To meet the growing demands of large tile format installations, CUSTOM now offers five medium bed mortars designed specifically for stone or any large tile. Visit CustomBuildingProducts.com for more info.
For more information, visit the website www.jameshardie.com
“This is the power of gathering: it inspires us, delightfully, to be more hopeful, more joyful, more thoughtful: in a word, more alive.”
– Alice Waters
I just returned home from Surfaces a.k.a The International Surface Event (TISE) West in Las Vegas. You’ll read more about the show in our March issue, since in the wonderful world of magazine publishing, the February issue is already designed and ready to be produced except for this letter. But here’s a little taste of what took place at the show.
What I noticed is a LOT of people – crowds seemed fuller from day one through the end this year. People were excited – about the products, about the conferences, about what they could find to enhance their businesses and take them to a higher level. For instance, there were standing-room-only crowds at presentations by NTCA presenters Mark Heinlein and Robb Roderick conducted at the installation stage.
This crush of people was echoed at the NTCA booth, where State Ambassadors, members and curious showgoers clustered to talk about tile, education, business and membership, and where member volunteers like Chris Dalene of Five Star Contractor Dalene Flooring, and staffers like Amber Fox, newly hired Five Star Contractor Program Director, signed up seven new members.
Also percolating at the show was Certified Tile Installer testing, with nine installers taking a timed test to lay tile on the CTI modules.
The effort was supported by several of the new Regional Evaluators, which will allow more frequent CTI tests to take place with smaller class sizes across the country. Twelve new Regional Evaluators are on the job, led by Kevin Insalato of California Flooring. In the testing area were also workshops and testing conducted by other industry sectors like carpet and vinyl.
For NTCA, the whole show kicked off with an executive committee meeting, followed by a well-attended Training & Education Committee gathering, led by Training & Education Committee chair Dave Rogers of Welch Tile and Marble.
That first evening, NTCA held a reception and dinner in appreciation of its members and State Ambassadors with an address by NTCA president Martin Howard, presentation by Eric Astrachan of TCNA and a video on the history of NTCA and its accomplishments in the last 15 years.
Wish you had been there? Stay tuned to our March issue for more details on the show. For now, enjoy all the information in this issue, from the Bostik’s cover story on the stunning mosaic installation in a Utah lodge to LATICRETE’s Sean Boyle’s economic update, to an exploration of the confounding problem of discoloration of natural stone used in shower installations, to the list of installation track seminars at the Coverings show, coming to Orlando in April. We also have a bonus story on measuring wet film thickness from MAPEI, and voices from the field in our new Hot Topics section, focused this month on grout.
The new year is building momentum. Let’s make it a good one!
Be well, and God bless,
To many, Snowbird, Utah is known as a multi-facility resort community. 150 years ago, it was known for its adjacent silver mines, but the shining draw today is top-shelf winter powder skiing and snowboarding.
One major magnet, The Cliff Lodge and Spa, not only enjoys an outstanding Snowbird location near loads of Utah’s finest ski resorts, golf clubs, and other attractions, it also boasts some of the most unique and progressive architectural and design treatments one could imagine. Featuring wall-to-wall windows with awe-inspiring mountain or canyon views, Cliff Lodge vistas are modern, spacious, and sumptuously well equipped. Cliff Lodge owners wanted some new indoor visuals, which resulted in two very large mosaic murals installed, designed by Edge ID.
Kari Bennett is principal/interior designer at Edge ID, a full-service hospitality design company, located in Salt Lake City. Bennett prides her firm on “researching, planning, designing, involving and orchestrating all projects to the last detail.” Such was the case for this highly innovative mosaic mural installation at The Cliff Lodge and Spa.
