For the past 40 years, the Tile Council of North America's (TCA) Handbook for Ceramic Tile Installation has become "the" specification reference used by contractors, architects, and specification writers with over 75,000 issues distributed a year. Why? The Handbook is a compilation of industry-consensus, specification guidelines which references ANSI A108 installation standards in one source. Once products are chosen, the manufacturer's application instructions need to be followed to ensure product performance and warranties.

What is the TCA Handbook?

The Tile Council of North America (TCA) provides the HANDBOOK FOR CERAMIC TILE INSTALLATION as a guide to assist in clarifying and standardizing installation specifications for ceramic tile. The Handbook represents a culmination of hundreds of hours of discussions by a cross section of construction industry representatives that review submissions, research, and field performance data to develop guidelines for installation specifications.

Does the TCA approve certain methods?

TCA does not approve nor disapprove methods. As the Handbook secretariat we do not create these details - rather, they are the work of the Handbook Committee, a representative group of experts in the ceramic tile industry. This group meets to share knowledge, problems, solutions, and research. When there are conflicting opinions, the Handbook may not have a solution as it reflects industry consensus views and generally accepted procedures.

What if I want to use a method that is not in the Handbook?

There are only two reasons why a method is not in the Handbook. First, no one has ever submitted the method to the Handbook Committee. Second, the Handbook Committee has been presented the detail and decided that it should not be in the Handbook. The Handbook Committee may decide not to adopt a new method based on its lack of field experience, a minimum of three years is required, or because there is not enough data to support the legitimacy of the submission. The Handbook Committee may also decide not to adopt a method based on experiences or problems witnessed in the field. Additionally, proprietary methods are not listed in the Handbook.

The TCA Handbook does not address my installation, what should I do?

Manufacturers of tile installation materials can almost always provide you with information on the application and specification of products that can help you deal with installations not contained in the Handbook.

In many cases, proprietary methods and products have been developed to address special conditions or to utilize new technology. These methods will not be in the TCA Handbook but may work quite well when used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

To find out if any method is appropriate for certain conditions and to find out warranty and application information, you will want to speak with the manufacturer. Most products will have a toll free number for technical service, normally located on the product label.

Who can submit new methods or edits to the Handbook?

Anyone can make a submission to the Handbook Committee. All submissions must be either in the form of a new method with all fields (materials, limitations, etc.) provided or as a clearly marked addition or edit to existing text. Both types must be accompanied by supporting documentation and a rationale for requesting the change. Submission deadline is approximately four months before each Handbook meeting. This allows time for the committee to view the submissions and ask questions prior to the meeting date. At the current time the committee meets every two years, with the last meeting held June 24, 2004. All submissions should be made to the Handbook secretariat. For more information you can contact me or Sharon Jones at TCA.

If you have more questions about the Handbook or how to use it, feel free to contact us at the e-mail address listed at the end of the article.

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