The Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) demonstrated the relationship between the Certified Tile Installer (CTI) program and Qualified Labor during Coverings 2019, the Global Tile & Stone Experience taking place from April 9 - 12 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.

Located in the new 10,700-square-foot Installation & Design Experience in Booth #3538, CTEF will showcase the features and benefits of the Certified Tile Installer (CTI) program and its importance to Qualified Labor as found in the TCNA Handbook and contained in the Avitru (formerly ARCOM) MasterSpec for construction specifications. CTEF will also highlight both the Pendleton, SC training programs as well as the custom training classes available across the U.S.

Through video and a hands-on testing module, CTEF will discuss the CTI program and its role in ensuring tile installation excellence as exhibited in state-of-the-art vignettes. Successful Certified Tile Installers will be on hand to answer questions. CTEF will also provide information about the Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT) program.

The Installation & Design Experience provides an opportunity for Coverings show attendees to experience first-hand numerous types of tile installations. The area will showcase best practices relative to a multitude of different tile installations, why tile is a great product choice compared to other materials, how to become and find certified tile installers.

The Experience features state-of-the-art vignettes showcasing cutting-edge tile products and breakthrough technology installation systems, designed by local designers and installed by NTCA Five-Star Contractors. These vignettes will demonstrate the synergy between great design and installation. The designers and installers will be available to discuss their inspiration, the process and best practices.

Further highlighting the importance of Qualified Labor to tile installation, Scott Carothers, director of training and education for CTEF, moderated a panel discussion in two parts about Tile Inspections on April 11. Part 1 addressed the tile inspection process and Part 2 explored execution. Both parts included tile industry experts Nyle Wadford of Neuse Tile, James Woelfel of Artcraft Granite Marble and Tile Co. and Martin Brookes of Heritage Marble & Tile, all of whom employ Certified Tile Installers.

The CTI designation identifies the professional installer who has reached a level of proficiency to independently and consistently produce a sound tile installation that displays good workmanship. Certification is the validation of the skills and knowledge of the men and women who presently are installing tile successfully in the U.S.

To qualify for the CTI Program, installers must have at least two years of experience as the lead installer setting ceramic tile on a full-time basis. This means having full responsibility for substrate prep, layout, coordinating with other trades along with properly installing underlayment, tile, grout and sealant materials.

“The CTI program is strictly a test of the installer’s skills and knowledge; it offers no instructional classes,” said Carothers. “However, many installers who have completed the CTI tests say that studying the written materials was very valuable and assisted in the completion of the hands-on test and that the CTI Manual provided the correct methods for tile installation which may not have been the way they installed tile in the past.”

The CTI program includes two separate tests. The first is an online open-book exam which is taken at home or the office as the installer’s schedule allows prior to the hands-on test. The second is a hands-on test which is conducted at regional locations across the U.S. The hands-on portion of the test begins at 7 am and must be completed by 4 pm. The hands-on test Orientation is held the evening prior to test day to review the parameters of the test, answer questions, and get tools in place.

The Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT) is a joint effort of six tile industry organizations including CTEF, IMI, IUBAC, NTCA, TCAA, and TCNA which include certifications in seven specific areas of tile installation. An installer may choose to become ACT certified in one or more of these areas: Gauged Porcelain Tile and Gauged Porcelain Tile Panels/Slabs; Grouts; Large Format Tile & Substrate Preparation; Membranes (both sheet and liquid); Mortar (Mud) Floors; Mortar (Mud) Walls; and Shower Receptors.

Installers who wish to become ACT certified must be pre-qualified in one of two ways: Be a Certified Tile Installer (CTI) through the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation; or be a journeyman tile setter who has successfully completed the apprenticeship program or be a 90% active apprentice through the program conducted by the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers.

ACT certification in each area is granted upon successful completion of a written test, designed to measure the installer's understanding of applicable ANSI specifications and TCNA Handbook details, and a field provided hands-on test conducted by trained, third party evaluators who assess the installer's skills under real life conditions.

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