, limited applications.)

Because spot bonding leaves larger voids under the tile, cracked tile over voids is a typical observation. Spot-bonded tile is also generally not as well-bonded to a substrate so loose/debonded tile could also occur. However, while workmanship may be an obvious cause of hollow sounds and tile and grout issues, it may not be the only cause. A thorough inspection is required to discern. 

To inspect or not to inspect

A 2013 TileLetter article, well before the TCNA Handbook revision was made, outlined a process of removing tiles and substrate from various areas of a hollow-sounding floor to determine whether tiles have debonded. It also addressed why and whether individual tile replacement or entire installation replacement might be needed. The subsequently-added TCNA Handbook language suggests a more conservative wait-and-see approach: no action necessary in the absence of actual issues. 

A destructive inspection will require repairs resulting from the inspection itself at the very least, and could cause new debonding or weakening of bonds. This might necessitate later repairs that would not have been needed had a destructive inspection not been performed. Furthermore, a premature destructive inspection muddies the waters with regard to the reason or responsibility for later repairs, should such be needed. Accordingly, the physician’s “first, do no harm” guideline may be advisable. The installation itself will, over time, relay its soundness and reliability.

In other words, when tile or grout issues do appear, the tile contractor should be consulted first and any governing workmanship requirements for the project should be scrutinized in order to distinguish installation concerns that don’t meet them from those that do. An inspection may be in order if working with the contractor doesn’t remedy issues, or to explore if other conditions outside the tile contractor’s control are also factors. 

Bias in assessments

When seeking an installation assessment, whether a formal (paid) inspection or a more informal opinion – such as by a manufacturer’s or distributor’s product representative – be aware of the various forms of bias that cause faulty opinions or conclusions. For example, even where spot bonding or poor mortar coverage has been identified, such may be only a contributing factor to tiles debonding. A curing compound that inhibits bonding may have been topically applied to a concrete substrate but not disclosed to the tile contractor. Or perhaps a substrate deflects (bends) beyond what even properly installed tile would endure, caused by overloading or under-designing a floor for anticipated weight/loads. The installer’s work should not be characterized as wholly to blame when there are other
contributing factors.

This is no defense for spot bonding or poor workmanship, but rather a caution about fast, easy conclusions. Too often tile contractors are the only target when things go wrong, perhaps because the installer’s work is easily observable and photographed, comparatively inexpensive to evaluate, and fairly basic to comprehend: a handy smoking gun. A more thorough assessment (e.g., structural evaluations, laboratory testing of concrete, etc.) will be significantly more expensive, more difficult to arrange because of the scarcity of people who can conduct a specialized study, and the results are often more complex even though more accurate. 

Generally, such exhaustive research will not be undertaken over some broken or missing tiles, let alone just a hollow sound. In the field of statistics, terms like missing data bias and omitted-variable bias refer to the inaccuracy of a conclusion resulting from leaving out relevant variables or information. Specifically, conclusions will overestimate the effect of the variables and information that were included. 

There’s also confirmation bias, which makes it difficult for people to interpret information objectively, particularly when something significant is at stake. It’s a cognitive phenomenon that makes it equally challenging for the tile contractor, product rep, building designer, etc., to believe negative information about their work or product.

To avoid faulty conclusions about tile installations when complete research will not be commissioned, those weighing in on installation issues can provide fairer assessments by making a point to include known biases. For example, they can list information and relevant variables that have not been factored in. This is the case for any tile-related issue being assessed but is especially relevant to hollow-sounding tile and tile with less-than-ideal mortar coverage. The ease of “sounding” a floor to find hollow sounds or photographing tiles with poor mortar coverage makes these issues popular subjects of reports that inaccurately paint the picture that only the tilework is subpar. 

Mitigating factors

In addition to more field information, what about looking into compressed schedules and decisions made in the course of construction? An NTCA bulletin (https://bit.ly/2N7G76H) makes the point that sometimes the practice of spot bonding is less about unskilled installers than it is about designs that require flat substrates and reasonable schedules that – when the time comes – aren’t provided. For example, general contractors often refuse to pay to flatten an out-of-tolerance substrate. Is it reasonable then, when substrate requirements are actively disregarded, to expect the various workmanship standards predicated on substrate flatness to be met? 

There can be many answers and approaches to such philosophical questions with no single right answer.  “What went wrong?” is a less subjective question. But the answer is only accurate when conclusion bias is specifically avoided by seeking out and including all relevant information. 

Be part of the discussion

For those searching on “hollow sounding floors” or “spot bonding,” hopefully this article provides a heightened understanding of the complexities around two topics that are often oversimplified. 

With regard to spot bonding in particular, tile contractors cannot routinely absorb costs to provide installation conditions they need and expect, based on project documents. However, the legal/contractual issues, safety considerations, and workmanship standards don’t dissolve just because proper conditions aren’t provided, including when there is abject refusal to provide them. In fact, because spot bonding introduces just as many (or more) issues than it fixes, NTCA workshops and other educational efforts focus heavily on mortar coverage requirements and the many reasons spot bonding is never recommended and is in no way condoned by NTCA. 

While industry standards and association resources can relay unambiguously various “do’s and don’ts,” they cannot so easily prescribe the best path for tile contractors confronted with perfect-world versus real-world issues. What works well for one company or project may not work at all for another. That’s why a core benefit of NTCA membership is the opportunity to dialog with and learn from other members when it comes to the many unavoidable gray areas and business decisions that must be made. NTCA members: What do you or other contractors you know do in this scenario? Or what should tile contractors do? What works and what doesn’t? Can the issue be better addressed by industry standards? Share your experiences and ideas on the “NTCA Members Only” Facebook group. 

Training and certification take center stage in the tile industry

Numbers don’t lie. The numbers tell us as leaders in the tile industry that we have a challenge we must overcome, and it is two-fold. First, we are facing a tile market poised for growth. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics forecasts that prospective employment of flooring installers and tile and marble installers should grow at least ten percent by 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Technology in the tile industry, coupled with a healthy construction economy, creates opportunities to exceed these projections. This is the good news. 

Innovative manufacturing technology has created a stronger need for the development of training and certification programs.

The bad news is that currently it does not appear as if there are enough trained and qualified people working in our industry to meet this demand.

Industry leaders are aware of this dilemma. In 2016, there were approximately 58,000 tile and marble setters working in the trade, and that is expected to grow to almost 65,000 in the next several years. As workers retire or leave the trade, we must not only replace them with new ones, we must recruit thousands more if we are going to help the industry meet expectations. The entire construction industry realizes that recruiting new people into the trade is a daunting challenge, so the competition to find quality people is fierce and the winners will be the ones that act quickly and aggressively. 

Ceramic tile installation takes years to master. Experts believe that to be a craftsperson who can master most tile installations, it requires a minimum of three to four years of experience in the field, coupled with a strong training program to reinforce product knowledge and create awareness of industry standards and best practices.

Training is the second part of the challenge that our industry is facing. It is not enough to just find workers to choose the tile industry over other career choices. Instead, we must make sure these workers are being trained and certified in a professional manner, helping them to establish a strong career path and meet our industry needs.

The National Tile Contractors Association is investing time and money into helping address this challenge. We have added professional staff to develop programs that can make a big impact on training, recruitment and certification. Here is a snapshot of how we see this developing: 

NTCA University

Becky Serbin,
Training and Education Coordinator

Becky Serbin is the NTCA Training and Education Coordinator. She is overseeing the development of apprenticeship training curriculum, utilizing online learning modules available for members to train both new installers entering the trade and current installers on product knowledge and industry standards. Currently, NTCA members can use these courses to develop their own company apprenticeship programs, and they can work with federal and state Departments of Labor to have the program monitored and approved. 

In a new development, NTCA is working now to gain federal approval to be an administrator of our own apprenticeship program. This should allow the association to seek partners in educational and vocational schools, and use our members to offer supportive training and most importantly, jobsite experience to go with the curriculum. This is important because

Stephanie Samulski, Director of Technical Services

companies that only need a few apprentices to come to work for them – but who don’t have the resources to develop their own program – could work with NTCA to solve this challenge. We hope to roll out this program in 2019 to our members. 

Technical Services

NTCA has hired Stephanie Samulski, formerly with the Tile Council of North America (TCNA), as our Director of Technical Services. She will work closely with our Technical Director Mark Heinlein, Technical Trainers and Training and Education Coordinator to provide technical content, consistency and accuracy in our program development. 

Mark Heinlein, Technical Director

Training and Certification programs

NTCA Technical Trainers now offer regional hands-on training in many areas, helping installers master their skills, and preparing them for certification tests being offered by the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation. Certification is important to help instill consumer confidence in our industry’s ability to perform successful installations with today’s innovative but changing technology. Large-format, gauged porcelain tile panels and slabs are a perfect example of this. Certification and training are essential for these products because even highly skilled installers who have been in the field for years will admit this is a different type of installation than what they were trained for. 

