NTCA issues position statement in reference to method EJ 171

One of the most consistent installation replacement or repair claims made in the tile industry centers around problems associated with the lack of accounting for movement of a building and how it affects the tile assembly.  The National Tile Contractors Association felt the issue is so signifiant to tile contractors that it issued a position statement that will be published in its 2017 edition of the NTCA Reference Manual.  At the heart of the concern is who bears the responsibility for designing, specifying or locating movement joints in a tile installation.  It points out that special attention to method EJ 171, located in the Tile Council of North America Handbook for the Installation of Ceramic and Stone tile, should be considered.
The position statement will be made available to all NTCA contractor members to include in documentation and correspondence.  Its intent is to point out that it is beyond the scope and ability of a tile contractor to properly design and specify movement accommodation, for either commercial or residential tile construction projects.

Lack of Movement Joints in a tile assembly can lead to installation failure

Tile Contractors and their installers should be aware of EJ 171 and its requirements, and should use the position statement to request in writing where the movement joints should be located.  They should use this method to point out to the building owner or design professional that the tile industry recommends that movement joints be installed every 20 to 25 feet in each direction in interior applications,and every 8 to 12 feet in each direction on exterior projects.  If interior jobs are exposed to direct sunlight or moisture, it should be treated as an exterior project and have movement joints located every 8 to 12 feet in each direction.

The NTCA recommends that the tile contractor take the responsibility to point out the requirements of EJ 171 before they begin the tile work and to not take on unnecessary liability by proceeding with work until movement accommodation is addressed.

To order your copy of the NTCA Reference Manual, go to www.tile-assn.com and visit the NTCA store.

TECH 2016 Feature: TEC Provides Solution for Renowned Medical Institute

feat-00tomplaskotaTEC® provides multiple solutions for headquarters of renowned medical institute

By Tom Plaskota, TEC® technical support manager

The Regenstrief Institute in Indianapolis, Ind., is an internationally-renowned healthcare research organization – itself a model for research, efficiency and innovation – that recently benefited from those same attributes, courtesy of numerous TEC® tile installation solutions. Altogether, a total of 7,100 sq. ft. of TEC® products were used throughout various spaces for this project.

Known for developing better pathways to wellness, Regenstrief built a four-story, 80,000 sq. ft. building as the latest addition to its already impressive campus that serves as the institute’s headquarters. The new building is now home to the institute’s global research facility, with 165 staff members and a large number of allied scientists.

TEC® products were used throughout hallways, bathrooms and stairwells of the new Regenstrief Institute headquarters.

TEC® products were used throughout hallways, bathrooms and stairwells of the new Regenstrief Institute headquarters.

Regenstrief prides itself on improving the quality of care, increasing the efficiency of healthcare delivery, preventing medical errors, and enhancing patient safety. But those ideals could have been put at risk when serious issues arose with some of the new building’s floors during the early phase of construction.

As work was just underway, the contractor, Indianapolis-based Certified Floorcovering Services, Inc. – a NTCA member – discovered that more than 3,000 sq. ft. of the concrete slab in the foyer and bathroom had a high relative humidity (RH) of 96. Moisture mitigation was the only way to solve the problem on the burnished, contaminated concrete, and TEC® moisture mitigation systems were the solution.

How MVER may affect tile installations

Subsurface moisture has always been a potential Achilles’ heel of floor covering installations, but excessive moisture vapor emission rates (MVER) recently have become occasional problems with ceramic and natural stone tile installations.

Today’s tiles – not as porous as they once were – are now often bonded directly to concrete, which has been covered with a waterproof and anti-fracture membrane, making installations more convenient and successful, but less breathable. On top of that, today’s fast-paced construction timelines mean installations may take place before concrete moisture levels are completely stabilized.

 TEC® LiquiDam EZ™ is the industry’s first single-component, liquid-based moisture vapor barrier. It dries in a quick four to five hours, allowing for same day flooring installation. “TEC LiquiDam EZ easily saves 30-40% on labor,” says Brian Estes of Certified Floorcovering Services, Inc. 

TEC® LiquiDam EZ™ is the industry’s first single-component, liquid-based moisture vapor barrier. It dries in a quick four to five hours, allowing for same day flooring installation. “TEC LiquiDam EZ easily saves 30-40% on labor,” says Brian Estes of Certified Floorcovering Services, Inc.

Innovative and efficient

Certified Floorcovering Services, Inc. decided to use TEC® LiquiDam EZ™ moisture vapor barrier to moisture mitigate 3,000 sq. ft. of the floors. Another 450 sq. ft. were mitigated with the original TEC® LiquiDam™. Both formulas, which can be directly applied onto green concrete up to 100% RH and may not require shotblasting on clean, sound surfaces, helped achieve a high level of moisture control and allowed the contractors to quickly move on with the installation.

TEC LiquiDam EZ, which launched January 2016, is the industry’s first single-component, liquid-based moisture vapor barrier. It protects flooring and tile systems from damage caused by severe moisture and alkalinity, and can be hand-stirred and then directly applied. The single-component formula dries in a quick four to five hours, allowing for same-day flooring installation.

