Page 1

2008 u VOL 17 u ISSUE 1

Capturing customers by capturing light

Trends in Tile for ’08: Artistic design flourishes


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THE VOICE OF THE HARD SURFACE INDUSTRY / LA VOIX DE L’INDUSTRIE DES SURFACES DURES Published for: Terrazzo, Tile and Marble Association of Canada L’Association Canadienne de Terrazzo, Tuile et Marbre Head Office 163 Buttermill Avenue, Unit 8 Concord, Ontario L4K 3X8 T: 905.660.9640 800.201.8599 F: 905.660.0513 Western Office 108 - 3650 Bonneville Place Burnaby, B.C. V3N 4T7 T: 604.294.6885 F: 604.294.2406 2006/2007 TTMAC BOARD OF DIRECTORS EXECUTIVE President - John Vani Vice President - Tony Torriano Secretary/Treasurer - Estelle Davis Past President - Dennis Edissi Chairman Supplier Division Dale Kempster DIRECTORS CONTRACTOR DIVISION Doug Bordt Francis Chisholm Dennis Edissi Jeff Vanderlinden John Vani John Vennare SUPPLIER DIVISION Mike Boldt Estelle Davis Dale Kempster Mike Lalonde Duigan Mitchell Tony Torriano Bill Wright ADMINISTRATION Elaine Cook

2008 Volume 17 Issue 1


President’s Message......................................................................................... 6 John Vani, Bridgewater Tile


Stylish Exterior Living Spaces........................................................................ 8 by Kelly Parker and Cydney Keith Trends in Tile for ’08: Artistic design flourishes ..................................... 14 by Kelly Parker Capturing customers by capturing light.................................................... 18 by Tim Lougheed Large Format Tile: The trend keeps growing… So do the tiles.............. 22 by Jeffrey Reed Substrates: An integral ingredient to any installation............................. 25 by Jeffrey Reed Specifications: The role of adhering to specifications in architecture.................................................................. 28 by Jeffrey Reed Index to Advertisers..................................................................................... 30

Publisher Robert Thompson

Production Team Leader Zig Thiessen

Editor Cydney Keith

Graphic Design Specialists James T. Mitchell Krista Zimmermann Jorge Gérardin

Sales Supervisor Sharon Komoski Sales Executives Nolan Ackman Steve Beauchamp Nancy Kantor Ilan Moyle Mic Paterson

Published by:

5255 Yonge Street, Suite 1000 Toronto, Ontario M2N 6P4 Toll Free: (866) 216-0860 ext. 229

1 Wesley Avenue, Suite 301 Winnipeg, MB Canada R3C 4C6 Toll Free: (866) 201-3096 Fax: (204) 480-4420 President Kevin Brown Senior Vice President Robert Thompson Branch Manager Nancie Privé Published March 2008. Publication Mail Agreement #40787580

Please return undeliverable magazines to: Terrazzo, Tile & Marble Association of Canada 163 Buttermill Avenue, Unit 8 Concord, ON L4K 3X8 All rights reserved. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced by any means, in whole or in part, without the prior written consent of the association.



president’s message Message du président John Vani President Terrazzo, Tile and Marble Association of Canada



s we look back at our many successes in 2007, we can see that they were due to extraordinary efforts of very dedicated members and staff. The TTMAC launched the new, completely revised Dimension Stone Guide in 2007. This lengthy four-year project included the extensive rewriting of this guide that had not been updated since the early 1980s. The final outcome has produced an extremely comprehensive guide that has been enthusiastically accepted within the industry as a leading resource tool.

n examinant nos nombreux succès de 2007, nous voyons qu’ils sont attribuables aux efforts extraordinaires de nos membres et employés très dévoués. L’ACTTM a lancé son nouveau Guide de la pierre dimensionnée 2007 entièrement revu et corrigé. Ce long projet de quatre ans a requis une réécriture en profondeur de ce guide qui n’avait pas été mis à jour depuis le début des années 80. Résultat : un guide extrêmement complet qui a été accueilli avec enthousiasme dans l’industrie.

As in past years, our inspection services remained robust and we also saw a marked increase in our Verispec program servicing

Comme par les années passées, nos services d’inspection sont demeurés robustes, et nous avons aussi noté une augmentation

i n t r o d u c i n g


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both government and non-government clients. We also saw an increase in requests for floor testing assemblies with our Universal Floor Tester. Social events were in full swing with the addition of the first annual golf tournament held in Toronto at the Castlemore Golf & Country Club complementing the 11th annual tournament in British Columbia held at the Redwoods Golf Course.

marquée dans l’utilisation de notre programme Verispec. Nous avons aussi vu augmenter les demandes d’assemblages d’essai avec notre essayeur de plancher universel. Les événements sociaux ont battu leur plein avec la tenue de notre premier tournoi de golf annuel au Castlemore Golf & Country Club de Toronto, qui s’ajoutait à notre 11e tournoi annuel de Colombie-Britannique.

Looking forward, 2008 will be a challenging year for the Association. Staff changes at our head office will require an even more dedicated focus from our board of directors and also from our members. An early spike in membership bodes well for the coming year. Our 65th Annual Convention will be held at the Le Royal Meridien King Edward Hotel in Toronto, home to our first convention in 1944. We will continue our focus on education and training through seminars at both our facilities. 2008 will see us complete our totally revised Maintenance Guide and the continuation of updating our 09 30 00 Specification Guide Tile Installation Manual.

L’année 2008 sera pleine de défis pour l’Association. Les changements de personnel à notre siège social demanderont encore plus d’attention de la part de notre Conseil d’administration et de nos membres. La hausse des adhésions en début d’année est de bon augure. Notre 65e congrès annuel aura lieu à l’hôtel Royal Meridien King Edward de Toronto, site de notre premier congrès en 1944. Nous continuerons de nous concentrer sur la formation par des séminaires dans nos deux installations. En 2008, nous achèverons notre Guide de maintenance entièrement révisé, et nous continuerons de mettre à jour la section 09 30 00 de notre guide d’installation.