Marketing focus on recruitment

Avia Haynes, Marketing and Communications Director

One thing we’ve realized is we need to promote and market our training and industry certification programs to our industry and to consumers, builders and general contractors who are looking to us to solve their problems. So NTCA hired Avia Haynes as Director of Marketing and Communications to help create programs to recruit workers, promote certification and training, increase participation and engagement in our programs. 

We realize that many things will need to happen for us to be successful. Recruiting young people into our industry who have the desire to learn a trade is essential. NTCA provides important tools to our members – apprenticeship programs and online learning systems such as NTCA University – to help prepare workers quickly, and to help them to become certified and highly skilled. Marketing their skills to consumers to instill confidence in our industry is the final piece to this puzzle.

NTCA prides itself on being a leader in the tile industry, and we will continue to work with manufacturers, distributors and our contractor members to help ensure our trade can meet this important challenge in the next several years.

TECH 2016 Feature: TEC Provides Solution for Renowned Medical Institute

feat-00tomplaskotaTEC® provides multiple solutions for headquarters of renowned medical institute

By Tom Plaskota, TEC® technical support manager

The Regenstrief Institute in Indianapolis, Ind., is an internationally-renowned healthcare research organization – itself a model for research, efficiency and innovation – that recently benefited from those same attributes, courtesy of numerous TEC® tile installation solutions. Altogether, a total of 7,100 sq. ft. of TEC® products were used throughout various spaces for this project.

Known for developing better pathways to wellness, Regenstrief built a four-story, 80,000 sq. ft. building as the latest addition to its already impressive campus that serves as the institute’s headquarters. The new building is now home to the institute’s global research facility, with 165 staff members and a large number of allied scientists.

TEC® products were used throughout hallways, bathrooms and stairwells of the new Regenstrief Institute headquarters.

TEC® products were used throughout hallways, bathrooms and stairwells of the new Regenstrief Institute headquarters.

Regenstrief prides itself on improving the quality of care, increasing the efficiency of healthcare delivery, preventing medical errors, and enhancing patient safety. But those ideals could have been put at risk when serious issues arose with some of the new building’s floors during the early phase of construction.

As work was just underway, the contractor, Indianapolis-based Certified Floorcovering Services, Inc. – a NTCA member – discovered that more than 3,000 sq. ft. of the concrete slab in the foyer and bathroom had a high relative humidity (RH) of 96. Moisture mitigation was the only way to solve the problem on the burnished, contaminated concrete, and TEC® moisture mitigation systems were the solution.

How MVER may affect tile installations

Subsurface moisture has always been a potential Achilles’ heel of floor covering installations, but excessive moisture vapor emission rates (MVER) recently have become occasional problems with ceramic and natural stone tile installations.

Today’s tiles – not as porous as they once were – are now often bonded directly to concrete, which has been covered with a waterproof and anti-fracture membrane, making installations more convenient and successful, but less breathable. On top of that, today’s fast-paced construction timelines mean installations may take place before concrete moisture levels are completely stabilized.

 TEC® LiquiDam EZ™ is the industry’s first single-component, liquid-based moisture vapor barrier. It dries in a quick four to five hours, allowing for same day flooring installation. “TEC LiquiDam EZ easily saves 30-40% on labor,” says Brian Estes of Certified Floorcovering Services, Inc. 

TEC® LiquiDam EZ™ is the industry’s first single-component, liquid-based moisture vapor barrier. It dries in a quick four to five hours, allowing for same day flooring installation. “TEC LiquiDam EZ easily saves 30-40% on labor,” says Brian Estes of Certified Floorcovering Services, Inc.

Innovative and efficient

Certified Floorcovering Services, Inc. decided to use TEC® LiquiDam EZ™ moisture vapor barrier to moisture mitigate 3,000 sq. ft. of the floors. Another 450 sq. ft. were mitigated with the original TEC® LiquiDam™. Both formulas, which can be directly applied onto green concrete up to 100% RH and may not require shotblasting on clean, sound surfaces, helped achieve a high level of moisture control and allowed the contractors to quickly move on with the installation.

TEC LiquiDam EZ, which launched January 2016, is the industry’s first single-component, liquid-based moisture vapor barrier. It protects flooring and tile systems from damage caused by severe moisture and alkalinity, and can be hand-stirred and then directly applied. The single-component formula dries in a quick four to five hours, allowing for same-day flooring installation.

“TEC LiquiDam EZ easily saves 30-40% on labor,” said Brian Estes of Certified Floorcovering Services, Inc. “We were able to reduce our application crew by one person due to the ease of the new installation process required by this non-epoxy product.”

LiquiDam EZ impressed the contractors with its resealable packaging – a bonus when reusing product for next-day jobs. LiquiDam EZ can be resealed and stored up to six months, and eliminates waste and special handling.

After discovering that the concrete slab in the foyer and bathroom had a high relative humidity (RH) of 96, the contractor chose TEC moisture mitigation systems as the solution.

After discovering that the concrete slab in the foyer and bathroom had a high relative humidity (RH) of 96, the contractor chose TEC moisture mitigation systems as the solution.

Since the Regenstrief Institute is closely associated with the busy Indiana University School of Medicine and Health and the Hospital Corporation of Marion County, the job needed to be completed properly and in a timely fashion. When moisture problems are not addressed properly pre-installation, all sorts of potential issues may arise – particularly problematic for healthcare facilities that require sterile environments. Moisture control is one of the most crucial steps to carry out on the floor installation checklist. Yet this aspect of the process is all too often overlooked.

Other TEC tile installation solutions for the Regenstrief project

Within the new Regenstrief building, TEC quality product solutions extended well beyond moisture mitigation. Four flights of steel stairs in the Regenstrief headquarters were covered in 12”x 24” large-format tiles – a challenge since steel is a difficult-to-bond-to substrate for tile installations. TEC Multipurpose Primer created a quick fix, directly bonding the tiles to 120 large steel stairs. TEC Ultimate Large Tile Mortar was used for its non-slump and non-slip formula for heavy tile and stone applications.

Additional TEC products relied on during building construction include: TEC HydraFlex™ Waterproofing Crack Isolation Membrane, TEC PerfectFinish™ Skimcoat, and TEC Power Grout in DeLorean Gray. TEC products were used throughout the headquarters in the hallways, bathrooms, and stairwells.

Distributor Louisville Tile provided the 12” x 24” large-format tiles from Crossville, which were a sleek gray with subtle accents. Designed by Schmidt Associates of Indianapolis, construction started in October 2014 and was completed in November 2015.

feat-04The nonprofit medical research organization is dedicated to improving the quality, cost, and outcome of healthcare around the world. Regenstrief investigators work closely with nearby schools and hospitals – Indiana University’s School of Medicine, Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Hospital, the Roudebush VA Medical Center, Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health and IU Health University Hospital.

For more information about TEC, visit www.tecspecialty.com.

The TEC® brand is offered by H.B. Fuller Construction Products Inc., a leading provider of technologically advanced construction materials and solutions to the commercial, industrial and residential construction industry. Named “one of the world’s most ethical companies” by Ethisphere in 2013, and headquartered in Aurora, IL, the company’s recognized and trusted brands – TEC®, CHAPCO®, Grout Boost®, ProSpec®, Foster®, and others – are available through an extensive network of distributors and dealers, as well as home improvement retailers. For more information, visit www.hbfuller-cp.com.

Technical Feature: Gauged Porcelain Tile Panels – TECH 2016

tech-00noahchittyThe status of standards for gauged porcelain tile panels/slabs (formerly known as thin porcelain tile)

Unique partnership between tile and installation materials manufacturers, tool suppliers, and labor set the groundwork for product and installation standards for new breed of tile

By Noah Chitty, director of technical services, Crossville

tech-01It began approximately 15 years ago when an Italian equipment manufacturer by the name of System Group came up with a new way to press tile with a process they called Lamina. It worked to gain traction for the product manufactured by this process by building a factory and showing people that a new way was viable and the product it made – hopefully – could change the face of tile making forever. A little bit of this product trickled into the U.S. market, but it was not until approximately five years ago that this tile entered the domestic market in a meaningful way. Along with the product, came the hopes of revolutionizing how people think about a material that has been around for a few thousand years.

tech-02The market was already moving in the direction of larger sizes: 12”x 24” was starting to replace 12”x 12” as king of the hill; 18”x 36” was starting to pick up steam; and 24”x 48” was being dabbled with here and there. This new thing was a tile over 3’ wide and approximately 10’ long – and to make it more complicated – with a thickness of only 1/8” to 1/4”. It was for sure sort of an anomaly that no one really thought could go anywhere. For the first 18 months or so most thought it was a fad that would go away, then designers and architects started to get excited and we started to see specifications for it.

