Tiles of Turkey
April 2nd, 2009

Second Quarter, 2009

Although Turkey has been a ceramic-producing country for 8,000 years, today’s manufacturers, like VitrA, have implemented the latest technology and designs to offer some of the most sophisticated introductions to the marketplace.

The Turkish ceramics sector has been working continuously on branding and promoting its ceramics. Under the roof of the Turkish Ceramic Federation, the Ceramic Tile Manufacturers Association (SERKAP) and the Ceramic Sanitary Ware Manufacturers Association (SERSA) support companies in their future-directed activities. The Turkish Ceramics Promotion Group was founded in 1997 for branding and promoting Turkish Ceramics globally.

“Turkey has been long known as a major ceramics player. Thanks to its rich reserves of raw materials, long ceramics manufacturing history, and high production capacity,” says Bahadir Kayan, the president of the Turkish Ceramics Promotion Group. He continues: “Now, Turkey’s ceramics manufacturers are making a concerted effort to change perceptions that the industry competes only on price and position their ceramics as a brand of choice. The focus is not restricted to quality as we are also highlighting excellence in design and harmony. Rather than just market individual products, we’ve started to create strong brands in the spirit of collaboration.”

Vegas Tile

With the new Vegas tile collection, VitrA has captured the urban atmosphere of a vibrant city. The versatile porcelain series enriches both stylish homes and modern offices. A refined metal effect and a three-dimensional micro texture effectively convey the luxurious atmosphere of the city. Matching decor tiles with geometric patterns and sophisticated damask effects add to this look and feel. This rich diversity means that Vegas is a great choice for elegant homes and stylish boutiques. The high quality porcelain tiles in 30 x 60 cm and 60 x 60 cm formats are suitable for walls and floors. They are available in dark grey, silver grey, bronze and black. Both decor tiles come in 30 x 60 cm and can also be used for walls and floors.

Pulpis Tile

For centuries, marble has been the epitome of sumptuous elegance. With Pulpis, VitrA’s designers have succeeded in creating a contemporary new interpretation of this classic natural stone. Wall and floor tiles in this sophisticated collection convince with their distinctive elegance. In developing the Pulpis collection, VitrA was inspired by the current trend towards integrity and the central idea of “Nature touched by technology.” Thus Pulpis matches natural colors with advanced, high gloss surface textures. The result: Pulpis brings the classic elegance of marble to contemporary bathrooms. The collection contains ceramic wall tiles in the new 20 x 50 cm format, available in mink, cream, anthracite or white. Various decor tiles and borders offer additional scope for design ideas. The decor tiles (20 x 50 cm) with metallic and fancy damask effects in mink/cream and anthracite/white are a true highlight. The borders are available in anthracite and mink in 6 x 50 cm and 3 x 50 cm formats. For the floor, square 45 x 45 cm tiles from solid-colored porcelain in mink, cream, anthracite or white with a mat surface are proposed.

Oxidan Tile

Opposites enrich our lives: hot and cold, hard and soft, light and dark—these combinations are lively, exciting and thrilling. With the new Oxidan tile series, VitrA brings metallic accents to the floor—making a perfect contrast to classic wooden furniture and silky drapery. It’s dramatic contrasts that give style to otherwise undistinguished rooms. With the new Oxidan tile series by VitrA, which comes in copper, anthracite, beige or grey, the metallic optics of the solid-colored porcelain bring the room into alignment. The contrast of opposites is created by adding soft carpets and natural wooden elements. To architects and planners, this means inexhaustible space for creativity full of exciting opposites based around the metal look of the exclusive VitrA tiles. VitrA Oxidan tiles are available as wall and floor tiles in 45 x 90 cm, 60 x 60 cm, 30 x 60 cm and 45 x 45 cm format. Decor tiles in 3 x 15 cm and 2.5 x 5 cm (30 x 30 cm pattern repeat) can be added.

For more information, please visit the website: www.vitra-usa.com.

Product Review – Underfloor Heat: A warm choice in a chilly economy
April 2nd, 2009

Second Quarter, 2009

by Kathleen Furore

Comfort, efficiency, and the economy. Those issues are driving demand for electric radiant floor heating systems, as consumers look for ways to stay warm and improve their homes in cost- and energy-efficient ways.

“Since 2001 there has been an upward movement in the average annual growth [of underfloor heating], and we fully expect that to continue into the future,” Erin Mitmoen, a spokesperson for WarmlyYours, a radiant floor heating company headquartered in Long Grove, Ill., says. “One report from Frost & Sullivan claims that the industry will be nearing $400M in revenue by 2011. This is nearly an 800 percent increase!”

And while Mitmoen cautions those numbers “may be exaggerated with today’s economy,” she stresses that interest in radiant heating has grown. “In fact, www.Builderonline.com posted on December 15, 2008 saying it is one of the top 10 things to have in the home,” Mitmoen says.

Tony Ledford, regional sales manager of Watts Radiant, Inc., the Springfield, Mo.-based manufacturer of the SunTouch radiant floor systems, agrees the market is on the upswing. “From what we are hearing in the field, tile and setting materials are maintaining but floor warming/underfloor heating sales are increasing,” Ledford reports. “Even though the building industry is down, people who have money are still building houses. These consumers are making the decision to install floor warming, since it needs to be installed now, and waiting on upgrades such as granite countertops or high-end fixtures that can be done later,” he notes.

In fact, the economy is helping push sales in some segments, according to Kevin McElroy, vice president of sales at Nuheat, a leading manufacturer of electric radiant floor warming systems headquartered in Delta, British Columbia.

“Demand continues to grow,” McElroy says. “We believe one of the key reasons is that as homeowners come to terms with their homes not selling, or depreciating in value, they are staying put and adding value in the bathrooms and kitchens with amenities like floor heating.”

Why radiant floor heat?

Comfort is clearly the biggest, and most obvious, benefit underfloor heating systems deliver. As Ledford says, “Who wants to step onto a cold tile floor after a warm shower?”

The fact that it is also one of the most efficient, economical radiant heat sources available is a big plus, industry experts say.

“It is an efficient way to heat a room, because it is a gentle heat that rises from the floor, warming you first and then the air around you,” explains Sharon Mangino, general manager of Danbury, Conn.-based Warmup, Inc., the U.S. arm of Warmup PLC, England`s leading manufacturer of electric underfloor heating systems for tiles, laminate, stone, carpet, vinyl and wood floors. “Underfloor heating is ideal in spring and autumn when you want to take the chill off the tiles, but don’t want to heat the whole house.”

As Mitmoen explains, studies have shown that people feel warmer and do not need to set as high an ambient temperature when the floor is warm.

“The demand for affordable, cleaner energy that reduces our carbon footprint makes electric radiant heat an attractive heating alternative,” Mangino adds.

And with the current emphasis on environmentally friendly “green” technology, it makes more sense than ever for tile dealers to offer electric radiant floor heating options to customers.

Making the Pitch

The most common questions customers ask, according to McElroy, are about the initial price and the operating costs once the system is installed. Systems typically cost between $500 to $1,000 depending on the size of the room, with operating costs coming in at “pennies a day—less than the light bulbs in the room,” McElroy says. “After 15 years in the industry, I have never met a homeowner that doesn’t rave about the luxury of heated floors after they are installed,” he adds. “It is worth the extra energy to upsell!”

One of the biggest hurdles to overcome is a lack of knowledge about infloor heating and the benefits it brings, Warmup’s Mangino notes. “There are many consumers who are not aware that electric radiant heat is available,” she explains. “Too often, homeowners tell us if they had known about electric radiant heat, they would have purchased it along with the new tile.”

To introduce customers to the concept, Mangino suggests that tile dealers initiate a discussion about underfloor heat. “Ask them if they want to stand on cold or warm tile,” she advises. Once a conversation has begun, she says sales staff should explain the following benefits that electric radiant floor heat offers:

  • It evenly distributes heat from the floor surface, which means the thermostat can be set two to four degrees lower than it can be in spaces that use other heating methods. That alone can reduce energy costs by 10 to 40 percent.
  • Once the desired temperature is reached, the system only cycles on to maintain the temperature, so it’s only running 50 percent of the time.
  • Because heat is not circulating, there is less dust (and fewer dust mites) in the air—a big plus for people with asthma.
  • It operates quietly, needs no maintenance, and is easy to install.
  • Systems operated by an Energy Star-rated thermostat with an energy consumption monitor (which Warmup systems and others have) can help trim 15 to 35 percent from the energy consumption of a typical home.

Mitmoen of WarmlyYours recommends letting customers feel the floor warming for themselves. “We offer a heated countertop display that dealers can put in their show rooms,” she notes. “We have found that this display helps increase sales significantly.”

