One – on – One… With Vincent Marazita
March 1st, 2006


By Jeffrey Steele

March-April 2006

“For a reasonable price, you can have an everlasting material or surface.”

“In high-end areas, it’s amazing how many times the words granite, stone, limestone and marble are mentioned. The point is that natural stone is a recognized marketing element and value addition in real estate listings.”

Vincent Marazita is the president and owner of Los Angeles-based Marazita & Associates, an international consulting firm specializing in market research and educational seminars in the natural stone industry. He’s also a member of the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) and the Marble Institute of America (MIA). In addition, he serves on the board of the National Advisory Council for Continuing Education of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

Marazita isn’t hesitant to discuss the skyrocketing popularity of stone in home building and remodeling. In this frank and engaging interview with TileDealer, he talks about the factors behind that growing acceptance, the ways stone producers are responding to the surging demand in the U.S. and elsewhere, and stone’s future as a much-sought-after building material.

TileDealer: What is your background and business experience?

Marazita: I graduated from college with a degree in sociology from Harvard, then went to Genoa, Italy, on a Rotary Scholarship. As part of the Rotary Scholarship year, I studied in the architecture department at the University of Genoa, and then spent five years as an English lecturer in the architecture department of University of Genoa. I then took a job with the Italian Trade Commission in Los Angeles for 13 years, during which time the main goal was to promote Italian products in the States, and act as a liaison between U.S. and Italian companies. Because of my architectural interests in the building trades and materials industry, I was hired to promote Italian business in the U.S., helping small- to medium-sized companies establish a presence here. I also accompanied architects and design professionals to Italy to learn about and buy stone.

At a certain point, salary issues told me it was time to move on. So I started Marazita & Associates in 1998, and now about two-thirds of my business is related to stone, and that’s growing every year just because the stone industry is doing so well, and—I like to think—because I provide good business services. As part of those services, I’ve been hired as a speaker, and have spoken at many design industry conferences and conventions, as well as to stone trade shows and mining conferences in Italy and other countries.

And at least once or twice a year I bring a group of design professionals—architects, designers and sculptors—to Italy to learn about the stone industry—from the quarries to installation. These continuing education courses I’ve offered have been audited and approved by the AIA, ASID, NKBA, RIBA and RAIC.

TileDealer: What is the value of stone in remodeling?

Marazita: In terms of primary value, with regard to all things done in remodeling, the kitchen is number one. I‘ve heard it’s no longer location, location, location in real estate but location, kitchen, kitchen. In most real estate listings, you have 25 words to list a home. Especially in high-end areas, it’s amazing how many times the words granite, stone, limestone and marble are mentioned. The point is that natural stone is a recognized marketing element and value addition in real estate listings.

Since 1996, we’ve had double digit growth every year in stone imports and use in the U.S. That has varied from 15 percent on the low side to 28 percent in 2005. If you go to remodel your kitchen, it’s the cabinets that are the most expensive elements in a remodel. But countertops and flooring are really the number one value added, and they’re already the number one marketing tool, in terms of real estate listings. Stone should be used in the design, if you want to add value to your house.

TileDealer: Where besides a kitchen and bath do remodelers or builders use stone?

Marazita: After kitchens and after baths, they use stone in horizontal surfaces everywhere, including living rooms, family rooms and media centers. In high end homes, it’s definitely found in entryways and grand staircases, and here I’m speaking of homes $500,000 and up. But even in $200,000 homes, it’s being found in entryways. You might not see a stone staircase in a $200,000 home, but that also depends on the area of the country where the home is located.

Most prevalent are fireplace facings and flooring in every conceivable room. Particularly in living rooms, and sometimes in family rooms—though those often tend to offer wood and carpeting. Smart designers should try to incorporate stone in every room.

It could be in countertops, it could be in fireplace facings, window sills, even in things as simple as thresholds between two dissimilar materials, such as tile and carpeting, or tile and wood. Or even two different stone materials.

TileDealer: What are the design trends for stone at various price points?

Marazita: I see stone entering at lower and lower price points. Now stone competes in many cases with ceramic tile, with carpet and even with vinyl tile. Natural stone is certainly competing well with other hard surfaces. In fact, for more than eight years the overall value of stone imports has surpassed the value of ceramic tile imports.

TileDealer: A $200,000 house?

Marazita: At the $200,000 price point, stone wouldn’t be seen on floors throughout the house, but you might see it in certain areas, such as the kitchen and bath, the vanity, the counters and fireplace facings. And natural stone is a popular choice for hearths because it satisfies fire codes, and it’s beautiful as well. And in the outside, even where there is vinyl or wood siding, you might see exterior elements of rubble stone masonry, slate, fieldstone and other types of stone. You might see stone paths.

TileDealer: A $500,000 house?

Marazita: Stone will be used throughout, from kitchens to wine cellars, from bathroom vanities to sculptural columns, from stair treads to balustrades. I’ve even seen alabaster used as doors, and in backlit divider walls. With the introduction of waterjet technology, all sorts of decorative elements and medallions in stone are also used.

And of course you’ll see it in kitchen counters and backsplashes in kitchens; stone is used as vanity tops and tubs and shower surrounds in the bathroom. You know, we shouldn’t refer to them as bathrooms at this price point. I really think that they should be referred to as “home spas.” Because of the value inherent in a spa, you really need to have high-end materials, and that’s where stone comes in. It offers great value, and isn’t necessarily the most expensive choice.

TileDealer: Stone requires upselling, so how should a dealer approach that?

Marazita: [Dealers should emphasize] number one, stone is unique, and number two, it has an incredibly interesting production cycle. All stones are different, brought out of the ground in different parts of the world, and brought out of the ground differently.

Not only is the color variety incredible, but nature’s way of painting these incredible, unique surfaces also makes stone a great addition to a home. And even if it’s a bit more expensive in the short run, it will pay off in low maintenance and durability in the long run.

It will remain beautiful forever. If you see a scratched stone countertop, architects and designers still love that, because it’s rusticated. If something looks used, it gives a history to the house, and stone is one of those things that can look like it’s been used, and in that way give history to a house. But if you see a scratched butcherblock or Corian® or stainless steel countertop, you’re probably going to replace it. In general, stone will last forever, and remain beautiful forever.

TileDealer: Are there grades of stone that the buyer should be aware of?

Marazita: For residential use, not really. Most stones will hold up to most residential uses. The time to be more diligent is when you use stone for structural applications, such as cladding and weight-bearing pavements.

At any rate, it is a fair question to ask your stone supplier. Sometimes, lower quality stone costs less and is adequate for the particular use. I would also warn design professionals and consumers to ask for “range samples” when they can, to get an idea of the color and texture variation they will receive, especially on projects with large square footage requirements of the same material. Shopping malls, plazas and exterior cladding would be examples of such projects.

TileDealer: How are stone producers responding to the growing popularity of stone?

Marazita: Around the world, quarries realize that the U.S. is one of the hottest consumer markets for dimension stone. And they are investing in new equipment and labor to increase their quarrying capacity, while at the same time looking for new quarries and new stones. If you’re in the stone industry, you have to learn about new materials all the time.

TileDealer: Is there a downside to using stone?

Marazita: If you don’t have a qualified stone installer, it can be terrible. As easily as we can get it to market, getting a competent stone installer is not as easy. Because the industry is growing so fast, you have people who have never installed stone installing it. Up until yesterday, they might have been cabinet manufacturers, and now they’re installing stone.

Because of the great demand for stone, we don’t have a large enough competent labor force to keep up with the growth. You want to get someone who’s done good work and has good references, and if you have to wait a couple weeks or even months longer, it’s worth it in order to have the correct installation. Because stone is the one thing that will attract everyone’s attention, and you don’t want your most attention-getting material to be poorly installed.

That’s especially true when you get around kitchen countertops. Because when you get into standard-sized cabinets, not so standard-sized sinks, and the irregularities of plumbing and electrical fixtures, and the structural requirements to support the stone correctly, you can begin to understand the importance of finding someone who knows what they’re doing.

The main problem with stone installations is the tradesman who was there previous to the stone installer. That’s why it’s very important the stone installer approve whatever came before, whether it’s the substrate for the floor, or the level and support of the countertop.

