News & Press: President's Letter

TRENDS 2019 President's Letter

Tuesday, September 17, 2019  
Posted by: Trish Moss
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Why qualified labor
If you are excited about the many new trends in tile, you know that gauged porcelain tile (GPT) and gauged porcelain tile panels (GPTPs) are here to stay. Porcelain panels are being produced at a multitude of thicknesses, sizes, and finishes with sophisticated digitally-printed faces. New super-large-format tile products are being introduced for every room in the home or office. New production lines are being built all over the world to accommodate the demand trending for this material. The product itself is not new, but GPT/GPTP – along with a multitude of other new products – are bringing new opportunities to our industry.

Growth of hard surfaces is one of the reasons that so much attention is being focused on the demand for training in all segments of the tile, construction, and development community. Many of the new products and installation materials are challenging the skill of some installers who may not be keeping up. Efforts are mobilized to address this reality that will continue for a period of time. It seems that increased consumption of hard tile surfaces in the United States is here to stay as well.

GPTP interior installation standards are in place. Materials handling protocols, specialty installation tools and custom formulations for adhesives have finally caught up to the tile products. As an installer, there are few reasons – or perhaps no excuses – to not add this product category to your comfort zone. There are some important imperatives for a successful installation with these products. Installing this material like a tile job is not a wise choice. Like almost anything else, but in particular with GPT and GPTP, you need training to represent yourself as qualified labor.

One thing seems certain, this material cannot be successfully installed by one person. Or perhaps I should say, it should not be. For the end user, finding the best choice for your installer may require you to look deeper than you might for a traditional tile installer. Do they have the right tools? Do they know how to achieve acceptable coverage? What is acceptable coverage? How do they intend to get it off the delivery vehicle and into the project, then onto the wall or floor?
If you are a qualified installer, be sure to talk about these requirements. Let people know of your ability to answer these questions so you can be evaluated as the best value choice. CAVEAT EMPTOR – Look out for “that guy.” You know that guy. The “I’ve been doing it this way for 20 years and never had a problem” guy. If that person has not found it necessary to embrace new training by manufacturers or labor associations, keep looking for an installation professional. Once you find a qualified installer, one who has made the investment into specialty tools, techniques, and materials-handling equipment, design away and let your imagination guide you. With few exceptions, the roadblocks have been removed to assure that these materials can be properly and successfully installed in both specialty and production applications.

Having observed the development of the installation standard, I can assure you, the process to confirm that these materials can be installed properly was an arduous process. Many people participated, but special thanks need to be extended to Crossville, Inc. – and Noah Chitty, Crossville’s Director of Technical Services in particular – for leading a transparent and inclusive effort sharing installation and materials testing information with the entire tile installation and standards community. Others were also busy developing their methods. All of the information provided through manufacturers’ recommendations allowed Noah and his group to push the ANSI standard over the finish line. Many of those same folks are busy developing the GPT and GPTP TCNA Handbook installation method as well as the Exterior Installation Standards. Thank you again, Noah.

A nod also needs to go out to NTCA’s hosted training through Dal-Tile Corporation and active independent distributors. These companies have been hosting training programs throughout the country for the last several years with the NTCA. By providing access to this information, they are elevating the industry by training installers using new products and methods. Dal-Tile’s dedication to education of the industry has helped to open the door to these new – professionally installed – products to the tile consumer, installed by qualified labor.

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