Tech Tip Tuesday – August 15, 2017

Q: Right now, I have engineered hardhoods that float over a concrete slab (second floor/above grade).  There have been water leak issues every one to two years usually in summer since I moved in 7 years ago, and no one seems able to fix it.  I’ve been told the water is getting in through the door, or from flashing outside, or from the slab below as water vapor, or that the aluminum slider is leaking/sweating, and that sunlight could also be making it worse.  I’ve never actually seen any water, even when the slab was exposed for several months two summers ago with frequent heavy DC thunderstorms (just a small area of wet concrete once and the discolored and cupping wood, which scrapes against the door).









What I hope to find is a solution that will work regardless of the moisture source.  I’m not a pro but propose cutting a square for an entryway there and installing outdoor rated porcelain tile (2 that are 12 x 24 or possibly 4 creating a two foot by four foot entry — although I prefer the smaller option).  The tiles would be surrounded by schluter strips, then the existing wood beyond that.  So here are my questions:

(1) Do you think that will work?
(2) If so, should I seal the concrete (maybe with Redgard), or will that make any potential water vapor migrate further into the unit and damage the hardwoods?  I’d rather have tile issues than wood issues at this point so I don’t have to replace the entire wood in that room.
(3) Any other advice?



Thank you for contacting me at the National Tile Contractors Association.

You should not be seeing any water coming in through or under the door sill or into the concrete like this.  The problem of water entering the structure needs to be resolved before installing any floor surface.

In my opinion your problem could be with the door itself, or the installation of the door, or the installation of the deck and it’s framing, or the installation of flashing at the exposed edge of the slab, or any combination of these things.

I have seen this problem before. The subfloor kept getting saturated every time it rained.  The finish floor could not be installed.  The problem was improper installation of a very expensive door unit by the general contractor.  The contractor figured they had installed hundreds of doors and they didn’t need to follow the manufacturer instructions.  After numerous attempts to add more sealant and after removing and replacing the door at least two times, a manufacturer rep came onsite to monitor the installation a third time and, using the printed instructions for the door, directed the contractor on it’s installation.  Problem solved.  The door never leaked again.

Here’s a simple test you can try. Spray the door and sill with a hose or sprinkle water on it with a garden watering can to mimic rain.  Does water come in?  Does it come in under/through the sill?  Does it come in through the door sweep?  If it does, there is a problem with the door / sill and/or it’s installation.  Again, no water should come in under the sill or through the sweep or other door component.  I encourage you to contact the manufacturer of the door unit and obtain their original installation instructions and attempt to determine whether the door was properly installed.  You may have to have the door removed, examined, and reinstalled using the instructions to make this determination.

As you have already been advised, the water intrusion may be originating with the flashing (or lack of flashing) and/or the deck installation and/or the installation of the sill and door.  Water may indeed be gathering in the leading edge of the slab under the deck and becoming saturated and wicking into the top corner of the slab and up under the sill and into the subfloor area.   You need to have that issue properly examined and properly resolved.   I recommend hiring a recognized, licensed, experience, trusted general contractor and have them give you a proper inspection and strategy for correction.  Be prepared to have them remove some deck boards to see what’s going on there.

You need to get the problem fixed that is allowing the water intrusion before you make a decision as to what to do for the floor finish.

There are methods to go about installing the tile, but you don’t want to have water intrusion into your structure. If left unresolved it’s persistent presence may likely  create other, as yet unforeseen problems.

After you have resolved the water intrusion and decide that you’d like to install tile, please get back in touch and I can help point you in the right direction for a proper tile installation.

I hope this helps,

Mark Heinlein, NTCA Trainer/Presenter


NTCA Launches New Career Center for Job Seekers and Employers

The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), has added an updated, high-powered Career Center available now on its website. The Career Center is designed to provide both employers and job seekers with a better overall job board experience through a modern design and an intuitive interface.

Job seekers can manage their job search, access job postings, post a resume, or join the job alert system. The job search feature is made easy and can be filtered by position and location, returning up to 100 results at a time. Employers are able to quickly post job openings, manage online recruiting efforts, advance resume searching, or reach targeted qualified applicants. The tool allows employers to search for resumes, keep track of candidates, post company information, and much more. The Career Center can be accessed through a desktop, smartphone, tablet, or any mobile device.