TileDealer: Overall, what do TileDealer readers need to know about stone?

Marazita: Stone is unique. The countertop you have, no one else will have. The floor you have, no one else will have. And the higher up the high end of the market you go, the more customers will want that uniqueness. If you have a Jewish client, what better way to design his home than with important elements in Jerusalem stone? If you have an Italian client whose grandparents came from the Carrara area, what better way to personalize his home than to include a carved fireplace facing in white marble from Carrara? If you have a Chinese client, what better way to serve him than by designing a carved portal out of limestone from China?

Here’s a building material that actually has a story. There’s definitely a story with stone. The bottom line is for a reasonable price, you can have an everlasting material or surface.

TileDealer: How do you view the future of stone in building and remodeling?

Marazita: I know it sounds like a straight promo, but I really believe there is a new renaissance in the use of stone. As more and more stone gets used, more and more people see it for what it’s worth: A beautiful, unique building material that can upgrade the quality of the built environment.

I also predict that as new construction slows, remodeling with stone will continue to grow, or at worst, remain constant, in that we all want to protect our main investment—real estate. By upgrading the materials and by making a more beautiful home, consumers will see first hand that they have a great return on the remodeling investment when they’ve included stone in the design. Remember to look at the real estate ads. You’ll see what I mean.

Sales & Management: B2B Commerce: Standards Streamline the Process
March 1st, 2006


By Kate Simpson

March-April 2006

Like any new technology, the acceptance of the Internet as a business tool has taken time. Yet over the past few years, it has become apparent that distributors who don’t include e-commerce, also known as B2B commerce, in their business plan will be left behind.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the flooring industry, where manufacturer, dealer, supplier, and distributor organizations have worked together to develop a list of standard transactions between their respective groups. In addition to identifying the shared business processes, this group has established a specific format in which to conduct these transactions.

Recognizing the challenges a trading partner has to consider prior to implementing these standards, the group has defined common mapping specifications of data, taking into consideration the cost of getting started. Ultimately, they agreed upon low-cost data exchange methods that allow participation by trading partners of any size and flooring commodity.

Why Now?

As a tile distributor, you may wonder why you need to adopt the e-commerce flooring standards within your business. But, given how quickly manufactures, dealers, suppliers, and even some distributors are adopting these standards within their organizations, the need might be more immediate than you think.

Distributors are continually looking for ways to differentiate themselves from their competition and offering B2B transactions provides a value-added service for customers while increasing your margins by streamlining processes.

What Can B2B Standards Do For You?

The e-commerce standards will enable you to more efficiently conduct business processes, such as buying or selling through the distribution channel. These streamlined operations will result in lower operating costs, shorter time to delivery, and reduce communication, shipping, and keying errors. Using the B2B standards will also help you realize lower transaction costs and eliminate VAN charges.

The benefits of using a solution that supports the B2B standards goes beyond the supply chain to improve your business processes.

Specifically, adopting B2B standards will reduce the amount of time employees spend re-keying data. For example, a purchase order you send to your trading partner can be acknowledged, invoiced, and reconciled electronically.

Similarly, when you receive an order, B2B standards allow you to confirm the item, quantity, and price electronically, vastly reducing material returns or credits resulting from incorrect shipping and invoicing.

In addition to improving your processes, the B2B standards can help you improve service and retain customers, all the while freeing your staff to grow your business and give you the visibility and flexibility to keep ahead of changing market trends.

It Takes Commitment

Of course, just the desire to use the industry standards won’t help you achieve the anticipated reduced costs, increased efficiencies, and improved service. You must have the technology in place to support the current accepted standards while having the capacity to grow with your business over time. While this may require some initial costs, the benefits you receive from complying with the industry standards will quickly maximize your return on the investment.

When choosing a B2B solution, make sure it will meet your business needs as well as support the B2B basics. The solution must be reliable, secure, and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Above all else, it must support the common flooring industry documents in use today, including EDI 810 and 832.

As a business executive, you should always be on the lookout for how technology can bring value to your company. E-commerce, and the flooring industry standards, can take you to the next level of success.

In addition to serving as a Product Manager with Activant Solutions Inc.®, Kate Simpson serves on the marketing and education committee of the CTDA. For more information, visit or call 1-800-776-7438, press 1.

Looking for a Commercial Mortgage? Know These Facts
March 1st, 2006


By Jim Lynch

March-April 2006

Home ownership has always appealed to the individualistic spirit of Americans. That same desire for freedom from capricious landlords and ever-escalating rental rates is also prompting a growing number of people to seek commercial mortgages so they can own the real estate that houses their business. Here are some facts you should be aware of if you are seeking a commercial mortgage for a privately held business enterprise.

Some buildings are better mortgage risks than others. The best are existing buildings with office and warehouse or office and manufacturing space, as well as new construction if it’s amenable to a number of commercial uses. Special-purpose buildings such as churches or tennis clubs are not considered good risks.

You will need to come up with at least 20 percent of the purchase price as a down payment. If you can come up with 25 percent, you may be able to get a better loan rate.

Commercial mortgage loans are generally structured with a rate that is fixed for a certain period of years; the loan itself is amortized for anywhere from 20 to 25 years. An often-used formula is one tied to the five-year U.S. Treasury rate plus a certain number of basis points. At end of the fixed-rate period, the rate would be adjusted according to the prevailing five-year U. S. Treasury rate plus a certain number of basis points. The fixed rate period is generally five to seven years.

The application process can take up to 30 days. It can take two to three weeks to obtain a copy of the final appraisal of the property. Once a bank receives it, along with the company’s most recent financial statement, a prospective borrower should have an answer in about a week.

Lenders review commercial mortgages just as they do any other credit extension to a privately held business. They look at the value of the buildings and the cash flow of the business. And they always look at how management has reacted in the face of what they see in their marketplace: how they have met the challenges that any owner/operator has to meet in business. All are a direct reflection of how well the company is being managed, and the financial statement is management’s report card.

The age of the business and the strength of the management team might be a consideration. The younger the business, the less history it has and the tougher it will be to finance—unless the future looks bright and all the fundamentals are good. In order to get a glimpse of the future of the company, the bank also evaluates the management team that is in place to support the owner/operator. The bank looks closely at the company’s infrastructure and makes sure all the financial paperwork is in order, so that any member of the management team could help answer future questions, if necessary. Management is always critical.

Certain things raise warning flags. If a prospective borrower didn’t have enough cash to put down on the building, that would be a cause for concern. Also, if it appears that the historical cash flow of the business wouldn’t be sufficient to handle the debt service payments going forward, that’s another issue. An uneven financial history makes financing like this more difficult, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done, only that the lending institution will have to satisfy itself as to the company’s future cash flow.

Lenders look for a cash flow that is at least one-and-a-quarter times the amount of debt service. The stronger the cash flow, the better the financial condition of the company, the lower the risk of the transaction and the lower the rate.

If the value of the property declines, it may have an effect on the loan, depending on whether the customer can continue to make the prescribed payments. But if the value drops precipitously and the bank feels its collateral position has been negatively impacted, it may seek additional collateral.

To the extent that the lender knows you, the process is generally easier. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get deals like this done with another financial institution. Owner/operators tend to look at a building as a long-term solid asset, so lenders feel that these are stable loans to have in place.

Jim Lynch is President and CEO of Leaders Bank in Oak Brook, Illinois.

Responsible Solutions to Mold Coalition Launched

The Responsible Solutions to Mold Coalition (RSMC) was launched at the recent International Builders’ Show in Orlando, Fla. RSMC is an industry association formed through a grant by USG Corporation to ensure that more accurate information is communicated about mold avoidance and control.

The issue of mold continues to be an important topic to builders, homeowners, and government agencies. Its importance has been further emphasized by post-hurricane conditions and rebuilding plans in the Gulf Coast.

“Everyone connected with the building industry has a stake in making sure effective solutions are embraced in solving this important problem,” said Robert Daniels, Director Emeritus of the Tile Council of North America. “First and foremost, consumers and business owners will be more satisfied with their homes and buildings, builders can avoid expensive callbacks, warranty claims and even litigation, and the financial community can be assured of the long-term security of the investment it underwrites.”

