From the Editor’s Desk: Between hurricanes and holidays
 
November 1st, 2005

by Janet Arden, Editor

November-December 2005

One of the challenges of magazine publishing is that you will not read what we are writing for several weeks. The printer and the post office each get to step in and do their part in helping us get TileDealer to your doorstep. That has posed one dilemma and some interesting opportunities for this issue.

Our dilemma is that it seems almost impossible to communicate with anyone this season without first commenting on the impact of the hurricanes in the Gulf Coast. All of us at TileDealer hope—as we prepare this issue for you—that you, your family and your business have safely weathered the storms.

Opportunity #1 is that this is also the season when we refine and finalize our editorial calendar for 2006. Part trend-watching, part brainstorming, editorial planning gives us a chance to look forward to what we think you want to read about and what we think we all need to know more about in the months ahead. TileDealer’s 2006 editorial calendar calls for close-ups of products—glass tile, porcelain, accents, and more—as well as design trends like mosaics and exterior installations. Look for a special kitchen and bath issue as well as close-ups of imports from Italy, Spain and Turkey. We’ll also continue to follow the growing role of stone in the marketplace.

Because this business is about much more than just the products, TileDealer will take a close look at some industry issues like mold, green building and imports. We’ll also offer continuing coverage of some important business topics like software, installation, upselling and showroom display.

Opportunity #2 is that the new year—which will be just weeks away as you read this—opens the door to a whole new round of industry shows, starting with Surfaces in January and then moving ahead to Cevisama in February, Revestir in March, and Coverings in April. Each of these showcases, and all of those that follow later in the year, are sure to introduce new products and new topics for coverage in TileDealer.

Opportunity #3 is really yours. Your input is always welcome and encouraged. Are there additional topics you want to see in the months ahead? I would love to hear from you. Email me at editor@tiledealer.com.

Finally, this issue marks our second birthday. We launched TileDealer with the November/December issue in 2003. We’ve grown in more ways than one with more advertisers, more contributors and always more information to share with you.

Thank you for your support over these last two years. We can’t wait to see what’s ahead!


Innovations
 
November 1st, 2005

 

November-December 2005

StonePeak Introduces New Line of Glazed Tiles

StonePeak Ceramics, Inc. introduced its latest line at an exclusive distributor event in Chicago. The texture and glaze of the company’s Café, CastleRock, and Slate glazed tile lines complement the four lines of unglazed porcelain ceramic tiles unveiled at Coverings in May. “Each StonePeak Ceramic series integrates Italian style with American sensibility,” said Barrie Dekker, Vice President of Strategic Sales for StonePeak Ceramics. The Café series is available in four colors, including Cream, Black Coffee, Green Tea and Cocoa, and two modulating sizes, 12″ x 12″ and 18″ x 18″. Stairtread and Bull Nose complementary trims and decorative accents are also included. The tiles are suitable for residential and light commercial uses. The Slate series emulates natural slate in color and feel. Slate tiles are available in Sand, Earth, Everglades, Lava and Clay, and four sizes, from 6″ x 6″ to 18″ x 18″. A range of complementary trims, accents and borders are also available, including Stairtread, Bull Nose, Cove Base, Out Corner and In Corner. Slate tiles are best suited for residential and light commercial uses. CastleRock was inspired by natural Travertine. CastleRock is impervious to staining and consistent in size with straight edges and uniform coloration. The series is available in Armor, White Cliff, and Cobblestone and in sizes, from 6″ x 6″ to 18″ x 18″, along with a complimentary trim package, including counter rail and quarter round. CastleRock tiles are ideal for all residential applications, including counters and back-splashes, as well as light commercial uses. (312-222-9126)

THE RAYCHEM® QUICKNET™ FLOOR WARMING SYSTEM

Tyco Thermal Controls announces the release of the Raychem QuickNet electrical floor warming system. The electric floor warming unit is installed directly under ceramic tile or natural stone, providing ideal comfort in tiled areas that would otherwise feel cold when walked on with bare feet. The QuickNet system includes a mat that has a heating cable woven into an adhesive-backed fiberglass mesh. Its low 3/16 inch (3 mm) profile makes it ideal for renovation or new construction and rolls out easily, adhering to the floor. It can be cut to accommodate any shape room with ease, without the need for anchoring devices, glue, staples or clips. The mats are pre-terminated for use at 120 and 240 volts and are available in various lengths. The thermostat helps ensure user safety by including built-in GFCI protection. (www.raychemquicknet.com)

EXPRESSIONS COLLECTION

The Expressions Collection from Imagine Tile, Inc. creates a continuing series of designs that are on the cutting edge of today’s color, style and texture trends. “Expressions marries the latest thinking of leading industry designers with our unique manufacturing process in which we use state-of-the-art digital imaging combined with the age old art of ceramics to create distinctly casual tile with a warm, natural handcrafted feel,” said Christian McAuley, Imagine Tile’s President. “Canyon,” the collection’s first pattern inspired by the canyon walls of the southwest, is from designer Roche Fitzgerald. “Canyon” is available in 16″ x 16″ and 8″ x 8″ configurations. Tiles meet or exceed all ANSI requirements, are ADA compliant and warranted for manufacturer’s defects for five years. Using ceramic glazes composed of micro-fine materals and ores combined with flux to make them behave as printing inks, the image is printed and “transferred” to the surface of a ceramic substrate which is then fired at extremely high temperatures. (800-680-TILE)

THREE NEW SERIES

Monarch Ceramic Tile introduces three new tile series: Armonia, Beton and Le Dune. The Armonia series has a gentled limestone look inspired by the Mediterranean pavers found in piazzas, courtyards and marketplaces. The glazed porcelain tile is available in Pietra Almond, Pietra Gold, Pietra Green and Pietra Noce. These natural earthtone colors bring the appeal of irregular depressions and pickets of calcification in both large scale and modular sizes as well as mosaic options. The series blends with a wide range of decorative styles—vintage to eclectic—dependent on other design elements incorporated into a setting. The Rombo Mix Mosaic is composed of diamond-shaped pieces from all four colors in the series that are mesh-mounted to facilitate simple installation. Can be used as-is or cut into strips to create a unique listelli strip. Beton’s color body porcelain captures the strength and utilitarianism of industrial concrete that was the forerunner of this striking series that doesn’t stain, effloresce or need sealing or special maintenance. The body coloration also aids in disguising any impact chips that may occur in busy installations. Like concrete, the color is speckled on the surface, adding visual interest to floors and walls. ADA compliant, lightly distressed surface. The series comes in Beton Blanc, Beton Bleu, Beton Gris, Beton Marron and Beton Noir and in two tile sizes (20″ x 20″ and 13″ x 13″). The Le Dune series reflects the muted tonal gradations and intricate veining found in limestone. The technological advances in porcelain yield more consistency of color and texture in natural earthtone shades: Dune Beige, Dune Bianco, Dune Grigio, Dune Marfil and Dune Noce. The large format (20″ x 20″) minimizes grout joints. Allergen free, hygienic and easily maintained, it’s ideal for modern residential and commercial consumers who are design savvy and seek high quality materials and workmanship. (800-BUY-TILE)

