January 31, 2015

Feature – MAPEI Corporation – January 2015

Suburban Chicago mall gets a chic new look

New owners update mall to enhance shopping environment


Yorktown Center, a 1.5 million-square-foot mall located in Lombard, a western suburb of Chicago, was developed by Ed Pehrson in 1968. The shopping center was privately owned until it was acquired in 2012 by a partnership of real estate developers – Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) and YTC Pacific for $196 million. The new owners invested an additional $18 million in renovations, including a new food court that provides shoppers with meals, entertainment and Wi-Fi connectivity.

2-feature-0115First-floor renovations included the center court – a large spacious area in the center of the mall for promotions and events. The wide open floor plan leads to the main escalators and natural-light glass roof covering the second floor. The challenge of this project was the existing terrazzo floors in the center court. Traditionally, the floors would be torn out and the substrate prepared with epoxy products before leveling and installation of the new floor, but the existing terrazzo floor made this a problem for a mall that would remain open during the renovation.

MAPEI products at work on the jobsite

No one could determine how the terrazzo had been sealed and maintained. As a first step, Bourbon Tile & Marble installation crews bead-blasted the terrazzo to remove any sealers. Because patches like Mapecem Quickpatch do not bond with terrazzo, the installers covered the area with ECO Prim Grip as a bond primer and then skimmed uneven areas with Mapecem Quickpatch, which produced a smooth cement substrate. MAPEI SM Primer and Mapeguard 2 were applied over the Mapecem Quickpatch to isolate cracks in the terrazzo from the tile installation.

3-feature-0115With a properly-prepared substrate to work on, the installers began setting 8” x 48” porcelain tiles with the look of wood planks – a very new and popular tile trend. The Tavole Di Legno wood-look tile was manufactured and supplied by Stone Source. Some 24” x 48” porcelain tile with a traditional tile look (manufactured by Ergon and supplied by Spec Ceramics) was used for decorative accent areas. The tile was grouted with Ultracolor Plus, a MAPEI premium sanded grout that reduces efflorescence. Mapesil caulk was used on control joints in the tile work.

A large fountain in the center court was also remodeled by J&M Tile. Half of the fountain was torn out, and the water features were removed and replaced. This smaller project used MAPEI products as well.

A strategic part of the renovations involved relocating the food court to the second floor of the mall, and several stores were moved to make room. Most of existing flooring was cut out, and then new concrete was poured as part of an entire retrofit that included plumbing for the food court kitchens. In dry areas the Bourbon Tile crews first used Ultraplan 1 Plus wherever necessary as a self-leveling underlayment. Then they covered the area with MAPEI SM Primer and Mapeguard 2 to facilitate crack isolation.

4-feature-0115In the main food court, the crews installed Ergon 8” x 24”, 10” x 24”, 12” x 24” and 24”x 24” porcelain tiles supplied by Spec Ceramics. In the children’s area, they used more of the Tavole Di Legno wood-look tile. Using the same installation system as was used for the center court, the tiles (15,450 square feet), were set with Ultracontact and grouted with Ultracolor Plus, while Mapesil was used on control joints.

Wet areas in the public restrooms adjacent to the new food court (2800 square feet), used the same surface-preparation and tile-installation system, with one exception. Mapelastic AquaDefense was used for waterproofing and crack isolation in place of the Mapeguard 2. The Tavole Di Legno wood-look tile was also used on the restroom floors.

5-feature-0115In addition to the center court and food court renovations, columns on both upper and lower levels of the mall were wrapped in mosaic tile, using Ultra Flex LFT mortar and Ultracolor Plus grout. Porcelain mosaic tile from Walker Zanger was used on both levels of the center court. In the food court, the columns were covered with a combination of 24” x 24” porcelain tiles from Spec Ceramics and glass mosaics from Bisazza.

Other phases of Yorktown Center will be completed at a later time, as part of a total mall renovation. Bourbon Tile and MAPEI look forward to enhancing the atmosphere for shoppers throughout the mall.

6-feature-0115Product Information:

Project Category: Commercial – Shopping Mall
MAPEI Sales Rep: Tyler Barton
Project Owner: KKR/YTC Pacific Partnership
MAPEI Distributor: Mid America Tile
General Contractor: VCC USA
Installer Company: Bourbon Tile & Marble
Architect: Gensler Designs
Photographers: Tyler Barton and VCC USA
Project Size: 42,500 square feet

7-feature-0115MAPEI Products Used:

ECO Prim Grip™
Mapecem® Quickpatch
MAPEI SM Primer™
Mapeguard™ 2
Mapelastic™ AquaDefense
Ultraplan® 1 Plus
Ultraflex™ LFT
Ultracolor® Plus



New Member/Five Star Contractor Spotlight – January 2015

custom-sponsorFor 2015, we broaden the focus from our Five Star Contractor Spotlights to shine a light on the fantastic things NTCA members are doing throughout the association. But first, we have a few new Five Star Contractors we want to introduce, so this month, we focus on Visalia Ceramic Tile, which became a Five Star Contractor right before Total Solutions Plus last year.