“NTCA is excited to offer an easy-to-use program that will allow for people to post their resume to explore their options at furthering their career.  As more and more people do this, we will be able to help connect companies looking for qualified people in the tile and stone industry to these candidates,” said Bart Bettiga, executive director.

The Career Center can be accessed on the home page of the NTCA website at, or by visiting the following link: Click Here!

Crossville, Inc. Announces Its Laminam by Crossville Collections Are ANSI A137.3 Compliant, Leads in ANSI Installation Standards

Officials with Crossville, Inc. recently announced that its Laminam by Crossville gauged porcelain tile panels are compliant with ANSI A137.3 standards. All collections in the full Laminam by Crossville catalog exceed the product performance measures defined in the ANSI standard.

According to Noah Chitty, Crossville’s director of technical services, the company sought the compliance not only to bolster the reputation of its own product lines but also support the burgeoning gauged porcelain tile panel category in the U.S. market.

“Crossville pursued the creation of a product standard to help ensure the stability of the gauged porcelain tile panel category. If lesser performing products are introduced into the marketplace without minimum specification standards, then there could potentially be failures that damage the overall product category,” Chitty states.

In addition to its focus on product standards, Crossville has also joined with other industry leaders in the development of the ANSI installation standard (ANSI A108.19) for gauged porcelain tile panels. The installation standard provides consistency in methodology—essential as more and more installers start training with these large tile panels. The installation standard defines the practices that will produce consistent outcomes when employed correctly, resulting in applications of the gauged porcelain tile panels that perform to expectation.

Chitty explains that the ANSI standards are essential in conveying gauged porcelain tile panels’ value proposition to specifiers who must be mindful of quality and cost when selecting materials.

“In a specification market, it is crucial that the designer, architect, contractor, and all parties involved are assured the products they use will offer the functionality and aesthetics required. By having standards for gauged porcelain tile panel products, our industry is helping to make sure that specifiers are truly getting what they expected,” Chitty summarizes.

The attaining of ANSI A137.3 is just the latest in Crossville’s longstanding commitment to the gauged porcelain tile panel category. The company was the first in the U.S. to add a complete line of products through its exclusive Laminam distribution agreement. In the years following, the company has created and hosted installation training programs that have resulted in hundreds of installers gaining the know-how to work with the products. Likewise, Crossville offers educational programs and resources for designers and specifiers so that they can use the creative solutions of gauged porcelain tile panels in commercial and residential projects.

“We’re excited to see more and more projects using our porcelain tile panels in beautiful, creative ways,” Chitty concludes. “The innovations are empowering designers to specify tile in ways never before possible.”

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 (, the largest international tile and stone show in North America, invites conference presenters and industry leaders to submit educational proposals for the show’s 2018 Conference Program. Returning to Atlanta for the first time since 2013, Coverings will be held May 8-11 at the Georgia World Congress Center.

Lauded for its dynamic and engaging educational programs, Coverings invites thought-leaders to share fresh and innovative content that focuses on the latest, need-to-know information relating to cross-segment collaboration and best practices; trends in products and design; innovative business and project case studies; installation techniques and evolving industry technologies; economic forecasting; engaging the millennial generation; health, safety and wellness; and more. Proposed programming should focus on how to help professionals grow their businesses and enhance the industry at large and must be submitted for review by 5:00 p.m. PDT on Friday, September 8, 2017. Proposals can be submitted online.

“Coverings offers a comprehensive conference program dedicated to educating and engaging professionals at all stages of their careers across numerous professional segments of the tile & stone industry,” said Michele Nebel Peake, VP, Conference Development at Taffy Events, the management company for Coverings. “We take pride in providing a broad range of educational options and formats which creates an interactive learning experience, generates discussion, and provides our attendees with tools and knowledge that encourage professional success.”

Access to all education is FREE to registered Coverings exhibitors and attendees. Coverings is a registered provider of AIA and NKBA continuing education and applies for CEUs for ASID/IIDA through IDCEC.