And Watts Radiant’s Ledford suggests quoting floor warming as a package deal with the tile, noting that the company offers kits that are “a complete package that lets the customer grab a box with everything needed for a warm floor.“

“Give your customer the price of a cold floor and a warm floor. We have seen this work really well with dealers who consistently quote this way,” Ledford says.

But perhaps the best reason tile dealers should offer the radiant floor heating systems is the ease with which they can convert their information-packed sales pitches into sales. “Once consumers understand how efficient and economical it is to run, it practically sells itself,” Mangino concludes.

Underfloor Heat Product Showcase

Several companies offer an array of electric radiant floor heating systems. The list below offers a glimpse at the products available on the market today.

Nuheat. New “SOLO” Programmable Thermostat features a unique designer look, simplicity in programming, a full-screen menu and the Energy Star rating. This universal floor heating thermostat is applicable for tile, stone and laminate/engineered floors. Nuheat’s most popular product is the pre-built, easy-to-install custom mat that can fit spaces up to 200 square feet. Mats fit the floor space like a glove so there are no cold spots, and as the industry’s lowest profile product the mats add less than 1/8 of an inch to the floor profile.

Phone: 1-800-778-WARM (9276)

Web: www.nuheat.com

Warmup. Flexible range of electric floor heating systems can heat up to 10 square feet of flooring for less than one penny per hour. Most popular is the loose wire heating range that gives installers the flexibility to work around fixtures within the room. Matting systems, ideal for large rooms, feature pre-spaced heating wire attached to sturdy mesh with easy-to-stick tape to make installation fast and easy. All Warmup products have a dual-core wire, which has two advantages: the wire is laid on the floor without the need to return it to the thermostat, saving contractors time on installation; and the dual-core wire cancels any emf (single wire products do not do this).

Phone: 888-927-6333

Website: www.warmup.com

WarmlyYours. New Low Voltage Shower System features a radiant heating mat for use inside the shower. UL Listed and safe for use in wet locations, it is ideal for spa bathrooms. The 24-volt warming rolls and companion transformers are available in several sizes to accommodate most shower applications. Simple to install over a waterproof membrane; designed to warm shower floors, tub surrounds, steam showers and saunas. “Elements” line of towel warmers that hang up and plug in for spa-like comfort without spa pricing also available.

Phone: (800) 875-5285

Website: www.warmlyyours.com

Watts SunTouch/Watts Radiant. Products include the SunTouch UnderFloor mats that are a UL-listed solution for electric radiant heat under existing wood subfloors. UnderFloor mats deliver 10 watts per sq. ft. of floor area. Available in almost 40 different lengths in 12-inch and 16-inch widths; 120-vac and 240-vac. SunStat Pro programmable control with Energy Star rating is also available. It includes a 5/1/1 day programming that allows for energy saving control, four pre-set program schedules for easy setup, one user program schedule for customized programming, and a usage monitor that shows the hours of system operation. SmartStart ™ technology adjusts when the floor warming system turns on to ensure the floor is warm at your scheduled time. Dual voltage, 120-vac and 240-vac; built-in GFCI.

Phone: 888-432-8932.

Website: www.suntouch.com

Showroom Seminar: The Design Center
April 2nd, 2009

One-stop-shopping, ample amenities draw residential & commercial tile customers

Second Quarter, 2009

By Kathleen Furore

Imagine upscale vignettes of kitchens and baths, all featuring luxury tile and other home accessories. Now imagine those vignettes all under one roof, in a single room where the general public, as well as interior designers, architects and custom builders, can explore the latest design trends, then buy the materials they need to complete their residential and commercial projects.

That’s the scene at The Design Resource Center (DRC), an area that houses more than 6,000 square feet of kitchen, bath and building products in Suite 163 of The Merchandise Mart in downtown Chicago. The DRC is part of the Mart’s 100,000-sq. ft. LuxeHome venue, a collection of 30 luxury boutiques that debuted five years ago. And it’s a place companies including the Chicago Tile Institute (which represents five distributors including Mid-America Tile and over 100 manufacturers) rely on to display and promote their product lines.

“The DRC boasts beautiful vignettes featuring hundreds of specialty and custom products from six world class tenants— the Chicago Tile Institute, Closet Works, CBD Glass Studios, Katonah Architectural Hardware, Lefroy Brooks and ShowHouse by Moen—all within a comprehensive retail environment,” explains Kate Flaherty, vice president, building products and special projects for Merchandise Mart Properties, Inc. (MMPI). The DRC isn’t a new concept, she notes, but an updated, redesigned space that moved to its new location in the historic building last fall.

What Flaherty dubs a “one-stop-shop concept” also beckons shoppers with its luxury lounge area; Wi-Fi access; dedicated computer stations that let customers access LuxeHome boutiques, products and The Merchandise Mart; a LuxeHome Concierge; and a Courtesy Espresso bar.

“Our new showroom is like an art gallery with its beauty and presentation,” Peggy Batus, the Chicago Tile Institute’s showroom manager, says. “We do not sell tile, we sell design.”

How it works

According to Batus, each participating distributor and manufacturer rents their respective areas at the DRC and takes responsibility for the areas they rent.

“All of the product centers in the DRC are separate, with four of the six tenants manned by a full-time sales associate,” Flaherty explains. “We hand-picked premier companies that are unique and have varied product offerings. For instance, Katonah Architectural Hardware is the premium source for the world’s finest hardware. CBD Glass Studios specializes in one-of-a-kind contemporary and traditional classic designs in glass.”

But designing the vignettes in which their product lines are shown is a collaborative process.

“When we moved to our new location we had Bleyer Schneider, interior designer, design the whole concept of the space. He also helped to design all of the floors with the assistance of Donna Triolo, Mid-America’s design studio manager, and me,” Batus says.

If changes are in order, Triolo and the manufacturer discuss what must be done. “Donna then draws up the changes and we proceed to order material and retain a union tile installer,” Batus explains. The Chicago Tile Institute is the only showroom that partners with the Union Chicago Tile Contractors, she notes.

“Our space is limited, so we have designated the areas by manufacturer, showing the latest [tile] products such as porcelain, glass, natural stone, and metal. We call it eye candy! The right product selection is key,” Triolo says.

Although space is limited, plans for the future are not. Preparing the showroom with new products in time for the Coverings show coming to town April 21 through 24 is the task at hand. Future goals include boosting designer and architect traffic, and hosting many continuing education units (CEUs), Batus says.

Whatever the future holds, the distributors and manufacturers with whom Batus works are happy to be part of the DRC and LuxeHome—so happy, in fact, that “there is a waiting list of those who want to show in the space because it is a proven fact that this is where we should be in the marketplace,” Batus notes.

“My tenants like being here because they can utilize the space for sales meetings, trade breakfasts and lunches. Plus, if they would like to host a party, they can do that right here without having to rent additional space,” she continues. “Chicago Tile Institute has been in the building since 1975 and we have a good trade following. Plus, we can handle both the needs of commercial as well as residential [customers]. The leads we get here in the DRC are passed on to their architectural representatives and they can follow up on projects that they are working on. In addition, we can supply the union tile contractors that would complete the job.”

Mid-America Tile is one of those happy showroom tenants. ”We have been with the DRC for about six years and are pleased with the recent new location,” Triolo reports. “Having the opportunity to show product in the Chicago Merchandise Mart is great for reaching the customer who will not always travel to our Elk Grove or Romeoville Design Studio locations. Even though the economy has been on a downslide, the space still attracts the designers, architects and the homeowners. We trust this will continue to create more traffic and more business,” she concludes.

Leadership Letter: Go Green!
April 1st, 2009

Green Building, 2009

This spring I had the privilege of attending my son’s college graduation from Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. His major was Appropriate Technology, which is the study of wind power, solar power, biodiesel and similar green technologies. Who knew five years ago (yes, he graduated on the five-year plan) when he selected that curriculum how much the emphasis on sustainability would grow throughout government, industry and popular culture. Now green building is having a major impact on the tile industry.

The CTDA is committed to educating our members, their customers, and consumers about green building. The association has enjoyed a great deal of success with our relatively new Green Building Committee. The committee is approaching green building from a number of different angles. Here are just a few of their current initiatives:

  • Developing a white paper on the sustainability of ceramic tile, which we can all use to help promote the green aspects of tile to architects, designers and building owners.
  • Developing an educational promotion piece appropriate for consumers.
  • Developing green building pages for the CTDA website, www.ctdahome.org.

A number of committee members are also participating in the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) on the Chapter Level in their own cities. This is a wonderful way to network with others committed to green building and to stay well-informed on a topic that is constantly evolving. It is, of course, also a great way to promote tile—and your business—as a green product at the local level. You can learn more about the USGBC, including the location of chapters, by going to their website, www.usgbc.org.

