CTDA China Trade Mission
 
January 2nd, 2008

January-February 2008

I am very excited to launch my presidency of CTDA this year with the introduction of the Trade Mission to China. The 2008 CTDA Trade Mission to China will be a fantastic opportunity for North American tile distributors to meet with Chinese ceramic tile and stone manufacturers. We will be the honored guests for the grand opening of the new China Ceramics Industry Headquarters in Foshan, China. This facility, five times bigger than the original China Ceramic City, will house amazing tile showrooms and warehousing operations. We’ll see ceramic tile and stone factories and visit with the leaders of some of the world’s largest ceramic companies.

In addition to all this valuable work, we will take five days to see many of the beautiful and fascinating sights of China. Our sightseeing will take place in Shanghai and Beijing and includes the great wall, Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Beijing acrobats and a river cruise through downtown Shanghai. We’ll see the venues for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and get in on some fantastic shopping. The trip will take place June 18-29.
The CTDA Trade Mission to Turkey in 2006 was an incredible experience. Since then we have been working on plans for this next big trip. Our Turkish hosts treated us like royalty and I have no doubt that our hosts in China will do the same. I had the privilege of attending a preliminary Trade Mission in Foshan, China this past September. On that trip I experienced wonderful food, dazzling entertainment and hospitality beyond measure.

All expenses during the business portion of the trade mission will be provided by China Ceramic City and a group of Chinese Tile manufacturers. With some additional group rates on travel, lodging and tours the trip is sure to be an exceptional value. Many companies have already signed up. All CTDA members qualify to attend. Contact CTDA at 630-545-9415 for more information.

2007 CTDA Management Conference
Last November’s management conference in Dana Point, California was a roaring success by all measures. We had a strong turnout of distributors and suppliers and I know everyone enjoyed catching up, comparing notes and making new acquaintances.

The speakers were very informative and educational. I think we had as good a lineup of seminars and discussions as I’ve ever experienced at a Management Conference. Henry Winkler was definitely a highlight as our Saturday night keynote speaker. He was a gracious visitor to all before dinner and his talk was as fun and entertaining as it was inspirational.

Our resort was beautiful and being on the southern California coast was a lot of fun if not always as warm as we expected. Now we get to look forward to the 2008 conference next November in Puerto Rico!


TileDealer in 2008
 
January 2nd, 2008

by Janet Arden, Editor

January-February 2008

By the time you read this, most of us will have long since forgotten or dismissed our New Years’ resolutions. We’ll be at least ankle-deep in the New Year, juggling trade shows, new product lines and that ever fickle economy. And then, of course, you have employees and customers to deal with. It sounds like a lot, because it is. However, you do have help.

TileDealer is committed to helping you make the most of 2008. Starting now.
This year TileDealer has planned all six issues to help you deal with the continuing challenges of running a business in a temperamental marketplace in a global economy. We’ve gone to the industry leaders to help us consider the big product categories: stone, ceramic, porcelain, and glass, as well as the design issues, like large format and mosaics, that factor into their use.

This year TileDealer is committed to showing you even more of the best of the international tile marketplace with Tile Tour 2008. We begin in this issue with Spain (just in time for Cevisama). In the issues ahead, we’ll be sampling products and design trends from Turkey, Italy, Brazil, Asia and the Americas.

Greenbuilding may be one of the most important trends yet. No one can duck this issue any longer, and TileDealer is committed to helping you learn all you can. Your customers are thinking green for both residential and commercial projects. Greenbuilding impacts everything from the way tile is manufactured to the materials used in installation. What’s green and what isn’t? How does tile fit with other green products?

Your showroom brings it all together for your customers. This issue features a close look at the latest showroom trends with suggestions from the pros (Hint: Less really is more in your showroom right now.) TileDealer’s Showroom Seminar will also continue this year with more useful information in every issue to help you expand your showroom services (including expanded offerings like undertile heat, tools and even handcrafted tiles) and maximize every customer’s visit.

Education is key. The more you and your staff know about the industry and the products, the better you can serve your customers. The Ceramic Tile Distributors Association is an industry leader in delivering education to you and your employees, from the Color Shade Variation Program to Tile Training in a Box. This includes online education and the association’s new Certified Ceramic Tile Salesperson (CCTS) program. TileDealer will be keeping you up-to-date on all of these training options in 2008.

What more can we deliver? You tell us! We welcome your comments, questions and suggestions. Please email us at info@tiledealer.org.


Innovations
 
January 2nd, 2008

January-February 2008

NABUK from Ragnos
Inspired by the softness, colors, patterns and workmanship of fine leathers, NABUK lends a sense of suppleness to modern living areas. Both natural and rectified edges manipulate space with square and rectangular options in the shade-on-shade color combinations ranging from chocolate to beige and gray to white. Matching grained listelli are available in each color. Also available, are clay-look mosaic listelli and large-scale decorative inserts comprised of both the field tile and mosaic inserts. Single bullnose cut from the tile complete the package. Color body porcelain strength with a PEI 4 rating for durability as well as ADA-recognized slip resistance.
www.ragnousa.com

Mediterranea’s MetroLife
The MetroLife collection of large format thru-body porcelain tile offers a highly artistic rendering of a stained concrete floor for high-traffic commercial applications or residential spaces. Produced in the USA and readily available for timely distribution, the MetroLife collection was created using Mediterranea’s exclusive TruColor™ technology, featuring the random mixing of colored clays throughout the entire body of the tile, combined with double-loaded technology, resulting in a highly textured surface full of artistic shading and random movement. The MetroLife collection meets all ADA requirements for slip resistance in high-traffic commercial areas. Produced in five different sizes, complete with bullnose accessories and two different styles of mesh-backed mosaics mounted on 12" x 12" sheets, the MetroLife collection offers traditional square size mosaics, and a new, 1" x 2" rectangular mosaic format in a broken joint brick pattern. This highly artistic, stained concrete-look collection is produced in 24" x 24", 12" x 24", 18" x 18", 12" x 12" and 6" x 6" sizes, and in four vibrant colors: Macchiato Brown, Cinnabar Red, Melted Bronze and Graphite Charcoal.
www.mediterranea-usa.com

Prophet 21™ Small Business Edition
Activant Solutions Inc. announced the release of Activant Prophet 21™ Small Business Edition (SBE), a fully hosted enterprise software solution designed specifically for distributors with fewer than five employees. “We saw the need for a distribution-specific product for small niche distributors, companies just starting out, or those looking to upgrade from products not geared towards wholesale distribution,” said Steve McLaughlin, senior vice president and general manager of Activant®. “We took the technology platform that more than 1,200 successful distributors rely upon and scaled it to fit the needs of smaller distributors. In this way, Prophet 21 SBE provides small-scale distributors with the advantages of a leading distribution ERP solution and ERP provider at a fraction of the cost.” Prophet 21 SBE includes order processing, accounts payable, accounts receivable, commissions, contact management, general ledger, inventory, purchasing, system setup and administration. In addition, distributors have access to management summaries to proactively keep their business running smoothly, and maintain high levels of profitability. With Prophet 21 SBE, distributors can set alerts to notify them when margins drop below a point they specify or when a customer’s days outstanding reaches a critical point. Other features allow for the reconciliation of bank statements, calculation of landed costs, acceptance of foreign currency, setting tasks, and much more. Distributors can expand the functionality of Prophet 21 SBE with the optional integrated forms and fax packages which allows distributors to customize standard business forms, such as invoices and pick tickets, saving expensive printing costs. With the integrated fax package, distributors can fax invoices directly to customers to speed accounts receivable days. SBE is available as an on demand service, allowing distributors to focus on their core business as opposed to maintaining database and application servers.
distribution.activant.com

