All across the U.S., there are thousands upon thousands of beautiful, high-quality, and long-lasting tile installations which should be highlighted as examples of the work done by qualified labor as included in the TCNA Handbook. However, when the very sad examples of extremely poor work are seen, they should be reviewed and presented as a learning tool for the tile placer who needs to improve his or her skills.

If we use the ANSI specifications and TCNA Handbook details in this process, we will see that tile industry standards are in place to guide proper installation, but they were not followed on this project. The correct standard or detail are shown in [brackets].

The photo included here shows two of several columns at the main entrance of a brand-new hotel.These pitiful specimens include a multitude of problems which we will dissect. Some of the fault rests on the framing contractor since the columns were not plumb [ANSI A108.02-4.1.4] and should have been rejected by the tile installer and corrected by the general contractor before the tile installation began [ANSI A108.02-4.1].

The backer board was not rated for exterior use [ANSI 118.9 or ASTM C1325 (Type A) and W244E]. It was fastened with conventional drywall screws which are not corrosion-resistant nor recommended for use in wet areas or for the installation of backer board [ASTM F2329-05]. The backer board seams did not receive the required 4” alkali-resistant glass fiber mesh tape [W244E].

The tile was placed, rather than appropriately installed, using the unrecognized spot-bonding trick which failed to meet the required 95% mortar coverage for exterior installations [ANSIA108.5-2.5.3] while also creating large areas of the tile surface that were not adequately bonded. This was an especially dangerous situation since the columns were sixteen feet tall.

The tile placement did “almost” follow the requirement for large format tile, a tile with any side greater than 15”, to be offset by a maximum of 33% [ANSI A108.02-]. The varied grout joint did not meet the minimum joint size of 1/8” for rectified tile [ANSI A108.02-] nor the requirement of maintaining grout joint alignment and spacing [ANSI A108.5-2.5.2].Finally (this has been painful), the tile exhibits monumental lippage which is nowhere close to the standard tolerance of 1/32” plus the allowable tile warpage [ANSI A108.4.3.7] and does not follow the Handbook detail EJ171J, which calls for perimeter movement joints to be filled with 100% silicone, urethane, or polysulfide at all exterior out-corners.

Safety and aesthetics were seriously compromised on this project, giving the tile industry another black eye. Do it right the first time and deliver a shining example of what should be expected from a quality-oriented tile installation professional.