March 2017 EDITOR’S LETTER: Lesley A. Goddin

Welcome to spring. The long, dark winter (for some – here in New Mexico, we’ve had 80 degree temperatures in March already!) is over and the tiling season has begun.

Of course, for most contractors, the tiling season is all year round, though the warmer weather affords some flexibility (and struggles – with wind, humidity, high temperatures, sun and rain) and opportunity for indoor and outdoor tiling projects.

Though warm weather is upon us (or nearly upon us, for those of you in the Northeast), cool weather will come round before we know it. That’s why it’s worth discussing electric floor warming with your clients. Today’s technologies make it easy to install and the benefits of a warm, cozy floor (even enjoyed on cool summer nights) will be appreciated for years to come. Take a look at our Tech Talk section for some discussion of electric floor warming challenges straight out of the NTCA Reference Manual.

Despite the push towards spring, we’re taking a look back at The International Surfaces Expo West

(TISE West) that took place in the dead of January in Las Vegas. Take a gander at the events and activities that NTCA sponsored and supported at the show, which has really grown into a vibrant and vital opportunity for tile and stone con- tractors. Our product section this month also contains a sampling of what was seen at the show, both in terms of finishing product and set- ting materials and accessories.

We also have a fun Business Tip this month – Riding Shotgun with Connie Heinlein. Connie is wife and intrepid assistant to NTCA technical trainer/presenter Mark Heinlein, and accompanies him to workshops around the country (many of the excellent photos of Mark you see in TileLetter or on social media are courtesy of Connie). She has a unique perspective on the value of NTCA to installers in the industry, and in the Business Tip section, she shares it with you.

At Total Solutions Plus, Training and Education coordinator Becky Serbin interviewed some of our prominent contractor members on video about the value of being a

Certified Tile Contractor. TileLetter freelancer Terryn Rutford has extracted some salient quotes about the importance of this credential and how it helps in business, and presents it as our Qualified Labor story this month.

And in closing, a little tidbit that came to my attention from the Tile Geeks social media group on Facebook. Schluter’s Shannon Huffstickler had shared some information about Tim Daly – known for his role in television hits Wings and Private Practice, and currently appearing as the husband of the Secretary of State in Madame Secretary opposite Tea Leoni – that she had heard during an interview with him on NPR that morning. It turns out that Daly (whose sister is Tyne Daly, by the way) once had a tile company in California called Silver Dollar Tile Company, because they “signed” their work by installing a silver dollar in every floor.

Do you “sign” your work? Send an email to [email protected] and let me know how you make your mark on the installation (apart from your excellent work, of course).

Make this day your best one yet. God bless,

Lesley

[email protected]

 

PRESIDENT’S LETTER: NTCA enjoys great success at TISE West

I’ve just returned from TISE West/ Surfaces West in Las Vegas where the NTCA experienced its most productive and successful attendance at this conference to date.

What made it so special, you ask?

This is the fourth year NTCA has been responsible for the tile contactor education track and with the help of the NTCA State Ambassadors, we created quite a buzz around the conference hall. The NTCA booth was much larger, and featured lounge areas for networking and impromptu contractor roundtable discussions. The State Ambassadors worked the booth for the most part and signed up several new members. The Ambassador Reception and Dinner was very well attended by contractors who were excited to be there and exchange ideas and information.

The Board of Directors meeting started out with an update of the NTCA Strategic Plan by executive director Bart Bettiga.

The great news here is that the two-year Finisher program will be completed and available on-line at the NTCA University website by Coverings this year. The two-year Installer program is on track to be complete by the end of 2018. If you haven’t seen this tremendous learning tool, I encourage you to contact Becky Serbin, Training and Education Coordinator for a preview (see NTCA University Update on page 84 of this issue).

Another major initiative that started at the end of 2016 is the hiring of Kevin Insalato, of California Flooring in Manteno, Ill., to work with Scott Carothers and CTEF. His major responsibility is to train and certify Regional Evaluators who will administer the Certified Tile Installer (CTI) examination. Kevin has nearly tripled the number of evaluators across the country and is seeking more qualified individuals. Our goal is to see the current number of 1,300 CTIs grow well into the thousands by the end of 2018.

Next up, the subcommittee reports

The Training and Education committee, chaired by Dave Rogers, of Welch Tile & Marble, Kent City, Michigan, now has five subcommittees as follows:

Safety – Chaired by Robert Showers. This committee is working on documents to be made available to all NTCA members as a resource for safety training, OSHA-approved safety programs and up-to-date changes in regulations and how they might impact our trade.