“TEC LiquiDam EZ easily saves 30-40% on labor,” said Brian Estes of Certified Floorcovering Services, Inc. “We were able to reduce our application crew by one person due to the ease of the new installation process required by this non-epoxy product.”

LiquiDam EZ impressed the contractors with its resealable packaging – a bonus when reusing product for next-day jobs. LiquiDam EZ can be resealed and stored up to six months, and eliminates waste and special handling.

After discovering that the concrete slab in the foyer and bathroom had a high relative humidity (RH) of 96, the contractor chose TEC moisture mitigation systems as the solution.

After discovering that the concrete slab in the foyer and bathroom had a high relative humidity (RH) of 96, the contractor chose TEC moisture mitigation systems as the solution.

Since the Regenstrief Institute is closely associated with the busy Indiana University School of Medicine and Health and the Hospital Corporation of Marion County, the job needed to be completed properly and in a timely fashion. When moisture problems are not addressed properly pre-installation, all sorts of potential issues may arise – particularly problematic for healthcare facilities that require sterile environments. Moisture control is one of the most crucial steps to carry out on the floor installation checklist. Yet this aspect of the process is all too often overlooked.

Other TEC tile installation solutions for the Regenstrief project

Within the new Regenstrief building, TEC quality product solutions extended well beyond moisture mitigation. Four flights of steel stairs in the Regenstrief headquarters were covered in 12”x 24” large-format tiles – a challenge since steel is a difficult-to-bond-to substrate for tile installations. TEC Multipurpose Primer created a quick fix, directly bonding the tiles to 120 large steel stairs. TEC Ultimate Large Tile Mortar was used for its non-slump and non-slip formula for heavy tile and stone applications.

Additional TEC products relied on during building construction include: TEC HydraFlex™ Waterproofing Crack Isolation Membrane, TEC PerfectFinish™ Skimcoat, and TEC Power Grout in DeLorean Gray. TEC products were used throughout the headquarters in the hallways, bathrooms, and stairwells.

Distributor Louisville Tile provided the 12” x 24” large-format tiles from Crossville, which were a sleek gray with subtle accents. Designed by Schmidt Associates of Indianapolis, construction started in October 2014 and was completed in November 2015.

feat-04The nonprofit medical research organization is dedicated to improving the quality, cost, and outcome of healthcare around the world. Regenstrief investigators work closely with nearby schools and hospitals – Indiana University’s School of Medicine, Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Hospital, the Roudebush VA Medical Center, Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health and IU Health University Hospital.

For more information about TEC, visit www.tecspecialty.com.

The TEC® brand is offered by H.B. Fuller Construction Products Inc., a leading provider of technologically advanced construction materials and solutions to the commercial, industrial and residential construction industry. Named “one of the world’s most ethical companies” by Ethisphere in 2013, and headquartered in Aurora, IL, the company’s recognized and trusted brands – TEC®, CHAPCO®, Grout Boost®, ProSpec®, Foster®, and others – are available through an extensive network of distributors and dealers, as well as home improvement retailers. For more information, visit www.hbfuller-cp.com.

Technical Feature: Gauged Porcelain Tile Panels – TECH 2016

tech-00noahchittyThe status of standards for gauged porcelain tile panels/slabs (formerly known as thin porcelain tile)

Unique partnership between tile and installation materials manufacturers, tool suppliers, and labor set the groundwork for product and installation standards for new breed of tile

By Noah Chitty, director of technical services, Crossville

tech-01It began approximately 15 years ago when an Italian equipment manufacturer by the name of System Group came up with a new way to press tile with a process they called Lamina. It worked to gain traction for the product manufactured by this process by building a factory and showing people that a new way was viable and the product it made – hopefully – could change the face of tile making forever. A little bit of this product trickled into the U.S. market, but it was not until approximately five years ago that this tile entered the domestic market in a meaningful way. Along with the product, came the hopes of revolutionizing how people think about a material that has been around for a few thousand years.

tech-02The market was already moving in the direction of larger sizes: 12”x 24” was starting to replace 12”x 12” as king of the hill; 18”x 36” was starting to pick up steam; and 24”x 48” was being dabbled with here and there. This new thing was a tile over 3’ wide and approximately 10’ long – and to make it more complicated – with a thickness of only 1/8” to 1/4”. It was for sure sort of an anomaly that no one really thought could go anywhere. For the first 18 months or so most thought it was a fad that would go away, then designers and architects started to get excited and we started to see specifications for it.