OCEANSIDE GLASSTILE’S FACETS UNVEILS NEW PATTERNS

Oceanside Glasstile’s Facets™ is a collection of detailed borders and field tile patterns featuring gem-like custom-made miniature glass tiles in a choice of 38 colors from the Tessera line. Facets hand-cut mosaics (½” x ½” and ½” x 1″) combined with Oceanside Glasstile’s mosaic field tiles (1″ x 1″, 1″ x 2″ and 2″ x 2″) create complex patterns and patterns within patterns. Facets borders provide design flexibility allowing the tile to mesh with a variety of interior design styles. The borders come in six symmetrical repeating design patterns and sizes vary, with the average running 3″ x 12″. Many can be cut into small decorative or narrow linear accents. Three Facets field patterns feature mini accent pieces that contrast with 1″ x 1″, 1″ x 2″ and 2″ x 2″ mosaic tiles, creating the illusion of texture, depth and movement within the pattern. Facets is a green building material, using silica sand and over 1,000 tons of recycled bottle glass. (www.glasstile.com)

THE FASHION OF GLASS TILES

Diamond Tech Glass Tiles’ new Dimensions Series gives edgy angles and rich finishes of glass with its 14 translucent hues. The 8 mm thick series comes in four sizes allowing for the tiles to be arranged in endless patterns. Ideal for interior and exterior installations, the series is impervious to liquids, and resistant to fading, staining and discoloration. (www.dtglasstiles.com)

WALK ON THE WILD SIDE WITH

PORCELAIN TILE

Mediterranea’s “Safari” line of glazed porcelain tile uses a unique blend of natural stone and animal print coloring that is perfect for both floor and wall installation. The exotic line is available in hues of Kenya (beige), Zimbabwe (noce), Madagascar (gold), Tanzania (blue), Kilimanjaro (terracotta) and Serengeti (bronze). The line combines Turkish ceramic tile tradition with innate style, offering a natural, striking look for commercial and residential installations. “Safari” comes in field tile sizes of 13″ x 13″ and 18″ x 18″. Printed bullnoses are available in a 3″ x 13″ size and 2″ x 2″ mesh-mounted mosaics are offered on 13″ x 13″ sheets. Meets ADA guidelines for slip resistance. (www.architecturalimports.com)

STYLE AND FASHION COLLECTION

Argentina’s Ilva S.A.’s Paesina Collection of glazed porcelain tile gives contemporary flooring for residential and light commercial environments a clean, modish look. Paesina hues include: Quarzo, Platinum, Sabbia, Notte and Bosco. All colors are available in field tile sizes of 18″ x 18″, 14″ x 14″ and 7″ x 7″, as well as in 1.6″ x 14″ mosaic listellos mesh-mounted on 14″ x 14″ sheets. Decorative accents are offered in Paesina shades as 3.2″ x 14″ and 2″ x 14″ listellos. The collection also includes a full line of specialty pieces. (661-942-2545)

ARCADIA TILES

VitrA Tiles USA introduces its VitrA Arcadia tiles. The tiles are available in black, beige and light and dark gray and in 12″ x 24″ and 18″ x 18″ tiles. Arcadia, ideal for commercial and residential use, has a porcelain body, which makes them resistant to abrasion, chemicals and frost and has a lower water absorption rate of less than .5%. The floor tiles can be used in exterior and interior applications. Arcadia is available with matte and semi-matte surfaces and rectified/non-rectified options. (770-904-6173)

TILE WITH SELF-EXPRESSION

Steuler Fliesen’s “Freestyle” series puts design creation in the hands of the customer. It is more of a tile program than a tile collection. “Freestyle” allows the customer the choice of their favorite images or objects to incorporate in the tile’s overall look and design. Includes a white body ceramic 8″ x 8″ size wall tile with one or four holes with an integrated winding. Chrome buttons are available to insert into the holes. Tiles in a glossy and matte finish are also available with raised texture. The chrome brushed buttons act as a latch for form-retaining silicon rights that crisscross the tiles from button to button, holding the decoration in place. Decorative pieces are also available with the series. “With different décor elements from our series or from one’s personal collection, it’s easy to recreate a new wall style for any room,” said Paul Heldens, Managing Director of Steuler Fliesen. (207-828-8050)

NEW VICTORIAN TILE DECORATIVES

Meredith Collection has added decoratives with a traditional appeal to its Iron Gate Victorian era design tiles. New neo-classic decoratives include a Sunburst design, Palm Dot, Necklace, Egg and Dart, Palm Border and Swag Border. The designs add classic character to the line, allowing for even more options in new, traditional and renovation installations. (www.meredithtile.com)


Industry Insights
 
November 1st, 2005

November-December 2005

Alfonso Panzani elected president of Assopiastrelle

The Assembly of Assopiastrelle has elected Alfonso Panzani, President of Assopiastrelle for a two-year term 2005-2006. Panzani is president of the Italian ceramic manufacturer, Settecento Valtresinaro. His background with Assopiastrelle began in 1986, when he was elected a Board Member. He was most recently President of the Energy Commission of the Association; President of Gas Intensive, the consortium for the acquisition of methane gas among Italian energy-intensive sectors; and a member of the Administrative Boards of Cer-Energia and Cofim. From 1995-1997, he was President of the Assopiastrelle Commission for Promotional Activity and Tradeshows and a member of the council of CFI, the Confindustria organization that brings together associations that run tradeshows. He succeeds Sergio Sassi, who has been president for two consecutive terms, and due to bylaws, was no longer eligible for the presidency.

Master Tile announces new CEO

Master Tile announced the appointment of Bobby Glennon as Chief Executive Officer. Glennon’s leadership will drive Master Tile’s national expansion in the ceramic tile and stone distribution business. The company recently completed acquisitions that expanded the company’s geographic presence in its existing regions and added new territories in New Jersey, Georgia and Arizona. These additions significantly increase the company’s reach beyond its historic roots in Texas, Oklahoma, Florida and California. “Bobby is exactly the right leader for Master Tile. His extensive distribution background and vision for the floor covering industry complements our commitment to lead the ceramic and stone distribution segment,” said Hazem Farra, Chairman of Master Tile, who has served as interim CEO since November, 2004.

Delta relocates

Delta Diamond Tools, Inc., a leading tooling supply company to marble and granite fabricators in North America, has relocated to a newer, larger facility in Southfield, MI. This move has been part of the continued growth of the company, according to Delta Diamond Tools’ President Phil Mularoni. The new facility will increase Delta Diamond’s current space, allowing for the expansion of both its sales staff and inventory. Commenting on the move, Mularoni said, “We consider our new facility to be a critical part of our growth plans and therefore we are pleased to have achieved this milestone. The new facility will allow us to process and expedite sales and better service our customers.”

Staff additions at Alpha

Alpha Professional Tools® is pleased to announce the additions of Shawn Gilreath and Suzanne Wolf to the company’s sales team. Gilreath will be responsible for the Northwest Territory, which consists of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana and the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, Canada. Wolf will be responsible for the New England Territory, which consists of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Eastern New York State and Quebec, Canada. Both come to Alpha will many years of experience in related fields.

First comprehensive shop and consumer safety video programs in Spanish

Aqua Mix, Inc., and the Marble Institute of America (MIA) are teaming up to offer the natural stone industry the first comprehensive shop and consumer safety video programs in Spanish. Introduced at StonExpo, the two-part training CD is a Spanish version of the Basics of Stone Shop Safety video that was introduced by MIA late in 2004. The first segment is a comprehensive overview of fabrication shop safety—from slab handling to working with hazardous materials. The second segment focuses on protecting consumers who visit stone shops and showrooms. The latter was trigged by the tragic death of a six-year old Florida boy and injuries his parents sustained when wooden A-frames loaded with stone collapsed while they were in the display area. E.Rick Baldini, president of Aqua Mix, Inc., a major supplier to the natural stone industry, said the company funded the Spanish versions for three reasons. “We clearly recognize the growing importance of the Hispanic community in the stone fabrication industry,” he said. “We recognize and support the great work that MIA is doing to help the stone industry. Aqua Mix’s mission statement includes the role of being a responsible corporate citizen and the Spanish-language safety video is a perfect fit.”