NTCA5starcontractorVisalia Ceramic Tile
Visalia, Calif.
Since: 1985
Specialty: Specialty: New construction and/or remodels of commercial, residential and industrial projects, both private and public.
Website: www.visaliaceramictile.com

In 1959, Tony and Betty Martinho started their journey of a new marriage as well as building their business future in ceramic tile in the small town of Tulare, Calif. The Martinhos were blessed with 11 children in the following 12 ½ years. By 1972, Tony owned his own small business installing tile. After years of unsuccessfully urging a colleague to set up a store in Tulare County, Tony and Betty quit installing to start the first tile retail business in Visalia, Calif., just 10 miles up the road. American Ceramic Tile & Supply is still thriving today, with over 40 stone and tile suppliers, and hundreds of tile choices in various sizes, colors, textures, and materials in stock for immediate installation, with special orders arriving within days.

1-5star-0115In 1985, Tony and Betty, together with the help of their adult kids began installing tile again, and Visalia Ceramic Tile, Inc. (VCT) was established. At one time, four out of six sons were installing tile, and four out of five daughters were working in the office and showroom.

In 1993, Tony and Betty sold the company to four of their children, who continue to own and lead the company today. Tony passed away of cancer; Betty is enjoying her retirement at home with numerous hobbies, and pride in her grandchildren and great grandchildren. Over the years, the success of VCT has been established on several ethics that Tony and Betty taught their kids: serve people, build lasting relationships and treat your employees like family – the legacy of Tony and Betty’s vision.

Today, the family business employs over 75 people. Although the company has grown outside of the Martinho family, the family atmosphere continues to be very visible today. The growth of the company is not only reflected in the employee count but also in VCT’s territory, which has reached beyond the San Joaquin Valley to include the Central and Northern Coastal areas of California.

2-5star-0115Traveling throughout California, VCT averages about 500 projects per year, which include new construction and/or remodels of commercial, residential and industrial projects both private and public.

VCT’s reputation in California has been built on the service that is provided for customers through performance, quality, timeliness and collaboration with other professionals such as suppliers, architects, general contractors, sub-contractors, designers, and owner representatives.

In September 2013 the CTEF certified 23 VCT installers as Certified Tile Installers! An interesting “first” occurred while conducting the CTI test at VCT facility: in the five year history of the CTI program, VCT set a record for having the largest number of installers from the same company who were tested at the same time over the two-day period.

3-5star-0115“Becoming one of the newest Five Star Contractors is very rewarding for our company,” said Visalia’s Debbi Barton. “We are honored to be a part of an elite group of tile contractors in America. We look forward to how the future of being a Five Star Contractor will benefit VCT. The knowledge gained by attending the Total Solutions Plus Seminars has benefited the company in connecting with other members who can relate to our operations. The training and education that is shared gives new direction in our times of change. Sharing the knowledge and stories from each contact is motivational and inspiring.”

Project spotlight

4-5star-0115VCT spent three months on a recent project: a professional three-story building in Fresno, Calif. This building has 15,000 sq. ft. of polished marble and porcelain tile installed on interior floors, columns, walls and restrooms. Installation included waterproofing, lightweight thin-set mortar on a mortar bed for floated floors, with edge profiles for a finished appearance.

The level of pride founded by Tony and Betty resonates in the business today as the business grows and moves into the third generation of the family business.

Tech Talk – January 2015

TEC-sponsorFollow directions, not intuition, for best results with today’s mortars

Lesley beach picBy Lesley Goddin

“Mortar products today are so much better than they were years ago,” said new NTCA president and NTCA Technical Committee chairman James Woelfel, of Artcraft Granite, Marble and Tile Co., from Mesa, Ariz. “That’s why you don’t see as many failures as you ‘should’ see, if you were using mortars from 30 years ago.

“Mortars today are so fantastic,” Woelfel added. “Today, we have flowable/thixotropic and non-sag mortars. They are phenomenal – but they are a double-edged sword,” he said, stressing that if they aren’t used properly, the installation will fail spectacularly.

Woelfel – together with several technical representatives from manufacturers who have collaborated on authoring and editing the mortar section of the NTCA Reference Manual- have some important recommendations for getting the best results from today’s mortars.

