The National Tile Contractors Association's (NTCA) Remodeling Show | DeckExpo | JLC LIVE (R|D|J) in Baltimore featured not only an educational conference for both business and job site training, but also a full exhibit hall and networking events.

For two days, NTCA’s Mark Heinlein and the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation's (CTEF) Scott Carothers presented a wide array of installation techniques and answered questions in a live stage demonstration. The project consisted of fully installing two tile floors, from substrate up to grout and finishing, based on industry standards, best practice installation techniques and manufacturer instructions.

Many of the attendees of R|D|J were remodeling contractors who also work in tile, either to save money and keep work “in-house”, or for lack of available quality tile installers in their area. This audience was very interested in learning more about tile installation that they may not have picked up in their own experience. Learning directly from NTCA ensures that these contractors have the knowledge they need to provide quality work to their customers. Along with honing their own skills, many contractors were also eager to learn more about best practices, technology and certifications to look for when they do need to hire an outside tile contractor.

Day one of the demonstration covered introductions to industry standards, criteria for different tile types and sizes (especially large format tile), examination and preparation of substrate, installation of cementitious backer units, installation of electrical heat systems encapsulated in self-leveling underlayment, and expansion joints. The second day covered criteria for proper mortar and grout selection, proper selection of grout-joint width, standards for lippage and finished floor flatness, trowel selection and mortar coverage, manufacturer instructions and mixing techniques, tile layout and installation, grout installation and expansion and soft joint installation.

The live stage demonstration was a key attraction of the show, with a packed crowd for both days. Many contractors attended every session of the two-day demo and even lingered to ask questions during breaks. Heinlein and Carothers spent most of their spare time informing their audience about the importance of industry standards, manufacturer instructions and best practices. Impressed with the level of information available and the potential to improve their networking and professional skills, several attendees became NTCA members.

In addition to the live demonstration, CTEF took the Certified Tile Installer (CTI) program to Baltimore as well. Two tile contractors took the hands-on portion of the CTI test each day, for a total of four installers.

“I was pleased with the attendance at the show,” said Carothers. “We had contractors standing outside the testing area barriers asking questions about the test and what was gained from doing so. Interestingly, the same contractors attended both days of the show, many of whom stayed until the show closed at 4 p.m. the last day. This proves that contractors are interested in properly-installed tile and happy customers.”

Bart Bettiga, NTCA's executive director, said, “This was a great show for us and we plan on being involved in all of the Remodeling Shows and Deck Expo programs moving forward.”

NTCA is planning to attend further Remodeling Show, Deck Expo and JLC Live events in the future, including the JLC Live show in Portland, Ore., from Nov. 20 through Dec. 2.

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