Going green in our businesses
The recent Coverings exhibition and trade show in Chicago provided numerous opportunities to learn more about green initiatives in business. I attended an inspiring seminar on green practices for companies with many great ideas for our business. At our company we are turning off lights and appliances when not needed, including the lights in our warehouse with skylights. We are also working on reducing unnecessary printing and using mugs for coffee instead of disposable cups. I’m sure that with some creative thinking we could all make changes that would add up to quite an impact.

My wife and I stayed in Chicago for the weekend after Coverings. We were able to participate in a fascinating green building tour of downtown Chicago put on by the Chicago Architecture Foundation. The city of Chicago is definitely an inspirational leader in construction sustainability with rooftop green spaces to reduce heat, natural lighting to reduce electrical consumption, and use of recycled materials.

As a tile industry leader, CTDA is committed to being at the forefront of education on ceramic tile sustainability and LEED qualification. CTDA will also be a leader in promoting the green aspects of ceramic tile to the construction and architectural community as well as the overall flooring industry.

Those of us in the tile business can all do our part to educate ourselves and others on the great, inherent sustainability of ceramic tile. The Ceramic Tile Distributors Association will be there to help.

Go green!

Rob Henry
CTDA President

From the Editor’s Desk: Beefing Up Your Green Building IQ
April 1st, 2009

Green Building, 2009

When we first started talking about green building five years ago, it was not a mainstream issue. Today it is. If you were among the attendees at Coverings this year, you know what we mean. Everyone is promoting the green qualities in their products, whether it’s recycled materials, local manufacturing, low- or no-VOCs.

(In case you have been living without access to any newspapers, magazines, television or radio, according to Wikipedia, green or sustainable building “refers to designs focused on increasing the efficient use of resources while also reducing the building’s impact on human health and the environment.” Though we may—correctly—think of this as the efficient use of water, energy and other resources, it also refers to protecting occupant health, improving employee productivity, reducing waste and pollution and other activities that would adversely affect the environment.)

If you have not yet had customers asking for green products, you will.

But getting your hands around green building – as we have learned in putting this issue together – is a tough task. First, there is a wealth of information – some of it reliable, some of it not. Second, it’s a very dynamic topic with new products and developments daily (or so it seems)! For example, take a look at Zoe Voigt’s feature on green tile on page 12, which points out newly developed tile options that also clean carbon monoxide from the air!

Beyond science, green building has an economic component as well. Saving resources like water, energy and even shipping costs saves money. In today’s sagging economy, green products offer a new market opportunity. Distributors and dealers who stock and sell green products have an advantage over those who do not, and that advantage is expected to grow as the marketplace recovers.

We’re all going to have to work hard to keep up with green building developments. TileDealer will continue to report on the green building story well beyond this issue. But we hope this is a good start.

Green building is not the solution to all of our economic problems, but it is important to note that one of the reasons for its growth is that municipal and commercial buildings are increasingly required to incorporate green products, particularly if they are aiming for LEED certification. Homeowners who are genuinely concerned about the state of our environment and frustrated with the cost of energy are now also onboard the green movement. Expect green building to play a significant role in the recovery.

Marketplace numbers

Annually at Coverings, the Tile Council of North America presents an industry update on the marketplace. As you can imagine, the numbers this year were down, but, as TCNA points out, this comes “after more than a decade of growth.”

Here are some highlights from that report:

Total U.S. tile consumption for 2008 decreased 21.5% (vs. 2007) to 2.10 billion sq. ft. This is approximately the same consumption level as 1999.

Most of this decrease came from imports, which fell 22.6% from 2.18 billion sq. ft. in 2007 to 1.69 billion sq. ft. in 2008.

Import penetration decreased each of the last two years—from an all-time high of 82.4% in 2006 to 80.2% in 2008—the lowest import penetration has been since 2004.

In 2008, Mexico surpassed Italy to become the top tile exporter to the U.S. (in sq. ft.), constituting almost a quarter (24.9%) of U.S. imports. This was the first time a country other than Italy has held the top exporter position (in sq. ft.). However, in dollar value, Italy retained the top exporter position.

Approximately two-thirds (66.1%) of U.S. imports in 2008 (in sq. ft.) came from three countries: Mexico, Italy and China.

Janet Arden

April 1st, 2009

Green Building, 2009

NAC Products unveils ECB GREEN

ECB Green from NAC is the flooring industry’s first self-adhering “green” crack isolation membrane. Made of up to 25% recycled content, ECB Green meets the challenge of providing construction materials that meet today’s “Green” building requirements for commercial and residential properties. In addition to incorporating our ECB Classic’s high performance ratings, ECB Green also provides moisture vapor protection up to 10#/1000SF/24HRS, has sound reduction capabilities, blocks mold & mildew and can be used in waterproofing applications. For an even more economical installation, use the whole ECB Green System, which includes ECB Green membrane, “green” primer and “green” thin-set.


Ekobe: The Ultimate Green Tile

Wholesale Tile by Aguayo introduced a new line of green wall and floor coverings. Ekobe uses 100% natural materials and has no environmental impact whatsoever. Ekobe is made from all natural materials, such as coconut husks and rice peels. The manufacturer has a strict environmental manifesto and produces sustainable tiles with a high degree of quality. The creative designs will appeal to architects and designers alike. “This line is not only beautiful, but it is also the ultimate green tile,” says Jorge Aguayo, Vice President of Aguayo Tiles. “Those who are interested in sustainable products are going to love this tile, not only because of the durability, creativity and beauty, but also because of its great environmental story.”



LATICRETE® Floor HEAT offers an exclusive self-adhesive mesh and wire backing allowing for faster and easier installation. Unlike traditional mats that require extensive stapling and are hard to install tile over, LATICRETE Floor HEAT allows for much easier thin-set installation as there are no waves. In addition, LATICRETE Floor HEAT is part of the LATICRETE Lifetime Residential Warranty* which covers not only the floor warming system and components, it also covers the thin-set mortar and grout. “This has been something distributors and contractors have wanted for a long time,” said Sean Boyle, director, business development at LATICRETE. “By offering the radiant heating system along with our complete system, we simplify the selection and the installation, plus provide the customer with a single warranty.” In addition to several innovations of the mat itself, LATICRETE offers 24-hour turnaround on floor layouts and an easy-to-use software program that allows customers to design their floor and identify product needs quickly and easily. Combined with renowned technical service, LATICRETE offers unparalleled nationwide support to distributors, contractors and dealers. “It is our goal to aggressively promote the awareness of, and more importantly, the benefit of radiant floor heating to consumers, thus driving the demand of tile and stone,” says Boyle. “By investing heavily in marketing activities, dealers and distributors can realize incremental sales by providing better value to the end customer.” In other news, LATICRETE has also introduced Hydro Ban, a thin, waterproofing, anti-fracture membrane that combines optimum performance and unmatched productivity. A new and improved formula allows for flood testing in just two hours after final cure, and faster flood testing in cold temperatures as well as over mortar beds. Backed by a LATICRETE 25 Year System Warranty, LATICRETE Hydro Ban does not require the use of fabric in the field, coves or corners, and bonds directly to drains and pipe penetrations. LATICRETE Hydro Ban provides anti-fracture protection up to the industry standard of 1/8″ (3 mm), and is ICC and IAPMO approved. Containing Microban® antimicrobial product protection, LATICRETE Hydro Ban is GREENGUARD certified and easy to clean with water. LATICRETE Hydro Ban can be used for interior and exterior residential and commercial installations as well as continuously submersed applications such as swimming pools, fountains and spas. It can be applied over all common building substrates with unmatched adhesion when compared to the competition. “The new faster cure formula dramatically reduces installation time due to its ability to be flood tested much faster,” said Jay Conrod, LATICRETE Project Manager.


Taconic Slate

Florida Tile’s Taconic Slate is a luxurious collection of porcelain wall and floor tiles with the natural beauty of slate from the western mountains of New Hampshire. Available in three modular sizes and five distinctive colors, it has coordinating, mesh-mounted mosaics, listellos and inserts to enhance and complete the look of any room. Taconic Slate is ADA compliant and and can be used for both residential and commercial installations. Available in 6″ by 6″, 8″ by 8″ and 12″ by 12″ formats.