Due to the building boom over the past several years, thousands of new builders and subcontractors have entered the marketplace. They want to become informed on important subjects such as mold control, but the amount of information on mold is overwhelming. It was clear that some scientifically-based organization needed to review the best thinking on the subject and present this information in an understandable format to everyone involved in the building trades as well as to homeowners.

The RSMC will maintain a website that will serve as a clearinghouse for information, publish a brochure with accurate information on the systems approach to mold control, host industry forums and participate in demonstration projects, and publish articles and participate in industry events.

The coalition will not endorse products. It will, however, work to meet the needs of both the trade and consumer audience.

The RSMC was formed through a grant from the USG Corporation. In addition to USG and the Tile Council of North America, current members include the Association of Wall and Ceiling Industries International; the Building Research Council, School of Architecture, University of Illinois; International Institute for Lath and Plaster; Lath and Plaster Institute of Northern California; National Institute of Building Sciences; North American Insulation Manufacturers; the U.S. Forest Products Laboratory, Department of Agriculture; and the Western Wall and Ceiling Contractors Association.

What Consumers Say About Mold

In a recent Ducker Research poll of homeowners involved in a remodeling project,

• 86 percent said that mold control is very important to them.

• 44 percent said that they have had mold in their home at some point.

• 86 percent also believe that moisture is the most significant cause of mold.

Walk softly with sound underlayments
March 1st, 2006


By Beth Rogers

March-April 2006

More and more companies are producing sound reducing products to be used under ceramic tile to mitigate noise transfer. According to Richard Maurer, director of marketing for the Noble Company, the sound attenuation market has been growing dramatically and is now cranking out an estimated 50 million square feet of covering annually.

To gauge the impact of their tile underlayments on sound, manufacturers determine the measurement of the IIC or “impact insulation class” using testing methods established by ASTM. Unlike decibel ratings, where a higher number reflects a louder noise, higher IIC numbers reflect more sound reduction or “resistance.” In short, the IIC quantifies the amount of sound energy transmitted between floors and ceilings.

Consequently, sound reducing underlayments make most sense when used in multi-level structures, whether they are commercial or residential, to deaden the sound transfer from one unit to the next. These underlayments won’t do anything about minimizing airborne noise—or sounds from within a space.

The difference in a building with and without an underlayment, says Tom Duvé, president of National Applied Construction (NAC) Products, is like the difference between hearing someone tap dance on a hard surface versus carpeting. “If you put underlayment down in the kitchen it wouldn’t make your kitchen quieter,” admits Reeve Haldeman, senior product manager for Custom Building Products, “but it would help reduce the sound in anything below it….All the sound underlayments are essentially doing is separating the point of impact from the sub floor or the ceiling construction. We’re providing a buffer and that buffer is reducing the transmission of those impact waves.”

Custom Building Products has been making sound reduction underlayments since 2003 and just introduced SoundGard Lite, a polypropylene mat which comes in a peel-and-stick option or can be adhered to the floor with thinset or mastic. Tile is then direct-bonded to the mat. There is some flex in the mat, admits Haldeman, which makes it suitable only for up to light commercial applications. “You couldn’t use it in a car dealership or something like that,” he says. The mat comes in 3, 5, and 12 mm thicknesses.

Most acoustical underlayments had their roots as anti-fracture treatments. Pam Zepp, NAC’s marketing director, notes the company started out manufacturing several anti-fracture and waterproofing underlayments but quickly realized they had inherent sound deadening qualities so, in the early 1990s, after working with some chemists to enhance those properties, the company introduced SAM 3 (sound abatement membrane), followed by Super Sam, both of them made from modified elastomers, sound deadening resins, and reinforced woven fibers.

Both products are a peel-and-stick application. Zepp notes that the substrate needs to be clean and dry. Concrete requires a primer to ensure proper adhesion. The company also manufactures 101 floor prep, a hardener which fills in porous substrates.

“One of the big selling points of the product is that it’s made for fast track installation,” says Zepp. “When you lay that membrane down you can install tile the same day. It’s an extremely easy product to use. It’s a much easier system to use than installing multi-layer floors, and contractors can save themselves a lot of money.” SAM can be made to be waterproof as well if it’s installed with seam and corner tape. Super Sam at 90 mils is thick enough so that it doesn’t require a sound-rated ceiling assembly underneath it to be effective.

Noble Company rolled out Noble Seal SIS (sound isolation sheet) about 11 years ago. SIS, which is 3/64 of an inch thick, is made out of chlorinated polyethylene (CPE) from pellets that the company buys from Dow Chemicals, extrudes, then laminates on both sides with a fiber to help bond the membrane to the substrate and tile.

Maurer says that more and more areas have codes governing sound reduction. The city of Los Angeles is one of the most stringent in the nation when it comes to noise attenuation, requiring hard surface flooring in stacked housing to meet minimum International Building Code standards of an IIC of 50 before issuing a building permit—and more cities are following suit.

Consequently, more underlayment manufacturers are adding sound reducing materials to their product lines. However, says Maurer, most contractors are still turning to cork for sound reduction “which is real cheap and has been used for years and years.” Maurer estimates that cork easily constitutes one quarter to one third of the reported 50 million square feet of sound attenuating underlayment sold annually.

What about cork?

Larry Lyons, sales and marketing director with Trevor-WI-Amorim Industrial Solutions, a division of the Portuguese company Amorim, the largest producer of cork products in the world, has nothing but accolades for cork. “It’s very effective. It can be low in cost. It’s very friendly to most types of finished floor materials…it doesn’t require a lot of special techniques and tricks. It’s easy and forgiving to work with.” Lyons says that cork is also highly water resistant.

Amorim distributes Acousticork in 6 mm and 13 mm thicknesses with the latter almost always used in conjunction with ceramic tile, making it substantially thicker than many of its competitors. Acousticork comes in a roll or sheet form that needs to be glued down to the substrate. Tile can be directly bonded to Acousticork with a latex modified thinset mortar.

Amorim recently developed a process to waffle the bottom of the Acousticork to make it more sound absorbent. It also recently released Acousticork 55 Plus which consists of a layer of coir sandwiched between cork. Developing the perfect acoustical medium to be used in conjunction with tile is a balancing act, notes Lyons , that strives to handle density versus compressive strength–too dense and the material’s not sound absorbent enough; too flexible and it will deflect and crack tile.

Diversified Foam Products, says Ed James, vice president of operations, distributes 1/8 inch thick Prolayment SB made out of cross-linked polyolefin by Toray Industries. While the company does far more business in crack suppressing membranes, more customers have been looking for sound attenuating products. The attractive thing about Prolayment SB, says James, is it sells at a competitive price point. In the past, contractors used underlayments like red rosin paper which he says was “basically ineffective and was just put down to have people feel better about having something under their tile.” Today’s underlayments, says James, truly do perform.

Four years ago, the Quebec-based Acousti-Tech company developed Cerami-Tech, a 3 mm thick underlayment made out of non-woven polypropylene and polyethylene composite fibers. As Acousti-Tech marketing director Danielle Watier notes, wall-to-wall carpeting in high rises is becoming a thing of the past which means that more emphasis has to be paid to sound reduction. Additionally, high-rise dwellers are less willing to put up with noise. “Condos cost a lot of money and people want to have privacy in their homes, so acoustical products are gaining new consumers.” Cerami-Tech is sold all over North America and is applied to floors with a latex based adhesive or an AD316 adhesive.

Acousti-Tech follows the same ASTM standards as its American counterparts. Cerami-Tech is distinguished from its competitors by its ability to minimize heat loss (something of great importance in Canada ) and its stringent CCMC ( Canadian Construction Materials Center ) certification which creates consumer confidence by “guaranteeing what you’re buying.”