With the strength of our economy, 2008 will be another strong year for construction activities in Canada and we will continue to market and support our hard surface choices.

Le Canada connaîtra une autre année vigoureuse dans la construction, en 2008, et nous continuerons de promouvoir et soutenir nos options de surfaces dures.

Thank you for your continued support.

Merci de votre appui constant.

John Vani, President

John Vani, président

Terrazzo, Tile and Marble Association of Canada

Association canadienne de terrazzo, tuile et marbre

For more detailed information on our complete line of products please visit or call 1-800-669-3623 (ON) / 1-888-236-4486 (BC) HARDSURFACES


architects’ corner

latest available tiles to take the inside “out there” — with outdoor kitchens, faux living rooms, spa and pool areas, and other defined spaces in the backyard. Depending on your location, travertines, granites, porcelains and a variety of stone including slate and quartzite are available to meet all tastes and fit a variety of architectural styles.

Stylish exterior living spaces by Kelly Parker and Cydney Keith


anadians know winter. Like it or not, we endure it year after year, but come spring one thing is certain: we want to be outside! It’s no wonder that more and more Canadians are looking to extend their living spaces to the great outdoors, making maximum use of our limited balmy weather. HARDSURFACES

But with our harsh climate and cold winters, we haven’t always considered certain hard surfaces available to combine aesthetics with practicality, beauty with durability. Today, increasingly advanced materials and technologies are allowing more Canadians to beautify their yards, and bring their living spaces to the outdoors. Combining beauty and practicality, designers are using the 

Material options From granite to porcelain, the materials abound. In Quebec, one design company, Design Exterieur Inc., uses a vast array of natural stones to construct walkways, patios, staircases, and dry walls that provide clients with man-made features that appear to have been part of the natural landscape for years. Because of our harsh Canadian winters, however, they try to avoid the use of cement in their applications, instead working primarily with large stones that by their sheer weight alone will remain stable and level for decades. Exterior tile is another option. With its aesthetic appeal, low maintenance, durability and longevity, tile is an excellent choice for exterior applications, and new innovative installation systems and methods are helping to ensure success. The three primary environmental stresses that make exterior tiling in Canada challenging include the freeze/thaw cycle, thermal stress and moisture exposure. Few materials can LA VOIX DE L’INDUSTRIE DES SURFACES DURES

withstand our difficult climate, but porcelain and a variety of domestic slates, granite and stones do well. Not only do the tiles themselves have to withstand the climate, however, but the entire assembly and installation materials, substrates, and tile/bond/coat/substrate interfaces must withstand rain, snow, sleet, frost, and dew. It’s not easy, nor inexpensive. Michael Whistler, owner of Whistler Tile and Stone in Big Fort, Montana, says that he turns down exterior tiling jobs where clients aren’t willing to make the effort or pay the cost to do the job right. “I know they will fail,” says Whistler. “There’s no point in wasting my time or theirs because I know I would have to come back every year to fix it.” Andy Giacomin of Alberta Marble & Tile agrees, which is why he, for one, discourages his Calgary clients from going in that

Critical Points to Consider in Exterior Applications • Waterproofing and flashing details. • Movement joints are mandatory in any exterior application to accommodate thermal expansion and contraction caused by temperature fluctuations. • Choose a surface covering that is suitable for the expected environmental exposure. direction. “Part of the reason for that is Calgary’s climate,” he explains. “Because of all the freeze/thaw cycles we have, it’s very prone to failure. Sure, it looks great in the summer, but I can guarantee you that in the long run, you’re going to have issues. It’s not so much that you have a failure in the tile, it’s a potential for failure in the

setting systems. The grout doesn’t last very well because the UV breaks it down. Get a little bit of moisture penetration, and if that failure doesn’t happen this year, I guarantee it’ll happen the next.” But when the installation is done correctly, using a multi-functional underlayment to ensure a long-lasting tile

“Do it Once, Do it Right, Hire Union”



installation, the results can be excellent. One underlayment available provides uncoupling through its open rib structure, which neutralizes the movement stresses between the substrate and tile, thus eliminating the major cause of cracking and delaminating of a tiled surface. It also allows the substrate to breathe and provides waterproofing for areas not exposed to constant water pressure. In fact, Michael Whistler of Whistler Tile and Stone in Montana completely

reworked one client’s 5,000 sq. ft. of slate tile on exterior porches and sidewalks, all of which had been adhered directly to the concrete with no expansion joints. Every year, about a quarter of the tiles would “pop up,” and the property owner would have to mend the damage. Whistler’s crew went beyond mending, tearing off the old slate, cutting expansion joints in the concrete, floating a mortar bed to obtain the correct slope, and finally installing a multi-functional

underlayment designed specifically for northern exterior applications and tile using an unmodified thin-set mortar. Three years later, no tiles “popped up” or cracked, proving that even in the harshest of climates, exterior tile applications can be successful when the proper installation systems are used. Milder Climates Still Challenging Heading west to British Columbia, some other natural products used in exterior settings include granite quarried in the mountainous regions of the province. Paving stones, porcelain tile, fireplace elements and architectural design elements are all available. Karen Fourchalk, senior specification rep with Dal Tile in Vancouver, says she’s seen a definite trend in consumer demand to bring the indoors outside, using more tile in exterior settings to create definable, aesthetically-pleasing living spaces outdoors. She recommends granite or porcelain, and “some of the travertines we have here are triple-width to stand up to the freeze/thaw cycle.” But primarily, she recommends a textured porcelain because of their low water absorption rate and low slip factor. Although Vancouver’s climate is generally milder than the rest of Canada, Fourchalk says product and installation concerns really apply across the country. “The difference,” she explains, “between, say, Winnipeg and Vancouver is that the freeze/ thaw cycle in B.C. is a lot faster, whereas in Winnipeg it tends to get cold and stay that way for months before thawing again. But in Vancouver, it will freeze overnight, and then it’ll warm up in the morning. Plus, we tend to get a lot of rain first. So, really, the freeze/thaw cycle is in fact a little more worrisome here actually, than Winnipeg, because the tile will get saturated, then it will freeze, and then it will thaw again the next day. And because it’s such a quick cycle, tile has a higher chance of breaking.” Despite the challenges, however, Fourchalk says they’re “getting more involved with landscape architects because of the new program we have, and they’re actually getting quite excited. We’ve got an exterior