ADA-Compliant Shower Floor

Officials with the U.S. headquarters of the wedi® Corporation have announced the launch of the Riolito shower system. This prefabricated system accommodates completely flush floors for showers of varying sizes and surfaces and may also be installed on subfloors when used with a wedi Curb or ADA Ramp. This product, previously only available in Europe, is a unique offering for the U.S. market and a highly useful alternative for any wet rooms or baths requiring ADA compliance. The Riolito, available in 3′ x 5′ and 4′ x 6′ sizes, is precisely engineered to provide a reliable draining system in unique installation environments. The system ensures tight sealing, ideal sloping and thorough water removal through a linear or channel drain. Water flows out through a narrow gap between the cover plate and adjacent surfacing. Use of this system results in completely flush flooring with no potential for drainage problems. As the market demands innovative alternatives for shower areas, this unique product has an essential role in meeting ADA requirements and specific design needs of an aging and style-oriented marketplace. “We created this product to meet the market’s needs, but we did so with installers in mind,” explains Bastian Lohmann, Technical Sales Manager for wedi’s U.S. operations. “As effective as the Riolito is in creating well-drained, flush flooring, for modern showers, it’s also simple to work with during installation.” Pre-assembled and lightweight, the Riolito is very versatile and simple to install. In addition to the two size alternatives, the product comes in three height-adjustable, stainless steel cover plate options. The cover plate heights can be adjusted to blend with tile or stone of varying thicknesses (from 1/8″ to 3/4″). The Standard and Deluxe channel cover plates are surface finished, while the tileable option allows for 1/4″ or 1/2″ thick tiles to be set right into the U channels provided by the cover plate (using reverse sides). Also, the Riolito accommodates large-format tiles with ease and comes equipped with an easy-to-install, factory integrated PVC drain system that connects to a standard 2″ PVC pipe cut 1-1/8″ below the top of floor.


Combining In-Floor Heating, Anti-Fracture Protection

Protecto Wrap Company introduced their PEEL & HEAT COMPLETE™ product line of high performance underlayments for effective crack suppression and Radiant In-Floor Heating. The system is easy to install, requires no maintenance and is energy efficient to operate. The power consumption required is only 12 watts per square foot. The PEEL & HEAT COMPLETE system includes pre-wired heating panels for easy electrical connection to a wall-mounted thermostat. The protective anti-fracture membrane and heat panels are installed in an easy peel & stick method. The ultra thin profile of the protective underlayment, which is less than 1/8″ of an inch, ensures smooth transition of heat. Not only does the anti-fracture membrane protect the owner’s investment, it also reduces contractor call backs. Protecto Wrap’s PEEL & HEAT COMPLETE system works with tile, stone and hardwoods, is UL listed and comes with a ten year warranty. A contractor or homeowner can place his order on line with the dimensions for the project and a custom made kit will be shipped within 48 hours. PEEL & HEAT COMPLETE kits are shipped with a thermostat, installation instructions, peel & stick anti-fracture membrane, and wired heating panels. The peel & stick heating panels required to fit the application of the project are pre-wired with leads for easy connection to the thermostat. As always, Protecto Wrap field technicians are available for assistance by phone.



The new Kesh Collection from Walker Zanger re-imagines the traditional art of cement tile, creating a bold statement for floors, walls and outdoor spaces. Kesh is in harmony with the planet as the eco-friendly tiles are made with “green” materials such as cement and marble dust, and hand-crafted with the aid of low-energy manufacturing processes. Borrowing from Moroccan cement tile-making (the collection traces its name to the last syllable of “Marrakesh”), Kesh updates this traditional look. The Kesh Collection is available in a variety of motifs, including eight-by-eight inch field tiles, squares, hexagons, and four-piece Plus Plus and round Wink Wink patterns. A traditional arabesque field is also available. Kesh is available in tasteful combinations of Khaki, Palm, Crimson, Olive, Cream and Chocolate. Each tile is hand-made by master craftsmen, who combine cement with pigmented marble dust to achieve a matte finish that is subtly lustrous. Individual tiles are sun-cured, as opposed to kiln-fired, which, by its nature, is considered a low-energy production method.



Having the “look” of contemporary wide format French wood with an understated wavy surface, Ecodécor is now available for upscale environments in North America. Each tile has an unmistakable resemblance to oak, which has been harvested for centuries in France and ubiquitously seen as a surface covering on that country’s floors and walls. The five “aged oak” colors are achieved by using the same pigments used to dye natural wood. Ecodécor is produced as a through-body glazed porcelain tile, with a colored body. Imagine all the beauty of wood flooring, with the ease of maintenance and long-term durability only porcelain tile has to offer. Sizes include 4″ x 48″, 6″ x 48″ and 8″ x 48″. Specialty tiles are included in Ecodécor product ensemble as well as multi-colored pieces.


Nature Inspired Athena Stone

Ilva S.A.’s Athena Stone collection, a fully-rectified glazed porcelain tile that recreates the refined aesthetics of natural stone for residential and commercial settings. Athena Stone is a nature-inspired collection of large format glazed porcelain tile offered in a variety of colors, making it ideal for architects, designers and specifiers . Athena Stone is offered in five sizes, 20″ x 20″, 10″ x 20″, 10″ x 10″, 14″ x 14″ and 7″ x 7″, with 3″ x 3″ mesh-backed mosaics and special accessory pieces. The large-format, 20″ x 20″ features Athena Extra, offering a higher coefficient of friction for commercial applications. Ilva’s Athena Stone is available in three colors with Moderate variations (V3), Olympus (White), Troy (Gold), and Sparta (Noce). Athena Stone is one of the most complete porcelain tile ranges available with 4″ x 14″ ceramic listello and 3″ x 12″ real marble listellos, real marble matita (.4″ x 12″) and real marble torello (2.5″ x 12″), sink rails (2″ x 7″), sink corners (1.2″ x 2″), quarter rounds (1″ x 7″), quarter round corners (1″ x 1″), and bullnose (3.2″ x 14″) accessory pieces. In addition, stair treads, stair tread corners, cove bases, inside and outside cove base corners are available through Ilva S.A. and its wide network of global distributors.


Industry Insights
April 1st, 2009

Green Building, 2009


Tile Council of North America (TCNA), in collaboration with StonePeak Ceramics and Centro Ceramico Bologna, recently completed a research program with photocatalytic tiles produced through an innovative technology developed by StonePeak Ceramics. According to Dr. Jennifer Ariss, a research scientist at TCNA, the effects of titanium dioxide as a photocatalyst are well-established in the scientific literature. “Generally its use can provide a meaningful reduction in organic and inorganic pollutants, self-cleaning properties through a reduction in water surface tension, and important anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties.” She further added, “Photocatalysis is a simple chemical reaction, requiring only light and water to be activated.” TCNA’s Product Performance Testing Laboratory, in cooperation with Centro Ceramico Bologna, conducted research on three fronts: Reduction of nitrogen oxides (a major component of urban air pollution); reduction of organic pollutants as measured by the indigo carmine test; and inhibition of bacterial growth. Tiles treated with a micrometric titanium dioxide layer developed by StonePeak Ceramics were tested along with control samples provided by StonePeak Ceramics and TCNA. Using a closed chamber study according to a recognized protocol, a 70% reduction of nitrogen oxides was observed. In evaluations of antimicrobial properties using the photocatalytic StonePeak Ceramics tiles, up to a 60% reduction of E. coli bacteria was observed compared to traditional porcelain surfaces. A 30% reduction on average of organic pollutants was observed in indigo carmine testing. While titanium dioxide photocatalytic technology is employed in many industries, the methods of its application are often nanotechnology-based, which can pose considerable environmental and health hazards in the manufacturing process. According to Centro Ceramico Bologna, the novel technology of StonePeak Ceramics using a micrometric application minimizes problems associated with previous application techniques for photocatalytic materials and increases the effect of the surface layer.


“Tile Partner of the Year”

Ed Metcalf, president, LATICRETE North America, has been selected by the Tile Partners for Humanity as the recipient of its first annual Tile Partner of the Year Award. With unanimous approval from the TPFH board of directors, Metcalf was recognized for his continued support of the mission of Habitat for Humanity, and for spearheading a company-

wide commitment from LATICRETE, including not just product donation, but hours of labor and technical support to the cause. In addition, Metcalf was selected to be the inaugural winner of the award for his creative thinking after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, as a whole. Through the Gulf Coast Relief Project, Metcalf helped raise thousands of dollars that went directly to the TPFH and Habitat for Humanity to help tile over 400 new homes. “The LATICRETE family believes in the mission of Habitat for Humanity,” said Metcalf. “LATICRETE sees Tile Partners for Humanity as an ideal channel for us, and for our whole industry, to become involved and to ‘give back.’ Over the past few years we have contributed products and thousands of hours of labor helping to finish dozens of homes for Habitat homeowners. There is an indescribable feeling of satisfaction within the many LATICRETE employees who have chosen to become involved in helping to fulfill such a basic and pressing human need. We encourage everyone in our industry to get involved by contacting TPFH today.” Bart Bettiga, the executive director of the NTCA, as well as vice chairman for the Tile Partners for Humanity, explained: “Ed Metcalf was far and away the very first person we thought of. It was a unanimous decision by the Board of Directors. No one has done more for TPFH than Ed and LATICRETE. Every single time we have asked for their support they were there for us. LATICRETE does not just donate products, they contribute creative solutions and have put their sweat behind each project they get involved with. Ed has spearheaded a company-wide commitment, from his technical services department to his sales people in the field, which has delivered tremendous results for Habitat for Humanity.”