Creating an aspen tree “wow factor” for the interior
“We wanted in some way to bring the outdoors indoors,” declared Bennett. “There are so many beautiful vistas surrounding The Cliff Lodge. In particular, there are exquisite aspen trees indigenous to this part of the country, which look good year-round. So we made the collective decision to create an amazing aspen tree ‘wow factor’ motif on two large walls, one being in the ballroom lobby, and the other in the ballroom mezzanine. These were to be very large murals, each thirty feet wide by four feet high… 120 sq. ft.… each consisting of over 166,000 individual vitreous glass mosaic pieces.
“We knew a bit about Artaic, and how the firm offered a unique, space-age service of creating mosaic murals using computer-driven robots,” she added. “Artaic provided us with its mosaic depiction of an aspen tree motif. We immediately liked it, but wanted to change the color of the trees from black-grey to more of a sepia tone, which was more relevant to the Snowbird landscape’s colors. Artaic had no trouble whatsoever accommodating our request. The people there were without question, very professional and a joy to work with.”
Inventor and scientist, Artaic’s Dr. Ted Acworth, added, “When Artaic was asked to design a beautiful custom mosaic for the Cliff Lodge renovation, we learned the designer was looking for a custom mosaic that really reflected the beautiful natural environment of the Utah landscape. We were provided with a photograph of a stand of aspen trees… loaded that image into our proprietary design software, and subsequently designed a beautiful custom mural out of glass tile from that image. This was not hard to do, especially when working with clients who knew what they wanted and understood our process.”
NTCA member Katwyk Tile handles the installation
Bennett went on to say that the tile installation contractor, NTCA member Rod Katwyk, owner of Katwyk Tile, was quite stoked about using Bostik materials for this massive mural project. “We believe we were hired because of the ‘touch and finesse’ we offer,” he said. “The people at Artaic highly recommended, Bostik’s Dimension® RapidCure™ Grout, which we had used previously and were confident would be ideal for this project. To begin with, we used exterior grade plywood, perfectly fitting it on the walls. Once it was glued and screwed in, we used Bostik’s GoldPlus™ crack isolation product, (ready-to-use, roller-applied latex waterproofing and anti-fracture membrane for use beneath thinset ceramic tile installations) which also served as a good primer and bonding agent to the plywood. After applying two coats, we started installing the Artaic mosaic sheets from the center of each mural. To do so, the thinset we chose was Bostik’s Glass-Mate™, using it one bag at a time. We were very happy how the material ‘stayed active’ in the bucket, which gave us time to adjust each sheet if need be. By far, this is my favorite glass tile thinset!”
Bostik Glass-Mate is a premium, polymer-modified, thin-set mortar that exhibits superior bond strength, durability, non-sag properties and workability. Its bright white color and high polymer content make it ideal for installations such as that at The Cliff Lodge and Spa.
Katwyk added that grouting was accomplished with Bostik’s Dimension RapidCure Grout, which his company knew well. “We reached out to Bostik for advice, and Bostik came through,” he said. “All their products are easy to use, their customer service is great!”
Bostik grout offers “another light source” to the project
Acworth added, “Our relationship with Bostik began when we started using Dimension RapidCure Grout – their unique formulation that contains 60% recycled glass content – in our productions. The product is easy to apply, highly durable and most of all, actually adds more luminosity to mosaic productions. For example, if a project contains glass mosaics, imagine another light source being incorporated: that’s what Dimension RapidCure offers.”
Designer Bennett remarked, “We believe great design should be simple, so our process is one of honesty and communication throughout. Not only do we think it’s the right way to do business, but it does wonders for keeping efficiency up and costs down. Working with great suppliers such as Bostik, Artaic and Katwyk Tile, we were able to once again implement our philosophy for the mosaic murals at The Cliff Lodge.”
Scott Banda, Bostik’s director of Marketing and Business Development, summed it all up. “Along with our strategic partner, Artaic, Bostik is on a mission to resurrect the ancient art of mosaic design,” he said. “We’re bringing it back worldwide. The two murals at The Cliff Lodge and Spa are perfect examples of how mosaic masterpieces can once again be specified by the architectural and design community. We are proud and pleased to be an active participant in this ongoing, successful global quest.”