This presented a new challenge; no one knew how to install it or what the rules were. So, a few tile and thinset manufacturers started to look at traditional setting methods as a basis for developing new techniques that would be necessary to comply with existing standards of coverage, lippage, etc.

tech-03

As the market pressure increased, a unique partnership started to develop between tile and installation materials manufacturers along with tool suppliers, and most importantly labor. This new organic collaboration provided a mechanism for rapid development of new materials and methods for the installation of these extremely large tiles. Sales started to rise and the awareness of the tile industry started to grow. (Photos show training sessions at Crossville with Laminam, an example of this new breed of gauged porcelain tile.)

tech-04New language starts to emerge

In an ANSI meeting about three years ago there was enough awareness that while maybe a standard was not in the immediate future, it was clear something had to be said about it. Chris Walker of NTCA Five Star Contractor David Allen Company was designated as the leader of an ad-hoc group mandated to draft a statement for inclusion into the TCNA Handbook for Ceramic, Glass and Stone Tile. Walker and company wrote some language for what they called “reduced thickness tile” and our industry documents started for the first time to recognize these new materials.

tech-05By this time we were seeing even larger tiles, up to 5’ wide, and in some cases more than 10’ long. By now a second technology from SACMI was emerging called Continua Plus, compacting porcelain powder between two large steel rollers. System Lamina technology was continuing to innovate as well, with even larger sizes and textures pressed between its new equipment that was more than 17’ long with plates more than 5’ wide with 50,000 tons of pressure. Both technologies advanced in thickness capability as well, able to press up to 30mm. From here momentum was starting to grow; a few manufacturers started talking about drafting a product standard to protect this new market from lesser-quality materials.

The next step towards the product standard

With the advancements in technology and the growth of the market, it was becoming evident that standards would soon be necessary. So a couple of companies that believed in the future of the category decided to start some testing, and sure enough we started to see data that would serve as the outline for a product standard. At the April 2015 ANSI A108 meeting it was formally decided to move forward with the product standard, as well as form an ad-hoc group to begin work on an installation standard to be called A108.19.

tech-06To drive the product standard quickly, tile manufacturers started to formalize the criteria around the terminology, thicknesses, breaking strengths, and other physical properties required to accurately describe the characteristics and quality of this category. As of the last meeting of the TCNA Tile Technical Committee in mid-July 2016, tile manufacturers had reached a general consensus that the majority of the content in the draft of the product standard was nearing completion for submission and subsequent ballot to the full ANSI A108 committee convening in October of this year.

tech-07Part of the evolution of the standard includes a name change from “large thin porcelain tile” to “gauged porcelain tile panels/slabs. The name change to “gauged” is based on two main things: the technology now being able to produce thicker materials that one day may be encompassed by the standard (so thin no longer made sense); and second the need to use a replacement term that describes materials produced to a precise thickness that determines their physical properties and areas of use. So we picked a term used to describe exactly that, similar to how “gauged” is used to describe wire or sheet metal. For panel/slab, we just recognized that both terms were being used in the industry/market so to recognize that fact and not hinder anyone’s way to market, we decided to propose the use of the dual term.

tech-08The installation standard starts to develop

In the meantime, the ad-hoc committee for the installation standard has also been hard at work. The first step was to get together as a group and look at all of the existing information from around the industry pertaining to these materials. Once the data was analyzed, an outline was created to address all of the different concerns brought by the members of the committee. The next step was to look at the variables of piece size, embedding technique, coverage rates, lippage tolerances, qualified labor language, and other required criteria needed to complete a comprehensive standard.

Drawing on the information and data supplied by different members of the committee we have been able to complete a draft that was distributed at the A108 meeting at Coverings 2016. While there is still some work to be done, the majority of it has been completed, and all signs point to a viable draft being distributed at the same A108 meeting in October of this year, and taken to ballot soon thereafter. As the leader of this group I can say the dedication to the effort has been second to none, and I would personally like to thank all involved for participating diligently and unselfishly to better the industry in which we work. Because of this collaborative effort we are well on our way.

Methods and Standards: Recent Proposals for the Upcoming TCNA Handbook

methods-01NTCA Methods and Standards Committee makes headway on six revisions

By Kevin Fox, NTCA Methods and Standards Committee chairperson

The NTCA Methods and Standards Committee’s work over the last two years reaped great success at the TCNA Handbook meeting in Atlanta, Ga., recently. There were six proposals submitted, and with great help and guidance from the TCNA staff, all were approved. Following is a brief summary on each of them.

I believe our proudest accomplishments are new sections on design and evaluation criteria pertaining to finished installation appearance. These new sections are as follows:

  1. Under the section GROUT JOINT SIZE AND PATTERN CONSIDERATIONS, you will find two new sub-sections, “System Modularity” which clears up confusion on modular tile sizes, gives design professionals guidance on using different sizes together, and points to the simple truth that when the tile modularity is not understood, design compromises are inevitable. The second new sub-section is “Tile Layout” which gives general tile layout provisions addressing reasonable expectations and limitations that challenge most projects.
  2. Under the section USING THE TCNA HANDBOOK FOR SPECIFICATION WRITING, a new sub-section called “Design Considerations When Specifying Tile,” references the Handbook’s many sections that design professionals must familiarize themselves with that impact the selected tiles and designs. It gives a very important reference that strongly recommends industry standards, guidelines, and best practices to be followed and strongly discourages variances from them. It also recommends in-situ mock-ups to be used under the given job site conditions.
  3. Under the section FINISHED TILEWORK, is a new sub-section called “Visual Inspection of Tilework.” This will be extremely helpful for the industry. It recognizes the hand-build aspect of tile installations, references substrate requirements, lippage, allowable warpage, effects of lighting and many more factors that affect the installation visual and aesthetic appearance of the finished tilework. It also gives guidance on viewing distance and lighting when finish tilework is being inspected.
EJ171 movement joint guidelines

Another accomplishment, with substantial consultation from Crossville’s technical staff Noah Chitty and Tim Bolby, was major additions to EJ171 MOVEMENT JOINT GUIDELINES. Most notable changes are recommendations in movement joint width and depth. The additions give a chart for minimum movement joint widths (for dry interior, not exposed to sun) in relation to joint frequency and tile thermal expansion properties, along with reference to the proper ASTM guides for calculating the joint.

Another addition to this section is a new sub-section called “Wall Tile Movement Joints in Framed Wall Assemblies” (with substantial consultation with Tony Fuller of National Gypsum) which gives the design professional awareness that wall movement joints are unique and require consideration of other wall components such as sheathing, framing and backer board before the wall is constructed – and that such considerations many times cannot be retroactively added.

Members of the NTCA Methods and Standards committee, representatives from Crossville, National Gypsum MAPEI, TEC and Bostik, and the TCNA staff all assisted with the states submissions described in the article.

Members of the NTCA Methods and Standards committee, representatives from Crossville, National Gypsum MAPEI, TEC and Bostik, and the TCNA staff all assisted with the states submissions described in the article.

Lighting and tile installations

Many of us are familiar with the effects lighting has on an installation. A substantial new Lighting and Tile Installations section has been added to give importance to this issue which can lead to much heartache for all involved. The majority of the added language was taken from the NTCA Reference Manual, so for many of you this will look familiar.

Mortar and mortar coverage

There was also language added to the MORTAR AND MORTAR COVERAGE section noting 100% mortar coverage is not practical. Many specifications call for 100% mortar coverage but this cannot be consistently attained and therefore it should not be specified.

It has been well-established that mortar cure times are extended when impervious tile is installed over waterproof or crack-isolation membrane. To alert design professionals of this situation, language has been added to the SETTING MATERIAL SELECTION GUIDE. Other conditions that will also delay cure times are narrow grout joints and using high-performance grouts. Recommendations of extending turnover of the floor to traffic are given.

Membrane selection guide

Other language added pertaining to membranes is in the MEMBRANE SELECTION GUIDE. A new sub-subsection called “Considerations When Using Membranes” that not only references the above-noted extended cure times for mortars, but also the fact that the hollow sound of tile installed over membranes is normal and not indicative of loss of bond (without concomitant installation issues).

Substrate requirements

The last submission involved the continued discussion of the disparity between division 3 and division 9 floor flatness. The section on SUBSTRATE REQUIREMENTS gives many references to this. The language we submitted further clarifies this difference. One of the key points to note is when division 3 floor flatness (FF) levels are specified, the floor must be verified to assure the specified levels are attained. This may seem implied, but many times this test is not performed. Therefore it quickly becomes a source of tension for projects when it’s required to correct the floor to division 9 specifications, and the tile contractor requests to be compensated for the work. This also leads to another important addition to this section: recommendations for the design professional to incorporate a separate allowance to correct the floor flatness from division 3 to division 9 specifications.

