October 25, 2014

H.B. Fuller Construction Products Hosts Exclusive All-Star Contractor Council

H.B. Fuller Construction Products recently hosted an exclusive All-Star Contractor Council at its company headquarters in Aurora, IL. Top flooring contractors throughout the United States and Canada were selected to attend the three-day event where they exchanged knowledge, shared insights and built relationships with the manufacturer and fellow attendees.

In attendance was NTCA President Nyle Wadord, NTCA First Vice President Dan Welch, and NTCA 2nd Vice President James Woelfel, as well as NTCA Five Star Contractor John Wirtz.

“The All-Star Contractor Council is an action-packed event that allows us to connect with some of our top customers,” stated Rose Mary Clyburn, president of H.B. Fuller Construction Products. “Not only does the event provide these premier contractors with education and information to help advance their businesses, but it also offers us the opportunity to hear their feedback and insights on how we can best meet their needs.”

In addition to the learning opportunities offered throughout the event, the All-Stars also shared best practices, which allowed all attendees to benefit from the collective knowledge and experience of each other, as top-performing professionals. According to attendee Dan Welch of Welch Tile and Marble, “The event was top-notch, and all of us agreed that it was an invaluable experience for both the contractors and the product team alike. From the caliber of the contractors attending to the excellent educational opportunities and the VIP treatment during our stay, the All-Star Contractor Council exceeded our expectations.”

Marazzi To Open New Showroom In NYC

Marazzi is opening a new 5,000 square-foot showroom on 21st Street (between 5th and 6th Ave.), above NY Stone Manhattan – a resource for natural stone – and down the block from Artistic Tile and Cancos Tile & Stone.

The Marazzi showroom grand opening takes place Thursday, November 10 at 6:30 p.m.

Marazzi Showroom (at NY Stone Manhattan)
30 West 21st Street
New York, NY 10016
212.832.8222

Crossville® Acquires the Building Products Branches of Master Tile in Texas and Oklahoma, Effective Immediately

Crossville, TN – Crossville, Inc. is pleased to announce its purchase of 10 locations of the Building Products division of Master Tile in Texas and Oklahoma. Added to its initial acquisition of Master Tile’s Eastern division locations in Central Florida in November of 2010, as well as previously acquired distributor locations in North Carolina and Alabama, Crossville now owns a total of 21 distributor locations.

“All locations will be officially changing their names to Crossville Tile & Stone,” says Crossville CFO Dewayne Galey. “This is an exceptional plus for Crossville,” continues Galey, “as the Texas and Oklahoma markets are recovering rapidly and there are great opportunities for expansion and growth in these areas. It also enables Crossville to offer the best service possible to the design and construction communities.”

Galey and Master Tile COO, Roger Hawkins, jointly released a statement assuring Master Tile customers that the change would not affect day-to-day business and that Crossville Tile & Stone would continue to provide them with the same product offering and expert attention they have enjoyed in the past.

Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, Crossville, Inc. manufacturers award-winning Porcelain Stone® and Design Solutions™ tile, and Natural Stone Collections for both residential and contract applications. Crossville® will “Elevate Your Space” by product, style and service innovation – now and in the future. Specifiers and owners can trust Crossville to perform. For more information about Crossville, contact Crossville, Inc. at 800-221-9093 or visit www.crossvilleinc.com.

The River of Life and LATICRETE

The River of Life and LATICRETE flow together in an epic mosaic mural commission

In the “River of Life,” London mosaic mural artist Gary Drostle explores the relationship of a Midwestern American town and its people with the river that slices through it. Descending southeast to join the Mississippi on eventual passage to New Orleans, the Iowa River defines both the history and future of Iowa City and those who call it home.

In a brilliant display of color and craft, the University of Iowa mosaic art mural sparkles with life and wisdom from the floor of the main causeway as the signature design element of the new $59 million, 20,000 square-foot wellness center on the flagship UI campus.