Use the right material for the job

An obvious – but oft-ignored recommendation – is to use the proper mortar for the proper tile, Woelfel said. “The more expensive mortar doesn’t cost you more than $.05-$.07 a foot or maybe all the way up to $.15 more a foot,” he explained. “By using the right mortar, you are really buying yourself insurance. Since mortar is the least expensive part of a tile installation, if you are depending on the savings on that mortar to make you a profit, you are going down the wrong road. And if you are improperly using an inexpensive mortar, and building it up, are you really saving money in both material and time?”

Water ratio – follow directions, not intuition!

Second, be sure to mix the mortar the way the manufacturer recommends.

“The mortars being built today are very complex formulations and a lot of ingredients in these formulas require the proper amount of water,” said Leigh Hightower, technical services manager for MAPEI. “Contractors are used to mixing mortars to feel, but today’s mortars have a lot of materials in them that don’t wet out very quickly. If the mortar looks too thick as it is being mixed, and more water is added when it is mixed up, when it does go into solution, it is too thin. Mortars today need to be mixed with a measured amount of water according to instruction and not feel,” he said.

Tom Plaskota, with TEC/H.B. Fuller Construction Products, added, “job site conditions can affect installation and temperature-range limitations are pushed to the limit with the pace of fast track construction these days. This occurs on both the low and high ends of the temperature range, depending on what part of the country you are in and what time of year it is.”

Woelfel cited some of his experiences setting tile in the desert climate of Arizona. He said it’s easy to “overwater thinset in dry climates; there’s more chance to shrink here as it dries. Thin-set mortar sets up faster in Arizona and New Mexico – in fact, in Arizona this June, we set a record for 2% humidity.”

Woelfel said this is a problem because even if one is following strict manufacturer recommendations, those recommendations generally aren’t based on use in extreme conditions. “[Mortar is] tested at 75 degrees and 55% humidity,” Woelfel said. The tendency for mortars to skin over too fast in low-humidity settings is especially crucial when working with large-format, or large thin porcelain tile. Once that happens, there’s no bond.

Woelfel favors the development of more mortars that accommodate the particular conditions contractors encounter around the country – high humidity, or super-low humidity – so contractors have a reasonable amount of open time to set the tile.

“Most people in my area are subcontractors,” Woelfel said. “They are putting tile in as fast as humanly possible, which means they will trowel out 40’ to 50’ of thinset and just drop the tile. They don’t key it in, and it stays on top of the trowel marks. When it’s pulled up, it’s almost clean. There are a lot of failures in Phoenix due to mortar skinning over,” Woelfel said.

Bubbles weaken bonds

Woelfel also cautions contractors to take time with mortars and let them slake. “You need to mix with a low rpm mixer at the proper speed that the manufacturer recommends,” he said. “Otherwise, you can get air bubbles, which makes the mortar set up faster and become weaker. You have to let it rest and coalesce.”

A new name and clearer definition

Large and heavy tile (LHT) mortar, has gone through a transformation – and not just in name only – from the previous “medium-bed” mortar moniker. “Medium-bed” mortar was coined to refer to a MATERIAL – a type of mortar, not a METHOD of tile setting, according to MAPEI’s Hightower. But over time, it became misunderstood and mis-specified in the A&D community as a method of smoothing out imperfections in the substrate in lieu of the proper practice of using a self-leveling underlayment. Contractors got caught in the middle, Hightower said, when they started to be expected to smooth out substrate irregularities with medium-bed mortar, used up to 3/4” in thickness instead of going the proper route of using a self-leveling underlayment. The industry responded to this conundrum by changing the confusing name and limiting the thickness recommended to 1/2” to avoid misuse of this important material. For more information, check out this month’s “By the Book” section in which ProSpec’s Beverly Andrews talks about new parameters for use of LHT mortars or what we formerly called “medium-bed” mortar.

Up-and-coming products for LTPT

LHT mortar segues into mortars many manufacturers are developing specifically for large-unit thin porcelain tiles. These mortars are tied in closely with the standards discussions about large thin porcelain tile (LTPT). As these mortars are in development, contractors are offering feedback on realistic performance criteria. Some manufacturers required 1/64” lippage tolerance, Woelfel said – something unattainable with bigger thin tile. This is where the NTCA Technical Committee, TCNA and other industry entities are putting their heads together to formulate products and methods that will meet the needs of the contractor with excellent performance while the large thin porcelain tile itself is under close scrutiny in terms of performance characteristics and installation recommendations. Stay tuned to TileLetter for ongoing news about LHT mortars for LTPT throughout the year!

Ask the Experts – January 2015

SponsoredbyLaticreteThis month’s conversation is between a knowledgeable female do-it-yourself tile setter and Dave Gobis, CTC CSI Ceramic Tile Consultant. It illustrates the vast amount of misinformation that’s passing as expertise at point-of-sale. It’s a classic tale of buyer beware, and know-your-stuff.