As chairman of the Methods and Standards Committee, I want to thank its members, the gentlemen from Crossville and National Gypsum mentioned above, representatives from MAPEI, TEC and Bostik, and the TCNA staff for helping us with these submissions.

Our next meeting with be October 22 at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa in Indian Wells, Calif., during Total Solutions Plus, October 22-25. If you have topics you feel would be appropriate for this committee to consider, you are welcome to contact me at [email protected].

Showers Systems – TECH 2015

showersystemsShower systems are streamlining the installation of showers and steam showers with a range of developments such as: curbless/barrier-free systems for accessibility, flexibility and style; pre-formed components for speed of installation and shower integrity; fool-proof waterproofing and aesthetic advances like linear and wall drains.

For instance, Fin Pan’s Jeff Ketterer pointed out that many shower designs now offer curb…less appeal! “Many homeowners are choosing to remove the bathtub and replace it with walk-in showers that create a spa-like atmosphere. The entrance in a curbless shower is flat and flush with the bathroom floor, leaving a smooth transition into and out of the shower. The combination of style and accessibility provides greater value to a bathroom.”

While a fashion statement, curbless showers also offer practical advantages for disabled or aging populations. Ketterer said that according to the Administration on Aging, “For the next 18 years, baby-boomers will be turning 65 at a rate of 10,000 per day. Of these, 79% report the ability to age-in-place and live independently as their main concern.” The availability of “new and innovative curbless shower systems that require no structural modifications to the floor joists as was required in the past can meet everyone’s needs by offering style, accessibility and unlimited design options at every stage of life,” Ketterer said.

Following are a sampling of technological directions in shower systems for contractors to consider.  – Lesley Goddin

 

finpan-logoLisa Shaffer, president
Fin Pan
www.finpan.com

Barrier-free showers are continuing as not only a trend for an aging population but a fashion statement and design element. Having the ability to build a barrier-free shower in any configuration is most popular. The marriage of traditional methods and new technology continues its push into the market. This is being driven by the building code that recently reiterated that joists are not to be modified more than 1/4” unless a structural engineer is consulted. A contractor assumes the structural liability if they compromise the joist structure without engineering consultation. In many homes that were built with engineered joists in the 2000s, the addition of a barrier-free shower or even traditional mud pan was prohibited by the engineered joist. New methods have made installation of shower products possible in engineered joist construction.

tec-logoTom Plaskota,
technical support manager
H.B. Fuller Construction Products
www.tecspecialty.com

Luxurious bathrooms have been a residential trend, but now owners of larger multi-unit buildings are also demanding custom-looking showers. Spa-like bathrooms have recently become more prominent in institutional, healthcare, resort, spa and pool facilities. Owners of commercial and residential spaces rely on the contractor to help them create these spa-like sanctuaries. These rooms have to blend form and function, combining a shower’s necessary utility with the look and feel of a spa.

However, in order to keep profits up, contractors need to work efficiently – particularly on multi-unit jobs. Preformed products – like niches, shower seats and curbs – help contractors meet the demands of this design trend.

Preformed components are consistent and easy to install – great for fast multi-unit installations. Look for preformed components that integrate seamlessly with existing surface prep solutions, mortar, tile and grout. For protection against mold and mildew, choose a product that comes coated with an IAPMO- approved, waterproof membrane that meets ANSI A118.10. Preformed components are a great way for tile installers to add a design element that fits with today’s building trends.

laticreteSean Boyle,
director Marketing & Product Management
LATICRETE
www.laticrete.com

Barrier-free shower installations are gaining popularity for their clean-looking tile lines and zero-entry profiles. In order to properly execute these installations without the benefit of a traditional curb placed at the shower entry, high-tech installation materials and drains can be used.

Possibly the best current installation methods/options for barrier-free shower applications are the Tile Council of North America’s (TCNA) B-422-14 method or a modified version of B-415-14. This installation method provides a complete waterproof connection between the waterproofing membrane and the drain placed at the surface of the tile installation – which minimizes the height of the overall installation. Therefore, there is no need for the full, bulky 1-1/4” to 2” (31mm to 50mm) thick mortar bed and curb that are required in traditional shower pan installations.

This barrier-free installation type places the waterproofing membrane underneath the tile or stone finish versus the bottom of the mortar bed in traditional shower-pan applications. These methods allow water to shed right at the surface through an integrated bonding flange type drain system or a linear drain with a bonding lip, which receives the waterproofing membrane.

The slope in the shower assembly can be started from a much lower profile while still maintaining a 1/4” per foot (6mm per 300mm) slope. These assemblies provide a dramatic improvement when compared to the traditional, bulky, thick-bed mortar installation systems.

noble-logoRichard Maurer,
director of marketing
Noble Company
www.noblecompany.com

In response to a rapidly escalating growth in demand, several companies have introduced linear drains. These drains have been popular in Europe for years because they complement contemporary and barrier-free designs. The single slope created with a linear drain allows for the use of large format tiles that are ideal for contemporary, barrier-free showers favored by designers.

A number of linear drains are available. Some are systems that include waterproofing membranes. Other manufacturers offer only the drain and suggest options for waterproofing.

Things you should consider when selecting a drain include:

  • Does the drain meet code requirements (not all do?)
  • Does it assure a secure, watertight connection between the waterproofing membrane and the drain?
  • Does it offer the aesthetics desired? Because in the end, the strainer is all you will see.

quickdrain-logoJosef Erlebach,
vice president Tech Support
Quick Drain USA
www.quickdrainusa.com

The trends in our sector of the industry are very simple and clear:

1. Curbless showers mean true zero entry

2. Linear drains spanning the full width of the shower without dead spots on the ends of the drains

3. Use of single-pitch shower pans made of 100% recycled materials

4. Integration with shower-pan accessories and waterproofing for speed and ease of installation.

5. A new trend is moving the drain into the wall instead of floor.

CONTRACTOR PERSPECTIVE: 

SHOWER SYSTEM

owenShower systems/drain systems seem to be popular with architects in hotels now and I imagine the trend will continue to grow. These shower systems come complete with pre-sloped shower pans, pre-formed curbs, waterproofing membrane, corners, seam rolls, etc.  

These are now being specified because they are a more efficient/effective method than the traditional way that entailed building the curb out of bricks, etc. However, it’s still necessary to have skilled tradespeople who have been trained to install these systems. Problems can still occur and skilled tradespeople best know how to address them. 

For example, the assumption is that since you simply install the pre-slope onto the substrate, and because the pre-slope already has a pitch of 1/8” per foot to the drain, you will have guaranteed drainage, no worries.  Well, there could be a worry if the slab the installer was given is out of level 1/4” per foot in the opposite direction of the drain and this is not addressed. Due to field imperfections like this, there will always be the need for a trained craftsperson to do the install. Skilled tile craftspeople have the necessary experience and knowledge, and know what to look for and how to deal with circumstances like this.

Rod Owen
C.C. Owen Tile Company, Inc.
Jonesboro, Ga.
www.ccowentile.com

finpan-showerFin Pan, Inc., manufacturer of tile backer boards and PreFormed® ready-to-tile products, has recently introduced the ClearPath® Curbless Shower Pan System. ClearPath is an innovative way to construct a barrier-free shower pan that requires no structural modifications to the existing floor joists. It’s ideal for remodeling and new construction and affords homeowners near limitless design options. The foundation of ClearPath starts with the ClearPath Drain Plate and TI-ProBoard®. The drain plate comes with integrated drain assembly, waterproofing mat and is pre-pitched for proper sloping.TI-ProBoard is a composite structural underlayment that offers the ability to install ClearPath directly on top of the floor joists. ClearPath is available in four shower kits and includes drain plate, TI-ProBoard, perimeter edge protector, fasteners and CP waterproofing membrane. When used in conjunction with Util-A-Crete® or ProTEC® Cement Backer Board or ProPanel® Lightweight Waterproof Backer Board, Fin Pan offers a Lifetime Limited Warranty. www.finpan.com.

laticrete-showerLATICRETE HYDRO BAN® Barrier Free Shower System Products provide a wide array of options to help you design and construct a barrier-free shower. The Linear Drains and Bonding Flange Drains can be installed with 3701 Fortified Mortar to form a gentle slope into the shower for a safe, easy access or use the Pre-Sloped Shower Pan and Ramp combination to save time and money. The Linear Drain and Linear Pre-Sloped Shower Pan combination can be installed with the drain at the shower entry or the far wall, over the current substrate or recessed substrate to form a shower utilizing large format tile and stone. HYDRO BAN Barrier Free Shower System Products offer

