New Sales Representatives Bolster Compotite Corporation

Compotite Corporation, a pioneer in the shower waterproofing industry since 1938… and, the “new company you’ve known for more than 75 years,” has announced the addition of two regional sales representatives.

According to President & CEO, Alan Hutchins, Andy Larson and Brad Reed Nelson will now be handling Compotite sales in their respective territories. Not only will they be working with the firm’s tried-and-tested line of waterproofing and crack isolation membranes. Larson and Reed will also be selling the firm’s new line of Frank Lloyd Wright Linear Shower Drains.


Andy Larson

Larson, who is based just outside of Indianapolis, is stepping up into the position of Compotite’s east coast region sales manager. “This is a great opportunity,” he stated.“ The company is actually being re-launched. It’s still the family-run, highly reputable firm it has always been. But now with the comprehensive line of new products, there is a lot of excitement here!”


Brad Reed Nelson

Nelson, an accomplished furniture designer based in Carbondale, Colorado who will be covering Colorado, Wyoming and Montana added, “The new Frank Lloyd Wright drains are great. I believe they are exactly what the design/build marketplace needs. We are very stoked to alert potential buyers within this region about the great opportunities Compotite products bring to the table.”

Hutchins concluded, “We have strong growth plans. And we know that with the addition of professional people such as Andy and Brad, our plans to achieve this growth are looking very attainable.”  Hutchins also added “Compotite is in the process of recruiting more sales reps to assist with our current growth goals in many areas of the country.”

June 2016: New Products – Coverings Edition

Yes, every single one of these products on the following pages was on display at the Coverings show. Many miles were walked on the show floor, by NTCA staff, so you didn’t have to. But, we couldn’t be everywhere. Did you see something at Coverings that blew you away with its beauty or functionality or ability to improve your business? Send a photo and a short blurb complete with website, and we’ll print it in an upcoming issue.
– Lesley Goddin, [email protected]


At ABK, the Italian manufacturer showed Aspen, a wood/stone look (pictured) and Now, a stone look in formats with soft, pillowed edges.

Adex USA showed The Blue Ocean collection. The company offers beautiful decorative tile in subway,  arabesque, teardrop and pillow formats in gentle neutrals and classic black and white.

Alcalagres is offering the same pattern in different thickness tiles to allow interior and exterior installation of the same design for a cohesive indoor/outdoor look.

At Aparici, Carpet (pictured) is inspired by an 18th century Belgian carpet; Aged is a 8” x 8” scrollwork design reminiscent of ancient tin or metalwork; and a 10” x 13” textured wall tile uses real silver particles to create its metallic glimmer.

Avenue Mosaic, a five-year old company based in New York, with a Cleveland warehouse, features the design genius of Michael Golden (pictured with his Aloha mosaic) to develop unique and high-end products for other brand distribution. Current distributors of Golden’s designs are Crossville and New Ravenna. Avenue Mosaics is now partnering with Dune, a Spanish Tile manufacturer, to help develop products to bring to market at the right price. Golden specializes in “multisaics” that allow the creation of a range of patterns using only one or two mosaic shapes.

Cerdomus showed Mowa, an aged wood-look line. Customers can order a box of mixed tones within strong, cold, honey, hot, white, walnut and soft palettes from this Italian factory.

Colorker’s Aqua Luna offers a marble aesthetic with a richly scrolled, textured and three dimensional deco.

At a show punctuated by neutrals, white, grey and black, Crossville showed its porcelain Color by Numbers line (pictured), a fresh pop of color. It also offered Satori, a large, thin tile in the Laminam by Crossville line and Oceanaire, a neutral porcelain that reflected the tranquil movement and color of ocean sands.

Emil launched Brick Design Paint, which corresponds to 90 Pantone colors in a painted brick aesthetic.

Equipe showed Magical 3, a line of hexagon shapes in black matte, metallic and a mother of pearl sheen.

Fanal displayed this Jazz Stone deco as part of the Albi line. This deco has a pleasing, subtle texture.

Fioranese took a new twist on the wood look, with a bleached, weathered approach in the porcelain Dekap.

Firenze, a Porcelanite/Lamosa brand, showed Oxide with aged, weathered, oxidized effect and realistic metallic texture.

Florida Tile debuted Span in 12” x 24” and 24” x 24” formats, rectified in four colors, inspired by Belgian Bluestone. Two finishes are available for indoors and two for outdoors; two mosaics complete the package, which also features Microban.

Inalco showed its Calacatta Statuario porcelain slab in Satin finish porcelain slab in satin finish to illustrate the countertop/sink use of the heat-resistant, stain-resistant,  low maintenance material. It’s available in 5’ x 10’ with a new 40” x 8’ size for smaller spaces and floor formats as well. Thicknesses are 1/2” for counters, 6mm for walls and 10mm for floors.

Interceramic offers production in Mexico and a wall tile plant /company headquarters in Garland, Texas, producing high – density ceramic tile for residential use, similar in performance to porcelain, but at a value price. Shown is Burano, a vein-cut travertine look with Victorian mosaic (Interceramic manufactures its own mosaics) and the special Lumen FX, which adds a subtle glimmer along the vein lines for a luxurious effect.

At La Fabbrica, the large slab AVA line of Italian-made porcelain showed book-matched Breccia graphics in a polished finish for an extremely authentic look.

La Faenza, a brand from the Italian Imola Cooperative, has tribal and metallic decos for its Nirvana wood-look line, a fresh approach to lumber plank styling.

Landmark USA is a new brand from the Atlas Concorde Group with domestic production in Tennessee starting at the end of June. Its products are 100% porcelain, rectified, one caliber and one thickness. Shown is Attitude, an encaustic cement look.

Lunada Bay showed a new concrete line at Coverings, a result of a new plant in Oceanside, Calif. This 8” thick, strong,  satin-textured concrete pairs easily with many standard tiles. Here Contours Trifecta concrete pairs with Tozen Glow glass that uses real gold and silver leaf to give the glass a metallic shimmer.

Marazzi debuted the stunning Luminescence glass mosaic in eight pearlized colors. Available as 3” x 4” rectangles on 9” x 12” mesh mount, the surface is flat, but a concave bezel and hand-applied glaze creates a three-dimensional look. Back-buttering with white thinset fills in the bezel; glass grout enhances the final, high-end look.