products program, so we’ve got specific sample chips, little 4” x 4” chips showing the colour and texture, and landscape architects can be specific what they find most suitable.” Mattonella Tile & Natural Stone in Sidney, B.C., recommends exterior slate tiles for exterior stairs, patios and decks. They also suggest unglazed porcelain, a very durable and frostproof material. They recommend only unglazed porcelain for exterior use, however, because of slip resistance.

notes, “to decrease slipperiness, which makes it perfect for pool areas.”

increasingly at life cycle costs to maintain a building.”

Porcelain tile is also easy to maintain. Schafmeister emphasizes that, “unlike a concrete paver, which is porous and needs to be sealed, porcelain tile, for the most part, doesn’t need to be. They can be cleaned with soap and water or water-based cleansers on the market; I think that’s one of the most important factors in the increasing use of porcelain tile as owners and developers look

So textured porcelain is perfect for pool areas, but Schafmeister says it’s when you flow the porcelain surface from your pool deck all the way over into that barbeque area that it really earns its stripes. “The fact that the material has a high stain and chemical resistance makes it perfect for barbeque areas and exterior eating areas because if you spill barbeque sauce on it, you just wipe it off with a sponge. If you drop that same

Our southern neighbours in the U.S. and the milder pockets of Canada face more choices in terms of materials. Carole Schafmeister, architectural rep with D & B Tile, is based in south Florida, where using tile has become very popular, especially with all of the available new looks in the porcelain lines. “In areas where there is a great deal of walkway now – like around fountains, up into buildings, patios where people come out and stand – there is a great change in the market to high-tech porcelain tile. There is such a range of colors that you can use in the porcelain tile industry. Many of them replicate stone looks – very textured – and sometimes you can’t tell the difference between a piece of porcelain tile that has a textured stone look and an actual piece of stone next to it. Regarding the colours that you can use and the different shapes that are available, there can be a much larger selection than with standard concrete pavers, so I’m seeing, at least with my clientele, a change toward the high-tech porcelain tiles that they hadn’t had an opportunity to use before because of the colors and textures that are available, high breaking strength and high abrasion resistance. You may also not have that same colour range with the concrete pavers. I think the intrinsic value of porcelain is that it gives designers a variety of shapes, colors and sizes (to create with).” Many landscape designers are using porcelain on pool decks, and extending that motif into other areas of the outdoor living space, because porcelain is the ideal material for both. Many of the tiles have a coefficient of friction of 6 or higher,” Schafmeister HARDSURFACES

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sauce on concrete paver that isn’t properly sealed, that will be absorbed like a sponge.” But the Challenges Remain in North Country Tod Valickis of Schluter Systems in Ontario stresses that the further north you go, however, all the criteria for a successful installation becomes even more critical. “A lot of considerations have to go into the design and execution of an exterior tile or stone application.” The main factors affecting an exterior installation are water and temperature changes. Installations require waterproofing, drainage and allowance for expansion and contraction. He stresses that “exterior tile installations are extremely demanding. It is critical to choose a properly designed exterior installation system and it must be applied following all the system requirements. Interior installation practices cannot simply be applied to exterior applications. Unlike interior installations, exterior work is not at all forgiving.” But as far as demand goes, he believes “there is a large pent-up demand in Ontario. There are very few tile contractors who are willing to take on exterior installations and provide a full-warranty. Many will simply refuse exterior work completely. However, with proper exterior systems, proper products and proper installation techniques exterior installations of tile and stone can be done very effectively with full-warranty.” Exterior installations require training, knowledge, experience and extreme attention to detail. These factors apply to both the design of the installation system as well as the execution of the installation. Those installers and tile contractors that are willing to learn the systems and application techniques will benefit. To that end, Schluter-Systems is planning to bring exterior installation training to a new facility in Montreal within the next few years. A good thing, too, for the consumers in Canada who can’t wait to get outside after a long, cold winter in North Country! HARDSURFACES












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Photo used by permission © Don Webber, Touchstone Marble & Tile Ltd.

from the desk of the designer

Trends in Tile for ’08:

Artistic design flourishes

Southridge Dental, Surrey B.C. Shown here are 18 in. x 18 in. slate with Aqua Mix stone enhancer sealer.

by Kelly Parker


hey say that everything old is new again, but in the hardsurface industry that adage doesn’t always hold true. This year, however, in the world of interior tile, an old standby is indeed coming around again, albeit in different sizes and forms than in the past. It doesn’t matter where you go — the mountain foothills, southern Ontario or HARDSURFACES

even Florida — ask a designer or contractor about the current hot trends in tile, and you get the same two answers: porcelain… large… porcelain… large…. According to Sylvia Benchimol, president of Stone Tile International, “Everything is big. Right now, 12 in. x 24 in. is tiny for us. We’re doing 16 in. x 32 in. That’s become more of our everyday, standard tile size. We’re doing 50 in. x 50 in., 50 in. x 100 in., 14

