Floors by the book

Using this classification system, a Com7 would be a commercial submerged installation such as a swimming pool. Each method in the Handbook is cross-referenced against these environmental exposure classifications in the table.

By simply referencing a method by number (e.g. F112-16 for installing tile over on-ground or above-ground concrete with a bonded mortar bed), a specifier pulls a number of considerations for the installation listed with each method, such as:

  • drawings showing the necessary components of the method;
  • recommended uses—typical areas where the installation method is used;
  • service ratings—floor tile methods with service rating indicates the service conditions and installation can withstand based on ASTM C627, Standard Test Method for Evaluating Ceramic Floor Tile Installation Systems Using the Robinson-type Floor Tester results;
  • environmental exposure classifications;
  • typical weight of tile installation to help determine the contribution to the dead load on the floor for floor methods;
  • various limitations, special considerations, and restrictions;
  • membrane options;
  • requirements—important conditions and considerations;
  • materials and special considerations for sustainable design;
  • materials—a list of tile and installation product options with minimum criteria spelled out in ANSI, International Organization for Standardization (ISO), or ASTM standards;
  • preparation by other trades—material and prep work required of other trades preceding the work of the tile contractor;
  • preparation by the tile trade;
  • preparation by backer board installers;
  • movement joint—considerations related to TCNA’s EJ171 movement joint guidelines;
  • installation specifications—list of applicable ANSI specifications; and
  • notes or special considerations.

In addition to the methods shown in the Handbook, there is also extensive reference material. The first section of the book explains the types of tile and how to choose the proper one for a given job. A similar section explains the different considerations for glass tiles.

A natural stone tile selection and installation guide follows, with several pages explaining the differences in stone and special considerations for each. Likewise, setting materials are examined, from mortars to grouts to membranes and backer boards.

Since 2012, a large section of the TCNA Handbook has explored the sustainable aspects of tile installation. The chart on ‘Tile and Green Building Credits and Requirements’ in the “Tile: the Natural Choice” supplement is valuable for any designer or architect working on a sustainable certification including tile. Supplements do not go through the consensus process, but contain useful information.

The second section of the book looks at field and installation requirements. This important information examines the requirements of substrates that will receive tile, glass, and stone including flatness tolerances, deflection, and the differences in terminology between the tile industry and the concrete industry when it comes to flatness. This section then explains the potential impact of lighting, mortar coverage, flatness (and lippage), grout joints, how to protect finished tilework, verbiage for ‘accessible’ designs, and wet area guidelines.

As noted earlier, the TCNA Handbook is not a specification—rather, it provides quick reference details similar to a detail on a drawing. One can match up site conditions with those in the book. The TCNA method-specific details simplify the required components, layering the installation through an effective CAD detail.

A proper specification for the installation of ceramic, glass, or stone tile includes a TCNA method or multiple methods and also references ANSI’s, American National Standard Specifications for the Installation of Ceramic Tile. It is necessary to list ANSI standards in order to establish a quality level specification language; the standards list installation requirements like the minimum percentage of mortar coverage for interior, exterior, above grade, and wet areas.

Environmental requirements at the time of the application, listed in the ANSI standards, ensure the cement based mortar is not being installed in freezing or extremely hot conditions, causing a detrimental effect on the adhesive and bond.

The ANSI material standards also establish different levels of product performance and characteristics. The ANSI standard for modified portland cement mortar allows for:

  • A118.4, Modified Dry-set Cement Mortar (good);
  • A118.11, EGP (Exterior Glue Plywood) Latex-Portland Cement Mortar (better); and
  • A118.15, Improved Modified Dry-Set Cement Mortar (best).

These standards also include different characteristics such as T for non-sag mortars, E for extended-open-time mortars, and F for fast-setting mortars.

For example, if a design/construction professional is installing large format tile on the exterior of a structure in a demanding environment using TCNA method W202E-16, they would want to specify a high-strength, highly modified mortar meeting ANSI A118.15T, highly modified with non-sag characteristics. A successful specification for the installation of tile will include methods from the TCNA Handbook and ANSI standards specifications for both installation and product performance.

In conclusion, the Handbook for Ceramic, Glass, and Stone Tile Installation refines the experience of thousands of tile and stone industry professionals into one reference, allowing for a standardized way to discuss and assist in specifying tile installations. (The Handbook for Ceramic, Glass, and Stone Tile Installation is available in either hard copy or as an electronic download from the Tile Council of North America. Visit www.tcnatile.com).

Dan Marvin is the director of technical services for MAPEI Corporation. He has more than 20 years of technical expertise in the tile industry and sits on technical committees for Tile Council of North America (TCNA), International Organization for Standardization (ISO), Materials and Methods Standards Association (MMSA), ASTM, ANSI, and the Handbook for Tile and Stone Installation. He works closely with these committees to improve existing standards, create new ones, and communicate the changes to the public. Marvin can be reached at dmarvin@mapei.com.

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