My shower is almost complete, having installed my cement boards over a wood structure covered with plastic sheeting. I have used 100% silicone to seal all joints including those between the cement boards and my mortar bed. I am also going to waterproof all the cement boards with a waterproofing membrane. I know I’m supposed to use latex thinset for the floor. What kind of mortar do I use to install the tiles on the walls of my shower? As per the TCNA, I’m supposed to use latex thinset for the walls as well but a tile dealer I work with has told me that I can’t use latex-modified thinset for my walls because it will take three months to cure on account of the plastic I put on my wood structure. I would be much obliged for your help. Thank you.


Your tile dealer is misinformed. Your waterproofing membrane would be even less permeable than the plastic which has holes in it from fastening the board. There is truth that a longer drying period is required when installing tile with latex over a waterproof membrane. The thinset will use about a third of the water for mixing the thinset in growing a cement matrix, the rest will have to evaporate through the grout joints. Leave the joints open a few days before grouting and you will be fine. Cement grout is porous and will allow any residual moisture to pass if needed.

– David M. Gobis CTC CSI
Ceramic Tile Consultant


Thank you for your reply on the latex thinset; I just didn’t know who else to turn to and was getting exhausted with the different input I was getting from my tile suppliers.

In the same vein, should I wait three months to install glass doors on my curb tiles? Not that I mind; if I have to wait, I will. Furthermore, if I have to wait weeks to grout, I won’t mind either. At this point, being so close to finishing, I don’t want to mess up anything.


What was the reason for waiting three months on the shower door? Have never heard anything remotely close to that. Biggest thing is to not puncture the waterproofing. If you could let the tile set up for a week to 10 days that would be good enough.

– David M. Gobis CTC CSI
Ceramic Tile Consultant


You’ve just answered all my questions. The three-month cure time was told to me by one of the two tile stores I bought my tiles from. Based on that information, I started asking myself about the glass shower doors on the curb. Such is the nightmare of having no experience! Thank you so much for your prompt answers. Have a great one.


The misinformation out there is abundant. It’s sad that people know so little about their chosen line of work. It certainly keeps me busy, but it’s a hard way to make a living when all you sell is what you know. The tile setter I was with when I got your three-month email chuckled and said something about a knucklehead.

– Good Luck, Dave


I’ve been doing my own tile work for 20 years, but had never undertaken a shower from drain pipe to shower head. It became clear to me as well that misinformation was rampant, even amongst the professionals showing how to do it on YouTube. I could not get proper instructions on the internet or YouTube until I got hold of the ANSI code and the TCNA instructions. Even if you do decide to follow the code, as I decided to do, most stores don’t know the code and/or don’t follow it which has made my project that much more difficult as products are not always available. I feel like I’m speaking a foreign language to these people. You should’ve seen the hardware store reps when I asked for wet sand. Not to mention that some of these reps have tried to sell me gypsum or thin cement boards (3/8”) for my shower walls. One of these reps at a big box store actually told me – with Oatey pan liner package in hand – that I didn’t have to do a mortar bed after putting my PVC pan liner on my pre-pitch; I could put the tiles directly on my PVC pan liner and save myself the trouble of doing a mortar bed (!?!?). He even said, with certainty, that this was up to code (after I told him it wasn’t).

Tell your tile setter that he is right; knucklehead it is. Now, all I have to do is go back to the knucklehead and put in a special order for my latex thinset because they don’t carry these products in their stock room.

Again, Dave, much obliged.  I will sleep better tonight knowing that I now have the proper information.

Business Tip – January 2015

mapei_sponsorConstruction employment swells in 228 metro areas

In reports from the Associated General Contractors of America, good news continues for construction employment, with construction employment growing in 228 metro areas. The report also emphasizes the need for qualified workers to answer the demand as construction grows. In addition, a new bill passed by the House will allow employers and employees to protect retirement benefits. Details follow.

Construction employment expanded in 228 metro areas, declined in 64 and was stagnant in 47 between October 2013 and October 2014, according to a new analysis of federal employment data released in December 2014 by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said the construction job gains come as new federal figures show year-over-year growth in construction spending and many firms report impacts from growing shortages of qualified workers.

“Even as a number of markets continue to struggle with declining construction demand and employment, most metro areas are adding construction jobs as the industry slowly recovers,” said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the association. “As spending on construction continues to climb, more and more firms will struggle with the impacts of a labor market that is not keeping pace with demand.”

Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, Texas, added the largest number of construction jobs in the past year (12,900 jobs, 7%), followed by Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas (11,000 jobs, 9%), Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, Ill. (9,200 jobs, 7 %) and Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash. (8,300 jobs, 11%). The largest percentage gains occurred in Pascagoula, Miss. (28%, 1,800 jobs), Terre Haute, Ind. (24%, 1,000 jobs), Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, Ohio (21%, 7,800 jobs), Cleveland, Tenn. (19%, 300 jobs) and Fargo, N.D.-Minn. (19%, 1,700 jobs).