Measurable Results

Many consumers don’t understand fully what it is they are getting when they buy sound attenuating products. As most manufacturers point out, numbers by themselves without context are meaningless. So many variables affect an IIC rating. Sound travels differently through different substrates whether it is a four inch or eight inch concrete slab or a 3/4 inch wood floor. If a structure has a ceiling attached to a plenum that further naturally attenuates noise. An overall IIC number is “smoke and mirrors,” says Haldeman, “Because that IIC number means nothing if you don’t know what the sub floor construction was. A double wood floor with a drop ceiling already has a base IIC of 67.”

Consequently more and more manufacturers are referring to ASTM E 2179, a test method for assessing the before and after impact of an underlayment. The difference in IIC number is often referred to as the “Delta IIC” which reflects the contribution of the underlayment. Lyons says that consumers would be better served if all manufacturers rated their product according to E 2179. However, that test standard only became ratified in 2003 and many companies haven’t bothered with the substantial expense of testing existing products under it.

Haldeman says Custom Building Product’s underlayments have delivered a Delta IIC as high as 23. Noble only promises 13 to 15 Delta IIC points with its products. In layman’s terms, as Maurer explains, “an increase of ten of IIC will reduce the sound pressure level by about 90% and what your ear is going to hear is half as much noise.” Twenty points means that only 25% of the noise would be heard. “Twenty is a big number and that’s pretty hard to do,” says Maurer.

Furthermore, even with the rating system, there can be a tremendous amount of variability on ratings depending on what lab the product was tested in. Watier says that what truly matters in IIC numbers is the FIIC—the field rating, which is more realistic than tests conducted in the controlled environment of a laboratory. However, Lyons feels that field tests, conducted under actual conditions, “are totally unreliable….If something changes in the receiving room [where the sound transfer is measured], like they put an overstuffed couch in the middle of the room, it could change the dynamics of the whole test.”

Lyons says that “whoever is making the end decision should try to get test data that correlates as closely as possible with what they’re actually going to build.” Too many ratings pertain only to assemblies with sound rated ceilings, which is meaningless in structures where one person’s ceiling is the actual underside of a neighbor’s floor. As Lyons observes, “the degree of acoustical performance you start with dictates what you wind up.”

Amorim has data on 15 different test assemblies. Most companies only refer to one or two test assemblies, says Lyons , and don’t post the details behind the assemblies. “We feel that the process should be very transparent, that you should see exactly how the material was tested to come up with that number so that that number has some meaning to you.”

Duvé says, “I would like to see the standards improve for sound attenuation so we can compare apples and apples in the field and the customer gets a good product.”

Looking Ahead

Despite some incongruities which may never realistically be rectified, and disagreements between manufacturers on how to best test their product, more code bodies dealing with multi-family structures and more homeowners’ associations are requiring sound attenuation. Markets that don’t mandate sound reduction, such as Chicago and Boston , are the exception now according to Lyons . Lyons observes that many builders are looking to go beyond the threshold of an IIC of 50: “The prices on some of these condo properties especially in the luxury market in coastal areas can exceed $1000 per square foot, so builders want to make sure they do the best they can for sound control, so they’re looking for higher-performing solutions.”

Most underlayment manufacturers have targeted the condominium market. NAC counts buildings like Turnberry Towers in Las Vegas and Florida , and Caribe, a high rise building in Gulf Shores , Alabama , among its clients. Noble’s SIS has been used in the Sandy Lane Hotel in Barbados as well as the Seattle Convention Center .

Interestingly, notes Lyons , what would appear to be other big markets for the sound attenuation industry, like hospitals, hotels, and office buildings, haven’t proven to be that fruitful. Rental apartments also appear to be a marketing dead end: “The feeling is that if the tenants don’t like the noise they’ll move away.” Lyons notes that there has been some demand for Acousticork in student housing.

Growth is good. Maurer says that sales of SIS have consistently improved 10 to 15% each year. According to Lyons , Acousticork has had annual double digit increases in sales over the last five years. Duvé says NAC sells around a million square feet a year just in sound control products. “It’s a good market, and I think it’s going to expand,” he says.

As more competitors enter the field, cautions Watier, the danger is that some of the companies may be less than reputable and she anticipates that in the future there will be more litigation and claims on products that don’t deliver the promised sound reduction.

Ultimately, when selecting an sound reducing underlayment, says Haldeman, “you should look for the Delta IIC you need to achieve the IIC of the total construction that’s required. Then you have to balance out ease of installation, the time it takes to install it, and price.”

Exterior Tile Trends: Taking Tile Outside
March 1st, 2006


By Bill & Patti Feldman

March-April 2006

In residential and commercial markets alike, exterior tile is having its day in the sun. It continues to be a popular choice for decorative and durable surfacing of walkways, patios, fountain areas, and other landscape elements around homes and commercial buildings and is starting to show up on the floors and walls of the newly trendy outdoor kitchens and other open-air living areas. In exterior commercial applications, there is increased use of tile on vertical surfaces.

Over the past couple of years, tile manufacturers have broadened the selection of available tile sizes and designs in ceramic, glass and stone, and especially in glazed and through-body porcelain. Particularly popular nowadays are designs that capture the texture, relief and the typical variations of color of natural stone.

Porcelain is perfect outside

Porcelain tile for outdoor use can be an easy sell to commercial and residential customers alike. Very durable and scratch- and fade-resistant, it can mimic the appearance of natural slate, granite and other traditional exterior surfaces while requiring minimal maintenance. Selection of tile with a high MOH rating (reflecting degree of hardness, with 10 being the hardest) and PEI rating (reflecting wearability, with 5 being the highest rating), ensures that the tile would work well in areas of high foot traffic. Also, its chemical inertia makes it suitable for high pollution areas.

Having practically no water absorption compared to ceramic tile, porcelain tile is much less likely to freeze and crack in sustained cold weather or otherwise show signs of weathering in freeze/thaw cycles, making it ideal for outdoor applications. The water absorption rate of a standard porcelain tile is generally less than 0.5% while for ceramic tiles, this rate is often only just under 3% for floor tiles and just under 10% for wall tiles.

Though some glazed tile can be slippery and therefore not suitable for floor use unless treated, porcelain tiles can be manufactured with a coefficient of friction high enough to be considered non-slip.

Porcelain tile can also be marketed as sustainable. While the tiles can last the lifetime of a building, should design needs change, the tiles can be recycled as material for road and landscape base material rather than be shipped to landfills.

Using glazed ceramic or porcelain tile to achieve the natural look of stone in outdoor living areas is on the upswing in many regions of the country. Designers frequently create modular rectangular patterns incorporating a variety of sizes and shapes to replicate the appearance of classical stone flooring. Some are also mixing “free-form” pieces to achieve a pleasing aesthetic. Often, floor and wall tiling materials in an outdoor kitchen or living room are echoed around a fire pit and as pathways throughout the garden.

And, notes Rob Henry, a Principal at Robert F. Henry Tile Company, a distributor based in Montgomery Alabama, large modular patterns using stone-look tiles up to 24″ or 36″ square are also popular around pools. Among projects for customers with brick homes, “there is a lot of interest in coordinating tile color to the brick, especially for patios, decks and pool decks, as well as walkways,” he noted, “even though that sometimes raises the hot-foot issue if the tile is dark.”

In 2006, for commercial tile, “large” and “larger” and “even larger” is in, with more products available not only in large format sizes such as 24” x 24”, 24” x 36” and 30” x 30” but also in slab-like pieces, such as 24” x 48”, 30” x 60” and 60” x 90” suitable for exterior floors and walls.

How large is large format?

For example, a huge horizontal installation for the renovation of the Waterside Shops, an upscale open air lifestyle mall in Naples, Florida, that is close to completion, utilizes 90,000 square feet of 18” x 18” anti-slip slate-look porcelain tiles for all the exterior flooring. The specifications for the “extreme make-over” called for a light color that would stay relatively cool to the touch on hot sunny days.

The installation, which features multiple sizes of tile manufactured by Impronta Italgraniti USA, is one of the largest exterior flooring projects using porcelain tile in the United States. It replaces pock-marked cement tile that, while typical of older South Florida Mediterranean-style malls, did not accommodate the contemporary fashion-forward oriented environment the mall developer was aiming for.