In a story told through elegant andamento (the visual movement created by placement of the tesserae in the pattern), this 2011 TileLetter Awards Commercial Mosaic/Glass winner evokes the inherent alliance between nature and man, river and city, in a mosaic art masterpiece installed with premium materials manufactured by LATICRETE.

Drostle’s spectacular, 12´x47´ (3.6mx14.3m) creation is a testament to the enduring beauty of mosaic fine art, enriched by the spirit of LATICRETE people and the performance of LATICRETE® products. The project, from concept to grouting, touches on the evolution of the centuries-old craft and shines a light on how LATICRETE materials and methods have earned a loyal following among the world’s most-skilled mosaic artisans.

LATICRETE loyalty

For over half a century, LATICRETE has exclusively focused on driving demand for tile and stone with innovative product design and systems developed for efficient, permanent installations. LATICRETE has also supported the industry with product donations and a host of other free tools and services online, adopting a company-wide approach to the cause.

For the River of Life, LATICRETE co-owner Henry Rothberg arranged to donate the specified products for the mural installation, and then became one of the biggest supporters of the project online and in blogs.

With premium, polymer-fortified thin-set mortar and the latest breakthrough in cement-based grout from LATICRETE, a special team of highly-skilled mosaic artisans completed the elaborate installation using the traditional two-step method direct over masonry. Sent from London packaged in 16 boxes and paper-face mounted on 200 sheets, the River of Life now rests in a cropped field of terrazzo as the centerpiece of the three-level wellness and fitness facility.

The balance of life

In spectacular tesserae, Drostle examines his vision of wellness as a wayfaring voyage through time that parallels the twisting, turning Iowa River. The field of river-blue, hand-cut porcelain mosaics interspersed with Bisazza glass highlights, allows Drostle to weave the River of Life in and out of lighter and darker textile-patterned sections in search of a life in balance. The 3/4” mosaics were hand-cut to a “3/4”x3/8” basic building block,” said Drostle; some were additionally trimmed to fit various joints and the perimeter tiles were left as 3/4” square tiles.

The river encounters well-being when it drifts into an earthen-yellow background of French Winckelman unglazed porcelain mosaics. The earthen background derives its patterns from Native American and Amish quilts, symbolizing the rolling plains of the heartland. In the outer-lying edges beyond well-being, the river flows into deep-gray despair, just as life out of balance will. Each line of tile depicts a single life; some end prematurely or drift away as in real life.
“The river symbolizing life is an ancient image connecting our most ancient cultures: the river as the bringer of life and purification,” said Drostle. “I imagined the ground the Iowa River flows over as the rich pattern of human existence, culture and knowledge. The river travels through light and dark patterned sections of well-being and in some parts, the blue lines break out completely, portraying the extremes of a life not in balance.”

The mosaic team

Given the size and incredible amount of detail involved, the River of Life mosaic mural was a project in every sense of the word. The stunning final creation was the direct result of hundreds of days and countless hours of planning, measuring and adjusting by highly-skilled professionals Drostle hired for the architecture commission. In fact, the River of Life gathered some of the world’s best-known mosaic artists to Drostle’s studio by the Thames. The sum total of their expertise and years of training can be found in the greatness of this true work of art.

The experience for mosaic artist and Texas native Julie Richey began with a two-week trip to London in April 2010, well-documented in her insightful and colorful blog at http://web.mac.com/julierichey/www.juliericheymosaics.com/Blog/Entries/2010/4/10_London_Calling.html. Richey had already been enlisted by Drostle for the final application with LATICRETE® products in Iowa, so this visit was important to get more familiar with the materials and finished design.

Richey worked closely on the mural with Guilia Vogrig, a graduate of the prestigious Spilimbergo Mosaic School in Italy. Vogrig, along with Notre Dame PhD candidate Levente Borvak, Richey and Drostle, arrived on the University of Iowa campus nearly six weeks later as the official mural installers after each sheet of mosaics was carefully labeled and packaged for shipment to the U.S.

