Should you tile to the walls or leave a small space?

When installing floor tiles, should you tile to the walls or leave a small space for movement and flexibility?

To answer your question about whether to leave a space where a floor meets a wall – Yes! A gap of approximately 1/4” should be left at all changes in plane (for instance where a floor meets a wall) around the perimeter of the installation. This gap should be present in the underlayment and tile. If no trim will be installed to cover the gap, a “soft joint” can be made with appropriate sealant, or certain trim profiles can be installed to accommodate movement and expansion. This gap should also be left where tile abuts cabinetry, pipes or other permanent fixtures. Any other change in plane such as where a wall meets another wall must also have a soft joint installed to allow for movement and expansion. Also, expansion joints must be properly placed and installed in the tile field depending on the location and size of the installation. Additionally, control joints and saw cut joints in concrete must be honored through the surface of the tile to avoid future cracks in the finished installation. These specifications and the many, many other details related to a successful tile installation can be handled by your qualified contractor and certified labor.


In Memoriam: Kenneth Williams

kenwilliamsKenneth Williams, past president of STCA, predecessor of NTCA

February 11, 1925 – June 10, 2016

Kenneth Williams passed away June 10, 2016, in a hospice facility near Atlanta, Ga. He was born February 11, 1925, in Atlanta, and attended Boys High and the Darlington School (Rome, Ga). He was a World War II veteran, serving in the Army Air Corps. Upon returning from the war, he went to the University of Georgia and graduated in just 2-1/2 years!

In 1950, he and his college roommate, Whit Sweetin, formed Williams Tile and Terrazzo, which survives today as Williams Tile and Marble. He served as a trustee on the Bricklayers #8 Board, director of the Atlanta Builders Exchange, director of TCAA, and president of the Georgia Tile and Terrazzo Contractors Association. In addition, he was president of the Southern Tile Contractors Association, the predecessor of NTCA.

Joe Tarver, NTCA executive director emeritus, recalled, “The association was a small 13-southern-states regional group at the time of Ken’s presidency, going through some tough times financially and growth-wise. Ken’s contributions, before, during, and after his presidency helped immensely in keeping the association afloat. Ken was a consummate professional in every respect during a period when that was not always the case. His appearance, speaking ability, business acumen, and organizational skills helped control a struggling association during some difficult times. Ken was instrumental in consulting with Forrest Attaway, Brannon Murray, and Bob Roberson – names I’m sure you are familiar with – in hiring me, working tirelessly to grow what is now NTCA, and promoting unity within a fragmented industry. Ken was a class act in every respect.

“Not only was Ken president of (STCA) before my tenure, he was also my customer while I was with Misceramic Tile during the late 50s and 60s,” Tarver added. “I was an exhibitor at the association trade show during his presidency. I have fond memories of Ken, Whit Sweeten and all the Atlanta tile community. Ken’s involvement with STCA and TCAA marked the beginning of serious efforts toward unity in a seriously fragmented tile industry in the U. S. at that time. He will be remembered and missed.”

He was very proud of his legacy as a man, husband, father, and teacher. He is loved by those who knew him, and will be missed.

New Products – September 2016

prod-01USG Durock™ Brand Tile Membrane is ideal for use under tile in residential and light-commercial applications. This product is water-resistant, thin and vapor-permeable for use on nearly every floor or counter top designed to accept tile including bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms and entryways.

Features and benefits include: crack-isolation solution when installed with Durock™ brand tile membrane adhesive; proprietary cementitious coating provides outstanding tile bond; rolls out flat, with no rollback memory; lightweight, thin and flexible – easy to handle and install; cuts with scissors or knife – no dust, no mess; installs quickly – no mechanical fasteners required; waterproof and vapor-permeable membrane; and mold and mildew resistant.

prod-02LATICRETE has introduced lightweight STRATA_MAT™ XT, a next-generation, high-performance uncoupling membrane designed specifically for ceramic tile and dimension stone installations. STRATA_MAT XT provides vapor management, eliminates transmission of in-plane substrate cracks of up to 1/8” (3 mm), assists with easier floor layout as chalk lines are easily visible on the surface prior to tile installation and performs all these functions while still providing the requisite support and load distribution for tile and stone covering. At 5/16” (7.9 mm) thick STRATA_MAT XT helps to creates an even transition between typical 1/4” to 3/8” (3 to 9 mm) thick tile and 3/4” (19 mm) thick hardwood flooring.  The design also allows installers to see mortar coverage underneath the mat during installation without having to lift and verify. STRATA_MAT XT comes in 150 ft. rolls measuring 45” x 40’ feet (13.9m2 – 1. m x 12.2m) and measures 5/16” (7.9 mm) thick.