  • Barrier-free shower options
  • Bonding flange or linear drains
  • Pre-Sloped Shower Pans, Ramp, waterproof and ready to tile
  • Installation over substrate or recessed floor
  • Designed for safety, comfort, and easy access

www.laticrete.com

marke-showerMark E. Industries offers the GOOF PROOF SHOWER SEAT, a heavy-duty, stay-in-place, molded plastic form that is easily installed, and can be tiled the same day. The Shower Seat is a standard 30″ wide, and has guide marks on the top surface to make it easy to trim the seat to 24″ wide. The front face has a 3/16″ wide tile support ledge for easier tile alignment and full tile support. Two level vials are supplied to indicate the proper minimum water drainage slope of 1/4″ per 12″ run. Capacity is 400 lbs. Screws, anchors and shims (to adjust for out-of-square walls, if necessary) and illustrated installation instructions are included. Weighs 7-1/2 lbs. www.goofproofshowers.com

nac-showerNAC Products offers the Extreme Bathroom System. This system provides a variety of bathroom installation options that bring NAC waterproofing and sound-control membrane systems together for surfaces that require waterproofing with impact and audible sound reduction. Drawings showcasing the systems can be accessed at www.nacproducts.com, under the Technical pull-down tab; select Membrane System Images. Six images show different system options including, SAM® 3, Super SAM® 125, Strataflex and ECB® membranes combining with SubSeal® Liquid. In addition, there is a drawing of the Extreme Deck Waterproofing System (The drawings are not instructions on how to install the system, but a visual representation of the products involved for various membrane system options for bathrooms). An added benefit of the Extreme Bathroom System, is that the NAC sheet membranes also provide up to 3/8” crack isolation protection. www.nacproducts.com

noble-showerNoble Company offers the FreeStyle Linear Drain™, which provides a highly secure drain and waterproofing combination. A clamping collar connects NobleSeal waterproofing membrane to the drain and the waste pipe is solvent-welded into the drain. FreeStyle Linear Drains have an internal slope making installation easier. There is no shimming or leveling required. FreeStyle Linear Drains are listed for shower waterproofing by national plumbing code authorities. A low-profile and high drainage capacity (36 GPM) make FreeStyle ideal for barrier-free applications. Install FreeStyle at the wall, the exit, or wherever the design requires. Available in seven widths from 24” to 60” with brushed stainless or tile-top strainers.

noble2-showerNoble also introduced ValueSeal in March 2015. It’s made from PE and only 16 mils thick. ValueSeal is easy to crease and form. It is bonded and seamed with latex-modified thin-set. Available in 6’ wide sheets to minimize seams or 3’ widths as well, ValueSeal is also translucent so bonding and seaming coverage can be visually confirmed. Noble is a quality leader for decades, with quality products and support. FreeStyle Linear Drains and ValueSeal are all made in the USA. www.noblecompany.com

quickdrain-showerQuick Drain USA has introduced a brand new concept in the evolution of shower drains: the elegant WallDrain system that takes the idea of linear drains to a logical conclusion -– no drain in the shower floor at all! This allows sloping of the whole shower pan in one direction to eliminate any grates and covers to step on or clean. This simple idea is mostly used in wet rooms and curbless showers. The system has full height, depth and length adjustability built in for ease of installation and perfect look every time.

www.quickdrainusa.com

usg-showerUSG Durock™ Brand Shower System is a fully bonded waterproofing system for tiled shower installations designed to control moisture independently of the tile covering, while creating a solid base for a long-lasting shower. Ideal for both new construction and repair or remodel projects, the USG Durock Brand Shower System is highly adaptable to job-site conditions, is barrier-free and offers a huge selection of grate options and superior grate finishes. The USG DurockBrand Shower System comes with the option of installing a custom tray program, which allows for a limitless number of shower configurations by using optional benches and niches that deliver added flexibility for a fully custom shower. This custom tray program is exclusive to USG. www.usg.com

wedi-showerwedi recently launched the lightweight, waterproof XPS foam core Fundo Ligno shower system for easy curbless and floor-even shower floor installations without structural complications. The 3/4” thin-profile, sloped shower floor system with waterproof XPS foam core and a cement-based surface is ready to tile, providing a fast and flush curbless installation into a subfloor assembly without cutting into floor joists. Installation is easy and strong because you maintain the structural subfloor panels installed between floor joists under the shower system. These new systems are designed to interlock and work with other XPS underlayment products: building panels, seats and benches, niches and many more accessories that complete the shower installation and waterproofing system. These installations are fast, modular, clean and customizable. www.wedi.com

Tools and accessories – TECH 2015

tools_accessoriesEvery contractor knows that it would be nearly impossible to complete a successful tile or stone installation without the right tools and accessories. And sometimes just the right gadget spells the difference between a burdensome chore and a job that’s a breeze. This is such a wide category that it’s hard to specify a single trend, so we simply presented a range of new products for you to peruse on the following pages.  – Lesley Goddin

CONTRACTOR PERSPECTIVE:
TUNING SYSTEMS

donmoyer_headshotTuning or lippage-control systems are huge in this day and age, with the flood of large-format tiles and thin tiles on the market. The main issue with the large-format tile is bowing or warpage that occurs in the tile body as it is fired. Normally this warpage occurs in the center of the tile. 

We have the wood-like porcelain tiles going in everywhere, floors, walls, etc. Some are flat, most are not. The only way to combat this warping in the tile is to use a tuning system. Even if a floor is perfectly flat with mud, using warped tiles on the floor in an offset pattern will cause undesirable lippage. Normally, from what we have seen, many people have no clue what lippage is until they have it in their installation. So sometimes we incorporate this system into the installation whether the customer wants to pay for it or not. Using the Mechanical Lippage Tuning (MLT) system on my dime vs. tearing out the whole installation is sometimes the choice we have to make as installers. Large-format tiles in this industry have caused us installers a lot of headaches. The tuning systems are a tool you need to have in your arsenal to be successful in this industry.  

Mick Volponi was the man to see the need for such a system. He invented the Tuscan Leveling System (TLS), which is now owned by Pearl Abrasives. While still part owner of the TLS, he went on to invent the MLT. The systems help tune the tiles at the joints – it’s a misconception to think they level them. Some systems use a gun to tighten and remove the straps and some use wedges. In all other aspects of tile installation, there are many choices. 

I had an installation recently where we put in 500 sq. ft. of 20” tile, 1/2” thick. Due to the settling of the floor, there was some lippage that was within industry standard. The problem was that the tile had a sharp edge and the customer kept dragging her bare feet across the joints. Plus the grout was not flush to the top of the joint, so the customer was not happy. We are in the business of making customers happy, so we tore out 80% of the installation down to the subfloor, and put in the same tile with the MLT. It eliminated the lippage and did not allow the tiles to sink.  

I think of Mick Volponi as a great innovator in the tile industry. As a tile setter he saw the need for such a product and even improved the one he invented. This tool makes it possible to install large-format tiles without lippage.  

Jon Donmoyer
JD Tile, Annville, Pa.
www.jondontile.com

TA-armalyArmaly ProPlus HD Series Polyester Sponges are made with polyester resin. They are formulated to work like a natural ocean sponge, and are extremely strong and durable. All Armaly ProPlus HD sponges are reticulated, a post-production process that removes the cell windows to allow the sponges to wipe up dirt, paste, and dust and then rinse clean. Armaly ProPlus HD sponges won’t streak, color bleed or shred. They hold up when used with harsh chemicals like TSP, solvents or chlorinated cleansers. Armaly ProPlus HD sponges are designed for functionality: wiping cleaner; rising faster; for long-lasting performance. Armaly ProPlus sponges help put the finishing touch on any tiling job. www.ArmalyBrands.com

Barracuda Brackets offer the Toilet Flange Tile Guide, a square guide that fits aroTA_barracudaund the flange, working as a debris barrier that protects the sewer. The square Guide is cemented around the flange leaving no gaps, forming a physical bond between the Guide, flange and the subfloor or moisture barrier. The Guide allows the tile installer to make straight cuts and butt the tiles right up to Guide/flange. This is an improvement from having a gap at the edge of the toilet flange from inaccurate nipping or grinding tile radii. It works with all flanges, all types of tile sizes and thicknesses and all toilets, eliminating the need to repair bath floors from rotting wood around the flange. https://barracudabrackets.com/toilet-flange-tile-guide

TA-bellotaBellota POP series manual tile cutters are the ideal tool for cutting ceramic and mosaic glass tiles efficiently with maximum precision. Durable, yet light-weight construction makes it easy to transport and use at the job site. A wide reinforced cast-aluminum base provides added rigidity and stability. Solid-steel, chrome-plated rail bars deliver smooth scoring. Bellota’s patented, universal forged steel scoring wheels are made of high-quality tungsten carbide for maximum strength and durability. They last up to 25% longer than standard wheels and are designed to fit on other makes of tile cutters. The POP’s heavy-duty breaking system breaks ceramic and glass tiles easily with exceptionally clean cuts and keeps the mesh backing on glass tiles intact for quick installations. POP cutters feature a three-year warranty and are available in 21” and 25” cutting capacities. www.bellota.com