The LATICRETE advantage

Before coming stateside, LATICRETE technical service experts worked with Drostle and his team in London to create the right materials spec inclusive of the LATICRETE warranty program. LATICRETE® 254 Platinum thin-set was chosen to adhere “Necco Wafer”– thin porcelain (according to Richey) and 1/8”-thick glass mosaics. The versatile, multipurpose thin-set mortar impressed the team even with the delicate task of fixing nearly three-hundred thousand mosaic tiles.

“We went through six, 50-pound bags of LATICRETE® 254 Platinum,” says Richey. “We loved the stuff. It was sticky, pliable and odorless. We set the mural in an assembly-line process, each with a specific job. Moving in rows, left to right in order to work off the fresh LATICRETE mortar, Levente would hand me a section of the mural and I would place it. Gary would follow, tamp and flatten the mosaics, and Guilia would begin to sponge the brown paper with water to relax the pasta amido flour paste from the surface.”

Since the River of Life was meant to spend forever as a conversation-starter on campus, during the final two days the team grouted the mosaics with LATICRETE® PermaColor™ Grout to protect the long-lasting beauty of the exquisite tesserae. Through cement-based technology, LATICRETE developed the revolutionary grout for both walls and floors, inside or out, offering the unmatched ability to lock in consistent color with Kevlar® reinforcement for added strength and Microban® technology for improved stain-resistance. The color Raven was chosen to help carry the mural’s sophisticated andamento.

“I was particularly impressed with LATICRETE PermaColor Grout,” said Drostle. “It has the strength of sanded grout and the finesse of unsanded grout. I was happy to be using products with the latest polymer-cement technology, and noticed the adhesive had excellent strength for the difficult to bond, high-fired and smooth porcelain tiles.”

More than just the skill of Drostle and his team, the elaborate mural takes a close look at the state of mosaic fine art and its place in modern building. The very real contribution of LATICRETE technology ensured the almost-unlimited range of application and mosaic design endures for the time-honored medium, particularly in the context of sustainable today.

The River of Life is a snapshot Gary Drostle took of a singular moment in time about the endless journey of humanity. It’s a graceful, artistic reflection on life in Iowa City, Iowa, and the ties that bind a river to its people. The struggle for inner peace and balance in life told in a mosaic mural story for the ages. Salvation found only through the journey of the river to the sea.

NTCA Five-Star Contractors – “Créme de la créme” of tile contractors

“As far as creative, technical and business resources are concerned, [NTCA Five-Star Contractors] are the crème de la crème!,” So said Buck Collins, of Collins Tile and Stone, a NTCA Five-Star Contractor in Aldie, Va. “The knowledge is deep, with a proven track record of successful installations. The proud employment of Certified Tile Installers is also a trademark of the Five-Star contractor. My ability to personally contact some of the most respected tile contractors in the U.S. has proven to boost our credibility and knowledge.”

These are just a few benefits of membership in this elite group of tile businesspeople. Earlier this year, the group gathered at Crossville’s headquarters in Tennessee for a leadership and networking summit that equipped them with additional resources for success and fostered connection and camaraderie that, in some cases, led to business partnerships with distant contractors.

“I was called by a client of mine to help with a project that another tile company was installing was running behind,” said Kevin Fox, PE, of Fox Ceramic Tile, Inc. in St. Mary’s, Kan. “Since my mechanics were busy, I sent out an email to the Five-Star members. The result was longtime NTCA member Williams Tile (Maryland Heights, Mo.) sent 2-1/2 crews to the project for three weeks, and now Welch Tile (Kent City, Mich.) is there with two crews.  Result: I was able to take care of my client using the Five-Star network with the confidence of having competent installers on the job, which was very important – because even though I was not able to send my in house mechanics, the work that was performed still has my name on it.”