At Mirage, Wooow is a carpet-effect tile that is being produced in the company’s Tennessee factory. It comes in 4 colors in 12” x 24” and 24” x 24” formats, with a nubby, woven carpet look.

Ornamenta showed the fabric-inspired Tartan line.

Peronda exhibited the Fashion Lab collaboration with architects, artists, photographers and other creative geniuses, which yields support for the artists and their projects from Peronda and fresh new ideas in tile design for the Spanish producer. Shown is Bowl, which offers a simple shape to create many patterns.

Ragno rolled out Bellacrete, an aged concrete look in glazed porcelain tile, with a fresco-style finish, in three colors.

At Rocersa, Ker Flex allows some flexibility in the 20 cm x 170 cm plank. This allows an installation offset of up to 50% due to the flexibility of the plank.

Saloni’s Marmaria 3D wall tile shows three dimensional, tactile effects for walls.

StonePeak Ceramics offered Blende porcelain with a pleasing hatched texture. StonePeak is an Iris brand with production in Tennessee.

Target Studio’s Unica line showed this colorful, novel take on the brick format.

Venus produces glazed porcelain wall and floor tile. Pictured is Petreas in Gobi Grey.

Vitromex brings color, texture and a variety of sizes to a subway tile format in its Brooklyn line.

Wonder Porcelain, located in Lebanon, Tennessee, has Michael Kephart as president, with Laurie Lyza running marketing. Several beautiful lines were on display, including Ancient Wood, Arcadia and Fabric Folio.


Antolini Luigi dazzled with its Precioustone collection of gorgeous natural stones cut so slim they could be illuminated from behind – like this natural agate, pictured. Also on display was the Haute Nature collection of original jewelry from the Lady A collection – designed by Alina Antolini and handmade in Italy from stones in Antolini’s Precioustone collection.

Creative Edge Master Shop displayed new luxury gemstones: Bolivian Sodalite, Honeycomb Onyx, Nephrite Jade and Lapis Lazuli.

Gereme A. S. from Izmir, Turkey, showed amazing treatment of natural stone to achieve a range of unique effects. All stones are treated to never need sealing. Offered in the U.S. through Arch Design Tile & Stone.

Soci’s silver concave herringbone in Turkish travertine was just one of the many natural stone and tile offerings the company had at the show. The company prides itself on offering fantastic design at affordable prices. Beautiful product is sourced from Spain, China, Turkey and Peru.

Setting materials

ARDEX Flexbone high-performance uncoupling systems are German engineered. ARDEX UI 720 Flexbone floating uncoupling membrane (pictured) offers 100% true uncoupling and is perfect for frequently changed floors; ARDEX UI 740 Flexbone uncoupling membrane has maximum shear and tensile bond strengths, vapor pressure equalization and topside waterproofing.

Custom Building Products introduced Speed Slope, a rapid-setting, sloping mortar for prefabricated showers and those installers who prefer mud bed work for showers. Speed Slope cures in 45 minutes – installers can put mud down, waterproof and flood test the same day.

LATICRETE Tri-Lite mortar is the creamiest formulation the company has produced. The mortar can be used as a thinset, a LHT mortar that can be built to 3/4”, and is nonsag and nonslump. Made of a proprietary lightweight aggregate, it has a four-hour open time, designed for super large tile.

MAPEI premiered rapid-setting Ultracolor® Plus FA.The fine aggregate makes it an all-in-one grout replacement for both sanded and unsanded grout, filling joints that range from 1/16” to 3/4”. MAPEI’s High-Hydrated Cement Technology (HCT™) eliminates common problems related to Portland-cement grout, such as color consistency and efflorescence and DropEffect™ technology reduces surface absorption to help repel water, dirt and grime. Made with 10% recycled content; Green Squared Certified.


IQ Power Tools vice president of research development and production, Paul Guth, demonstrating the iQTS244 – the world’s first dry-cut tile saw with integrated dust control.

Miracle’s Levolution tile leveling system requires only one clip per corner, speeding and facilitating tile installation and tuning. Each clip incorporates an easy-to-use spacer, which comes in three sizes. The cap makes it easy to see the tile below, allowing precision tuning with a tensioning gun. Once tile is set, the spacer is cleanly and simply removed and the cap can be reused.

Profilitec offers a wide range of profiles products and the Leveltec, unique lippage control system that features a one-handed, one-click operation.

RTC Products debuted the Spin Doctor lippage control system, which enables the tile setter to spin down the cap – one handed – for precise leveling adjustment. Unique breakaway 1/16” and 1/8” spacer posts can be reused with a transparent anti-friction shield and easy-visibility cap. Breakaway posts can even be used as spacers or wall shims.

TileRedi: Farrell Gerber, executive vice president of TileRedi, displaying latest Niche Display available for retailers, wholesalers and showrooms.

Wedi: The Sanoasa Bench kit includes everything needed to create a beautiful shower bench at 35” and 47” wide: the base top which can be used as a curved or flat front,  side panels, sealant and mesh.

Industry News: June 2016

Ceramic Technics wins Confindustria North American Distributor Award

june-news-01Confindustria Ceramica (the Italian Association of Ceramics) named Atlanta-based tile and stone distributor Ceramic Technics Ltd. as the 2016 Confindustria Ceramica North American Distributor Award. Ceramic Technics Ltd. emerged as this year’s winner due to its 28 years of high-level service as an importer and distributor in the commercial sector, characterized by a close attention to detail and keen understanding of the distinctive qualities that Italian ceramic tile offers. Other factors decided by the Supervisory Committee who made the decision included consistency, exemplary service as an Italian tile importer and distributor, a high-caliber corporate image, inclination towards Ceramics of Italy products, and fair trade practices in relation with Italian manufacturers.

CTDA names MAPEI Supplier of the Year

june-news-02The Supplier of the Year award, which is voted on by the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA) members, recognizes domestic and international supplier(s) who provide the most value to its distributor members and the ceramic tile and stone industry. The award this year went to MAPEI, international manufacturer of tile and stone setting systems. Rick Church, executive director of CTDA (l.) with Luigi Di Geso, president and CEO of MAPEI, are shown with the Supplier of the Year award.

