From the Editor’s Desk
 
November 1st, 2004

by Janet Arden, Editor
November-December 2004

Unfinished business: trends, logistics, and survey results

This issue of TileDealer marks the second year of our publication. Last year at this time we were anxiously waiting for our first issue to come off the presses. This year—with six issues under our belt and the seventh ready to print—the one thing we are sure of is that there is no shortage of interesting tile industry stories to deliver to our readers.

According to last spring’s Reader Survey, one of the topics many of you asked us to continue to cover was trends. So, with this issue we introduce the first in a series of short trend reports on what’s selling in various regions of the US. We begin on page 30 with the sunbelt cities—everywhere from southern California to Florida. Look for the East and West Coasts and the Midwest in upcoming issues.

The international impact of the ceramic tile industry is evident everywhere. One of the countries most important to the industry is Spain, which ranks as the #1 country in the world in per capita consumption of ceramic tile. This month I was especially pleased to talk, One-on-One, with Inma Roca, former director of marketing and public relations for Tile of Spain and currently ASCER’s representative to Coverings. Her expertise is evident not only in the ceramic tile industry, but in all aspects of international trade. Perhaps even more important, her enthusiasm for ceramic tile and the industry is infectious. Don’t miss her insightful comments.

Bugs, fumigation and RFID. Whether you import tile yourself or you sell products imported by other distributors, you need to read “Moving Tile form Point A to Point B” to fully understand the time and complexities of moving tile from country to country.

Because more and more of you are visiting our website, www.tiledealer.org and participating in the online survey, we thought you may be interested in some recent survey results:

• When we asked, “what percentage of your company’s sales are to the commercial market?” more than half of you said less than 25%.

• When we asked, “How much training do you receive a year?” more than half of you said 0-10 hours.

Your responses to online surveys and your comments to TileDealer features (also online at www.tiledealer.org) are important in helping us shape issues to come. We look forward to hearing from you


Rethinking Your Showroom
 
November 1st, 2004

November-December 2004

Are specifiers or end users the most common visitors to your showroom? Can you afford to refresh your showroom every 18-months? Have you color corrected the lighting in your showroom? How many square feet of showroom space do you have? Who are your customers? What’s your business goal for your showroom?

If you’re familiar with these questions and others like them—and especially if you can rattle off the answers—then you are already paying attention to your showroom. If not, perhaps it’s time you started to rethink that space.

“Too many people think the showroom is ancillary to their business,” says Janet Carter, ASID, who really did write the book, called the Showroom Management Manual. But she points out, “The showroom should have a separate business plan. It should earn its keep.” If the showroom is not profitable, she says, “It’s just overhead.”

Behind every great showroom, is a knowledgeable plan

Before you start rearranging racks and ordering new signage, it’s important to realize that a wealth of expertise in your customer demographics and competition, design basics such as color and lighting, product knowledge, and—yes—even a plan for you next showroom updates are behind every great showroom. Every designer TileDealer talked to started with the same premise: Know your customer. Know your business.

Until you know the demographics of your business, you can’t design a space to meet his or her needs. Showrooms, as Carter points out, need to solve the customer’s problem. Once you know what they need to accomplish—tile a residential kitchen floor or a restaurant, match existing materials or set the stage for a whole new design palette, you can help them select the tile. But the showroom needs to get them to that point. Racks of sample tiles cannot do this.

By its very nature, tile offers some showroom challenges. Tile is not only a fashion product—which drives the requirement for everchanging display—but it’s also small and potentially busy. Crystal Billings, showroom manager for Lexco Tile in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, points out that the showroom can get busy, even visually overwhelming. Sue Ramsey, president of Witty and Associates in Raleigh, North Carolina, says tile is hard to deal with flexibly and one of the most challenging products to display. Good showroom design needs to counter these challenges.

Like putting your best face forward, your showroom says a lot about your business—are you current with design trends or selling the same old tile?

Plan the space

The bones behind a great showroom include a basic but flexible floorplan that draws customers through the space and at the same time allows you to highlight products in easily refreshed vignettes. Lighting and vignettes can drive the visual focus to specific areas rather than to overwhelming racks of tiles. A professional lighting plan (Yes, we said professional) accommodates general lighting and highlighting and includes color-corrected fixtures so the products are viewed in the correct color.

Carter believes that showrooms need to be refreshed at least every 18 months. Therefore she does not recommend taking on more showroom space than you can afford to refurbish in that time frame. Ramsey defines space requirements in terms of who your showroom visitors are most likely to be. If you are selling mostly to specifiers and designers who are already practiced at visualization, then space for various installation vignettes is not as necessary as it is for end users who often have a much harder time picturing a potential installation based on just a few tiles.

If you’re sampling specific programs and colors apart from vignettes, Ramsey recommends 4 or 5 tiles together. The issue, of course, is visualization. The showroom solution could be as simple as pull-out tray that holds a 4- or 5-tile sample. Save the latter, she says, for a quiet location where the customer can make final product choices after he or she has already made the broader design decisions.

If you have the luxury of some space, what do you do with it? Carter and Ramsey both like vignettes, and Billings says Lexco is expanding to add more niches for flexible design and a separate area for racks of samples. As Carter points out, most customers need help visualizing how something will look. A few tiles on a sample board do not accomplish this.

Vignettes don’t have to be a complete kitchen or bathroom, but they can suggest the setting with the addition of cabinetry and appropriate accessories and fittings. Carter suggests making friends with a cabinet dealer so you can swap samples. Then, get to work designing flexible vignettes based on the sales goals you have identified in your plan.

Although you may have invested in a kitchen or bath set-up to showcase your offerings, you can refresh these vignettes according to your pre-set plan by repainting walls or trim, replacing hardware, and changing accessories. Move from a summertime bathroom scene with flip-flops, beach towels and shells to an autumn feel with colorful floral accents and candles, then to a holiday look with seasonal greenery, etc. You don’t have to start from the ground up, but you do want your customers to see something new and different whenever they come into the showroom. You may change some tiles and leave others, but each “refresh” shows off another side of your business.