Standards of excellence

This group of contractors, currently 25 strong, is dedicated to upholding standards of excellence in their work and their operations. The NTCA Board of Directors created this program as a way to recognize companies in our association with a proven track record of excellence in our trade. Each contractor goes through an accreditation process, which includes recommendations from customers, suppliers and peers; participation in continuing education and training programs including educational seminars and events; maintenance of an active safety program; and of course, active membership with NTCA.

In addition to being prominently listed on the NTCA member locator site, having a direct link from NTCA’s national website to yours, and being able to use the Five-Star logo on your letterhead and marketing pieces, NTCA is actively working on growing this program and the benefits for members (see sidebar). This translates into more potential top-level business for you and leadership within the tile industry.

How? Take it directly from some current Five-Star members.

“In addition to being extremely proud to carry the Five-Star designation, we feel that when we convey this to a customer, whether a big contractor or a homeowner, we also convey credibility in our knowledge and skill,” said Libby Morgan, Battles & Battles Tile, Knoxville, Tenn. “We are very appreciative for the opportunity to be in a class of professionals who care about quality, and we always search for better methods. A great tile job speaks for itself. A bad tile job turns the end user against tile altogether, so we are doing everything we can to spread the word of the best methods, even to our competitors. We are seen as the tile experts in our region, and our Five-Star designation proves it!!!”

Kevin Fox added, “We just recently installed a stone floor/wall bathroom and shower in a residence for a good general contractor client. We typically do not install residential projects as we specialize in commercial, but make exceptions for these types of clients.  The project called for us to use a self-leveling underlayment with electric heat. Because of the relationships created with this Five-Star Contractor group, I knew just the person to call: Jan Hohn with Hohn & Hohn, Inc., as I know she has performed this type of installation many times. She was very willing to give advice which helped us perform the work: just another reason why this group has had value in my company. I had the application sitting on my desk for well over a year. I guess it never got high enough on the ‘to-do list.’ Wish I would have sent it in sooner.”

Buck Collins summed up: “Recently, I received a call from a prospective customer who had just read an article in the Holmes magazine. They featured an article which made mention of the NTCA and their commitment to quality installations. She visited the NTCA website and was impressed with what she read, and ultimately found us there.

“The NTCA is an organization that is passionate about the success of the tile industry as a whole,” Collins said. “We are grateful for all their leadership and commitment to the needs of, and promotion of, the contractor – it has truly benefitted our business.”
For more information on the NTCA Five-Star Contractor Program, visit www.tile-assn.com and click the Five-Star link on the scroll bar at the bottom of the page.

2011 NTCA Tile & Stone Symposiums

Having evolved from NTCA’s longstanding workshop program, the 2011 NTCA Tile & Stone Symposium program began in December 2010. NTCA staff and industry professionals from Custom Building Products, LATICRETE, H.B. Fuller and MAPEI collaborated on the 2011 road-show program, keeping the core format but adding custom-tailored elements that distinguished it from past year’s programming. For instance, the flexibility of this year’s PowerPoint presentations gave each location host the opportunity to select a topic of discussion that was important in their area of the country: The topics covered included updates to the 2011 TCA Handbook, as well as one of the following: membranes, large format tile, use of backer board, installation of glass mosaic tile, and shower installation/water management.

Interactive format

NTCA training director Gerald Sloan reviews the information on standards in during a Symposium.

But the biggest change – an Open Forum – was intended to get attendee participation. At each Symposium, the third and final hour (first hour is a catered dinner with plenty of time for networking, and second hour is presentations) was devoted to the Open Forum, and moderated by the NTCA presenter – either Gerald Sloan, NTCA training director, or Michael Whistler, NTCA workshop presenter/technical consultant. A panel of technically-informed industry professionals was featured at each location, fielding questions from contractors, distributor employees, architects and designers in the audience.