or 40 in. x 80 in. We have some lines that are 40 in. or 60 in. x 120 in. You’re talking 4-feet long, which is what we’re marketing and showing this year. The materials are rectified, so the joints are flush, creating a much cleaner line.” Andy Giacomin, general manager of Alberta Marble & Tile, agrees and introduces the subject of color, which is where things get complicated. “You’re basically seeing large format tile that has a more natural earth-tone, stone look to them. You’re seeing tile that imitates the stone as the trend, and the colours, instead of being vibrant, are more earth tones: the browns, beiges, and soft greys.” Not so simple, says Benchimol, who points out that the colour trending is still very regional. “I think it depends on which area of the continent you are. The east is going to be much different than the west, and in the Northeastern U.S., for example, you’re seeing a lot of warm greys, taupes, chocolate browns and stark whites. In the Southwest, it’s still the warm, terra cotta-type colours.” On the other hand, when you get into the Southeast, Carole Schafmeister of D & B Tile in south Florida will tell you that “there’s a lot of innovative color. The color trends are black and white, with purple and fuchsia, periwinkles, rich burgundies and rosy colors. There are a lot of visuals.” In fact, Benchimol says that the trend is “toward seeing tile used more as art, not necessarily in the traditional way, but more in using tile to create patterns. In some cases, people are using the textures, or using the tile of the same color on both the floor and the wall, but the wall tile will be textured. Another thing they’re doing is using 12 in. x 36 in. on the floor, and then doing something very thin and very bar-like LA VOIX DE L’INDUSTRIE DES SURFACES DURES

on the walls, so then you’ll see the same floor tile applied on the wall, but in a different size and texture. There is just a lot more for the designers to work with.” Schafmeister notes that this is largely due to the sheer number of materials designers have to work with. “There are glass tiles, stainless steel tiles — it’s such a visual impact that is in the industry today. I’m seeing trends with assisted living where architects are after tranquility, so they’ll use the blues, the greens and a little pop of colour. They’re doing a lot of different combinations of colors. For the most part, though, I’m seeing a great trend toward textures on the walls and floors, which really give you that feeling of having a piece of linen on the wall or floor, where it’s really porcelain or ceramic tile.” There it is again, the key to the trends this year: porcelain. While glass and other materials are being increasingly used, it’s really the technological advances in porcelain that are fueling this move to some truly mind-boggling applications

Photo used by permission © Don Webber, Touchstone Marble & Tile Ltd. 18 in. x 18 in. porcelain tile stairs and floor.

The trend is toward seeing tile used more as art, not necessarily in the traditional way, but more in using tile to create patterns.











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because of the new textures that have come onto the market. “We have so many porcelain and ceramic tiles that resemble leather,” says Schafmeister. “I have a particular line that we carry that looks so much like leather that, when you feel it, you’re absolutely astonished that it’s not. We have material that looks like linen, silk, tapestry — it’s amazing what so many of the manufacturers of ceramic and porcelain tile are coming up with today to enhance the visuals within the home or within the hospitality industry.” In fact, Benchimol says that these advances reflect a shift in the thinking on the part of the companies that create the materials, led by those in Italy like, for example, the Viva company, which approaches its products from a designer’s mindset. “They’re creating tiles with a very rich luster, in very beautiful ribbed patterns, almost like a fabric,” which is driving another of the trends for this year: the creation of companion pieces — lines that coordinate

Photo used by permission © Don Webber, Touchstone Marble & Tile Ltd.

Precast terrazzo tile 18 in. x 18 in. and custom precast terrazzo cove base 3’ with matching grout for the appearance of a continuous surface.

with matching wall coverings, matching carpets, and matching tiles. This trend toward seeing tile used more as art, creating patterns and textures, is very exciting within the industry as a whole. “Now architects and designers are coming in here and getting excited because they realize that now they can use these

materials as a creative tool. With all of the colors, sizes and textures, they can create a gorgeous floor,” exclaims Benchimol. And with more and more innovation on the horizon, the limits are endless. Tile and terrazzo may have been around for centuries, but as the adage goes: everything old is indeed new again!

Best wishes for a successful 2008 to the members of the

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Photos courtesy of Interstyle Ceramic and Glass Ltd.

feature article

Capturing customers by capturing light

by Tim Lougheed

ver since some unknown genius more than 5,000 years ago discovered the secret of teasing glass out of molten sand, we continue to enjoy the result — a material that is durable, malleable, visually enticing, and can even offer the environmental virtue of being recycled.


Few places in Canada convey this growing interest more effectively than Interstyle Ceramic and Glass Ltd., based in Burnaby, B.C. With some 180 employees, the company explores everything from straightforward tile design to experimental methods that can only be called artistic.

Over the last few decades, tile makers have started to take advantage of the many qualities this material can bring to their products. And while the volume of this part of their market may not match that of traditional ceramic tiles, the distinctive potential offered by glass increasingly piques the interest of consumers and manufacturers alike.

“The nice thing about it is that it is not porous. It won’t absorb any moisture. Consequently, it can be cycled through freezing and thawing and immersion without suffering any damages.”

In fact, when company founders Ernesto and Georgia Hauner first began working with fused glass in the early 1980s, many observers in the traditional tile industry considered their venture to be downright exotic. Nevertheless, the company continued to keep a close watch over its tools and techniques, which competitors around the world later tried to explore for themselves. By then, however, Interstyle had established its expertise, turning out tiles in no fewer than 250 different colours with an aesthetic impact as dramatic as anything that might be possible with ceramics. Business has picked up as well. Ken McGregor, vice-president of sales, recalls how explaining the world of glass tile to clients was an uphill battle when he first began working for Interstyle in the early 1990s. Today he fields queries from all over the world, spawned by a new appreciation of what this product can do.


