Wikipedia defines a mockup as follows: “In manufacturing and design, a mockup is a scale or full-size model of a design or device, used for teaching, demonstration, design evaluation, promotion and other purposes. Mockups are used by designers mainly to acquire feedback from users. Mockups address the idea captured in a popular engineering one-liner: ‘You can fix it now on the drafting board with an eraser, or you can fix it later on the construction site with a sledge hammer.’”

How true that last sentence is, especially in today’s fast-track world of construction. Ideally in the tile world, mockups should be used as a tool by the tile contractor to obtain the approval of the owner and possibly also the architect, designer and general contractor. Establishing how the finished tile installation will appear before the work begins is a wise choice which can save time and money.

Although mockups are not an ANSI requirement, they are mentioned as follows: “ANSI A108.02- Running bond/brick joint offset: For running bond/brick joint patterns utilizing tiles (square or rectangular) where the side being offset is greater than 18" (nominal dimension), the running bond offset will be a maximum of 33% unless otherwise specified by the tile manufacturer. If an offset greater than 33% is specified, specifier and owner must approve mockup and lippage.”

The TCNA Handbook also calls for mockups in several sections of the book. In both the Ceramic Tile and Glass Tile Selection Guides, the Aesthetic Classes in both the V3 and V4 categories share this language: “It is recommended the range (of color and texture) be viewed before selection and a mock layout be made.” Similarly, the Natural Stone Selection Guide in the Viewing/Inspection Distance section states, “It is recommended that samples, range samples, mockups and finished work be viewed for inspection at a distance of 6 1/2' from a position normal (perpendicular) to the stone face, and with natural lighting.”

Ultimately, the use of a mockup is a really good idea that can demonstrate to the end user—who may have difficulty visualizing the final finish—exactly what to expect. The mockup shows the range of color and/or texture within the tile, the pattern or offset (if applicable), the size, texture and color of the grout joint, and any accessory items. This way there are no surprises, unhappy customers or unfulfilled expectations upon completion of the project.