Atlas Concorde establishes Tennessee headquarters

june-news-03Atlas Concorde, a global leader in the ceramic industry founded in Italy in 1969, has launched Atlas Concorde USA, a ceramic and porcelain tile brand created to blend true American heritage and tradition with Italian cutting-edge design and excellence.
Atlas Concorde USA opened its headquarters and showroom in Franklin, Tennessee, to better establish and strengthen American customer relationships built on trust, loyalty and honesty. The lines will focus on aesthetic appeal with excellent technical performance.

“All our products will be proudly made in America,” said Atlas Concorde USA, president, Maurizio Mazzotti, emphasizing a dedication to high manufacturing standards that have distinguished its brand. “Our goal is to enhance American living spaces with these innovative U.S.-inspired surfaces,” said Mazzotti. The company launched 16 new collections manufactured at this plant, which “were designed and created following the U.S. market’s style and trends, to combine history and traditional feel with the latest interior design styles.” More info at

Del Conca USA plans to double porcelain tile capacity

june-news-04Only two years after opening its U.S. production facilities, Del Conca USA, a subsidiary of Italy-based Del Conca Group, has put in motion plans to double its capacity of porcelain tile production at its Loudon County, Tenn., plant from 32 to 65 million sq. ft. per year.

The expansion was announced during the Coverings show in Chicago by Enzo Donald Mularoni, CEO of the Del Conca Group. He noted that the expansion will mean new jobs for the community with an increase of about 40 new local employees to the currently employed 85, and will utilize Italian technology in the plant – “making it a perfect combination of Italian and American talent,” he said.

The expansion, with work expected to begin during the second half of 2016, and production to start in early 2017, involves a further investment of 30 million USD both for construction and the purchase of new Italian technology. The plant will expand in size from 320,000 sq. ft. to 430,000 sq. ft.

The installation of two new production lines will be dedicated to large format and increased-thickness tiles such as the due2 20 mm thick collection for outdoor installations. In addition to increased production, the expansion will mean faster deliveries and better services to U.S. clients. Find more info at

Landmark Ceramics joins Tennessee tile manufacturing community

june-news-05Gruppo Concorde, established in Italy in 1968, founded Landmark Ceramics in Mt. Pleasant, Tenn., in 2013. Landmark specializes in the production and marketing of high quality porcelain tiles for architectural, residential and commercial at its 700,000-sq.-ft. facility, situated on a 96-acre plot. Annual production capacity is 50 million sq. ft. Production, logistics, sales and marketing departments are contained in one single large production complex, integrated with the local territory. The Landmark production site reflects the highest international standards of environmental protection that include attention to energy efficiency, recycling and re-use of various materials, and the reduction of the impact on the environment. For more information, visit

Wonder Porcelain to manufacture in USA

june-news-06Wonder Porcelain Group, LLC, distributes tile nationwide from its corporate headquarters and distribution hub in Plano, Texas, with additional distribution centers in Florida and California. Part of Dongguan City-based Marco Polo Group – one of China’s largest tile manufacturers – domestic manufacturing is set to start in late 2016 at the state-of-the-art 150-acre plant in the Cherry Farm Industrial Park in Lebanon, Tenn., now under construction. The advantageous location was selected due to its proximity to Interstate 40 and other transportation routes, and necessary resources and raw materials. The 500,000-sq.-ft. plant will add more than 200 new jobs to the area.

The company is under the direction of Michael Kephart, CEO, and Laurie Lyza, director of marketing. All products are certified as porcelain by the TCNA’s Porcelain Tile Certification Agency and tested by TCNA to verify performance standards. For details, visit

Benefits Box: NTCA Consensus Documents Library

NTCA Consensus Documents Library: Information At Your Fingertips

Last year, NTCA launched a new feature on its website: the NTCA Consensus Documents Library. To visit this excellent resource, click here.

This new resource puts critical documents at your fingertips, including position statements and white papers on a range of industry issues on underlayments and subfloors, tile assemblies and grout joints, and types of tile. More papers will be added as they become available.

Here’s the current listing of papers in our library, expanded from the 2015 launch:

Underlayments & Subflooring

  • Division 3 versus Division 9 Floor Flatness Tolerances Position Statement #6 from the American Society of Concrete Contractors
  • Membranes – Specifically Cleavage Membranes, Crack Isolation Membranes, Waterproof Membranes & Moisture Barriers, Uncoupling & Anti-Fracture Membranes, and Vapor Barriers – Citings from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A-2.1.8 and A118.10.
  • Use of Felt and Similar Products as Crack Isolation Membrane. Citings from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A118.12.

Tile Assemblies & Grout Joints

  • Movement Accommodation – An overview of the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) Handbook Standard EJ-171.
  • Spot Bonding – Citings from ANSI Standards A108 .01 2.6.22, A108.5, and A118. Also cited TCNA Handbook Standard W260.

Types of Tiles:

  • Position Statement on Thin Porcelain Tiles, a collaboration of the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), Tile Contractors Association of America (TCAA), International Masonry Institute (IMI), and the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (IUBAC).

Mold and Other Issues:

  • General Statement on Mold.

In the spirit of education and information sharing, NTCA offers this resource as a free service on its association website. This page also offers you the opportunity to add a document to the Consensus Document Library or ask NTCA a question directly. Also available on this page is the ability to order a TCNA Handbook or ANSI Standards Manual and to view the entire online installation standards and specification manual selection for purchase. Visit it today!

Color-Coded Logos Create Clarity For NTCA University Programs

By Becky Serbin,  Training and Education Coordinator

By Becky Serbin,
Training and Education Coordinator

NTCA_UniversityIf you have visited either the NTCA Online Store or been on the NTCA University site recently at, you will notice that we have changed the logos for each of the course types. We realized quickly that it was very difficult to differentiate all of the course types at a quick glance since each had a very similar logo. While these may eventually change in the future, for now we changed the background on each of the course types so that you can quickly find the courses available in your category.

june-uni-01The Apprenticeship Program now has a yellow burst in the logo. These courses currently include the Finisher Apprenticeship Program. Once complete, these courses will be available in six-month increments: orientation, task, skill, and finally management and tile helper courses. For example, there are approximately 40 modules that make up the orientation courses so instead of listing all 40 classes separately, they will be available as one purchase through the NTCA Online Store.

june-uni-02Appropriately so, we chose the color green for our Business Courses. These courses range from accounting basics to Internet marketing to negotiation skills to hiring strategies to workplace diversity. There are many more courses that will be added over time to help a business owner run a successful business.

june-uni-03The Continuing Education courses now have a purple burst in the logo. The courses are AIA and IDCEC accredited for architects and designers. But that does not mean that these courses are only for their use. These courses should be viewed by individuals looking to educate their staff on topics such as backer boards, large-format tile, or water management.

june-uni-04Installation & Sales represents the newest category of courses, and this category has an orange burst in the logo. We realize that many of our members need courses for new hires or training personnel who aren’t tile finishers or setters, or who may need a refresher course or curriculum to address new technology. All of these topics fit under Installations & Sales training. While many of these courses will initially be similar to some of the apprenticeship courses, over time we will be adding courses that do not fall into the apprenticeship category.