This presented a new challenge; no one knew how to install it or what the rules were. So, a few tile and thinset manufacturers started to look at traditional setting methods as a basis for developing new techniques that would be necessary to comply with existing standards of coverage, lippage, etc.

tech-03

As the market pressure increased, a unique partnership started to develop between tile and installation materials manufacturers along with tool suppliers, and most importantly labor. This new organic collaboration provided a mechanism for rapid development of new materials and methods for the installation of these extremely large tiles. Sales started to rise and the awareness of the tile industry started to grow. (Photos show training sessions at Crossville with Laminam, an example of this new breed of gauged porcelain tile.)

tech-04New language starts to emerge

In an ANSI meeting about three years ago there was enough awareness that while maybe a standard was not in the immediate future, it was clear something had to be said about it. Chris Walker of NTCA Five Star Contractor David Allen Company was designated as the leader of an ad-hoc group mandated to draft a statement for inclusion into the TCNA Handbook for Ceramic, Glass and Stone Tile. Walker and company wrote some language for what they called “reduced thickness tile” and our industry documents started for the first time to recognize these new materials.

tech-05By this time we were seeing even larger tiles, up to 5’ wide, and in some cases more than 10’ long. By now a second technology from SACMI was emerging called Continua Plus, compacting porcelain powder between two large steel rollers. System Lamina technology was continuing to innovate as well, with even larger sizes and textures pressed between its new equipment that was more than 17’ long with plates more than 5’ wide with 50,000 tons of pressure. Both technologies advanced in thickness capability as well, able to press up to 30mm. From here momentum was starting to grow; a few manufacturers started talking about drafting a product standard to protect this new market from lesser-quality materials.

The next step towards the product standard

With the advancements in technology and the growth of the market, it was becoming evident that standards would soon be necessary. So a couple of companies that believed in the future of the category decided to start some testing, and sure enough we started to see data that would serve as the outline for a product standard. At the April 2015 ANSI A108 meeting it was formally decided to move forward with the product standard, as well as form an ad-hoc group to begin work on an installation standard to be called A108.19.

tech-06To drive the product standard quickly, tile manufacturers started to formalize the criteria around the terminology, thicknesses, breaking strengths, and other physical properties required to accurately describe the characteristics and quality of this category. As of the last meeting of the TCNA Tile Technical Committee in mid-July 2016, tile manufacturers had reached a general consensus that the majority of the content in the draft of the product standard was nearing completion for submission and subsequent ballot to the full ANSI A108 committee convening in October of this year.

tech-07Part of the evolution of the standard includes a name change from “large thin porcelain tile” to “gauged porcelain tile panels/slabs. The name change to “gauged” is based on two main things: the technology now being able to produce thicker materials that one day may be encompassed by the standard (so thin no longer made sense); and second the need to use a replacement term that describes materials produced to a precise thickness that determines their physical properties and areas of use. So we picked a term used to describe exactly that, similar to how “gauged” is used to describe wire or sheet metal. For panel/slab, we just recognized that both terms were being used in the industry/market so to recognize that fact and not hinder anyone’s way to market, we decided to propose the use of the dual term.

tech-08The installation standard starts to develop

In the meantime, the ad-hoc committee for the installation standard has also been hard at work. The first step was to get together as a group and look at all of the existing information from around the industry pertaining to these materials. Once the data was analyzed, an outline was created to address all of the different concerns brought by the members of the committee. The next step was to look at the variables of piece size, embedding technique, coverage rates, lippage tolerances, qualified labor language, and other required criteria needed to complete a comprehensive standard.

Drawing on the information and data supplied by different members of the committee we have been able to complete a draft that was distributed at the A108 meeting at Coverings 2016. While there is still some work to be done, the majority of it has been completed, and all signs point to a viable draft being distributed at the same A108 meeting in October of this year, and taken to ballot soon thereafter. As the leader of this group I can say the dedication to the effort has been second to none, and I would personally like to thank all involved for participating diligently and unselfishly to better the industry in which we work. Because of this collaborative effort we are well on our way.

Methods and Standards: Recent Proposals for the Upcoming TCNA Handbook

methods-01NTCA Methods and Standards Committee makes headway on six revisions

By Kevin Fox, NTCA Methods and Standards Committee chairperson

The NTCA Methods and Standards Committee’s work over the last two years reaped great success at the TCNA Handbook meeting in Atlanta, Ga., recently. There were six proposals submitted, and with great help and guidance from the TCNA staff, all were approved. Following is a brief summary on each of them.

I believe our proudest accomplishments are new sections on design and evaluation criteria pertaining to finished installation appearance. These new sections are as follows:

  1. Under the section GROUT JOINT SIZE AND PATTERN CONSIDERATIONS, you will find two new sub-sections, “System Modularity” which clears up confusion on modular tile sizes, gives design professionals guidance on using different sizes together, and points to the simple truth that when the tile modularity is not understood, design compromises are inevitable. The second new sub-section is “Tile Layout” which gives general tile layout provisions addressing reasonable expectations and limitations that challenge most projects.
  2. Under the section USING THE TCNA HANDBOOK FOR SPECIFICATION WRITING, a new sub-section called “Design Considerations When Specifying Tile,” references the Handbook’s many sections that design professionals must familiarize themselves with that impact the selected tiles and designs. It gives a very important reference that strongly recommends industry standards, guidelines, and best practices to be followed and strongly discourages variances from them. It also recommends in-situ mock-ups to be used under the given job site conditions.
  3. Under the section FINISHED TILEWORK, is a new sub-section called “Visual Inspection of Tilework.” This will be extremely helpful for the industry. It recognizes the hand-build aspect of tile installations, references substrate requirements, lippage, allowable warpage, effects of lighting and many more factors that affect the installation visual and aesthetic appearance of the finished tilework. It also gives guidance on viewing distance and lighting when finish tilework is being inspected.
EJ171 movement joint guidelines

