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B.R. Funsten: Single-source solutions provider

December 18/25, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 14

The following is the 12th installment in a series highlighting the 14 distributors that constitute Bravo Services, a group comprising many of the top flooring wholesalers in the country. Here we focus on B.R. Funsten.


Founded in San Francisco in 1956 by Benjamin Reed Funsten, The B.R. Funsten & Co. has successfully grown into one of the largest flooring wholesalers in the nation. The Manteca, Calif.-based flooring wholesaler is the parent company of the Tom Duffy Co. and Commercial Solutions; together the group provides the most comprehensive group of products and services across all flooring channels throughout California, Nevada and Arizona.

B.R. Funsten started primarily as the Armstrong distributor for northern California and northern Nevada, and Armstrong remains its premier supplier. Then, 20 years ago, Funsten purchased the Tom Duffy Co., a flooring installation supplies operation. Since then the wholesaler has expanded throughout California, Nevada, and Arizona with 28 branches.

According to Anne Funsten, president, B.R. Funsten’s competitive advantage stems from the depth and breadth of its diversified portfolio, which has expanded over the years to encompass all aspects of flooring. “Whether you are tearing up an old floor, prepping to install a new floor or selecting your finished floor, we have a solution for you. We work with the best manufacturers from all aspects of the flooring industry—Armstrong, Roppe, Ardex, Burke, Diamatic, Bostic and Mapei. We are a single-source supplier for the retailers.”

Going above and beyond
As with any industry, a big challenge is staying on the cutting edge of technology. B.R. Funsten made the decision to convert its Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) capabilities to Kerridge Commercial Solution’s K8 distribution management system. K8 provides automation that ensures distributors can maximize their warehouse efficiency without compromising accuracy. The software automates processes such as goods receipt, replenishment, stock movement and stock counts.

Nuts & bolts
Geographic coverage: California, Arizona and Nevada
Brands: Ardex, Armstrong, Bostic, Burke, HF Design, Independence Hardwood, Kahrs, Mapei, Quick-Step, Roppe, Schluter, Sika, TEC, The Mission Collection,  USG, XL Brands


For more information on B.R. Funsten, call 800.479.5671 or visit For more information on Bravo Services, contact John Carney at 214.215.2880 or visit


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Solutions: Mohawk arms its aligned dealers with tools for success

December 19/26, 2016; Volume 31, Number 14
By Lindsay Baillie


screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-4-13-43-pmDallas—If one thing was made clear at the Solutions convention here recently, it’s Mohawk’s unwavering commitment to the success of its retailer partners. From a bevy of new innovations spanning the entire soft and hard surface spectrum to refreshed displays and digital marketing tools, Mohawk is working hard to help retailers achieve their goals in 2017 and beyond.

The three-day event included extensive showroom hours, Mohawk University sessions, product demos and information sessions—all of which explored the company’s new solutions, products and tools.

To complement Mohawk’s new product introductions was a vast showroom highlighting the company’s latest displays. Showcasing both hard and soft surfaces, the displays are scaleable and interchangeable. “We have several different ways that we show product and for the first time, from what we’re hearing from our retailers, with not a tremendous amount of investment they’re going to be able to position their in-store retail environment in a really unified, consistent, one-notebook way across soft surfaces and hard surfaces,” said Karen Mendelsohn, senior vice president of marketing, Mohawk. In the past Mohawk has had bigger fixtures that made it look like the company was selling merchandising instead of flooring but with these new displays, “Product is hero,” she added.

Retailers have also picked up on this change. “I think [the new displays] will work well,” said Yolanda Donaldson of Donaldson Flooring, Solano County, Calif. “I like the way they look. They don’t take up a lot of room. I also like how they’re more streamlined so you can get more in your store.”

Looking at the hard surface displays in particular, Donaldson appreciates the new sample sizes. “I like that the boards are bigger so people can get more of a look at a big, long piece instead of a little square,” she explained.

Mohawk, known for its innovation in carpet, also introduced SmartStrand Silk Reserve, a product the company says has managed to make silk feel even softer. The new line comes in a better/ best solid offering with a 50-color palette, multi-color offering, tonal offering and different pattern constructions.

screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-4-13-28-pmDealers like what they’re seeing so far. “I’m really excited about the Silk Reserve, which is a little bit different as far as the denier of the yarn,” said Sandra Molski, owner, Flooring & More, Janesville, Wis. “It’s even softer, which is just completely incredible to me that they were able to make silk even softer. But I’m really excited about the loops because they’ve got a lot of [tones]; the colors really hit the mark with lots of gray which everyone is going for right now.”

In addition to the look and feel of SmartStrand Silk Reserve is the product’s marketable story. With the tagline “Durability to the Max” SmartStrand Silk Reserve features Max, a 5,400-pound rhino as its mascot and durability tester. Marketed as a product that can stand up to the messes of a rhino, this product has intrigued many retailers.