prod-03Fatheadz eyewear are job essentials that ensure eye safety for those who work outside most of the day and need sunglasses for protection from the elements on the job and the sun. The Fatheadz v2.0 line is made in the U.S. and features polarized lenses and an anti-reflective coating. Sunglasses are available for men and women, with prescription lines available as well.

prod-04Landmark presents Magnifica, a selection of travertine crosscut tiles in high-quality porcelain that accentuates contemporary architecture with the benefits of porcelain. Each slab is highlighted by a subtle three-dimensional surface and authentic graphic details. Magnifica is fade resistant, eco-friendly, pet-friendly, frost-resistant, compatible with floor-warming systems, acid-resistant and easy to maintain and keep clean.

prod-05Ergodyne has announced today the addition of a new XL-sized bump cap to its Skullerz® Head Protection offering. Now, workers of all head sizes can be protected from cranial bumps and bruises offered by the patented, state-of-the-art shell. The Skullerz® 8950XL Bump Cap offers the same comfort and style of its innovative predecessor, the 8950 Bump Cap, including the removable, impact-resistant shell with foam lining. The shell’s flanged design allows for airflow and breathability while maintaining protection, and compliance. Both sizes meet the requirements of EN 812, the world’s only bump cap standard. The XL size is recommended for those with hat size 7½ or above. Nylon construction features reflective accents, and the cap is available with a short (50mm) or long (80mm) brim. Ideal for applications where worker-generated impact is a hazard or workplaces that don’t require a hard hat but still have head injury risks, the Skullerz 8950XL Bump Cap is available in black or navy at all authorized Ergodyne distributors worldwide.

TEC® announces a sweeping new roster of surface preparation products that deliver installation advantages and improved product performance. The expanded TEC® surface-prep line includes 10 new products in five general categories: self-leveling underlayments; skimcoats; patches; crack isolation systems; and specialty products including wear layer overlayments. The expanded breadth of the new TEC® surface preparation line extends the company’s commitment to provide product excellence while helping contractors save time and money. The new line also builds upon the company’s leadership position in the grout and mortar product categories.

prod-06The new TEC® Level Set® 300 Self-Leveling Underlayment is a premium underlayment that’s formulated for fast-track flooring installations. Ideal for quick turnarounds, it is walkable in just two to three hours – and provides a flat, extremely smooth, durable surface. It’s suited for a feather edge to 2” single application and boasts a compressive strength of 5,500 psi.

The new TEC® Feather Edge Skim Coat is a proven solution that’s designed to skim coat, smooth and level irregularities from feather edge up to 1⁄2”. With exceptional performance and bond strength, it sets in as few as 15-20 minutes for most flooring.

The new TEC® Level Set® Deep Pour 3 surface prep solution helps installers power through projects to quickly fill deep trenches up to 3” in one lift, without aggregate. Ideal for thick-build applications without comprising return-to-traffic timing, it accepts non-moisture sensitive tile and stone within only four hours.

The extensive new lineup also includes specialty surface preparation products. The new TEC Level Set LW-60 is a high-quality, ultra-lightweight self-leveling underlayment that’s ideal for multi-level structures where load-bearing restrictions apply. Fifty percent lighter than traditional self-levelers, it doesn’t compromise coverage, traffic or installation time. The new TEC Level Set Wear Topping is a decorative concrete finish available in three base colors that accepts stains, sealers and coatings within 24 hours after application. Colorant can be added at time of mixing to bring flair to any concrete floor or other concrete surface.

All TEC® surface preparation products are backed by a limited lifetime system warranty when used with TEC® adhesives, mortars and grouts.