Another accomplishment, with substantial consultation from Crossville’s technical staff Noah Chitty and Tim Bolby, was major additions to EJ171 MOVEMENT JOINT GUIDELINES. Most notable changes are recommendations in movement joint width and depth. The additions give a chart for minimum movement joint widths (for dry interior, not exposed to sun) in relation to joint frequency and tile thermal expansion properties, along with reference to the proper ASTM guides for calculating the joint.

Another addition to this section is a new sub-section called “Wall Tile Movement Joints in Framed Wall Assemblies” (with substantial consultation with Tony Fuller of National Gypsum) which gives the design professional awareness that wall movement joints are unique and require consideration of other wall components such as sheathing, framing and backer board before the wall is constructed – and that such considerations many times cannot be retroactively added.

Members of the NTCA Methods and Standards committee, representatives from Crossville, National Gypsum MAPEI, TEC and Bostik, and the TCNA staff all assisted with the states submissions described in the article.

Members of the NTCA Methods and Standards committee, representatives from Crossville, National Gypsum MAPEI, TEC and Bostik, and the TCNA staff all assisted with the states submissions described in the article.

Lighting and tile installations

Many of us are familiar with the effects lighting has on an installation. A substantial new Lighting and Tile Installations section has been added to give importance to this issue which can lead to much heartache for all involved. The majority of the added language was taken from the NTCA Reference Manual, so for many of you this will look familiar.

Mortar and mortar coverage

There was also language added to the MORTAR AND MORTAR COVERAGE section noting 100% mortar coverage is not practical. Many specifications call for 100% mortar coverage but this cannot be consistently attained and therefore it should not be specified.

It has been well-established that mortar cure times are extended when impervious tile is installed over waterproof or crack-isolation membrane. To alert design professionals of this situation, language has been added to the SETTING MATERIAL SELECTION GUIDE. Other conditions that will also delay cure times are narrow grout joints and using high-performance grouts. Recommendations of extending turnover of the floor to traffic are given.

Membrane selection guide

Other language added pertaining to membranes is in the MEMBRANE SELECTION GUIDE. A new sub-subsection called “Considerations When Using Membranes” that not only references the above-noted extended cure times for mortars, but also the fact that the hollow sound of tile installed over membranes is normal and not indicative of loss of bond (without concomitant installation issues).

Substrate requirements

The last submission involved the continued discussion of the disparity between division 3 and division 9 floor flatness. The section on SUBSTRATE REQUIREMENTS gives many references to this. The language we submitted further clarifies this difference. One of the key points to note is when division 3 floor flatness (FF) levels are specified, the floor must be verified to assure the specified levels are attained. This may seem implied, but many times this test is not performed. Therefore it quickly becomes a source of tension for projects when it’s required to correct the floor to division 9 specifications, and the tile contractor requests to be compensated for the work. This also leads to another important addition to this section: recommendations for the design professional to incorporate a separate allowance to correct the floor flatness from division 3 to division 9 specifications.

As chairman of the Methods and Standards Committee, I want to thank its members, the gentlemen from Crossville and National Gypsum mentioned above, representatives from MAPEI, TEC and Bostik, and the TCNA staff for helping us with these submissions.

Our next meeting with be October 22 at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa in Indian Wells, Calif., during Total Solutions Plus, October 22-25. If you have topics you feel would be appropriate for this committee to consider, you are welcome to contact me at [email protected].

President’s Letter – Tech 2016

JWoelfel_headshotNew tile technology may resurrect old installation methods

Qualified installers are key to large thin porcelain tile and plank success

As many of you know, I wear two hats for the NTCA: President, and Chairman of the NTCA Technical Committee. As a tile contractor it is the technical aspect of our business that will determine the success or failure of that installation.

The NTCA is blessed with some very intelligent contractor members who are actively involved in both the NTCA Reference Manual and national industry installation standards committees. Our association was very successful at the recent TCNA Handbook meeting this past June. New inspection standards and nominal sizing criteria in regards to multi-size tile patterns will help alleviate a lot of headaches for our members. I would like to shine a light and give credit to the following members for their hard work in helping our members save time and money when it comes to all of our tile installations:

  • Methods and Standards Committee Chairman Kevin Fox
  • Education Chairman and NTCA Technical Committee member Jan Hohn
  • ANSI Chairman, TCNA Committee and NTCA Technical Committee member Chris Walker
  • ANSI Vice-Chairman, NTCA Technical Committee Vice-Chairman and TCNA Committee member Nyle Wadford
  • Technical Committee and ANSI Committee members John Cox and Martin Howard
  • Technical Committee, and Methods and Standards Committee members Joe Kerber and Martin Brookes
  • TCNA Handbook and NTCA Technical Committee members Brad Trostrud and Rich Galliani
    Technical Committee member and Apprenticeship Guru Dan Welch

These hard-working tile contractors have gone above and beyond when it comes to fighting for both union and non-union tile contractors, both NTCA members and non-members.