“They’ve done the rhino, they’ve done the elephant challenge and recently there was a Tough Mudder competition, so what the fiber offers is truly revolutionary,” said Michael Kundert, owner, The Pad Place, Sarasota, Fla. “Its ability to cleanup and its durability makes it definitely a winner. Everybody is looking for these pet-proof items. What could be more pet-proof than rhinos and elephants compared to dogs and cats? This type of marketing will drive sales towards it.”

In keeping with its strategy to present itself as a total flooring company, Mohawk introduced a full line-up of hard surfaces, including the company’s unique rigid core SolidTech line. Mohawk has placed this product in its own category, stating that it is different from LVT. SolidTech utilizes Mohawk’s uniclic multi-fit technology and is available in three collections: Galvyn, Revella and Vershire.

SolidTech and its marketing companion Doug the Pug excited many retailers with the product’s durability and waterproof capabilities. Donaldson, for instance, believes this product will help her business because customers seem to be interested in buying similar products. “I think it’s going to work out really well,” she said. “This seems more durable than the others.”

screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-4-13-20-pmOther hard surface offerings of note include new ceramic tile and laminate offerings. There are five new ceramic tile collections including, Amelia Manor, Donovan Manor, Bartlett, Marianna and Accent Statements. These different styles incorporate wood, linear and marble looks.

From Mohawk’s new laminate offerings are four collections inspired by modern European palettes and reclaimed looks. These collections include Reclaimed Spirit, Wooded Vision, Artistic Creation and Painted Charm.

With respect to wood, Mohawk presented four new introductions. Weathered Vision, Modern Vision and Coastal Impressions are 9⁄16-inch thick x 7-inch-wide, three-ply core products made in the U.S. with Mohawk’s TruFinish 50-year warranty. Vintage Vintique is a ½-thich, 7-inch-wide product featuring TruFinish.

Lou Morano, president and owner, Capitol Carpet and Tile with six locations in Florida, summed it up this way: “I think the laminates and the hardwood are probably some of their best introductions from the new products that they’ve come out with. The longer planks, wider widths, styling and coloring altogether were some of the best they’ve had in years. I think we’re going to do really well with them and they’re priced right.”


Sales support
screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-4-13-34-pmIn an effort to help retailers at all levels of business, Mohawk has introduced Omnify, a digital marketing product that creates what the company calls “simplified connected retail” and provides aligned retailers with brand integration (FCNews, Nov. 21/28).

The platform provides what Mendelsohn called “omnichannel solutions” for retailers, which will enhance the customer’s online, in-store and product experience. Through this platform content is automatically updated to a retailer’s website which allows for seamless transition of product and sales information between Mohawk and aligned retailers.

David Beebe, owner of Stoneridge Carpets in Reed Springs, Mo., embraced the concept. “We currently do everything that Omnify does, per say, through an advertising company. I think there’s a little savings for us and I think it’ll be done much better. It’ll consolidate what we’re doing and do it better.”



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Ceramic: Solutions to not-so-common tile problems

November 21/28, 2016: Volume 31, Number 12

By Donato Pampo

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-3-44-42-pmEditor’s note: The following Q&As were reprinted with permission from the Ceramic Tile and Stone Consultants, CTaSC, which provides expert witness and forensic failure investigation services. In addition, CTaSC provides quality control services for products and installation methods, testing services, online and classroom training, market research and outsourcing services.

Excessive lippage on wood plank tiles

I recently had porcelain tile installed on a concrete slab by my GC. I am concerned with how the job came out. The installer did not do anything to level the floor. He told me he would use more or less thin set to make sure all the tiles were level, but I feel there is a lot of lippage.
Your floor tile appears to be a porcelain wood plank floor tile. With the ink-jet technology being used today in the production of ceramic tiles they can produce very realistic wood floor looks and natural stone looks. Installing the long, narrow-width tile planks is a difficult installation because these tiles do tend to have warpage and the shapes of the tiles being offset from each other with narrow grout joints is challenging.  You have to properly prepare the substrate and be a good and patient tile installer to avoid excessive lippage.

There are industry standards on what is acceptable warpage in a porcelain tile as stated in ANSI A137.1. Approximately they are allowed to have up to about 1/16 warpage.  How that warpage is distributed on the tile can be problematic if it is concentrated at any one portion of the tile. Acceptable lippage per ANSI A108.02 says that the tile lippage can’t be more than the inherent lippage of the tile being installed, assuming it isn’t more than the allowable lippage in ANSI A137.1, plus 1/32 for grout joints less than 1/4 wide, or plus 1/16 for grout joints 1/4 wide or wider.  So potentially you could have 3/32 lippage or up to an 1/8 lippage, respectively, if the tile has the maximum allowable warpage.

From a standard of care point of view for professional tile installers, assuming this particular type of tile meets the standards, I would expect the lippage should not exceed 1/16. There are always exceptions depending on the type of tile being used.