Marazzi’s ARCTIC BAY
Refreshing as a breeze carrying the scent of pine needles, rugged as snow-capped mountains, Marazzi’s ARCTIC BAY exemplifies the free-spirited outlook and independent attitude favored by modern homeowners, designers and contractors. This robust ceramic stakes its claim with native earthen colors, boldly structured surfaces and distressed edges. Three versatile sizes and veined colors certainly encourage creativity and play well with others—other finishes, other textures, other media. Glass, metallics, wood and natural stone can be used to personalize a space, whether it’s residential or commercial. Modular effects and cut-from-the-tile SBN significantly increase layout options on floors or walls. ADA-recognized COF adds a measure of assurance when slip resistance is a concern. For floors and walls in Arviat, Grise, and Rankin.
www.marazzitile.com

McVersaTILE wing rack
McColl Display Solutions has responded to industry demands with the brand new McVersaTILE wing rack. The McVersaTILE is a unique new wing display, made to fit your size sample boards. This display features a compact 20" x 32" footprint and is always in stock and ready to ship. Each McVersaTILE wing rack ships with 6 wings, with space for an additional 2 wings as your line grows. The McVersaTILE holds as many as 42 sample boards up to 24 x 24, more with smaller boards. The McVersaTILE display wings can accommodate 8, 6 or 4 boards per wing—all dependent on your board height.
www.mccolldisplay.com

Mandala
A sister brand to Oceanside Glasstile’s handcrafted artisan glass tile line, Mandala features a broad range of original designs and materials that integrate across each product line. The collection initially includes etched stone, brushed-finish stone, fused glass, porcelain and ceramic tile, with new introductions planned. Mandala is available now to architects, interior designers and consumers through high-end showrooms nationwide. Mandala is the Sanskrit word for circle. “Historically, a Mandala is a radiating geometric pattern that represents the wholeness of life,” said John Marckx, Mandala executive vice president. “As a brand of original art tile sourced from around the world, Mandala is a global collection of distinctive tile designed to encourage and fulfill creative expression.” The master color palette, exclusive to Mandala, was formulated after extensive design and color research. Initially five integrating product lines will be offered by Mandala: Labyrinth-etched Jerusalem Gold Limestone and Classic Travertine features complex interlocking patterns offered in Field tile, Decos and Liners; Wavelength fused glass, a uniformly 5⁄16" thick, captures light in its translucent depth and is offered in eight colors and thirteen blends that are available in four different architectural patterns; Etrusco natural stone features a brushed finish that is surprisingly soft to the touch. Its rich neutral colors and delicate veining give it a rich and sophisticated look; Brio rectified porcelain is offered in an earthy color palette with two rich artisan finishes—metallic Oxido and matte Piel; and Sinu glossy crackle ceramics feature custom designed relief patterns and a unique color palette in several field sizes with liners, decos, moldings, and trim.
www.mandalatile.com

Spectro Series
Eliane introduces the Spectro Series, a colorful and lively glass tile series with a textured surface, ideal for brightening the walls of any residential or commercial setting. The Spectro Series features a very natural glass effect in vibrant colors. The ecologically-friendly manufacturing process engineered relief wall tiles and mixed the eclectic colors of cherry, lavender, olive, white, navy and light gray for an exciting new color palette. Spectro series tile is offered in 13"x 23" and 6" x 23" sizes, completed with floral and geometric motifs accessory pieces. These stylish trimmings are available in various colors in special 1" x 13", 2" x 13", 3" x 13", 4" x 13" and 6" x 12" sizes. Personalized “Alkes” pieces, which are 13" x 23" tiles, with three cutouts for a more ambitious project, are also available. Each cutout can be filled with four-inch, colored “Gemini” pieces, or a “Lyra Cereja” piece with a glassy, flowered print.
www.elianeusa.com

ProSpec Feather Edge, a Quick, Easy-to-Use Floor Patch
ProSpec® has introduced Feather Edge, a trowelable, rapid-setting underlayment that is formulated for quick repair of floor gouges, cracks and ridges prior to floor covering installation. It requires only the addition of water. No priming is necessary. Feather Edge is a cement-based, mildew-resistant underlayment that can be applied from feather edge to a half-inch thickness without cracking. The result is a smooth, ultra-thin finish that accepts all major floor coverings. The product is highly polymer-modified, ensuring exceptional bond to a wide range of properly prepared surfaces including ceramic tile, concrete, plywood and cutback adhesives. Available in 10-pound, sonic-sealed packing to eliminate leakage, Feather Edge is ideal for large and small repair jobs. “Feather Edge makes repairing cracks, ridges and gouges fast and simple,” said Kevin McFadden, ProSpec VP, Construction Products. “It is easy to mix, trowels on smooth, is fast setting and has the ability to re-temper mixed material without adding additional water. It is also very convenient to use for all size repairs.” ProSpec provides architects, engineers and commercial construction contractors with the finest in professionally specified concrete construction, restoration & repair products and tile & stone installation products.
www.prospec.com

GranitiFiandre Expands Popular NewCode Collection
Italian stone and tile manufacturer GranitiFiandre is expanding its popular NewCode product line. NewCode, part of the company’s Geologica Collection, plays upon the modern trend of utilizing understated, reclaimed materials in sophisticated interior design settings. A Silk-Touch finish, inspired by the softness of silk, and a Fiber finish, inspired by the unevenness of raw fabrics have been added to the contemporary NewCode collection. Also new to the collection is an innovative Circle Décor design in which smooth rings adorn the slab’s surface in a honed finish. “These extraordinary NewCode additions offer expanded visual and sensory elements that guide this timeless collection into new design possibilities—while still maintaining its signature, minimalist appeal,” said Jeanne Nichols, vice president—sales and marketing for GranitiFiandre in the United States. NewCode’s earthy hues include Desert, Moka, Urban and Graphite, and are also available in honed and textured finish. Availability includes 24"x24", 24"x12", 24"x6", 24"x4", 18"x18", and 12"x12" formats, depending upon finish. Coordinating mosaics, bullnose, and steptread are also available. NewCode products are suitable for even the most demanding environments, making them a source of inspiration for architects and designers alike.
www.granitifiandreusa.com


Industry Insights
 
January 2nd, 2008

January-February 2008

CTDA Hall of Fame welcomes Graham & Pompo
The Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA) recognized two long-time members for their association and industry leadership by welcoming them into the CTDA Hall of Fame at the association’s 2007 Management Conference. Vince Pompo and Tom Graham were both honored for their numerous contributions.

Tom Graham, who retired in 2007 after 35 years with Florida Tile, has always been a supporter of independent distribution, and his strength has been in developing relationships with his customers and potential customers. In nominating Tom for the Hall of Fame, one of his industry peers said, “He truly cares and is concerned about the needs of the distributors. The number of people he has touched in the industry is unparalleled and he has many friends and colleagues who would agree.” Tom has been an enthusiastic CTDA supporter since the association was founded. While calling on the Florida Tile Distributors who were his customers, he encouraged them to join. In addition to his long association with CTDA, Tom served on the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) Board and Executive Committee, including as President in 2003 and 2004.

When Vince Pompo joined the ceramic tile and dinnerware manufacturer Gladding McBean & Company in 1949, he launched his lifelong career in the ceramic tile industry. After eventually purchasing the San Diego Franciscan Tile distributor location in San Diego, he became one of the largest independent tile distributors in the country with Southwestern Ceramic Tile and Marble Company. Vince started the importing company Certico in 1980 and opened retail locations called Tile Depot in the early 90’s. Along with building his business, Vince was one of the charter members of CTDA and served as one of the association’s first presidents. He was involved in starting the Ceramic Tile Promotion Fund and participated on the TCA Handbook Committee representing CTDA for many years. Vince is a long-time member and supporter of the Producers Council, CSI, AIA, and ASID and still actively working in the industry after 58 years.