The largest job losses from October 2013 to October 2014 were in Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick, Md. (-4,500 jobs, -14%), followed by Edison-New Brunswick, N.J. (-3,000 jobs, -7%), Gary, Ind. (-2,800 jobs, -15%) and Putnam-Rockland-Westchester, N.Y. (-2,200 jobs, -7%). The largest percentage decline for the past year was in Steubenville-Weirton, Ohio-W.V. (-36%, -800 jobs), followed by Fond du Lac, Wis. (-15%, -400 jobs), Gary, Ind. and Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick, Md.

Association officials noted that newly-released federal figures show construction spending increased by 3.3 % between October 2013 and October 2014 as demand for residential construction and other private-sector segments slowly expands. Even public-sector construction spending experienced an all-too-rare increase between September and October. At the same time, 83 % of firms report trouble finding qualified workers, which is limiting competition and forcing many firms to change the way they operate.

“Instead of capitalizing on the emerging recovery, many firms instead are struggling to find qualified workers to fill their construction crews,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “It is time to rethink our educational priorities when we have too many unemployed men and women who lack the skills to earn the kind of above-average wages construction work affords.”


House-passed spending bill

protects retirement benefits

In addition, Sandherr recently released the following statement regarding passage in the House of Representative of a Omnibus Spending bill that included a series of association-backed reforms designed to allow employers and employees to protect and improve multi-employer retirement programs:

“The House’s wise decision to include a series of multi-employer pension reforms in the broader spending bill will protect retiree benefits, help keep thousands of employers competitive and ensure that the broader economy continues to benefit from the billions of dollars that pension funds invest each year. The most important aspect of these new reform measures is that they finally provide employers and employees with the flexibility to voluntarily act to shore up multi-employer retirement plans. Without these new measures, thousands of retirees would likely have been forced to accept the savage cuts to their retirement benefits that come when the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation is forced to step in. This is the culmination of three years of joint labor and management cooperation to shore up troubled plans.

“The Senate and President Obama must move quickly to enact these needed reform measures so that thousands of employees and their employers can have the tools needed to protect their hard-earned investments and benefits,” Sandherr concluded.

Editor’s Letter – January 2015

Lesley psf head shotHappy new year! We start 2015  with a fresh roster of issues here at the TileLetter family of publications.

Due to the overwhelming acclaim we received for last fall’s NTCA Reference Manual issue, we decided to bring you a large-format 8″ x 10″ TECH issue of TileLetter in summer 2015. This issue will keep you informed in short, technical articles about advances in products, materials and methods.

Second, we learned a lot through publishing our large-format TADA magazine over the last three years. We forged new relationships with A&D professionals and learned more about the needs of the specifier community – including the fact that while they crave product and technical information, they don’t need yet another magazine to do it. Instead, we are channeling this important material into a new TRENDS issue of TileLetter, a lush 8” x 10” format publication that will be available at Coverings. It will explore new products, up-and-coming design, style, fashion and influences that we will see at the Coverings show and beyond. Together with TECH, it will give A&D professionals a one-two punch of essential information to better equip them for stunning and high-performance tile installations.

We will continue with two of our traditional special issues in the unique TileLetter format beloved by our readers: the Coverings issue which includes show and the TileLetter Green issue, which focuses on sustainability issues critical to contractors, architects, designers and specifiers.

Within our regular 12 monthly issues, we have some changes too. For instance, our Five Star Contractor Spotlight becomes our NTCA Member Spotlight, broadening our coverage of all our members while continuing to introduce new Five Star Members as they become approved as we are doing in this issue with Visalia Tile.

Our Handbook Highlights section also gets a facelift. Instead of focusing strictly on changes and updates to the TCNA Handbook of Ceramic, Glass and Stone Tile Installation, the new “By the Book” section features articles about issues appearing in the Handbook or ANSI, authored by industry experts. Our first installment, by Beverly Andrews of ProSpec, is in this issue.

The 2015 menu has six tasty stories about thin tile, and three features that focus on stone developments.

Business stories will also continue in Business Tip, authored in part from speakers who drew standing-room only crowds at Total Solutions Plus and Coverings. These pieces will be a shot in the arm to successful and profitable management of your business. Get ready also for impassioned business and technical perspectives from our new NTCA president, James Woelfel, in the NTCA President’s Letter.

So, stay tuned to the unfolding of this well-rounded roster of print education that aims to better your business. And as always, your suggestions and perspectives about industry issues are welcome. Just drop me a line at lesley@tile-assn.com.