“This interaction between the audience and the manufacturer’s technical representatives with Michael or me as moderator has been very well received by all participants,” Sloan said. “It allows the technical representatives to answer the audience’s questions in a non-proprietary way and give explanations on cautions and limitations for the products, tools, and methods that we work with to ensure a high quality tile or stone installation.”

High praise

Attendees at the Symposium hosted by Best Tile in Rochester listen intently to the material presented.

This new Symposium format has received an enthusiastic response from hosts and attendees alike. For instance, Pamela Johnson, of ProSource Wholesale Flooring in North Little Rock, Ark., praised Sloan for a “very informative, organized, and timely seminar you gave at Daltile in North Little Rock, Arkansas on the 28th of July. I realized after commenting to a number of my colleagues how much I enjoyed your demonstration that I had never taken the time to tell YOU.

“I am correcting that error now by letting you know I cannot count the number of events like that one I have attended and yours was by far the best,” she added. “Keep up the good work and I look forward to catching another of your events when you’re in our fair town.”

David Kocienda of Best Tile of N.C., in Raleigh was grateful for the “three great events” in the area. “Gerald did an outstanding job keeping everybody who attended interested in the message that we as an industry are trying to get across. Nyle (Wadford, NTCA president) also was a big part of making our Symposiums a great success; being a ‘local boy’ the contractors felt he understood their concerns. All of our vendors were equally impressed with the turnout and the professionalism displayed by all involved.”

Devin Steele of Triangle Flooring in Cary, N.C. felt warmly welcomed by the Symposium team. “Meeting several of you (Nyle Wadford, NTCA president, Dan Welch, NTCA first vice president, NTCA regional director Martin Howard of David Allen Company, and NTCA’s Gerald Sloan)…was great,” he said. “The camaraderie between members was very much like a fraternity, friendly and open though most in the room are my competitors. Everyone was there to help each other as well as gain additional knowledge. “This was our first NTCA meeting and I would describe it to being similar to the Master Craftsman Guilds found in Europe,” he added. “The sponsors and coordinators did a great job in communicating the NTCA focus: expand members’ knowledge base and bring a high degree of professionalism in this highly unregulated trade.”

Eric Schlundt from Daltile in Fresno, Calif., said that the contractor attendees at the Fresno Symposium “learned a lot and found the meeting to be a benefit to them in their daily business. Michael Whistler did a great job in his presentation as he spoke about the TCNA Handbook and the upcoming changes to it: larger format tiles, thinset coverage and expansion joints to just name a few. We actually ran out of time as questions kept coming from the attendees throughout the evening.”

New membership opportunities

There was a great turnout for the Symposium hosted at D&B Distributors in West Palm Beach (shown) and Doral, Fla.

This year’s highly interactive format also resulted in many new members joining at the Symposiums.
For Steele, “becoming a member of the NTCA was a no brainer for us. Our business and our construction projects will be at less risk because we are plugged into the NTCA resources. My crews and I will forever be students of this ever-changing trade due to advanced leaps in construction materials, technology and complex construction schedules.”
New member Andy Carlson of Checker Tile Limited said, “I have enjoyed TileLetter for years, but the seminar we had here in Madison, Wis., really convinced me to join. I really enjoyed it. I look forward to learning more about NTCA. I have been doing mud work for 25 years now, but there is always something new to learn.”

In addition to being free of charge to all attendees, all NTCA Symposiums are worth two AIA CEUs (HSW-CEUs), and are as welcoming to members of the architect and design community as they are to tile and stone contractors.

Many thanks!

A lot of work and planning goes into hosting a Symposium and I want to personally thank the distributors who stepped up to make 2011 the most successful year ever. They include: Artistic Tile, Best Tile, Big D Floor Covering Supplies, D&B Tile Distributors, Emser Tile, Floor & Décor Outlets, GranQuartz, JP Flooring, Louisville Tile, and Miles Distributors. We want to extend a special thank you to Daltile for their huge commitment of hosting 45 Symposiums in 2011.
I want to also thank all the NTCA Symposium sponsors. We have over 45 companies that have stepped forward to sponsor the NTCA trailers, helping to offset the expenses incurred sending two trainers across the country.

