For continued success, tile installers should study the TCNA Handbook and ANSI Specifications and retain as much as possible or at least know where to find the answers. These books can be your best friend or your worst enemy, but for today we will look at the best friend version and share a true story.

An installer who successfully completed the Large Format Tile and Substrate Prep test, which is one of the tests contained in the Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT) program, returned to his normal routine of installing tile while also being the jobsite superintendent. On this particular day, the superintendent was representing his company at a pre-job conference with the architect since the business owner was not available.

The architect reviewed the scope of the job involving the tile installation and said the job included a 12” x 24” non-rectified porcelain tile which was specified to be installed in a running bond (brick pattern), at a 50 percent offset and a 1/32” grout joint.

The now ACT-certified installer politely informed the architect that the current ANSI Specification, A108.02 under section 4.3.8, calls for a much different application which is shown in the attached box. The installer paraphrased the ANSI specification saying, “The tile is to be installed in a running bond offset at a maximum of 33% with a 3/16” grout joint.” The architect asked the installer where he found this information and how he knew it so well.

The installer showed the architect the portion of the ANSI book containing that standard and told him that he became aware of this and many other aspects of the industry standards through his studies in preparation for the ACT certification tests.  The architect reviewed the ANSI listing and agreed the specifications would be modified to follow the standard the installer had described.

The tile was installed successfully and everyone involved was satisfied with the end result. The owner of the tile company, who was absent through this process, is convinced that had they installed the tile as originally specified, the job would have been rejected due to edge lippage, requiring it to be removed and replaced. This small quantity of knowledge saved this contractor a significant amount of time and potential expense. Using knowledge wisely can reap large benefits.