Redesigning an airport with a new and modern concept may be seen as a challenge, but possibly an even bigger challenge is executing a renovation in one of the busiest airports in North America. When it was decided to updateTampa International Airport’s 40-year-old Ticketing and Baggage claims, there was no way that the Florida travel center was going to shut down for the renovation. For five months, the crew of Standard Tile Co. of Sarasota, FL, worked from 1 a.m. to 8 a.m. to complete the renovation.

The work for the crew of Standard Tile Co. consisted of removing 45,000 square feet of 1½-inch precast pavers as well as the existing substrate and installing a thin porcelain tile to match the existing elevations. The tile chosen to update the area was from StonePeak’s “Quartzite” Collection. In the design, 12- x 24-inch and 6- x 24-inch pieces were utilized to create a pattern using varying sizes. The workload of the project was evenly distributed between the two areas. The Baggage area, which was on grade level, consumed about 50% of the efforts and the Ticketing level, which was on elevated slab, took about 50% of the focus.

Baggage area

“The unknown going into the project was how the existing pavers would come up and what substrate we would be left with for the new installation,” said Paul MacPhail, President of Standard Tile Co. Fortunately for the installers, there were plastic membranes installed in the original flooring that made the demolition easier. “What was determined from the grade-level portion (baggage area) was that the existing pavers where set with a 2-inch mud bed over a plastic, or cleavage, membrane,” explained MacPhail. “The plastic membrane was a bond breaker that allowed the total substrate to be removed.”

After removing the old flooring, the crew was ready to install tile. “The new installation involved installation of a new mud bed -- sand and Portland cement -- with wire lath over a new plastic membrane,” explained MacPhail. It took the bed five days to cure and then the porcelain tile was set with Mapei Ultraflex 3. When it was time to grout, the installers used Mapei Ultra Plus grout.

Installation Details

Installer:  Standard Tile Co., Sarasota, FL


Tile Products:  “Quartzite” in Iron and Moon from StonePeak of Chicago, IL

Installation Products: Mapecem 202, Mapeguard 2, Ultraflex 3 mortar, Ultra Plus grout -- all from Mapei of Deerfield Beach, FL; Dilex-KSN/-EKSB Schluter® strips from Schluter Systems, Plattsburgh, NY

Number of Installers:  5 to 30, depending on area and schedule

Installation Time:  5 months

All perimeters and 20-foot squares were caulked. Dilex-KSN/-EKSB Schluter® strips were used at all column lines. “The Schluter strips were used in lieu of caulk to allow for movement at all structural columns as well as transitions between tile color changes,” explained MacPhail. “This allowed for a wider joint to allow for any movement. The Schluter strips also have a more detailed finish than caulk.”

Ticketing area

The above grade portion of the project presented somewhat of a challenge during the demolition/installation. “The Ticketing level had an existing membrane that was to remain,” MacPhail said. “Care needed to be taken to not damage the existing membrane. The only unknown was the substrate mud bed under the existing pavers. Pieces of the existing bed that were still intact were to remain, while other portions were totally removed due to substrate failure.

“In order to allow the existing membrane to remain, we only removed the substrate portion that had failed during demolition,” MacPhail went on to say. “These areas where replaced with full sand/Portland refills. Where existing substrate remained, the top filler used was Mapecem 202 by Mapei.”

The installation team continued using the same methods as in the Baggage area. They used the same wire, sand and Portland cement mixture to create a new substrate. “Where the partial substrate maintained its bond, we used Mapei Mapecem 202 to bond to existing substrate to complete the substrate,” explained MacPhail. “This product has a quick cure time to allow work to commence the following day.”

By the next day, the crew was ready to move onto the next steps in their installation. “We applied a crack isolation membrane, Mapeguard 2, from Mapei to allow movement for an elevated slab,” said MacPhail. As in the Baggage area, the “Quartzite” tile was installed using Mapei Ultraflex 3 mortar and Mapei Ultra Plus grout. Similar caulking and Schluter strips where used.

After five months, the installation was completed -- and, most importantly, for an installation in such a well-used and necessary facility -- on schedule. Working within a careful, methodical and well-planned out process, the installation team proved a successful technique for the completion of this project. MacPhail summed up the experience by adding, “The airport remained open during the entire process and the owner was very satisfied with the final project. Five months later, we are still working on the same project doing additional work at the Tampa International Airport using similar systems.”