TA-slipgripFloor Safety Enterprises offers the Slip Grip Floor Safety product line. This line offers a full-service certified ANSI program for making commercial public floors safe with nearly imperceptible change to surface aesthetics. This is especially important for architects and business owner clients who aim to bring floors up to and exceed the new .42 DCOF reading for ANSI 137.1 Floor Safety Standard. Slip Grip also provides up-to-date information on ANSI and DCOF standards for tile and stone safety, measured with the state-of-the-art BOT 3000E Tribometer. www.slipgrip.com

 

TA-lackmondLackmond Stone offers the new Lackmond PRO Series Bridge Saw Blade. Diamond pattern technology continues to evolve and Lackmond’s new PRO Series Bridge saw blade is manufactured using the latest in diamond pattern technology, where the diamonds are arranged in a specific order resulting in consistent wear and cutting. Lackmond’s PRO Series Bridge Saw Blade is designed to be used on granite, marble, engineered stone and other natural stone. It is equipped with tall 26mm segments, which allows for increased life, even in the most demanding stone applications. Lackmond’s Pro Series Bridge Saw Blades are available in 12” – 18” and are ideal for use on 15+ HP saws. www.lackmondstone.com

TA-MLTMechanical Lippage Tuning System is the industry’s newest, most innovative and economical tool to improve your tile installations. MLTS is a NO WASTE mechanical edge leveling system comprised of a reusable tensioning cap, a connecting strap with stainless steel insert and a material-specific bottom plate. MLTS aids the installer by “clamping” the tiles in place, allowing for near-perfect edge alignment. A key feature of the MLT System is that the cap can be easily disengaged, allowing the installer to have complete control. The system is fully compatible with thin porcelain tile, conventional thickness materials including porcelain and stone, as well as planks, slabs and ungauged tiles. MLT System will save time and eliminate costly callbacks for unsightly lippage. MLT System is endorsed by many well-respected manufacturers. http://www.midamericatile.com/products/tile-installation-maintenance.htm; view a demonstration at www.youtube.com/watch?v=20dvZqLxH1E.

TA_RTCRTC Products offers the Hole Shot Dry Series Bits, the latest in dry-cut diamond technology. They are great for all types of hard material such as porcelain, quarry tile, slate, ceramic, marble, travertine and granite. Tested to provide up to 30 holes per bit with no water, the vacuum-brazed diamond allows for dry cutting when water is limited or not an option. Bits should be used with a standard handheld drill (800-2500 RPM).

Kit includes:

  • (2) 1/4” Dry bit
  • (1) 5/16” Dry bit
  • (1) 3/8” Dry bit
  • (1) 1/2” Dry bit
  • (1) Hole Shot Dry Series Drill Guide Case

Replacement bits and drill guides also available individually. www.rtcproducts.com

TA_stabilaStabila introduces new levels, designed for today’s construction needs. Two-foot and four-foot levels reflect the residential applications from the ‘60s and ‘70s. Modern residential construction requires new sizes of levels for proper tub-surround installations. The long wall requires a 58” level, the short wall requires 32”. These long levels are now available from Stabila as a pre-packaged Tub and Shower Set, catalog #29532. German-made precision Stabila levels maintain their accuracy for life, and vials will not fog, leak or become inaccurate. If they do, Stabila will replace the level with a brand new one. www.stabila.com

 

Grouts – TECH 2015

groutsAs Curt Rapp, CEO of Tile Doctor said, “Grout. It’s not an afterthought anymore.“ Indeed, it is not, and it is rapidly becoming a high-fashion item designed to not simply fill joints, but to do it in style. Formulations include stain, crack and water-resistance, and some also include antimicrobials – all designed to keep joints looking pristine and beautiful for a long time.

Traditional cement-based grout categories have expanded to include epoxies over the years. Today the big word in grout is “ready-to-use,” which offers many advances in terms of ease of use and application and the ability to save unused portions. When imbued with special particles, grout can take on a translucent or metallic look, transforming from a utilitarian product that comes in a range of colors to one that offers added design dimensions to the finished tile or stone installation.

Peruse the following comments to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to grout and make grout selection easier for your next installation job.

Lesley Goddin

bostik_logoMichelle Swiniarski,
market manager
Ceramic Installation Systems
Bostik
www.bostik-usa.com 

A grout revolution is here. Pre-mixed grouts are on the rise. Many performance levels of pre-mixed grouts are now in the market; therefore it is critical to ensure you choose a grout to match your performance requirements and understand how to properly install it. The more premium the grout, the more it offers the key attributes associated with long-term durability: stain, crack and water resistance. Unlike cement grouts, most pre-mixed grouts are applied in a small area (arm’s length) and cleaned as you go. There is no more waiting for the grout to firm up before you clean. There are design choices to consider as well. Do you prefer the grout joint to look similar to a cement grout? Or would you prefer it to allow light to pass through the joint and into the tile itself, creating a three-dimensional appearance to complement any clear glass tile?  Choosing a pre-mixed grout with a premium binder system can ensure it will offer a lifetime of pleasure.

custom_logoSteve Taylor, director of
Architecture and Technical Marketing
Custom Building Products
www.custombuildingproducts.com

Stain-proof grouts continue to be a meaningful trend in today’s tile installations. The demand for these products is based on a fundamental market need. While designers and homeowners appreciate the dynamic array of tile sizes, shapes and colors available, they don’t like dirty grout joints. This is one factor behind the desire for larger-format tile and for smaller grout joints. Epoxy-based grouts are one solution but tile installers prefer the ease of application of single-component grouts that are color consistent, efflorescence free, require no mixing and never need to be sealed.

mapei_logoDavid Mowery,
business manager for Grouts & Caulks and MAPEI UltraCare Line
www.mapei.com

The movement in tile setting materials, specifically with grouts, is occurring on two fronts. For portland cement powdered grouts, more installers are opting to upgrade their grout selection to a rapid setting, CAC-Calcium Aluminate Cement, which offers higher performance specifications and typically adheres to ANSI A 118.7. Traditional portland cement grouts typically only subscribe to ANSI A 118.6. Given the trend to larger-format tile and gap widths averages in the 3/8” range, less grout is being required per square foot. This allows the installer to justify the price point bump with the higher-performance grout.

The other movement we are seeing in the industry is the use of RTU (ready-to-use) grouts moving out of the DIY arena and into the commercial contractor/installer playing field. What has driven this is the improvement in the overall performance in this grout category. The RTU grout chemistry includes acrylics, urethanes and hybrid versions. When cost is a consideration, and it always is, the product cost of RTU grouts vs. traditional cement grouts is higher. Yet, when you factor in the reduction in labor time for installation and the “no sealing” required advantage, RTU grouts are a bargain.

exrite_logoAlan Kin
sales and technical
Texrite
www.texrite.com

Trending through customer requests and installer usage is the demand for synthetic grouts, commonly called “ready-mixed” grout. Although these types of products existed decades ago, the early versions were basically water-based adhesives with granular aggregate and colorant/pigment to simulate a textured grout. These early versions fell shy of full acceptance due to their overly “sticky” nature, difficulty of application and less-than-full performance equal to or better than cementitious grouts.

With recent polymer science and enhanced industry formulary know-how, tile adhesive and grout manufacturers are able to produce a formulary synthetic ready-mix grout that addresses shortcomings of the earlier-version grouts. The shorter drying times, reduced joint shrinkage, and easier installation clean-up have been moved or adjusted to manageable, realistic and practical installation levels.

Ready-mixed grout installations are not identical to cement grouts in drying and cure times; however, there are some excellent benefits added to today’s “ready-to-use” grouts that were not available in earlier versions and currently are not available in cementitious grout.

Upon installation, benefits of synthetic grouts include a sealed or stain-resistant grout within the mix. More significant is the newer polymer-resin technology, which delivers an elastomeric or flexible characteristic that never existed in previous traditional grout versions.

Its additional benefits include an identical-color or same-color match from a start-and-stop or interrupted/incompleted grout installation.

This means newly-installed grout perfectly matches the color of grout installed previously in the job. Touch-up or repairs no longer look different since cement shading has been taken out of the formula.

The final benefit is the factory mix; no longer is the grout dependent on too little or too much addition of water mixed in by the installer. The grout is ready to use upon opening the container. These types of grout allow resealing of the container and saving of the unused portion for another application.

There has been some hesitation to embrace the newer version /synthetic version of ready-mixed grouts by some individuals and groups in our industry. But, I ask them to look upon their own trials, errors and acceptance and use of business technology for pagers, fax machines, cell phones and now smart phones. Would they would be willing to go back to the older technology? If I were to call the new grout “smart grout,” would you be more likely to realize the potential for this newer type of grout product? It’s not perfect and not without fault but moving forward for better tile and stone installations.

tiledoctor_logoCurt Rapp, CEO
Tile Doctor
www.tiledoctor.com

Grout. It’s not an afterthought anymore.

