The International Surface Event (TISE) 2015, held last January at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, brought in new show goers and increased energy through its partnership with Design & Construction Week, which also included the International Builders Show (IBS), the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS), the International Window Coverings Expo (IWCE) and Las Vegas Market. According to show organizers, TISE also attracted an increased number of architects and designers.

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While specific information on TISE’s attendance numbers were not provided, with organizers stating that “Surfaces, StonExpo/Marmomacc Americas and TileExpo experienced attendance comparable to the 2014 show,” the combined shows participating in Design & Construction Week brought an estimated 125,000 construction and industry professionals to the city.

TISE drew show goers and 707 exhibitors from more than 80 countries, on a show floor covering about 350,000 sq. ft. Organizers noted that 22 percent of exhibiting companies were brand-new to the show. Show organizers also stated more than 25 percent of the total audience registered for educational sessions, a double-digit increase.

Classes, demonstrations and training. The show was host to a range of classes—from design and retail, to restoration and installation. Jeff Johnson, MAPEI’s Floor Covering Installation Systems product manager, presented a class on “The Cost Case for Moisture Mitigation,” where he laid out not only the costs associated with moisture testing and mitigation, but why these costs were preferable to not performing moisture testing or mitigation at all.

“You may think there’s a financial incentive to rolling the dice on moisture issues, but that quickly changes when the floor has to be removed, the moisture issue has to be mitigated and the floor has to be reinstalled. These costs could put you out of business. Also not factored into the decision is when you shut down a commercial building to tear out a failed floor, you’re turning off that building’s revenue stream for as long as you’re there.”

FCI Editorial Director Jon Namba, along with FCI columnist Roy Reichow and Michelle Reichow of National Wood Floor Consultants, presented “What You Always Wanted to Know about Wood, Bamboo and Cork Floors but Were Afraid to Ask.” According to Michelle Reichow, “If you have cupping, gapping or other issues in your wood floors, it’s moisture-related. Either the environment is too dry or too wet.”

Roy Reichow added, “I often get asked about how well different kinds of wood perform, but the real question is: Will this product perform in the environment it’s put in? You need to consider the floor versus its environment and find that balance.”

Namba tackled some of the issues with strand-woven bamboo installation. “Most moisture meter manufacturers have a setting for strand bamboo, but you have to remember that hardwood is a wood and bamboo is a grass. When a manufacturer takes bamboo, strands it and fills it with resins, you need to ask yourself some questions. First, was the manufacturer able to thoroughly dry a product full of resins? Second, are the probes reading the strand or the resin? Third, where are you getting the bamboo from? With strand-woven a lot of it comes from overseas, with ‘cut, copy, paste’ installation instructions and no R&D department. They just manufacture it, sell it and offer no support if something goes wrong.”

He added, “If the manufacturers go with an economy package, no wax, and it’s not shipped in climate-controlled containers, that will change everything about the bamboo’s moisture content. If you don’t get your moisture readings and don’t keep documentation, then an inspector is already leaning heavily toward installer error if the floor fails. If it goes into litigation you are going to get burned.  Document the ambient conditions and communicate with the end-user, ‘Here is what is going to happen. Can we meet halfway?’ You also need to work with the manufacturer of the adhesive and the manufacturer of the flooring to find out their recommendations. Give some of the decision back to them. For some reason installers put all these decisions on themselves.”

Namba cautioned that since strand-woven is a grass, it expands in all directions. “You have to worry about the sides and the ends of the floor, and allow for that movement. If you’re not doing moisture tests you’re making a business decision. You’re basically saying you can afford to replace this floor.”

Namba also oversaw this year’s Installation Showcase, a special stage devoted to demonstrating the proper installation tools and techniques for a variety of flooring products. Joe Cea, Congoleum technical specialist, offered his tips for working with resilient loose-lay floors. He began by dispelling a common misconception. “A lot of installers think since these products are laid loosely they are floor prep-free. There is no such thing as a floor that’s floor prep-free.”

He also told installers to be aware of where loose-lay floors can be placed. “If you put loose-lay under a window with southern exposure, you’re going to see expansion and peaking. Most of these products are rated for 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Under a window it can get up to between 100 and 120 degrees.”

Another point he stressed was to always read the instructions. “The seams are taped together with a very specific tape. You can’t use duct tape or carpet tape. Acclimate both the floor and the sundries for at least 48 hours before installing.”