Villane joins Bostik Group

The Bostik Flooring Group has appointed Dennis M. Villane—a former customer—as the territory manager for Hydroment® and DURABOND® ceramic products in central California. Villane brings with him 10 years of flooring industry sales and customer service experience. He has served as a sales representative for Hydroment distributor Dal-Tile Corp. in Fresno, California, and as a customer service representative in Fresno for Hydroment distributor Bedrosian. Villane reports directly to Rick Tredwell, Bostik Flooring’s Western Sales Manager.

Marmo teams with MIA for seminars

Jim Callaghan, vice president of sales at Marmo Machinery USA, will speak at a series of educational seminars of the Marble Institute of America (MIA) that his company is sponsoring. Called the MIA Natural Stone Continuing Education Program, the seminars train architects, interior designers, general and residential contractors and stone industry employees. They are taught on a local or regional basis by members of MIA who cover such topics as an introduction to natural stone, natural stone selection criteria, and how natural stone goes from the quarry to the residential countertop or commercial project.

Marmo is sponsoring the institute’s regional one-day seminars for one year, which began in April 2005, and will run through March 2006. They are being held in five cities that include Phoenix, AZ, Austin, TX, Boston, MA, St. Cloud, MN, and Seattle, WA.

“I am very pleased and excited to be involved in this worthwhile program,” said Callaghan. “Education is key to becoming competitive and successful in the North American stone industry, especially with the backdrop of worldwide competition.”

COVERINGS MOVING TO CHICAGO FOR ALTERNATE YEARS

Coverings, the largest and most comprehensive annual marketplace for tile and stone and the preferred forum for hard surface education, will be staged alternately between Orlando and Chicago, beginning with the April 2007 show. Announcement of the added venue at Chicago’s McCormack Place Convention Center was made by the show’s Board of Directors, which includes representatives from the five sponsoring organizations: Assopiastrelle (Association of Italian Ceramic Tile and Refactories Manufacturers), ASCER (Spain’s Ceramic Tile Manufacturers Association), TCNA (Tile Council of North America), CTDA (Ceramic Tile Distributors Association) and, NTCA (National Tile Contractors Association).

In commenting on the decision, Tamara Christian, president, National Trade Productions (NTP), show management for Coverings, said, “We’re very excited about this opportunity. Being in Chicago for alternate years will expand the audience for our exhibitors’ products and enhance the entire market for Coverings. The close proximity of major markets and the specifiers in those markets will be of great value to Coverings exhibitors. At the same time, the diverse nature of the expected attendees will create a meaningful total show experience and, together with the many cultural and entertainment offerings, will make their attendance at the show a profitable and rewarding experience.”

Chicago is home to a vital community of design and construction professionals. It’s also a convenient hub for national and international transportation, as close to being the “center” of the country as any American city. “This is exciting news,” said Christina Michael, principal of CSM Design Studio, Gurnee, IL. “Our business is high-end residential and hospitality and because of the sheer variety of exhibitors, no other trade show is as important to us as Coverings. It is essential for us to attend, though not always easy making the trip down to Orlando each year, so this change to Chicago is fantastic.”

Bohdan Gernaga, of Chicago-based Tymedesign, said, “I know so many of my peers who have had to put traveling to trade shows on the back burner because of the expense. The decision to add Chicago is so smart. I think Coverings in Chicago will attract even more attendance from nearby and further west. I’m all for it!”

Coverings 2006, April 4-7, will return to Orlando, where this year’s attendance hit a record high of more than 32,000. “In 2005, Coverings had a phenomenal show,” said Christian. “ Orlando has proven to be the appropriate location for us, and, now as we head to Chicago in alternate years, we’re confident that its growth will be fueled further.” Coverings 2007 is scheduled for April 17-20.


Installer Update: Meeting Wall Installation Challanges
 
November 1st, 2005

Mortars, mastics offer technologically advanced solutions

By Tom Plaskota
TEC® brands

November-December 2005

Installing wall tile, whether ceramic, porcelain or natural stone, can be challenging. But, recent advancements in setting material technology are helping to make installation easier and improving installer efficiency.

Keeping up with the latest in products, while remembering important application fundamentals, will help you produce consistently successful—and profitable—wall tile installations.

Wall installation challenges

Installers face a variety of challenges with wall tile. Here are some common areas of concern:

• Gravity is the primary challenge. The weight of some tiles can cause sagging or slippage during installation.

• Having a plumb substrate is critical. The maximum variation for ceramic tile installation, as prescribed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI A108), is ¼-inch in 10 feet and 1/16-inch in 1 foot. For natural stone tile, the Dimension Stone Design Manual, Version 6 requires a maximum variation of 1/8-inch in 10 feet. “Lippage”—a condition where one edge of a tile is higher than adjacent edges—can occur if these tolerances aren’t met. Wall installation lippage can be an aesthetic concern.

• Secure bonding is key to the success of a wall installation. The failure of a heavy tile to adhere to a wall can be a safety issue.

Solutions from mortars and mastics

Mortars and mastics are the main types of wall tile installation materials. Each has specific characteristics that must be considered when selecting an ideal solution.

Latex-modified thinset mortars offer excellent adhesion and water resistance. This makes them a good choice for exterior installations or tiles that are exposed to moisture. These mortars traditionally require the use of bracing or temporary holding devices to prevent the tile from sagging or slipping during installation. Holding devices are effective, but can make installation a slow-going process.

Special non-sag thinset mortars are often used to install heavy wall tile without the use of bracing. Some non-sag mortars require a latex additive, particularly when used in installations that are subject to wet or freezing conditions. The mortar’s non-sag benefit also contributes to a thick, gummy nature that can be difficult to trowel.

A new advanced mortar type, called performance mortar, addresses installation issues related to non-sag and other thinset mortars. These products provide a quick “grab” of tile weighing up to 6 lbs. per square foot, thus eliminating the need for bracing. Some performance mortars are formulated with hollow, ceramic microspheres that produce a ball-bearing effect resulting in minimal trowel resistance and less tile-setter fatigue. Performance mortars also require no additives or extra mixing time and may be used with waterproofing membranes.

Mastics are another common setting material, particularly for indoor, residential applications. They require no mixing, provide quick grab and minimal waste, which makes them an easy-to-use solution.

Because mastics depend on evaporation to cure and achieve maximum adhesion, they cannot be installed over waterproofing membranes. Additionally, mastics that have been installed can lose adhesion if they get wet, which makes them unsuitable for exterior applications. Depending on the tile size, mastics may typically require a cure time of 24 hours or longer before grouting.

Until recently, mastics have been well suited for smaller tile sizes. But, slip resistance has greatly increased with the latest formulations. Some of these improved mastics are capable of bonding large format tile that weighs up to 7 lbs. per square foot.

Getting a plumb wall before installation

Patching compounds are recommended for correcting small, uneven wall areas. Use of patching products from the same manufacturer as the rest of the installation system will ensure compatibility. If a larger correction is needed, the wall can be “mudded” with metal lath covered by a scratch coat and a brown coat to give it a new flat, level surface.

In addition, a 6-foot level or a 10-foot straight edge is a valuable tool to measure possible variation in the wall substrate.

Regardless of the type of correction, it is very difficult to correct out-of-plumb walls with mortar or mastic. Corrections must be made before tile installation begins.

Bonding

Ceramic tile requires a minimum of 80 percent coverage of the setting material to achieve an adequate bond. The coverage rate increases to 95 percent for ceramic tile used in exterior or shower installations. For natural stone, 100 percent coverage is recommended by the industry.