Promotion – Chaired by Paige Smith. This committee is working on initiatives to promote CTI and specific hot topics in distributor showrooms, along with talking points for workshops.

Certification – Chaired by Sam Bruce. This group is working hard to write scripts and study aids for those preparing to take the CTI exam. Its goal is to see those who possess the skills and knowledge increase their success rate by being properly prepared for the exam.

CEU Programs for Management – Chaired by Dirk Sullivan. This group is working to provide pro- grams and educational study guides for advancement in all areas of management.

CEU Technical – Chaired by Rod Owen. This group is developing scripts for educational videos to be used in training field foremen and superintendents.

These committees have now held two in-person meetings – at Total Solutions Plus (TSP) and TISE West – along with many conference calls and video conferences showing their commitment to grow the value of membership in the NTCA. There were nearly 100 industry professionals in attendance at the Board of Directors meeting, and it is very exciting to see so many new faces taking leadership roles within the association.

The Technical Committee, Membership Committee, Methods and Standards Committee and Convention Planning Committee also gave reports along with an update on the NTCA Five Star program from new Five Star Program director, Amber Fox.

As always, I invite your involvement and feedback and I look forward to seeing you at Coverings in April.

Keep on tiling!

Martin Howard, NTCA President Committee member, ANSI A108 [email protected]

Member Spotlight: Gudbrandsson Tile & Stone

NTCA is an international association, and as such, in this issue, we present to you a member from Manitoba, Canada – Gudbrandsson Tile & Stone (www.facebook.com/gdtileflooring), which installs tile and stone in mostly residential renovations and new homes, with occasional commercial hand-crafted specialty projects.

Brandur Gudbrandsson was working as a trucker until the discovery that he would soon be dad to a daughter helped bring his passion into laser-like focus. At the time, he learned his best friend for 17 years was also having a child. That became the impetus to start in the tile and ooring industry, with Gudbrandsson’s only knowledge stemming from “being in and out of the trade for 10 years.”

Gudbrandsson drove from Manitoba to Chicago in 2016 to attend Coverings; Dave Karp gave him a warm welcome.

Gudbrandsson quit driving and began buying tiling tools until he hit a bump in the road. “Ironically, my buddy of 17 years did not want to continue after one month of work and we found out our sixth-great-grandfathers were half brothers,” he said. “He became a professional trucker; I became a professional tilesetter.”

Gudbrandsson’s grandfather said, “Stand still, nothing accomplished.” Standing still wasn’t good enough for Gudbrandsson. “ When I had to take the leap of being a dad, I told myself follow my passion and I will succeed,” he said. “I thank my daughter for where I am today – and my grandfather’s hard working roots. Everything I do – on a job or in the industry – has my family name on it. It signifies quality.”

Brandur Gudbrandsson joined NTCA in 2016 due to the influence of fellow Tile Geeks tilesetters he admired.

Gudbrandsson joined NTCA in 2016 due to the influence of fellow Tile Geeks tilesetters he admired. “I believe the industry is being re-pioneered today, and I came into the industry at the best time,” he said, adding that he wants to “be involved with the industry as deeply I can get.”

Gudbrandsson said, “The greatest aspect of becoming a NTCA member is the support and net- working from so many GUD people. I had the pleasure of meeting many in Chicago at Coverings 2016. It was a GUD drive; Dave Karp, owner of Tile Fusion, was the first to greet me on the journey from Manitoba.”

He continued, saying, “It is a GUD satisfaction to be a part of an ancient art. It gives me great joy to see more people involved every day. The networking is very GUD locally and abroad. Becoming a Tile Geeks member led me to create Tilesetter Canada Facebook group for more regional connections. I see now setters from Canada helping each other nding work, becoming friends and helping troubleshoot problems, or connecting with a tile company representative.

Brandur Gudbrandsson (far left) and a group of NTCA members and Tile Geeks at the NTCA booth during Coverings 2016 in Chicago.

“Seeing the tile community through social media using the word GUD is also attering,” he added. “Perseverance, consistency, details – meeting anyone with the same passion is always a pleasure.”

 

 

 

 

 

Gudbrandsson Tile & Stone projects

 

Qualified Labor: The Benefits of Certification

The Certified Tile Installer (CTI) program run by the Certified Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) encourages installers to test their skills against industry standards. It offers industry members the chance to establish their place among the best and brightest installers. During Total Solutions Plus in Palm Desert last October, Becky Serbin interviewed several NTCA members about the benefits of certification.