Instead of scrolling through the whole store, you can now quickly glance through looking for the color logo that you are interested in viewing. Visit the NTCA Online Store to see courses that are currently available. If there is a course that you would like to see available, please send me a quick e-mail at [email protected] so that we can begin to prioritize our members’ needs.

NTCA Tile Person of the Year: Steve Young

Steve Young, NTCA Tile Person of the Year

Steve Young, NTCA Tile Person of the Year

When thank you isn’t enough

A letter from Steve Young, NTCA Tile Person of the Year

Next to convincing my wife, Joanne, to marry me and the birth of our two children (third generation in the tile industry), being honored by NTCA as Tile Person of the Year is, without a doubt, one of the most meaningful events of my lifetime. I am truly honored and will never be able to properly express my appreciation.

Many years ago after an NTCA workshop, my good friend, Leigh Hightower, and I were brainstorming ways to solve all the industry’s problems. Leigh came up with the concept that we were a bridge between the old ways of installing tile (mud floors and walls) and the new ways (thin-set mortar and mastic). This was so important to understand both worlds, bring them together and educate the old generation as well as the new. Some of the early bridge builders included Tom Vaughn, Tom Cassutt, Eric Edelmeyer and others. NTCA provided the venue (tradeshows) and the vehicle (traveling workshops) to facilitate this. We would never have succeeded without the association recognizing and responding to those needs. The traveling workshop went all over the country, exposing contractors and distributors to many new products, systems and techniques.

Looking back to my first NTCA trade show in 1976, which included 60 exhibitors, and comparing that to Coverings this year is incredible. Historically, I believe there were five very significant and innovative products that changed the industry from the installation materials side. These product inventions set the stage for massive growth in the tile and stone industry. These are not in order of preference or influence.

  • The invention of latex-modified thin-set mortar.
  • Modified epoxy mortars that allowed you to install the new decorative floor tile from Italy directly to plywood subfloors.
  • Paul Dinkel and Ted Clear’s invention of WonderBoard. What a “game changer” that was!
  • LATICRETE’s liquid waterproofing.
  • Noble’s thin-set waterproofing and crack-isolation membrane.

All of these innovations changed the tile industry in profound ways. As these products entered the mainstream, the resulting economic impact for the tile contractor has been huge. NTCA has always been at the forefront of education and helped make this happen.

Now, in the twilight of my career, I look to the newest group of bridge builders: James Woelfel; Nyle Wadford; John Cox; Scott Carothers and others. It will rest with them to recruit and mentor a future group.

We shouldn’t forget our history as it’s a history to be proud of, with integrity, honesty and the free flow of information. It’s an amazing history of clean and safe products and absence of corruption. We can thank Joe Tarver and now Bart Bettiga for establishing clear lines of behavior and their outstanding leadership.

As I’ve stated before, when I first met Joe Tarver as the director of NTCA in 1976, he made me feel as if I were the most important person in the room. I know that becoming involved in NTCA has positively impacted my life and business success. Hopefully, my example will lead others to join and become involved. I also personally know many of the previous honorees and feel that my contribution pales in comparison to some; however I am honored to be part of that select group.

Kind Regards,
Steve Young

Coverings 2016: NTCA Awards Night Recognizes Industry Leaders at Fourth Annual Ceremony

The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), the world’s largest tile contractors association, recognized industry leaders and those making a difference within the industry at its Fourth Annual Awards Ceremony during Coverings 2016 at McCormick Place in Chicago, Ill., amidst a crowd of over 200.

In addition to its NTCA Five Star Contractor Awards, NTCA Tile Person of the Year, and Joe Tarver Lifetime Achievement Award, several individuals were given special recognition honors. In addition, the first recipients of the Tom Ade Ceramic Tile Scholarship Award were announced.

NTCA Five Star Contractor Awards

The NTCA Five Star Contractor Grand Prize awards were presented for outstanding installations in both commercial and residential projects by these cream-of-the-crop contractors. In addition, this year’s Special Recognition Awards were presented for the Promotion of the Tile Trade, and Membership. The Five Star Contractor Grand Prize winners received $2,500 each in prize money, sponsored by Daltile Corporation. Over 20 submissions were received and judged via the following criteria: scope (size of project), complexity (challenges), technical soundness (resolution of challenges) and design and presentation (overall appearance, layout and artistic value).

Five Star Contractor Grand Prize Commercial Tile Installation: Grazzini Brothers & Company of Eagan, Minnesota won this prize for its installation of over 24,000 sq. ft. of exterior natural stone wall tile and interior porcelain floor and wall tile at the Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory in Anchorage, Alaska. Challenges included working in cold temperatures, compounded by manufacturer’s specifications that the exterior installation could not be completed in temperatures below 40 degrees. And to keep crews safe, adjustments had to be made for wind when hoisting stone for exterior stone wall installation. Grazzini Brothers & Company had only 72 days to install the exterior stone work, so limited weekend work was necessary to complete this job on time.


From left, Marazzi/Daltile’s Jeremy Sax, Greg Grazzini and Earl Anderson of Grazzini Brothers, and Jim Olson, NTCA.


Grazzini Brothers & Company won the Five Star Contractor Grand Prize Installation for the Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory in Anchorage, Alaska.