The complete Coverings 2018 conference program will be revealed in January 2018 on

Ask the Experts – August 2017


An architect has requested my input relative to developing a labor and material specification for installing new porcelain floor tile over existing granite floor tiles in a high-traffic lobby in a commercial office building. Can you direct me to any relevant literature or information that addresses such applications? Thanks.


I suggest referring your architect to the 2016 TCNA Handbook methods TR611, TR711 and particularly TR712. Please note that if the installation is not, or cannot be made acceptable for tiling over with a thin bed system, Method F111, or another method, may be required.

As described in TR712, it is critical that the existing installation be sound, well bonded and without structural cracks. It must be determined if the existing installation will properly support the new installation. The existing tile and its bond to the substrate and the condition of the substrate will all reflect on the performance of the new installation. If there are existing structural cracks, their cause will have to be explored before using the existing surface as a substrate. It is advisable to consider the need for a partial or full crack isolation membrane. Those methods are F125-Partial and F125-Full in the TCNA Handbook.

Any existing expansion in the substrate beneath the existing installation must be honored in the new installation. TCNA Handbook Method EJ171 will be the reference to all expansion and other types of joints that must be honored and designed and installed into the new system. Note that EJ171 states the architect shall specify the location of any expansion joints and other soft joints throughout the field and other locations such as the perimeter and any change in plane. Have the architect specify in writing (via drawings) where these are to go and which materials and EJ171 details should be used to construct them.

Checking for the ability to bond to the existing tile is imperative. If there are sealers or oils or waxes, etc., on the existing sur- face, they must be removed. If the tile is highly polished, it will likely require mechanical abrasion to allow the bond coat to adhere. I suggest doing a simple bond test by mixing and placing (including keying in) the mortar that will be used for the project onto the surface of the existing tile. Do this in several representative locations. Allow the mortar to cure for several days then remove it to determine how well it was able to bond to the substrate. You can select the trowel you will use for the job, comb the mortar and place a tile on top of the bond coat as a means of checking your coverage and inspecting the overall performance of the bond coat at the same time. Document everything about this test in writing and with photographs. Repeat the test with other materials and

tools if needed.
Depending on the results of the

bond test, it may be advisable to apply a primer that will facilitate bonding. Some setting-material manufacturers have specific primers designed for this purpose. They can recommend their best products (including mortar) for this application. I suggest using a system approach from one manufacturer that includes any primers, membranes, mortars, grouts, sealants, sealers, etc. I advise you to contact the technical representative of your preferred manufacturer about this job. They will be happy to assist you in writing a system warranty specific to this job.

Please also refer to ANSI A108.01 as an important reference for this installation.

It is necessary to ensure the substrate meets industry standard flatness requirements found in the ANSI Standards and TCNA Handbook. Please refer specifically to ANSI A108.01

Generally speaking the standard is:

  • 1/4” in 10’ for tile with any side 
less than 15”
  • 1/8” in 10’ for tile with any side 
15’ or longer
  • Flatness can be checked with a 
10’ straight edge.

Financial allowances must be included in the specification, and proposal for labor and materials to flatten and otherwise prepare the substrate must be included in the specification and proposal. 
Tiling over sound existing tile as a substrate is an excellent way to proceed. As with any tile installation, careful research, proper planning, using the recommendations of industry standards, following manufacturer instructions, using a system approach, good communication and documentation before you proceed will mean a great and long-lasting installation and will make all parties happy with the end result. You are already on the right path. I hope this helps!

Mark Heinlein, NTCA Trainer/Presenter


LATICRETE has recently launched PERMACOLOR® Select, which is an advanced high performance cement grout that offers the industry’s first dispersible dry pigment solution. Designed for virtually all types of residential and commercial installation, PERMACOLOR Select allows contractors and distributors to eliminate waste and carry product for five years – much longer than traditional grouts, which requires disposal after only one year.

Contractors gain increased productivity and time savings on the jobsite, with a faster time-to-grout and foot traffic permitted in as little as three hours when using PERMACOLOR Select.