A video has been produced of this world-class project by Bostik. You may view it by clicking on
Avoiding ambiguity should be a primary goal when drafting and negotiating construction contracts. This helps ensure that you get what you want, including the bargained-for benefits of the contract, smooth contract administration and fulfillment, and avoidance of lengthy and expensive legal disputes. Follow these five tips to minimize ambiguities:
1. Keep it simple.
Keep your writing simple, clear and concise. Construction contracts are read and interpreted by a wide variety of people, including judges with no knowledge of the construction industry. Using plain English and shorter sentences while avoiding legalese and redundancy will make your contracts easier to read and understand.
2. If it’s part of the agreement, include it in the contract.
If a contract appears complete and comprehensive on its face, courts will prohibit the use of other documents to give meaning to the parties’ intentions. Statements made during pre-bid meetings or negotiations will not be effective in contradicting express terms in the contract. Include all terms of the deal in the contract, or incorporate key documents by reference.
3. Define key terms.
Courts give ordinary terms their ordinary meanings and technical terms their technical meanings. But the meanings of words cannot be divorced from the context in which they are interpreted, and parties often disagree on what terms mean in certain contexts. To avoid disputes, capitalize and define terms to attribute specific meaning. Then use the capitalized term as needed throughout the contract.
4. Include an order-of-precedence clause.
Because numerous documents make up construction contracts, conflicts may arise between requirements contained within the documents, such as the drawings and specifications. One way to address these conflicts is to include a clause providing that in the event of a conflict, the specifications take precedence over the drawings, or that contract documents take precedence according to a prescribed order of hierarchy. You may also wish to include a provision stating that what is required of any contract document shall be binding as if required by all.
5. Make proper use of standard forms.
Standard-form agreements such as AIA and ConsensusDocs are commonly used throughout the construction industry. However…there are risks with using such forms because they are written broadly, they may contain terms that are inapplicable to the transaction at issue, and parties often use such forms without fully reviewing them. Even if both parties orally agree to terms that differ from what is written, oral understandings will yield to written agreements, so it is important to read all the terms before using standard-form agreements. Add terms you think should be included in the contract and delete terms that are inapplicable.
Yasir Billoo is an experienced attorney in the areas of business/commercial contracts and litigation, real estate transactions (and title services) and litigation, intellectual property litigation, employment and labor, and civil appeals. Yasir’s experience ranges from representing large Fortune 500 companies in complex litigation and appeals in state and federal court, to helping small business owners with simple agreements and legal consulting.
Yasir earned his law degree from Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and was admitted to both the Florida Bar and the California Bar in 2004. He is admitted to practice in all courts in each of these states.
Yasir earned dual Bachelors Degrees in International Relations and Communications from Florida International University. While earning his Juris Doctor, he was a member of the Jessup International Law Moot Court team and on the Board of the Journal of International and Comparative Law. A native of Karachi, Pakistan, Yasir, speaks English, Spanish, Urdu, Hindi and Memoni.
Prior to practicing law, Yasir managed the finances of a group of Central American companies, handling complex international financial transactions.
Yasir currently serves as a Hearing Officer for Miami-Dade County’s Commission on Human Rights, where he presides over appeals of initial determinations in cases where discrimination is alleged.
Yasir is a member of the prestigious invitation-only International Association of Defense Counsel (IADC). IADC has been serving a distinguished membership of corporate and insurance defense attorneys and insurance executives since 1920. The IADC membership is comprised of the world’s leading corporate and insurance lawyers and insurance executives. They are partners in large and small law firms, senior counsel in corporate law departments, and corporate and insurance executives. Members represent the largest corporations around the world, including the majority of companies listed in the FORTUNE 500. Reach him at intlawpartners.com
I’m a homeowner in Berkeley, Calif. On my recently completed bath renovation, we’ve found that the shower curb collects water and it takes a long time to dry even with ventilation. I’m trying to determine if this condition meets industry standards or if it would legitimately be considered a defect. Someone online recommended NTCA may be able to provide help.