Ilva and D&B Tile

Ilva S.A. has added the Mayor of Miami, Manny Diaz, to its growing list of supporters for its green initiatives in the manufacturing of porcelain tile products. Ilva co-sponsored a booth with D&B Tile Distributors at the Gateway to Green Expo in Miami Beach, Florida, on April 7 and 8, and impressed Mayor Diaz with its Eco Land and Athena Stone collections, which contain up to 25-percent and 40-percent recycled materials, respectively. D&B Tile is one of Ilva’s top distribution partners, with nine locations servicing all of Florida and beyond. Ilva’s Mario Klappholz and Carole Schafmeister, D&B Tile’s architectural sales rep in South Florida, welcomed Mayor Diaz to their booth at the Gateway to Green show which was sponsored by the City of Miami. Ilva manufactures its tile materials according to ISO 14000 standards to meet all legislative and environmental protection demands, and has invested heavily in technology to meet the marketplace demand for sustainable porcelain tile products. Ilva’s Eco Land collection of thru-body, unglazed technical porcelain with up to 25-percent recycled materials was the manufacturers first green offering to the marketplace. Athena Stone, with up to 40-percent recycled materials, and Eco Land can contribute LEED points for green buildings seeking certification under the Materials and Resources category (MR 4.1 and MR 4.2).

Florida Tile Attains Certification

The new National Green Building Standard requires that hard surface flooring have GREENGUARD for Children and Schools certification to be considered a healthy choice for indoor environmental quality. Florida Tile is proud to be the only supplier of tile and stone products that has attained this certification. Section 901.6 of the new standard reads, “A minimum of 85 percent of installed hard-surface flooring is in accordance with the emission concentration limits of CDPH 01350 as certified by a third-party program such as the Resilient Floor Covering Institute’s Floorscore Indoor Air Certification Program or the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute’s Children and Schools Certification Program.” This section of the standard is worth 6 points towards the building’s rating. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) in cooperation with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the International Code Council (ICC) have created this green building standard to help bring clarity to the often confusing question of ‘what makes a building green?’ The National Green Building Standard was accepted as an official ANSI standard on January 29, 2009. This standard takes its place beside the widely recognized LEED program in recognizing the GREENGUARD Children and Schools Certification for hard surface flooring.


NAC Marks 26th Year

National Applied Construction (NAC) Products is focusing on transition to the next generation of family leadership. While Tom Duvé will remain as President and CEO of the company, Brian Petit has assumed leadership as VP of Sales in charge of marketing, product development and day-to-day company operations. Nick Duvé, will continue to grow NAC’s brand awareness, internet sales and increase his roll as Marketing & Customer Service Manager. “We’re very proud of being a family-held business,” said Tom Duvé, “It is truly an honor to have Brian and Nick as active parts of NAC’s future. Together with our extended family of office staff, distributors and loyal customers we are confident we will make the next quarter century even more successful than the last.” Petit assumed the role of VP of Sales in January of 2008. “Innovation and outstanding customer service is what made us so successful over the past 25 years. As we continue to grow, we plan on expanding our market presence and our product lines as the leader in the industry.” says Duvé. “Not many people know this, but when Tom started NAC Products over 25 years ago, he actually named it after his children (Nicholas Duvé, Andrew Duvé and Christie Petit). This is a wonderful opportunity for me and I plan on honoring the integrity of the company as well as what my father has built.”


Installer Update: Green Installation Materials
April 1st, 2009

Green Building, 2009

By William & Patti Feldman

Green has gone mainstream. Increasingly, builders, owners, specifiers, and governments are attuned to the benefits of sustainability and environmentally friendly products.

Ceramic tile itself is an inherently green material and cementituous tile installation materials have no or low VOCs, as well. Many manufacturers of tile installation products give especially high priority to eco friendly manufacturing processes and materials and often make that clear on their websites. For example, they may be made of recycled materials and they may meet recognized stringent indoor air quality standards and employ dust-free technology.

While greenness cannot be seen, certain aspects can be certified against known standards, whether by the manufacturers themselves (which is first-party certification), via assessment by a trade association or other organization within the field (second party certification) or by an unbiased independent testing organization (third party certification). Manufacturers who have gone to the effort of earning certification for their products will likely put that information into their marketing and on their websites.

“Gaining certification that materials and manufacturing processes are green is becoming extremely important and will continue to grow,” says Howard Pryor, chairman of the green building committee for CTDA and director of architectural services for Conestoga Tile (www.conestogatile.com.) “Not only are architectural firms building green libraries, but for many commercial projects they are only specifying products recognized as green through certification.” This, he points out, avoids reliance solely on comments that might be considered greenwashing. “If this trend continues, you are going to see a lot of companies moving toward getting certified.”

Another way to show greenness is to register a project to receive certification credits from the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program, a nationally recognized and widely accepted performance oriented rating system evaluating sustainability and the environmental impact of new construction and of renovations in existing buildings.

Last year, the numbers of LEED-registered and LEED-certified projects doubled over the previous year, jumping from approximately 10,000 registered projects at the end of 2007 to over 20,000 registered projects by the end of this past January.

The use of LEED compliant products can help contribute to a project earning credits in one or multiple of the six environmental categories: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy & Atmosphere, Material & Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Innovation & Design Process. The credits accrue per project and the total number of points determines the earned designation. Platinum is the highest, followed by Gold, Silver, and Certified. The characteristics of an individual product can help contribute to the overall point collection within each project.

Selecting green products

Architects and specifiers often look for certification that a product can help contribute to the overall point collection within each category.

“Product selection is a key to sustainable design,” suggests Steven Rausch, field marketing and technical manager for the substrates and specialty products division, USG, and a member of the CTDA Green Building Committee. “Ideal materials are those that reduce, recycle and renew— which are the three R’s of sustainability.”

For purposes of tile installation materials, the issues, as noted by LEED, include reducing the amount of raw materials and energy needed for manufacture (with lighter products generally requiring less energy to transport); recycling discarded material into new products, reducing raw material consumption and energy use as well as minimizing landfill deposits; and renewing the environment by using materials that can be regenerated easily or offer other environmentally friendly benefits.

While tile installation materials may be only a small part of an overall large building project, in a mall or other large square footage job, they could be a more significant component.
“Showing that specific installation materials can contribute to sought-after LEED points can give a flooring contractor an edge when bidding a job,” says Dr. Emphraim Senbetta, LEED AP, of the Quality Management Systems and Environmental Health & Safety Department at MAPEI (www.mapei.us). MAPEI, a manufacturer of installation systems for tile and stone, carpet, vinyl, wood and decorative concrete flooring, uses local materials and recycled materials in its manufacturing processes wherever possible.

Green floor installation materials and their packaging may contribute to LEED credit in, for example, the following categories.

  • MR (Materials and Resources) 2.1 and MR 2.2: Construction Waste Management
  • MR 4.1: 10% recycled content of total building materials (post consumer + ½ pre-consumer)
  • MR 4.2: 20% recycled content (post consumer + ½ pre-consumer)
  • MR credit 5.1 and 5.2: 10% and 20% regional materials respectively (if the materials are manufactured within 500 miles of the project jobsite, reducing the environmental impacts from transportation)
  • MR 6: Specifying rapidly renewable building materials for 5% of total building materials (e.g., for purposes of this article, cork underlayment)
  • MR 7: Certified wood (e.g. use of a minimum of 50% of wood-based materials certified in accordance with Forest Stewardship Council guidelines)
  • EQ (Indoor Environmental Quality) 4.1: Low Emitting Materials, Adhesives & Sealants
  • EQ 4.4: Low Emitting Materials: composite wood and agri-fiber products (e.g. containing no added urea-formaldehyde resins)

Though the tile industry doesn’t typically pursue third-party certification, evaluating flooring installation materials against a standard, where possible, can be helpful in differentiating among options to meet specific goals.

“The criteria used to label as green should be based on a standard. The best standards are typically those that have been developed by a voluntary consensus organization that has industry support,” suggests Kirby Davis, Senior Architectural Specialist at LATICRETE®. “Non-biased third-party certification of a product against an established and stated standard avoids conflicts of interest.”