Today’s chemistries offer unlimited options: some proven, some very new. One thing for sure is that designers and specifiers appreciate options to assist in making their projects unique and help their design, and grout has for so long been that overlooked and underappreciated element in the design process. Now you can get grout that looks like metal or glass that refracts colors from the surrounding glass, sparkle metallic effects, highly chromatic colors and even make your grout glow in the dark. Grout now has color delivered without pigment so there is no shading or discoloration and color that is as durable as the tiles themselves. And grout can be a design option at last with it still being the least costly portion of the tile installation. With today’s performance options grout that used to be the weakest and most problematic part of the tile install now becomes the biggest no-brainer of all. Have you ever met a homeowner who loved their grout? Today it’s entirely possible to turn the tide on the grout issues once and for all.

CONTRACTOR PERSPECTIVE:
GROUT

donmoyer_headshotThe latest and greatest in grouts I have seen is the colorant. You get a bag of white grout and you buy the colorant separately. Many manufacturers who make grout are coming out with it. Once one manufacturer makes it, they all have to in order to compete and competitive.

What’s great about this type of grout is that you can stock the bag of base grout, and then on your trip to a distributor just pick up the small box of colorant. You don’t need to pick up the grout base every time. 

PERMACOLOR® Select by LATICRETE is the one I have used personally. This grout is considered rapid setting, so it is critical not to mix too much at one time or you will never get it in the joint before it hardens. Rapid-setting grouts are good because we can see the final color right away. With traditional grouts like sanded and unsanded grouts that need to be sealed, you won’t see the final  result until it is dry. 

There also has been a landslide of new “premixed” grouts coming out on the market. These are considered one-step. They are ready to be used right out of the bucket. The advantage is no drill needed to mix the grout. I have personally tried many of the premixed grouts but JD Tile has decided to stick with either epoxies or fast-setting grout. I am a big user of LATICRETE SpectraLOCK® epoxy grout, and have been using it in showers for many years with 100% success rate. 

The premixed grouts just don’t measure up to epoxy in quality, and it seems everyone wants something quick. Doing a tile installation is not quick, so why should the grout be easy? One premixed I used was very sandy and very difficult to put in; the other was almost too easy but the clean-up process was a bear. I stopped back two months after this installation with the premixed and I could still see residue on the tile I had missed. Whatever is in these premixed grouts leaves a residue behind that normal grout does not. Sometimes the recommended cleaning solution to remove haze has a very strong smell and in the winter you can’t really open the windows.  

So overall, premixed grouts do have a market. We will stick with epoxy – there is not a better grout. We have mastered using it and are always willing to try new products, but they aren’t game changers for us.

Jon Donmoyer,
JD Tile, Annville, Pa.
www.jondontile.com

 

grouts_bostikBostik, Inc. offers Dimension™ RapidCure™ Glass-Filled, Pre-Mixed, Urethane Grout. This patented, reflective, water-based, urethanegrout contains micro-glass beads and a translucent, urethane binder that both reflect light and allow it to pass through. This adds an illuminating sparkle, creating one-of-a-kind, three-dimensional effects within glass tile installations, as well as tile, natural stone and metal tile projects. Dimension RapidCure offers lifetime stain and superior crack resistance and never needs sealing. It installs up to 50% faster than traditional grouts. High-performing and crack-resistant, it contains Bostik’s Blockade® antimicrobial protection, which inhibits organic growth on the cured grout surface and resists stains caused by mold as well. When used together with Bostik Glass-Mate™ glass tile mortar, it mitigates thermal expansion and contraction inherent to glass tile, reducing cracking in tile and grout due to severe temperature fluctuations. Made of 60% pre-consumer recycled glass, it’s available in 9-lb. and 18-lb pails, in 15 colors. www.bostik-us.com

mortars2_CBPCustom Building Products offers Fusion Pro® Designer Series, a line of eight specialty reflective color accents that extend the creative value of this popular Single Component® grout. The Fusion ProDesigner Series is ideal for kitchen backsplashes and showers when paired with dynamic mosaic glass, porcelain, ceramic or other tiles that could benefit from a special effect. Use it to enhance the decorative beauty of interior or exterior, commercial or residential tile projects. In addition to the aesthetic benefits of Fusion ProDesigner Series, the ready-to-use, professional-grade grout is guaranteed to be stain proof and color perfect without the use of a sealer. The Fusion Pro Designer Series colors include natural and mineral inspired colorations like Smoked Quartz, Starlight, Moonshadow, Ice Crystal, Glitter, Raw Sugar, Starry Night and Gold. www.custombuildingproducts.com

 

grouts_tecH.B. Fuller Construction Products offers new TEC® Skill Set™ DesignColor™ Grout, available at select Lowe’s. This revolutionary grout allows tile contractors to provide customers with more than 100 in-stock grout color choice options using 12.5-lb. bags of universal grout base paired with interchangeable and unique color mixes. This innovative approach reduces inventory and simplifies the process of finishing any residential or commercial tiling project. Users simply pair each 12.5-lb. plastic bag of DesignColor Grout universal grout base with two individually packaged color mix cups to create the grout color. Then, the grout components can be mixed with Grout Boost® grout additive – no measuring required – to create a stain proof grout. Contractors can buy the grout base bags in bulk and keep them on hand for multiple jobs, and then encourage individual clients to visit select Lowe’s to pick out their color mixes themselves. TEC Skill Set DesignColor Grout is a universal formula that can be used on both floors and walls, sanded and unsanded applications. It meets performance requirements of both residential and commercial environments. When mixed with Grout Boost, DesignColor Grout can be used in exterior applications and in wet areas, like showers and pools. www.hbfuller-cp.com.

grouts-latLATICRETE offers PLASMA™ grout, a professional-grade, ready-to-use and crack-resistant grout that does not require sealing. PLASMA provides unmatched early strength development, easy workability and inhibits the growth of stain-causing mold and mildew in grout joints. Cleanable to its original color, PLASMA is ideal for use in most grout joint applications between 1/16” to 1/2” (1.6 – 13 mm) wide including: ceramic tile, glass tile and stone applications; residential and commercial floors and walls; and interior and exterior installations. It is superior for re-grouting applications and offers a non-sag formula for walls and floors. www.laticrete.com

 

grouts-texriteTexrite’s Chromaflex is an advanced, ready-to-use resin-based grout. It is stain resistant and self sealed with no additional sealing required. The new grout technology achieves crack-resistant and flexible properties to minor movement. The grout has unparalleled hydrophobic properties that repel stains and water. Color matching every time on new installations or repairs are featured grout traits. This no-efflorescence grout is based on a cement-free product. It was designed with easy, water clean-up and “grout & go” features, packaged as a ready-mixed grout. Leftover grout can stay in the bucket and be used on the next job. Chromaflex grout is able to grout narrow to wide joints from 1/16” – 1/2” (2-13mm) on vertical and horizontal surfaces. www.texrite.com

 

grouts-tiledoctorTile Doctor offers STAINMASTER® Grout, which solves every issue with grout performance. It’s stain proof, and uses no pigment, so it will not shade and there are no dye lots of which to keep track. Easy to install and high fashion, STAINMASTER Grout, where grout finally catches up with design. STAINMASTER Grout can be used as an adhesive (for thin mosaic tiles) as well as a grout. You can also treat it like a high-fashion wall finish since it’s trowelable. Easy to use and endlessly versatile, STAINMASTER Grout is a one-stop, go-to grout for all your grouting needs. www.tiledoctor.com

Mortars – TECH 2015

mortarsThe biggest thing – literally – in our industry these days is large thin tiles. This technology is ramping up, and its possibilities are endless.

But to support these large thin tiles, proper coverage is absolutely essential. Development of large-and-heavy-tile mortar to replace the misnamed “medium-bed mortar” and ongoing refinements of these products are keeping pace with the refinements of the finishing products themselves. If you’re working with large-format and thin porcelain tiles, be sure to acquaint yourself with these new mortar developments, presented below.  – Lesley Goddin

ardex_logoMark Pennine,
ARDEX Technical manager,
Tile and Stone
www.ardexamericas.com

While they have been popular in Europe for several years, the North American tile industry has embraced the mounting popularity of very large, thin tile installations. Setting material manufacturers have had to develop mortars with advanced technologies such as long open time, great sag resistance, higher flexibility and longer pot life. The development of proper substrate preparation materials for walls and floors is also paramount for the success of very large and thin tile panels. High-flow self-leveling products that produce supremely flat floors are a necessity for floor applications. Wall and floor smoothing and screeding mortars with rapid drying properties produce plumb, flat walls and level floors keeping installations on schedule.

custom_logoSteve Taylor, director of
Architecture and Technical Marketing
Custom Building Products
www.custombuildingproducts.com

With the ever increasing size of field tile, traditional mortars simply won’t do. These large and heavy tiles require the use of a modified dry-set mortar that can support the increased weight. From wood-look planks to 15” or more tile options, a large format tile mortar must be selected to minimize lippage and maintain a smooth, level tile installation. Tile contractors, design professionals and end users should always discuss the available options and the aesthetic as well as the durability implications of mortar selection on the overall project.

laticreteSean Boyle, director
Marketing & Product Management
LATICRETE
www.laticrete.com

Maximum or 100% coverage is typically required for reduced-thickness porcelain tiles. A high-performance, latex-fortified portland cement thin-set or medium-bed mortar can be used. Using the appropriate specialty notched trowel along with proper troweling techniques and back-buttering will make achieving complete coverage easier. Mechanical edge-leveling systems can help to reduce lippage at the edges and corners. Finally, always remember to follow standard industry guidelines for movement joints.

mapei_logoBrian Pistulka
MAPEI business manager
for Tile & Stone Installations
www.mapei.com

Thin tile and large thin porcelain tiles are trending in the tile and stone industry, resulting in technology innovation from leading installation manufacturers.

