If you are a tile contractor, one of the most basic – and important – aspects of the job is being able to design a tile layout in a given room with the specified tile. But as contractors have come to take the Certified Tile Installer (CTI) exams, one of the sticking points has shown itself to be time management and accurate layout.
“We see it as a big issue,” said Becky Serbin, NTCA Education and Curriculum Director. “It all started with the CTI exams, where time management is biggest issue. Often we see contractors laying a dry pattern on the floor next to it because they don’t know how to do a grid pattern on the module.” This slows down the process.
Serbin said that a lot of people don’t understand basics of layout: making a layout centered and balanced and squaring the room. Contractors struggle with where to start when creating a pattern with tile, or establishing a focal point. “How do you make sure that focal point is correct, and how do you lay out around a kitchen island so you don’t have small cuts on one side and big cuts on the other?” Serbin said.
NTCA is going to be addressing this issue with a third option in its workshop roster, “The Ins and Outs of Layout”. The two existing topics: “Failures – Could it be Me?” and “Tile Matters – Best Practices for the Pros” have been in rotation for NTCA Workshops for a couple of years now. Workshop hosts select the topic that will be presented at their location. This year, NTCA started offering hosts the option of “The Ins and Outs of Layout” – an AIA/CES-registered program for continuing professional education – to teach contractors the basics of layout that they will use every day, beginning with workshops in January. For those who are planning to take the CTI test, perfecting these skills can mean the difference between passing and failing.
The program draws on layout requirements from ANSI A108.02. It addresses ways to center the design, using the middle of the tile or the grout joint, and centering on a 45-degree design, while avoiding excessive numbers of cuts. The program presents a range of patterns to consider such as straight, running bond/brick, herringbone, checkerboard, diagonal and chevron patterns, and guidelines for working with those patterns. It also addresses managing warpage and avoiding lippage in tile layout patterns with traditional and large-format tiles.
Corners can present a special challenge and this program provides instruction on perfecting folded, mirrored, and folded and mirrored corners. Joints are an important part of the layout and the program deals with determining the proper size grout joint and also how to configure different types of non-linear movement joints.
Squaring the room and ways to determine the focal point of the room are taught in this program, as well as how to utilize a grid system for layout, and what to do when two layouts meet. In addition, the program covers how to create smooth floor to wall
“We will have a mockup of a room, and contractors will do a layout with foam blocks to simulate a kitchen island, to help them figure out how to install around it,” Serbin said.
Some tips and techniques, such as using storypoles and framing squares, are also taught, as well as the benefits of creating mockups before embarking on the
“The methods they will learn will translate to many tile sizes,”
Interested in “The Ins and Outs of Layout”? Visit the Training and Education tab at www.tile-assn.com or go directly to the Community Calendar at https://bit.ly/39sPoTk to see what workshops will be offered in your region, then contact the host to determine if the layout program is being offered at that workshop.
Editorial Director and Senior Writer for TileLetter and TileLetter ARTISAN
Lesley Goddin has been writing and journaling since her first diary at age 11. Her journey has taken her through a career in publishing and publicity, landing her the editor position of TileLetter and its special publications in 2006. Her goal is to educate, inspire, recognize and encourage those in the tile industry -- especially the tile and stone contractor. Other interests include the soft, purring marvels known as cats, labyrinth walking, drumming and percussion, and a range of spiritual, musical and artistic pursuits.