Back buttering each piece of tile is a long-standing installation practice. While usually effective at attaining 100 percent coverage, it is time consuming and requires extra mortar.

The new performance mortars use a special combination of very fine particles—or nanostructure—and micropheres. This formulation makes it possible to achieve excellent coverage without applying additional material and with the right synergy of the particles creating stronger bonds with the cement.

Regardless of the bonding material being used, the best way to promote contact with the substrate is to spread the material with the flat side of the trowel. Then, the material should be combed straight with the notched side to attain maximum coverage. The tiles should then be pressed and moved perpendicular to the trowel marks. It is always a good idea to periodically remove a tile to verify coverage.

Finding help

If you need help, manufacturers of installation products are a ready source of information. They are the first and best resource for installation techniques used with proprietary products.

For more general information concerning installation specifications, look into these resources:

• The Tile Council of North America (TCNA) issues the Handbook for Ceramic Tile Installation. TCNA also publishes the ANSI American National Standard Specifications for the Installation of Ceramic Tile. More information about TCNA publications is available at www.tileusa.com.

• The Dimension Stone Design Manual, published by the Marble Institute of America (MIA), is a valuable reference for anyone who installs natural stone. The MIA Web site (www.marble-institute.com) also includes white papers and other helpful resources.

Tom Plaskota is technical support manager for Specialty Construction Brands, the manufacturer of TEC brands. He has more than 25 years of experience with construction methods, testing and materials. One of the most respected and trusted names in the industry, TEC is a leading brand of installation and care and maintenance systems for premium tile and natural stone flooring.


CTDA Trade Mission to Turkey
 
November 1st, 2005

November-December 2005 Members have been invited on a unique business and travel opportunity to Istanbul, Turkey

The Turkish Ceramic Association has invited CTDA members to join them on a trade mission to Istanbul, Turkey, on June 12-16, 2006, to learn more about Turkey’s ceramic tile industry. The trip includes round trip flight from Chicago or New York to Istanbul, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and entertainment each day, hotel accommodations for 4 nights, and travel agency services. All CTDA distributors and manufacturers of ancillary products for the industry are eligible to participate.

The Turkish Ceramic Association will attend the 2005 CTDA Management Conference November 10-13 in Rancho Mirage, Cailfornia, and will be available to answer questions and register members for the trip. You may also contact the CTDA office, (630) 545-9415 for additional information.

Turkey

Turkey is a land of diversity where East meets West. Civilizations that molded history were born here in Anatolia. From the Hitites to the Romans, from the Byzantines to the Selchuks, from the Ottoman Empire to the Turkish Republic; eras and cultures create a colorful mosaic on this land. Surrounded by three seas and uniting three continents, Turkey today holds a unique and strategic geographical position.

Today Turkey is the youngest nation in Europe. Nearly a quarter of the population is younger than 14 years of age. The Turkish Republic is based on a secular democratic, pluralist and parliamentary system. It’s a leading country in the region with its large, open, prosperous economy and sustainable growth.

The dynamo of Turkey

Istanbul is a world capital with a tradition of 3,000 years that served as the capital of three empires: East Rome, Byzantine and Ottoman over a period of 15 centuries. Istanbul is the global city of harmony, embracing different religions, ethnic groups and languages. Today, Istanbul is a world metropolis with about 15 million inhabitants, honoring and preserving the legacy of its past while looking forward to a modern future.

The only city in the world linking two continents, Istanbul is situated on either side of the Bosporus Straits, Istanbul presents a stunning spectacle of East becoming West, Asia becoming Europe.

Istanbul is Turkey’s largest city and the pillar of national and regional economy. It’s the center of industry, commerce and finance; the capital of culture, arts, tourism and entertainment. Istanbul’s economical, cultural and social leadership plays a very important role throughout the region.


One – on – One… With Barrie Dekker
 
November 1st, 2005

 

By Jeffrey Steele

November-December 2005

“Our goals are simple—To win in the marketplace”

As vice-president of strategic sales for newly launched, Chicago-based StonePeak Ceramics, Barrie Dekker brings to her position a wealth of experience. Representing the fourth generation of her family to work in the ceramic business, she has personally been involved in the ceramic industry for 25 years. Dekker spent her initial years in the industry on the wholesale distribution side, and later joined Graniti Fiandre and eventually Crossville Ceramics.

In a recent wide-ranging interview with TileDealer, Dekker discussed a myriad of topics, including the product focus of StonePeak Ceramics, the reasons the company was launched when and where it was, and the ceramic tile market trends that are likely to impact the company and its competitors in the years ahead.

TileDealer: What inspired StonePeak’s founders to launch the company?

Dekker: There are many factors that helped convince us to launch our business in the U.S. The current market factors are excellent, and demand for ceramic tile has increased and is expected to continue growing. Manufacturing in the U.S. provides us an advantage in getting product to the market quickly. We can ship one box, one truck or even ten trucks the day of the order. If the shipments were coming from Italy, the delivery time would be at least six to eight weeks, in addition to transportation costs.

Because Stonepeak Ceramics is an American company, we design tiles with American tastes in mind. Our whole approach to business is in keeping with the American way.

TileDealer: Can you describe the product line?

Dekker: Our initial product introduction is comprised of seven collections, all of which are porcelain. Four series are unglazed, or through-body tiles, and three series are glazed. We will continue to add a number of collections on an ongoing basis. The unglazed product lines include a general porcelain series called New Basics, as well as a Terrazzo series, a Limestone series and a Marble series. Sizes range from 6-by-6 inches to 24-by-24 inches. The glazed series is our newest introduction. We have one collection called Café, which has an urban look. We’re offering a slate series that resembles a warm, natural slate and is available in five colors. The third collection is CastleRock, which has a natural old travertine look.

TileDealer: What are the best sellers? The most innovative products?

Dekker: Because we are new, having launched our company at Coverings in May, it’s difficult to predict which lines will be the best sellers. We anticipate interest in all of our product lines, particularly our through-body Limestone and Marble. We also expect significant interest in our glazed collections, given the fact that the glazed market is much larger than the unglazed market today.

As for innovation, we have a production process for our unglazed products that we refer to internally as our “ Technology Tower.” The equipment allows us to randomly control powder placement, resulting in unique tiles that do not repeat in pattern. We are constantly tweaking and updating our manufacturing processes to ensure our products are one of a kind. We are the only manufacturer in the United States offering this advanced technology today.

TileDealer: How well has StonePeak been received in the marketplace?

Dekker: It’s been terrific, even better than we anticipated. The market is very ripe for both the products we have to offer and the services we provide. We are approaching the market in a truly American way: friendly and easy to do business with.

We’re hearing approval from many different segments, especially from our independent network of distributors. Their response has been outstanding. They’re eager to partner with domestic manufacturers; they love what they see from our product offering; and they’re excited about the programs we’re putting in place.

TileDealer: What’s been the response from potential competitors?

Dekker: We do not have a strong hold on our competitors’ response, as we have been focused mainly on the response of our distributors, which has been overwhelming. Our distributor partners are enthusiastic about our product lines and have shared positive feedback on our marketing programs and materials, logistics programs, ongoing product research and development and customer service enhancements.

TileDealer: How many distributors have you acquired?

Dekker: We’re currently working with approximately 30 distributors. We’re close to having a comprehensive network of distributors that covers every territory in the U.S. Our distribution network is focused on serving North America. That’s our priority.

TileDealer: Are you aiming at the same high end of the market as Crossville?