Five Star Contractor Grand Prize Residential Tile Installation: Cox Tile of San Antonio, Texas was honored for its “Brick and Stone Paradise” project, which featured a brick foundation, natural stone, and handmade artisan tiles throughout the interior of the home and exterior. Weeks of planning were needed to fine tune the details and designs of each area of the home. Old Chicago bricks were cut into 1/2” veneers and Turkish Travertine was set on a diagonal for stairs; the master bath shower featured a curved glass tile accent wall. Excellence and artistry combined for a stunning result.


From left, Jeremy Sax, Marazzi/Daltile, John Cox, Cox Tile and NTCA’s Jim Olson


Cox Tile won the Five Star Contractor Grand Prize Residential Tile Installation for “Brick and Stone Paradise” project.

Special Recognition Awards

The NTCA presented Special Recognition Awards to two individuals for their dedication to Promoting the Tile Trade, and to Membership.


Since 2007, Owen (left of governor) has led the Tile Craftsman section of the program and on September 10, 2015 Atlanta Governor, Nathan Deal, signed a proclamation for Careers in Construction Week in Georgia.

Rod Owen of CC Owen Tile, Jonesboro, Ga. Owen is responsible for the promotion of the tile trade to the youth of Atlanta. Rod is an active member of the Construction Education Foundation of Georgia (CEFGA). Each year, CEFGA hosts a “Careers in Construction Week” to educate students, parents and school counselors that skilled trades are legitimate careers. Since 2007, Owen has led the Tile Craftsman section of the program. On September 10, 2015 Atlanta governor, Nathan Deal, signed a proclamation for Careers in Construction Week in Georgia.

Brad Denny (l.) and NTCA’s Jim Olson.

Brad Denny (l.) and NTCA’s Jim Olson.

Bradford Denny of Nichols Tile & Terrazzo Co., Joelton, Tenn. Denny is the moderator of the NTCA Members and the Regional and State Directors Facebook pages. More importantly, Denny introduced the NTCA to the “Tile Geeks” Facebook page, through which NTCA has increased membership by more than 30 new members. Brad has been a constant voice promoting NTCA in all forms of social media.

Tom Ade Ceramic Tile Scholarship Award

NTCA announced recipients of its first-ever NTCA “Tom Ade” Ceramic Tile Scholarship Award during the awards ceremony. Two students were selected out of 16 nominees.

The Scholarship was established by the NTCA to provide educational opportunities in college or trade for children or grandchildren of NTCA contractor members. It was respectfully named after Tom Ade, a former NTCA regional director and a previous recipient of NTCA’s Ring Of Honor and Tile Person of the Year Awards. Through his generosity and support of training and education, funds were earmarked to launch this scholarship. The association hopes to raise additional funds to offer multiple scholarships to deserving applicants in the future.

Jan Hohn, NTCA state director from St. Paul, Minnesota, and last year’s Tile Person of the Year recipient, presented this first $5,000 award to Connor Meehan, son of Tom and Lane Meehan of Cape Cod Tileworks in Harwich, Mass. The scholarship will be to Meehan’s college of choice. His father accepted the award on his behalf, since Connor was traveling outside the country.

Shown are Jan Hohn, chair of the NTCA Training and Education Committee (l. to r.), Tom Ade, Filling Tile & Marble and Tom Meehan.

Shown are Jan Hohn, chair of the NTCA Training and Education Committee (l. to r.), Tom Ade, Filling Tile & Marble and Tom Meehan.

A second $2,500 Tom Ade Ceramic Tile scholarship award was made to Brianne Martinho, daughter of Robert and Melanie Martinho, of Visalia Ceramic Tile, a Five Star Contractor. This scholarship was made possible by the NTCA and a generous donation by Daltile in honor of Jim Olson’s mom, June Lobitz, who passed away last year. Brianne will attend California Polytechnic State University.

From left: Tom Ade, Brianne Martinho, and NTCA assistant executive director, Jim Olson.

From left: Tom Ade, Brianne Martinho, and NTCA assistant executive director, Jim Olson.

Tile Person of the Year: Steve Young

Steve Young, NTCA Tile Person of the Year

Steve Young, NTCA Tile Person of the Year

This year, the NTCA’S Tile Person of the Year Award was presented to Steve Young of Steve Young & Associates, located in White Plains, Ga. An active and supporting member of the NTCA since 1976, Young strongly supported the association’s traveling workshop program in its early years, traveling around the country with Joe Tarver and other industry leaders educating contractors on installation techniques and new technology. (See an open letter from Young to NTCA members here!) Young is also one of only two of the original members serving on the NTCA Technical Committee, boasting a dedicated tenure of over 30 years.

Tim Curran (r.) receives the Joe A.Tarver Lifetime Achievement Award from NTCA executive director emeritus Joe Tarver.

Tim Curran (r.) receives the Joe A.Tarver Lifetime Achievement Award from NTCA executive director emeritus Joe Tarver.

Joe A. Tarver Lifetime Achievement Award: Tim Curran

Tim Curran, co-president of the Curran Group, owners of Crossville Inc., of Crossville, Tenn., received the prestigious Joe A. Tarver Lifetime Achievement Award. This award is offered to a leader in the tile and stone industry who dedicates his/her career to advancing the trade. The Curran Group, a family-owned business since 1918, has supported a legacy of leadership at Crossville for more than 30 years in the industry, fostering a reputation for quality and customer service. The leadership team at Crossville recognized the need for qualified installation, and was the first company to support the NTCA Five Star Contractor Program with a volume discount program and hosting Five Star Contractor summit meetings.

Coverings 2016: Installation Design Showcase

A professional display of synergy between design and installation

The Installation Design Showcase featured outstanding designs and superior craftsmanship, installed on the show floor by NTCA Five Star Contractors Trostrud Mosaic and Tile of Chicago, Grazzini Brothers from Eagan, Minn., Artcraft Granite, Marble & Tile Co. of Mesa, Ariz., and Welch Tile & Marble from Kent City, Mich. The showcase paired area designers with the installation teams that brought design concepts to life.

“What I enjoy about [the Installation Design Showcase] is we are using fantastic designers and quality qualified labor,” said James Woelfel of Artcraft Granite, Marble & Tile Co., one of the IDS installation teams. Woelfel, who is also president of NTCA, added, “Dan Welch is a Five Star Contractor; Brad Trostrud is Trowel of Excellence, which is the TCAA designation; we’re a Five Star Contractor and Grazzini Brothers are Five Star and Trowel of Excellence as well. So this is great design, together with great qualified labor. And this is what it produces. It actually produces art.”