Previous recipients include: Fred Blackwood, Clarence Dowdy, Jack Vogel, Mike Miles, Manuel Magallanes, Svend Hovmand, Phil Stalcup, David Yarborough, Ted Clear, Jack Knies, Frank L. Garcia, Mary Yocum, Sam Widener, S. M. Van Kirk, Gail Schovan, Bill Ives, Ralph Marra, and Henry M. Rothberg.

Heaton joins Ceramic Tile And Stone Consultants, Inc.
Ceramic Tile And Stone Consultants, Inc. (CTaSC) announced that Ruth Ellen Heaton will fill the newly created executive position of Director of the University of Ceramic Tile and Stone (UofCTS). She will be responsible for the development of all e-Learning and other training programs for the ceramic tile and stone industries. Heaton is responsible for varied aspects of knowledge development and distribution to the tile and stone industries through the University of Ceramic Tile and Stone. Heaton is a veteran e-Learning professional with over sixteen years of experience in project management and market development roles inside several industries.

ONLINE REGISTRATION FOR COVERINGS 2008
Online registration for 2008 Coverings opened on November 12, six months out from the April 29–May 2 international tile and stone exposition and conference at Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center. Nearly 80 percent of the 37,000 registrants who attended this past year took advantage of the online service, and it’s expected that equal numbers will avail themselves of the convenience of the advance processing as well. The site is www.coverings.com. “Exhibit space already is nearly sold out, and that’s a strong early indicator that attendance will reach peak levels,” said Glenn Feder, president of client events for National Trade Productions, which manages and produces Coverings. “So, for anyone planning to attend in 2008, nothing beats the ease and instantaneous results of registering from your own desktop. It’s far preferred over waiting in line and maximizes time that can be spent on the show floor.” Online registration yields other benefits, including mail and email updates on events, conference sessions and other programs of interest at the show. Links to participating Coverings hotels that are offering packages are another time saving bonus. A toll-free hotline is available by dialing 866-285-3691 or, direct dial at 703-706-8257.

Laticrete appoints Davis
LATICRETE has appointed Kirby Davis, CSI, CCTS, to the position of Senior Architectural Specialist for its South Central, USA, territory, consisting of Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, parts of Alabama and the major metro markets of Tennessee. In her new position, Davis will report to Nick Macrino, LATICRETE Architectural Group Manager, and will work to secure proprietary specifications for LATICRETE system materials in the south central United States, aggressively promoting the benefits of the LATICRETE 10-Year System Warranty to architects, design professionals and specifiers. Davis comes to LATICRETE with 10 years of closely related professional experience as a former branch manager for Dal-Tile’s wholesale distribution warehouse in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she helped grow the top five dealer accounts in her region by an average of 15 percent, and recorded the highest percent in accuracy of inventory at 99.3 percent for 2007. Prior to her appointment as branch manager at Dal-Tile, Davis was the firm’s Architectural Representative in Colorado and New Mexico, where she wrote installation and product specifications for bid packages on high-profile projects. Davis was the Architectural Manager of International Marble and Granite when the firm was purchased by Dal-Tile in 2001.

New staff at Florim
Alexandra Deehan has joined Florim as a Regional Sales Manager for the Southwest and West Coast. Deehan will represent both the AFI and Esquire brands to distribution customers throughout her assigned territory. Deehan comes to Florim from a 2½-year tenure in sales with Dal-Tile in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Deehan, who holds a degree in Interior Design, is knowledgeable regarding tile products and design trends. Her professional experience spans both commercial and residential tile applications. Deehan will continue to be based in Albuquerque. Mike Pannucci has joined Florim as East Coast Regional Sales Manager. Based in Orlando, Florida, Pannucci brings years of practical experience in the tile industry as well as a background in sales to his position. Pannucci learned the tile business from his father, a contractor specializing in remodeling. After graduating from the University of Central Florida, he took a position as a corporate trainer. Eventually he returned to the family business, becoming a tile contractor specializing in new construction. In his new role with Florim, Pannucci will blend his firsthand knowledge of the tile business and his career experience in sales to grow relationships with distribution customers throughout the East region. His familiarity with Florida’s unique tile market will be very beneficial as Florim seeks to maximize the presence of its Esquire and AFI brands.
www.florimusa.com

Hardware Donations to Habitat for Humanity
Hickory Hardware™ recently donated cabinet hardware for the kitchen and bath areas and door hardware for all interior and exterior doors for Nashville Area Habitat for Humanity homes located in Providence Park, the largest all-Habitat community built by volunteers. The Nashville-based hardware manufacturer donated hardware to all 40 homes in 2007. Last year, Hickory Hardware also provided hardware for 10 homes built in Providence Park during a one-week blitz called Whirlpool Building Blocks, during which John Westendorf, president of Hickory Hardware, his wife, Cari Lou, and John Pelka, vice president of marketing, served as volunteers. “Hickory Hardware has been extremely generous to donate the door locks and hardware for all the houses we are building in 2007,” said Nashville Area Habitat for Humanity president and CEO Chris McCarthy.
www.hickoryhardware.com.

McMurdie Leads R&D for MAPEI Americas
Dr. Neil McMurdie has joined MAPEI as Director of R&D efforts for the Americas. A graduate of Yale University, with a Ph.D. in Physical Organic Chemistry, McMurdie will guide his group in thinking outside the usual roles of MAPEI products. “Our team will be developing innovative technologies that will help us find synergies between environmental requirements and efficient, effective products for our industry,” McMurdie said. After leaving Yale, McMurdie worked at PPG Industries for 14 years before coming to MAPEI. His work in the coatings division involved research on anti-corrosion and substrate protection as well as the development of organic and inorganic solutions to problems encountered in the marketplace. At MAPEI, he is especially interested in working with the new lightweight materials and further developing resin-based products such as Opticolor™ stain-free grout. “I am very excited at the opportunity to be part of such a dynamic organization as MAPEI,” McMurdie commented.
www.mapei.com

Barker Joins Bostik
Steven L. “Woody” Barker has joined the Bostik Flooring Group as territory manager of Ceramic Products–Central California. A seasoned building-industry veteran, Barker has held various customer service, sales and management positions with global leaders. Barker holds a bachelor of science degree in business administration. “Woody brings with him strong contractor and distributor relationships, vast experience and a broad perspective of the building industry,” says Rick Tredwell, Bostik Flooring Group’s Western Region Sales Manager. Barker says Bostik’s proven people and products were the big draw for him.“There’s a great deal of longevity—long-term employees and customers—at Bostik,” Barker adds. “This continuity, in turn, helps both in the development and support of Bostik’s world-class floor covering solutions. Being part of such a talented team with a winning tradition was an opportunity I simply could not pass up.”

Interstate Expands In St. Louis And Kansas City
The Interstate Family of Companies (through its Case Supply and AMC Tile Supply companies) has opened two new showrooms: The Gallery in Lenexa (Kansas City), Kansas and The Gallery Marble & Granite Annex in Overland (St. Louis), Missouri. These two showrooms join The Gallery in Olivette (St. Louis), Missouri which opened in the fall of 2005. The Gallery features custom-designed concept panels which showcase the artistic beauty of the products and generate ideas for our customers’ dream projects. The Gallery in Lenexa features a 10,500 SF showroom with 200+ concept panels showing tile, stone, hardwood, glass, metal, and laminate flooring; marble, granite and other natural stone used for countertops and vanities; high pressure laminate and solid surface countertops; and decorative hardware. Its attached Annex has 45,000 SF where natural stone slabs are displayed. The Gallery Marble & Granite Annex in St. Louis is exclusively dedicated to natural stone and features 115 different colors of granite and 25 colors of marble, travertine, onyx, limestone and slate. Slabs are imported from 20 different countries, and quality is ensured by the on-site selection of two Interstate employees who live overseas. This showroom is the perfect complement to The Gallery in St. Louis, which features 150+ concept panels showing ideas for tile, stone, glass, and metal flooring as well as smaller samples of natural stone slabs.