Much of that appeal stems from a finished surface with far more depth than any ceramic or stone could achieve. “That depth comes from the clarity in the body of the tile,” he says. 18


The many guises of glass


using calls for thin sheets of glass to be stacked on top of one another and fired to temperatures around 800 degrees C, high enough to marry these different layers but low enough to prevent them from melting, thus preserving their individual characters. The final look can be remarkable, if difficult to standardize. Nor is this the only strategy for turning out glass tiles. Others include: Smalti Tile, which begins as a glass paste of silica mixed with sodium or

potassium carbonate. With metals as stabilizing agents, a slab more than 10 cm. thick is formed, which is hand-cut into smaller pieces. Originally developed to complement the natural colours of marble and granite, these bright tiles make good building blocks for larger mosaics.

is highly scratch resistant, making them very versatile.

Sintered Tile, made from glass powder pressed into dies and heated to fuse the particles. In contrast to the great variations in smalti tiles, these have a much more uniform, milky looking finish that

Slumped Tile, is curved into particular shapes as it is being heated, usually to meet the contours of a relief mold. The result is a curved tile for specialized installations.

McGregor acknowledges that glass tile does not belong anywhere you might install ceramic, but he adds that the range of applications continues to expand. Though it might show more wear in a high-traffic setting such as a floor, glass does well in places such as backsplashes, shower enclosures, steam rooms, or fountains. Exterior cladding is another promising prospect, even given the extremes of the Canadian climate.

Cast Tile, is a primary means of employing chunks of recycled glass, which are placed in a mold and heated until they form a single mass. This method can also be used with a concrete amalgam to yield a terrazzo tile.

“Glass tile will survive in all of those environments,” says McGregor. “The nice thing about it is that it is not porous. It won’t absorb any moisture. Consequently, it can be cycled through freezing and thawing and immersion without suffering any damages.” He cautions that some forms of glass tile will not hold up as well, since their colour is generated merely by a surface coating rather than colour that permeates throughout the glass. Harsh






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conditions can cause such coatings to peel off, in much the same way that the silver backing of a mirror lifts when moisture penetrates beneath it. To avoid such problems, ensure that the tile in question has been made from fully fired, fully cast material [see sidebar on page 19]. Colouring agents might be mixed in with molten glass; alternatively, a glaze can be placed on the glass, which is inserted into a kiln, heated to its melting point, then subsequently cooled at a specific rate to relieve any interior stress. In either case, no fading, delamination, or aging will occur. “The result is a single material where the colour, the finish, the body are now a single piece,” explains McGregor. “You can’t separate one from the other.”

will allow light to enter the tile at an angle, revealing another unique feature of this product.

On the other hand, thanks to the same transparency that makes them so striking to see, these tiles also betray fine cracks that would be far less obvious in a ceramic tile, or would at least be regarded as adding character to the surface. An anti-fracture membrane placed beneath the tile may add to the cost, but it offers some insurance against these highly distracting lines.

Because glass tiles cannot be mass produced in the same way as their ceramic counterparts, they tend toward a discerning clientele, willing to pay more for an extraordinary outcome. According to McGregor, many of the most outstanding examples of such outcomes are found in private residences, so that glass has yet to impose itself on the public consciousness. As more of us find opportunities to witness what is possible with glass, he suggests, the profile of this product should continue to rise.

Not all lines are unwanted, however. Glass tiles can yield a dazzling variety of aesthetic effects, generated by even the most subtle of textures on their face. Installers can enhance those effects by recessing the grout surrounding that face, rather than packing it flush as they would normally do. The exposed edges

“People choose glass tile because they have an expectation of a different type of beauty for the installation,” he concludes.


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feature article

hen it comes to tile, good things do come in big packages. In fact, large format tile – and large natural stone, too – are in great demand. Designers and consumers are pushing a growing trend toward larger pieces ranging from 12 in. x 12 in. to 24 in. x 24 in. – and larger, depending on the application. In fact, while some of the more common dimensions of large tile are 16 in. x 16 in., 24 in. x 24 in. and even 3 ft. x 3 ft., slate is commonly used in available sizes of 12 in. x 12 in., 16 in. x 16 in., and even customordered slate tiles measuring up to 4 ft. x 7 ft. Concurrently, larger tile and stone means more attention must be paid to advanced installation techniques. “Large format tiles seem to be gaining in popularity with many projects,” says Jim Mannella of Montreal-based National Ceramic + Granite Ltd. “Tiles from 16 in. x 16 in. to as large as 24 in. x 48 in. are being specified with regularity on projects ranging from private residences to shopping malls.” According to Mannella, the use of such tiles can present particular challenges for the installer, especially those who have not dealt in large format tiles. He says large format tiles are installed “similar to stone slabs, so the installer who has previously installed marble or granite slabs would have a slight advantage on such an installation. “The use of large format tiles require substrates which are near perfect – perfectly flat. The large format tiles being manufactured today are usually very well calibrated and flat. Therefore, trying to install such tiles on an irregular surface will usually result in a less than perfect installation, with undulations in the finished floor, and lippage exceeding industry standards,” Mannella explains. “Most of the larger format tiles which I have seen are rectified. For example, their edges are ground perfectly square, and there is no variance in sizing from one tile to another,” Mannella says. “Such rectified HARDSURFACES

Large Format Tile:

The trend keeps growing…

So do the tiles

by Jeffrey Reed

tiles are installed using smaller joints to offer a marble slab look. This usually takes the installer more time to make sure that no lippage exists between the tiles.” Mannella says ensuring that large format tile is well bonded can also present challenges. He says in order to ensure adequate coverage, the installer will need to use a large notched trowel, medium bed thin-set adhesive, and most probably be required to use backbuttering. With tile getting larger, its designs are getting much more intricate. Mannella says today’s ceramic tile manufacturers appear to be taking guidance from Mother Nature. 22

“Many large format tiles are reproducing a stone look using ceramic technology — some with amazing success,” says Mannella. “It would appear that they are offering the client the marble slab look with the advantages of porcelain tile, and I expect this trend to continue, including various finishes we see on natural stone slabs, from polished surfaces to flamed finishes.” Architects, too, are embracing large format tiles. Peter Lloyd-Jones, project architect with Architecture + Research + Knowledge, Inc. (ARK), a sister firm to Petroff Partnership Architects, says, “Larger-size format tile really works well. LA VOIX DE L’INDUSTRIE DES SURFACES DURES

Photo used by permission © Don Webber, Touchstone Marble & Tile Ltd.