I want to commend all of these people for volunteering their valuable time and energy to make our industry better. We at NTCA have committed to our members that their thoughts and concerns are heard and disseminated in front of national industry installation standards committees. Please know that there are a lot of NTCA tile contractors that I failed to mention who work very hard and volunteer their time as well, and I want to say thank you to all of them too.

As you can see, there are a lot of NTCA members who give their time and effort to make sure the entire tile installation community can be more successful. If you have a chance at the next meeting, go ahead and tell them great job or nice work – it will mean a lot.

James Woelfel, President NTCA
Chairman NTCA Technical Committee
480-829-9197
www.artcraftgmt.com

Publisher’s Letter – Tech 2016

bart_0114Inaugural Installation Summit sparks awareness for floor covering job opportunities

By Bart Bettiga

In early August, the National Tile Contractors Association participated in an invitation-only Installation Summit, promoted by leaders of the Floorcovering Leadership Council and managed by Informa Exhibitions. The event took place at the Omni Dallas Hotel. Over 70 industry professionals, including 25 from the tile and stone industry, came together to address what many people are now referring to as an installation crisis, especially as it relates to overall quality and availability of a trained workforce.

This was an important first step in addressing a serious issue. For many years, the lack of qualified installers has plagued our industry. With the economic recession now past, and a steady increase in growth in all flooring segments, we find ourselves faced once again with this shortage. What makes this even more challenging is that a new generation of workers does not appear to be on the horizon. Discussion at the Summit centered around all the great jobs available in the flooring industry, and the realization that there is very little awareness of these opportunities – not just in installation, but in sales, design, management, etc.

pub-02By holding an Installation Summit, we’ve brought all the groups together to identify common challenges, with the hope of a collective approach to address a potential crisis in all segments. Training and apprenticeship programs, certification, on-line education, and recruitment of new people into the trades were all listed as critical items to work on collectively.

Following this town-hall group approach, tile and stone leaders met in intensive breakout sessions, seeking feedback to association direction in our industry. Representatives of the NTCA, MIA and BSI, and the CTEF were able to engage with our members for a focused discussion of how to work with other flooring industry segments.

pub-01On the second day of the Summit, all the attendees got back together to discuss next steps. The leaders of the Summit came out of the meeting with some clear direction. The group agreed an awareness campaign needs to be developed to inform people of job opportunities in the industry, with a special emphasis on installation as a trade. In order to accomplish this, Summit leaders agreed that a small group representing a cross-section of the industry will need to be created to brainstorm how to achieve these steps. This group will be appointed by Summit leaders, and will work closely with the Floorcovering Leadership Council for support and direction.

The NTCA would like to thank its staff, contractor and associate members who attended the event and provided valuable feedback. We are committed to participating in the committee, and will give a full report to our board of directors at our annual meeting, held in conjunction with Total Solutions Plus October 22nd-25th in Indian Wells (Palm Springs), Calif.

Editor’s Letter – Tech 2016

Lesley psf head shot“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
– Arthur C. Clarke

As science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke aptly stated, advanced technology is a bit of magic. We see the stuff of this today – surface treatments, glazes and inkjet printing processes for tiles that replicate anything from lace to wood with perfect authenticity or quirky artistry; tiles that are thinner than the diameter of a pencil; mortar that can bend and flex…the list is endless. Our industry truly is a marvel of advanced engineering that provides a spectrum of amazing surfacing materials, setting materials, tools, and accessories with which to make projects more enduring and better performing, while streamlining the process for the installer. The magazine you hold in your hands pays homage to this.

Welcome to the 2016 repeat performance of our TECH issue of TileLetter. NTCA debuted this publication in 2015, and it’s back this year by popular demand.

Overall, this issue takes an in-depth look at new technologies and advances of a range of product categories: substrate preparation; electric floor warming; shower systems; mortars; grout; tools, accessories, and apps; and this year we added a sustainability category.

Within each category, you’ll find manufacturer comments about the direction the category is taking and what advances we can expect to see emerging over the next year. As an adjunct to each category, we present a range of new products that demonstrate these cutting-edge advances.

And in many categories we include comments from contractors and installers working in the field. These give a view on what REALLY works and what doesn’t by those putting them to the test on the job – and occasionally ideas for improvement.