TILE & STONE INSTALLATIONS SOUGHT FOR
SPECTRUM & PRISM AWARDS

Extraordinary and innovative use of tile and stone in architecture and design will be recognized at Coverings 2008 with the annual presentation of the prestigious Spectrum and Prism Awards. Prize money for the dual honors—Spectrum for tile, Prism for stone—totals $30,500, and will be presented to winners at a special awards ceremony inaugurating the international tile and stone expo and conference, April 29-May 2, at Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. More than 15,000 entry forms have been mailed, plus downloadable versions are available at http://www.coverings.com/spectrum-prism-awards.html.

The deadline for receipt is Friday, February 1. Historically, the top criteria for the awards include a mastery of the materials, overall creativity and imagination, plus installation competency. The Spectrum Awards will be presented for usage of porcelain and/or ceramic tiles, and separately honor projects featuring glass and/or mosaics. A $3,000 first prize each will go to winners of both residential and commercial projects in those two separate categories. Additionally, $1,500 Awards of Merit have been earmarked for the two different tile classifications. Judges will have the option to acknowledge one other submission with a $1,000 Special Recognition Award—it might be a community project, uniquely “green,” a standout for its detail and design, or just overall architecturally worthy. The Prism Awards also reflect a slight restructuring: $3,000 First Prizes and $1,500 Awards of Merit for use of stone in Residential, Institutional and Commercial projects will be presented. A $1,000 Special Recognition Award also will be offered. Projects must have been completed between January 2004 and December 2007. Each submission must be accompanied by an electronic file; a pocket folder with an official entry form; a typed project description and identification information; and, high-resolution photography. The entry fee is $100 for a single project, but multiple entries are accepted and encouraged, with a reduced $60 fee for each additional entry. Past winners have leveraged the awards for their business value. “We recommend others to enter because it brings great exposure for your work and winning is extremely exciting and rewarding,” said Kristin Powers, president and owner of Trikeenan Tileworks, which walked away this year with the Spectrum Award of Merit for Residential. “Not only is a Spectrum Award well respected within the tile industry,” she said, “but it’s also well regarded within the broader architectural and designer community, as well.” For its work on The Getty Villa, Carnevale & Lohr received the 2007 Grand Prize Prism Award and the firm’s principal, Michael Carnevale, said, “It was a tremendous honor. This project was challenging because of the many elements involved, so it is wonderful to have our work recognized. Winning only added to the excitement of Coverings—the premier show and the only one of its kind.” The 2008 Spectrum and Prism Awards are sponsored by Coverings and coordinated by the five sponsoring organizations of the show including ASCER (Spain’s Ceramic Tile Manufacturers Association), Confindusrtria Ceramica (Italian Association of Ceramics), CTDA (Ceramic Tile Distributors Association), NTCA (National Tile Contractors Association) and TCNA (Tile Council of North America).

Charlie Bryan named Tile Person of the Year
The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) presented Charlie Bryan from Campbell Tile Company in Greenville, South Carolina, with the Tile Person of the Year award at NTCA’s annual Total Solutions Conference last October in St. Pete Beach, Florida. A native of South Carolina, Bryan graduated from Clemson University in 1958 with a degree in industrial management and served three years in the U.S. Army Aviation Unit before entering into the tile industry. In 1961, Bryan accepted the position of project manager and estimator with Campbell Tile, installers of ceramic tile, terrazzo, flagstone, and natural stone. In the 1980s, Bryan purchased the company—originally established in 1912 by G.P. Campbell—and has continued to run Campbell Tile to this day. Five years ago, Bryan invested in stone fabrication, which has grown to represent about 25 percent of the company’s operation. He has been active in the NTCA for many years, and has served on the association’s board of directors and Technical Committee. Bryan has also served on the TCA Handbook and ANSI A108 Committee, on behalf of the NTCA. “To be considered by your peers for such an award is the ultimate professional recognition anyone can expect,” said Bryan. “Remembering many of the recipients over the past 20 to 25 years is a very humbling experience and I deeply appreciate the honor.”
www.tile-assn.com.


One – on – One…with Rainer Blair
 
January 2nd, 2008

“Environmental responsibility is the right thing to do.”

By Jeffrey Steele

January-February 2008

After serving for 16 years in increasingly senior positions with BASF operations from New Jersey and Michigan to Germany and Argentina, Rainer Blair joined Deerfield Beach, Florida-based MAPEI Americas 18 months ago. As president and CEO of the global manufacturer’s operations in the Western Hemisphere, Blair is striving to further strengthen customer relationships, provide the most innovative products in the industry, and help increase the profitability of the company’s valued tile distribution customers.

The trilingual leader—he speaks German and Spanish as well as English—recently gave TileDealer an exclusive interview. In the following One-on-One, Blair addresses topics extending from his own background to MAPEI Americas’ mission, its products and the company’s passionate commitment to green building.

TileDealer: Tell us a little bit about your background in the tile industry, and how you reached the CEO position at MAPEI Americas.

Blair: I have responsibility for the North American, South American and Caribbean subsidiaries of the MAPEI Group. I joined MAPEI in 2006 and have been working with an incredible team of dedicated people to lead our industry in customer service and innovation. At MAPEI our focus is on four basic offerings that only we can bring to our industry:

The first is global expertise. We can draw from research and development taking place around the world to bring our customers the best solutions to meet their needs locally.

The second is innovation. We devote five percent of our annual revenues to technological development so we can bring our customers continuously improved products.

The third is green commitment. We are committed individually, and as a group, to making sure our products and our facilities exceed expectations so our customers can meet current and future greenbuilding requirements.

The fourth is total solutions. We offer our customers increased business opportunities by providing complete warranted systems from surface preparation to finished floors.

TileDealer: Please talk about MAPEI Americas’ products. What are the best selling products and why?

Blair: MAPEI is a global player working to provide the best global solutions for our customers locally. We have extraordinary local resources and access to a worldwide network that help us define the leading edge of innovation.

Contractors can increase their business opportunities by using our complete systems, starting with surface preparation, where our innovative technology leads the way. As the easiest-to-use underlayment on the market, self-leveling Ultraplan Easy offers quick-turnaround leveling without the need for mechanical surface profiling. Now contractors can make their prep work easier, shorten turnaround times and lower construction costs on the job site. This highly durable underlayment allows light foot traffic after only two to three hours, so tile installers can get on the job without delay.

Crack isolation and sound reduction play increasingly important roles in tile and stone installations, so this year MAPEI has introduced two peel-and-stick membranes to address those issues. Mapeguard™ SM is a 40-mil thick crack isolation membrane with sound-reduction properties that truly delivers 3/8-inch crack isolation between the substrate and the tile. It is an excellent product for both commercial and residential applications, and it complements all of MAPEI’s setting and grouting products. We also added Mapesonic™ SM, a 90-mil thick crack-isolation membrane designed especially for sound reduction, to our product offerings to meet contractors’ needs in the high-rise building construction segment, where there is an expanding need for sound control. Mapesonic dramatically reduces airborne and impact sounds transmitted through floor/ceiling assemblies.