Dekker: We are targeting both the residential and commercial markets with middle to high-end tiles. This portion of the market is growing and fits with our expertise in designing and producing higher-end porcelain ceramic tiles.

TileDealer: How big is that market?

Dekker: Right now, domestic shipments within the U.S. are in the neighborhood of 700 million square feet per year. The total market includes more than 3 billion square feet per year, with imports accounting for about 80 percent.

TileDealer: What appealed to StonePeak about the sites of its manufacturing facility and executive headquarters?

Dekker: There are a number of reasons it made sense to locate our manufacturing in Tennessee. The main reason is the close proximity to many of the raw materials we use in our tiles. We use all kinds of clays and raw materials from a variety of states around the Southeast. Also, there’s a great work ethic in the area, providing us with a strong and dedicated workforce. Because tile is so heavy to transport, being located near the majority of the U.S. population and the geographic center of the continental U.S. is key.

With our corporate headquarters in Chicago, we are in the heart of a well-known architectural and design community in the country. And when we think of bringing clients in to meet with us, Chicago is a very easy place to get to.

TileDealer: Can you undercut imports in price?

Dekker: The market conditions are in favor of manufacturing here in the States. The exchange rate between the Euro and dollar has made it very expensive to purchase in Europe. We are cost-efficient and competitive for those reasons, coupled with the fact that our state-of-the-art factory includes an extremely efficient production process. We are not focused on competing with suppliers coming in from Brazil, China, Turkey and Thailand.

TileDealer: What trends are impacting the market?

Dekker: In terms of product, natural looks are “in” right now. Stone in particular is a hot commodity. Large units are gaining in popularity and usage, and we have the ability to make tiles as large as 24-by-24 inches. We’re getting away from the more rugged and rustic looks. Although those tiles are still popular, we’re seeing a trend more toward straight edges.

Glass and metals, which we will be adding as accents to complement our lines, are still a strong influence. Natural wood is the newest trend. While we don’t currently offer any wood-looking porcelain tile, we may in the future. We will continue to respond to the market and offer new introductions on a regular basis.

Market trends are also influencing our business. Due to the rise in income and low mortgage rates, we’re seeing people buying homes, as well as refinancing and remodeling existing homes. There is more attention paid to permanent surfaces like ceramic tile these days, and the consumer is much more educated about the advantages of porcelain tile in particular. They’re willing to make upgrades more readily today than we’ve seen in the past. There are also a lot of second home buyers purchasing ceramic tile that we haven’t seen in previous years.

In general, the interest in tile is growing, and with that we’re seeing new applications. People are taking tile out of the bathroom and into more living spaces within their homes. Even in cold climates, people are starting to use more tile on floors, where historically they’ve used carpet or vinyl. There are many more exterior applications available today as well. People are paving their patios, they’re building outside fireplaces, paving outside sidewalks, gardens or stoops, and swimming pool surrounds.

Several factors are influencing people’s decisions to bring tile outside. For one, setting materials, or the allied products, have become a lot more sophisticated, allowing for better installations. This gives people comfort in using tile in places they otherwise would not have. And customers have been more receptive to using hard surfaces and recognizing the value of that. Ceramic tiles increase the value of homes, are extremely durable and easy to care for, and are beautiful.

TileDealer: What’s ahead for StonePeak and ceramic tile in general?

Dekker: Interest in porcelain is growing significantly. Our goals are simple—to win in the marketplace by providing superior products, rapid customer service and responsiveness, easily accessible inventory, timely shipment of orders, and competitive pricing.


Sales & Marketing: Online Marketing Options for Contractors
 
November 1st, 2005

Selecting a Method for Your Business

by Michael Beaudoin

November-December 2005

While traditionally consumers have turned to the Yellow Pages to find residential contractors, the use of print directories is projected to decrease by approximately 20% over the next four years according to The Kelsey Group, a consulting and research firm. Instead, consumers are turning to the Internet. The Kelsey Group reports 70% of adults in the United States used the Internet in 2004 when researching products and services, including residential products and contractors. Your customers are changing the way they find you, so you need to make sure you’re found.

If you thought implementing a direct mail campaign was challenging, that’s child’s play compared to building and managing an online presence. Like any good marketing initiative, you must find one that is cost-effective, targeted in reach and easy to manage. The question is—do you want to do it yourself or have it done for you?

Build Your Own Website

It’s not difficult to build a website, but it can be challenging to get the right customers to visit it, and even more difficult to turn them into leads. Studies show that people give up looking for what they want if they can’t find it in a few clicks. With that in mind, if your website is not in the top search results a consumer gets, chances are they’re not going to find you. So how do you get your visitors to your site and more importantly, how do you turn them into leads?

Search Engine Optimization Marketing (SEO): After you build your website and submit the URL to major search engines, your website is listed within each search engine’s database and tagged for keywords that are included in the copy on your site. When a consumer searches on Google for “ceramic tile Denver” and this word combination is on your site, then it will be included in the results. Search engines study your website to determine which keywords are applicable.

You can choose to outsource this task and the service will manage your keywords, website content, and placement within search engine results. However, this can quickly become very expensive and while you may see an increase in visitors to your site, you need to track how many become actual leads to determine the return on your investment (ROI).

Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC): PPC advertising is the process of bidding on keywords so your online advertisement appears in search results (these advertisements direct customers to your website). For example, if someone searches on Yahoo! for “ceramic tile in Denver” advertisements related to this topic will appear on the right-hand side. However, the ranking order depends on how much a company has bid or rather paid for that word combination.

Let’s say you own a tile business in Denver but also sell product in the surrounding areas. Since consumers are now refining their searches, you would need to purchase several word variations with each city name as well as tile, tile installation, replace tiles, tile replacement, and many other variations resulting in thousands of potential key phrases.

Most search engines are based on a cost-per-click (CPC) model, in which advertisers pay a predetermined rate, which varies per keyword based on demand and desired rank for each time someone clicks on their listing. (Remember you are paying for clicks to your site not leads.) Price per click can change at any time if another advertiser increases or decreases their current bid.

Both SEO and PPC can be done internally if you have the time and knowledge about Internet and search engine marketing. Again, you can choose to outsource these activities, but be careful about the costs and make sure to measure the actual leads resulting from your efforts and not simply the number of visitors to your site. While it is great to have a website and even better to get visitors, it’s only meaningful if you’re able to convert the visitor into a sales lead.

Internet Yellow Pages (IYP)

When consumers conduct an online search they tend to only review the results listed on the first page (usually between 10-20 listings). To have your IYP ad in the top 10 you need to purchase a sponsored listing. The higher number of categories and coverage areas you choose to be included in will determine your cost.

Payment methods for IYP ads vary per directory; some require an upfront payment, but others offer the CPC method. The CPC method allows you to measure how many customers are clicking on your listing, but it’s only meaningful if the clicks result in leads.

Like the traditional print Yellow Page advertisements, seniority and financial investment determine placement of your sponsored listing; the more you pay, the higher you are listed on the results page. Before committing to a sponsored listing, ask your IYP directory if your sponsored listing can be outbid, which may lower your ranking and ultimately limit your results.

Online Lead Generating Services

Many businesses have turned to online lead generation services and found them to be a cost-effective and low-risk alternative to reach today’s Internet-savvy consumer. These services specialize in bringing targeted leads to residential contractors in their geographic area and specific to their type of work. Online lead generation services act as an “Internet funnel” by connecting businesses with prospective clients who have “raised their hand” saying they need someone and their need is NOW. They do the legwork of creating a webpage, keyword research, and search engine optimization. These services typically go further to interview website visitors, turning them from cold prospects into warm leads.