One of NTCA’s accomplishments this year is that despite these tough economic times, we set a record of holding over 80 Symposiums. One of them is being held this month and is a very tough assignment (wink, wink). On October 26 Gerald and Michael will travel to Hawaii to give a Symposium in Honolulu hosted by Daltile. With a workshop held in Alaska a few years back by Joe Tarver, we can now say that we have covered the whole country.

Our Symposium season is coming to a close for this year, but we are already planning for the 2012 run. Contact me at jim@tile-assn.com or phone 601-939-2071 if you’d like to be a host or sponsor; and keep an eye out for a Symposium coming to your area. We’d love to meet you!

Tile Decks, Patios and Balconies

By David M. Gobis, CTC CSI
Ceramic Tile Consultant

Let me preface this article by saying I spent most of my working life on my knees like many of you. In the second phase of my career at the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF), constant exposure to the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) Performance Testing Lab played a huge role in developing a greater understanding or in some cases confirmation of all those curious little nuances about tile and setting materials that we think we know but are really just guessing about. Now that my knees don’t work so well anymore (I wouldn’t have changed a thing) – and armed with new learning over a ten-year span at CTEF – I have entered the twilight segment of my career; inspection and consulting.

During the course of conversation with a bunch of contractors at an industry event, the question was asked, “What kind of failures do you see most often, relatively speaking?” The answer and subject of this article is decks, patios, and balconies. Some of my Southern friends say these applications will not survive a freeze/thaw environment, which I take exception to. My home is in Wisconsin where we have had frost warnings in the middle of June. Yet many exterior tile installations in commercial and public buildings around Wisconsin are still performing, some after over 100 years of service. I have installed slate, limestone, quarry tile, mosaics, and yes, porcelain and they are all doing just fine.

Beyond porcelain

The stone product selected for this accent band used in a freeze/thaw area was just 1% over the maximum recommended absorption of 5%. The contractor discussed this with the vendor and was told their XYZ sealer would densify the surface and greatly lower the porosity. This picture is typical of how the stone looked after the first winter. If it sounds too good to be true, it is -that will never change.

Something I hear consistently is that only porcelain tile may be used on exterior applications. While in most instances porcelain is an excellent choice, many tiles have been used in exterior applications long before the popularity of porcelain tile. The industry-accepted recommendation for exterior environments is that tile with a porosity of greater than 5% should never be used in an exterior application, 3% or less is preferred.

This would include most quarry tile, many mosaic tiles and numerous other popular floor tiles besides porcelain. The more moisture and temperature cycle changes the tile is exposed to, the more appropriate one with lower porosity becomes; the less rainfall and temperature variation, the less the concern. While many stones can be used successfully in exterior applications you must be very careful to select the appropriate product for the geographic location. Stone products within their own generic family can perform quite differently depending on where quarried. A word to the wise: do not assume anything when it comes to stone applications. Tests for moisture absorption, freeze/thaw resistance, and slip resistance are available for stone as well as tile products.

Drainage is in the details

The owner complaint on this job was leaking, loose tile, and efflorescence. The chosen membrane requires seaming the sheets to form a continuous waterproof surface, which was not done. Where I removed the first tile ice had filled the voids between the ridges. As the ice expanded it pushed the tile off the thinset. The tile installation abutted to a thicker coping stone which caused additional moisture retention and efflorescence.

