Tech Tip Tuesday: Q & A With NTCA Training Director Mark Heinlein

Member Question:

I have a job where we installed a porcelain tile. It is 8” x 15” and the side walls are fine but the wet walls are not good.  The worst part is they have that system of lighting where it is shining down directly from above so it shows all discrepancies and shadows. Is there anything in the industry standards that allows for a tolerance for a little lippage?

Mark’s Response:

Thank you for contacting the National Tile Contractors Association.

The standard for lippage is found in ANSI A108.02 Section 4 (copy attached) and is echoed in the TCNA Handbook.  Generally speaking, 1/32” in addition to the allowable warpage of a tile manufactured in accordance with ANSI A137.1 is the allowable lippage for wall mount mosaics with a grout joint width of 1/16 – 1/8”.

I understand these strip mosaics can be difficult and time consuming to install.  You are correct that substrate flatness is the place to start to help ensure the installed lippage is within tolerance.

The NTCA Reference Manual has an excellent section describing Wash Wall Lighting and how to avoid problems that can be associated with it.  If you have your Reference Manual at hand, it will provide some good reading on this topic.

The 2017 TCNA Handbook contains a section on Visual Inspection of Finished Tilework.  I don’t have my book close at hand but it is in the first 30-40 pages.  It may help your situation that visual inspection of wall installations is performed at 36” from the tilework.  Please take a look at that section in the Handbook and see if it can work for you in this case.

Please let me know if I can help with any further questions you might have after you are able to review the documents I listed above.

I hope this helps!

Mark Heinlein

NTCA Training Director

Sponsor Product Spotlight – LATICRETE® STRATA_MAT™ XT

As a recent addition to its uncoupling products portfolio, LATICRETE STRATA_MAT™ XT provides installers instant coverage verification, faster drying of mortar and a shorter time to grout. Composed specifically for ceramic tile and dimension stone installations, STRATA_MAT XT serves as an uncoupling layer and vapor management layer that accomodates moisture from beneath the tile covering to minimize floor height gain from tile installation materials. In addition, at 5/16″ (7.9 mm) thick STRATA_MAT XT helps to create an even transition between typical 1/4” to 3/8″ (3 to 9 mm) thick tile and 3/4″ (19 mm) thick hardwood flooring.

For more information, visit

Coverings 2018 Partners with Delta Airlines to Offer Discounted Flights

Coverings 2018 has partnered with Delta Airlines to offer discounted flights to Atlanta. The discount is available for both domestic and international attendees and exhibitors traveling between May 2 and May 16, 2018.

When booking online, select “Book A Trip”, which will bring you to the “Book A Flight” page. When entering your search options, make sure to enter the code below in the “Meeting Event Code” box provided on the page:

Coverings 2018 code: NMQTG

Reservations may also be made by calling Delta Meeting reservations at (800) 328-1111, Mon – Fri, 7am-7pm CST (US and Canada only). Please note that there is a direct ticketing fee for booking through the reservation number above.

Discounts will vary based on flight origination and class of service selected.

Click here to visit Delta’s Meetings Travel website for reservations and ticketing.

2018 CID Awards Submissions Now Open

The Coverings Installation and Design (CID) Awards celebrate outstanding achievements in the design and installation of tile and stone in both residential and commercial projects. Multiple entries are accepted and encouraged.
Submissions for the 2018 CID Awards are now being accepted. Submission deadline is January 15, 2018.


  • A grand prize of $3,000 will be awarded to the most outstanding project, showcasing excellence in both design and installation.
  • Eight category winners will receive $2,000.
  • All winners will win a free one-night stay in Atlanta to attend the Coverings 2018 show along with onsite recognition.

Click here to submit entries now!

Fuse Alliance and Starnet Worldwide Join Forces to Address Key Industry Issues and Challenges

Two of the largest organizations of commercial flooring contractors, Starnet Worldwide Commercial Flooring and Fuse Alliance, announced today that they will form a joint task force to focus on critical issues facing the commercial flooring industry. During a meeting last month in Chicago, both groups’ Board of Directors identified the task force as a collaborative step toward supporting each networks’ members and better serving their manufacturers.

The task force will address long-standing industry concerns such as moisture mitigation—including high-moisture solutions—and labor shortages in estimating and installation. Additionally, the task force will establish guidelines for regulatory practices including the current OSHA Crystalline Silica rules and other labor issues on the service side of the industry. By tapping into each other’s base of knowledge and resources, Starnet and Fuse can tackle a broader range of issues affecting the architecture and design industry, and ultimately craft a better customer experience.

The task force is estimated to launch by year’s end, and will be composed of seasoned members from both groups. Collectively, Fuse Alliance and Starnet Worldwide represent more than 250 of the most influential flooring contractors in the United States.