The mall has many covered walkways with canopies only 8 ½ feet high. Because of the disparity between the bright Florida sun and the shadows created by the canopies, the architect, JPRA Architects of Farmington Hills, Michigan, specified the light color to maximize reflection of light back onto the ceilings, explained James Ryan, A.I.A, Chairman of the Board of the architectural firm.

Vertical Installations on the up and up and up

Porcelain tile and porcelain slabs have many value-adding characteristics that make them good choices for vertical cladding on commercial buildings. These include porcelain’s higher mechanical strength, superior to that of natural stone for the same thickness, its lower weight (one-third the weight of granite) and therefore lower shipping costs and installation costs, and its high wind thrust resistance, which makes it suitable for use in hurricane zones. Also, because it is 30% denser than granite, porcelain tile has greater chip resistance than granite.

Manufacturers have developed techniques that enable duplication of the look of natural stone close enough, in some cases, to match existing stone. For example, for matching existing granite in renovations, it is now possible for a porcelain tile manufacturer to take high resolution scans of the existing granite and use computerized plotting to replicate the veining patterns in the porcelain tile, mimicking the width and depth of the vein.

And because of the ability of the manufacturer to control the veining and the color, porcelain tile can enjoy an overall lower rejection rate by the architect and lower percentage of waste than natural stone and granite, especially in projects where the architect is aiming for a monolithic look.

Impronta Italgraniti, of Italy, supplied two types of porcelain tiles that replicate the look of natural stone and granite for a 400,000 square foot exterior ventilated façade installation at The Avenue, a huge new shopping mall in Kuwait City. (The manufacturer also supplied 376,000 square feet of interior common space flooring of the same tiles, half in polished finish, half in matt. The combined total of 776,000 square feet for interior floors and exterior vertical cladding puts the project among the largest tile jobs supplied by a single manufacturer.)

Because of the hot desert environment, Noor Architects of Toronto designed a ventilated façade, a form of energy efficient construction that features an air space of a few inches between the rough exterior of the building and the stainless steel grid-and-track system that supports the exterior large-sized nominal 2’ x 4’ porcelain tile.

The 12 mm thick tiles were partially drilled through from the back near the corners to allow for later insertion of threaded mounting screws which are first dipped into liquid epoxy. The tiles were set into the stainless steel ventilated framework with a quarter inch gap between the tiles that allows for the flow of air.

A ventilated façade keeps the building cool during the day and warm during the night. “In the desert, the cool air at night cools off the tiles, allowing for natural dissipation of the heat. In the daytime, the tile and the space act as a thermal barrier and can lower energy costs by up to 20–30 percent,’’ explains Jerry Joyce, Vice President of Impronta Italgraniti USA. “It is, in fact, a form of energy efficient construction.”

A ventilated facade can also provide an effective acoustic barrier, reducing exterior noise pollution by up to 20 percent, he adds.

“While most projects in the U.S. using porcelain tile for cladding still utilize conventional full spread installation techniques and are usually low reaching, with the cladding area typically only up to 30 feet high, in Europe and Asia, where there has been active development of many new standards and systems that enable installations above 30 feet, tiling projects frequently go much higher,” observes Joyce.

Innovative cladding systems of the type that allow vertical installations without any functional height limitations—i.e. ventilated facades—are slowly being introduced in this country.

Manufacturers are keeping pace with the evolution of this new technology. For example, VitrA, a Turkish tile manufacturer, and Tile of Spain branded manufacturers Alcalagres and Apavisa Porcelanico offer innovative ventilated façade systems that can be installed over original construction as well as used for new construction.

“The introduction of ventilated systems in the US opens up the possibility that tile distributors can sell the systems, including the steel framework,” points out Joyce, “just like, years ago, tile distributors jumped into selling cement backer board even though its introduction came through the building products sector.”


Linda Hennelly
Crossville Tile

Nissy Atassi
Paramount PR

(for) Imagine Tile
Bloomfield, NJ

Jerry Joyce
Impronta Italgraniti

James Ryan, A.I.A.
Chairman of the Board
JPRA Architects

Carolyn Holck Brown
Oceanside Glasstile

Robert F Henry
Tile Company

Mary Anne Piccirillo
White Good & Company
(for) Tile of Spain

Alexandra Ainsworth
Communicators International, Inc.

(for) Vitra USA

Kirsty Froelich
The Tile Shop

Concrete Tile Is Another Exterior Option

Mention concrete to many people and they think of a cold, gray sidewalk or wall. Those in the business, like John Paganos, founder of Olde World Stone & Tile, describe it another way: “The unique, aged look of our concrete stone and tile is reminiscent of those tiles found in the villas of Tuscany, the chateaus of Burgundy, and the haciendas of old Mexico.”

Concrete stone and tile, also called cementitious stone and tile, has been around since the days of the Romans. Back then, pouring a mortar-like mixture on site firmed the tiles, as with the building of the Coliseum. Today companies produce tiles in factories using various methods to achieve the different textures and styles available. A number of companies, including Olde World, use the wet-cast method to give the tile a handmade appearance. Styles, shapes, textures and sizes are virtually unlimited. The use of iron oxide colorants in the mix guarantees that the integral color will never wear out. Concrete tiles are produced by one of three manufacturing processes. They are either poured, extruded or ram pressed. Some concrete tiles duplicate the look and replace the other softer and less durable tiles like brick and Mexican Saltillo for use in high-traffic, commercial applications.

How big is the cementitious tile market? Wausau Tile, the country’s largest manufacturer of concrete tile has been producing what it calls pre-cast terrazzo tile for over a decade. Olde World Stone & Tile has been designing and making molds and helping entrepreneurs start their own tile and stone manufacturing businesses since 1992. Ro-Tile, a division of Coronado Stone Products, Inc., is one of six plants that Coronado has throughout the U.S. and Canada. They’ve been manufacturing concrete tile for over 40 years. Cal-Ga-Crete has been producing concrete tile since 1963. Their tiles have been used in Disney Parks around the world. The Los Angeles City Hall, built in 1928, was restored and retrofitted 73 years later, with 16,000 concrete tiles from Arto Brick to replace clay tile walks.

In the residential market, cementitious tiles are used for driveways, kitchens, family rooms, etc. They can also be used around swimming pools due to their natural slip resistant properties. Architects like concrete tiles because they can be used for both interior and exterior applications, creating a flow and feeling of one big space.

Concrete tile is installed by setting them in mortar, like ceramic tile. Olde World recommends back-buttering the tiles and the use of a mortar bag to fill the grout joints. Installers used to working with ceramic tile and cleaning off the grout the next day, have to work differently with cement tile. If the grout haze is not removed right away, it may stick. Most producers pre-seal their tiles at their plants to facilitate ease of grout removal. Acid should never be used on concrete.

There is no debate that concrete or cementitious tile is here to stay and that the category will continue to grow. Companies like Olde World Stone & Tile and others are offering molds and finishing techniques to help dealers and distributors profitably provide customers with custom, hand-made tile and stone at very competitive prices.

Leadership Letter: The Incredible Value CTDA Membership Offers
January 1st, 2006

January-February 2006

As I look ahead to 2006 and my responsibilities as CTDA president, I am struck by the incredible value CTDA membership offers. Where else can you find such an enthusiastic network of business associates meeting the same challenges you face every day?

The industry-specific knowledge you need is always available from CTDA. Consider the following:

• Tile Training in a Box offers a one-stop education shop for newcomers to the industry as well as experienced workers who could benefit from a refresher course on ceramic tile. This program has recently been expanded with PowerPoint presentations for group or individual learning and an informative section on stone. Learn the basics about the industry’s newest trend.

• Ready to learn more? Online Education is only a click away and a great value for CTDA members. This self-guided ceramic tile course offers both the Basics of Ceramic Tile and necessary Sales Techniques to help you and your employees work—and sell—most effectively with your customers.

• Industry seminars, like the mold panel at the 2005 Management Conference, offer all of us an opportunity to listen and ask questions about topics important to us and our businesses.

• Run a smarter company thanks to the input of professionals like Al Bates. Leverage programs from and Staples to help you save real money every day in your business.

Okay—these are all great membership benefits (and there are more, just check them out at, but that’s just the beginning.