TISE 2015 hosted many certification and training events, including those for the Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT) program, International Certified Floorcovering Installers Association (CFI), Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF), International Concrete Repair Institute (ICRI), International Standards and Training Alliance (INSTALL), North American Laminate Floor Association (NALFA), Natural Fiber Installers Certification (NFIC) and National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA).

P.J. Arthur, head of NFIC, said he was happy to bring NFIC certification to Surfaces. “You see problems out in the field all the time, and these techniques are so specialized. No one else teaches these techniques. We are supported by many of the major woven and tufted wool carpet mills because we help people understand their products.”

Floor prep and adhesives. Chuck Hall, DriTac vice president of sales, promoted DriTac 4141 “The Golden Bullet” adhesive for installing engineered and solid hardwood and bamboo flooring with no moisture testing required. DriTac’s newest product at the show was Eco-DriBloc.

“Eco-DriBloc is a green moisture control and adhesive isolation membrane. It’s fast-drying and can control moisture up to 12 lbs. and 85% RH in one coat, or 15 lbs. and 90% RH in two coats. It can be used on luxury vinyl products, carpet tile, fiberglass-back sheet vinyl, laminate and floating floors.”

Franklin International’s latest Titebond product is Fast Set polyurethane construction adhesive. Mark Lamanno, technical market manager, noted, “It can be used on a wide variety of materials including lumber, concrete, stone, ceramic, drywall, foamboard, carpet tack strips and more. It’s designed to set and cure quickly so installers can keep moving.”

Sonny Callaham, technical product manager at Royal Adhesives & Sealants, spoke about the company’s recent acquisition of Chemque, which includes the Fortane brand. “The benefit of Fortane is they deal with reactive chemistry, while we are known primarily for water-based products. It’s great to bring that tradition to our company.”

Doug Young, executive vice president of Schonox/HPS North America, announced the three winners of the company’s first annual “Worst Subfloor in North America” contest. “This contest was phenomenally successful, with many more entries that we thought we’d receive for the first year.”

Third place went to Ken Leadingham of Redi Carpet in Kennesaw, Ga. Second place was given to Tommy Malone of Integrity Floors in Dallas. First place was awarded to Peter Kousounadis of Pavilion Floors in Woburn, Mass. The winners received 10,000, 50,000 and 100,000 sq. ft. of Schonox SL respectively.

Stauf showed its new ULC-500 Level Seal, and demonstrated the benefits of its ERP-270 sealer by using it to build a particleboard aquarium filled with water. “ERP-270 is a two-part epoxy sealer that is part of our NassFlex system. The new ULC-500 Level Seal is a leveling compound and sealer all in the same product. It’s a universal leveling compound so it goes over just about anything,” said David Ford, Stauf vice president of sales and marketing.

Kristine Elledge, W.F. Taylor marketing coordinator, talked about her company’s two newest products: Acous-Tec Sound Reducing Liquid Underlayment Patch and Leveler, and TruRenew Premium Bio-Renewable Pressure Sensitive Adhesive for carpet tile. “The Acous-Tec liquid underlayment not only reduces sound transmission but controls moisture, acts as a leveler and patch, and even enhances the thermal insulating properties of the floor. The TruRenew carpet tile adhesive is the first adhesive to get Cradle to Cradle Certified, at the Silver level.”

USG showcased its floor prep portfolio, as well as the Durock Shower System with a constantly running shower in the middle of the booth. According to Amy Klawitter, marketing communications manager, the booth was also designed to celebrate USG’s recent partnership with XL Brands. “USG Durock X2 Primer-Sealer is the first product of its kind to offer a 10-year limited system warranty. It’s designed to be used directly over Levelrock and Durock self-leveling gypsum underlayments.”

Grouts and mortars. Celebrating its 125th year in the industry, Bostik unveiled two special murals with its distinctive gecko motif. An 8” by 4” glass tile mural designed by Harri Aalto of Creative Edge featured waterjet-cut pieces of natural stone and was grouted with Bostik’s Dimension RapidCure. Additionally, Tom Ourada, winner of the 2014 NWFA Floor of the Year competition, created a handmade and hand-cut hardwood flooring mural, installed using Bostik materials.

Chris Eichman, Bostik marketing communications manager, stated, “We wanted to showcase not only our product but its end-use. These companies are so talented. We just gave them size dimensions and provided an image of the gecko, and let them go.”

Custom Building Products announced it will now offer 40 refreshed colors in all of its grouts, with an additional eight reflective options for installing glass tile in the Fusion Pro Designer Series.