When it comes to waterproofing, contractors are increasingly depending on Mapelastic HPG, MAPEI’s ready-to-use, roller-applied liquid membrane for bathroom showers. Its ability to elongate over 150 percent makes it an excellent protection against movement in the substrate. Mapelastic HPG also contains BioBlock technology to inhibit the growth of odor- and stain-causing mold, mildew and bacteria.

You probably know that we make flexible one-component mortars with spray-dried polymers and superior two-component mortars with liquid polymer additives, but you may not be aware that we actually make our own polymers at our West Chicago plant so that we can tailor our mortars to precisely fit installers’ requirements. This proprietary technology results in best-in-class mortars such as our Kerabond/Keralastic™ System, which guarantees a successful job because of its enhanced bonding characteristics and flexibility over substrates that expand and contract, as well as its ability to be used indoors, outdoors and in submerged locations.

The residential flooring market, like the rest of the residential construction industry right now, needs a boost to get people thinking about remodeling with tile and stone. In 2007 MAPEI expanded its grout color palette to 36 exciting shades, including 14 new designer colors recommended by the Pantone Institute. Dealers and distributors with show rooms will find it easier to assist customers in selecting their grout colors with the MAPEI Grout Color Helper, a hand-held device that automatically selects two contrasting and two complementary grout colors to go with each tile choice.

To respond to diverse customer needs, MAPEI has expanded its resin-based grout offerings this year in two different directions.

We have added Kerapoxy® IEG, an industrial-strength grout to meet the installation requirements of projects such as commercial kitchens, meat processing plants and dairies for powerful, stain-free acid resistance. Kerapoxy IEG develops benchmark commercial chemical resistance in, while providing high-strength mold and mildew resistance.

On the opposite end of the scale, we have introduced Opticolor™ stain-free grout for the residential and light commercial market. Opticolor is the first resin-based grout that is truly easy for contractors to install and clean up. It also offers a big step forward for the homeowner or building operations manager in terms of non-sag vertical application.

Flush horizontal grout joints reduce trip hazards and promote easy cleaning and maintenance. In addition, stain-free Opticolor is formulated with optimum color to keep grout vibrant for the long term; and it comes in all 36 MAPEI colors.

TileDealer: MAPEI Americas has a huge commitment to green building. Tell us why you are one of the driving forces behind the company’s commitment.­

Blair: Environmental responsibility is the right thing to do for the future of our planet and our children. I have a strong personal commitment to the protection of our environment, and I bring that focus to all aspects of our business—from the products we manufacture, to the plants we build and the processes we use in those plants.

TileDealer: Why did you purposely make all your products LEED compliant, when few others in the industry have been as aggressive about this?

Blair: One of MAPEI’s 7 Pillars, upon which we base our strength and our continued growth in the industry, is the commitment to lead in environmental health and safety issues. The widest possible definition of greenbuilding promotes a “less in-less out” philosophy. We work continuously to use less energy in the production of our products and to produce products with less waste and less wastewater.

Our development strategy ensures that we make only VOC*—and HAPS*—compliant products that have a very long life cycle, leading to a greener environment. (* VOC—Volatile Organic Compounds; HAPS—Hazardous Air Polluting Substances)

TileDealer: How hard was this to accomplish?

Blair: We spare no effort or expense to develop environmentally sustainable products which are LEED-compliant. MAPEI has also taken steps to help improve indoor air quality through the introduction of BioBlock™, a technology that helps inhibit the growth of odor- and stain-causing mold, mildew and bacteria in select MAPEI products. Ultralite Mortar™ is a technological innovation from MAPEI that was developed with lightweight technology and uses recycled materials that make it contractor-friendly and easy to use. These developments and innovations are part of MAPEI’s core competencies.

The recent introduction of Dust-Free Technology in Ultraflex 2 mortar has required a considerable investment in equipment, testing and research and development, but we feel that Dust-Free Technology is a significant contribution to a cleaner environment and a cleaner jobsite, offering benefits to installers and to project owners.

We made this investment to insure a rapid penetration of this technology into the market, but we have not passed this cost along to our customers because we feel strongly about the environmental benefits of Dust-Free Technology.

TileDealer: How important is this LEED compliance in other parts of the world that have come earlier to the green building movement?

Blair: LEED compliance is most closely associated with the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) and has been modified for use by the Canadian Green Building Council (CGBC). Globally, particularly in Europe, and now slowly also in Asia, national regulatory agencies are implementing environmentally oriented building codes. Being a global player, we are leveraging our strengths here in the Americas to provide exceptional environmental products to our customers.

On a global basis the importance of environmental commitment and green building is reflected in the ISO 14001 certification for environmental management of production processes, by which organizations work to minimize how their operations negatively affect the environment. It is the philosophy of the MAPEI Group worldwide to achieve the various national certifications that will ensure environmental health and safety.

TileDealer: How has your leadership in this area impacted competition?

Blair: It is not our intention to create competition in the arena of environmental commitment, but we have raised the bar for all members of our industry.

We hope to share best practices with all segments of our market in order to improve the world we live in today, and the one we will leave to our children tomorrow.

From an architectural specifications point of view and from the point of view of government and civic construction, we see the benefits of providing a full portfolio of LEED-compliant products and systems to meet our customers’ and society’s needs.

And we anticipate continued growth from increasing acceptance of greenbuilding principles in this market segment.

TileDealer: What’s ahead for MAPEI Americas?

Blair: MAPEI is continually leading the technological charge to address changes in the tile and stone marketplace. On an annual basis, MAPEI reinvests five percent of its revenues in Research and Development, and 12 percent of its employees work in R&D.

We continue expanding our manufacturing facilities—from 14 today to several more in the next months—to ensure that we serve our customers most efficiently while minimizing the energy costs of transporting our products. We are addressing the current and future needs of our residential and commercial customers to ensure that we define the technological leadership in our industry. Our extraordinary investments in new plants and training facilities around the Americas will benefit our customers and help increase their business.

The largest investment initiative in MAPEI Americas’ history is underway. MAPEI is on the move, because MAPEI is “Technology You Can Build On.”

Source:

Rainer Blair

President and CEO

MAPEI Americas

Reach through Diane Choate: 954-246-8799


Tile Tour 2008
 
January 2nd, 2008

Tile of Spain Offers the Unexpected Imagination and technology team to offer new options for tile installations.

January-February 2008

Tile of Spain branded manufacturers have tapped imagination and technology to deliver designs that work well beyond the kitchen and bath.

Many Tile of Spain manufacturers have revolutionized the idea of using tile in rather unexpected situations. They are specifying ceramic tile in rooms where we normally don’t expect to see tile at all. Ceramic tile isn’t just for the kitchen and bath anymore; in recent years we are seeing it used more often in dining rooms, living areas, bedrooms, and hallways—and not only in residential spaces, but in commercial spaces as well.

For hospitality situations, where a digital printed, wood-looking wainscoting tile can be used in hotel hallways to accentuate a more boutique or intimate feeling, ceramic tile is not only aesthetically the best option, but durable and easy to maintain.

Inalco, one of the manufacturers under the Tile of Spain umbrella, demonstrates this trend in a collection called Suite using large format tile in 18″x 35.5″, which comes in white, beige or grey. It is a creative, innovative and a chic representation of an unusual way to use ceramic tile. Ceracasa, another Tile of Spain branded manufacturer, uses digital technology as well to create printed tiles that look like a white leather tufted chesterfield fabric. These tiles are perfect for a fabric-looking headboard, or a unique way to create a powder room floor.