Tom Morbitzer, Design Director at Cowan and Associates, Columbus, Ohio, says the use of vignettes can be part of “creating a meaningful traffic flow.” The idea, of course, is to draw clients into and through the showroom so they see all you offer. “It’s important to create feature areas or focal points,” he says, for you to highlight certain merchandise. Besides using vignettes, Morbitzer says you can do this with signage, graphics, lighting and even the use of bold accent colors against a subtle background to draw the customer to various points throughout the showroom.

Leveraging lighting

If you only think of lighting in general terms for illumination and in design terms to highlight certain showroom areas, you need to realize that the quantity and quality of light are also important. Morbitzer cautions that some codes limit the amount of wattage allowable in a retail setting. In those cases, he suggests selecting general lighting with the most efficient source, then adding warmer halogen or incandescent light to it. He also points out, “Lighting has the potential to be the largest cost in a store. It goes in last, so it’s tempting to cut [lighting] to cut costs.” But, Mobitzer says, lighting can make or break a space.

Tile is especially sensitive to light agrees Steve Speicher, Customer Service Service Manager at Lexco. Adding natural light via skylights or by opening the showroom to the street is a real advantage, though not always possible. Color-correcting light bulbs can make a real difference in whether a “red” tile looks cerise, geranium, cherry, vermilion and so on. Customers who view the tile as one color in the showroom and another in their own home are destined to be unhappy no matter what they pick. The rule is simple: Make sure your lighting plan shows your product in the truest light possible.

Highlighting in addition to general lighting allows you to focus attention on a particular area. If you are able to install flexible highlights that you can adjust to light different areas, so much the better. This makes refreshing the showroom that much easier. One of Ramsey’s favorite lighting installations uses ledges along the wall to hold tile samples and movable spotlights above to highlight various products. The combination of ledges and lighting allow for a lot of showroom flexibility.

A few words about racks

No amount of creative planning is going to eliminate racks of sample tiles. Nor would you want to. Your customer—whether end user or specifier—wants to see your offerings in his or her select categories. There are, however, some rules about racks that you should heed. First, racks more than 5-feet, 5-inches tall need to be against a wall. Otherwise they block the shoppers line of sight. If they are shorter than that, they can stand free on the showroom floor.

The ability to reconfigure racks is one way to achieve some flexibility in your showroom layout. Some of the newer racks available are attachable in a variety of ways and capable of configurations in L-, U- and triangular-shapes, meeting Janet Carter’s requirements for refreshing the space.

Staffing the showroom

The best showroom falls short if the staff can’t match the design with expertise. Sue Ramsey cautions that your showroom staff must always stay current with trends, what’s selling, and what’s new AND how to install and care for it. Designers and consumers are depending on them for this information. Only degreed designers with extensive product knowledge staff Lexco’s showroom.

So, how does your showroom stack up against some of these suggestions? TileDealer has posted a new poll at www.tiledealer.org to learn more about your showroom.


Cersaie 2004 Highlights
 
November 1st, 2004

November-December 2004

The 22nd edition of Cersaie, held in Bologna, Italy, welcomed a record-breaking total of 98,592 visitors. Event officials noted a particularly sharp increase in foreign attendance, up 4.9% from 2003 to 25,706. The addition of two new halls increased the show floor to 156,00 square meters and allowed a total of 1,057 exhibitors, including 208 foreign companies from 35 countries, to participate.

A majority of the new attendees were overseas visitors, bringing the overall total of overseas visitors to 25,706. This is a new record. The number of Italian visitors also rose from 66,336 in 2003 to 67,117 in 2004.

The packed program of events also drew outstanding attendance figures.

• More than 700 people attended “Manufacturing in Italy—Society, Public Sector and Markets,” a conference promoted by Assopiastrelle and organized by Edi.Cer. Spa. Moderated by Giancarlo Mazzuca, publishing director of QN – il Resto del Carlino, the meeting featured Luca di Montezemolo, Chairman of Confindustria and BolognaFiere, Adolfo Urso, Vice Minister for Production Activities, Sergio Cofferati, Mayor of Bologna, and Sergio Sassi, Chairman of Assopiastrelle.

• Close to 150 Italian and foreign journalists took part in the Ceramic Tiles of Italy International Press Conference, an event promoted by ICE and Assopiastrelle and sponsored by Mapei. The press conference included presentations by Sergio Sassi, Enzo Mularoni (Assopiastrelle Vice Chairman for Promotional Activities and Trade Fairs), Laura La Corte, Director of the ICE’s Consumer Goods Division, and Giorgio Squinzi, Chairman of Mapei.

• The innovative Production of Value in Architecture was moderated by Adriano Bonafede (Repubblica—Affari e Finanza), and featured a selection of panellists that included: Luigi Mastrobuono, Managing Director of BolognaFiere, Sergio Sassi, Chairman of Assopiastrelle, Massimo Iosa Ghini, Markitecture Scientific Committee, Gualtiero Tamburrini, Chairman of Assoimmobiliare, Claudio de Albertis, Chairman of ANCE, Massimo Ponzellini, Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Patrimonio dello Stato, Gianfranco Imperatori, Chairman of Associazione Civita, Emilio Biffi, Managing Director of Pirelli Real Estate, and Felicia Bottino, Chairwoman of OIKOS. Aldo Colonetti, Chairman of the Markitecture Scientific Committee, moderated the afternoon session. It was introduced by Enzo Mularoni, Vice Chairman of Assopiastrelle for Promotional Activities and Trade Fairs, and followed with addresses from Marco Tamino, Egbert Kossak, Ugo Trame and Antonio Citterio. The speakers outlined high-profile European urban redevelopment projects from the standpoint of the relationship between client and real-estate intermediaries.

• A program of company workshops, each showcasing innovative applications of ceramic products included: ‘Architecture and the environment: the aesthetics and semantics of ventilated walls’ by Marazzi Tecnica; ‘Technical products and technologies for designing international airports’ by Cooperativa Ceramica d’Imola; ‘Public places and the visually disabled: guide routes imprinted on Granitogres tiles’ by Ceramica Casalgrande Padana; and ‘Special Ceramics for Piazza Italia in Kobe, Japan’ by Ceramica Del Conca. The program began with an event organized by iGuzzini entitled ‘Designing with light: man, spaces and the perceptive dimension’.

• The next international exhibition of ceramic tiles and bathroom furnishing, Cersaie 2005, will be held in Bologna, Italy from September 27 to October 1, 2005 and looks to continue its record-breaking success.