Thank you for contacting The National Tile Contractors Association. The TCNA Handbook’s wet area guidelines state that horizontal surfaces must be sloped to direct water to the drain. The slope recommended is no less than 1/4” per foot.
I couldn’t tell a whole lot from the picture you sent, but it appears there is metal endstop trimming out your curb. If that endstop edge is above the edge of the tile, it can sometimes act as a dam on curbs that are sloped. Many shower systems incorporate surface waterproofing that lays right under the tile and can be easily damaged by removing tile. I would suggest tiling over the existing curb tile using a chair rail or some type of specialty trim to maintain the integrity of the waterproofing below the surface. Guidelines for tiling over the existing tile are found in the renovation section of the TCNA Handbook in section TR711. Scarification or primers are sometimes needed. And always make sure to use the correct adhesive for tiling over tile in a wet area.
– Robb Roderick, NTCA trainer/presenter
QUESTION, part 2
You are right – there is a stainless steel edge on the curb; it seems to be proud and acting as a dam.
Regarding the tile-over repair – a question. The manufacturer says the 24” x 24” tile we are using is slightly bowed for water runoff. I suspect the current ponding is related to this. Can this type of tile be cut for successful use on a curb like this, and if so are there standards for how to do this correctly so the repair is successful?
ANSWER, part 2
The tile you have selected appears to be pretty typical as far as inherent warpage. A byproduct of the firing process in tile manufacturing is that tiles become bowed or warped. This normally manifests itself with the center of tile being the high point and the edges being the low points. There are ANSI standards for what is and is not allowable for warpage. Considering you purchased the material from a reputable manufacturer, I’m sure it would follow in the acceptable guidelines for warpage, since this company has a great track record of offering quality tile.
As far as doing the repair within standards, the requirements are for the existing installation to be sound, well bonded, and without cracks. All soap scum, wax, or coatings must be removed from the surface prior to installation. You may want to scarify or prime the surface of the tile prior to the installation to increase bond strength. Always select a mortar that is approved for tile-over-tile installations. Incorporate your 1/4” per foot minimum slope in the new assembly. Most curbs are 6” so this would equate to a minimum of 1/8” drop.
– Robb Roderick, NTCA trainer/presenter
According to several industry sources, the more than 1,300 members of NTCA account for only a fraction of companies working as tile and stone installers in the U.S. market. My sincere hope is that all 1,300+ members of the NTCA have joined because they are committed to being a best-in-class tile and stone professional. There are many benefits of membership, including a free annual copy of the NTCA Reference Manual, free technical advice, discount programs for shipping, insurance, vehicle purchases, safety programs, marketing templates and many more. The Partnering for Success voucher program allows each member to individually choose vouchers for free or discounted products with a total annual value of $2,000, far exceeding the cost of membership.
Collectively, these programs are more than enough reason to join the NTCA, but for me personally, the most important benefit of being an NTCA member is the right to use the nationally recognized logo on all my business communications.
One of my goals as your president over the next two years is to ensure that every member has the opportunity to increase his or her skill as a professional installer – and also grow as a professional business owner. I want the NTCA logo to be recognized by architects, designers, building owners and the public as the mark of excellence in the tile and stone industry. They should have confidence that when selecting and hiring a contractor member of NTCA, they are getting a “Best in Class” professional. Obviously, the NTCA is limited in its ability to ensure that all members are committed to this goal. However, we can make sure that we provide all the tools necessary to assist all members as they endeavor to grow their skills and business acumen. If this craft is providing the opportunity for us to succeed, we should be motivated to invest in expanding our capabilities and skills.