God bless,

President’s Letter – January 2015

JWoelfel_headshotGreetings from the great state of Arizona! I am honored to be the new president of the National Tile Contractors Association and I am committed to working on your behalf.

I am proud to be a professional tile contractor. My passion centers on installation standards in our industry. For the past eight years, I have been chairman of the NTCA Technical Committee. I am also a voting member of both the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) and American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Committees. Working with the most knowledgeable contractors and manufacturers’ representatives in the world has been a rewarding experience both professionally and personally. I will continue that work as I serve as your president for I believe that higher standards make us better contractors and a stronger association.

Over the next two years, my goal is to make the NTCA the most important association in the ceramic tile industry. We will do this through international partnerships and domestic alliances. We will look to the future, celebrate the present and honor our past.

I am extremely proud of the work NTCA has accomplished that benefits our profession and our industry. Over the past few years, we have changed industry standards regarding deflection language, created national stone tile standards and barrier-free shower standards, and created the NTCA Business Manual. In partnership with the Tile Contractors Association of America (TCAA), which represents union labor, we wrote and promoted qualified labor language in national specifications and have created the Advanced Certifications for Tile installation, or ACT, program. This program provides hands-on certification for several tile installation methods. The NTCA must stay committed to installation excellence, continued education, and most importantly, training the next generation of tile installers.

In my paying job, I am vice president of Artcraft Granite, Marble and Tile Company in Mesa, Arizona. I represent the third generation in our family business.

I would like to thank my wife, Chris, and my son Preston. Chris puts up with me – and is an integral part of Artcraft. She is the strong hand that also guides our family. Preston shares me with the industry and I am so very proud of him. I would like to also thank my mom, Mary, and my dad, Butch, for holding down the fort while I am president.

Thank you to the NTCA Executive Committee, staff, Board of Directors, and all members of the NTCA for your trust in me. Dan Welch, the new chairman of the Board, has provided unwavering and determined leadership for the last two years.

As we move forward on what I know will be an exciting and challenging adventure, I invite you to renew your commitment to our association. Attend a meeting, join a committee…become involved!

James Woelfel

Feature – Daltile – December 2014

“Little black dress” of stone tile brings classic look to a new bath

Daltile’s Stone Mosaics, accents and tile are creating “a wonderful life” for blogger

1-feature-1214Melissa Smith has always been inspired by the timeless charm of the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life,” and finding romance in the everyday. The potential seen in the house at 320 Sycamore Street in the Jimmy Stewart/Donna Reed classic film is what inspired her to start a blog by the same name.

320 Sycamore (www.320
sycamoreblog.com) has featured room-by-room home renovations as the family moved from a home in Texas, to Virginia, to a brand new home south of Salt Lake City. With the opportunity to start fresh, she sought to make her master bathroom an oasis, away from the typical chaos of a household of five growing children.

With the help of her contractor, Gary Griffith of Designer Home Interiors of Spanish Fork, Utah (www.dhifloors.com), she was able to create a new space with classic appeal. She selected a variety of Daltile natural stone mosaics and accent pieces in Carrara white.

“I’ve heard Carrara marble called the ‘little black dress’ of tile,” said Smith. “So I knew it was perfect for the timeless, classic look I was going for.”

2-feature-1214Smith had the style, and Griffith brought the technical know-how for installation. Around 200 sq. ft. of tile was needed to outfit the space.

In the shower, Smith chose Daltile’s Stone Mosaics Carrara White Oval Mosaic for an accent stripe, but was unaware that the thickness did not match that of the classic white tile covering the shower surround. Griffith provided a solution by recommending pencil rail to hide the discrepancy. Daltile’s Marble Collection First Snow Elegance Pencil Rail was chosen and nicely frames the accent stripe. The same look was applied to the bathtub surround.

Smith continued to think outside the box with the flooring and chose Daltile’s Stone Mosaics Carrara White Hexagon Mosaic. Griffith noted that marble’s soft texture makes it a bit challenging to install and maintain, but with a little extra care, it can be a stunning choice. He used non-sanded grout and setting materials from MAPEI, and sealed the floor to avoid damage. The white grout and light-colored tile on the floor will require regular cleaning to maintain its shine. Smith noted she would never think of installing the delicate tile in the kids’ bath, but for just her and her husband, she doesn’t mind taking extra care.

3-feature-1214The accent wall was an unexpected addition. After laying out the design for the room, Smith ended up having some extra tile on hand, but she didn’t waste time putting it to use, and found a home for it behind the vanity and mirror. Griffith installed the tile vertically, which initially surprised Smith.

“I guess I just envisioned the tile going horizontally, like traditional subway tile would,” said Smith. “But it goes to show the versatility of tile like this; turning it on its side gives a unique look and truly makes the wall a focal point.”