Some tile installation products carry third-party certifications from two well respected independent organizations, Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) and GREENGUARD.

Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) is an internationally recognized certifier of environmental, sustainability, and food quality and purity claims, in Emeryville, California. In the green building arena, SCS (www.scscertified.com) is known for its Indoor Advantage Gold certification of products conforming with requirements specified under California 01350, the Collaborative for High Performing Schools (a non-profit organization focused on improving the design of schools to make them healthier facilities), and LEED rating systems. Other programs include recycled and material content certifications.

GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (GEI) (www.greenguard.org) is a non-profit organization that oversees a testing laboratory which offers certification to building materials and other products that meet the GREENGUARD established acceptable indoor air standards for indoor products, environments and buildings. One certification is GREENGUARD IAQ Certified for low-emitting indoor building materials, furnishings, and finish systems. The more stringent GREENGUARD Children & Schools certifies building products tested for chemical emissions performance according to California’s stringent Section 01350 IAQ standard.

Products & manufacturers

The list of green products and manufacturers who pay attention to green concerns grows daily. Many offer materials that carry certification and/or can contribute to LEED points.

MAPEI’s (www.mapei.us) Ultraflex 2 polymer-modified thin-set mortar for walls and floors features dust-free technology that produces up to 90 percent less dust during pouring, mixing, and use of the product and enables easier jobsite cleanup. This technology helps contribute to LEED EQ 3.2 “Construction IAQ Management Plan: Before Occupancy.”

MAPEI’s Ultralite Mortar for large format tiles contains more than 20% post-consumer recycled content and can contribute up to two points in MR 4.1 and 4.2.

Because MAPEI has eight manufacturing plants in the U.S. and four in Canada located within 500 miles of many North American population centers and jobsites, often its products can contribute credits under MR 5.1 and MR 5.2.

LATICRETE® (www.laticrete.com) manufactures a wide range of LEED compliant products, including thinset, medium bed, and thick bed mortars, various types of grout and grout enhancer, and epoxy adhesive. Approximately 24 products are GREENGUARD Certified. For example, LATICRETE 125 Sound & Crack Adhesive is a flexible lightweight Kevlar reinforced sound deadening and anti-fracture mortar made of 30% recycled content and is GREENGUARD Certified. LATICRETE 170 Sound and Crack Isolation Mat is a high performing acoustical underlayment system that muffles impact noises through ceramic tiles, stone and other hard surfacing material and minimizes transmission of cracks from the substrate to the tile installation up to 1/8″ non-movement cracks. The 3 mm thick rubberized membrane is comprised of 89% post consumer recycled content. Both products can contribute to MR 4.1 and MR 4.2 for recycled content.

TEC, a manufacturer of tile installation systems (www.tecspecialty.com), offers a family of eco-friendly lightweight mortars that also delivers installer benefits. “Not only do we offer green alternatives that contribute to LEED points, we create high performance products with advantages for our customers and their clients,” says Kristin Cattaneo, Senior Brand Manager for TEC.

For example, she points out, the one-step 1/8″ IsoLight Crack Isolation Mortar is manufactured with a minimum 10% recycled materials and no VOCs. That the lighter weight product provides significant handling and application benefits compared to regular mortars and can contribute to LEED certification under MR 4.1, 4.2; MR 5.1, 5.2 (there are three US manufacturing locations), and EQ 4.1.

FiberBacker, by MP Global Products (www.mpglobalproducts.com), is an environmentally sustainable eco-friendly acoustical and insulating flooring underlayment engineered for use under ceramic tile, porcelain and natural stone flooring. Odorless, hypoallergenic, and containing no VOCs or liquid adhesives, the product carries the SCS Indoor Advantage Gold seal, SCS’s highest level of indoor environmental quality certification and the most stringent indoor air quality certification in the country, and SCS’s Recycled Content seal certifying minimum 95% pre-consumer recycled textiles.

Adding an insulating R-value of .50 to the floor system that acts like a thermal “break” to the flooring assembly, FiberBacker helps keep floors warm in the winter and cool in the summer, minimizing energy consumption.

Under ceramic tile, the elasticity of Fiberbacker suppresses lateral cracks from the concrete subfloor to the tile above. The product also insulates the transfer of noise to lower level rooms and deadens sound. The randomly air laid filaments create a three dimensional matrix that helps to absorb impact sound, explains Bob Pratt, technical director at MP Global, and the 3/16″ thickness helps smooth out little subfloor imperfections while adding only minimal thickness to the total flooring installation.

USG Fiberock Tile Backerboard and Underlayment (www.usg.com) is manufactured from a combination of synthetic gypsum and cellulose fibers and has a SCS Green Cross certified recycled content of 95% pre-consumer material, contributing to LEED MR 4.1 and MR 4.2 for recycled content. The panels are manufactured in Gypsum, OH, possibly contributing to LEED MR 5.1 and 5.2, depending upon project location.

Intended for use in both dry and wet areas, including tub and shower surrounds, the panels are engineered for durability, strength and resistance to moisture and mold.

Other green attributes accrue in the manufacturing process, with attention paid to water efficiency, energy consumption and the effect on the atmosphere, points out Steven Rausch, field marketing and technical manager for the Substrates and Specialty Products Division, USG and a member of the CTDA Green Building Committee. “USG also aims to qualify for LEED points in the category of innovation and design.”

AcoustiCORK sound control underlayments (Amorim Cork Composites, www.acousticorkusa.com) for tile and other hard surface flooring, made from rapidly renewable cork bark, are approximately 85% post industrial recycled content by weight, use only low emitting materials and contain no added urea-formaldehyde. The product line includes five different sound control underlayment products, to fit nearly any application requirement. The AcoustiCORK line includes the new CRC 950 High Performance Composite Sheet Sound Control Underlayment and the RC Series Roll products which contain both cork and post consumer recycled rubber; as well as perimeter isolation barrier; and a crack suppression membrane. Used in a green project, AcoustiCORK products help qualify for LEED points under MR 4.1; MR 6; MR 7; EQ 4.1; and/or EQ 4.4.

The Noble Company’s Sheet Membranes (www.noblecompany.com) contain an average of 11% post-industrial scrap, which could contribute to points in MR 4.1. The membranes are made from a core layer of chlorinated polyethylene (CPE), an inherently flexible elastomer sheet with fiber laminated to both sides. Noble sheet membranes are guaranteed not to rot, crack or deteriorate due to microorganisms for the life of the original tile installation. The products do not use urea-formaldehyde binders in the manufacturing process or contain any other VOC off-gassing materials, potentially earning credit in EQ 4.1. Water used in the manufacturing process is recycled and biodegradable inks are used in the stamping process whenever possible.

Noble Company’s ready-to-tile waterproof shower niches are made from extruded polystyrene (XPS) and are not considered VOC emitters in the LEED certification process (EQ 4.1). The XPS in the niches contains up to 40% post-industrial recycled content.

Raw materials for both sheet membranes and shower accessories are purchased locally, reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions necessary during transport.

PermaFlex Lite 525, from Bonsal American’s line of ProSpec (www.prospec.com) products, is a lightweight thin set mortar for tile and natural stone installations that offers the coverage of a typical 50 lb. bag of thin set in a 25 lb. bag. The product incorporates post-consumer recycled glass microspheres, rather than sand, making the product much lighter than typical thin set mortars. The reduced weight per bag facilitates easier lifting for the installer. These design features contribute to LEED project points in EQ and MR.

Flex-Guard and Speed-Flex, “peel and stick” crack isolation membranes, also from ProSpec, are manufactured using non-hazardous materials per EPA 8260 and EP A5030B. Since they require no priming, they can be installed quicker and are more cost effectively than typical crack isolation membranes. These products contain no asphalt, PVC, CPE or other harmful, toxic outgassing materials.

Grout Boost liquid grout additive (www.groutboost.com) mixes with any standard Portland cement grout to make it stain resistant, eliminating the need to ever seal the grout. When grout is enhanced with the product, liquids bead up, oils do not penetrate, and ground-in dirt leaves no trace. Because the stain resistance is integrated throughout the grout, Grout Boost provides permanent stain protection that will never wear away, as sealers do. The water-based product has low VOCs and no solvents and is California VOC compliant.

EasyMat Tile & Stone Underlayment from Custom Building Products (www.custombuildingproducts.com) has no VOCs, contributing to LEED credit EQ 4.1. The product, which features impact and sound reduction capabilities, is 97% lighter than traditional floor backerboard. The company’s MegaLite®Crack Prevention Mortar, which is 40% lighter than other mortars, also has no VOCs (EQ 4.1). Made with at least 20% recycled material, it contributes to EQ 4.1 and 4.2. On many projects, because there are 10 manufacturing plants around the country, potentially minimizing transportation emissions, the products can contribute to MR 5.1 and 5.2.