Industry opportunities

CTDA membership also offers the added advantage of industry networking, not only at CTDA events but also at industry events like Coverings. Meet and get to know your suppliers and fellow tile dealers. There is no better way to learn about the industry than from its leaders. CTDA members have been leading the ceramic tile industry since 1978. From our co-sponsorship of Coverings, the industry’s largest trade show in the America’s, to the publication of TileDealer, CTDA has always lead the industry.

Industry networking is not limited to CTDA events. It’s as easy as calling up a CTDA member locally or across the country to see if he has a product you’re looking for or experience with the question that’s plaguing you now. CTDA is, after all, about the people who share in the industry.

The association is also about some wonderful opportunities, and I can think of none better than the gracious invitation from the Turkish Ceramic Federation to CTDA members to travel to Istanbul in June and become better acquainted with them and their remarkable products. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to expand your corporate horizons, tap into new product lines, and deliver wonderful products to your customers.

What if you’re not a member of CTDA?

If you’re a former member of CTDA who let your membership drop, or you’re a prospective member trying to decide if you really want to join, there has never been a better time to become a part of the industry’s leading association. Surfaces and Coverings are just ahead. CTDA members will be leveraging their association relationships to maximize these events and the others that follow. If you’ve been thinking about joining, the time has never been better.

Membership benefits grow and opportunities multiply with CTDA.

I’ll see you at Surfaces!

Mark Carlson
CTDA President

From the Editor’s Desk: What Are You Doing New In 2006
January 1st, 2006

by Janet Arden, Editor

January-February 2006

How ready are you for the future? In his presentation at the CTDA Management Conference, Jim Carroll accurately captured the mood when he said, “Change is happening faster than ever before.”

Tile is very much about change—especially if you look at design innovations like glass, metallics, and large format, to name a few. How we deal with change, of course, is the challenge.

Some challenges are welcome.

We are part of an exciting, fast-growing marketplace. Tile has become increasingly part of the design/build/remodel industry. Its low-maintenance and long lifetime qualities are appealing to buyers looking to build or remodel “up.” The National Association of Homebuilders estimated that new home construction in 2005 was valued at $250 billion and remodeling added another $235 billion. Are you doing everything to tap this market potential?

Some challenges are unexpected.

The soaring cost of oil in 2005 has had a ripple effect across the industry. How are you coping with this? TileDealer talked to distributors and manufacturers to see what they are doing to meet this challenge. They have come up with a variety of solutions, and you can read about them in “The Marketplace Now.”

Some challenges we see coming.

For some time now the industry has wondered about the impact of Chinese tile imports. The latest numbers (as of September 2005) from the U.S. Trade Commission indicate Chinese imports are up 114-percent. Some industry leaders call this good news, because competition is always good for the marketplace. But it may present some marketshare challenges, and it certainly has the potential to impact the industry overall. This issue TileDealer talked One-on-One with importer Robert Briggs to get an insider’s perspective on Chinese imports.

Some challenges we meet together.

For the last three years, Tile Partners for Humanity has offered the industry a remarkable opportunity to give back to the community by providing materials, expertise, labor and financial support to help build and finish homes for families that would not otherwise be able to own one. They always have more need than they can accommodate, but the devastation wrought by the hurricanes in 2005 has multiplied this need many times over.

In the weeks and months after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, industry members flooded Tile Partners for Humanity with calls about rebuilding through donations of materials, labor and installation training. Until now, Habitat for Humanity—with whom TPFH works to coordinate tile donations for Habitat homes—was not able to address flooring needs for homes in affected communities. TPFH is working with the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity (NOAHH) and Habitat for Humanity International to coordinate donations along the Gulf Coast and TPFH NEEDS YOUR HELP. NOAHH will build or rehab more than 500 homes in 2006 in the City of New Orleans, Jefferson Parish, and the devastated areas in St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes. We will also work in communities along the coast in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

Please stop by TPFH booth #G2144 at Surfaces for updated information on build schedules and material and labor needs. Updated project and build information will also be posted on the TPFH site at You can also request information after mid-January from Allyson Fertitta, TPFH executive director, at

“We desperately need tile, carpet and other flooring materials for use in our home building activities. New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity will lead the way by building and renovating MORE THAN 500 homes within the next year. While we have many eager volunteers and Habitat partner families, we need professionals to work on our projects and help train volunteers to work with them. Please give us your thoughtful consideration!”—Jim Pate, Executive Director, New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity

TPFH and industry partners have tiled nearly 200 homes in three years of partnership with Habitat for Humanity International. TPFH is a registered 501c3 nonprofit organization and is guided by representatives of seven leading tile industry organizations: Ceramic Tile Distributors Association, Ceramic Tile Education Foundation, Ceramic Tile Institute of America, National Tile Contactors Association, The Tile, Tile Council of North America, and Tile Heritage Foundation.

So, the question is, are you ready to meet these challenges?

See you at Surfaces!

Janet Arden

January 1st, 2006


January-February 2006


Accents Con Agua, a division of Waterjet Works!, introduces Leaves 365, its new line of natural leaf-shaped tiles. The porcelain and slate leaves come in 6″ x 12″ matted sections. Each section is unique, with a variety of colors, allowing for creativity in its use with decorative borders, backsplash of kitchen counters and walkway and fireplace accents. Leaves 365 come in outlines of oak, elm and birch leaves, as well as three types of maple leaves, allowing for a custom look. (


With its versatility, the Ashland series has a palette of 17 solid colors, 7 iridescent colors and several standards. “Hakatai’s standard blends work well for many different interior applications,” said Andy Marcus, designer and president of A.L.M. Interior Design. Marcus, who recently used the tiles to renovate his Palm Springs home, found the glass tiles brought stylish accents to his home. The series is available in 1″ x 1″ glass tiles. Custom blends are also available. (


Mediterranea recently introduced its new collection of glazed porcelain tile, reminiscent of the ancient Egyptian temples and pyramids, entitled “ Temple Stone .” Created with a weathered, rustic appearance that blends dramatic Earth tones, “ Temple Stone ” has a natural feel. The tiles are offered in hues of Karnac (noce), Giza (gold), Luxor (bronze) and Isis (beige). Field tiles are available in sizes of 18″ x 18″ and 13″ x 13″, and bull noses in 3″ x 18″ and 3″ x 13″ sizes. (305-444-3676)


Stueler Fliesen recently released six new mosaics that combine mosaic and combination tiles that allow for dimension flexibility. Mosaic Baroque, Mosaic Classic, Mosaic Ethno, Mosaic Lines, Mosaic Metal and Mosaic Retro are all offered in a 12″ x 12″ format in a special glaze finish. Mosaic Baroque, derived from artistic impressions prevalent in 17th century Europe , is available in sophisticated color patterns of anthracite-red-brown and eggshell-gray. The Mosaic Classic series offers decorative border pieces to distinguish coordinated floor tiles, available in black-white, blue and matt terracotta. Mosaic Ethno contains the rich subtleties of exotic African culture in black-white ornaments of the large format mosaics. The Mosaic Lines series captures the eye and the imagination with the black-red or discreet reed patterns that cling to the gray-white striped combination tiles. The tiles and borders of the Mosaic Metal series sparkle in shades of copper espresso and gray-metallic, the stainless steel borders elegantly meeting the dark gray or espresso floor tiles. The Mosaic Retro series, inspired by the 1970s, offers border tiles in bold orange or subtle light gray. (207-828-8050)


The new glazed porcelain Vail and Aspen series from Laufen come in floor, wall and counter top tiles. Both are ideal for medium to heavy traffic areas and are easy to clean and maintain. In residential and commercial settings, the glazed porcelain provides a non-porous surface that is extremely stain resistant and durable. The Vail series comes in Ivory, Sahara , Pine and Rouge. The floor tile comes in 17½” x 17½” and 13″ x 13″ sizes. Mosaics are available in each color, as is a multicolor mosaic that features all four Vail colors. A 3¾” x 13″ bullnose rounds out the floor tile offering. Vail wall tiles come in a 10″ x 13″ size in Ivory and Sahara . A 3″ x 10″ listel is offered in these two colors, as well as in Silver. Bull nose and bullnose corner complete the wall tile offering. The Aspen series is available in Olive, Inferno, Camel and Ash. The product comes in a larger 18″ x 18″, as well as 12″ x 12″ and 6″ x 6″ sizes. A wide range of trim, including border, quarter round, listel and v-cap, completes the line. (