Industry News – September 2016

ind-01Bostik, Inc. announced that Michael Zaccardelli has joined the firm’s Consumer & Construction Business Unit as sales director, North America. He will lead the Pro Distribution business in the U.S. and Canada with regional sales managers Rick Tredwell and Brian Kelly reporting to him. He and his team will also build out Bostik’s long-term sales strategy to align with the company’s business mission to drive double-digit growth. Zaccardelli comes to Bostik after 17 years with Knauf Insulation, holding positions of salesperson, marketing manager and ultimately national sales manager. Prior to Knauf, he brought his engineering degree to U.S. Gypsum, where he worked for 11 years.

ind-02Lackmond Products, Inc. has named Russell Ayers as director of Customer Service, overseeing the company’s inside sales strategies and operations for both the Lackmond Products and Lackmond Stone divisions. Ayers brings 38 years of experience working with UPS in sales, operations, marketing and strategy. He also worked directly with many large accounts on growth and efficiency strategies.

Russell and his wife, Siler, enjoy spending time with their two sons. When not working, Russell enjoys college football, camping at NASCAR races, hunting, fishing and house projects.

New Coverings management: Taffy Event Strategies

Coverings, the largest international tile and stone show in North America, has appointed Taffy Event Strategies, LLC ( as its show management company. Taffy will be responsible for producing Coverings’ exhibition and conference program. Coverings 2017 will be held April 4-7 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.

coveringsCoverings is the premier international trade fair and expo dedicated exclusively to showcasing the newest in ceramic tile and natural stone. It has grown to be the most important show of its kind in the U.S., featuring 1,100 exhibitors from more than 40 countries and attracting thousands of distributors, retailers, fabricators, contractors, specifiers, architects, designers, builders, and developers.

The show is co-sponsored by Ceramics of Italy/Confindustria Ceramica, Tile Council of North America, Inc. (TCNA), Tile of Spain/the Spanish Ceramic Tile Manufacturer’s Association (ASCER), the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA), and the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA).

Taffy, based in Arlington, Va., is a full-service trade show and management company focused on producing events that inspire audiences, create connections, and deliver results.

“We are delighted to team up with Coverings to help drive its goals and add value for the thousands of the show’s exhibitors and attendees,” said Jennifer Hoff, president at Taffy Event Strategies. “We are looking forward to supporting the industry as it showcases its truly remarkable tile and stone products, while also fostering business-building networking and education opportunities for today’s professionals.”

For more information, visit

ind-03The Tile Shop launches online Design Studio

The Tile Shop, a specialty retailer of manufactured and natural stone tiles, setting and maintenance materials, and related accessories, recently introduced an integrated digital Design Studio capability in all stores and online, allowing customers to personalize and visualize how an entire room or a distinct space will look upon completion of their project. The Design Studio gives customers and sales associates a collaborative platform to create customized 3D design renderings to scale, using specific shopper room dimensions. Shoppers can choose from an extensive selection of The Tile Shop’s tile and stone products, trim and grout, visualize various tile layout possibilities and select accompanying furniture and accessories, including lighting. Tile layouts of floors or walls can be changed at the click of a button. The Design Studio is available without an appointment at any of The Tile Shop’s 118 store locations, or shoppers can register online at to use the service on a computer or mobile device. The tool’s collaborative design capability means that anyone who receives a shared plan can edit it directly. Once a final design is chosen, the Design Studio also has the capability to tabulate exact product quantities needed to complete the project. Shoppers can also request a cost estimate for an individual Design Studio rendering by sending it directly to The Tile Shop showroom in their area or by submitting it online at, and an associate will follow up to provide a project estimate. Alternatively, they can send renderings directly to their preferred Trade Pro for an estimate.

Daltile remodels Vegas, Denver showrooms

Daltile ( has officially opened the doors on remodeled showrooms in the Denver and Las Vegas markets. Both locations celebrated with grand opening events in early August. A slab yard attached to a traditional gallery setting at both locations provides a single-source resource for local architecture and design communities.

A floor-to-ceiling desert cactus mosaic mural welcomes visitors to Daltile’s Las Vegas tile and stone gallery.

A floor-to-ceiling desert cactus mosaic mural welcomes visitors to Daltile’s Las Vegas tile and stone gallery.

Multifunctional workspaces, tile libraries, hospitality areas and conference rooms were remodeled with design professionals and clientele in mind.