Alliance for Healthy Homes

American Chemistry Council

American Concrete Institute

American Indoor Air Quality Council

Build It Green

Ceramic Tile Distributors Association



Department of Energy

Ecology Action

Ecological Design Institute

Energy Efficient Building Association


Green Building

Green Building Pages

Green Format

GREENGUARD Environmental Institute

Green Seal

Marble Institute of America

National Tile Contractors Association

Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance

Scientific Certification Systems

Solutions for Remodeling


Tile Council of North America

U.S. Green Building Council

Showroom Seminar: Green Certification Options
April 1st, 2009

Certification is one way to compare the characteristics of different building types on the same green playing field

Green Building, 2009

By Kirby Davis

Going Green is definitely the hottest trend in America right now. At the heart of all green movements is the mantra “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” If these 3 choices are applied to the selections made then theoretically, the green wheel keeps turning. The challenge is determining the immediate and future impact of all the decisions—both individual and global.

With every buying decision there is usually the option to “go green.” Sometimes this choice is seemingly easy—paper, plastic or your own reusable shopping bag? Using the same shopping bag over and over again, versus a bag that will end up as trash in a landfill, is an easily defined metric. Even this choice has a cost factor—bags from the store are FREE, versus having to buy your own reusable shopping bag at roughly 99 cents each.

Building green is based on the same basic framework as all buying choices, but with a much more complex set of metrics. Comparing the environmental impacts of one type of building against another type of building is a very complicated process. The rise in importance of green building certification programs is largely due to the need to normalize all the characteristics of different building types to the same playing field. The various certification programs provide choices that give value and measure green building practices.

One of the most well known green building certification programs is the USGBC Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™. Over the past 10 years, LEED has become the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings. The parameters within LEED are derived from the basic green building construction elements – conserve land, water, air, energy and natural resources. The resulting measurement systems provide a whole-building check list approach to sustainability.

With the rise in popularity of green building, lots of other certification and measurement systems have developed. The most recent trend for these programs is the development of focused programs on certain building segments such as schools, hospitals and homes. These newer programs may be more or less detailed than LEED, but one thing is clear: these programs will continue to diversify in the market place.

A strong new player in the green home building certification arena is the ANSI approved ICC-700 National Green Building Standard (ICC-700 NGBS).

In 2007, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) partnered with the International Code Council (ICC) to fast track a nationally recognizable standard definition of residential green building through the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) consensus committee process.

Using the 2005 NAHB Guidelines as a starting point, the NAHB and ICC gathered together a broad assortment of builders, architects, manufacturer’s representatives, and code officials to gather public views and hold forums for comment. In January of 2009, the two year efforts of this committee were released as the first of its kind, ANSI approved ICC-700 2008 National Green Building Standard.

Similar to the NAHB Green Home Building Guidelines, this new ANSI standard guides home builders, developers and remodelers in minimum requirements to green their projects, while still allowing for regional best practices. The scope of the standard was broadened from the single family home, to cover site design, multi-family and residential remodeling. The point categories are divided between Lot Design and Development, Resource Efficiency, Energy Efficiency, Water Conservation, Indoor Air Quality and Homeowner Operation and Maintenance.

Similar to LEED for Homes, the ICC-700 has four compliance levels termed Bronze, Silver, Gold and Emerald. Within each point section, there are a set of mandatory measures for each project that are tied to minimum code requirements. Additional points can be accrued in the sections to reach the next tier of certification. Homes over 4000sf will need to accrue more points in each point section.

The ICC-700 point structure is largely applicable across the US, although it does suggest some regional differences. Energy use by climate zone is one of the biggest variations. There are also some points that are only applicable based on the termite zone map, radon map and rainfall map. The new standard is also coupled with an online scoring tool, which allows a user to determine the applicability of the point requirements to their project prior to committing to the certification.

NAHB Green Scoring Tool

The free online Green Scoring Tool http://www.nahbgreen.org/ScoringTool.aspx is a key element for builders to determine if they want to pursue certification. It allows a builder to enter their project online, based on their best building practices, to determine if they have enough points to pursue certification. The initial walk-through of the scoring tool uses easy checkbox items to give a broad overview of the compliance with different sections. A builder can then analyze their point selections and perform a few calculations to determine if certification is feasible for their project.

If the builder determines they would like to go forward, then they submit an application online which goes to a third party NAHB accredited verifier. The verifier makes sure that the information is consistent, and then will check the work in progress on the jobsite at rough-in and then at a final inspection.

The verifier is trained and certified by the NAHB Research Center to perform the certification of projects to the standard. The verifier function is somewhat unique to the ICC-700 standard. Most other rating systems certify more on the “honor system” and submittal of documents versus actual onsite inspections. Even when an onsite function is required, such as the commissioning of systems, it is fairly broad as to who can perform the onsite evaluations. Just like the home building inspection process, the verifier will perform a final inspection and then submit a final report to the NAHB Research Center. After approval, and before closing, the builder will receive a Green Certificate on the home.

Costs to certify LEED-H versus the ICC-700 NGBS

In a 2008 NAHB Research Center report on the differences in costs between the ICC-700 and LEED-H it was calculated that registration, verification, and certification of projects for a small builder would be about $900 per home for ICC-700 and around $3700 per home for LEED-H. The costs for a large builder were dramatically reduced for LEED-H to around $1400 per home.

An NAHB Builder will pay a certification fee of $200 ($500 non NAHB) and then several hundred dollars for third party verification. A USGBC member will pay a registration fee of $150 and $225 for certification, and then fees for a LEED-H AP and onsite inspections.

Comparison of Rating Systems

So is the ICC-700 in direct competition with LEED for Homes? It is too early to discern at this point, but there are some differences between the programs that it would be good for you to be aware of:

Point Spread—In the LEED suite of certification programs minimum certification level to maximum point attainment is 45 to 136 points. In the ICC-700 those levels spread out from a minimum threshold of 222 to well over 900 point options that vary based on locale and new construction versus renovation.

Resource Efficiency—ICC-700 has a point option for using products with a Life Cycle Analysis. Points are also awarded for using product manufacturers that are compliant with ISO 14001.

Energy Efficiency—Both systems place a major emphasis on this category. LEED-H has 2 Prerequisites for EA and 0 point requirements versus ICC-700 that has a long list of code associated mandatory requirements and 30 minimum points. To achieve the basic bronze certification, a home must achieve 15% better performance than the Energy Star Equivalent.

Verification—LEED-H requires that a LEED Accredited Professional be involved with the project from early design phase for each house type. A separate independent certifier would verify implementation in the field for each house. ICC-700 requires the verifier in the field for each house built.

Origin—LEED-H evolved from the original LEED for new construction. ICC-700 was created specifically for homes. This difference in development creates unique knowledge requirements for the builder to master.

By now, you probably are considering a question that I am often asked—Are all these certification programs just a big scam to make money?

Most knowledgeable people in the green building industry would agree that we need a baseline for the goal of achieving sustainable growth. In the past, our construction industry has always dug up, cut down, mined, refined and gobbled land to acquire the resources needed to create our structures. As construction methods have evolved and intertwined with technology, a new door has opened that allows the reuse of existing resources. Couple this with an owner’s financial desire to have more energy efficient structures, and a natural new course appears—we can’t build buildings like we have in the past.

To a large degree, rating systems and certification programs are creating a framework for innovation in building design. As technology develops, processes and measurements will need to grow and change. Standards tend to get people motivated to figure out a way to get something done, but they are only one element. We have to fundamentally change the way that we do business and manufacture products. The growth of standardized certification programs will only help guide us down the path of change.

So there remains one daunting question—will certification programs, stricter codes, and environmentally preferred products help us to achieve a natural balance between the things that we want and the balance the earth needs to evolve? Only time, trial and error will tell, but one thing is for certain—green growth has been woven into the fabric of our lives and it is here to stay.

Kirby Davis LEED AP, CSI, CCTS, CDT is a Senior Architectural Specialist for LATICRETE International in the South Central USA

One-on-One…with with Howard Pryor
April 1st, 2009

“The key for me is healthfulness and impact on the environment.”

Green Building, 2009

By Jeffrey Steele

If you wanted to learn about green building and tile’s role in this movement, one of the best advisors you could find is Howard Pryor. Director of architectural services for Harrisburg, Pa.’s Conestoga Ceramic Tile, Pryor also chairs the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association’s (CTDA) Green Building Committee, and serves as a member of the Green Initiative Committee of the Tile Council of North America.

Importantly, he’s no Johnny-come-lately to issues of sustainable building. Pryor has long been interested in sustainable design, and works on a daily basis with some of the nation’s most outstanding LEED AP professional architects to help disseminate word of green building’s role in today’s commercial and residential construction.