As the thin tile market grows with more manufacturers offering products and promoting to the market, there is a growing wave of designers, architects, distributors and contractors seeing an impact upon their business. Now from an installation perspective the trend is significant – contractors are challenged to learn new methods, procedures and team-working concepts to run such jobs.

As more contractors and manufacturers have gained exposure to the thin tile business, additional challenges have been identified to improve productivity and save labor efforts when working with larger units, while improving installation products to address challenges unique to large thin porcelain tiles.

Some of these challenges are the need for easier- to-spread mortars, mortars that provide better wet-out transfer properties, mortars with lower water demands, lighter-weight mortars, mortars with longer open or working times, and mortars with more flexibility .

exrite_logoAlan Kin
sales and technical
Texrite
www.texrite.com

The increased selection of larger-format tile sizes greater than 15” tiles and larger will create a shift in bonding mortar selection to “large-and-heavy-tile” LHT mortars. The increase in dimensional length of these tiles as plank, larger-format and thin porcelain tiles requires more mortar depth underneath them and the substrate.

Both the customer and installer want the most visually-flat tile installation, so they need to be aware of what truly changed about their jobsite/installation. Those changes lie beneath the tile and substrate as:

  • Increases in weight of individual tile units
  • Increased surface variation that the bonding mortars have to fill between the tile and substrate (typically 1/4” to 1/2” and up to 3/4” in setting thickness)
  • The critical ability to reduce “tile edge to tile edge” lippage

The LHT mortars (formerly referred as medium-bed mortars) have been formulated to withstand movement of heavier weighted tile while in the soft-paste state of installation. The products have an increased “grab” or surface tackiness for larger-format tiles. One of the most important characteristics of these mortars is shrinkage compensation that remains more volume true and resists shrinkage upon full hydration and cure. Lippage on horizontal application and non-sag movement of vertical application properties are available from the mortar manufacturers.

As large tile (≥ 15” and/or plank tile) become requested, LHT mortars will be needed to properly set/bond these types of tiles. Although there is no direct ANSI Installation LHT mortars method to reference, the mortar manufacturers have had the foresight to have the product developed and bagged suitable for these installations.

Other resources from the mortar manufacturers would include leveling/re-surfacer products to flatten the surface or re-direct slope with cementitious underlayments. Large and heavy tiles need to be installed with these types of LHT mortars. The emergence and popularity of porcelain tiles within recent history have spurred the development and use of latex-polymer “thinset” mortars. Our industry can now expect the selection and usage of LHT mortars to become a more common part of the installation resources that were once reserved for large commercial jobsites. Now, LHT mortars will become common for both commercial and residential use in the marketplace.

tiledoctor_logoCurt Rapp, CEO
Tile Doctor
www.tiledoctor.com

I have toured thin tile plants, from the very first – even before the outside façade was finished on their building – to one of the newest lines just a few weeks back.

We have seen many advancements in the thin tile manufacturing process and the products coming out of the lines. The rapid interest gaining traction really feels more like an explosion to me, and the possibilities are certainly staggering for us as an industry to grow our business.

In the absence of a published standard anywhere in the world for the installation of these tiles, the questions also are as staggering as the opportunities. For certain, on a tile that can cost up to 5 to 6 times a traditional tile, the need for high-quality adhesives is a must, and this is the last place you should consider skimping. Adhesives should set up properly and bond well to large-unit porcelain tile slabs. We have so much at stake. The acceptance of this product in the market and using the proper installation products can set the destiny in motion for success or failure long-term. What we do not need is to have failures as we grow and discover the possibilities for this product’s use. Adhesives with the ability to set up under larger-format tiles without any requirement for drying – what we call Reaction Adhesives – bond with great strength and set up because of their chemistry regardless of temperature, humidity and many other factors that could be adverse to the installation and the jobsite conditions.

If you had a blank slate to write out what the optimal adhesive properties would be for all thin tile installations, you’d probably ask for the following: suitable for exterior and extreme conditions; non-sag; high bond strength; waterproof; chemical-resistant; some flexural properties; a predictable setting time; suitable for many, if not all, substrates; and one that provides an installation process that is predictable for installers.

 

mortars_CBPCustom Building Products has created VersaBond®-LFT for large-format tile as a complementary product to VersaBond, CUSTOM’s popular everyday thin-set mortar. VersaBond-LFT is designed for use in most standard large-format tile floor installations with porcelain, ceramic or natural stone 15” or greater on any side. The product’s non-slump formula can be used as a thin-set or medium-bed (dry-set) mortar up to 3/4” on floors, and it bonds well to concrete, cement backerboards such as WonderBoard® Lite, as well as plywood. VersaBond-LFT, which meets the requirements of ANSI A118.4 and A118.11, is available in white and gray.
www.custombuildingproducts.com

mortars_latLATICRETE LHT™ is a polymer-modified large-and-heavy tile mortar specifically formulated to provide a one-step installation for large-format ceramic tile, porcelain tile, marble and stone on floors. LHT features excellent adhesion with a superior bond that meets the demands of challenging installations involving large and/or heavy tile. LHT offers multiple utility with excellent medium bed/large heavy tile performance, and can be applied 3/4” (19 mm) thick without shrinkage. The smooth and creamy consistency of this easy-to-trowel mortar assures proper coverage on both the substrate and the tile or stone. Perfect for interior and exterior floor installations, LHT meets or exceeds the ANSI A118.1 and ANSI A118.4 standards. Available in grey and white, LHT is suitable for use over many substrates. www.laticrete.com.

mortars_merkreteMerkrete offers large-tile setting solutions for both walls and floors, supporting the development of larger size tiles that emulate wood or natural stone. Merkrete has answered this trend in eXtra Large Floor tiles with its 855 XXL and 856 XLF thin-set mortars. Merkrete has been one of the first to offer these solutions so the research and quality has been there for years. 855 XXL has unique properties and can be used as a thin-set or a large-and-heavy tile setting adhesive for installing large-format, ceramic, porcelain and irregular thickness stone without the need of back buttering the tile. 856 XLF has exceptional fluid properties which make it an ideal adhesive for installing standard to ultra-thin, extra-large tile and stone over a variety of substrates including tile-over-tile applications. www.merkrete.com

mortars_texriteTexrite has developed four different options to choose from when installing large-and-heavy tiles. As tile and stone gets bigger and heavier, installers need different solutions to reduce the chance of lippage and ensure greater mortar contact. Texrite has developed a new line of large-and-heavy tile (LHT) mortars to help you with every kind of large-format tile and stone installation. Whether it’s a red body tile, porcelain or heavy stone and regardless of the surface on which you need to install it, Texrite has a product to make sure it is rite! www.texrite.com

mortars_tiledoctorTile Doctor offers Litoelastic adhesive, a two-component reactive multi-purpose adhesive suitable for indoor and outdoor applications on floors and walls even in severe usage conditions such as swimming pools, heavily trafficked floors and tiles exposed to high temperature fluctuations. It’s suitable for bonding various materials even on non-traditional substrates such as metal, fiberglass, PVC, and linoleum and is perfect for all types of ceramic tiles, thin porcelain slabs with and without reinforcement, glass and ceramic mosaics. With high elasticity and excellent water resistance, Litoelastic is suitable for simultaneous waterproofing and laying ceramic tiles or mosaics in shower stalls or wet interior environments. It can be used with natural stones, even unstable ones such as green marble and slate, and has a very low emission of volatile organic compounds. www.tiledoctor.com

mortars_tileshopThe Tile Shop introduces a new large-format tile (LFT) thinset as part of its Superior Adhesives and Chemicals private label brand. Pro Bed thinset can hold a 3/4” rake, and helps the installer level a larger tile on planes that are not always completely flat. www.tileshop.com

 

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