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president's letter

Understanding industry standards and best practices

Martin G Brookes, NTCA President
You may ask yourself, “What role do the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) play in the day-to-day operations of my business?”
These two groups support the development of standards for the professional installation of tile, stone, and allied products. The standards that are developed promote the safety and integrity of tile installations. Adhering to these standards and guidelines is critical for the work that we do as tile contractors. I have been fortunate to serve with these groups, which has allowed me the opportunity to work with colleagues to evaluate existing industry standards and develop new standards in response to advances in the design of new materials, methods, and practices.
Currently, we are in the process of bringing ANSI A108 up to date so that it will be more easily understood and help the contractor navigate the trade based on standards. ANSI A108 provides installation standards for the successful installation of ceramic, stone, and glass tile. Standards for the methods and techniques to be used on a specific project allow our work to be evaluated by well-defined criteria that apply evenly to all. While ANSI provides standards for tile installation, the TCNA Handbook for Ceramic, Glass and Stone Tile Installation provides detailed installation methods based on the ANSI A108 standard. Without these standards and guidelines for tile installation, we could not cite any information that would either hold a contractor legally responsible for – or absolve them from – a failure that occurred on a project they had performed.
The professional tile installer should be familiar with the industry standards and best practices, and stay current with the latest materials and methods. It is also important to note that the standards outlined in the American National Standard Specification for the Installation of Ceramic Tile (ANSI A108. A118 and A136) are minimum standards. If you choose to install to minimum industry standards that is your choice, but remember the room for error is much smaller than if you greatly exceed the standard. As a residential contractor, the cost to exceed the minimum standard may only be a small percentage of the overall project and easily absorbed into the job cost; however, on a larger commercial project this could be the difference between winning or losing a project and making or losing money. Each one of us must decide which path we will take and calculate the risk in both performance and profit.
I hope that you will take time to become knowledgeable about our industry’s standards and best practices and recognize their importance in our day-to-day business practices. I would like to thank each one of you for your professionalism and dedication to the industry.