Whatever can be imagined from a fresh, cutting-edge design standpoint, can be realized. It is a fun and dramatic way to incorporate ceramic tile, or make it the focal point, while still being practical and functional. Most of Ceracasa’s digital tiles can be specified in large or medium formats.

The Spanish Ceramic Tile Manu-facturer’s Association (ASCER) is the private organization whose primary objective is to support Spain’s ceramic tile manufacturers and the industry as a whole by stewarding and promoting the Tile of Spain brand worldwide. A strong global leader in the industry, the Tile of Spain brand comprises 220 manufacturers concentrated primarily in the province of Castellon.

For more about tile produced in Spain, contact Tile of Spain Center at the Trade Commission of Spain, 2655 Le Jeune Road, Suite 1114, Coral Gables, FL 33134. Call 305-446-4387 or visit www.spaintiles.info.


Showroom Design & Display: Making the right first impression
 
January 2nd, 2008

by Zoe Voigt

January-February 2008

No matter how lovely your products, or how professional your staff, if your client’s first impression is of a cluttered, dark space, you can bet they won’t feel like sticking around long enough to place an order. Successful tile retailers know that the showroom is the best opportunity to make an impression on potential clients.

More than ever, retailers need to keep it fresh and appeal to customers by showing bold and unique installations of tile in a beautiful setting—making a visit to the showroom an appealing sensory event.

Tile as a fashion industry

“Retailers are taking their cues from other industries such as high-end shoe and handbag boutiques,” says Patti Fasan of Professional Attention to Tile Installations. Fasan is a Certified Ceramic Tile Consultant from the Ceramic Tile Institute of America, and a consultant who predicts trends and regularly speaks on issues relevant to the tile industry.

“Retailers need to be creative and display tile in lifestyle settings with vignettes, installed floor pads, life-style images, mini-concept boards, image photo galleries or libraries from magazines,” says Fasan. “Retailers need to build boutique-like ambience into their showrooms to ensure they look more like a high end fashion house than a building construction warehouse.”

Less is more

It isn’t necessary to be all things to all people, or to show every kind of tile imaginable. “One trend in high-end showrooms is a less-is-more attitude regarding displays,” says Fasan. “Showrooms are more open, less cluttered, and individual tiles are showcased in jewel-box like settings. Lighting is crucial and dramatic when using this type of display.”

Alan Court, owner of Alan Court and Associates in East Hampton, Long Island, describes his take on what a showroom should aspire to. “A high-end tile showroom is typified by a vision. It will have only wonderful products that are well edited.”

“My philosophy is that a showroom should be fashionable and au courant rather than trendy,” says Court. “Good fashions are classics and still of the moment. Unlike that tumbled stone that says ‘March of 1996,’ people ask for it, (and I will get it for them if they really want it,) but its moment has come and gone. Tile should be more classic than that because it isn’t as easy to change your bath as the clothes in your closet.”

“When design professionals walk in and give compliments, then you have succeeded. There should be lots to look at without the feeling of already having seen it all,” says Court.

Involving the senses

It isn’t enough to simply put out pretty tiles, or tiles that one thinks will sell well. The purpose of the showroom is to engage the client on another level, creating an experience. According to Fasan, “Displays should be eye catching and even risky. Even though clients may purchase a neutral tile, they want to see and experience what is different.”

She suggests letting the client, “Connect with the emotional allure of ceramic tile.” For example, a showroom can incorporate, “The sights, sounds, smell, and language of the Mediterranean,” says Fasan. “Purchasing home décor items is usually based on emotion and then justified by logic.”

The idea is to sell more than just tile. The showroom should be selling a concept and a positive experience. The staff ‘s expertise in tile will make the client comfortable. Together, this builds confidence in your shop as a brand to be trusted. This will not only create sales today, but ultimately result in return sales as well.

There are many ways to achieve this and connect with the buyers’ senses. “Retailers need to add character, color and texture to their displays. Unique layout patterns featuring herringbone, European grid, multi-format modular patterns and stress their design capabilities,” says Fasan. “Single tiles on sample boards can be used to coordinate final finishes but are not engaging enough for initial selection of tile.”

Installations

As opposed to individual boards, having tiles installed gives the customer ideas about how the tile can be used. Barbara Warren, owner of The Tile Gallery, a specialty showroom in Chicago, prefers installed vignettes to tile boards and displays. Her showroom is expanding from 3,500 sq feet to 7,000 to accommodate more of these mini-rooms.

“Large format tiles can be challenging to sell, especially as wall cladding. The customer can’t imagine what they will look like and because they are large, they are hard to show. Installations take up more space, but of course, they are essential,” says Warren. “This is also true of tiles with large repeating patterns; the customer often cannot conceive what that will look like. They just don’t sell unless they are installed.”

“Generally, all tile sells better if you can get the installations up,” says Warren. “Of course, that is challenging to do. It can be messy and expensive. We just recently relocated and that gave us the opportunity to create all new vignettes and designs. Design clients especially like to see the new products. Also, it is good for our sales staff to see the tiles installed.”

According to Court, “Floors are valuable real estate, either they sell or they don’t sell. A floor could be passé and need to be pulled up. I have to make room for the really great stuff.”

Keeping up-to-date

Whether the showroom has installed floors, hanging concept boards, vignettes, racks, or all of the above, updating dispays is a tricky business because of the cost and time involved.

“We switch lines out when they are discontinued, and if the floor next to it is not selling that well, then that gives us the opportunity to change that one as well,” says Warren. “The wall vignettes get changed every year or two but the floors are harder and aren’t changed as often. We have eight floors, so if we change two every year, each floor has a potential life span of four years. Of course ideally, we would change them out even more than that.”

Staying organized can be difficult. “The vendors supply all these handheld boards. One of the biggest challenges to me is what to do with them. If you have too many, they just junk up the showroom,” says Warren.

“Concept boards can be tricky, finding room for them when we don’t have a gigantic space,” says Court. “The more you show, the more you sell, so you want to maximize your space. However the trick is to do that and not have it looked cluttered.”

Boards and other displays have their place, since there are only so many vignettes that will fit in a showroom. “You can sell it if you show it,” says Court. “I can sell from a catalogue, but it is a lot harder.”

Fasan recommends that retailers display tile in settings other than just kitchens and baths. “In order to expand ceramic tile’s market in the retail sector, they need to show ceramic tile headboards, ceramic tile wainscoting, fireplaces, feature walls, exterior fountains, exterior façade treatments, etc. “

Know your buyers

“Retailers need to identify their market, understand the demographic, and purchase programs that directly align with their target markets price, size of tile, color preferences, textural preferences, and interior style,” says Fasan. “Spending more time knowing your niche or local market and less time being everything to everyone is gratifying and profitable.”

Alan Court’s showroom is geared toward designers. He says, “There should be new things every time a client comes in. It is important that the showroom be oriented so that designers can come in and create something unique for their clients. I don’t believe in setting it up like Geranimals, where everything is ready to mix-and-match. I try to give them new things with new twists—the tools to create something special.”

“High-end does not preclude inexpensive tile. In my showroom, we have all price ranges,” says Court. “Even a client with a gigantic budget won’t have the same budget on every single bathroom. A client with means won’t buy the same tile for a maid’s bathroom as for the master bath. A person on a conservative budget may just want an incredible detail, so she’ll buy a few pricey pieces and a simple field. It is important that we have things that are appropriate for all price ranges.”

Court says, “We try to differentiate from other showrooms, so that it is not banal and boring. It is really essential to keep up with the newest and best products. I have a network of friends all over the country and we share information about great distributors and manufacturers.”