Incomplete waterproofing (that does not involve a system approach with flashing and pretreatment of cracks and corners) or lack of proper drainage and likely both is where things usually go bad from my experience. Exterior applications such as a slab on-grade patio do not automatically require waterproofing. The most important aspect of that type of installation is proper drainage. We know we should pre-pitch a shower-pan liner below the mortar bed for drainage, and the importance of proper slope for surface-applied waterproofing products. Decks and patios are no different. Whether the water is shed at the surface or below it, proper drainage is critical to avoiding damage from freeze/thaw, moisture expansion, and to limit efflorescence. The standard ” per foot or 2% slope is really a minimum that should be considered for any exterior application exposed to the elements. When using exterior wire-reinforced mortar beds, a drainage mat will aid the reduction of moisture retention dramatically. If tile is to be installed over an occupied space or the structure must be protected for other reasons, waterproofing AND drainage may be necessary.

Efflorescence is hard to avoid when you do every- thing right. However, there are plenty of products to help avoid it. This deck was prone to standing water due to lack of any meaningful pitch. The grout joints rarely dried out but were perfectly white when they did.

Many setting-material manufacturers tend to be a little gun shy about their waterproofing products used in exterior applications. Claims history provides many good reasons for their aversion. Patios, decks, and balconies – particularly over living spaces – are not the place to experiment with your personally-engineered hybrid waterproofing system or strategy. My recommendation is to thoroughly research the system you are considering or the person specifying has selected. Make no assumptions! Unless it comes with written instructions for the specific application and a warranty, move on to another system.

Once selected, it should go without saying that ALL the instructions including flashing requirements need to be followed. Under most building codes, a flood test – while prudent – is not required for enclosed exterior decks such as balconies. A move is afoot, which I support, to require flood testing of horizontal-enclosed waterproof installations. There is a testing procedure under ASTM D-5957 that, while cumbersome in its current format, would work for tile installations.

Mortar considerations

I can hear somebody in the Southwest saying we’ve used Saltillo tile all the time without a problem. In moderate climates rarely subjected to freeze/thaw with little in the way of rain, it’s not likely to be a problem. Just don’t try it in Kentucky where this deck was located.

The selection of setting materials and grout for exterior applications is not as simple as it may seem. It’s obvious that the thin-set mortar should be rated for a wet application. However not so obvious is the definition of wet application. A vertically-tiled surface is a very different wet application compared to a horizontal surface when it comes to waterproofing and thinset. Submersion (floor application in an exterior wet area) is a very specific performance requirement. Not all polymer-modified thinsets are suitable for submersion. A few contain polymers that will re-emulsify and others only when exposed to moisture for prolonged periods, like a floor in the wet season. All polymer or latex modified thinsets should be protected from exposure to the elements until they reach initial cure. This includes not only rain but direct exposure to sunlight. Premature exposure to rain will impact the performance of any thin-set and possibly render a latex or polymer thinset useless. On the other hand, heat causes rapid cement hydration that will greatly reduce the bonding abilities of the thinset.

The last caution and number one cause of all installation failures is lack of movement accommodation which is another article all by itself. One thing is certain. People love tile decks, patios, and balconies. However, those types of projects require a very exacting installation process where no short cuts are acceptable without having a negative effect on the tile installation. Exterior applications of ceramic tile require experienced tile installers using quality products. Many otherwise-good installers and some materials are simply not up to the task. Proper product selection and application are going to require more information than you will receive from your typical sales representative. Study all system components thoroughly and choose wisely before you venture outdoors.

David M. Gobis, a third-generation tile setter, is an independent technical consultant. He has been in the trade for over 35 years and owned a successful contracting business for many years prior to his current position. Gobis is an author of over 150 trade-related articles and a frequent speaker at industry events. He is a member of the Construction Specification Institute, International Code Council, American Concrete Institute, National Tile Contractors Technical Committee, voting member of The American National Standards for Ceramic Tile Installation and Setting Materials (ANSI A108/118), American Society for Testing of Materials (ASTM) C-21 Ceramic Whitewares, and Tile Council of America Installation Handbook committees. You can reach him via email, dave@ceramictileconsultant.com.