Although, if the tile installer did not properly prepare the substrate so it did not vary out of plane more than 1/8 in 10 feet or 1/16 in 24, or if he did not properly adjust the tiles during the installation—or if the grout joint is too narrow—then you can get excessive lippage beyond what is acceptable.


Mold damage on Saltillo tiles

We have had two slab leaks and continue to be told there is no damage to the floor. Can concrete slab leaks cause mold damage on Saltillo tiles?
Assuming the Saltillo tiles are properly installed over the concrete slab that had the two leaks, and it was clean category 1 water and not unsanitary water, the tiles should not be harmed.

Mold is a microbial growth that is ubiquitous, and as long as there isn’t a food source or an environment that promotes mold growth then it will not perpetuate.  Concrete has a high pH which does not allow mold to grow unless there is some other superficial organic food source. Sometimes if the tile is not installed correctly with the correct type of installation products, a water leak could result in some damages.


Cleaning a sealed tile floor

I have a ceramic tile that someone sealed with dirt on the tile. It may have been done over five years ago. I used a generic stripper, but it only improved the floor by 10%. What should I do to get this tile clean?
If the tile floor was sealed when it was dirty, then the only way to clean it is to remove the sealer.

To determine which stripper to use to remove a sealer you need to know what sealer was used.

If you don’t know which sealer was used then you have to experiment with different strippers. Aqua Mix and Miracle Sealants have strippers as well as other manufacturers of cleaners and strippers.

There are generic strippers like Goof-Off and some paint strippers that will remove some sealers. If it were practical you could have a testing laboratory test the coating that was scrapped from the tile to determine what it is and what solvent will remove it.


Porcelain tile debonding issues

We’re having a problem with porcelain tile debonding. (We have polished porcelain tile, 300 x 600 mm and 600 x 600 mm bent, four corner sides concave.) We have done testing on water absorption, moisture expansion and thermal shock—all passed ISO 10545 standard. What’s causing the shrinkage?
Considering it is a porcelain tile, I would think that the warped corners were that way when they were installed. Porcelain tiles are not moisture sensitive and they would not be expected to warp after they are installed. Having all four corners of the tile concave would be considered excessive warpage by U.S. standards.

A 2-3 mm grout joint is normally reasonable for a rectified porcelain tile installed in a soldier course pattern. (Tiles are not off-set from each other.)

The debonding of the tile should not be due to the tile unless the tile had some sort of contaminant on its back side that prevented the tile from achieving an adequate attachment to its substrate. Generally speaking, the reason tiles debond is because they are not bonded as well as they should be to their substrates and due to the tiles being subjected to some stress that is greater than they can resist. If the tile had a contaminant on its back side that acts as a bond breaker, or if the substrate to which it is attached has a contaminate that acts as a bond breaker, or if the adhesive is not suitable for bonding the tile can all be a possibility of why the tile was not better bonded to the substrate.

Tiles inherently are subjected to movement and resultant stresses caused by moisture or temperature or dynamic structural movement within the floor assembly. That is why it is required to have movement joints filled with a resilient sealant at all perimeters and transitions. Per Canadian standards, movement joints should be installed within the field of tile every 4800 mm to 6100 mm in each direction for interior applications; and every 2440 mm to 3600 mm for exterior applications and interior applications exposed to moisture and direct sunlight.

If there was new concrete installed that hadn’t cured for at least 28 days at reasonable temperatures, then it can have shrinkage that could subject the tile to more stress than it can resist. If the cementitious adhesive was excessively thick it can have excessive shrinkage that can contribute to the problem.


Fixing a terrazzo floor after a flood

My house flooded twice in less than 12 months. I have travertine tile on top of vapor barrier and below that terrazzo subfloor followed by another vapor barrier and then slab on grade throughout the foyer, family room and kitchen. Should the terrazzo be removed?
If the terrazzo floor was originally installed correctly, it should not have been harmed by the flood. If you had a vapor barrier on top of the terrazzo then it may not have been saturated with water during the flooding. But even if it had, it should be able to dry out and it should not be necessary to replace it.

When you replace the travertine floor, remove the vapor barrier under it and let the terrazzo floor dry for a few days with fans and dehumidifiers. You then can put down another vapor barrier over the terrazzo. Use a grade “D” breathable vapor barrier cleavage membrane if you are going to install a wire reinforced mortar bed over it. If you are going to bond directly to the terrazzo, I would first scarify it to open up the pores and then apply a liquid applied waterproof membrane that meets ANSI A118.10 and A118.12. This type of membrane is breathable and it is both a waterproof membrane and a crack isolation membrane. Make sure you run the membrane up the walls at least as high as the water gets. This way you can contain the water from future floods and limit the collateral damages.

If you are going to install a mortar bed over the terrazzo, then apply the waterproof membrane on top of the mortar bed and up the walls fto prevent future damage from flooding.


Donato Pampo, CTC, CMR, CSI, CDT MBA, is the founder and CTaSC and a leading tile and stone forensic expert and consultant in North America.