One-on-One with Inma Roca
 
November 1st, 2004

By Janet Arden November-December 2004

Inma Roca attended her first CTDA Convention just one month after moving to the US in 1987 to represent the household goods division of a larger company based at the Trade Commission of Spain in Miami. And, she says, “That is where my involvement with the ceramic tile industry started.” Since then, Spain’s role in the American marketplace and Ms. Roca’s role in the industry have continued to grow. Today she continues to represent the Spanish tile manufacturers on the Coverings Board of Directors. TileDealer recently talked with Inma Roca about the industry, the marketplace and—of course—Spanish ceramic tile.

TileDealer: How long have you been involved with the tile industry? How did you initially get involved in the ceramic tile industry?

Roca: I am originally from Valencia, where Cevisama takes place. I studied Business Administration at the University of Valencia. In 1984 I started working for ICEX ( Spain’s Institute for Foreign Trade) at their regional office in Valencia. In 1987 my employer asked me to move to Miami to head its household goods division for the USA, which was based at the Trade Commission of Spain in Miami.

I arrived in Miami on October 11, 1987, and the following month I traveled to visit my first CTDA Convention, which I believe was in San Francisco. That is where my involvement with the ceramic tile industry started. For four years I was in charge of the promotion of the ceramic tile industry of Spain in the US. I was responsible for our very first pavilion in 1988 at the International Tile and Bathroom Furnishings Trade show (the predecessor of our current Coverings).

I left the Trade Commission of Spain in January 1992 and I established my own marketing agency. For a year I did some consulting for a United Nation’s aid organization (Unctad-Gatt). During 1992 and 1993 I did consulting work in Bolivia, Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama and Mexico for the furniture industry. I started to work again in the ceramic field in 1993, when ITSE (another name that Coverings has had) asked me to implement an international promotion program for the show. Then in 1994 they asked me to take over also the PR for the show and the industry’s now defunct Tile Promotion Board. I did this for few years and then in 1998 I took over the marketing and public relations program for Tile of Spain. What I have been doing until last September.

Concurrently with my handling of the Tile of Spain PR program, I have been representing ASCER’s interest at Coverings since the end of 2001. From now on that will be my involvement with the ceramic tile industry. And I am very happy with that activity, because I am a big believer in Coverings. I was there at the very beginning of the show, before it was merged with the CTDA’s one to become ITE. The rest is history.

TileDealer: What distinguishes Spanish ceramic tile technically and aesthetically?

Roca: The origins of Spain’s ceramic tile industry go back centuries. Ceramic tile is imbedded in our culture. Spain ranks as the #1 country in the world in per capita consumption of ceramic tile. In the eighties, our industry underwent a complete industrial restructuring that implemented the latest technology. At that time it was the beginning of the single fire process. So in a few years most of our manufacturers had converted to the single fire process. Since we had a very large production of ceramic wall tile, it was Spanish research in the area of single firing technology being applied to wall tile production that set the world standards. Since 1984 Spain has been known as the world leader in the production of ceramic wall tile. In the nineties our industry invested largely in flooring production and nowadays Spain’s production of floor tile (including all the porcelain techniques) is larger than wall tile.

To answer your question more specifically, I’d say that we have the very latest technology combined with a history and tradition of tile making paired with advanced European design.

TileDealer: What are the strengths of the Spanish ceramics manufacturers?

Roca: I believe that they offer the best products and service in terms of value. The quality-design-service/price ratio is extremely good.

TileDealer: How have Spanish manufacturers responded to green building or sustainable building trends?

Roca: In recent years our industry has been very active on the environmental front. Some of our manufacturers are producing tile made solely from recycled production wastes, including fumes, clays and glazes. In all, Spain has over twenty companies that have been awarded the ISO 14000 certification for environmental responsibility during the manufacturing process, and many more have already started the certification procedure.

Furthermore, as a related environmental achievement, it is noteworthy that a Spanish company was the first to be awarded the European Union’s Ecolabel Certification.

Since 1985 our industry has invested over 1.1 billion euros in improving energy efficiency and reducing emissions. In addition, ASCER has just announced the industry’s commitment of an additional 90 million euro for environmental issues from now until 2007.

TileDealer: How big is the current Spanish tile presence in the international tile market and in North America?

Roca: Leaving China aside, Spain shares the leadership in world tile production with Italy. Our current production level is a little less than 7 billion square feet per year. In 2003 Spain’s tile exports reached 186 countries and topped 3.6 billion square feet. For 2002, the latest year that I have world statistics, Spain’s share of world trade was close to 27-percent.

Regionally, the European Union is still our largest market, absorbing 42-percent in value of our total exports. France, Britain and Portugal remain our largest European markets.

But, the US has been our number one market for the past decade. Our exports here grew at a very rapid rate from 1985 through 2002. Exports fell though in 2003; still Spain’s market share in the US imports of ceramic tile is over 17-percent, the second largest exporter.

TileDealer: Are there any categories that are especially big?

Roca: Although we do not break out statistics to verify this, we know the American marketplace is a big consumer of ceramic floor tile. Perhaps even more importantly, we know everyone here is demanding porcelain tile whether or not his or her project requires it.

TileDealer: Have you felt the growing Chinese impact on the ceramic tile marketplace?

Roca: I’m not sure that I am the right person to answer this question. I think that at the moment we are still waiting to see what is to come. For sure the Chinese will have a strong impact on everybody once they go into export gear with ceramic tile. We do export to China, but not in any significant amount.

TileDealer: The American dollar continues to decline in value against the euro. Have Spanish manufacturers made accommodations to this situation? Do you think they will have to do more?

Roca: Our manufacturers have made great efforts in trying to absorb the rate exchange deterioration. Most have been forced to increase their prices in dollars, but in a very insignificant amount in comparison with the large decline of the dollar against the euro. Some are changing their product mix to better serve the needs of the US market (increasing the porcelain and flooring offerings). Others are merging companies to increase their critical mass, and others are investing in manufacturing in foreign countries. Still they’ll have to position their product away from that of the countries that are selling at the bottom of the line.

TileDealer: What are the benefits of attending an international trade show like Cevisama?

