News & Press: President's Letter

August 2019 President's Letter

Tuesday, September 17, 2019  
Posted by: Trish Moss
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How hard could it be?
I’ve been finishing my basement $200 dollars at a time for the last few years. It’s more of a stress reliever than a dedicated project. For the benefit of all humanity, I have been able to confirm two absolute truths:

1. Practice makes perfect.
2. You can’t be an expert at everything.

As craftspeople, we have all run into the weekend handyman, superintendent, builder or homeowner who proceeds to tell you how easy it is to do this or that. “I did the tile on my kitchen backsplash; it came out perfect; it was easy. You guys just over complicate stuff because you’re all greedy.” If I had a nickel…

Professional craftspersons who are continually evolving in their trade are not gaining their training from the always-reliable, highly accurate, well-informed platforms like HGTV, Big Box instructional seminars and YouTube videos. It takes time, effort, money and a little bit of pain. Mostly it takes dedication and the desire to achieve a high level of performance.

I had the opportunity to overhear a very well-meaning young man hosting a tile demonstration in a Big Box store early on a recent Saturday morning. I can unequivocally say that everything he told an eager group of DIYers was incorrect. In some instances, he was guaranteeing a poor result. I listened for a while then began to back away slowly, cautiously, afraid if I caught someone’s attention I would be compelled to warn them of the folly that awaited them if they followed this young man’s advice. I mourned for the many wasted hours these folks were about to spend in the endeavor of beautifying their space.

The outcome of these folks’ efforts will likely elicit the same response from an experienced tile person as the response I received when I proudly showed off my wiring/electrical skills to a seasoned electrician. The wires go to the right locations on the fixtures, outlets and switches. It’s just not as neat, tidy and professional as it would be if it were installed by an experienced electrician. Bless him, he was very polite. As for the plumbing, who knew that there was a “correct” type of plastic pipe and CPVC adhesive? I did not. However, now I can tell you how much water will be introduced into your basement from a 3/4” pipe fully opened at 80 psi for 12-15 minutes. I asked my wife, “How hard could it be? It’s a couple of extensions in an existing pipe.” NOTE: I have hired a plumber, but I am still doing the electrical (two of the can lights in one of the rooms go on and off mysteriously. Don’t tell my wife).

It's about qualified labor – knowledgeable professionals who know the what, hows and whys of what products to use where, and the best way to install them correctly, and permanently. Properly specified and installed tile on a stable substrate is a permanent finish. Lifecycle cost comparisons favor hard surfaces in almost every category. The next time someone says, “I can’t afford it,” ask them how long they plan to look at that floor, wall, or surface. Then ask them how often they want to replace it. That makes tile and other hard finishes the hands down winner almost every time.

Just as I had no idea there were correct types of plastic pipe, someone who is not a “professional” may not know how to provide the right materials, service, expertise and craftsmanship you deserve. “Professional” is in quotes to affirm that in the tile world, it can be the guy/gal in the jeans full of mortar, in a banged-up pick-up or van, packed with tools who is trained and dedicated to the trade and delivers a properly bonded, correctly installed project using the most compatible installation products and methods every time. Now that’s how to achieve sustainability!

Chris Walker
NTCA President

Vice President, David Allen Company
Chairman - ANSI A-108
ChairmanUS TAG ISO T-189
Board of Directors ABC-VA
Voting Member TCNA Handbook
Voting Member NTCA Reference Manual
chriswalker@davidallen.com