Consumers typically turn to online lead generation services in an effort to limit the time and stress associated with finding professionals. Many online lead services prescreen member businesses for state licensing and insurance, providing consumers with the reassurance they are working with a legitimate professional. Some services even help facilitate a warm introduction between the consumer and contractor, easing the sales process.

When selecting an online service to use to market your business, you should look into how they generate their leads to ensure the customers contact information and service request are valid. Additionally, several services require annual membership fees as well as a fee for each lead you are sent. Others may only charge members a lead fee or a per visitor click fee.

Michael Beaudoin is the Co-CEO and Co-Founder of ServiceMagic®, Inc., a leading online marketing solution for residential contractors and home service professionals. For more information visit www.servicemagic.com.


Trend-Spotting at Cersaie 2005
 
November 1st, 2005

Color, texture, graphics and natural looks took center stage during Cersaie 2005

By Mary Ann Piccirillo

November-December 2005

Cersaie is Italy ’s International Exhibition of Ceramics for the Building Industry and Bathroom Furnishings. It also “sets the industry stage” for the coming year. Not everyone shops Cersaie or sells the products shown there, but the trends from Cersaie eventually find their way into every showroom.

Color

Neutrals such as white, tan and beige remain constant favorites, especially in the US , but these new neutrals are enhanced with rich mocha and red undertones. Many manufacturers are expanding their colors to include energetic and vivid hues as well as subtle calming tones. Inalco introduced the Oppalo series available in Naranja, Verde, Frambuesa and Azul. Each color has a light and shadow tone for a total of 8 vibrant color choices. This tile comes in 13″ x 24″ and 13″ x 13″. In contrast to these bright colors, the SOL series from Saloni offers a calming look in pastel tones of Blanco, Amarillo , Naranja, Verde and Azul. This series is available in 8×16” and 12″ x 12″ with complementary listello and accents.

The stark contrast of Black and White tiles stood out on the show floor making a modern statement. Ceramica Fioranese showed the Chiaro Scuro collection—a study in positive and negative—a design shown in one order of black and white and then reversed. The collection is enhanced with tone on tone, matte on shiny, embossed and metallic accent pieces.

Texture

Texture was one of the hottest trends at the show. Textures of all types are adding new life and excitement to field tiles with wavy reliefs, undulations, radiating circles, points and even simple linear graphics. These textured tiles can be used as a solid field, border or accent. Ceracasa Ceramica’s Fresh series features a radiating circle in the center of a 12″ by 18″ red body tile which comes in Blue, Naranja, Burdeos, Blanco and Marfil. The Sensitive collection from Ceramich LUX features the BUMP series whose indented surface reminds one of tufting. The 10″ x 12″ tile is available in Ocra, Amaranto, Blanco and Avorio. The texture of Saime’s Swing collection is rooted in the l’70s retro craze. The layered abstract shapes are reminiscent of a lava lamp. Even the colors are from that era: Emerald, Brown, Orange , Yellow, Cream and Crystal . This 13″ x 20″ tile has a mod collection of accents that combine the base colors in an interesting abstract design. Pamesa offers the Serie Tendence with a grooved surface to add interest to a solid field. The tiles can be set to run horizontally or vertically. They are 12″ x 24″ in your choice of Perla, Beige, Gris or Negro.

Graphics

Animals, fabric, and flowers were the most popular graphic schemes during Cersaie 2005. The Iris collection from Hispano Azul Ceramica took its inspiration from the current hot western trend. The cowhide pattern is available in Marron or Negro 10″ x 16″ tiles with 2 sizes of listellos. Settecento Ceramica d’Arte introduced the Crocotile, tile with the relief of crocodile skin, in 10 colors including Orange , Green, Lilla, Blue, Grey, Dark, Amaranth, Tortora and Brown. The tiles are 9-½” by 28″. Each color has 2 sizes of listellos available as well as complementary smooth tiles.

Inspired by men’s hound’s-tooth suiting fabric, the Invaders series from MIPA offers the classic design in 3 pattern sizes on 8″ by 8″ tile in 4 colors, Bianco, Grisaglia, Lava and Cielo. Hispano Azul also launched a damask inspired line called Textile. The 13″ by 18″ tile is available in Marino, Negor, Gris, Verde, Celeste, Buredos and Marron with a complete set of complementary accents—some simple and some highly decorative.

Flowers were blooming on tiles all around. Omega offered the Fantasy collection in 8″ x 20″ tiles that feature actual images of roses or lilies. There is a total of 6 color choices and each design has a solid and graphic accent to enhance the image. For just a touch of floral, Ceramica Tres Estilos offers the Kimi listello in 2″ by 8″. The floral pattern is a stylized retro inspired mosaic look.

Accents and Special Pieces

Saloni enhances its Efir collection with elements made of Corian that can be used to integrate lighting or accessories such as towel racks and shelves as well as a sink that is based on the same format as the ceramic tiles. The Racktile system from Gaya features a grooved piece which is set as a course of tile. The thin strip allows the user to change the fittings or layout within a space with the maximum of ease. Shelves, mirrors, utensil hooks and towel rails are just an example of the accessories available.

Sparking across the show floor was Alfa Ceramiche’s Star System. The Planet and Karat series feature STRASS® and Swarovski® Crystal inserts that catch the light with tremendous fire. While in the Trend booth, the Orsoni hand-cut gold leaf glass mosaics glistened.

The design choices in pattern, color, format and utility were seemingly endless at Cersaie 2005. The manufacturers’ designers have pushed the design envelope to develop a choice for everyone.

Mary Ann Piccirillo is Public Relations Director at White Good & Company.

Learn more online about the companies mentioned:

www.saloni.com
www.fioraneseonline.com
www.ceracasa.com
www.luxceramiche.com
www.saime.riwal.it
www.pamesa.com
www.inalco.es
www.hispanoazul.com
www.settecento.com
www.omegaceramica.it
www.tresestilosdesign.com
www.alfaceramiche.com
www.orsoni.com
www.trend-vi.com


Anti-Slip & Accessibility
 
November 1st, 2005

 

By Beth Rogers

November-December 2005

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), enacted in July of 1990, provides civil rights protections to people with disabilities. Not only does it protect those individuals from being discriminated against in terms of employment but it also addresses design to ensure that they are not physically impeded from access to areas that able-bodied people routinely enjoy. Structures that need to be ADA compliant are places of public accommodation and commercial facilities in the private sector, as well as all federal, state, and local government facilities. The Act applies to structures that are built new or altered.

The Act has greatly impacted design and choice of materials in the past 15 years. In drafting the ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities (ADAAG), accessibility at places as varied as fishing piers and amusement parks is outlined and the structure of things ranging from automated teller machines to floor and ground surfaces is also addressed.

In a technical bulletin regarding floor and ground surfaces, the Access Board, an independent federal agency that provides information on accessible design, notes that 27 million Americans have some problem walking, of which more than a third report a severe problem: “Ambulatory persons with mobility impairments—especially those who use walking aids—are particularly at risk of slipping and falling, even on level surfaces.”

In a nutshell, the ADA’s guidelines for ground surfaces require them to be “stable, firm, and slip resistant.” “Stable” is interpreted to mean that the surface remain “unchanged by contaminants or applied force.” Firm means it “resists deformation by either indentations or particles moving on its surface” and slip resistant means the surface “provides sufficient frictional counterforce to the forces exerted in walking to permit safe ambulation.”

Most would agree that ceramic tile, provided that the proper substrate is used, meets the first two requirements. Problems arise when it comes to slip resistance. Slip resistance is measured as the “minimum tangential force necessary to initiate sliding of a body over the surface and the body gravity force. The coefficient of friction between the two surfaces is the ratio of the horizontal and vertical forces required to move one surface over another to the total force pressing the two surfaces together.”