This comprehensive goal will take time, but I’m proud to share with you that due to the vision and dedication of the NTCA staff and volunteers, many of these tools exist today and are at your disposal. I encourage every member to invest in NTCA University, which allows every employee to have personalized access to a wide variety of educational opportunities. Access includes the new and developing Apprenticeship course, and the entire Business Plan section with over 50 classes that include accounting, marketing, interviewing and hiring, business ethics, negotiating contracts,business continuation planning strategies and more. Over 30 live webcast seminars with the accompanying PowerPoint presentations are also included.
By definition, “professional” means that we are never finished learning, growing and improving our ability to be the best. I challenge every NTCA member to think about 2017 and what you are doing to continually educate and train yourself and your team. Spend some time looking at what is offered; tell us what we are missing and how we can partner with you to become a Best in Class tile and stone contractor that proudly displays the NTCA logo.
Martin Howard, President NTCA
Committee Member, ANSI A108
NTCA offers two “partner” programs in its package for members: PartnerShip® and Partnering for Success
PartnerShip, the endorsed shipping management provider of NTCA, offers shipping discounts to all NTCA members on select FedEx® services, as well as savings on less-than-truckload (LTL) freight shipments arranged through PartnerShip. This program is FREE to all NTCA members, with no minimums required.
Members can request a no-obligation free quote for standard or guaranteed LTL (less-than-truckload) services from PartnerShip freight broker. The service works with the reputable LTL carriers, including: AAA Cooper, Estes Express, FedEx Freight, Dayton Freight, Old Dominion, New Penn, Pitt Ohio, R+L Carriers, Reddaway, Southeastern, UPS Freight, YRC Freight and many more!
Services also include full or partial truckload (dry van, flat bed, step deck, refrigerated, etc.). PartnerShip employs a stringent carrier review process and has access to thousands of the top truckload freight carriers across North America.
If you need to ship to a trade show, PartnerShip can help with this as well, as it can arrange great shipping rates with leading exhibit freight carriers. The company has a relationship with UPS Freight and YRC Freight and, if needed, can secure other carrier options as well.
Interested in learning more about PartnerShip or becoming a NTCA member? Contact assistant executive director Jim Olson at 612-788-4726 or email [email protected]
Partnering for Success
NTCA’s Partnering for Success benefit virtually pays you to be a member! Leading installation material manufacturers have invested in NTCA members by offering same-as-cash vouchers for valuable products you use every day – $1,800 worth of vouchers to be exact. This enables contractor members to experience all NTCA has to offer and actually MAKE money as an NTCA member when using Partnering for Success vouchers.
Participating manufacturers authorize NTCA to provide vouchers for their products that can be redeemed by NTCA contractor members, directly from the manufacturer or through any participating distributors. A total of $1,800 in vouchers is provided in contractor membership packets in these product categories: backer board, setting and grouting materials, membranes, cleaning and sealing materials, tools, floor heating systems, and ceramic tile.
In 2017, Home Depot will accept vouchers from QEP, Custom, and James Hardie.
Participating manufacturers for 2017 include: Alpha Professional Tools, American Olean, Aqua Mix, ARDEX, ATR Leveling, Bellota, Blanke, Ceramic Tool, Composeal, Contractors Direct, Custom Building Products, Daltile, Dependable Bagging, Emser, Flextherm, Florida Tile, LATICRETE, MAPEI, MAPEI Ultracare, Marazzi Tile, Mark E. Industries, Metropolitan Ceramics, MLT, NAC Products, National Gypsum/Permabase, Noble Company, NTCA Store, NTCA University, Nuheat, Oceancare, Porcelain Plus Speed Bit, Proflex, QEP, Rubi Tools, Schluter, Sun Touch, TEC Specialty, Texrite, The Home Depot, Trending Accessiblity, Trimaco, USG, VanHearron, Warmly Yours and wedi. Select the vouchers you want for the products you use or have been meaning to try. Vouchers are either used as cash, good for discounts or provide rebates on purchased products, depending on the manufacturer. For information, contact Jim Olson, NTCA assistant executive director, at 612-788-4726 or [email protected]