“We wanted to create inviting spaces that inspire our customers,” said Corinthia Runge, manager of gallery and showroom operations for Daltile. “Our new locations were designed by designers, for designers, making it easy to imagine what is possible in any space.”

A floor-to-ceiling desert cactus mosaic mural welcomes visitors to the 5,800-sq.-ft. Las Vegas tile and stone gallery, located at 3345 W. Sunset Road, Suite G. Products are artfully displayed on floors, walls and partitions. The space includes a loose tile library and an LCD touch screen that allows customers to virtually flip through the digital catalog, view inspiration gallery images and build out designs with the tile and stone visualizer tool. A custom chandelier made with tile pieces, offers inspiration for guests. The hospitality area features a stunning diamond-matched Aqua Marine Granite backsplash and bright white Morning Frost ONE Quartz countertops. The intimate conference room showcases a striking slab tabletop.

The Daltile Denver showroom features a fireplace vignette with four book-matched slabs.

The Daltile Denver showroom features a fireplace vignette with four book-matched slabs.

In Denver, the 4,700-sq.-ft tile and stone showroom at 852 S. Jason St., Unit 8, features an entry area with a large stone slab desk with waterfall accent that provides a focal point for visitors to begin their journey through the space. An accompanying fireplace vignette featuring four book-matched slabs warmly welcomes visitors and showcases the striking stone slab offerings.

Dodge receives Architosh
Best of Show award

Dodge Data & Analytics’ Sweets apps for Revit and AutoCAD were awarded Architosh’s “BEST of SHOW” honor in the Building Information Modeling (BIM) software category at the AIA Convention earlier this year.

Dodge was recognized by the trade publication (which serves CAD and 3-D design professionals) for the elegant integration between Sweets data and the Autodesk applications Revit and AutoCAD, which enables users to bring Sweets’ richly annotated products directly into their design tools at an early stage. Launched in January 2016, the Sweets app for Revit provides product integration for the 3-D design software’s 400,000-strong user base, while Sweets for AutoCAD, previewed at AIA and launching later this year, offers support for 2-D design projects and will be available to millions of AutoCAD users worldwide.

ind-05The Sweets apps are a key component of Dodge’s commitment to simplify design professionals’ workflow by delivering Sweets’ richly annotated products right into their design tools. A number of key partner companies have already adopted the Sweets app for Revit, including Allegion, C/S Group, Sloan, Armstrong Ceilings, Excel Dryer, and Maxxon Corporation. Since AIA, other firms such as AMX by Harman, American Specialties, Inc., and Terrazzo & Marble Supply have also begun implementing the new software.

Choosing the Correct Acoustical Underlayment

techfeat-01By Ryne Sternberg,
Business Development Engineer, Pliteq, Inc.

Over the past 10 years, multi-family construction has increased demand for hard surface flooring, whether this be tile, stone, engineered wood, or vinyl plank. Unfortunately, these hard floor coverings accentuate sound vibrations, which lead to complaints from residents. When sound enters high-rise concrete structures, it travels through the concrete as vibration and radiates into multiple units, disturbing occupants. Installing a high-performance acoustical underlayment underneath the finished floor prevents these vibrations from entering the structure. This interstitial layer between the finished floor and concrete structure decouples the contact points, limiting excess impact noise or any other vibrations caused by the structure.

The International Building Code (IBC) has mandated multi-family construction to meet certain levels of sound attenuation in two classes, sound transmission class (STC) and impact insulation class (IIC). These classes take care of airborne (STC) and impact (IIC) noise. Airborne noise includes loud music, yelling, singing, etc. Impact noise can be caused by activities like high heels, moving furniture, or dancing. Ratings are given to a floor-ceiling assembly when it has been tested in a third-party NVLAP accredited laboratory. Ratings mandated for minimum levels of sound control are STC/IIC 50 when tested in a laboratory and STC/IIC 45 when tested in the field. If these levels are not met, developers, architects, and contractors may be liable for the repairs needed to meet IBC and local building code requirements.

techfeat-03Test according to real-world conditions

Some manufacturers take advantage of these simplified standards by providing a test report that is high performing but not representative of real-world conditions. Many developers, architects, and contractors believe if there is a test report with a rating above minimum code, the products included will be acceptable for that building. This is not always the case, since laboratory and field tests can be manipulated to show false ratings of products presented.