She noted that in the light, the tile almost shimmers like a mirror. It has become her favorite feature in the room.

Both Smith and Griffith mentioned they were surprised to see the variety of shapes and sizes of tile Daltile offered in the Carrara marble.

“I thought of course I would find subway tile and hexagon shapes, but these mosaics were very unexpected!” Smith remarked.

4-feature-1214“In other homes in this community we have been installing your traditional 12” or 13” tile or sometimes a 12” x 24” standard porcelain,” said Griffith. “This project was a nice diversion from the norm. Others in the neighborhood are now requesting a similar look.”

Happy to be settling into her new home, Smith still feels a bit buried by boxes and is slowly finding a home for everything. However, the master bathroom, one of the first completed rooms in the house, is a tranquil escape from the chaos.

When asked what’s next on her renovation list, she said she plans to enjoy the newness of the home for now. She might consider a fireplace renovation, but for the time being she just plans to kick up her heels and enjoy an old holiday classic.

5-feature-1214 6-feature-1214 7-feature-1214

Tech Talk – December 2014

TEC-sponsorCold weather tiling

By Lesley Goddin the NTCA Reference Manual

December means cold weather for most of our 50 states, so this month’s Tech Talk literally takes a page out of the NTCA Reference Manual to discuss the particulars and cautions that surround setting tile in cold weather.

The NTCA Reference Manual is an essential industry guide that references real-world, in-the-field situations, in most cases with a cause-cure-prevention format. It also contains letters that can be customized to various parties in the project to legally communicate problems to keep tile contractors harmless in a dispute. This indispensable publication is now available to the entire industry. Visit https://store.tile-assn.com/p-63-20142015-ntca-reference-manual-non-member.aspx or click on the “store” link at NTCA’s website www.tile-assn.com, and select books and periodicals to get your copy today.

Following are the recommendations for successful cold weather tiling:


The professional installation of tile in cold weather presents a number of problems. The best results will be obtained when the environment and the products are about room temperature. Each bonding material will require specific precautions.

Tile bonding and grouting materials must not be applied to surfaces that contain frost. Tile must not be installed in areas where the substrate is not maintained above 50° F (10 C) or where the substrate is above 100° F (38 C). Temperature of the substrate shall be 60° F (16 C) and rising for application of epoxy and furan unless otherwise specifically authorized by its manufacturer. Maintain epoxy and furan at a stable temperature between 60° F (16 C) and 90° F (32 C) during the curing period.

Industry specifications do not recommend setting tile below 50° F. If work below that temperature is unavoidable, common sense procedures and precautions should be observed. Be aware that it is the temperature of the tile products, bonding materials and substrate which count – not just the air temperature of the room.

Cold weather slows cement hydration (curing)

It is recognized that cold weather slows the strengthening of cement mortars and grouts and allowances must be made for the resulting risks.

As the temperature drops from 50° F to 35° F, the strengthening of cement slows concurrently, until at 35° F it almost ceases. When these conditions occur, additional time must be allowed for the cement bonding materials to sufficiently harden before traffic is allowed. If the water in fresh cement is allowed to freeze solid, particularly near the surface, the small ice crystals expand, separate the sand and cement, and destroy the strength of the mortar, resulting in a bond failure.

2-TT-1214In cold temperatures, grouting done before the bonding material is strong enough to accept traffic, will cause movement of the tile resulting in irreparable bond failure. When the temperature is below 50° F, grouting should be done immediately after the tile is set or wait at least two to three days. No traffic should be allowed during this period. When continuing a job, special precautions must be taken to keep all traffic off the tile that was set the previous day.

When using blower heaters to protect tile from freezing, caution must be taken to avoid rapidly drying out the tiled area directly in front of the heaters. There is a risk of drying out the air in heated areas preventing proper curing of mortar and grout. It is advisable to damp cure under these conditions.

The use of electric heat is preferable to oil or gas-fired temporary heaters that can cause chalking carbonation and weakening of fresh mortar or grout.

Cover ungrouted surfaces during the initial setting period for protection against drafts and freezing temperatures. Fast-setting mortars, although susceptible to freeze damage, may reduce curing time if the manufacturer’s recommendations are followed.

Epoxies and urethanes

Epoxies require special cold weather precautions. The most likely conditions to occur because of cold temperatures are:

1. A thick stiff mix.

2. Difficult application.

3. A very slow cure and strength gain.

For these reasons, most epoxy products are recommended for use between 70° F and 80° F. Low temperatures can cause epoxies to become so stiff they are unworkable and curing time is extended beyond practical limits. Epoxies should be stored at room temperatures at least 48 hours before mixing. Most epoxy problems result from improper and insufficient mixing.

