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CTEF to hold CTI, ACT demonstrations at TISE

Pendleton, S.C.—The Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF), which provides education and installer certification for professionals working in the ceramic tile and stone industry, will be conducting ongoing demonstrations of the Certified Tile Installer (CTI) and the Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT) testing programs during The International Surfaces Event (TISE) in Las Vegas.

These demonstrations will include step-by-step procedures for both the installer taking the test and the evaluation process. CTEF Regional Evaluators (REs) will conduct CTI program demonstrations while also training new REs onsite. Additionally, CTEF will be presenting all aspects of the ACT large format tile and substrate preparation test and evaluation process.

Throughout the show hands-on demonstrations will be presented covering: substrate preparation, layout considerations, mortar coverage, grout installation, sealant joint application and forensic analysis of installed tile.

“It is incumbent on the CTEF to provide good solid information about the tile industry standards and best practices to the thousands of show attendees,” said Scott Carothers, director of certification and training at CTEF. “Likewise, it is imperative that manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and contractors become aware of the necessity of having ceramic and porcelain tile products installed correctly the first time by qualified labor. We have all seen the horrific work that has been done by ill-trained and unqualified tile placers—we can’t call them installers because they do not possess the necessary skills. Tile is a beautiful and long-lasting product which, when properly installed, lasts a lifetime.”

To learn more, visit CTEF at Booth #4727 during TISE 2018.

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Installation: Adhesive tips, tricks of the trade

May 8/15, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 24

By Lindsay Baillie


When it comes to working with today’s advanced, high-performance, user-friendly adhesives, it’s critical that installers avoid the temptation of taking shortcuts. That’s according to expert floor layers and instructors who say improper installations due to misapplication of adhesives can cause a host of problems, including voided warranties, bad company reviews and even safety risks.

FCNews rounded up several experts who provided valuable tips to apply when working with adhesives.

Practice safety
Steve Zizek, an INSTALL floor covering instructor and member, College of Carpenters & Allied Trades, Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada, is a second-generation installer with 33 years of experience. When training new installers, he always stresses the importance of having a material safety data sheet (MSDS) on site. Sounds rudimentary, but the MSDS provides health and safety information about products, substances or chemicals, as well as information on manufacturers or importing suppliers.

“The MSDS needs to be provided upon delivery to the job site,” Zizek explained. “This not only protects the users but also all workers on the job site. They should actually have [the MSDS] before they bring the adhesive to the job. It’s mainly a safety issue for everyone at the site.”

Read the label
Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 9.39.37 AMOne key component to maintaining safety on the installation site is to fully understand how a particular flooring glue is designed to work. According to Zizek, when a new adhesive comes out older installers tend to make assumptions about what it can do. “Read the whole label of the adhesive being used. The label will give you the adhesive’s uses, full information, descriptions, industry standards, etc. Make no assumptions.”

Once the label is read and understood, then it’s a matter of following the instructions to the letter. So says Mark Bevacqua, INSTALL floor covering instructor, Floorlayers Union Local 1541, Delta, British Columbia, Canada. “There are no shortcuts when it comes to adhesives. Always follow the specifications from the manufacturers as closely as possible. Many manufacturers even have apps or online sites where you can get a lot of information about the adhesive. A lot of suppliers have tip lines where you can talk to representatives and ask questions.”

Apply correct trowel techniques
Dave Gross, INSTALL floor covering instructor, Local 251 UBC Floorlayers, Hammonton, N.J., suggests using the teeth of a hand trowel as a metering device for applying adhesive to the substrate. “However, it is important to note that the angle at which the trowel blade is held and the hand pressure applied is just as important as the tooth configuration.”

For example, Gross said an angle of 50 to 65 degrees is typically correct. However, the installer should check if the manufacturer offers a recommended angle. In terms of hand pressure, he said too much force causes compression of the teeth and scraping of the glue causing a deficiency. Conversely, insufficient pressure causes the teeth to ride over the glue leaving excess material. “The best verification for proper teeth, trowel angle and hand pressure is to actually measure and grid out a sample area and see if you are meeting the manufacturers spread rate coverage. If not, adjust these elements one at a time by spreading additional grid areas until you align with the manufacturer’s recommendations.”

When covering large areas, experts like Robert Varden, CEO, International Certified Flooring Installers Association (CFI), suggest flipping the trowel around. “We turn our trowel backwards so when we’re spreading thousands of yards of adhesive we have less fatigue on our forearms.”