Roca: In 2004 Cevisama received over 86,000 professional attendees, of which 10,000+ were international visitors. Cevisama is a truly international market place where the tile industry of Spain shows at its best. If you do business with ceramic tile factories from Spain, Cevisama is a must. If you still do not do business with Spain, Cevisama is the place to start. In addition to working the show you can also visit the factories, which are clustered in a very close area, 45-minutes drive from the Convention Center.

TileDealer: What should TileDealer readers look for when they visit Cevisama?

Roca: A brand new, and very well designed, Convention Center with over 2 million square feet of space. In addition to a very efficient layout of the floor plan, this new building offers a wide range of hospitality areas for visitors. At Cevisama 2005, your dealers will find the whole ceramic tile industry from Spain exhibiting their new products for the season, and, last but not least, they will enjoy Spain’s renowned hospitality.

TileDealer: Are you anticipating any particular design trends?

Roca: This is a little difficult to forecast. I don’t know if we’ll see any radical changes. I think we may move to more contemporary European looks and away from the rustic looks that have been popular. I think there will be a lot of white, many shades. The big series with many formats will continue. Here the excitement comes from the various sizes and shapes. The manufacturers have excellent guidance for your dealers to sell these programs with or without a designer.

TileDealer: What else do you want TileDealer’s 10,000-plus readers to know about tile from Spain?

Roca: I would like to emphasize Spain’s strong commitment to the US market. Our manufacturers have worked hard to have a presence in the US market, and they are determined to stay. Investment in this market is not faltering in spite of the current weak economic situation.

TileDealer: Although you recently stepped back from Tile of Spain, you continue to represent ASCER on the Board of Directors of Coverings. In fact, you have been attending and supporting Coverings for sixteen years. What changes have you seen in that time?

Roca: When it started it was mainly ceramic tile and it was a small show. It was originally exhibitor-owned. Then CTDA and TCA joined it and it became an industry show. That was the first big change. Then stone was added, and eventually the show outgrew Miami and moved to Orlando. That was another big change. Last year we added a new management company. Today it is definitely an industry show. I am sure we are on the right path. You cannot miss Coverings.


Announcing CTDA Online Education
 
November 1st, 2004

Brought to you by: The University of Ceramic Tile and Stone

November-December 2004

CTDA members have asked for educational programs on ceramic tile that they could offer to their employees, and now we have them as a discounted CTDA membership benefit. CTDA and the University of Ceramic Tile and Stone (U of CTS) have joined to develop a series of educational programs to help ceramic tile employees be more effective at their jobs.

CTDA Online Educational Courses:

• Teach your employees the basics of ceramic tile with selling tips

• Give your employees credibility with your customers

• Sell more tile with more upgrades

• Available on the internet for 14 days, 24/7 (any time at home or at work)

• No lost employee productive time or travel expenses

• Self-paced interactive course—come and go as you please at your own rate.

• Enjoyable experience and very effective at teaching

• Student prints their own diploma upon completion

• Group Managers get reports on students’ progress and results

• All you need is a computer and access to the internet

Understanding the Basics of Ceramic Tile is a ceramic tile course for new employees and those who haven’t had the opportunity to learn about the history and all the aspects of ceramic tile. The course teaches the History, Types and Uses of Ceramic Tile, the Manufacturing Process, Installation and Maintenance, How to Select the Right Ceramic Tile, and How to Avoid Problems and False Expectations. The course is designed to help sales people increase their sales of ceramic tile, and provides many sales techniques throughout the course.

To learn more or to register, please visit www.ctdahome.org/onlineedu/.


Trend Watch: The Sunbelt
 
November 1st, 2004

November-December 2004

TileDealer recently surveyed a number of dealers in the Sunbelt—from California to Florida—just to ask briefly, what’s selling best for you?

The answers were surprisingly similar. Mike Hamer, Travis Tile in Austin, Texas, says he is selling larger tiles, often in darker, warmer colors. The stone look in warm colors with textured surfaces for slip resistance is popular. Large format is increasingly used on backsplashes and tub surrounds, as well as floors. Hamer says his customers are increasingly better educated, attributable perhaps to the Internet, and they are requesting porcelain. “Glass,” he says, “is very, very hot.”

Martha Alvarez at D& B Tile in Sawgrass, Florida, says 20- by 20-inch glazed porcelain is the top seller. Glass and tumbled marble are popular choices for backsplashes.

Bill Ray says Stockdale Tile, Bakersfield, California, is also selling larger format tiles, 18- by 18-inch stone looks are the predominant choice for floors, but he says many customers opt for 20- by 20-inch tiles if they are available in the right program.

Light earth tones are still the predominant color, says Ray. The 12- by 12-inch and 13- by 13-inch tiles on walls and countertops are being complimented with listellos and chair rails for a more finished design. Finally, Bob Mische, Ceramic Tile Center, Inc., Long Beach, California, says the stone look continues to be strong for his customers also. Sizes, he said, are growing from the 12- and 13-inch squares to 16- by 16-inches and 18-by18-inches for walls and floors, often accented by chair rails and liners. Porcelain continues to be popular along with glass. Glass tiles in a wide variety of colors are showing up on backsplashes and as decorative inserts with other tiles.

The professionals TileDealer spoke to agreed that although they were not seeing any significant trend changes, the established trends in porcelain, neutral colors and larger formats seem to be stronger than ever.

In upcoming issues, we’ll be taking our informal survey to other parts of the country. If you have comments to add to these trends, please email editor@tiledealer.org.

According to independent research coming out of Coverings 2004, attendees spent an average of 30-percent of their yearly product-related budgets at Coverings. In addition, of those attendees polled, 92-percent indicated they planned to make purchases as a result of attending Coverings.

Sponsoring organizations of Coverings are Assopiastrelle (Association of Italian Ceramic Tile and Refractories Manufacturers), ASCER ( Spain ’s Ceramic Tile Manufacturers Association), TCA (Tile Council of North America), CTDA (Ceramic Tile Distributors Association), and NTCA (National Tile Contractors Association).


Coverings 2005 on pace for sell-out
 
November 1st, 2004

November-December 2004

Nearly eight months before it opens, space reservations and sales for Coverings 2005 are on pace for a sold out show in Orlando next May. To date, 91-percent of the floor has been committed, totaling more than 435,000 net square feet of space. Coverings 2005 will take place from May 3 – 6 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.

