As most tile contractors do, our company gears up for the new year by reviewing the status of our tools; our trucks, tile saws, grinders, trowels, and installation standards. Yes, I did say installation standards.
Why do we review installation standards? Because we need to know what standards have changed and make sure we are installing our tile in compliance with the updated standards. This is especially important in today’s litigious society.
We examine the following standards:
The American National Standards for the Installation of Ceramic Tile (ANSI A108, A118, and A136) [Printing Reference: 20013.1] are the “specifications” of our industry. The ANSI standards define what setting and grouting materials we should use for tile installations. They also prescribe the workmanship standards that need to be attained in ceramic tile installations.
The TCNA Handbook of Ceramic, Glass and Stone Tile Installation shows us how the tile should be installed. These are the “plans” of the ceramic tile industry. The TCNA Handbook cites the tested methods for many types of tile installation and shows illustrations of those methods.
These standards are written for architects, designers, general contractors and tile contractors in an effort to help all players in the ceramic tile industry communicate clearly and ensure successful installations. Yet, I have found that a lot of tile contractors view the standards as a set of rules that are designed to penalize them.
Why is this? I believe it’s predominantly because most tile contractors have not opened one of the manuals to see what’s really in there. Essentially, it’s the fear of the unknown.
Since I have been working on TCNA and ANSI committees for 15 years, I am a proponent of the standards. Standards keep me out of trouble and keep money in my pocket. They also help me get quality work. If I can explain to the owner, general contractor or architect the method I can use to ensure a successful tile installation, and the reasoning behind it, they have confidence in me, and in my company.
I’ve seen the damage in not knowing the standards. In the past two years, I have served as an expert consultant in three separate lawsuits over failing tile installations that could have been avoided. In each of these court proceedings, both the TCNA Handbook and the ANSI A108 manual have been referenced as the standards that were not met. Because of this, the tile contractor lost each of these cases.
Another great tool is the NTCA Reference Manual. It helps us, as tile contractors, be proactive professionals by helping us solve issues in the field before they get out of hand. The NTCA Reference Manual’s cause/cure/prevention format spells out warning signs to tile contractors to stop problems before they start. The white papers and letters to contractors, owners and architects contained in the NTCA Reference Manual bring potential problems to everyone’s attention, which helps us all communicate better and provide the groundwork for a successful tile installation.
So take some time to review the ANSI A108 standards, the TCNA Handbook, and the NTCA Reference Manual. The time investment you make will bring positive returns in the field and in your bottom line.
P.S. Renewing your NTCA membership ensures you get both the newly-edited 2015 NTCA Reference Manual and the 2015 TCNA Handbook when they become available. Log on to NTCA’s secure site to renew: www.tile-assn.com.