When it comes to a tile installation, jobsite tools contribute to a successful application as well as a safe work place. And with the environment becoming such a concern, installers now have factors to consider such as waste water disposal and dust containment.
According to Dave Syverson, vice president and owner of Syverson Tile & Stone in Sioux Falls, SD, a good saw is an essential tool on the jobsite. “For the demand of large-format materials, the saw is your life blood,” he said. “There are other ancillary tools, including floats and hand cutters, which are pretty critical items as well.”
To learn about new tools that are on the market, Syverson said his company reaches out to tool manufacturers. “They send us their new products,” he said. “And when we get things in from them, we send it out for other people to try out. If it’s a good product, we talk to the vendor and arrange to get more of the product to send out.”
Syverson explained that most of his workers are responsible for their own tools, but the company does have a separate location — its installation division — where all of the large tools are stored. “They go there for their time cards and job cards, etc.,” said Syverson. “It’s a central location for that type of stuff.”
As it should be, safety is a priority at Syverson Tile & Stone. “We conduct safety meetings once a week,” said Syverson. “Our operations leader leads those. Everyone in the company gets incentive points for attending. Beyond that, we just open communications with those guys. We have foremen who go out and do inspections on jobsites. For example, if we see some people who have bad extension cords, we talk to them and say ‘move that’ or ‘replace that.’ We’re making sure people are on top of things like that. We’re not only having meetings, but doing pop-ins on the jobsite from time to time as well to make sure what we’re talking about in meetings is being carried out in the job field.”
And as for equipment, protective gear is a must. “Hard hats for when you’re working on commercial jobs and safety glasses when you’re cutting, in case a shard of glass flies off,” he said.
Jon Namba of Namba Services, Inc. in Salt Lake City, UT, also takes safety on the jobsite seriously. “We wear safety glasses and latex gloves because of the fact the lime and cementitious products can burn your hands,” he said. “We also wear dust masks when mixing. [Also] on the tile side, you should be wearing some type of hearing protection. If you put someone young on a tile saw, you don’t want them to have problems hearing by the time they turn 40.”
Namba explained that his company primarily works on residential projects. When doing a renovation, it is important to consider protecting the surrounding areas — especially during demolition. “When using demo tools, such as rotary hammers, hammer and chisel, you have to be aware of not damaging the kitchen cabinets and walls,” he said. “Once you start chipping, pieces fly all over. We cover everything with cardboard, or what we call hardboard — that way if something gets hit, it is protected.”
Additionally, it is important to protect the flooring in adjacent rooms. “If I am doing a job in the kitchen and the only area to cut is outside in the yard, I have to have protection for the other floor coverings I’m walking over,” said Namba.
Considering how to handle dust containment is also important on the jobsite. “In living areas, we put up plastic in the doorways,” said Namba. “There now is an air filtration system that can be placed inside a room. That is big for demolition.”
When it comes to tools, having the proper notch trowel is key to a successful installation, according to Namba. “First, you have to determine the underlayment options, and then you can decide what to do from there,” he said. “You also need the proper setting materials for the material being installed. There are so many out there.”
After an installation, cleaning up also has to be taken into account. Namba explained that especially in commercial projects, it is becoming more common to have a designated “cleanout” area. “Back in the day, it wasn’t so bad for guys to pour waste water in a gutter or in gardens because it was basically sand and cement,” he said. “Now there are polymer products so there has to be somewhere for waste water.”
If there is no containment area on the jobsite, Namba and his team uses 20-gallon buckets with a lid and metal clasp. “We dump the waste water into the barrel and let it sit overnight,” he said. “We recycle the clean water. If any waste water is left, we put a plastic lid on it and haul it to the shop. At the shop, we let it settle, remove the clean water and then clean out the barrel while it is still soft. We probably have 10 barrels that we are always recycling and moving job to job.”