Dave Yanchulis, an accessibilities specialist with the Access Board, admits that the government hasn’t been able to nail down a requirement for slip resistance, explaining, “The reason is that there isn’t a uniform test procedure for measuring slip resistance so we can’t specify a value without a uniform test method in place.”

Therefore, without corroborating research, values for slip resistance are not specified in the ADAAG and manufacturers of flooring surfaces seem to have leeway to interpret the Act’s parameters. As Yanchulis explains, “We understand that there are some norms in the industry regarding slip resistance levels based on which measuring method you use.” However, the Access Board recommends a static coefficient of friction of .6, while the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends a static coefficient of friction of .5 (a higher number reflects more friction or slip resistance).

However, as the Board notes, “some slippage is in fact necessary for walking, especially for persons with restricted gaits who may drag their feet slightly….a very high coefficient of friction may actually hinder safe and comfortable ambulation by persons with disabilities.”

The government doesn’t favor one material over another when it comes to floor and ground surfaces. “We generally don’t call out accessible or non-accessible materials as long as our three criteria are met,” explains Yanchulis. “We don’t rule anything out although some materials certainly raise questions, such as a very loose, gravelly material for an outdoor trail, for example, or a very highly-polished surface for an interior.”

Markku Allison, a resource architect with the American Institute of Architects, agrees: “When you’re looking at accessibility issues, I have not seen a strong correlation between surface selection and accessibility. Within a particular surface family, like tile, there might be certain products that meet standards better or worse for accessibility issues. For example, if you’re working with stone floors, you might not use a polished granite—you would use a textured granite for better traction…You try to imagine the situations where someone’s coming across the floor in a walker, and think about what makes it safest and most easily traversed.”

Allison notes that a wide range of tile products are slip resistant, whether due to special coatings that have been applied or the actual texture of the tile. As he points out, “you see tile in most restaurant kitchens…where slip resistance is a huge issue.”

For graded surfaces, like ramps, the Access Board notes that ceramic tile might not be appropriate. If it is used, the Board suggests tile that has a coefficient of friction of .8. However, Allison notes that ramps that connect Washington, DC’s subway system to Reagan National Airport have used tile successfully.

Thomas Klose, principal of Thomas F. Klose Architect, Inc. of McLean, VA, says, “Ceramic tile is a good surface compared to carpeting, especially if you need to roll a wheelchair on it.” Klose specified tile for a job he did at DuPont’s corporate headquarters in Wilmington, DE. “The things we were looking for there were a smooth surface, meaning that the edges of the tile weren’t tumbled or rustic in any way, and we used small joints, like 1/16 of an inch and tried to get the mortar joints flush with that…Smooth is good. Falling is a fear for people in wheelchairs or on crutches.” Klose adds that an unpolished surface is also good, and he always specifies matte tile because it has a “tooth” to it.

Dave Milanowycz, northern regional sales manager with Lakeland, FL-based Florida Tile, notes that starting last June any new glazed porcelain floor tiles the company produces will automatically be ADA compliant. The new tile now has a coefficient rating of at least .6 wet or .8 dry. Through the attrition of old lines, Milanowycz predicts that eventually all of Florida Tile’s floor tile will one day be ADA compliant.

Milanowycz notes that the corporate decision was prompted after the company, whose product is used mainly in the residential market (although the new line is suitable for commercial purposes), started fielding more concerns from builders who are catering to an aging population. “We do a lot with builders that cater to 55 plus communities and as you see those communities aging, they’re looking for more ADA compliant floor tiles, because they know they’re going to need it in the future or have an elderly relative live with them.”

It used to be only architects that would spec ADA compliant tile, says Milanowycz. Today builders and even individuals are asking for the product. Consequently, having an ADA-compliant product is a strong selling point. Milanowycz notes that his own mother, who is 75, picked slip resistance above any other quality when she recently tiled her kitchen. “That doesn’t mean that aesthetics are compromised,” Milanowycz is quick to add. “If you saw them you’d go crazy and say this is a gorgeous look.”

There’s nothing about Florida Tile’s ADA-compliant tile that shouts that it helps with accessibility, but Milanowycz does note that it has a matte finish. “You’re not going to get a high shine in ADA compliant,” observes Milanowycz, “but the glazes have come a long way.” He adds that glazes in development overseas are promising to deliver both high shine and slip resistance. He also notes that tiles can be designed with a greater than .8 coefficient of friction but they tend to degrade footwear and be hard to clean.

While demand for tile is often regional, Milanowycz says it’s a trend in those who are over age 55 to use tile throughout their homes, regardless of where they live. “They’ve been through the wood, they’ve been through the carpet, they’ve been through other flooring materials, so now the most proven factor for them has been tile…We’re definitely seeing a higher percentage of tile used in the aging community and a lot of times they’re looking for more ADA compliant tile. They want slip resistance and no maintenance.”

There are other ways that tile can assist people with disabilities. Not only can it provide a safe surface for those with impaired mobility, but special tile surfaces can help the visually impaired. For example, the Washington Metro system has a band of bumpy tile at the edge of the subway platform that tactilely alerts commuters to the fact that they’re at the edge. Allison notes that many urban areas use grooved tile in curb cuts to both alert blind people to the change in elevation and make the cuts more slip resistant.

Adding Slip Protection

There are numerous products on the market meant to be applied to existing tile so that it conforms to the slip resistant requirements of the ADA .

Peter Ahern, owner of Spring Valley, CA-based Slip-Tech, said his company started by serendipitous accident in 1984. He was living near Silicon Valley , where silicon chips are routinely etched out with hydrofluoric acid. Some acid spilled on a tile floor in a chip lab and workers discovered that the floor was much harder to mop. A friend of Ahern’s in the tile business got called in to diagnose the problem and that gave Ahern the idea that he could make a lot of money using hydrofluoric acid as an anti-slip device. Ahern notes that all anti-slip manufacturers rely on hydrofluoric acid, which is why no one has an exclusive patent on anti-slip products.

Ceramic floors might be less slick but, Ahern is quick to point out, deglazing does make tile harder to clean. Electron photographs taken of treated tile show that the acid opens up air holes in the tile and dirt gets trapped in the spheroids. Consequently, Ahern notes that the product shouldn’t be used on white floors and he’s turned down jobs on white tile. Cream colors are less of a problem but with light colors, cautions Ahern, “you have to be careful in the degree at which you etch it.” He normally treats light tiles less than darker ones.

One such product is manufactured by Slip Guard Systems, Inc. of Orange Park, FL. Company owner Jay Dorsett notes that the floor must be cleaned properly before the etcher and neutralizer are applied. As Dorsett notes, product that is not put down on a thoroughly-cleaned floor has a tendency to bead up and then treated areas stand out against non-treated areas.

Most Slip Guard is sold through tile dealers who “are trying to solve problems.” “I hear every day,” notes Dorsett, “people say ‘this is supposed to be a slip-proof tile and it meets the coefficient of friction for ADA requirements but it’s still slippery when wet’ or someone will find that their installer accidentally put the wall tile on the floor.” Using Slip Guard is a way to salvage the situation rather than tear up the floor. It also, says Dorsett, “makes it possible to use a lot of tile in wet areas and entrances and pool decks where it normally couldn’t be used.”

Ahern firmly believes that Slip Tech and similar products need to be applied by qualified contractors. “You have to control the amount of etch,” he notes, “it’s not a matter of one bottle and one strength. What works well on one tile will destroy another one.” More importantly, notes Ahern, hydrofluoric acid is a strong chemical and a class A hazardous material. It can get on skin and not be felt until several hours later when it’s burning a hole down into the bone.

