“Most of the floor had been covered with French tile,” explained Dan Spader, the airport’s architect. “We were looking to change the look of everything. We wanted a tile that was thin, so it wouldn’t have problems tying into elevators, expansion joints, etc.”
Slimtech was introduced to the airport team by Jodi Geroux, AIA, LEED AP of AJC Architects in Salt Lake City, UT, the project architect who wrote the specification. In the end, the design team selected the colors “Stuccata” and “Sabbia” in three different sizes: 40 x 40, 20 x 40 and 20 x 20 inches.
“We thought it was a pretty good idea,” said Spader. “It had a good look. Some of us were a little skeptical using a tile that was that thin and that large. To our knowledge, TSA didn’t have a whole lot of information on it. I was a little leery about being the Beta test.”
Installing the material
When it came time to lay the large thin tiles, some issues surfaced for the crew. “Lea flew people in from Italy to see if we were installing it right,” Spader said.
Elisa Bellucci of Lea North America, LLC, who was very involved with the project, explained that there were several reasons why the tile installer encountered difficulties. “I believe that the product was new to them, and they weren’t fully aware of the steps needed to be taken during the installation process,” she said. “Unfortunately, they did not ask for a mock-up. This material is great, but it needs a flat surface. It also needs complete coverage of each tile, and it needs some time to rest before opening up to traffic.”
Tile Product: Slimtech from Lea Ceramiche in the colors “Stuccata” and “Sabbia” in three different sizes: 40 x 40, 20 x 40 and 20 x 20 inches
Installation Products: Laticrete International, Bethany, CT
Installation Time: 9 months
Regardless of what caused the problem, Lea’s main objective was to assist in correcting it. “We did not want to blame anyone,” she explained. “We didn’t want to get into the details. We wanted to find the solution to get the airport up and moving.”
Working as a team
To rectify the situation, Lea flew in its expert installer from Italy who has been installing this product for six years, according to Bellucci. “He spent a week with the company, installer and contractor to show them what the problem was so that they could finish the job,” she explained. “When we were there, a representative from Laticrete, [the brand of installation products specified for the job], who lived in the area, was on site for three days. He went down to the airport quite a few times. It was a team effort. Everyone wanted to help in the situation. We were very confident that the product would perform well.
“It finished so nicely,” Bellucci continued. “It’s very clean — very edge and contemporary. We hit some bumps in the road, but in the end, it turned out well. The key is a good installation, which comes with training. There’s a learning curve. You have to try — maybe get something wrong — and learn while doing it. And then, next time you will get it smooth.”
The entire installation of Slimtech floor tiles took approximately nine months to complete. “One thing I’d say about Lea is that they stepped up to the bar,” said Spader. “They provided the replacement tile. As a company, I can’t say enough good things about them.
“The floor looks nice,” Spader went on to say. “It’s a nice product.”