In addition to our category content, we have a cover feature by TEC about the expansion of The Regenstrief Institute in Indianapolis, Ind., and a collection of stories that support the advance of technology and standards in our industry. Kevin Fox, Methods and Standards Committee chairman discusses the development of some new submissions and additions to the 2017 TCNA Handbook for Ceramic, Glass and Stone Tile Installation. Crossville’s Noah Chitty updates us on the latest in the quest for product and installation standards for gauged porcelain tile, the tile formerly known as large thin porcelain tile. NTCA president Bart Bettiga uses his Publisher Letter to report on the first-ever Installation Summit, held in Dallas at the beginning of August, which brought together 70 representatives from all flooring installation sectors (25 from tile and stone alone!) to put their heads together about what is being called an “installation crisis” – particularly quality work and lack of experienced installers.

Something that’s new for this year is the Regional Sales Snapshot, where several major suppliers share information about what is selling in their region, in terms of setting materials, tools and tile and stone products.

We’re grateful to everyone who shared their wisdom and perspectives in this issue. We hope it’s a useful reference document for the entire year to come, and brings technological magic within reach for your upcoming projects. Think of something you’d like to see in the 2017 edition? Send your ideas to me at [email protected]

God bless,
Lesley

Editor’s Letter – February 2016

Lesley psf head shot

 

“We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.”  – Albert Einstein

A couple of topics for this letter.

First, I want to post this photo, taken in December 2015 at association headquarters in Jackson, Miss., of the brand new, updated NTCA logo and most of the NTCA staff and distinguished guests. The porcelain logo was created for the association by Tom Ade and Filling Marble & Tile in Egg Harbor City, N.J. It just so happened that the installation of the logo coincided with a visit of most of the staff to headquarters for year-end meetings, planning , and a holiday dinner. Shown are (l. to r.): Sandy Bettiga, Bart Bettiga, Lesley Goddin, Mark Heinlein, Mary Shaw-Olson, Jim Olson, Becky Serbin, Scott Carothers, Michael Whistler, Jill Whistler, Tricia Moss and Michelle Chapman. Missing is Lisa Murphy, NTCA accountant, and Joe Tarver, NTCA executive director emeritus.

Second, I want to further the discussion, started in the December Editor Letter, about solutions to the labor shortage in the U.S.

Just this second week in January, we received a report from the Associated General Contractors of America that showed in December, construction firms added 45,000 workers, as construction unemployment continued its decline from 8.3% a year ago to the current 7.5%.

One of the telling aspects of the report, however, was this statement: “Association officials noted that most contractors remain concerned about shortages of available construction workers, noting that 70% of contractors report having a hard time finding workers. They urged federal, state and local officials to act on measures outlined in the association’s Workforce Development Plan to support new career and technical education programs. In particular, they called on Congress to enact needed reforms and increase funding for the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.”

SEVENTY percent. That’s huge. I don’t currently have a figure for the tile industry, but I suspect it would be in a similar ballpark. Which brings us back to the December letter.

We received a lot of feedback to this letter – phone calls to Bart in the office and emails to me – thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts! Some respondents were very favorable to the idea of exploring the possibility of importing labor in the form of skilled, certified Mexican workers on a temporary basis to help alleviate some of the immediate labor shortages that are plaguing our industry; some also cited personal experience with excellent work of Mexican laborers they had worked alongside.

Others misunderstood the intent of the letter, fearing an influx of unskilled, undocumented workers, which was never part of the original discussion. But the point was made numerous times about the importance of developing U.S. resources, whether in trade schools, recruiting ex-military – goals NTCA is involved in at various levels, including our online apprentice program in development. And in fact, NTCA president James Woelfel added this comment:

“Young African-American males between the ages of 16-19 are unemployed at the rate of over 20% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, young women are in the same range. Here in Arizona young Navajo males are at around 70% unemployment, these numbers are staggering.

“Have we as an industry done our best to reach out to these diverse groups? I don’t think so. Are we selling our own citizens short? We need to do better in outreach to the younger people in our country, no matter the ethnicity (Ed. note – And, I would add, the gender). We have plenty of opportunity in our industry to employ young Americans.”

Well said, and great points. And yet I can’t help thinking that while all the plans to develop U.S. resources are good ones that should definitely be pursued, this issue is that educating, training, enticing and convincing U.S. citizens to enter the field, obtain necessary training and certification and make tile setting their life’s work takes a long time. Certainly, a great goal to shoot for and to attract more U.S. workers into the field from trade school paths, ex-military, inner city populations.

Yet we have an immediate need  – a NOW need – for workers. SEVENTY percent of construction contractors report a shortage. Would a program to certify skilled Mexican workers to help alleviate this situation be able to be implemented more quickly? That is anyone’s guess. But it might make sense to initiate efforts on both fronts. Once any obstacles are overcome in getting these trained workers here legally, we would be working with a population that has the desire to work in this field vs. starting from square one when it comes to plans to recruit U.S. workers.

I invite continuing discussion on this topic, and let’s see what arises!

Lesley

[email protected]

Developing Trends – TRENDS 2016

From inspiration to installation – tile design unwrapped

How the pros at Dal-Tile cull global trends to cultivate designs for the U.S. market

By Shelly Halbert, director of Product Design, Dal-Tile Corporation

 

 

Every great design starts with an inspiration. From art, to fashion, to engineering and interior design, an end product doesn’t simply appear, it comes with a story to tell.