Displays

One way to show a lot of tile without using up a lot of valuable real estate on the showroom floor is to use displays in floor or wall racks. There are a plethora of options for showrooms of all kinds. The choices include wing-racks, shelving, sliding display units, tabletop units, freestanding towers, and wall-mounted sample board holders, among others. Depending on weight issues, these displays can be constructed in many different materials such as steel, wood, and plastic.

Nick Willard, president of NS Converters, which manufactures merchandising aids like display panels and sample boards says, “The retail flooring industry is unique in its needs and challenges for displaying the product. You can’t just have individual items on shelves down aisles, like you would in a store for just about any other product. You can’t have all those loose tiles. Samples can be mounted on boards, or put into architectural folders, binders or on swatch cards in boxes or open trays. You need good display and identification of the product.”

“The onus is on the distributors to find the right combination of aids to please the retailers. We mainly sell to distributors who then in turn sell to retailers. Of course, the individual retailers may have their own lines and racks, so they have more control over how their showrooms look.”

Custom options

Fasan explains a new trend in tile display, “It is much more common to find integrated custom display units in showrooms where floor and wall tile are installed on concealed panels that can be individually opened and presented by showroom personnel.”

“Manufacturers offer a wide array of showroom display units and will often work with individual distributors and retailers to custom design a showroom. Specialty furniture companies in Europe have display packages that can unify the entire showroom regardless of the number of different tile manufacturers a retailer may deal with,” says Fasan.

McColl Display Solutions specializes in designing and manufacturing custom showroom displays and sample boards. President Fred McColl says, “Italian and Spanish manufacturers are becoming big players in the US market. Their displays are more wood and traditional looking. They are always custom designed. As a trend, I would say they are having an influence on the US showrooms.”

As for other new products, McColl adds, “Our company sells custom and stock displays and we are getting orders for displays that will hold the larger format tiles. We have stock displays for tiles up to 24″ x 24″ inches, but we can also design custom displays for even larger tiles. We have recently developed a stock wing rack that would hold any sized boards and we’ve gotten a great response to that.”

Ultimately, the showroom manger and owner will have to decide how best to meet the needs of their clientele by setting up the showroom floor to maximize sales. This process is a never-ending one, with new products coming in and old ones going out.

These days it isn’t just about having great tile. It is crucial to stay abreast of the latest looks and most appealing showroom designs to appeal to customers and stay ahead of the competition.


Showroom Seminar
 
January 2nd, 2008

Undertile Heating: A Roundup of Room-Warming Products

by Kathleen Furore

January-February 2008

Why should you offer underfloor heating products at your tile dealership?

The answer lies in a report from The Radiant Panel Association, which shows homeowners and builders are beginning to favor radiant heat over conventional heating systems.

“The radiant heating industry is holding its own, even as the housing market stumbles,” information from the RPA says. “Homeowners who might otherwise purchase a new home scale back and invest dollars in their existing home…and with the movement towards ‘green’ products, the radiant industry is in a good position to offer a product that not only reduces energy use, but increases comfort and improves indoor health at the same time.”

Consequently, dealers who sell these heating systems and accessories can capture a significant part of this important market segment.

To discover the newest and most popular items on the market today, TileDealer contacted companies that specialize in underfloor radiant heat technology. The following list provides a brief roundup of the mats, cables, controls and accessories you can consider when building your undertile inventory.

Flextherm Products:

  • A wide range of cables and controls including the new Green Cable Surface 2W and 3W that produces no electromagnetic field. This EMF-free, energy-saving option provides customers comfort, quality and value. It is extremely thin, installs easily, and is designed for wet environments. Compatible with most types of sub floors, including concrete and plywood, and with floor coverings, including ceramic and natural stone. 25-year warranty.

Contact: 1-800-FLEXTHERM; www.flextherm.com

Maxxon Corporation Products:

  • Therma-Floor Underlayment for radiant floor heat. Poured just 11⁄4″ to 11⁄2″ thick over any brand of hydronic tube or electric heating cable, Therma-Floor enhances heating system responsiveness while gradually conducting heat. Its smooth, strong surface allows easy installation of any floor covering.
  • New ‘Green’ Formulation for Therma-Floor Underlayment. This GREENGUARD-certified product is low-emitting, contains recycled materials, has extremely low VOC emissions, and contributes towards earning points for LEED accredited projects.

Contact: Phone: 1-800-356-7887 or (763) 478-9600; www.maxxon.com

Nuheat Products:

  • Radiant Electric Floor Heating Systems. The products use in-floor heating mats to evenly distribute heat in rooms of any shape and size. Standard-size square and rectangular mats and custom-shaped mats are available in 110 volt and 220 volt formats.
  • New Nuheat Cable System. This most recent addition to Nuheat’s line offers the ultimate in installation flexibility: can be used under tile, stone, marble, and laminate/engineered wood floors, and in showers and saunas beneath wet tile surfaces such as shower bench or bathtub platforms. Contractors can make on-site adjustments for any room—even those with curves and angles. Available in 120 volt and 240 volt; low profile design (3⁄16-inch thick) makes it ideal for remodels and new construction. Sixty standard-sized mats for all basic room sizes. Easy installation with a single-point lead; energy-efficient (12 watts per sq. ft.); zero EMF (electromagnetic field). 25-year warranty.

Contact: 800-778-9279 or 604-529-4404; www.nuheat.com

SunTouch®, a division of Watts Radiant Products:

  • SunTouch® Mats. Safe and easy to install, with an “S-pattern” wire interwoven in a thin, open-weave construction. Thin-set or self-leveling mortar flows through the mat, allowing for a one-step application. Special, dual-twisted heating wire is also fully grounded from end to end so it produces ultra low EMF (electromagnetic field). LoudMouth monitor sounds an alarm if the heating elements are cut or damaged during installation. Standard Radiant Floor Heat Mats and SunTouch® UnderFloor™ Electric Heating Mats (which warm existing floors without having to replace floor coverings—simply staple UnderFloor heating mats between the joists) are available. WarmWire cable system also available.
  • New Mat Kit. Includes a SunTouch mat, programmable control, double-sided tape, a LoudMouth monitor, an installation manual and installation DVD.
  • New Programmable and Non-Programmable Digital Controls. Dual-voltage (120 VAC and 240 VAC) controls feature hold and setback buttons for temporary override and a built-in GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter). The Programmable SunStat (SunStat Pro) also includes a 5/1/1 day programming, four pre-set program schedules, one user program schedule for customized programming, and a usage monitor that shows the hours of system operation. SunStat relay for use with either the programmable or non-programmable control also available; use to zone several rooms at the same temperature.

Contact: 888-432-8932; www.suntouch.com.

STEP Warmfloor Products:

  • PTC Heating Elements. This line of patented, low-voltage products include STEP RESIDENTIAL™. Ideal for renovations and new construction, it can be installed under almost any flooring (including tile, stone, wood, laminate, resilient and carpet) or under the subfloor between joists when the existing flooring is to be maintained. STEP Residential™ is self-regulating: as the material gets warmer, less electricity passes through the plastic making it extremely energy-efficient. It is strong, thin and flexible, easy to install, and can be cut to size on the job site.
  • STEP Snowmelt™. This lightweight, flexible panel melts snow and ice on entrances, walkways, driveways, ramps, patios. It is embedded between two layers of tarpaulin to protect it against alkaline, salts and other physical damages. It is self-regulating and cannot overheat, so uses less electricity. Easy to install; can be cut to size on the job site.