Pryor recently set aside an hour for a wide-ranging One-on-One discussion with TileDealer. In this candid interview, he reflects on his growing interest in green building, the importance of membership at a local level in the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), and finally what the CTDA’s Green Building Committee can do to help tile dealers and distributors better grasp the issues impacting sustainable construction.


What is your position and how did you become interested in Green Building?


My title is director of architectural services for Conestoga Ceramic Tile in Harrisburg, Pa., with additional locations in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. We celebrated our 50th anniversary in business last year, and as a distributor we represent 37 ceramic tile manufacturers. We sell to dealers and ceramic tile contractors, but not to the direct consumer. My position focuses on the commercial market. We also have a director of sales and marketing, and his focus is on the residential dealer market.

Years ago, I had a very good friend named John Becker who was an architect, and he was actively involved at the very beginning of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). He was heavily into the movement that was then in its infancy. We would have long conversations and talks about architecture, design and the future of our country. The concern was that all the natural resources were being taken away, and we needed to conserve natural resources for the future.

Many architectural reps in the past just showed product and tried to get their products specified. I took a different approach, becoming a Certified Construction Specifier (CCS). I was chairman of certification for the Mid-Atlantic Region for the Construction Specification Institute (CSI), and taught architecture spec writing for seven years. And then I decided to take the exam to get the CCS certification. The pass-fail rate for architects on that exam is about 30-70 percent, and today you can’t even qualify to take it unless you are a construction specifier. I started writing my own construction specifications, and in so doing began incorporating my own manufacturers’ products as products that would be used in these specifications. Rather than selling ceramic tile to architects and interior designers, I sold my construction specifications. The area architects really became interested in how to install it, and how to put it in commercial structures without failure. That’s why I got involved in the Tile Council.
What I’m leading up to is I’ve always been interested in the technical side of ceramic tile. And when I saw that sustainable design was going to be the future of architecture, it was natural for me to become interested in that.

TileDealer: When and how did you get educated in green building?


Two years ago when I saw the rush by all my architect and interior design friends to get LEED certified, and also when I became aware of architectural libraries being created specifically for green products only, I thought it prudent to read and learn all I could about LEED. Many people even today do not understand what LEED is, what it stands for, and how points are accumulated, for instance.

TileDealer: What was most helpful to you?


I went online and learned all I could about the USGBC. Next, I downloaded the study guides to the manuals for LEED certification. The committee members of the Green Building Committee of CTDA have been extremely helpful in supplying information and feedback on anything relating to Green construction.

(The committee members are: All Tile, DavidJones; American Olean Tile, Tom Facca; Anthony Bogo Ltd., Lisa Bogo; Arizona Tile, LLC, Mark Huarte; Bonsal American, Kevin McFadden; Cleftstone Works, Peter Galgano; D & B Tile, Carole Schafmeister; East Coast Tile, Frank Donahue; Fin Pan, Inc., Lisa Schaffer; Florida Tile, Inc., Dan Marvin; Florim USA, Matteo Casolari; Florim USA, Jana Gatlin; Jaeckle Wholesale, Richard Deutsch; Laticrete International, Kirby Davis; Laticrete International, Mitch Hawkins; Mediterranea, George Larrazabal; Miles Distributors, TomMiles; Noble Company, Eric Edelmayer; Orchid Ceramics, Kurt Graves; Orchid Ceramics, Brian McKeown; Schechner Lifson, David Mack; Schluter Systems, Earl Maicus; Jason Neu; Specialty Tile, Gary Moore; Statements Inc., Ryan Calkins; StonePeak Ceramics, Noah Chitty; Sun Touch, Tracy Hall; Tile Council, Bill Griese; Tile Outlets, Curt Rapp; and United States Gypsum, Steve Rausch.)

TileDealer: Is membership in the USGBC at a local chapter level helpful, and if so how so?


Membership is very helpful. Changes are occurring every day, and new information is constantly being disseminated. Also networking among the membership enables you to stay on top of the important issues regarding green construction.

For instance, I just heard some think you can just assemble product within a 500-mile radius and that would qualify you for the MR 5.1 & 5.2 points. Manufacturer reps are telling their contacts this, and I’m not sure that’s correct.

There are two areas that you can get LEED points with ceramic tile. The main area within LEED certification is materials and resources (MR). MR 4.1 and 4.2 have to do with recycled content. MR 5.1 and 5.2 have to do with regional manufacturing. In others words, if your source manufacturer is within 500 miles of the project, you earn points based on the total value of the cost of materials being used. Some reps are putting the label on their architectural binders saying this product will give you LEED points. But LEED does not give points for products, only projects. The problem is people do not understand the LEED rules, and that’s why education is so important.

TileDealer: Are thereother resourcesdealers and distributors should tap for Green building information?


The first resource I’d suggest is www.usgbc.org. Second, they should contact CTDA. Our committee has developed a Green Building Powerpoint presentation that all members may use to educate themselves and their customers—including retail ceramic tile dealers, commercial architects and interior design firms—on the LEED movement. This Powerpoint presentation was created as a program for members to put on for their customers, explaining how ceramic tile fits in with green building design.

TileDealer: How do you reachout to architects and specifiers to let them know you have Green products?


Many manufacturers are promoting green aspects of their products. Florida Tile and Laticrete, Inc., for instance, have their products certified by Green Guard, an independent third party testing and certifying firm recognized by the USGBC, which tests and certifies products for recyclable content.

Florida Tile and Laticrete provide stickers for their architectural binders that reflect this certification. My architectural reps and myself are placing these stickers in prominent areas on the architectural binders, and also asking the firms if they have a green product library in which those binders can be placed.

TileDealer: How do you choose Green products for your company?


At the Coverings show this year, every time you walked into a booth and talked to a manufacturer the first thing they talked about was the recycled content of the product offerings they were showing. This tells me that is foremost in their minds as manufacturers. When you’re talking about recyclability, there’s a distinction between post-consumer and pre-consumer recycled content. Post consumer is something that’s been used already. Almost all ceramic tile manufacturers’ products include pre-consumer recyclables. In LEED certification you get a half point for pre-consumer recycled material and a full point for post-consumer recycled material. I feel that manufacturers need to begin talking about lifecycle analysis of their product offerings, meaning the entire history from the extraction of the raw materials to the end of the useful life—cradle-to-grave lifecycle analysis of the products they offer. That’s what we examine when selecting products to promote. The key for me is the healthfulness of the products for end users, and the impact those products exert on the environment.

TileDealer: How much green education do your employees need?


Everyone needs to understand what the movement is all about. Ceramic tile has been around since 575 BC. Archaeologists use ceramic tile shards to date civilizations. We have taken our product for granted. We know our products are made from dirt. How much greener than that can you get?

Weassumed everyone knew this and remained silent while the carpet, vinyl and wood industry were out tooting their own horns about their recycled content to the USGBC. What has happened is, our products have taken a backseat when one is looking for floor and wall selections on their green projects.

But carpet or resilient floors could be reprocessed dozens of times before a tile floor would wear out. And petrochemical content in carpets and resilient and other engineered floor materials is a serious detriment to indoor air quality, and a health threat to people who live with these materials. We haven’t been getting that word out.

But that is now changing. CTDA along with TCNA and NTCA are becoming very active in promoting our features and benefits to the Green Building communities. Everyone involved in the ceramic tile industry needs to play parts in getting this message out. They have to be careful, though, not to “Greenwash” their claims.

TileDealer: What’s the best way for employees to be trained?


The best way for them to be trained is by participating in CTDA Management Conferences, and industry trade shows where educational seminars are being held on green building with ceramic tile. Participating in CTDA webinars that offer current information on what is happening within the green movement is also advisable.

TileDealer: Any last thoughts?


I think Anthony Bogo stated it best in his graduate field report for his CTC certification with CTIOA. He wrote, “We must recognize and seize the opportunity that the green building movement presents our industry, above and beyond many other competing surface materials. As an industry, we must direct our energy on educating the American public with regard to what makes tile a wise choice for the health and benefit of our homes and businesses. We preach to ourselves within the confines of our own trade journals, when we should be aiming our message at a greater audience.

“We have assumed our market would spontaneously understand the nature of our product category, but it does not. Americans, unlike Europeans and other cultures, do not have a historical reference or traditional connection to tile. It’s our responsibility to get the correct and truthful information into their hands. Our products truly help end users to solve real problems and create healthier work places and homes. We can feel good about being part of the solution.”


Howard Pryor, director of architectural services

Conestoga Ceramic Tile, Harrisburg, PA

Office: 717-564-6860

Cell: 717-903-3081


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