Understanding how tests are performed is the best way to distinguish between materials that are qualified to meet the IBC requirements and those that are not. The most important detail to understand is that one acoustical underlayment does not achieve an IIC rating on its own. The entire floor-ceiling assembly, including the finished floor, acoustical underlayment, subfloor structure, and ceiling details, is required to achieve these ratings.

One of the biggest discrepancies when testing an assembly is an IIC rating of a bare concrete slab compared to one with a drop ceiling. An 8” bare concrete slab on its own will not meet IIC 50, but with a 10” drop ceiling full of insulation, it will reach IIC levels into high 50s or low 60s. Manufacturers may use drop ceilings to help boost their underlayment and show higher results. Issues arise when the floor-ceiling assembly of a design calls for a bare slab and the specified product was tested with a drop ceiling.

techfeat-02When choosing an acoustical underlayment for tile and stone, two major properties should be met: acoustics and crack isolation. Acoustics can be verified through a third-party laboratory test or a field test conducted by an acoustical consultant using ASTM E492, E90, and E1007 standardized test methods. Crack isolation can be verified using ASTM C627 Robinson Wheel Testing to meet minimum residential ratings. Companies that provide a significant amount of testing on both fronts insure results to architects and developers. Specifying products from these companies leads to confidence in a finalized product and overall fewer complaints from building occupants.

Ryne Sternberg is a chemical engineering graduate of Penn State University, and business development engineer with Pliteq Inc. – an engineering firm dedicated to providing products that will satisfy acoustical standards, crack isolation of tile and stone as well as any other requirements placed on floor-ceiling assemblies of design. All products are derived from recycled rubber content, which achieve the best vibration and acoustic results and contribute to LEED. These products are backed up with over 700 completed laboratory and field test reports. For more information, visit

TCNA By The Book: Membranes in Steam Shower/Steam Room Application

btb-01Dan and Elizabeth Lambert of Lambert Tile and Stone, located in the Vail Valley of Colorado, have been providing high-end residential tile installations since 2000.

At Lambert Tile and Stone we install around 30 residential steam showers per year in the mountains of Vail, Colo. Thanks to technology, our steam showers and steam rooms have evolved over the past number of years with better insulating and lower vapor-permeance qualities.

Regardless of steam room/steam shower design, it is critically important that the enclosure incorporates the correct membrane, since not all membranes are suitable for high-temperature and steam applications.

Regardless of steam room/steam shower design, it is critically important that the enclosure incorporates the correct membrane, since not all membranes are suitable for high-temperature and steam applications.

Steam rooms and steam showers have been a popular option in ski resort communities. Resort and hotel spas, as well as fitness centers, offer this amenity for the health benefits steaming provides. This luxury benefit has enticed many people to incorporate steam units into their own homes, and this trend is growing in popularity.

Ninety percent of the steam showers we construct are not continuous-use steam rooms, but master bath and guest suite showers designed with the option to have steam while the occupants shower. Since 90% of our assemblies include rain heads and body sprays, these steam shower designs usually opt for level ceilings. But all of our commercial and residential continuous-use steam rooms are designed with the 2” per foot ceiling slope that is shown in TCNA Handbook methods SR613 and SR614, to minimize condensation from dipping onto occupants.

Regardless of steam room/steam shower design, it is critically important that the enclosure incorporates the correct membrane, since not all membranes are suitable for high-temperature and steam applications. Consult with your technical services department of the manufacturers of materials you are considering to ensure compatibility and permeance performance of the membrane.

Thanks to technology, the Lambert's steam showers and steam rooms have evolved over the past number of years with better insulating and lower vapor-permeance qualities.

Thanks to technology, the Lambert’s steam showers and steam rooms have evolved over the past number of years with better insulating and lower vapor-permeance qualities.

The TCNA Handbook for Ceramic, Glass, and Stone Tile Installation contains two methods. Method SR613 is for steam room installations over concrete or masonry, and SR614 is for installations over wood or metal studs. Both methods require a low-perm waterproof membrane meeting ANSI A118.10 applied in a manner specified by the membrane manufacturer to provide a water-vapor permeance rating of 0.5 perms or less. If a perm rating of 0.5 or less is not achievable, the TCNA Handbook also recommends the use of a vapor retarder with a perm rating of 0.1 or less behind the wall assembly. Keep in mind that integrated bonding flange drains should not be used if the vapor retarder behind the wall assembly is required. Waterproofing should not be confused with vapor retarding.