“The high volume of sales and upgrades tells us that the industry understands that Coverings, unlike any other show out there, is the most comprehensive tile and stone marketplace in the Americas and that it is truly the preferred forum for all things hard surfaces,” says Tamara Christian, president, National Trade Productions and Coverings’ show director. “The 2004 show proved without a doubt that Coverings is the place where the flooring industry comes to do business.”


Installer Briefing: The Birth of a Standard The birth of a standard involves thousands of hours of industry work before the final result is delivered! November-December 2004
 
November 1st, 2004

By Eric Astrachan

Standards provide our industry with guidelines that result in more consistent and often better quality products and installations. Importantly, standards provide assurance to the customer that they can rely on those products and installations—if the products and methods conform to standards. Every standard in the tile business begins as a series of submissions, which then undergo data analysis, numerous revisions, and committee discussions to ensure the delivery of an industry-consensus document.

This year the Tile Council of North America (TCA) is working on the delivery of three industry-consensus documents—the 2005 Handbook for Ceramic Tile Installation, the American National Standards Institute’s (ANSI) Specifications for the Installation of Ceramic Tile (A108/A118/A136.1) and the ANSI Specifications for Ceramic Tile (A137.1).

We serve as the secretariat for ANSI’s American Standards Committee (ASC) A108. The standards within the scope of the ASC A108 include A108, A118, A136.1, A137.1, and glass tile. These voluntary standards define performance criteria for ceramic tile, criteria for tile installations, and test methods and physical properties for ceramic tile installation materials. They are intended to serve as a guide to the general public, manufacturers, distributors, architects, designers, tile contractors, testing laboratories and other professionals in the tile industry.

As the Secretariat for ANSI and the TCA Handbook, we oversee the creation and maintenance of these standards. We do not create the standards; rather, the members of the ANSI and Handbook committees create them. These committees are composed of industry representatives representing a cross-section of more than 40 industry organizations and individuals. Manufacturers, labor organizations, users of tile, and industry consultants are all represented on these Committees.

The Tile Council’s role is that of a facilitator and Secretariat for this process. As such, we work to keep the process open, honest, and moving forward. We ensure that everyone can be heard and try to keep the discussion focused on what benefits the consumer and is technically valid.

Stage One: Subcommittee Discussions

In the initial stage of standards development, submissions received by the Tile Council are reviewed to determine if they would benefit from sub-committee involvement before submission to the main Handbook or ANSI ASC Committee. In most cases, although draft proposals have already received input from many people, the submission may still benefit from a TCA subcommittee review. In some cases, a new subcommittee is formed specifically to help develop a submission while in other cases, an existing TCA committee may be called upon to help.

This is not a requirement, however, and a submitter could choose to submit their proposal directly without subcommittee help.

Some submissions are formed by existing TCA subcommittees. Of course, the majority of submissions come from non-committee members and we encourage anyone with an interest in standards to consider making a submission. If a submission is sent out to a subcommittee, it is disseminated through a web-based electronic forum. Any submitter is welcome to join the subcommittee that will be discussing their submission and to participate in those discussions. These forums were invaluable in helping to reach consensus prior to the TCA Handbook and ANSI Committee meetings held the week of June 22nd. For the most recent series of meetings, five subcommittees and forums were involved in reviewing methods for the Handbook and ANSI Standards: Backerboard, Underlayment, Membrane, Glass, and Inspection. In total, nearly 100 people contributed to these subcommittees.

Once the subcommittees completed their task, the submissions were posted on a web site for the ASC A108 and Handbook committee members to review prior to the June meetings.

Industry professionals are encouraged to visit the ANSI ASC A108 Secretariat’s web site (http://www.tileusa.com/ANSIA108/index.html) and the Handbook Committee’s web site http://www.tileusa.com/2005hdbkcom/index.html) to view Committee agendas and submissions.

Stage Two: Committee Meetings

The week of June 21st, we began a series of standards-setting meetings with more than 120 participants. This was an unprecedented effort to assemble industry experts and advance many standards during the same week. To accommodate this many people, we converted an old training area into a conference room for the meetings.

On Tuesday, June 22nd, we completed an eight laboratory, seven surface, “round robin” test to determine the precision of the C1028 coefficient of friction test method. This was the result of many months of research in which every step of the test method was reviewed and revised where needed. Overall, a significant reduction in the standard deviation of the method was made.

On Wednesday, June 24rd, staff from eight major U.S. manufacturers met with TCA staff to discuss the first revision of the A137.1 manufacturing standards in 16 years. Thanks in large part to a major effort by Dal Tile, a wholly revised and updated draft standard was prepared in advance of the meeting and distributed to the participants. From this group’s input, further revisions are being made.

On Thursday, June 26th, about 75 people attended the TCA Handbook meeting. This record attendance was nearly double the attendance of the last meeting, which itself set a record.

This reflects tremendous industry participation and demonstrates the continued importance of the Handbook in an increasingly complex construction environment.

On Friday, June 25th, a similarly-sized group attended the ANSI A108 standards meeting, at which two crack isolation standards were discussed and passed. These standards are now out for approval by written ballot (by those who could not attend the meeting) and then will be submitted for public review.

Stage Three: Handbook Publication

At the June 25th meeting, the Handbook Committee approved more than 200 edits and 15 new guidelines for the 2005 Handbook. Once these were approved, TCA staff began compiling the additions, deletions and edits for publication in January 2005.

The key new guidelines include:

1. Poured gypsum underlayment for concrete and wood

2. Poured gypsum underlayment with hydronic radiant heat

3. Cementitious self-leveling underlayment for concrete and wood

4. Cementitious self-leveling underlayment with hydronic radiant heat

5. Cementitious self-leveling underlayment with electric radiant heat

6. Exterior Glue/Laminated Wood Panel Underlayment

7. Cementitious-Coated Foam Backer Board—already approved for walls, now approved for floors

8. Fiber-Reinforced Water-Resistant Gypsum Backer Board—already approved for floors, now approved for walls and tubs

9. Pre-formed shower curbs

10. Better definition for uncoupling membranes

11. Information for glass and porcelain tile installations

12. Information for sound reduction

13. Revision of expansion joint guidelines

14. Definition of “limited water exposure” area

Stage Three Continued: ANSI Standards—Balloting, Public Review, Consensus Efforts, and Publication.