A special AIA Chicago tour group who visited the Installation Design Showcase commented that it was one of the most professional displays of synergy between design and installation they have ever seen in the construction industry. Following are snapshots of the stunning temporary displays.



Dan Welch (l. to r.) with FGM Architect’s Raegan Porter, and Louise Kowalcyzk with Coverings Industry Ambassador Alena Capra and the Clubhouse Bar/Lounge that was built on the Coverings show floor.



Not content to destroy the vignette immediately after constructing it for the show, Welch’s company built its vignette in a shipping container so it can be towed back to Grand Rapids for educational purposes.





Tile was by Stonepeak, installation materials by TEC, lighting by Tech Lighting, fireplace by Modern Flames, furniture provided by Frank Cooney Company. The Home Depot sponsored the Installation Design Showcase.


Spa Lobby
Trostrud/Healing Environments


This Spa Lobby was designed by Healing Environments – Susan and Tarik El-Naggar (2nd and 3rd from right) and installed by Trostrud Mosaic & Tile Co., represented by Brad Trostrud and Mike Miller (c and rc).



Crossville provided the tiles, with installation materials by MAPEI. The Home Depot sponsored the Installation Design Showcase, with additional products supplied by Baird’s Drapery Services, Design Center at the Merchandise Mart, Dimplex, Duralee, H2O Waterwalls, Inc., Ignite Glass Studios and Designers Linen Source.


Boutique Retail Space
Artcraft/Alena Capra


Alena Capra of Alena Capra Designs conceived this Boutique Retail Space, and Artcraft Granite, Marble & Tile Co., guided by James Woelfel, brought it to life.


Italian tile manufacturers included Atlas Concorde, Ceramica Sant’Agostino, Tagina, with mosaics by Sicis. Sponsored by Ceramics of Italy and promoted by Confindustria Ceramica, MAPEI provided installation materials. The Installation Design Showcase was sponsored by The Home Depot.


Boutique Hotel Lobby
Grazzini/Architecture is Fun

This Boutique Hotel Lobby was designed by Sharon and Peter Exley of Architecture is Fun (2nd and 3rd from left) and installed by Grazzini Brothers Company.

This Boutique Hotel Lobby was designed by Sharon and Peter Exley of Architecture is Fun (2nd and 3rd from left) and installed by Grazzini Brothers Company.


Sharon Exley explained that herringbone patterns date back to ancient Roman and Egyptian times and signify strength – a fitting symbol for the strength of the porcelain tile by Florim USA used in the vignette. LATICRETE provided the installation materials and the showcase was sponsored by The Home Depot.

Coverings 2016: 15% Attendance Surge Since Last Chicago Show

NTCA members volunteered to staff the NTCA booth and sign up members. Shown, l. to r. are: State Directors Don Hutcheson (Alaska), Hutcheson Tile & Stone; Karl Parker (New Mexico), All American Design & Construction; Dirk Sullivan (Oregon), Hawthorne Tile; and Justin Kyle (Delaware), Kyle’s Tile.

NTCA members volunteered to staff the NTCA booth and sign up members. Shown, l. to r. are: State Directors Don Hutcheson (Alaska), Hutcheson Tile & Stone; Karl Parker (New Mexico), All American Design & Construction; Dirk Sullivan (Oregon), Hawthorne Tile; and Justin Kyle (Delaware), Kyle’s Tile.

CHICAGO, Ill. – Coverings 2016 and the return to The Windy City was an upbeat, positive experience for all things tile this past April, when the largest international tile and stone exhibition in North America was held at McCormick Center, here. The overall attendance for Coverings 2016 grew from its 2015 show, with a total of 25,352 attendees – and as a reflection of the growth of both the show and the rebound of the economy, attendance increased by 15% since the event was last held in Chicago in 2009.

While the most impressive attendance segment is held by distributors – which surged by 18% since the 2009 Chicago show – NTCA and the contractor segment had a fantastic show with events and opportunities for installers and contractors. Member volunteers helped sign up 25 new members at this Chicago venue, a new record for membership at a show.

The Live Installation Demonstration Stage was buzzing with product demos, many from NTCA members and trainers.

And contractor activities included Contractor Days, where one-hour guided tours introduced contractors to new products and companies on the show floor. Also part of Contractor Days was the lunchtime roundtable discussion about industry hot topics, conducted while contractors enjoyed a free catered lunch in the Contractor Lounge.

NTCA trainers (l. to r.) Mark Heinlein and Michael Whistler on the Live Installation Demonstration Stage, with an assist with NTCA Tennessee State Director Brad Denny, Nichols Tile & Terrazzo.

NTCA trainers (l. to r.) Mark Heinlein and Michael Whistler on the Live Installation Demonstration Stage, with an assist with NTCA Tennessee State Director Brad Denny, Nichols Tile & Terrazzo.

“2016 was my first year attending Coverings,” said Karl Parker, NM State Director for NTCA, from All American Design and Construction/Creative Kitchen and Bath Solutions, based in Albuquerque. “I was pretty overwhelmed the first day with the amount of people and company representatives in attendance. I quickly found myself networking with people and companies I have not had the opportunity to. I also took time to visit representatives of companies I have been doing business with for years. I look forward to attending next year.”

“Networking is the most important part of attending a conference like Coverings,” said Dirk Sullivan of NTCA member Hawthorne Tile in Portland, Ore. “Social media has brought us all closer together. Attending coverings solidifies these relationships and helps us to form bonds that strengthen our association in ways not before possible.

NTCA assistant director Jim Olson (r.) and Five Star Contractor Martin Brookes of Heritage Tile & Marble preside during a NTCA lunchtime roundtable. Each day of the show, contractors were treated to a catered lunch in the Contractors Lounge and participated in a lively discussion of issues and hot topics in the industry. TEC sponsored the pictured lunch; LATICRETE sponsored the lunchtime discussion the next day.

NTCA assistant director Jim Olson (r.) and Five Star Contractor Martin Brookes of Heritage Tile & Marble preside during a NTCA lunchtime roundtable. Each day of the show, contractors were treated to a catered lunch in the Contractors Lounge and participated in a lively discussion of issues and hot topics in the industry. TEC sponsored the pictured lunch; LATICRETE sponsored the lunchtime discussion the next day.