In terms of the trowel’s teeth, Mark Olsen, INSTALL floor covering instructor and member of North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters, Pewaukee, Wis., warns installers to throw away old devices. “When you’re using your trowel or metering device don’t re-notch your device—just throw it away.”

Keep it clean
When applying adhesives, pro installers say it is important to be as neat as possible. It’s also important to be prepared for any spills or mishaps that could happen. “[Installers] should keep a damp white rag close to them, but not on the substrate as it could cause contamination,” Zizek explained. “Keep the rag just in case there are any emergencies—it is easier to clean the adhesive when it’s wet.”

Check the room’s conditions
Before applying the adhesive, be aware of the amount of air circulation and atmospheric conditions in the work area. As Gross explains: “I always recommend against placing a fan directly on the adhesive to increase drying time for the following reasons: It will not uniformly cover the whole area; it will tend to dry the top creating a skim and preventing moisture trapped in the lower area from properly drying. There is a potential for dirt and debris to blow into the glue.”

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Two days of CTI hands-on testing scheduled for TISE 2017

ctef1Pendleton, S.C.—The Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) will be conducting Certified Tile Installer (CTI) hands-on testing on Jan. 18 and 19 during The International Surfaces Event in Las Vegas. Those who pass the hands-on and the written tests earn the CTI designation.

The CTI designation identifies the professional installer who has reached a level of proficiency to independently and consistently produce a sound tile installation that displays good workmanship. Certification is the validation of the skills and knowledge of the men and women who presently are installing tile successfully in the United States.

To qualify for the CTI Program, installers must have at least two years of experience as the lead installer setting ceramic tile on a full-time basis. This means having full responsibility for substrate prep, layout, coordinating with other trades along with properly installing underlayment, tile, grout and sealant materials.

The CTI program includes two separate tests.

  • An online open-book exam, which is taken at home or the office as the installer’s schedule allows.
  • A hands-on test, which is conducted at regional locations across the United States. The hands-on portion of the test begins at 7:09 a.m. and must be completed by 4:00 p.m. Installers should arrive at 6:30 a.m. in order to get their tools set up and be ready to start the test at 7:09 a.m.

To register for the CTI hands-on tests taking place during TISE 2017, visit, select the test date of your choice, make your payment and you will receive study materials.

To learn more, visit CTEF at Booth #7074 during TISE 2017.

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CTEF launches new website

ctef1Pendleton, S.C.—The Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) has launched a new website to better communicate the value of ceramic tile education and certified tile installation to homeowners, architects, design specifiers, dealers, distributors and tile installation contractors.

Visitors to CTEF’s new website will discover many features that enhance their user experience and make finding and learning about certified tile installers easier. More specifically,

  • The site is SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) enabled. This link ensures that all data passed between the web server and the visitor’s browser remains private and integral.
  • The site features responsive design so visitors can easily navigate the content regardless of the device they use—desktop, mobile device or tablet.
  • Site search helps visitors easily locate content within the website.
  • A Google maps based zip code locator allows visitors to find certified tile installers around the country.
  • The CTEF Blog publishes weekly content describing quality tile installation best practices and success stories. It includes a monthly series where Scott Carothers, CTEF director of certification and training, specifically addresses tile installation questions.
  • A calendar of upcoming training and certification events with online registration and secure payment through PayPal.

Visitors to the CTEF website will find educational resources about tile installation, answers to frequently asked questions about certification, and downloadable information kits about becoming a certified tile installer and tile installation tip sheets.

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NTCA membership program

The Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA) has partnered with the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) to offer distributor members the opportunity to help encourage their contractor customers to become members of NTCA.  In doing so, CTDA will help increase professionalism of the industry and, of course, participation in industry events such as Total Solutions Plus (TSP).

Participating CTDA members will be asked to allow their order/sales desk and sales personnel to sign up contractors for the NTCA.  Your employees will process the application, collect the investment fee with check or credit card, explain the benefits of membership, and send the application to the NTCA for processing. Continue reading NTCA membership program

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CTEF announces fall training schedule

PENDLETON, S.C.—The Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) has announced its fall schedule of training and certification events nationwide. The Certified Tile Installer (CTI) program is a comprehensive testing of the skills and knowledge of experienced tile installers which includes a multiple-choice exam and a hands-on test. Installers who pass the written and hands-on exams receive a certificate, an identification card, and marketing materials developed by CTEF. Continue reading CTEF announces fall training schedule