While the consensus of the Handbook Committee goes directly to publication after the Handbook meeting, changes to the ANSI standards do not. This is because those standards require balloting from all members of the Committee and an attempt to resolve any negative comments that are received. Changes to the Handbook only require a majority of the Committee present at the meeting, although in practice most contentious issues are referred back to subcommittees for further development.

These additional requirements for ANSI standards, and the time associated with each, adds anywhere from 6 months to 2 years to the development of a standard and hundreds of additional hours of work by the Tile Council. This is well worth the time and work required, because it insures that every effort is made to reach consensus before a standard is issued!

Next time you have a question about a tile installation, refer to your TCA Handbook for Ceramic Tile Installation and the ANSI A108/A118/A136.1 standards for answers. They are the best answers our industry has produced. If you have suggestions for improvement, you are welcome to submit them to the Tile Council.

Eric Astrachan is the executive director of the Tile Council of North America (TCA). TCA was established in 1945 to expanding the ceramic tile market in the United

States. To learn more about TCA, please go to www.tileusa.com/


Industry Insights
 
November 1st, 2004

November-December 2004

Call for Entries: Ceramic Tiles of Italy

The Italian ceramic tile industry announces the 12th annual Ceramic Tiles of Italy Design Competition. This awards program, sponsored by Assopiastrelle, the Association of Italian Ceramic Tile Manufacturers, and the ITC, recognizes design excellence in projects that feature Italian ceramic tile. North American architects and interior designers are invited to submit residential, commercial, or institutional projects.

A jury of design professionals will judge projects on their creative attributes as well as how well the tiles meet their functional and technical requirements. Submissions from three categories: residential; institutional; and commercial, may be entered for consideration. Entries will be judged on overall design, innovative use of tile, tile design, quality of installation and degree that the tile enhanced the setting.

Winners in each category will receive a cash prize of $5,000, and a trip to Coverings May 3-5, 2005. Winners will also be eligible for a trip to CERSAIE 2005, to be held in Bologna, Italy. Projects can be domestic or international, and new construction or renovations, and must have been completed between January, 2000 and January, 2005.

Completed submissions must be received no later than January 30, 2005. For more information and an application, visit: www.italiatiles.com, www.italytile.com or contact Novita Communications at info@novitapr.com.

Q.E.P. acquires Tuplex

Q.E.P. Co., Inc. has announced that it has acquired substantially all the assets of Tuplex® Corporation of Naperville, Illinois. Tuplex manufactures and distributes HarmonyTM and Tuplex® brands of underlayment for use under all laminate and engineered hardwood floating floors. The HarmonyTM product provides a moisture barrier, increases comfort underfoot, and reduces the noise associated with floating floors. Sales for Tuplex during its latest fiscal year were approximately $1.4 million. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Lewis Gould, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, commented that this acquisition increases the product offerings Q.E.P. can provide to worldwide distribution and home center customers.

Euro-Tile appoints Gibson National Marketing And Sales Rep

Sherri Gibson, an Eau Claire, Wisconsin native, was recently appointed as the Euro-Tile National Marketing and Sales Representative. “It’s great to be on board with such a revolutionary company,” said Gibson. “Euro-Tile’s extensive line of Villi®glas glass tile is unique and essential in an industry constantly searching for the latest design innovation. As the firm’s National Marketing and Sales Rep, I plan to expand our client base while also servicing existing customers.” Gibson currently holds an undergrad degree in Marketing Education, Business Administration and a Master’s in Training and Human Resource Development. After teaching marketing and business for three years, Gibson is ready to put her extensive knowledge of marketing into action. (www.villiglas.com )

Father-Son Team From Custom Building Products Paddles For Hope In 29th Annual Catalina Contest

John “Mac” McMullen, an executive with Custom Building Products of Seal Beach, California, teamed with his 25-year-old son Jonathan, who also works for the company, in the oldest race in the sport of paddleboarding, the Catalina Classic, a 32-mile course from the island to Manhattan Beach on Sunday, August 29. Their goal was to raise $15,000 for the City of Hope Cancer Center in Duarte, California. “Father and son teams in this sport are rare. We have raced together in three US Championships, the 2002 International Championships held in Australia, and the 2002 Catalina Classic. To my knowledge we are only the second father-son team to compete together in the entire 29-year history of the Catalina Classic.” McMullen first got involved with City of Hope 16 years ago, through Custom Building Products in Seal Beach, California, when he began leading the company’s fundraising program for the organization. The company is part of the hardware/home improvement industry sector of City of Hope’s fundraising program—this sector is a large donor to City of Hope and over the years has raised millions of dollars for cancer research.

Innovations

November-December 2004

Custom Blend Tool

Hakatai Enterprise’s new online Custom Blend Tool provides customers with the ability to create, price and order their own unique, custom blend online. “From architects and designers to builders and homeowners, anyone can experiment with this creative Custom Blend Tool by simply going online to Hakatai’s newly redesigned website, www.hakatai.com, and clicking on the ‘custom blend tool’ link,” says Ann-Britt Malden, Creative Marketing Director for Hakatai. Users choose up to 10 colors from the Carter Glass Mosaic ¾” palette of 51 colors. After each color has been dragged and dropped into the designated slots, the customer chooses the percentages of each color to be blended and clicks the ‘remix blend’ button. The computer then randomly mixes the custom color choices and instantaneously the newly created blend is displayed as a graphic on the screen. The user can click the ‘remix blend’ button as many times as desired to change the percentage mix, choose new colors or to see the same blend in other random variations. The Custom Blend Tool also gives the customer the option of choosing their own sample grout color. “Taking advantage of this option is quite important,” says Malden. “Creating a glass mosaic tile blend with various shades between the tiles in this early design stage can really help the customer visualize what the end result will look like.” Hakatai does not sell grout or setting material but does offer a list of grout manufacturers. After the custom blend colors and percentages have been finalized, the system provides a price and shipping quotes. Once the order is complete, a Hakatai representative confirms the order and gets the custom blend project started! Each custom blend sheet is mounted with clear film on the face of the tile. With any custom blend, there is a 3-5 week production lead time from the point of Hakatai receiving the 50% deposit. This does not include shipping time. (www.hakatai.com)