Made of porcelain tiles, the Chelsea from Ceracasa, offers versatility and unique features. Chelsea is available in four colors: Terra, Tabaco, Beige and Marfil. The model is a stone textured porcelain tile with a design variation among the pieces. Chelsea comes in three sizes, 31.6″ x 31.6″, 49.1″ x 49.1″ and 31.6″ x 63.7″, that are easily combined together creating modern surfaces. This model also offers an irregular mosaic available in the four colors of this series. Chelsea is offered in a wide range of special pieces, such as steptreads, skirtings, drainage tiles or step skirtings. (


The new Marmos tumbled glass collection from Bella Ceramic combines the patina of tumbled tile with the translucence of glass. The line includes 2″ x 2″ mosaics, 1″ x 1″ blends, and a stone/glass combination border. (

The Color Collection

United States Ceramic Tile Company’s new Color Collection is a complete system that includes wall tile in three finishes (Bright, Matte and Speckle) and coordinating porcelain floor tile in two finishes (Solid and Speckle). The Color Collection is the result of extensive market research which concluded that a wall tile product with a wide variety of color, finish and size options would be ideal for the commercial market. The wall tile palette comes in 67 various primary, contemporary and speckled colors that range from light to deeper shades. The selection process is simplified by separating the offering into three groups. Each group has its own trim offering and pricing structure. The Color Collection also features five distinct color families. Each color family includes a coordinating speckled wall tile. Coordinating porcelain floor tiles complete each color family and are available in both solid and speckled versions. Color Collection is the only complete system in the market that includes wall tile in three finishes (Bright, Matte and Speckle), three sizes (4¼ x 4¼, 6 x 6 and 3 x 6) and coordinating porcelain floor tile in two finishes (Solid and Speckle). The wall tile palette comes in 67 various primary, contemporary and speckled colors that range from light to deeper shades. A wide range of trim options completes the wall tile package. The porcelain floor tile is offered in 12 solid and speckled colors and comes in 12¼ x 12¼ size. Bullnose is available in both floor tile finishes. (

Penny Round from VitrA

VitrA Tiles USA is introducing the new Penny Round series. Available in 21 solid colors, this unglazed porcelain tile series is perfect for both interior and exterior settings. Penny Round is a mosaic series that resembles a collection of pennies neatly arranged in tile form. Attractive in any application, this series can be installed for the floor, wall, countertops, pools, backsplashes, and any place tile is used. “What makes this series superior is that it is both durable and versatile,” said Sema Cetiner, of VitrA Tiles USA. “Penny Round’s aesthetic features give it a striking appearance that will complement any room.” Penny Round is available in a 1″ X 1″ size and is offered dot mounted. Because it has high endurance, the series is appropriate for both residential and commercial settings. With a water absorption of .03%, resistance to abrasion and chemicals, and frost resistance, Penny Round stands as a resilient series with an eye-catching design. Penny Round is offered in both a glossy and mat texture and may soon be available in different custom patterns. (770-904-6173)

Hydroment™ DITRA-SET™ Thin-Set Mortar

The Bostik Flooring Group announces its latest flooring innovation, Hydroment™ DITRA-SET™ Thin-Set Mortar—the first Portland cement, thin-set mortar endorsed and warranted for installation of porcelain over Schulter® DITRA uncoupling membranes. “Schulter has tested DITRA-SET with its property underlayments, particularly in porcelain tile installations, and has granted us the license to use the Schulter and DITRA trade names on our product packaging and marketing collateral,” Phil Pitts, Bostik Flooring Group’s Hardwood Products Manager said. DITRA-SET Thin-Set Mortar is composed of: select, proprietary chemicals; carefully graded aggregates; inorganic adhesion promoters; and purified cements. It provides outstanding workability, excellent durability and superior bonding strengths in interior and exterior applications when used in conjunction with the Schulter DITRA uncoupling membrane or Schulter KERDI waterproofing membrane. The product eliminates the potential for finger pointing between manufacturers and contractors over the use of incompatible systems. (

New Decorative Natural Stone Pool Copings

LM Natural Stone Products Inc, a designer and manufacturer of unique natural stone moldings has just added a new line of decorative natural stone pool coping products to their extensive line of interior and exterior natural stone custom moldings. “We created our new decorative natural stone pool coping line to fill a void in the pool and spa industry,” asserts Jeff Snyder, owner and chief designer of LM Natural Stone Products Inc. “Remodel pool and spa builders can be given credit for the new line. They encouraged us to design a 3-½ inch drop or more in our pool copings that can be used to cover the old concrete pool coping for decorative, luxury re-models. Designers and builders can now design an exterior hardscape that blends together natural beauty with an upscale look,” concludes Snyder. The decorative pool coping moldings are offered in a selection of twelve contemporary designs, which means that designers have more creative leeway to innovate custom aesthetics that work well with a variety of architectures. Equally important to offering upscale design to remodel builders is the ability to revamp upgrades by covering the unsightly old coping with a minimum of work. The industry standard for decorator coping is 1½ inches and comes in three basic shapes; mainly round, square and bullnose. (

Brushing Up On Forklift Safety
January 1st, 2006

January-February 2006 According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), nearly 100 workers are killed and another 20,000 injured in forklift-related incidents every year.

The forklifts you use daily to load, unload and move materials in the warehouse are potentially dangerous tools when used without the right safeguards or training.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), nearly 100 workers are killed and another 20,000 injured in forklift-related incidents every year. NIOSH investigations into these incidents indicate that many people are unaware of the risks of working with and around forklifts and/or are not following OSHA standards.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards for the use and maintenance of powered industrial trucks and forklifts have been in effect since 1999. Requirements include operator training and licensing and periodic evaluations of operator performance. The standard also addresses specific training requirements for truck operation, loading, seat belts, overhead protective structures, alarms and maintenance of industrial trucks. Refresher training is required if the operator is observed operating the truck in an unsafe manner, is involved in an accident or near miss, or is assigned a different type of truck.

OSHA requirements for forklift operation

• On all grades, the load and load engaging means shall be tilted back, if applicable, and raised only as far as needed to clear the road surface. The forks shall not be raised or lowered while the forklift is moving.

• Under all travel conditions, the truck shall be operated at a speed that will permit it to be brought safely to a stop.

• The operator shall slow down and sound the horn at cross aisles and other locations where vision is obstructed.

• The operator is required to look toward and keep a clear view of the travel path.

• Unauthorized personnel shall not be permitted to ride on powered industrial trucks. A safe place to ride shall be provided where the riding of trucks is authorized.

• Forklift trucks shall not be driven up to anyone standing in front of a bench or other fixed object.

Maintenance is key

In addition to operator training, OSHA requires that all industrial trucks be examined before being placed into service. They shall not be placed into service if the examination shows any condition adversely affecting the safety of the vehicle. Such examination shall be made at least daily. When industrial trucks are used around the clock, they shall be examined after each shift. When defects are found, they shall be immediately reported and corrected. Detailed checklists are available from the OSHA website,

Industry Insights
January 1st, 2006


January-February 2006

CTDA inducts two into Hall of Fame

The Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA) inducted two more members into the CTDA Hall of Fame during ceremonies at the association’s 2005 Management Conference. Gail Schovan, president of Turner Distributing and immediate past president, and William Ives, who has served as legal counsel to CTDA since it was founded in 1978, were both honored not only for their years of service to CTDA but to the industry as well.

In 1963, Gail Schovan found her way to Dal Tile as their “Girl Friday.” In 1988, she purchased Turner Distributing. Along the way she has spent countless hours promoting and directing the CTDA organization, including serving two terms as CTDA president. CTDA members describe her as a tireless recruiter for members, for committees, and for people to attend events. She is someone who embodies the Mission Statement in every way possible.