Sullivan

“It really is a way for me to categorize my installers as well as let them know where they stand,” said Dirk Sullivan, NTCA state ambassador for Oregon and owner of Hawthorne Tile, and State Ambassador. “It helps them want to move forward in the industry and to know what they have to do to get there.” The CTI program leads to bet- ter installations and increased wages across the industry.

Brookes

Martin Brookes, with Heritage Marble and Tile in Mill Valley, Calif., and NTCA 2nd vice president, said, “We’ve had great Brookes success using the program to elevate workmanship, to elevate the confidence of our guys to do higher-end installations, and higher commitment to the standard of quality of work. It’s been really advantageous to Heritage Marble and Tile.”

Denny

As the industry rises in reputation and reliability, its members benefit. “The CTI program allows me to offer something to my customers that not Denny everyone else can,” said Brad Denny, NTCA regional director and State Ambassador, and project manager at Nichols Tile & Terrazzo Co. Inc., Joelton, Tenn.

 

Albrecht

In addition to being a benefit to the installer, the CTI program is a boon to the installation company. “We’ve been located by people across the country using the database through the CTEF and NTCA websites,” said Erin Albrecht, chief operations officer of J&R Tile in San Antonio, Texas. And every year the construction industry is recognizing certi cation as more important.

Woelfel

Artcraft Granite, Marble & Tile Co. saw a huge financial benefit after
receiving a request for certified installers. “Five years ago
we had an owner call us and say, we’re looking for CTEF-certified installers and we can’t find anyone who knows what they’re doing,” said James Woelfel, Artcraft vice president and NTCA chairman of the board. “It generated at least a billion dollars worth of work over the last six years,” he said.

Overall, certification raises the industry standard and encourages
quality installation.

Fox

“I think what we have seen is a different culture of professionalism in the trade,” said Kevin Fox, president and owner of Fox Ceramic Tile, Inc., in St. Marys, Kan., and chairman of the NTCA Methods and Standards Committee. “It took us a while to get a buy-in on it. We have a lot of installers that have been doing [installation] for 20 to 30 years, so it took me a while to convince them to validate their skills. We need those skills validated as a company as we’re talk- ing to general contractors, especially those who aren’t familiar with us. And we also need it validated for even repeat custom- ers that are looking for clients that will provide a consistent product.”

Howard

The tile industry toward certification as a standard. Martin Howard of David Allen Company in Raleigh, N.C., and current NTCA president, observed, “It really does set you apart from your competitors and it also validates your skill and it validates the knowledge that you have and the hard work you’ve put in to get where you are.” The more installers who are certified the better off the industry is as a whole.

Hohn

Jan Hohn of Hohn & Hohn, Inc., in St. Paul, Minn., said, “It was a selling point I could talk to general contractors about, to architects, and designers to let Hohn them know we had passed a national test and it said we were qualified to install tile.” As more contractors, architects, and designers recognize certification as evidence of quality installers, certification will become ever more important to the industry and its members.

For more information, visit https://www.ceramictilefoundation.org/certified-tile-installer-cti-program.

Tech Talk – April 2017

A tour through NTCA’s “Innovative Tools” Coverings 2017 presentation

An array of tools that make tiling easier, safer and more efficient will be on display

By Lesley Goddin

This year, at Coverings ’17 (taking place as this book is going to press), NTCA technical trainers/presenters Mark Heinlein and Robb Roderick are conducting a Coverings Conference session called “Innovative Tools in the Tile Industry.” In addition, the session will be presented in Spanish by NTCA technical trainer Luis Bautista, and David Allen Company’s Marcos Castillo. NTCA training and education coordinator Becky Serbin will also be on hand at the session.

The session explores a number of tools available in the industry right now and their benefits. For our Tech Talk section this issue, we are presenting a synopsis of the tools that will be presented in this session, along with photos and the URL, so you can research them on their own and see how they might enhance your installation experience or efficiency.