“This was our chance to rethink our color palette,” said Tony Pasquarelli, marketing services manager. “With this color refresh, you can pick the color you want and have the performance characteristics you need. The new colors include greens, blues, subtle and dark browns—all inspired by rocks, minerals, earth tones and other natural elements.”

Ron Nash, vice president of sales and marketing for Laticrete, talked about the company’s recent acquisition of Stonetech and the new PermaColor Select dispersible-pigment grout. (See the Product Focus for details.) “Since we’ve been active in the acquisition space, we’ve had our eyes opened to worlds of chemistry we have never encountered before. For some of the problems this industry has, other industries have already solved them. We marry those technologies to new products for our industry.”

MAPEI unveiled Ultralite S2, a mortar for large, thin tile installations. Sam Biondo, MAPEI’s national technical presenter, said, “Ultralite S2 mortar features a long open time, extended coverage and superior transfer properties.”

The company also continued its collaboration with the Society of American Mosaic Artists (SAMA) by commissioning 20 separate 12” by 12” murals from SAMA artists featuring the “World of MAPEI” theme in stone, glass, tile and other elements including painted eggshells.

Tools and other products. Kristin Armaly, sales manager of Armaly Brands, explained the benefits of the company’s ProPlus grouting sponges. “The sponge will not fall apart, and it features open-cell technology, so it’s more sanitary. We make all of our products from beginning to end in the U.S.”

Shane LeBlanc, president of ArmorLock, announced two developments. The company unveiled a new Modular Carpet Clip designed as a glueless alternative for carpet tile installations. Additionally, the company created a glueless alternative to artificial turf installation that will be distributed exclusively by Target Technologies. “This global partnership guarantees exclusivity worldwide, with 100% recyclable and 100% waterproof products.”

Lignomat’s vice president, Grete Heimerdinger, showcased several moisture meter products, including the Ligno-DuoTec BW. “This dual-depth pinless meter measures domestic and tropical wood, bamboo and drywall. It features three reference scales and can be set for either 1/4” or 3/4” depths. If you plug in an RH BluePeg Probe it also acts as a thermo-hygrometer.”

Jack Boesch, MP Global Products director of marketing, said his company’s QuietWalk underlayment “was originally made using post-industrial fibers, but now we’re moving into post-industrial and post-consumer, which will give us additional LEED points.”

He also talked about his company’s PerfectlyWarm electric radiant floor heating systems. “The radiant heat film is doing really well for us. It doesn’t raise the height of the subfloor at all, it can be used on top of QuietWalk, and it’s easy to use spot heat where you need it.”

Personna unveiled TruCut carpet blades. According to Bob Senesac, director of marketing, “This is a mid-tier carpet blade at a great price. The next thing for us will be the second generation of our ArmorEdge blades. We’re working on that now, and want to come up with a blade that is demonstrably different.”

Lee Richards, ProKnee president, gave demonstrations not only of his company’s signature kneepads but the Goof Proof Wall Trimmer and Treadman multi-angle stair tread cutting system, which can be ordered with optional templates, tool box/cutting block and extension kits. “Features to the wall trimmer include an automatic blade depth adjustment stop, molded plastic frame components and thread steel inserts and hardware. With one pass the trimmer will cut the toe of the vinyl cove base to the height of the direct glue-down carpet.”

Daniel Bennett, inventor of the Seamer Down Now carpet seam cooling machine, demonstrated his product in the NFIC booth. “This tool is designed to aid installers in making flatter, better, stronger seams. The vacuum in the tool helps align the fiber, cool the seams and suck glue into the back of the carpet.”

Sound Seal displayed the Impacta Jumpax acoustical underlayment system. Jennifer Chagnon, director of marketing, noted, “Impacta Jumpax is a free-floating, dry-leveling, sound-reducing underlay designed specifically for fast-track projects.”

Jon Hall, chairman at Traxx, outlined a range of products for the installer, including tack strip with extra-short pins for softer carpets “so you don’t feel the pins through the backing,” Engineered Flooring Ramps to help eliminate abrupt transitions between carpet and other flooring surfaces, the Blue Fin carpet seaming iron and KoolGlide carpet seaming tool.

“Radio-wave technology in the KoolGlide spreads through the surface of the carpet to a specifically engineered seaming tape. There’s no heat, no smoke, no odor, and no distortion of the carpet fibers.”

TISE 2016 is set for Jan 19-22 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, in conjunction with Design & Construction Week. For more information, visit TISE East 2015 will move to the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Nov. 2-5. For more information, visit