Bill Ives went from Knox College, a small liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, to the U.S. Army Counter-Intelligence Corps, Germany, and graduated from Harvard Law School. During his 37 year career with Keck, Mahin and Cate, he specialized in antitrust, international law, regulatory agencies, and of course, trade and professional associations. In 1978, Ives found time to become legal counsel to a small startup association: CTDA. He is the only legal counsel CTDA has ever had. In 2004, Ives retired from the firm life to private practice in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.


The Tile Council of North America, Inc. (TCNA) reports hiring Philip J. (Jeff) Micalizzi to be the new director of its wholly owned subsidiary, TCA Team, LLC. Mr. Micalizzi’s responsibilities include managing operations and recruiting additional consultants. “Since the launch of TCA Team, we have experienced a growing demand for pre-construction consulting and on-site inspection across the United States. Jeff brings more than 27 years of experience to TCA Team,” remarked Eric Astrachan, TCNA’s Executive Director. Mr. Micalizzi gained insight into the causes of installation failures while at Laticrete International and previously as a foreman for Local #1 in New Haven, Connecticut. Prior to working for Local #1, Mr. Micalizzi set ceramic tile in California and Connecticut for 16 years.“The purpose of the TCA Team is to solve problems—before, during and, if necessary, after a tile and stone installation,” said Micalizzi. “Bringing a ceramic tile and stone specialist into a project during the design phase will often save money.” There are now so many choices available in the ceramic tile industry, architects and other specifiers are often not familiar with the new technology and choices available. Because tile is both utilitarian and decorative, it is important that a full range of choices are considered. Because it is expected to last the life of the building, it must be installed correctly, which requires knowledge of the ever-broadening choices of installation materials. In the building industry, whenever materials can be decorative, functional, expensive, and long-lasting, specialists are needed to help make the right choices. A ceramic tile design specialist can help select tiles that are functional and decorative and an installation specialist can help make sure the installation system is properly specified and executed. “Our objective is to become a resource for the entire construction chain from the specification writer to the installer,” said Micalizzi. “As consultants become more readily available, we believe customers will receive better installations. Not just because of better workmanship but also because of better design choices, better installation systems, and better competition in the marketplace. In the long term, we expect this will result in more training and education for the industry—which makes everyone a winner,” said Astrachan.

Ceramic Tiles of Italy Design Competition

The Italian ceramic tile industry announced the 13th edition of the Ceramic Tiles of Italy Design Competition. Sponsored by Assopiastrelle, the Association of Italian Ceramic Tile Manufacturers, and the Italian Trade Commission, this annual awards program recognizes design excellence in projects that feature Italian ceramic tile. North American architects and interior designers are invited to submit residential, commercial and institutional projects completed between January 2001 and January 2006. Entries may be submitted for domestic and international new construction and renovation projects. A panel of design professionals will judge the projects based on their creativity, aesthetic value, and how the tiles meet their functional and technical requirements. The criteria for the jury includes: overall design of the project, innovative use of tile, tile design, quality of installation and degree that tile enhanced the setting. Winners in each category will receive a cash prize of $5,000 and a trip to Coverings in Orlando, Florida, April 4-7, 2006. Winners will also be treated to a free 5-day trip to CERSAIE 2006, in Bologna, Italy from September 26-30, 2006. For the first time, an additional $1,000 will be shared by the winning contractor/distributor team. There is no fee or entry limit. Completed submissions must be received by January 30, 2006. For more information or to download an entry form visit

Laurie Lyza Joins Crossville as Marketing Manager

Crossville, Inc. has named Laurie Grogan Lyza as its new Marketing Manager. Lyza will work with Crossville’s marketing team to develop and coordinate new product launches and special events, as well as to oversee marketing communications nationwide.

“Laurie’s wealth of marketing and public relations experience in the corporate, non-profit and academic sectors, combined with innovative management skills, are a welcome addition,” says Jim Dougherty, vice president of marketing and business development for Crossville. “We’re thrilled that she’s joined us.” A graduate of the University of Tennessee with a B.S. in Journalism/Public Relations, Lyza has served as a communications executive in a wide range of organizations, most recently at the headquarters for U.S. Cellular. Previously, she was Marketing Manager for InsLogic Corporation in Oak Ridge, TN. Among Lyza’s many professional activities, she serves on the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity of Anderson County, providing public relations and crisis communications counsel, as well as chairing the Development Committee. “Growing up nearby in Roane County, I have always been aware of Crossville’s reputation, not only for its excellent products, but as a strong, stable company and great place to work,” says Lyza. “When the marketing opportunity arose, it was an easy decision to pursue it. I look forward to being part of the Crossville family for many years to come.”


The Call for Entries has been issued for the 2006 Spectrum Awards presented by Coverings. The competition, which draws installations representing excellence in the use of ceramic tile, seeks residential and commercial projects. To be considered, projects must have been completed within the timeframe of January 2003-December 2005. “It was an honor to have my tilework recognized by leaders in the industry, and winning only added to the excitement of attending Coverings,” remarked 2005 Grand Prize winner John Mandel, president of Red Canyon Tile & Stone in Lander, WY. Eric N. Rattan, owner of Santa Fe Design Studios, Madison, WI, and 2005 recipient of the Residential Award of Merit, echoed similar sentiments. “It was a dream come true to win this past year—I encourage people to enter because not only was my client base expanded, but I was able to network with the ‘real’ players in the industry.” Architects, designers, builders, contractors, distributors, retailers, installers and other professionals from around the world will be vying for the chance to win a $10,000 Grand Prize. Prizes totaling $8,000 will also be awarded to the First Prize and Award of Merit winners in the Residential and Commercial categories. A downloadable version of the entry brochure along with details on how to enter can be found on The deadline for entering is Friday, February 3, 2006. The 2006 Spectrum Awards is sponsored by Coverings and coordinated by its five sponsoring organizations including ASCER ( Spain’s Ceramic Tile Manufacturers Association), Assopiastrelle (Association of Italian Ceramic Tile and Refractories Manufacturers), CTDA (Ceramic Tile Distributors Association), NTCA (National Tile Contractors Association) and TCNA (Tile Council of North America).


A new safety video, produced by the Marble Institute of America (MIA) with a grant from Dallas-based Daltile, focuses on the handling of stone slabs, one of the more dangerous activities in the natural stone business. Taped on location at Daltile facilities in Anaheim and Dallas, the “Basics of Safe Slab Handling” covers a wide range of slab handling scenarios ranging from removing slabs from containers to delivering them to customers. The video is hard-hitting and underscores the vital importance of following safe procedures when handling stone slabs, which can weigh up to half a ton. “We are pleased to be working with the Marble Institute of America on its expanding program to promote safety training for the natural stone industry,” said Harold Turk, Daltile executive vice president. He added, “We believe that when there is consistency of safety training throughout the marketplace, it eventually benefits the entire industry. The only way to achieve it is through continuing education.” For information on ordering, contact MIA at 440-250-9222 or visit

MIA Lifetime Achievement

Malcolm Cohen, a 65-year veteran of the natural stone industry, has been awarded the Migliore Award for Lifetime Achievement by the Marble Institute of America (MIA). The 92-year-old Cohen accepted the award at MIA’s annual awards luncheon at StonExpo 2005 in Las Vegas, NV on October 21, 2005. After graduating from Yale University, Cohen followed in his father’s footsteps and expanded his father’s business, which is now operating in its second century. His companies, Domestic Marble and Miller Druck Specialty Contracting have been involved in such projects as The White House in Washington, DC; Grand Central Station and the Statue of Liberty in New York City; and Canary Wharf in England. During his more than six decades in the stone business, Cohen’s experience in the industry is unparalleled. He has acquired a body of knowledge that cannot be duplicated. In nominating Malcolm Cohen for this award, his family said, “On a smaller scale, he headed up an office with employees that he treated like family. He shared his knowledge and expertise with everyone. How does one summarize a lifetime of work? Malcolm loves the stone business.” The Migliore Award was conceived by MIA in 2003 in honor of Vincent Migliore, MIA’s long-time technical director. The first award was presented to Migliore posthumously. In 2004, the award was presented to Joe Kapcheck of J. Kapcheck & Co. of Des Plaines, Illinois.

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