New from NATTCO®

North American Tile Tool Company (NATTCO®) is presenting its Adjustable Tile Nippers—quality nippers that are “easy on the hands.” The new NATTCO Adjustable Tile Nippers feature a special cushioned depth stop which could help prevent hand and wrist injury associated with Carpel Tunnel Syndrome. The Adjustable Tile Nipper introduces a patented spring device located between the nipper handles to adjust cushioned depth, making them more comfortable to use. Professional tile setters have said ordinary tile nippers cause hand fatigue due to the hard impact at the time the tile is nipped. “A tile installer could use the new Adjustable tile nippers for longer periods of time, reducing discomfort while getting the job done quicker and more efficiently,” said Brad Kettle Operations Manager of NATTCO. The company is also presenting the Easy-Pull™ Tile Spacers, complete with extended spacer arms for easy removal. NATTCO has engineered and manufactured durability in these soft tile spacers, making them perfect for repeated use. NATTCO’s Easy-Pull™ Tile Spacers are available in a 1/16″ size/200 per bag, 1/8″ size/150 per bag, 3/16″ size/150 per bag and ¼” size/150 per bag. These spacers fit with any tile size. With a spacer arm measuring the same width as the actual spacers, NATTCO’s Easy-Pull™ Tile Spacers give installers the option of using the arm for hard to reach areas. In addition, the spacer arm is angled to not interfere with checking the level of the wall tile—no need for needle nose pliers or spacer removal tools. These spacers can be removed from wall and floor tiles quickly without any chance of damaging the tile. (www.nattco.com)

Heated Floors Easier

Nuheat has unveiled its newly designed programmable floor sensing thermostat. Available for both of its 110-volt and 220-volt electric radiant mats, the Energy Star qualified programmable thermostat offers a homeowner the best control for adjusting their floor-temperature to fully maximize on energy saving potential. Offering sleek styling and an innovative backlit display, it comes complete with a built-in GFCI (safety device), allowing one to program the specific days and times for the system to be turned on and off. The control boasts one-touch “comfort” and “economic” settings. “One of the smartest and simplest ways to combat heating costs is by installing and using a programmable thermostat,” said John Rose, Nuheat president. With more than 60 different standard sizes, the heating mats are designed to fit the majority of rooms, while custom mats can be made to fit a room with curves or angles. The heating mats are installed directly between the floor and subfloor and require the same bonding materials that are used to lay tile floors—no extra supplies are needed. A professional tile installer bonds Nuheat to the subfloor with thinset before laying tile. A certified electrician then connects the Nuheat system to a dedicated circuit in the panel box. Nuheated floors are the ultimate affordable luxury; installing Nuheat in a standard 3 X 7 bathroom adds roughly $500 to construction costs. (www.nuheat.com)

Introducing nybacker

Resource Composites has introduced nybacker, a revolutionary composite backerboard for hard surface applications like ceramic tile, VCT, and wood flooring. It is made of 100-percent recycled materials and is the performance grade alternative to cement and gypsum-based backerboard. Made using a patented manufacturing process, recycled nylon carpet and plastic materials are combined to produce a product that is lighter in weight and stronger than other types of underlayment. Among its many features, nybacker has a rough face design that increases adhesion strength, will not tear or break down when replacing damaged tiles, is mold resistant, contains no silica dust, is 37-percent lighter than cement-based backerboard, acts as a water and vapor barrier, resists jobsite damage, is made from recycled materials and offers a 50-year warranty. (www.nybacker.com)

Gruppo Ceramiche Saicis S.p.A.

Gruppo Ceramiche Saicis S.p.A., one of Italy’s top producers of through-body porcelain tiles, is presenting its Legnass tile series as part of the state-of-the-art HI-TECH Gres Collection. Legnass, mirroring the simple, natural exquisiteness of hardwood flooring, features a mix of carefully selected minerals pressed into porcelain tile with an innovative molding technique that creates a wood appearance. The series is available in hues of Bruno Moresco (brown), Giallo Dorato (golden yellow), Verde Laguna (green), Azzurro Canaletto (pale blue) and Rosa Antico (antique rose). Tile sizes include: 12- by18-inches, 6- by 18-inches, and 4- by 18-inches. Mosaics on 12- by 12-inch sheets, 6- by 6-inch corner pieces and 6- by 12-inch listellos are also offered with Legnass. Saicis Legnass series is suitable for heavy traffic areas such as hotel lobbies and restaurants in addition to exterior applications. The tile can withstand harsh outdoor temperatures. (877-675-3772)

Shampoo & Soap Caddy

The Shampoo & Soap Caddy Shelf from Caddy Company, Inc. is made from DuPont™ Corian®, a product that is known for it’s lasting beauty and durability. It is available in 3 basic colors and 21 designer colors. The Shampoo & Soap Caddy Shelf is designed with a soap dish on both sides, making the Caddy Shelf versatile for placement in any corner. The notch in the soap dish holds a scrubby which helps eliminate the buildup of soap scum on your wall. Install the Shampoo & Soap Caddy Shelf in new or existing tile installations. The Shampoo & Soap Caddy Shelf complements bathroom tile and provides extra storage space for shampoo and soap. (www.caddycoinc.com)

Huron Porcelain Tile from Laufen

Laufen has introduced the Huron series of floor, wall and countertop tiles ideal for residential and commercial use. Huron is a fully glazed porcelain tile with the look of weathered stone. The moderate shade variation allows for a distinctive look to any room. Available in Onyx, Sage and Sand in 16 by 16-inch sizes, as well as 13-¼ by 13-¼-inch and 13-¼- by 26-½-inch sizes. A matching 3 by 13-½-inch bullnose adds a practical finishing touch to any room. Huron is appropriate for application in entryways, hallways, walkways and public areas. The product has a coefficient of friction higher than 0.65 and is commercially rated for both indoor and outdoor heavy traffic areas. Architects and builders also prefer the tile for its durability, stain resistance and ease of maintenance. (www.laufenusa.com)

Stone Evolution

Laufen tile has introduced a new, innovative line of double-pressed porcelain products called Stone Evolution. The collection uses state-of-the-art technology to reproduce the look of natural stone. With Stone Evolution the tile goes through a press, is decoarated and then sent through another press before entering the kiln. The double-press produces the effect of natural stone and seals the porcelain making it less porous and more durable. The product has a coefficient of friction/wet higher than 0.60 and is commercially rated for both indoor and outdoor heavy traffic areas. Stone Evolution is available in two series Solaris (pearl, gold or ivory) and Jupiter (dusk, tundra and shadow) and multiple shapes and sizes to maximum design flexibility. Homogeneous dimensions and thicknesses make Stone Evolution easier to install than natural stone. The only maintenance required is routine cleaning. (www.laufenusa.com)

QuickShelf™ Makes it Easier!