“This year, Coverings was more of a celebration than ever before,” Sullivan added. “A celebration of our trade, our bonds and partnerships with manufacturers, vendors, and each other. The friendships I have formed from my involvement in NTCA are some of the most important in my lifetime. It has become a family reunion. The importance of this can not be ignored or denied. I love my NTCA family.

This was the first Coverings for Justin Kyle, Kyle’s Tile, NTCA Delaware State Director. “I wasn’t really sure what to expect,” he said. Though he plotted his course in advance, he admitted, “Everything was a bit overwhelming at times. With one under my belt, I feel I can better plan and organize for my next one.”

Kyle is also a member of the Tile Geeks Facebook group, and he was asked about the group frequently. “It worked as a conversation starter that led to an easy transition into talking about the NTCA. “

Kyle also benefited from the networking opportunities. “In all, I personally attended social events hosted by Schluter, LATICRETE, Nuheat, Noble, and MAPEI,” he said. “I know there were others but a guy can only be so many places at once.”


Tile Geeks is a Facebook group with 4,272 members where industry professionals can exchange ideas and information online.

Tile Geeks – the Facebook group that has grown to 4,272 members, had a strong showing at the show, and in fact had their own boulevard designation, at the crossroads with John Bridge Way, amongst the setting materials and tools suppliers.

Following are reports about the Coverings Installation Design Awards (CID), the Installation Design Showcase (IDS), and NTCA Awards night.

CID Awards & Opening Night Reception

On the first night of the show at McCormick Place, here, the CID Awards program honored not only design and installer winners of stunning projects, but also young emerging leaders and must-see booths at the show. Dave Madonia, group publisher at BNP Media, including Contemporary Stone & Tile Design as well as TileLetter publisher Bart Bettiga and editor Lesley Goddin presented the awards amidst a reception setting.

Rock Stars
The standing-room-only evening started with acknowledgement of best and brightest young talent in the tile and stone industry with the Coverings 2016 Rock Star Winners. TileLetter publisher Bart Bettiga announced the awards.

Brad Denny

Brad Denny

Bill Griese

Bill Griese

Brad Denny, project manager for Nichols Tile & Terrazzo Company and NTCA State Director for Tennessee – who is also extremely active in social media and in the Tile Geeks Facebook group – was honored along with Bill Griese, Director of Standards Development & Sustainability Initiatives for TCNA.

Other Rock Stars include:

  • Sean Cilona, Florida Tile
  • Andrea Contri, Confindustria Ceramica
  • Cameron DeMille, Easy Stone Care
  • Julian Hernandez, JR Design and Contractor
  • Jason Holman, The Source Stone
  • Joseph Procida, Procida Tile
  • Paul Reiss, Artaic
  • Kate Sterling, ADKO

Coverings Installation & Design Awards

Stone Winners:

BNP’s Madonia introduced the stone and sustainable winners. They included:

Special recognition: Scouting shots category – Red Rock Country Club Remodel. This project, by SKG Designs was submitted with amateur photography that the judges felt had great potential.

Commercial Stone Design: Creative Edge Master Shop, St. Wenceslaus Church, Dickinson, N.D.

Commercial Stone Installation: KEPCO+, Indianapolis Temple, Indianapolis, Ind.


Residential Stone Design: S & R Development, Inc., St. John Master Bath and Living Room with Fireplace and Columns, Dallas, Texas.

Residential Stone Installation: Ribaudo, Green Lake Residential Bathroom, West Bloomfield, Mich.

International Stone Design: ifdesign, Wiggly House, Ponte Lambro, Italy

Sustainable Winners

Sustainable Commercial Design: LHK Design, Fairfield Inn & Suites in Waterbury, Vt.

Sustainable Residential Design: Intexture, Heijnen-Kavelaars Garden Residence, Houston, Texas.

Tile Winners

TileLetter’s editor Lesley Goddin introduced the tile and grand prize winners. They included:

Commercial Tile Design: Clock-work, The Mixx, Overland Park, Kan.

Commercial Tile Installation: Edward Flores Tile, Miguel’s, Abilene, Tex.

Residential Tile Design: DKOR Interiors, Contemporary Waterfront Elegance Home Luxury Interior, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Residential Tile Installation: Ryan Hughes Design, Ultimate Outdoor Living Space, Tampa, Fla.

International Tile Design: El Equipo Creativo, Blue Wave Restaurant, Barcelona, Spain

Grand Prize Winners

Grand prize awards recognized both the designer and installers of the projects.

Grand Prize Tile: Architect: Aileen Barr; Installer: Snyder Tile & Doty Tile – Lincoln Park Tiled Stairway, San Francisco, Calif.

Grand Prize Stone: Architect: Carson Guest Inc.; Installer: Marmi Natural Stone – Farley Residence, Duluth, Ga.

Honorable Mentions

Fourteen Honorable Mention projects were also recognized during the reception. NTCA Members Trostrud Mosaic and Tile Co., and Lambert Tile & Stone were recognized for the Latham & Watkins project in Chicago; and Greystone Residence in Beaver Creek, Colo., respectively. For more information, visit

Best Booths

Best Booth winners captivated attendees with show-stopping displays and inspiring products. Winners were recognized for overall design, integration of product in booth, effective utilization of space, and creating a unique environment.

Madonia returned to the stage to present the Best Booth awards. They included Sicis, with an inspirational and stunning display of elaborate, detailed mosaics; Torrecid, which showcased its glaze, frit and technology products with a lifestyle-driven layout, and Antonlini Luigi that created a jewelry store concept with marble mannequins in a retail-like setting. Spanish producer Inalco created a residential experience with an expansive, welcoming user flow and Italian producer Ornamenta showcased its products through a unique jewel case concept, in which the booth opened and closed to create a fun, urban experience.

Exterior porcelain rainscreen wall systems

june-tech-01By Rich Goldberg AIA, CSI, NCARB
Professional Consultants International, LLC and PROCON Consulting Architects, Inc.

In the first article on this subject, I provided an update on large-format porcelain tile panel technology, and its emerging use as a mechanically attached cladding panel in exterior rainscreen building façade construction. The overall technical concepts of rainscreen wall systems were also summarized. In this installment, I will focus on the detailed technical issues associated with this new technology, and the challenges to tile contractors who choose to grow their business with this emerging porcelain tile technology.