It helps on costs, too, because it will go down faster. We have large tiles in the front of our own office here – 18 in. x 24 in. – and they work beautifully.” But before beauty comes old-fashioned elbow grease, according to Rick Watts of The Fabris-Milano Group Ltd. And like Mannella, Watts says proper installation is paramount when using larger format tile. According to Watts, the universal goal within the hardsurfaces industry is achieving “full contact” with mortar, and concurrently the substrate. He says in particular with larger tiles, this is imperative. The bigger they are, the harder they fall doesn’t just apply to school yard bullies: large format tile, too, can result in catastrophe if full contact isn’t achieved. Shifting, cracking, chipping and breaks can result. Watts says 16 in. x 16 in., 18 in. x 18 in., and 24 in. x 24 in. are popular sizes amongst today’s designers. And while the substrate is important, Watts cautions not to disregard any other portion of tile installation.


Stikeman Elliott, Vancouver B.C. This law firm occupying multiple floors of a downtown office tower boasts 1,700 square feet of 12” x 24” creama marfil marble with penetrating sealer. There is also custom 1” x 1” tactile warning strip at stair descent entry.

“Every aspect of the installation must be correct,” says Watts. “There is a very narrow margin of error allowable here. The substrate must be sound, of course, as in any tile installation. But certainly, the tolerances must be a lot flatter than an 8 in. x 8 in. or 12 in. x 12 in. tile.”


With larger format tiles, inherent curvature may also increase making designs such as a 50 per cent offset Herring Bone pattern or brick pattern additionally challenging. With craftsmen retiring, and a new generation taking their place, it is important for the incoming skilled trades people to learn


Photo used by permission Š Don Webber, Touchstone Marble & Tile Ltd.

proper techniques, knowledge and skills â&#x20AC;&#x201C; especially when larger tile is involved. Watts has a suggestion for any company wishing to push forward with large format tile installation: education.

train them. Illustrating the proper way to install large tile is very, very important,â&#x20AC;? Watts says. Installation of large format tiles calls for related questions at the job site. The Ceramic Tile Institute of America, for example, offers important questions including: Is there a proper substrate surface texture? Is the surface free of curing compounds or other contami-

â&#x20AC;&#x153;I suggest, if you are getting more and more into larger tile, put on seminars. Call in the suppliers, let them show you how their mortars work, and what mortar is proper. Work with your tile setters,

nants? Is the floor sound and free of cracks? Are expansion joints properly spaced and installed? And, do the tiles themselves present any potential bond problems? As with any installation, doing your homework pays off in the end. And with large format tiles, the end result is a beautiful surface which has helped revitalize an already vibrant hardsurface industry.


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feature article


An integral ingredient to any installation


by Jeffrey Reed

here’s an old saying, “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” It’s an adage which most certainly applies to the hardsurface industry. No matter how beautiful a surface appears, the real beauty of any installation rests beneath the tile, at the substrate.

“Surface preparation is an absolute key,” says Boldt. “Every installer should be up to date with manufacturer manuals and products.”

Fact: ceramic tiles are visually appealing, but they are hard and unforgiving. Establishing a solid substrate – a substrate unique to the job at hand – is an integral ingredient to any installation. Of course, every tile installation has its challenges: contraction due to curing of a concrete substrate; bending of a concrete substrate; elastic modulus mismatch; substrate cracking; tile moisture expansion; cooling/heating; thermal expansion mismatch; and tile pressed too tightly against walls, to name a few.

“The TTMAC guide is an absolute must. And manufacturers like Flextile, we have our own installation details for all different applications. They’re based on the TTMAC details. So where we recommend our products – our systems – they are specifically aligned with TTMAC guidelines plus our technical data sheets,” says Boldt.

Boldt says the TTMAC’s 2006-2007 Specification Guide, 09 30 00 Tile Installation Manual, is a critical part of any installer’s daily routine.

Eric Pucilowski, regional sales manager with Connecticut-based Laticrete International, Inc., concurs with Boldt and Federico: do your homework to avoid installation complications.

Clearly, the strength of the bond is always only as strong as the weakest link. And according to Luigi Federico, a Delta, B.C.-based regional sales representative with Mapei Inc., an installation is only successful when proper planning precedes the job at hand.

“It’s all about doing your homework,” advises Pucilowski. “Examine your substrate. Determine its special needs. Use materials and methods which accommodate that particular substrate.”

“Doing your homework is the key,” says Federico of substrate preparation. “This is especially important with large format tile. Prepare your surface – work with a flat floor.”

Pucilowski also points to the TTMAC guide, as well as the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) Handbook in regards to working with substrates. He adds, while waterproof membranes, anti-fracture membranes and uncoupling membranes are all important application ingredients, it’s important to listen to the TTMAC and TCNA guides which suggest every job is unique.

With large format tile extending its borders, indeed there is a different demand for surface preparation, unique installation techniques and a whole new array of installation products. As well, larger marble, granite and limestone tiles, for example, are much heavier than their predecessors and therefore supporting structures must perform well and in an unwavering fashion.

Proper planning will help ensure you get the job done right the first time,” says Pucilowski. “This is the key ingredient to a successful installation. The cost incurred to do the job correctly is without a doubt worth the cost, when you consider what would be involved in having to go back and do the job a second time.

Mike Boldt, general manager of Flextile Ltd., agrees with Federico: plan ahead and avoid substrate issues.

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Federico agrees that not every installation is equal. “In this part of Canada, we are lacking skilled trades people,” Federico explains. “There is some sloppy work. Sometimes the trueness isn’t there.”

when the existing floor is removed. But the combination of floor underlayments and concrete slab with radiant heating makes for a tricky application. Boldt says like with any application, planning ahead will assist an installer in avoiding any disasters, even when working with in-floor heating. However, he says this type of job calls for special care.