Most people don’t think too much about what the surface underfoot or on the wall would say if it could talk, but the origins might surprise you, and become the center of conversation.

At Dal-Tile, our inspiration for new tile designs can come from cosmopolitan to couture to cutting boards, as we create new collections to adorn the floors and walls of commercial and residential spaces.

Roots in the motherland

We tend to start in the motherland of tile, Italy. Our Marazzi brand was born there, and we naturally gravitate back to our roots to learn the tricks of the trade. At least twice a year, our design team visits the city of Sassuolo, the tile design and manufacturing capital of the country.

We meet not only with the Marazzi Italy team, but also local design studios that source rare European materials. They reproduce the materials as graphics for tile manufacturers, providing textures and imagery not available on a global scale. When rollers were the sole form of printing, these design studios were essential to obtaining new designs, however, with the sophistication of digital printing technology, we can now produce our own images or customize those that are sourced, resulting in an even wider array of looks available.

The largest tile show in the world, Cersaie, takes place in Italy each fall, and we take the cutting edge trends from the show back to our design boards as inspiration. Traditionally, European style has set the stage for trends, and the rest of the world followed. However, we have recently seen more European manufacturers and designers flock to the Coverings show stateside, borrowing looks from the U.S.

Dal-Tile’s manufacturing facilities in China, Russia and Mexico also give us a feel for design trends in those regions, and serve as inspiration in our designs domestically.

There is a lot of inspiration that can be gleaned domestically as well. Associations, like the Color Marketing Group, set the tone for hues, and we participate both in creating the forecasts and following them through in our designs.

Back to the U.S.: local influences inspire design

Additionally, visiting model homes and showrooms across the country gives us a feel for trends in various regions. It is interesting to see varying tastes in the Northeast, Midwest and West Coast. California is quick to adopt new trends, while the Midwest harbors late adopters. Larger format tiles and lighter colorways help beat the heat in more arid climates.

We find inspiration in the everyday as well. A beautiful cutting board inspired a member of our design team to create Daltile’s Acacia Wood collection, and we recently scanned metal plates from an antique store to get a patina look for a new print.

Getting technical – digitizing design

Once we find an inspirational material or image and scan it in to a digital file for printing, we still have a lot of work to do. The structure – or the material base the graphic is printed on – can be designed to have ridges, bumps and other textures, giving the design not only a visual, but tactile enhancement. Once printing is complete, the finishes and glazes can also add another element of detail to the design. A single graphic can look very different depending on the surface, and glaze you apply.

With the design layers finalized, we decide where the tile gets produced based on a variety of factors. One interesting element that determines location is the type of clay needed to create the tile. Dal-Tile’s manufacturing facilities in Alabama source clay locally, and the material there is very different from what you find underfoot in Texas. Size is also a factor. We’re excited to open a new manufacturing facility in Dickson, Tenn., this year, that in the future will produce tiles as large as 72 inches.

Then comes branding and selling the product. With four strong brands in the Dal-Tile family (Daltile, American Olean, Marazzi and Ragno), it is hard to play favorites. Luckily we don’t have to. Each brand has a unique personality. For example, if the design is bold and very trend forward, Marazzi is a natural choice, whereas a more sophisticated, monochromatic design works well for American Olean’s commercial applications.

A great example of this is our new brick-look collections for Daltile, Marazzi and American Olean. They each reflect the trend, while showing a unique variation of it. American Olean’s Bricktown is monochromatic, Daltile’s Brickwork is versatile and classic, and Marazzi’s Urban District BRX is a striking variation of urban industrial.

Inspiration is limitless and the tile industry has a lot of new trends coming down the pipeline.

We’re seeing larger, and larger format tiles being manufactured domestically, while at the same time smaller formats and unique shapes are taking hold. Popular rectangle and subway tile will see competition from classic squares, hexagons and abstract shapes. As with fashion, a lot of bygone era looks are coming to the forefront.

One thing is for certain; tile will always have a tale to tell.

Shelly Halbert is director of Product Design for the Dal-Tile Corporation, the largest North American manufacturer of ceramic tile and natural stone products. Halbert, who earned her degree in Interior Design from University of Louisiana, began her career in the tile industry when she started with Marazzi 19 years ago. Before becoming a product designer, she worked in sales and managed showroom room design for the Italian inspired company. As product designer, Halbert believes in rolling up her sleeves and being hands-on with the products she develops. From the shape to color, she loves being involved in every aspect of her products.

Color Trends – TRENDS 2016

Laura Greenwood with Scarlet Opus.

Laura Greenwood, with Scarlet Opus, a trend forecasting outfit in Beverley, UK (www.scarletopus.com) walked me through the firm’s Top Ten Colors for 2016 during the TISE West show in Las Vegas in January. Visitors to the Trends Hub at TISE West could vote for their favorite color with pompom felt balls, handmade in Nepal for Masmosa Crafts and view the Living Magazine in the booth, which contained trend pages for floor coverings.

