Over the last decade, the level of quality for many of our trades has begun to decline. As many companies struggled to keep pace with demand less time was spent on training our workforces on the technical aspects as more time was spent on getting things done quicker. In part this was driven by society’s ever increasing appetite for faster completion times. Other things contributing to this downward spiral were the use of illegal workers and business owners who neglected the business side of operating a company. With today’s current economy, and the increasingly stiff competition – many contractors continue adding to this decline with short term thinking such as cutting corners as a means to get prices low enough to win jobs or uneducated tradesmen who think that getting through a minimal warranty period is sufficient.
This ultimately is bad for the end user and those whose projects are being worked on – architects, general contractors, designers or homeowners.
My industry, tile & stone installation, continues to struggle with stopping this downward spiral and reversing the trend. However there is a light at the end of the tunnel. One such initiative and most likely the best thing to happen to the serious tile contractor in recent times has been the certification of installers and companies by the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation. With the support of industry manufacturers, the National Tile Contractors Association, NTCA, as well as Tile Council of North America, TCNA and American National Standards Institute, ANSI, – the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation, CTEF, began a certification process in early 2008. This was in response to the lack of a mechanism for the consumer regarding the level of proficiency of their prospective installer. To date, close to 200 companies nationwide have passed this certification and the numbers continue to grow. Ironically, in the state of Florida, 2nd in the US in consumption of tile, we currently have less than 10 companies that have successfully passed this certification. John Trent Tile & Stone is one of only two companies in northern Florida to have passed this certification. To be clear, this is not a rubber stamp certification. These tests require that both the observable and the non-observable characteristics of an installation are executed properly. The test begins with a 2 day hands on installation that is systematically demolished upon completion allowing administrators to check for correct installation techniques and applications. Proper use of a vapor barrier, correct underlayment fasteners and patterns, proper adhesive coverage, correct use of soft joints and layout are among items checked. Following the hands on portion is a written test to help evaluate an installer’s knowledge and understanding of the TCNA manual and ANSI specifications regarding tile installations. Topics include industry associations and standards, safety, concrete and wood substrate considerations, crack isolation membranes, backer boards, bonding materials, movement joints, flexible sealants as well as workmanship standards and best practices. Successful completion helps to elevate an installer or company above his competition by showing potential customers he is willing to prove his knowledge and skill in the only national certification effort available. You can further read about this certification at tilecareer.com.
This brings me to the meat of the reason for this letter. I would like to ask you to start demanding that only certified installers be used on your projects. Tile installation is not rocket science, but there is a right way and a wrong way. With today’s increasingly expensive and challenging materials you owe it to your customers to provide or recommend only certified installers be used on their projects. A tile project installed correctly should last a lifetime – not just beyond a minimal warranty period.
Please contact us further to receive more information regarding how you can help give your customers the best chance at a successful tile installation.
Thank you for your time.
Ceramic Tile Education Foundation – Certified Tile Installer
John Trent Tile & Stone
1678 S 8th St G-7
Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
The man who will use his skill and constructive imagination to see how much he can give for a dollar, instead of how little he can give for a dollar, is bound to succeed ~ Henry Ford