Several of the products selected for the session offer tremendous innovation in the ability to remove dust, especially in light of OSHA’s new requirements for limiting the amount of crystalline silica in the workplace. These new safety standards are to go in to place this summer. These include the iQTS244 dry-saw, and Alpha Tool’s HEPA Dry Vacuum and Ecoguard series of dust collection devices.
The iQTS244 10″ tile saw from iQ Power Tools is a dry-cut saw with a vacuum attached on the bottom. This saw makes precise cuts in a dust-free environment without the use of water. NTCA technical trainer/presenter Robb Roderick said, “Traditional wet saws have a tendency to spray water around the jobsite, which is why they are normally set up outside or in a garage. This saw works great in freezing temperatures where wet saws would have difficulty.” www.iQpowertools.com

 

Alpha Professional Tools offers the Alpha® Hepa Dry Vacuum, with an extra-large capacity HEPA filter system and a power 2-hp motor. The drop-in HEPA filter is individually certified to have a minimum efficiency of 99.97% at .3 microns. Alpha is updating this vacuum, and a new model will be available in the near future.

 

In addition, Alpha offers the Ecoguard series of dust collection devices (pictured is the Ecoguard EG, an Economy Grinding Dust Collection Cover for larger grinders, fitting most 6” to 8” grinders). When connected to an industrial vacuum the Ecoguard EG moves easily and creates a virtually dust-free grinding experience. Roderick said, “Cutting and grinding creates a lot of dust which can have adverse effects in the user, and require extensive amounts of efforts cleaning up the mess. These products help eliminate those issues.” www.alphatools.com

 

When it comes to mixers, the RUBITOOLS’ Rubimix -9 electric mixer offers a configuration that is more comfortable to the user for mixing thin-set and grout than that offered by traditional  drills, Roderick said. It also has adjustable speed setting allowing you to use it to mix multiple types of products with one mixer. The versatile mixer allows mixing adhesives, resins, paints and other materials by changing the mixing paddle. Its double grip with bi-material handles has improved ergonomics and greater user comfort.

RUBI also has developed a rubber graduated RUBI-KANGURO “ITALIANO” bucket, which is easily cleaned and has greater longevity. Roderick noted that traditionally tile installers have used plastic buckets to mix thinset or grout. “To be used again, the buckets must be cleaned daily,” he said. “Because of the rigidity of the plastic after thin-set or grout hardened, the dried materials are nearly impossible to removewithout damaging the bucket. These buckets are rubber and much more easily cleaned when setting materials have dried in them.” The buckets have reinforcing ribs and a base and mouth which are designed to make the bucket very structurally robust. www.rubi.com.


Gundlach is distributing a new Montolit Masterpiuma P3 cutter– and it’s Montolit’s #1 bestselling cutter. “This cutter has gotten rave review on several tile-related Facebook sites, because  of its ease of use and its ability to cut virtually every type of tile available,” Roderick said. “Many of our members are amazed at how well it works.”


It can cut all types of tile quickly and accurately, ranging from thicknesses of 0-22mm. It even makes cutting on a diagonal safe and simple. It features an accurate, powerful and effective ergonomic push scrib handle, a self-adjustable patented scoring system and easy, fast set-up, transport and storage due to the patented foldable design. Adaptable for large-format tiles as well. www.montolit.com

Not every tile line offers bullnose pieces for finished edges. But the Raimondi Bull Dog™ bullnose machines, made by Raimondi and distributed by Donnelly Distribution LLC, allows installers to make custom bullnose pieces of porcelain or stone easy. The pump-cooled machine bullnoses and bevels, offering rough, finished and polished levels of finishing. www.raimondiusa.com

 

Another product from Raimondi is the Raimondi Maxititina Multi-Functional Floor Machine with Grouting Paddle. While this is not a NEW machine, it is innovative in that it allows contractors to grout a floor without kneeling, clean a floor, or grind/scarify or prepare subfloors to improve the bond. It allows installers to level out high spots on concrete, and power grout a job at 55 rpm, spreading the grout and packing the joints full. It also can seal floors in a jiffy, and polish them to a desired level of shine, at 110 rpm.

 

Also useful is the Berta by Raimondi which has a large replaceable sponge drum which rotates to clean freshly-grouted floors, which is a major time saver on large floor installations.

Finally, with dimensions of tile growing larger and larger, the ETM Grip by European Tile Masters facilitates handling and back-buttering of gauged porcelain panels. It has 12 fully-adjustable suction cups and four adjustable handles, can be configured to multiple lengths (up to 10’) and multiple shapes (including U and Z shapes), and can be tilted from 90 to 15-degree angles. The ETM Grip allows two people to move and manage today’s larger format tiles with ease. www.europeantilemasters.com

Mapei Mapeguard UM

MAPEI recently introduced Mapeguard® UM. This crack-suppression, waterproofing and vapor-pressure-equalizing underlayment membrane has been approved for use with latex-modified mortars as part of a warranted system for installation of ceramic tile and natural stone. Mapeguard UM equalizes vapor pressure, so it can be applied over young concrete in fast-track construction or concrete with high relative humidity. The lightweight membrane can also be applied over single-layer plywood floors. The uniquely engineered tri-layered design of Mapeguard UM absorbs lateral stress from the substrate without transferring this force to the tile or stone, which maintains exceptional bonds.