Pucilowski can offer examples of jobs which required extra planning. For example, one residential job involved extreme efflorescence, with installation over a slab on grade without vapour barrier below. The moisture vapour emission rate (MVER) was high, to the point it caused efflorescence to “accumulate above the tile work itself. In extreme cases, salts from that efflorescence can accumulate above the tile. You must do your homework in order to prevent having massive failures,” cautions Pucilowski.

“With respect to cracking, for example, in the topping mixes in the flooring, you must address this issue. Crack isolation becomes a huge consideration. And it’s critical, too, when working with large format tiles,” says Boldt. Of course, dealing with substrates is nothing new. And it is a well-known fact, ceramic tile, for example, has always made the job of establishing a proper substrate an important part of any installation. Bonded stability – both in the structural component and in bonding material – is critical. Plus, you must take into consideration that as rigid as tile is, you must allow for movement.

Another job cited by Pucilowski involved an institutional application with wrong materials-wrong method on plywood. A contractor had used a thin-set not recommended for installation over plywood. Pucilowski says in this “extreme case, with large format tile 12 in. x 24 in. put on a wall, thin-set was used as a levelling bed. This is not a recommended application for thin-set.” Pucilowski says thin-set was evident in spots where it was used to level out tiles.

Waterproof, anti-fracture and uncoupling membranes all help a substrate stand the test of time. And with large-format tiles gaining in popularity, a substrate must perform to the utmost of its ability. Ignore your substrate, and you flirt with disaster.

Dale Kempster, a technical coordinator with Schluter Systems (Canada), Inc. says while the industry norm is a floor surface variation not exceeding 6 mm in 3049 mm, there is talk within the hardsurface industry which calls for a decrease to 3 mm in 3049 mm. The reason? Kempster cites the “increase in use and popularity of large format tile, for example 610 mm x 610 mm (24 in. x 24 in.).”

Tile itself has stood the test of time. For centuries, builders have developed reliable means of installing tile on heavily-used surfaces. But a myriad of surfaces rest beneath tile. And good installers know, therein lies the real beauty of any job.

Whatever your substrate, if it’s supportive it will make for a solid foundation. Ignore this cardinal rule, and your job will fold like a cheap suitcase.


In addition to long-standing substrate issues – for example, chalking and flaking surfaces, mould and fungal growth, crack repairs and movement cracks, dirt, dust and other debris – the element of in-floor radiant heating adds a new twist to preparing a substrate. Tile and stone are complementary finishings for use over radiant heat. Ceramic tile conducts heat well from the floor, plus it adds thermal storage due to its high heat capacity. Ideal for ceramic, slate or marble tiles, electric floor heating systems are best installed during new construction, or during major renovations


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Specifications: The role of adhering to specifications in architecture

feature article

by Jeffrey Reed


f tile, terrazzo and marble combine to make up the engine of the hardsurface industry, then specifications are the road map plotting its destiny. No matter how beautiful hardsurface materials are, without properly adhering to specifications and related installation methods they do not represent sustainable building products.

Consider these facts and figures: an American study recently examined a 50-year life cycle cost, and placed ceramic floor tile – mortar set – at $13.56 U.S. per square foot, compared to carpet tile at $99.62 U.S. per square foot. Also, recent hardsurface industry studies reveal over the life cycle of flooring, products with lower initial costs do not remain less expensive than products with higher initial costs.

the extensive support of the larger firm’s resources and experience while maintaining a more personal, specialized focus on public and community projects.

Just consider TTMAC’s 2006-2007 Specification Guide, 09 30 00 Tile Installation Manual – mandatory reading for installation professionals – and you quickly realize the importance of consulting manufacturers’ guidelines. In short, a band-aid approach doesn’t cut it in the hardsurface industry.

No matter what hardsurface material is incorporated in a structure’s design, specifications are as much a part of the overall picture as any other building element – the glue which holds together the entire project.

One member of that team, ARK project architect Peter Lloyd-Jones, points to the TTMAC’s 2006-2007 Specification Guide, 09 30 00 Tile Installation Manual, as an example where specifications were front and centre in a design project.

Toronto-based Architecture + Research + Knowledge, Inc. (ARK) was borne of the desire to create a design team dedicated to excellence in architecture, geared specifically to the particular needs of the public sector. With over 40 years of experience in the institutional field, ARK operates as a sister firm to Petroff Partnership Architects, benefiting from

“I went through an experience where I was renovating a 40-year-old public school, and we had to replace a lot of material because we were breaking through bases,” Lloyd-Jones explains. “Certainly, we used (the TTMAC guide) in order to find appropriate details so we would have proper coverage. That became a big part of our company exercise.”

Today’s architectural community is very much on the cutting edge of innovative construction methods, and thus are in tune with specification necessities. Ceramic tile, for example, has positioned itself as a leading material for architects and designers, thanks in part to technological advances in mechanical and aesthetic properties.

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ARK’s studio engages an integrated team of young Canadian architects and designers on innovative design projects: ARK is proud of the fact its team members “challenge the boundaries of architecture.”