Additionally, PERMACOLOR Select is easy to clean, meets UL GREENGUARD certification standards for low chemical emissions and is a component of the LATICRETE Lifetime System Warranty. For more information, visit

Introducing DCM-PRO Mat: The new anti-fracture membrane by Warmup®

The DCM-PRO Floor Heating System from Warmup® combines anti-fracture protection, floor heating and WiFi controls. The innovative system from Warmup® provides high heat outputs for Primary Heating controlled by Warmup’s proprietary MyWarmup app. The system is comprised of a ¼” castellated membrane, the Warmup® DCM-PRO Heating Cable and Warmup® 4iE Thermostat. The full system comes with a 30-year warranty and is currently available in 63 countries. It will be available for purchase in the United States, Canada and Mexico in September 2017.


The pre-spaced channels on the DCM-PRO Membrane make it easy to space and lay the DCM-PRO Cable evenly. Spacing must always be consistent throughout the installation, ensuring even heating throughout the floor. Cables can be spaced at 2, 3 or 4” for the highest flexibility in heat outputs, from Comfort Heating to Primary Heating. The DCM-PRO Cable is durable and flexible due to its ETFE inner jacket for high heat outputs and a PVC outer sleeve, for a smooth installation and protection of the cable.


The TCNA-tested DCM-PRO Membrane can be attached to wood and cement subfloors using any tile adhesive thanks to a patented design with Hydration Vents. The patented DCM-PRO design of the membrane allows for more adhesive to connect with the cable and thereby distribute the heat more evenly, leaving no hot and cold spots.

The membrane design is comfortable to work on and praised by tile professionals. Installers can use either modified or unmodified adhesives over the membrane to suit their installation needs. The DCM-PRO membrane can even be covered with self-levelling mortars (SLU’s) to allow installation of small format tiles and other floor types such as glue-down wood and LVT’s to be laid on top of the DCM-PRO System.

The unique design of the DCM-PRO Membrane protects the cable from mechanical damage caused by walking on the system, as well as any other possible harm to the system caused by buckets, tools or a trowel when tiling. This leads to a reduced risk of installation failures.


The 4iE® is quite simply the smartest line voltage thermostat on the market.

We designed it so you that wouldn’t have to use it. It can program itself using your smartphone location and the occasional override. The WiFi capability also allows you to vary your settings by zone. Don’t worry: your 4iE® will recommend the best setting for each room based on usage. Central heating systems are not efficient. You can’t be comfortable in the bedroom and the office if the thermostat is in the hallway. At Warmup®, we designed the 4iE® to allow you to zone your heating, set different comfort levels, and be able to manage all these zones from the MyWarmup app.

The 4iE® is designed to look great in both modern and traditionally styled homes, with high-gloss effect front faces, and bevelled chrome edges to reflect wall colors. A range of vinyl Overlays are available in bold colors and textured metal and wood effects. You can even use a custom photo to complement your wallpaper. The large color touchscreen can be customized with different themes and uploadable photo backgrounds. There’s even a 7-day local weather forecast icon built in.


The DCM-PRO Cable comes complete with a 30-Year Warranty and SafetyNet™ Installation Guarantee. The DCM-PRO Membrane has been rated as up to Heavy Commercial under the C627 Robinson test and has been tested by the Tile Council of North America to the ASTM 118.12 standards. For more information about Warmup® warranties, please click here.

For more information, please visit


M-D Building Products, Inc. is proud to announce the launch of their new corporate website – The site provides an in depth look at the M-D business as a whole, representing the breadth of their multiple business units and the varying industries they serve. M-D Building Products, Inc. is excited to have a one-stop space showcasing culture, values, history, career opportunities and manufacturing capabilities.

Their goal is to drive awareness for M-D Building Products, Inc. and what they do. The site illustrates the career growth opportunities at M-D and provides customers, vendors, employees and partners with a deeper understanding of the investments they are making today to continue to be the industry leader in their respective categories.

The corporate website will be a valuable source of information for all of stakeholders.
The launch of the site, furthermore, represents the investment M-D is making into the
digital landscape. Throughout this fiscal year, M-D is redesigning and updating all of their
different business units’ websites to provide an even better customer experience.

Stay tuned for each new website’s release; PROVA and M-D PRO websites COMING SOON! Visit and learn about the M-D family!

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