Training and re-tooling for tile contractors

The challenges for education, training and re-tooling are best examined by breaking down the three major components of porcelain panel rainscreen wall systems:

  • Porcelain panel
  • Structural support framework
  • Structural back-up wall and ancillary components
Fig. 1 Details of prefabricated porcelain panels.

Fig. 1 Details of prefabricated porcelain panels.

Porcelain panels – Most quality porcelain rainscreen systems utilize panels that are completely pre-fabricated and delivered ready to install (Figure 1). In our design practice, we avoid any manufacturer’s system that allows field fabrication of such precision wall systems. The cutting of each panel, many with unique and precise dimensions, and the precision required for drilling and setting mechanical anchors (Figure 2) dictates that the majority of porcelain panels be pre-fabricated under controlled factory conditions to deliver a high-quality, durable wall system.

Fig. 2 Precision attachment detail for lower portion of panel, allowing for expansion, contraction and structural movement.

Fig. 2 Precision attachment detail for lower portion of panel, allowing for expansion, contraction and structural movement.

Many tile contractors are already familiar with large-format thin tile (a.k.a. LTPT or “gauged large format porcelain tile”), and understand the specialty equipment and training necessary for proper delivery, handling and installation of such panels for interior walls and flooring. Depending on the size of porcelain panels used in exterior rainscreen walls, such equipment may also be necessary in addition to specialty hoisting sub-frames and lift equipment. Safe handling is especially critical, not only due to the expense of each panel, but in many cases due to the unique dimensions of each panel (you can’t just take another tile from the box!).

Structural support framework – as with the porcelain panels, the majority of the aluminum framework used to support the porcelain panels is typically proprietary and provided pre-fabricated by the manufacturer; we likewise avoid manufacturer’s systems that rely on stock framing components and allow contractors to construct solutions in the field that have not been engineered or vetted by performance testing in the laboratory.

Fig. 3 Tile contractor training session for aluminum framework and porcelain panel installation procedures.

Fig. 3 Tile contractor training session for aluminum framework and porcelain panel installation procedures.

The proper installation and alignment of the supporting framework is the most crucial aspect in the construction of porcelain panel rainscreen wall systems. This is a significant departure from the “brick (tile) and mortar” skills typical of the tile trades, and requires skill and training in metal framing procedures (Figure 3). Again, based on experience, I only recommend considering manufacturer’s systems that provide fully pre-engineered and pre-fabricated proprietary supporting framework.

Similar to the porcelain panels, capabilities to understand and manage both the engineered shop drawings and the architect’s detail drawings are critical, especially due to the interfaces with other building systems such as the alignment with windows and attachment to the underlying structural wall components.

Structural back-up wall and ancillary components – this is the most complex and project-specific aspect of porcelain panel rainscreen wall systems, but the least problematic sub-system for the tile contractor. Tile contractors need to focus education and training efforts on the following:

  • Types of structural back-up wall systems – metal stud/sheathing (most common), concrete masonry units, or concrete
  • Waterproofing – continuous AMV (air, moisture, vapor) membranes
  • Insulation – continuous rigid insulation (outboard of back-up wall)
  • Flashings and accessories – metal and sheet-membrane flashings, primarily at interfaces with other building systems (window sills, heads, roof copings, etc.)
Figures 4 and 5 - Installation of porcelain rainscreen panels in progress, revealing ventilated air cavity and air, moisture and vapor (AMV) barrier installed by others.  Note this project did not require any outboard continuous insulation.

Figures 4 and 5 – Installation of porcelain rainscreen panels in progress, revealing ventilated air cavity and air, moisture and vapor (AMV) barrier installed by others.  Note this project did not require any outboard continuous insulation.

june-tech-06On many projects, the manufacturer’s engineer would coordinate efforts to evaluate the architect’s details and provide engineering requirements for attachment of the supporting framework to the back-up wall. Similarly, on many projects, the installation of the AMV would be performed by a waterproofing contractor in advance of the rainscreen wall system (Figures 4 and 5), and the project may or may not require external continuous rigid insulation (Figure 5). However, the manufacturer of the wall system is not responsible for providing those materials. In some cases, though, general contractors prefer the sub-contractor responsible for the installation of the porcelain panel rainscreen wall system to also coordinate and install the AMV, insulation, and all flashings (Figure 6) for single source responsibility.

Fig. 6 Coordination of installation with base of wall flashing and interface with cast stone base specified to avoid snow removal damage at base of columns.

Fig. 6 Coordination of installation with base of wall flashing and interface with cast stone base specified to avoid snow removal damage at base of columns.

Shop fabrication and erection drawings – In our design practice, we find that the biggest challenge for tile contractors, aside from specialized equipment and training required for handling and installation of these systems, is developing the resources and capabilities to understand and manage the crucial role of shop fabrication and erection drawings. Most quality porcelain rainscreen system manufacturers provide for and supply engineered shop drawings in the cost of their system, so tile contractors only need to concentrate training / human resources required to effectively manage the process. This not only includes technical capabilities for interaction with the manufacturer, their engineers, and the building architects, but also the logistics required for panel delivery, marking and sequencing logistics. The allocation of human resource time alone is probably the most underestimated task required for successful porcelain panel rainscreen wall systems.

Needless to say, the above considerations are not only important to construction, but also to bidding these types of projects. In the last installment of this series, I will review a case study of both completed and in-progress projects to provide more insight into actual construction.

Richard P. Goldberg, AIA, CSI, NCARB is an architect and president of Professional Consultants International, LLC – Connecticut, and PROCON Consulting Architects, Inc. – Florida, both building design and construction consulting companies. Goldberg specializes in exterior building envelope systems, with sub-specialties in concrete, porcelain tile, natural & engineered stone, brick & concrete masonry, terrazzo, glass and waterproofing material applications.

Goldberg holds National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) certification, and is a registered architect in the U.S. in multiple states, including Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Florida. He is a professional member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI). Goldberg participates in numerous tile industry standards committees, is a National Tile Contractor’s Association (NTCA) Recognized Industry Consultant, and received the prestigious NTCA Ring of Honor Award in 2014.

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