In this issue of TILE, our staff spoke with several leading industry professionals about tile installations. We wanted to know their thoughts on the quality of installations these days — and unfortunately, many of them confessed they have seen less than desirable completed work.  And according to our panel, the bottom line boils down to a lack of available quality tile installers.

When I attend Total Solutions and trade shows such as The International Surface Event and Coverings, I sit in on various seminars, and it seems this common thread often surfaces. Industry associations have been working so diligently and feverishly to develop programs promoting installation excellence, but there are still many tile installers out there that sometimes don’t even seem to know the basics.

Scott Carothers, Director of Training and Certification for the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) in Pendleton, SC, as well as TILE’s technical editor, believes many improper tile installations he sees comes from a succession of poorly trained employees.

“Doing something the wrong way over a long period of time does not make it right,” he said. “There is an old industry saying, ‘I’ve done it this way for 30 years and never had a problem.’ [I think to myself], ‘Really?’ This cancer continues when the unqualified worker ‘trains’ the next generation to do it the same wrong way.”

Dale Kempster, Technical Director at Schluter-Systems (Canada) Inc., as well as Vice President of the Materials, Methods and Standards Association (MMSA), added, “There has been a big increase in failures using the ‘spot bonding’ technique which is not recognized by any of the trade associations in the U.S. or Canada. These installers are not competent and are using this technique as a shortcut from avoiding the proper prep.”

The panel featured in the Installer Forum, which begins on page 36 of this issue, also points out methods and tools that aid in a proper tile installation. Whether it is at a seminar, in a magazine or at a brief meeting between colleagues or peers, talking about issues facing the entire industry with each other can only lead to ideas and ways to make things better.

In the coming issues of TILE, we plan to bring you other topics that are food for thought. If you have an idea or something directly affecting you, please don’t hesitate to contact myself or Heather Fiore, our managing editor. We are always happy to hear from our readers and look for suggestions on ways to improve what we do too.