3-TT-1214Cold weather tiling tips

Nadine Edelstein, winner of a 2010 TileLetter Tile Design Award for the slate strip mosaic in the Maury Island residence outdoor entryway and a 2013 Coverings Installation Design Residential Stone Design Award for the Dragonflower Vine raised-bed garden pathway in Seattle, Wash. Edelstein installed both winning projects during the during the cold northwest winter.

Conditions for the Maury Island project included temperatures in the 30s and wind whipping through the space. The crew bundled up to stay warm and took measures to keep the concrete substrate and curing mortar above 40 degrees. Edelstein said she “used electric blankets over the set tiles layered over with insulating blankets and tarps to keep the heat in. The next day we used the blankets to preheat the areas we intended to set.”

For her 2013 Dragonflower Vine project, elaborate measures included a framed enclosure built over the entire 500+-sq.-ft. garden. “This was covered with heavy-duty tarps that were secured with full five-gallon buckets hanging off the sides!” Edelstein said. “This kept us dry and provided enough ventilation so that we could use a 100,000 BTU propane heater, which kept the chill off of us while we worked. We then employed the same electric blanket technique to help our mortar cure.”

A note of caution from industry expert and ceramic consultant Dave Gobis, CTC – be sure to provide plenty of ventilation – as Edelstein did – when tenting a project. “A tented installation or the cement could kill you from either carbon monoxide or dioxide. Be sure you have plenty of air moving through the enclosure.”

Five Star Contractor Spotlight – December 2014

custom-sponsorYoungstown Tile & Terrazzo, Inc.
Canfield, Ohio
Since: 1947
NTCA5starcontractorSpecialty: Providing a superior tile installation on any industrial, commercial or residential project at a reasonable price. Our professional management team and highly skilled and experienced installers deliver a quality installation on time and under budget.
Website: www.yttinc.com

Youngstown Tile and Terrazzo Co., Inc. (YTT), a family-owned business with a family atmosphere, was founded in 1947 by Attillio Bertolini, focusing on quality installations of ceramic tile, terrazzo and marble. The company was purchased in 1981 by Bertolini’s son-in-law Paul Sherba, who remains the owner and president of YTT today.

paulsherba-1214Sherba has been involved with the NTCA for more than 20 years. One of the first NTCA Five Star Contractors, he is also a past president and a Ring of Honor recipient.

In the early years, YTT focused its efforts mainly in the retail market, concentrating on shopping malls and major retailers such as May Co., Dillard’s department stores, and Limited brand stores. Since 2007 the company’s direction and day-to-day management has been handled by vice president Jeff Mason, and senior project manager Josh Cohol, together moving YTT forward in many new and exciting directions. YTT has developed a web presence at www.yttinc.com and has branched out into polished concrete, both decorative and industrial epoxy flooring, and granite countertops. It recently opened a retail showroom.

YTT currently employs 18 dedicated and highly-skilled people including office manager Tracy Higgins, superintendent Don Ferko, and estimator Keith Mason, all of whom oversee individual areas of the business. The bulk of YTT’s employees are field personnel, many of them second-generation employees and craftspeople, thus emphasizing YTT’s commitment to a strong family culture. These highly skilled craftspeople and the professionalism of the entire YTT team are the foundation on which YTT has built a reputation of excellence in the ceramic tile industry.

NEOMED Health and Wellness Center

1-fivestar-1214One recent project that highlights YTT’s commitment to excellence is the new Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) Health and Wellness Center in Ravenna, Ohio. This 177,000-sq.-ft. facility was constructed by Ruhlin Construction at a cost of $65 million, and had a construction duration of approximately 18 months. The building includes a STEM+M (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics + medicine) high school, a conference center including two ballrooms and a 3,400-sq.-ft. quarry tile banquet kitchen. This project also featured a 355-seat lecture hall, café, coffee shop, tenant space for future medical offices, pharmacy, central atrium, and a physical therapy suite. The building’s fitness center includes two pools, aerobics area, weight room, gymnasium, and rock-climbing wall.

2-fivestar-1214After the project, Ruhlin Construction offered the following testimonial to its experience working with YTT. “Youngstown Tile & Terrazzo was critical to the successful completion of the NEOMED Health, Wellness, and Medical Education Center project. As the new showpiece building for the NEOMED campus, this project combined both a very aggressive construction schedule with a high level of finishes and high expectation for quality. YTT provided the manpower and experience necessary to complete their tile work in an accelerated timeframe with no sacrifice in quality. The Ruhlin Company is thankful to YTT for their efforts on this project and looks forward to more successful projects with them in the future.”

3-fivestar-1214The Youngstown Tile & Terrazzo family is looking forward to the future, and providing their customers both new and old with high-quality installations and great customer service on each and every project.