Organic mastics should never be used in either steam room or steam showers and the use of natural stone in steam environments should be extremely cautioned.

Dan and Elizabeth Lambert of Lambert Tile and Stone located in the Vail Valley of Colorado have been providing high-end residential tile installations since 2000. Dan is a Regional Board Director for the NTCA and sits on the NTCA Methods and Standards Committee and the Technical Committee. Lambert Tile and Stone is a NTCA Five Star Contractor and employs Certified Tile Installers (CTI). Certifying our employees is so important to us that we hosted our own testing site at our warehouse with support from our local community who provided us with the lumber to build our own testing modules. The local tile stores and distributors sponsored all our meals for two days. Having the CTI designation has been a great tool to show our builder community how we support, test and educate our employees.

Benefits Box: NTCA Reference Manual Coming Soon

2016-ref-manual-coverAlthough we reported on the NTCA Reference Manual in our July TileLetter issue, the subject bears repeating.


Because this month, NTCA members will be receiving the 2016-2017 publication in the mail, and it will be available for others in the industry to purchase as well.

If you missed the July article, the NTCA Reference Manual is a compendium of knowledge, research and development, brought to you by the NTCA Technical Committee and its members. These members include leading experts from various industry sectors: tile and stone contractors, distributors, manufacturers and others allied to the tile industry.

This year’s edition has a different format that follows the flow of a job, and that makes it easier to find content pertinent to your job or challenge. Chapters will begin with General Requirements, Substrates, and flow all way through to Maintenance and Precautions.

The NTCA Reference Manual identifies recurring challenges to tile and stone installations and recognizes potential problems. Industry experts come together to achieve consensus on solutions, presented in a problem-prevention-cure format. Clarifying photographs are included, as well as letter templates that address common issues in documentation and negotiation on the jobsite, and can be customized to fit the needs of the contractor. A collection of general position statements about industry issues is also included.

Each year, NTCA Technical Committee subcommittee members review and revise the publication, since new technologies, methods and products all impact the experience, practice and outcome of tile and stone installations.

Because the information is so crucial to the industry, NTCA also makes the NTCA Reference Manual available on its website HERE to non-members or those who desire additional copies.

Familiarize yourself with this well-respected companion document to the TCNA Handbook for Ceramic, Glass and Stone Tile Installation and ANSI standards. Together these publications form a triumvirate of expertise and knowledge that creates a strong framework from which to conduct your business.

NTCA University Update – September 2016

By Becky Serbin,  Training and Education Coordinator

By Becky Serbin,
Training and Education Coordinator

NTCA_UniversityNew pricing structure for NTCA members and non-members

Thank you to everyone who has been providing feedback on NTCA University. Based on that feedback, we decided to make some changes to the pricing structure of the University. We are offering introductory pricing that will include everything in the University, including the Apprenticeship Program. As we continue to develop content and build NTCA University into a premier site, we wanted to offer this pricing so that you can begin to explore and learn.

  • Contractor Members: $99 per company
  • Associate/Affiliated Members: $199 per company
  • Non-NTCA Members: $499 per company
  • All subscriptions expire on December 31, 2017*

Please make sure that your NTCA company profile information is correct, up to date, and includes names and e-mail address of all of your employees that you would like to include on your NTCA University subscription. We will then use this list from your profile to provide your employees access to the University courses.

With your subscription, you are able to watch and learn from any courses within the University, as many times as you want during your subscription. And as more courses are added in the University, you will have access to them, too.

uni-01As long as you are able to log into your NTCA account, you will be able to access NTCA University from any computer, tablet, or phone so you don’t need to be in the office to learn. If you want to take a course at home on your couch or while on vacation sitting at the beach, as long as you have Internet access, you can learn.

Visit the NTCA store at to purchase your NTCA University subscription. Please note that if you are purchasing the subscription for your company, the primary NTCA contact for the company must be the account from which the purchase is made. We will then work with the primary contact to establish all the correct contact information for employees who will be enrolled in the University.

*If you purchase the all access subscription on the member pricing, in order to maintain your access to the site until December 31, 2017, you must also keep your membership active through 2017.