Slip Tech technicians always ask that a tile sample to be sent to them for analysis prior to treatment. For example, notes Ahern, it takes a different concentration of acid and a longer “dwell” time to take .2 tile to a .6 than it does to take a .5 to a .6. Floors that use a variety of tile with different coefficients of friction need to have those tiles individually treated for optimum performance.

Dorsett claims that his product doesn’t alter the appearance of the glaze or the aesthetics. ”When you treat it and the tile is dry and you run your hand over it, you can’t even tell. It’s as smooth as it was beforehand. It’s when it’s wet that it makes the difference.” Sometimes, notes Dorsett, slippery tile is specified for aesthetic reasons and then is treated afterwards.

If every floor were to be laid with tiles that were manufactured to be slip resistant, it would seem as if companies like Slip Tech and Slip Guard would quickly be out of business. “In reality,” claims Ahern, “there are very, very few tiles that meet the .6 coefficient of friction….Manufacturers find it very, very difficult, almost impossible, to make a pretty .6 tile. You can make what I call prison tile, real rough stuff, that if you fell on it you’d bleed, but very few tiles that you find attractive can be made at .6 in the factory, which is how this [deglazing] industry got going.”

Ahern notes Slip Tech has been used by a number of different entities ranging from banks and casinos to 7-11s and McDonald’s. All of them were anxious to avoid slip and fall lawsuits, so Ahern feels that the $3 per square foot it costs to treat tile is money well spent. He is so confident of Slip Tech’s anti-slip properties that he once had kids play basketball on a sopping wet treated tile floor to demonstrate the product’s effectiveness before representatives from the Hilton Hotels chain.

To view ADAAG’s technical bulletin on ground and floor surfaces please visit:

http://www.access-board.gov/adaag/about/bulletins/surfaces.htm


Showroom Trends: Looking at your showroom from a customer’s point of view.
 
November 1st, 2005

 

By Janet Arden & Kate Pancero

November-December 2005

Your showroom is critical. In the best of all possible worlds, it can draw in the buyer, encourage her to shop and eventually choose something she’ll enjoy in her home—in fact, she’ll enjoy it so much she’ll tell admiring friends that she bought it from you.

As industry professionals, we’re comfortable with the array of products, textures, colors, and sizes available in today’s showroom. But the customer, who may have never bought tile before or who may have only done so occasionally, is easily overwhelmed by what’s available. Your job—and that of your showroom—is to engage the customer and make shopping a positive experience.

Recent tile and display trends have been developed to meet changing needs and customer expectations.

The basics

Kathy Webster, Director of Marketing for Miller Multiplex Displays, points out that the goal of any display system is to show off the product—in this case tile—rather than the rack. Floor and wall racks have long been the staples of tile display. Traditionally they have been designed to minimize floor space, maximize display and remain otherwise unobtrusive.

Swinging panels are perhaps one of the oldest but, says Webster, most successful concepts for display because they allow the dealer to mount a lot of samples in a small footprint. They can also be combined with wall racks by hanging the swing rack above wall-mounted shelves which may have removable products on them. The customer can stand in one place and view a number of products. Another familiar option is a free-standing rack designed to accommodate samples vertically rather than horizontally.

The “big” trend

It’s no secret that one of the biggest trends in the industry has been just that—big. Large tiles have become increasingly popular throughout the US. One difficulty with showcasing the large tiles is figuring out where to put them.

Larger tiles mean heavier product and a need for sturdier displays. “As the product gets heavier, we have to be in tune to the total weight that the fixture is going to have to handle,” said Stan Kennough, Vice President of Sales at J. H. Best Display. One of the challenges for display manufacturers is ensuring that display boards can not only handle the weight of the product, but also maintain an aesthetically pleasing design.

Patricia Chavez is a Sales Consultant with Diversified Display Systems. The company is introducing a new, three-tier rack to hold 45 large format tiles in the same format as its familiar existing rack. The company is also ready to customize displays to suit particular materials.

Webster says large format—which continues to get larger—increasingly requires custom display pieces. She says slider systems are a good solution to managing the size and weight of larger materials while still maximizing floor space.

Vignettes offer experience

If shopping for tile is potentially overwhelming for the typical customer, then walking into a showroom with several tile vignettes allows customers to see a concept right in front of them. One of the benefits of using showroom vignettes is that they give the customer a sense of the environment a tile could provide in their home.

“People walk into the showroom and see it looks the same and walk back out,” said Michael Kowalczyk, General Manager and Founder of Display Ideas. Instead of simply providing customers with the usual concept boards, configurations mounted on small boards, and swatches of various tile combinations to illustrate design ideas, many tile showrooms are giving their clients more options with showroom vignettes. These mini-rooms offer a “slice” of a kitchen, bath, entry or other room to illustrate tile installations on the walls, floor and even countertops. Vignettes often incorporate bath or kitchen fixtures or even furniture to develop the look further. This is a trend that has been on the rise in luxury tile showrooms for several years. Not surprisingly, its success and the growing sophistication of many customers have led more and more dealers to incorporate vignettes into their showrooms.

A combination of well-done vignettes and traditional displays allows the customer to view different materials in different settings. She can get a true feel of what she does and does not like. Some dealers suggested that clients often pick out the same material in different formats and finishes. This way, the sales person will get an accurate sense of what their customer likes, cutting the choosing process down from 3,000 different tile options to 100.

Kowalczyk believes display materials make a difference. Custom display boards are becoming more popular in the tile industry, especially those made of wood. “Wood is warm and inviting, while metal displays are cold and industrial looking,” he said.

One dealer compared tile showrooms to couture on a New York runway. The client may not wear the totally trendy dress, but the same concepts are applied to the ready to wear, practical clothing seen in the department store. A tile showroom designer may choose to display the outlandish in order to give the client an inspirational idea for their own design project.

Webster says Multiplex designs vignettes for dealers based on the design needs of a specific client. They are, essentially, all custom designs.

How tall is your tile?

Dealers always face the same display dilemma: show the most amount of material using the least amount of space while maintaining the display’s user-friendliness. Some dealers have been tempted to build up. Unfortunately, the taller the display, the more difficult it is for the average customer to have access to the product. Understanding who the average decision making customer is, is also important. According to Kowalczyk, “80 percent of design decisions are made by the woman.” He believes keeping the woman in mind is vital when designing a showroom. In the United States , the average female is 5′ 4″, while the average American male is 5′ 9″. “Large tiles in the footing of metal display, makes the average woman unable to reach or it would be too difficult to reach up there and bring the tile down without breaking it,” said Kowalczyk.

With the large tile trend, wood displays are becoming more useful because they are shorter than metal. “Wood displays are set up to be never over four feet tall,” said Kowalczyk, “the line of sight is never broken.”

Focus on the line of sight does not just involve accessibility. Lighting can make a world of difference in a showroom. It ensures what the client sees is what the client is going to get, said Kennough. Make sure the showroom is well lit so customers can appreciate the natural nuances and shade variations of the tiles. Lighting is the key to ensuring that the client understands exactly what they are going to install into their home. Be it a combination of natural, halogen and/or fluorescent lighting showrooms need to be well lit so you can see all the nuances of the different products. “The characterization of the lighting is natural so that when it gets taken home, it presents the product well,” said Kennough.

Trends come and go in the tile industry. In keeping with these trends, dealers are challenged to effectively display new products so the customer sees their full potential. The in-house dealer design team needs to be creative with installations, by playing with different possibilities during the planning process to see what works best for your showroom.

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