Communication and teamwork are two essential components for any team to be successful — and I am not just talking about sports. At one point or another throughout our lives we will find ourselves in a partnership — whether it be a marriage, business venture or other group situation — where it is necessary to collaborate and help one another to achieve a specific goal. As members of the tile industry, I am sure each of you have experienced this when working on an installation project or helping a client choose the right tile product for a design. Everyone involved in the endeavor needs to come together to obtain a positive result.

A perfect example of this can be found in the Installation Case Study about the Legends Honda dealership in Kansas City, KS, which begins on page 18 of this issue of TILE. Faced with the challenge of adhering to strict building code requirements, the architects turned to SlimLite™ Porcelain Panels to clad the facade of the building. This was reported to be only the second installation of this particular product in the U.S. 

While the installer has years of experience in the tile-setting business, this was the first time he and his crew would install large-format thin tile. As a result, the installation team relied on guidance from the tile manufacturer — as well as technical representatives from Mapei, whose products were used for the installation — to teach them the proper techniques.

Everyone, including representatives from the architecture firm and general contractor, were involved in the training session, which provided the opportunity for them to handle the tile and ask questions. This is an excellent example of teamwork, and it illustrates the importance of a harmonious relationship between the architect, installer and product manufacturers to reach a successful outcome.

Additionally, this project demonstrates how far technology has come. The large-format thin porcelain tiles used for the car dealership’s exterior shell measure 118 inches in length x 39 inches in width with a thickness of only 3.5 mm — something that hasn’t been seen until recently.

With products such as SlimLite™ hitting the market, it is obvious that innovation is at an all-time high among tile manufacturers. This is also evident in our Trend Report, beginning on page 22, which focuses on the latest textured tile surfaces. Long gone are the days of just a smooth shiny tile. Today, there are tiles with waves, three-dimensional effects and ones that have the texture and aesthetic of natural materials such as stone and wood.

While all these new decorative options are great, it only emphasizes more that manufacturers and installers, as well as architects and designers, need to work together. Education is key, and there are many industry experts eager to assist. The Tile Council of North America (TCNA) continually updates guidelines for specifying and installing ceramic, glass and stone tile in its TCNA Handbook, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary with its 2013 edition. You can read more about it in the TCNA Spotlight, which begins on page 40.