If there is a course that you would like to see available or if you are unsure of the types of courses available, please send me an e-mail at [email protected] or call me at 770-366-2566.

Qualified Labor: Edwardo Martinez

ctiCertification provides confidence; shows commitment and excellence

By Terryn Rutford, Social Structure Marketing

Edwardo Martinez and Surfaces 15, the residential remodeling/renovation and commercial company he co-founded two years ago with Greg Twarog in the Chicago area, are committed to standing out in the tile industry. Martinez discovered Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) certification through the online Tile Geeks Facebook group and jumped right into the deep end.

ql-02Martinez, a second-generation installer who’s been a tile setter practically from birth, took the Certified Tile Installer test at Coverings 2016, front and center on the Coverings stage. “I did it backwards,” Martinez said, “No studying, no prep work. I filled a spot last minute. I did it to test my skill and knowledge.” There is a book to study for the certification and while most people take some time to look it over, Martinez jumped at the last minute opportunity. “I was not planning on taking it, but a post on Tile Geeks by (NTCA State Director, Tennessee) Bradford Denny changed the course of history,” he said.

Martinez decided to become certified, “to challenge my personal skill set. I wanted to stand out and be different from any other contractor and show commitment and excellence in my field,” he said. Martinez described certification as “the next best option other than being union, in the non-union world.”

The tile industry lacks a universal, national licensing regulation. Some states don’t have any licensing requirements at all for tile installers. The CTEF certification provides a universal standard, recognized by the tile industry, by which tile companies can prove their merits and consumers can find reliable, skilled installers.

ql-01In addition to these benefits, Martinez points out, “[certification] has made making new networking relationships a lot easier.” Becoming certified has also provided Martinez with more confidence in his skill set and his status  “as a true professional and industry leader.” With certification in hand, Martinez has the justification for charging more for his services, because it sets him apart from the norm. According to Martinez, “By being certified, we are able to impact the labor trade in a way it has not been done before.” Having grown up in the trade, Martinez has been in the industry for more than twenty years, but still finds great value in being a Certified Tile Installer. Certification is “well worth the investment and makes you a part of a whole new network,” Martinez said.

Editorial Feature: Crack Isolation and Waterproofing

Permeation, crack isolation and how they impact waterproofing choices

edit-01By Dean Moilanen
Director of Architectural Services, Noble Company

I call Las Vegas the Petri dish of waterproofing, because Las Vegas has more hotel rooms (over 160K) than any city in the country.  With demanding, fast-track construction schedules, and streaks of stubborn “wild west” independence, what winds up in shower pans and wet areas sometimes can resemble a lab experiment gone awry.

The demand for luxurious, durable, and safe showers, spas, and wet areas spawned twin challenges to hotel and casino owners. The “durability challenge” forced hotel/casino owners to get creative in their mission to eliminate failing shower pans and wet areas. The “safety challenge” tasked these owners with banishing the threat of microbial growth – aka mold – in stud-wall cavities and other areas of the guest environment.

edit-02A small army of forensic experts, waterproofing consultants, and risk-mitigation attorneys, hired by the hotel owners, turned their attention to the challenges outlined above in 2004-2005. They first focused on movement concerns, and the impact on waterproofing longevity.

It came as no surprise that the areas around the drain, the pan-to-wall plane transition movement joint, and saw-cut, cold joints areas had higher incidences of failure if the waterproof membrane could not tolerate these movement forces.

Membranes meeting high-performance standards to the rescue!

In the end, job site variables, varying levels of installer competence, and independent, third-party product test results were all factored into the solution path: waterproof membranes that met the ANSI A118.12 high-performance standard were less prone to failure in these areas of movement concern. ANSI A118.12 high performance means the membrane and tile can withstand 1/8” of movement before failure of the system. There are products from various manufacturers that meet this requirement. Architects ensured these performance metrics would be maintained by requiring all performance/test data on any product be conducted by independent, third party testing agencies.

edit-03This evolution in specifications for waterproofing/crack isolation is not a closed or proprietary specification solution. There are numerous Division 9 allied-product manufacturers who can supply this type of waterproof membrane. Also, this evolution of high-performance waterproof/crack isolation membranes does not marginalize or discredit waterproof membranes that meet the standard level of 1/16” of movement before failure. These products have offered decades and millions of square feet of successful, waterproofing/crack isolation. With the advent of an objective testing method of ANSI A 118.12 to quantify membrane performance, and with the ever-more-demanding owner/client wanting take every precaution, there is an undeniable move in Division 9 specifications towards referencing this ANSI standard as an objective benchmark of waterproofing/crack isolation performance.