Ege Seramik has created a cutting-edge contemporary wood-look using modern inkjet technology with its latest introduction of the TRI-WOOD Collection.

This pressed; glazed porcelain tile is paired with a modern color palette of grey or beige – with gentle variation.

TRI-WOOD offers customers a winning TRIFECTA:


This 6” x 36” plank is suitable for residential to moderate commercial use. Its industrious qualities as a durable, hard-wearing tile… plus the ease of maintenance make TRI-WOOD ideal indoors and out.


The Belknap White Group (BWG), one of America’s leading full-service flooring distributors, just announced that Tony Whitfield has accepted the position as Vice President of its Ceramic Division. In this role, he will be responsible for all ceramic-related products, including porcelain tiles and panels, natural stone, associated ceramic supplies…as well as supervision of BWG’s ceramic sales teams. He comes to BWG from Marazzi USA, where he was National Sales Director. Prior to that stint, for 15-plus years, Whitfield was General Manager of Alabama-based Jenkins Brick and Tile.

“As you can see, Tony has spent the majority of his career within the Ceramic Tile industry,” stated Joe O’Keefe, Human Resources Manager at BWG. “We are confident with his knowledge of the industry and positive attitude… he will be a great leader for our ceramic division.”

Whitfield is in the process of relocating to New England, and will be working out of BWG’s national headquarters in Mansfield, Massachusetts. “I’m equally excited and honored to be connected with an organization as successful and professional as is The Belknap White Group!” exclaimed Whitfield. “The firm already does a good job in marketing and providing top ceramic tile products to our customer base. Working with my new colleagues, my focus will be to grow this division even more.”

LATICRETE Hires Spencer Maheu as North America Director, Product Management

Maheu to drive new product innovation activities at LATICRETE

LATICRETE, a leading manufacturer of globally proven construction solutions for the building industry, has hired Spencer Maheu as the North America Director, Product Management. Maheu will supervise the LATICRETE team of product managers in driving new product innovation across the North American region through the continued development and diversification of the company’s integrated marketing communications.

“Spencer has the background and experience that will push our company’s product innovation further, allowing LATICRETE to continue providing cutting-edge solutions for our customers. I look forward to seeing his contributions to the North American Division as we continue to expand our product offerings,” said Sean Boyle, LATICRETE Vice President, Marketing North America.

Maheu comes to LATICRETE from Osborn International, a division of Jason Industries, where he led the product management, marketing and business development teams. Prior to working at Osborn, Maheu led product development teams at Stanley Black & Decker.

Maheu received a bachelor’s degree in International Business from Western New England University.


In a great team effort, Russo Trading has donated over $24,000 worth of products to help rebuild Houston after hurricane.

“Texas has been a great area for us, especially the Houston area. We wanted to make sure our customers who have been great to us had some tools to get back on their feet, hopefully reducing the number of tools that they would need to rebuy.

We selected tools based on issues we predicted these companies would have. Sending grout rakes to be used as squeegees to remove water, scraper tools to remove old thin set and grout that was damaged, and a floor machine to clean floors and sand down concrete floors for new foundation, and even re-grout floors with a grout attachment. Products for everyday use like sponges and tile cutters were sent as well.

In addition to helping their friends in Texas, RTC has compiled another shipment to Florida, that totals over $12,000 worth of tools in relief for another segment of valued customers. This totals more than $36,000 in donations this year between the two natural disasters seen in the South this summer. RTC is honored to provide help in any way possible. “Being in the tool business, we understand the investment that is made over the course of a career and feel this is the most efficient way to help a contractor get back on their feet”.

Bostik Introduces Bosti-FlexTM Plus, a Multi-Purpose Siliconized Acrylic Latex Sealant

Bostik, Inc., a world leader in specialty adhesives and installation systems for building construction, has introduced Bostik Bosti-FlexTM Plus; a high-performance siliconized acrylic latex sealant. Offering exceptional adhesion and flexibility to most building materials and common household surfaces, Bosti-FlexTM Plus complements various Bostik grout colors and may also be easily painted with latex or oil-based coatings. For both interior and exterior applications, Bosti-FlexTM Plus is mold/mildew resistant, provides excellent elasticity for flexible joints, emits zero VOC’s and is easy to apply and clean.

According to Jake Krause, Bostik’s Product Line Specialist for Construction Sealants and Adhesives, “The product has been developed for multi-purpose sealant applications that include windows, door frames, sinks, tubs, shower surrounds, countertops and bonding applications for wood trim, ceramic tile and natural stone. The versatility of Bosti-FlexTM Plus along with its ease of use, should make this a go-to product for multiple applications!”

Bostik Bosti-FlexTM Plus is offered in a handy case consisting of twelve, 10.1-ounce cartridges and currently is available in six colors.

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