“I’ve also worked on buildings with exterior tile — something you don’t always see in Toronto,” Lloyd-Jones adds, “and we referred to the TTMAC guide. We were quite concerned about large-scale exterior tile going on cement board. I think it was further complicated by the fact it was a winter installation. So we carefully went through the tile manufacturers, making sure we had a very tight specification. Things were going to be done properly.” Parkin Architects Ltd., with offices in Toronto, Ottawa and Edmonton, is a long-established leader in institutional architecture in Canada. For more than six decades, Parkin has designed some of the nation’s most notable structures, winning awards along the way while delivering functional, high-quality, cost-effective and innovative designs. LA VOIX DE L’INDUSTRIE DES SURFACES DURES

Like Lloyd-Jones, Parkin director Lind Nyman is keenly aware of the role of adhering to specifications in architecture. And for that reason, Nyman says he works with materials and construction techniques with which he is familiar and on which he can rely. “Tile is probably the hardsurface material we use most,” Nyman says. And like a myriad of construction sectors, architects are embracing large format tiles. Says Nyman, “We’re using large tiles 12 in. x 24 in. and 24 in. x 24 in.” “Ninety-nine per cent of our work is institutional,” adds Nyman, who says tile lends itself well to that segment of the construction industry. Of course, an endless number of architectural firms consider tile a staple of their design arsenal. Norr Ltd. of Toronto, for example, uses larger format tile, and offers extensive use of porcelain tile in floor applications, plus some wall applications. Norr offer full-service architecture, engineering and interior design which represents truly integrated solutions for a wide range

of commercial, institutional, retail, residential and hospitality clients. With more than 65 years’ experience, Norr provides a well-honed balance of design, technology and management skills. Today’s architects have also embraced a design practice which is gaining steam from coast to coast: LEED – Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED is the voluntary, consensus-based national standard for developing highperformance, sustainable buildings. Members of the U.S. Green Building Council developed LEED in part to promote integrated, whole-building design practices, and to transform the building market. LEED incorporates hardsurfaces, and thus a growing number of architects’ clients are embracing LEED’s green housekeeping principles. In short, more and more clients wish to use environmentally friendly products whenever possible. “Typically now, there is a greater and much more realistic use of LEED by developers,

and by clients including municipal clients,” explains Lloyd-Jones. “The understanding is, while there is additional capital cost, there is a greater savings over time. Now you see much more sophisticated clients who see the value of putting in a building with (LEED) qualities.” “LEED is certainly very important,” says Nyman. “Obviously, the use of materials such as tile, which is a renewable source and doesn’t give off gas, is environmentally friendly.” Indeed, there is a big move towards sustainability. In the case of tile, much of that sustainability character stems from the durability of the finish. While initial costs may be higher up front, when you estimate the life cycle of the material, hardsurface products including tile are favourable inclusions to a myriad of design projects. From blueprint to footprint, hardsurfaces are helping to lead the way in modern sustainable structures. Concurrently, today’s architects are keeping in tune with demanding specifications, the road map of any successful building project.





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index to advertisers AMES Tile & Stone Ltd........................23

Custom Building Products..................10

L.I.U.N.A. . ...........................................21

Apex Granite & Tile..............................19


Mapei Inc. .............................................4

Aqua Mix..............................................23

Duron Ontario Ltd................................20

Mark E. Industries Inc.........................13


Easy Heat Inc. . ...................................24

Morrison Williams Investment Management LP...............17

Flextile Ltd.............................................7

National Ceramic & Granite Ltd. .....................................30

Franklin Terrazzo Company Inc. .....................................25

Proma Adhesives Inc. ...........................6

Bengard Manufacturing......................15 Bridgewater Tile Ltd............................30 Brolain Distributors Ltd. . ...................30 Centis Tile and Terrazzo Inc...............27

Gemini Saw Company.........................19

CGC Inc........................ Inside Front Cover

GranQuartz Canada, Inc. .........................................3

Chemor Inc. ........................................11

Husqvarna.................. Outside Back Cover


Ideal Tile & Terrazzo Ltd. . .................................24


ST MaryS

Schluter Systems..........Inside Back Cover St. Mary’s Cement Company..............30 Star Tile Co. Ltd...................................28 Touchstone Marble & Tile Ltd. . .........24 Universal Slate.....................................25

St Marys Cement Les Céramiques & Granites Nationale Ltée. National Ceramic & Granite Ltd.

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Terrazzo, Tile and Marble Association of Canada

Terrazzo, Tile and Marble Association of Canada Your Producer of Quality Portland and Masonry Cements

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John Vani

Ron Vit

Serving Your Needs in the Stone and Tile Industry. Fabrication & Installation Email: Office: 604-540-7670 Fax: 604-540-7680 524 Sharpe, New Westminster, BC V3M 4R2




ALL-INCLUSIVE Schluter ®-DITRA, specifically designed as an underlayment for ceramic and stone tile, provides the four essential functions that ensure a lasting tile installation. Uncoupling: Eliminates the major cause of cracking and delaminating of the tiled surface. Waterproofing: Protects moisture-sensitive substrates. Vapour Management: Provides a route for excess moisture and vapour to escape from the substrate, allowing it to breathe. Support: Virtually incompressible within the tile assembly, allowing the installation to support and distribute heavy loads. • Ideal for use over various substrates, including wood, concrete, gypsum-based screeds, heated floors, and more. • For use in both interior and exterior applications.

The Schluter ®-DITRA Installation Handbook is a comprehensive guide for successful ceramic and stone tile installations. It contains complete details for installations over various substrates, including illustrations showing each component of the tile assembly. The Handbook also includes a wealth of information on topics such as waterproofing, movement joints, thin-set mortars, etc.

by the installer, for the installer

For additional information, or to obtain or download a copy of the DITRA Installation Handbook, please visit our website at, or call 1-800-667-8746.

Husqvarna Super Tilematic® TS 250 XL3 Built for the professional who performs high production sawing, the Husqvarna Super Tilematic TS XL3 is designed to cut big tiles and to deliver the required cutting power. Rip cut at a 31" tile in one pass or diagonally cut a 22" tile. New optional cart allows diagonal cutting of 24" tile. The sliding water pan allows instant adjustment from small to large material for unequaled productivity and convenience.

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Trends in Tile for ’08: Artistic design flourishes 2008 u VOL 17 u ISSUE 1 TERRAZZO, TILE AND MARBLE ASSOCIATION OF CANADA / L’ASSOCIATION C...

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