As we touched on earlier in our discussion, permeation, (i.e. steam), has become another important performance metric to take into account when selecting the waterproof membrane for your project. Those of us with a few years in the tile industry will recall when installations consisted of a loose-laid shower pan, floated walls, cement backer-board, and unfortunately – in some areas of the country – green board. Back then there seemed to be a lot fewer concerns or evidence of mold making its way back into stud-wall cavities, or other areas of the home. Houses back in the day were able to breathe, and showers of that time were a lot more utilitarian, as were the attitudes about how much time was spent there.

edit-04Construction methods, shower design and technology, and our own evolving attitudes about the duration and frequency of showering have resulted in a lot more steam in the shower. How much steam?

Well, those same Las Vegas casino/hotel owners who tasked their waterproofing army with finding a solution to movement concerns in waterproofing, also set out to identify the critical path towards stopping vapor migration penetrating areas outside the shower.

Their findings can be distilled down to this: hospitality showers, locker rooms, health clubs, university student gang showers, and hospitals can generate so much steam with the frequent and long nature of these showers that they are in reality mini steam-room environments. The upsurge in mold remediation cases, and situations where steam had migrated into stud-wall cavities and living spaces, was the result of the perfect storm of changing construction methods, which gave us tighter, less breathable buildings and showers. At the same time our culture has been trained to view showering as an experience, an escape, to be savored – not rushed. Consider a resort hotel, with a family of four, and the time they will spend in that shower. It is no wonder that seemingly overnight, there seemed to be a tidal wave of vapor-migration/mold issues. The images scattered throughout this article, courtesy of Charles Nolan, Millers Flooring America, Lafayette, Ind., show the kinds of failures that result from when low permeation waterproofing membranes are not included in steam and wet-area installations.

edit-05Treat steam-room conditions with steam-room engineered products

Again, the solution was – and is – elegantly simple: if you are faced with a waterproofing/vapor-permeation condition that exhibits a steam room level of steam/vapor, specify and install a waterproof membrane that is suitable for steam room applications. In this area, do not waiver. The only membranes to be specified and installed, if you are going to address the mini steam-room conditions noted earlier, are membranes which comply with ASTM E-96. There are more than a few instances in which a tile contractor assumed his favorite shower pan membrane could rise to the occasion of stopping vapor migration, and alas it could not – and it did not – achieve that goal.

In my own travels I have seen a waterproof membrane used on the shower walls in a four-star hotel, and when the walls were peeled back after three-and-a-half years, there was black mold nestled in the stud-wall cavities.

edit-06This solution is also not closed, or proprietary: there are a number of waterproof membranes, available from a variety of manufacturers, that can meet the requirements of ASTM E-96. But at the risk of sounding redundant: INDEPENDENT THIRD PARTY TESTING is the ONLY way one can be assured a product’s claims are legitimate. There are a number of quite reputable manufacturers who rely on their company’s marketing department, or their own in-house tests to suffice. Architects and specification writers may employ language in their documents that requires all testing to be third party ONLY.

The performance requirements of waterproofing in wet areas and showers have become more demanding as construction methods have changed, coupled with lifestyle changes that place more demands on the shower environment and wet areas. There always will be a good/better/best option for waterproofing, crack isolation, and permeation, but in the space provided here we have made note of best practices with regard to ANSI A118.12 and ASTM E-96 and how they provide an effective pathway to superior performance.

Noble Company, founded in 1946, manufactures premium-quality sheet membranes and shower elements for tile installation, including waterproofing membranes, linear drains, niches/benches, pre-slopes, shower bases, adhesives and sealants for the plumbing and tile industries; engineered antifreeze/heat transfer fluids and accessories for heating/cooling and freeze protection for fire sprinkler systems. The company is headquartered in Spring Lake, Mich., with manufacturing facilities there and in Baton Rouge, La.

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