If you are a member of NTCA, you have a very special and useful free benefit available to you: access to the NTCA Technical Team at [email protected].
Members of the NTCA Technical team field questions from member contractors and installers through email and return expert opinions to help NTCA members solve problems on the job – or even better – assess job conditions and demands and help develop a plan of action to prevent a problem from occurring.
Prevent problems before they happen
NTCA Training Director Mark Heinlein pointed out the importance of reaching out to the team before problems arise. “We are not inspectors or consultants. We cannot assist people with after-the-fact installation-related failure assessment or diagnosis. We are our member’s best resource for help BEFORE the installation is proposed, bid, designed and installed. We will always try to help, but it is very hard for us to help on after-the-fact failure recovery.”
“If we promote being available for individuals to help properly plan and prepare for their tasks ahead, it helps more than anyone could imagine,” said Keith Barnett, who joined the NTCA Technical Team as a trainer in 2022. “As we succeed and help many with (pre-awareness) of their potential projects, the word will get out and more and more people will start reaching out, as we are seeing.”
CTEF’s Academic Director Scott Carothers strengthens the case for NTCA members turning to the NTCA Technical Team prior to beginning a project, lauding the “proactive” questions – those “questions or concerns over a specification or GC directive asked BEFORE there is an issue,” he said. “Solving and guiding prior to the installation saves everyone time and money. Additionally, the tile contractor is wiser and carries that knowledge forward to
“The reactive or questions after the problem is identified, are more difficult. The owner and/or GC are upset or disappointed and expect an instant solution to a complicated situation that may necessitate complete removal and replacement. Here the tile contactor and the entire tile industry gains another black eye.”
The message? Reach out to the team BEFORE you begin your project!
Save money – and learn!
By consulting the NTCA Technical Team, NTCA member contractors and installers can save money and time on callbacks and repairs, said Heinlein. “As [NTCA Technical Trainer] Robb [Roderick] puts it, ‘The repair costs of a single failed tile installation can easily outweigh the cost of NTCA membership.’ In my opinion, this is the single greatest benefit for our members.
“There have been many times when members have told us we saved them from incurring large expenses or unnecessary risk because we helped them understand why an installation shouldn’t be completed the way someone else wanted them to do it,” Heinlein added. “First and foremost we are instructors. Every question is a learning experience for our member asking it and for our technical team. We always do our best to help our members learn how to use and apply the tile industry’s standards and methods – to help them become the best tile industry expert they can be. Any discussion with a member of our technical team is designed to help our members build confidence in owning, understanding, using and communicating in terms of recognized tile industry standards, methods and best practices.”
Ask any technical question on your mind
What kinds of questions do members email the NTCA Technical Team about? They can vary anywhere from from questions about expansion/movement joints, elevator floors, lippage wash wall lighting, grouting, allowable warpage in tile, spot bonding, pitch to drain, waterproofing, rounded pebble tile on shower floors, to installing tile over unacceptable or questionable substrates, glass tile, gauged porcelain tile panels and slabs, non-standard tile and others. CTEF’s Denny said, “Very often the underlying motif of the conversation is ‘What is acceptable’?”
Helping the team learn
The NTCA Technical Team benefits from your queries as well. Denny puts it this way: “Have you ever trained for a running event? Every time you practice you have an opportunity to push yourself and grow to be prepared for the race. The same goes for answering technical questions. It helps the team poke, prod, and peer into real life issues that NTCA and CTEF may be able to use in other forms of education to meet the need of the contractor – before a problem arises!”
Sometimes, questions come in from non-members or even consumers and the NTCA Technical Team refers the person to a Recognized Consultant or contractor in the area.
The NTCA Technical Team includes all eight NTCA Technical Trainers and NTCA Training Director Mark Heinlein, NTCA’s Becky Serbin, Bart Bettiga, Jim Olson, and CTEF’s Brad Denny and Scott Carothers – so there is a huge bank of knowledge, experience and resources available to NTCA members.
“Our goal is to make you successful, and the team approach allows the different facets of an issue to be examined,” Denny said.
NTCA members – make use of this free benefit today, and email the NTCA Technical Team at [email protected] with help assessing the specifics and challenges of your project before you start!
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.