The Top Ten Colors for interiors are taken from Scarlet Opus’ Spring/Summer 2016 and Fall/Winter 2016/17 palettes, expected to make the biggest impact throughout the year. In her blog on the website, Greenwood noted that colors “range from bold, earth shades to dusty mid-toned hues, each swatch is designed to be worked into your own palette (not together) and are placed in no specific order.”

The Top Ten Colors for interiors are taken from Scarlet Opus’ Spring/Summer 2016 and Fall/Winter 2016/17 palettes.

Here is the palette from the firm’s blog, interspersed with observations during the walkthrough at TISE West. What’s your favorite color? The winner is revealed at the end of the story!

1. Nude – This is a design essential to balance the brighter tones in the trends palette. It lends classic qualities and creates an elegant counterpoint imbued with warmth. This soft and gentle tone makes us feel good.

2. Muted Pink–This tone reigns in soft minimalism, where there is a focus on well-being, comfort, and warmth. Matte, with a chalky finish, this relaxing pastel can be paired with warm metallics for a luxurious feel.

3. Deep Purple –Rich. Opulent. Sophisticated. Luxurious. These are just a few descriptors for Deep Purple hues. This intense shade allows a play of light and dark in residential settings, hotels and bars, with a strong connection to nature and luxury with dark floral wallpaper and tile designs, blurring the lines between modern and traditional fashions. The jeweled opulence of Deep Purple combines with warm brass metallic shades to inspire a dramatic, luxurious vibe.

4. True Red – Sporty, optimistic, youthful and daring, True Red mixes with geometrics and graphics as subtle hints and highlights or primary color blocking. It portrays an artisanal, handcrafted aesthetic where craftsmanship is valued and the beauty of ‘basic’ is admired.

5. Indigo Blue – Indigo make its presence felt throughout 2016, trending across both fashion and interiors. It is deep, mysterious yet stylish and sophisticated. Indigo is at its most striking and sumptuous alongside rich shades of wine, teal, warm metals, grays, dark wood tones and off white. This color longs for unconventional pairings to emphasis the unexpectedness of how it can be used within an interior, with a trend towards kitchen use and presence in ombres and tie-dyed effects.

6. Hot Pink–Joyful and vibrant, hot pink evokes cultural, ethnic and tribal influences and carefree combinations. Use it as a highlighter on feature walls, where there is a desire to be bold and daring.

7. Cobalt Blue – This color works in both contrasting and complementary ways; it can be paired with a True Red for a bold, contemporary union, or combined with a crisp white for a more radiant effect. When paired with the Indigo Blue and Mint Green it suggests a more tonal, pleasing mixture. This color can be used both as an accent and a mono solid, where its unique, fresh vibrancy makes this a popular choice for 2016.

8. Pale Lilac–From the Woodland Walk Trend, Pale Lilac offers a discreet, restrained unisex feel with a slight grey tone. Soft, pastel and matte, it offers a muted, softer take on industrial concrete looks. This pastel can be combined with moody tinted grays and muted corals and pinks with a chalky, powder-coated finish.

9. Green – This organic color emanates from Scarlet Opus’ Woodland Walk trend, with mossy, grounded hues that reflect consciousness of the environment. It’s paired with brown, neutral, and deep purples as luscious rainforest greens in the firm’s Belo Rio trend.

10. Mars Brown – These terracotta tones will land in commercial settings in the coming 2016-2017 fashion season, especially in upholstery and soft goods. This grounded color is taken from Scarlet Opus’ Astro Trend, which is inspired by the grittiness and raw textures of planetary surfaces. This baked-earth tone brings a sophisticated essence into interiors and can be used alongside deep reds, terracotta and space-aged metallics.

Other trending colors from Scarlet Opus to keep an eye out for:

Muted Coral – Earthy, sun-baked and low-key, Muted Coral evolves from the 2015 fashions staple Coral Shrimp as solid and accent color. Muted Coral is more diffused, restrained and low-key. It sits within a palette that suggests honesty and long-lived values – it is warm, sophisticated, all-encompassing. It works well with textured textiles and raw, oxidized focus, greens and mauve/purple tones.

Lunar Gray – An extended palette of muted grays play a leading role as an important hue for this year. Taken from a trend that places focus on privacy, time and experience this color works alongside refined neutrals to portray elegance and timeless fashions. Seen in a matte finish with tone-on-tone neutrals that are beautiful in their simplicity, this color remains important as the endurance of the new industrial style continues to strengthen.

Mint Green – This color adds a fresh, contemporary sharpness when used as an accent within a palette. It almost glows when paired against deeper shades. Not only does it portray a pop of optimism and express a desire to be more adventurous, but it also encourages unconventional pairings, inspiring a confident use of color. Ombrés, color washes and gradations are the dominant effects when using this tone.

The winning color?TISE West visitors selected Cobalt Blue (fourth column of pompoms from right) as the favorite hue, with a slight margin over Indigo Blue.

1 2 3 5