Contact: 877-783-7832; www.warmfloor.com

ThermoSoft International Products:

  • ThermoTile Electric Radiant Floor Heat Mats. Primarily for use under tile, they can be installed under most types of flooring on any sub-floor and reduce energy costs up to 40%. ThermoTile floor heating system is thin (about 1⁄8-inch thick); can be formed to fit any floor space. Designed with Zero EMF (electromagnetic field) cable construction. ThermoTile comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
  • ThermoFloor Electric Radiant Floor Heating Pads. Primarily for use under laminate, engineered wood, glued hardwood and other floating floors, these ultra-thin heating elements are mounted on special sound-reducing and temperature-insulating padding. Easy to install: Simply roll out the heating pads over the sub-floor. No cement mortar required. Heating elements are pre-spaced and factory-mounted on the underlayment pad. No hot water pipes to worry about or thick electrical cables to bury in cement or raise your floor. ThermoFloor has FiberThermics heating wires that eliminate overheating and is warranted for 10 years.
  • Accessories include a notched plastic trowel, Instalarm installation monitor and energy-saving thermostats. Both products are made in the USA.

Contact: 800-308-8057 or 847-279-3800;

www.thermosoft.com

Warmup, Inc. Products:

  • New ultra-thin 240 Volt Electric Loose Heating Wire. Heats up to 239 sq. ft. of tile or stone flooring, all on one Energy Star-rated thermostat with no need for relay configurations. This loose wire is suitable for unusual or complex floor layouts and joins Warmup’s flexible range of 240 Volt mats for large, regularly-shaped rooms.
  • The company also offers the popular 120 volt mat and loose wire range. For laminate and engineered wood flooring, Warmup has a 120 volt and 240 volt Carbon Heating System which distributes heat safely and evenly so there are no cold spots or warping. A 30-year warranty with homeowner transfer option applies to all heaters. To complement their heaters, insulated backer board is offered to reduce downward heat loss and improve energy efficiency.

Contact: 888-927-6333; www.warmup.com.


Installer Update
 
January 2nd, 2008

Higher PSI’s Make Stongest Case Yet For Poured Gypsum

January-February 2008

By Tim McDonald

The newest overnight sensation in the flooring underlayment industry has been used in some form of construction for about 6,000 years. So this relatively abundant mineral is really no newcomer at all. But it has recently piqued the interest of commercial and institutional builders, residential builders, remodelers and tile installers as never before.

We’re talking about gypsum or, more precisely, its present version as poured gypsum underlayment, an increasingly popular flooring choice because of its easy, cost-efficient installation, self-leveling properties, convenient light weight and outstanding performance record. Gypsum underlayments also provide an ideal thermal mass for radiant heat applications where they create uniform heat distribution across the entire floor.

The superior acoustical properties of a poured gypsum floor have always been well-known. Its considerable mass and its ability to resist shrinkage can deliver Sound Transmission Class (STC) ratings in the 60s, in wood frame construction and with a properly installed sound mat product, Impact Insulation Class (IIC) figures of 55 or more, well above the minimum requirements.

Featuring UL-certified fire ratings of up to two hours, poured gypsum has also earned high marks for its resistance to flames. In situations of exposure to fire, the product emits steam, because of the water molecules attached to the gypsum particles in the cured mix. This is the mechanism that deters the transmission of heat and the spread of the flames when it is exposed to fire.

Bulking Up in All the Right Places

The need for faster construction at lower costs and the rapid expansion of the multi-unit residential market have created the escalating demand for poured gypsum, especially now that new advancements are making it more feasible due to its added compressive strength. Minimum gypsum concrete underlayment standards have increased dramatically in the past year or so from about 1,000 psi to 2,500 psi or, in some cases, 3,000 psi or higher. Many leading brands, including Maxxon and others, even offer compressive strengths of 6,000 psi or more.

The new, higher strength gypsum underlayments overcome formerly perceived weaknesses such as powdering, dusting or chipping, while still providing good resistance to shrinkage cracking as in the past. At roughly one-fifth the cost of cementitious underlayment, poured gypsum appears to be here to stay…at least for the foreseeable future.

Tile advocacy organizations such as the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) are taking a closer look at the product, also known by the scientific name of hydrated calcium sulfate. They are weighing certain criteria such as thickness requirements, load-bearing capacity, types of thin-sets or adhesives being used, required curing time and any other incidentals or peculiarities of their specific project such as the on-site design mix and application methods.

New Guidelines Add Stability

Results have been very promising, and now the new TCNA guidelines F-180-05 and F-200-05 recommends that crack isolation membranes be placed over poured gypsum underlayments prior to the installation of tile or stone, increasing the surface stability even more. This is helping to make the product even more attractive within the tile industry.

The application of a crack isolation or waterproofing membrane over poured gypsum in preparation for setting tile ensures a protective barrier between the cement mortar and the gypsum. Without this protection, the mortar and gypsum together can create a negative chemical reaction leading to the formation of ettringite, a crystalline structure that can weaken the bond between the mortar and the underlayment. Equally important, a crack isolation or waterproofing membrane protects against water, which could soften the gypsum underlayment. In fact, this inclusion of a membrane is an essential step for a successful installation and an integral requirement set by the TCNA for setting tile or stone over gypsum floors.

Less Time and Effort

Poured gypsum technology made headway in the 1950’s and ‘60’s, thanks to its development by companies such as U.S. Gypsum and Georgia Pacific. Through the years, it has gained an increasing number of followers, especially among those involved in fast track construction and renovations. Facing increasingly tighter completion schedules, today’s contractors appreciate the speed and simplicity of poured gypsum. Its ease of application, with no special preparation other than standard cleaning and priming, requires less skilled labor. And because it dries so quickly…usually within two to three hours…workers can get back on the job the very next day. Poured gypsum demonstrates better self-leveling properties than concrete, once again reducing labor and minimizing application time.

Because it is a simple one-step process, installing a crack isolation membrane such as Fracture-Guard 5000 with poured gypsum is fast and relatively simple. The membrane is installed in a semi-fluid state and can be applied to any form or irregular shape. In most cases, a primer is applied to the subfloor, then the gypsum is poured. As part of its routine installation process, Maxxon requires a primer/overspray before applying the Fracture-Guard 5000 on top of the gypsum, enhancing the adhesive bond. A good waterproofing membrane with anti-fracture properties can be substituted for the crack isolation product if an even higher degree of water protection is required.

Keep in mind that the gypsum underlayment should be applied to between 3⁄8 and 1⁄2-inch thickness with a concrete subfloor, and approximately 3⁄4 of an inch to an inch with OSB or plywood. The subfloor must be able to tolerate live and dead load with a deflection limitation of L/360 for tile and L/20 for stone.

Maintaining the Quality Component

Despite the ease with which poured gypsum can be applied and the minimum experience required, a strong network of trained applicators has developed and rigid quality control procedures are in place. Maxxon, for example, hires installers that typically have 10 to 30 years of experience, and the company conducts an extensive training program at its main facility. Various manufacturers such as Maxxon and USG have created extensive product lines to meet the many unique demands of specific projects. This combination of special application products, quality controls and stronger minimum compressive strengths bodes well for the product’s long-term appeal, especially considering the increasing need for speed in flooring installations of all kinds.

Today, everyone is looking for that special edge in delivering a quality product with speed and simplicity. The popularity of multi-family dwellings creates the added need for engineering that is resistant to sound and flame. So the popularity of poured gypsum could continue to accelerate as a viable floor base alternative to cementitious underlayments. Used in combination with a proven crack isolation membrane, it makes a strong case for itself.

Tim McDonald is Vice President of ParexLahabra, Mer-Krete brands. Mer-Krete is a leading provider of thin-set mortars, underlayments, grout, waterproofing and crack isolation products since 1971. Mr. McDonald has co-developed a number of the company’s leading products, including those designed for inhibiting mold and improving the environment. Mr. McDonald can be reached at 800-851-6303 or info@merkrete.com.

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