Wheeler Tile & Company has added a new 9- by 13- size and a BOLD new bonding texture to its line of QuickShelf™ wall inserts for tile and stone. The waterproof liner and tile form makes it easy to create a recessed shelf in any tiled area. Every tile setter will appreciate the simple “Nail it On and Tile it In” system. The improved QuickShelf line offers enhanced surface texture for superior overall strength and shelf corners will now accept both ¼ round and surface bullnose trim shapes. The products provide valuable storage space for bath and shower items and create an interesting design element. Available in 13- by 13-inch square and 9- by 13-inch rectangle, QuickShelf wall inserts are 3 ½-inches deep for use within standard wall framing. The inserts are fully modular with 4 ¼-inch wall tile, but are easy to use with any size or type of tile. QuickShelf’s mounting flange is easy to trim and fasten as needed, thin enough to mount over or under any type of tile backerboard or mortar system. (www.QuickShelf.net)

Custom Adds to Patch & Repair Products

Custom® Building Products is introducing two new products, All Purpose Spackling Paste and All Purpose Water Putty Patching Compound to its popular line of patch and repair products. Custom’s patch and repair products are preferred by professionals and consumers for keeping interior and exterior surfaces looking flawless. Patch-N-Paint® is an easy-to-use, pre-mixed spackle that fills deep cracks, holes and dents with one simple application. The durable finish resists shrinking, cracking and sagging, and is ready to paint in just minutes without sanding. Patch-N-Paint is equally effective for indoor or outdoor applications. Custom’s new Water Putty is a fast-setting, non-shrinking patching compound that can be used for interior or exterior surfaces. It is effective for repairing cracks, knots and nail or screw holes in plaster, wall board, wood, cement and stone. Water Putty dries to an exceptionally hard finish and will not shrink or sag. Another newcomer, All Purpose Spackling Paste is a pre-mixed, water-resistant formula for interior and exterior uses. It combines strong adhesion with a high degree of weather resistance for outstanding results. All Purpose Spackling Paste can be used to fill holes, cracks and other imperfections on a wide variety of surfaces including both primed and unprimed wood, composition board, masonry, wall board and plaster. It dries quickly, sands easily and is ready to paint within minutes. (800) 272-8786 or visit www.custombuildingproducts.com.

Almatec, by Impronta Italgraniti

Impronta Italgraniti’s Almatec Stone Technology Italian technology combined with the creativity of Impronta Italgraniti has launched Almatec, the production of stone, replicated in through-body porcelain stoneware. State-of-the-art Almatec porcelain is available in sizes up to 48- by 48-inch with slabs that feature deep stone veining and present perfect modularity in appearance and in application. The Almatec high-tech production and quality slab fabrication is the brainchild behind color-through porcelain stoneware slabs which are ideal for interior and exterior, walls, floors, residential and commercial installations. “Almatec, by Impronta Italgraniti, is a beautiful alternative to marble and granite. Not only is the price affordable but the porcelain manufactured through Almatec is superior, long lasting tile. And, Almatec porcelain is practically identical to a piece of marble or granite, complete with veining and natural shading,” said Impronta Italgraniti USA Vice President Jerry Joyce. “This technology surpasses any porcelain in the industry today. It’s truly unique.” The stones fashioned through Impronta Italgraniti Almatec are available in a variety of marble, granite and limestone looks. When professionally installed, Almatec porcelain exhibits higher mechanical strength, shipping costs one-third that of natural stone, resistance to extremely high thermal excursions, resistance to freeze/thaw cycles, low maintenance, high resistance to wind thrust and competitive pricing. (703.455.9200, www.improntaitalgraniti-usa.com)


Villi®Glas greets students in alligator mural
 
November 1st, 2004

In Dickinson, Texas, about 25 miles south of Houston, a gator stands watch over the town’s middle school children. A Villi®glas glass tile mural, the reptile represents Dunbar Middle as the school’s mascot, hanging over the students in the main corridor.

CLR, Inc. (architects, engineers, surveyors, GIS) of Texas designed the new middle school and alligator mural. According to Tom Hunter, A.I.A, Senior Project Manager of CLR, the gator is a special focal point for the students as they circulate through the 110,000 square foot school. “The visual depth and reflectance of the glass tile contrasts with the other materials in the corridor and adds sparkle and interest at an architectural/visual terminus,” said Hunter. Also involved in the Dunbar Middle School project was contractor Tellepsen Builders, L.P. of Houston, tile contractor Southern Tile and Terrazzo Co., Inc., also of Houston, and tile supplier American Tile Supply of Texas.

According to Michael Maraldo, President of Southern Tile and Terrazzo, the alligator was an atypical tile mural because it was not pre-finished before arriving at the project site. Extensive work in the field was required to install and patch the gator’s glass tile.

“Due to the alligator’s irregular edges, the Dunbar Middle School project definitely differed from conventional glass tile mural installations,” said Maraldo. “Many glass tile pieces were filled in at the jobsite by hand and some were removed for the mural anchoring system. He continued: “Villi® glas River Mosaic tile really gave the finished mural an authentic, scaley look—perfect for an alligator.” Approximately 32 square feet of Royal Blue Villi® glas River Mosaic and 18 square feet of Turquoise Villi®glas Baby River Mosaic tile were utilized in the Dunbar Middle School alligator mural. CLR designers worked closely with Villi®glas in choosing the tile and sizes for the “scale” effect. “A project such as this just illustrates the creative uses of glass tile,” said Rich Meadows of Euro-Tile. (www.villiglas.com)

Add your Industry and Insights to TileDealer. Please send your industry announcements, news and high-resolution photos (300 dpi) to editor@tiledealer.org.

Foster and Clark Real Estate
CTDA - Online Education
CTDA - Membership