The engineered cavity design – including the mesh-fabric top layer – allows easy single-pass filling of the surface core with less mortar, reducing the amount of mortar needed and making the installer’s job easier. www.mapei.com

American Olean Introduces Six New Collections

American Olean® introduces six new collections, expanding its array of outstanding tile and stone offerings to include stylish products inspired by textiles, marble and watercolor, all enhanced with Reveal Imaging.

The new product offerings include:

  • Elemental Canvas, an organic, woven fabric look with rich colors and graphics in six neutral shades in 24” x 24” and 12” x 24” formats with 1” x 3” mosaics. This ColorBody porcelain features TruEdge technology, and includes a linear mosaic option.
  • Theoretical Bold, a bright and colorful ColorBody complement to the Theoretical series with a light graphic variation for visual depth and richness. In 24” x 24” and 12” x 24” formats in six eye-popping colors.
  • Abound glazed veramic floor, wall and mosaic tile evokes polished marble aesthetic in five neutral shades. Abound offers a full package of sizes, with mosaic and decorative wall accents.
  • Horizon glazed ceramic is an elegant wall tile with a watercolor graphic in four neutral hues and a large format linear design – 6” x 16” format with 1/2″ x 12” coordinating jolly trim
  • Harvest Grove is a rustic wood look in glazed porcelain floor tile in 6” x 24” formats and a glazed ceramic 2” x 2” mosaic
  • Serentina, a striking glass- and-stone mosaic available in three geometric designs and six color blends.

Visit www.americanolean.com for details.

Peronda Harmony Collection LINS by YONOH

Peronda adds to its designer-sourced Harmony Collection with LINS by YONOH which plays with light, using crisscrossing lines to generate visual effects perfect for transforming wall surfaces into huge murals. LINS by YONOH takes advantage of the subtlety of lines as opposed to differing levels, so that shadow play and volumes are generated by the actual delicacy of the lines. The collection’s choice of neutral Mediterranean colors reflects its restful spirit. http://www.peronda.com/en/collection/lins-by-yonoh

SecuraTrac mPERS Mobile Defender Model S

SecuraTrac has introduced its mPERS mobile emergency pendant, the MobileDefender™ Model S (MD-S). The model S (MD-S) is developed on the same platform as the powerful MobileDefender™ and introduces new capabilities that will help to ensure the safety of those who use the MD-S and the SecuraTrac® platform.  Companies that dispatch employees into unknown environments and situations can rely on the MD-S to relay information about employee locations while providing them with an instant connection to help if an emergency occurs. From real estate agents and home healthcare workers meeting with clients to construction workers and engineers alone in the field, the MD-S has a variety of useful applications. It also offers a built-in Fall Advisory to detect if an employee falls or is knocked over on the job, which automatically triggers a help alert. A Wake-on SOS feature allows the unit to operate over 30 days on a single charge. www.securatrac.com.

Schluter-Systems All New Thin-Set Mortars

Schluter-Systems has developed three new thin-set mortars for ceramic and stone tile installation. Schluter SET™ unmodified thin-set mortar, Schluter ALL-SET™ modified thin-set mortar, and Schluter FAST-SET™ rapid-setting modified thin-set mortar are all specifically formulated for Schluter® membranes and boards to provide a single source for their tile installation systems, with guaranteed product compatibility. The Schluter ALL-SET modified thin-set is engineered for use both under and over all DITRA® and KERDI® products. The Schluter FAST-SET rapid-setting modified thin-set is ready to grout in four hours for fast-track projects. All three products, including the Schluter SET, are approved to set porcelain tile over Schluter boards and membranes. The modified mortars have been specifically formulated to set and gain strength in a timeframe that fits typical installation practice, even when sandwiched between Schluter membranes or boards and porcelain tile; extended dry-times not required.  Performance has been validated through both laboratory and practical testing.  When Schluter-Systems’ new thin-set mortars are used within certain Schluter applications, an extended lifetime limited warranty is available.  Schluter-Systems will continue to warrant its systems when other manufacturers’ unmodified thin-set mortars meeting ANSI A118.1 are used to install tile. www.schluter.com.

1 2 3 21