President’s Letter – TRENDS 2017

Keeping up with standards

We are fortunate to be part of a dynamic and innovative industry, where change is normal with new products, methods and trends in design and installation. Here at David Allen Company, we have just completed several projects with 40 to 60 different tile types and numerous different color combinations. I don’t know of another finish trade that is so diverse and complex: gauged porcelain tile/panels in sizes up to 5’ x 10’ have been around long enough that most of us have some experience working with them. There has been a resurgence of handmade and extruded tiles with concave, convex and three-dimensional faces, just to name a few.

If you were at TISE West in January, you had the opportunity to see many new tile designs. While these tiles create beautiful projects and sometimes works of art when they are complete, they demand the highest levels of installation skills and management ability. Continuous training to keep crews updated on the specific installation requirements of 60 different products on a single project is challenging. It’s times like this that a good working knowledge of industry standards and recommendations is essential. On more than one occasion recently after installing handmade tiles, the project architect rejected portions of our installation quoting the TCNA Handbook tolerances. Knowing that the TCNA Handbook standards only apply to tiles manufactured and tested to comply with ANSI A137.1 was the key to helping educate the architect that not all tiles can be judged by the same standard and installation tolerances. Following are excerpts from the TCNA Handbook that specify where standards can be applied.

Ceramic Tile Types

“Ceramic tile suitable for TCNA Handbook installation methods are those that meet the specifications outlined in ANSI A137.1 American National Standard Specifications for Ceramic Tile. ANSI A137.1 contains performance and aesthetic criteria for the five major types of ceramic tiles: porcelain, pressed floor, mosaic, quarry and glazed wall tiles.” – 2016 TCNA Handbook, pg.2

Specialty Tile

“Specialty tiles are designed to meet special physical requirements or to have special appearances characteristics. They are not required to meet all requirements of ANSI A137.1. Consult the manufacturer’s specifications. They are sometimes manufactured to create an architectural effect toward the casual [sic].These tiles vary in size, one tile from the other. Variations in plane may be expected. Larger tiles will usually require greater variation in joint width. For each specialty tile being chosen, review installation guidelines supplied by manufacturer/distributor of specialty tiles and/or adhesive manufacturer. Specialty tiles include, but are not limited to, tiles made from nonceramic materials.” – 2016 TCNA Handbook, pg.5

Keeping up with industry standards can keep you from replacing acceptable workmanship unnecessarily. If you are unsure if the tile you have been contracted to install meets ANSI A137.1 contact the manufacturer and request a Master Grade Certificate. If they can’t provide one or state that their product is not manufactured to meet this standard, you have the answer needed. This will allow you to educate your client and establish reasonable expectations for the installation.

Education is key to working more professionally and profitably. Keep on tiling!

––––––––––

Martin Howard, President NTCA
Committee Member, ANSI A108
mhoward@davidallen.com