Throughout the pages of TILE each issue, we continually share information about the importance of proper tile installations. Using the appropriate products and correct methods are crucial to a successful installation that will stand the test of time. And while I have known this — mostly from attending seminars during trade shows and talking with manufacturers of various tile and installation products — I recently had the opportunity to experience firsthand what it takes to install tile correctly and the consequences if corners are cut.

I have to give a “thank you” to Schluter-Systems for extending an invitation to myself and our managing editor, Heather Fiore, to attend one of its workshops. It just so happened one of the summer sessions was held in our neighborhood. For two full days, Heather and I sat in on educational presentations, which covered flooring and shower applications. While the seminar did specifically address working with Schluter products, the education went far beyond that. It was continually stressed why it is important to install tile correctly and illustrations were given to what can happen when you don’t.

In addition to the classroom portion of the workshop, time was also spent doing an actual installation. I’m proud to say Heather and I built a shower bench and installed a Ditra membrane and a Kerdi drain. When physically performing the applications, I realize it takes time and concentration to lay tile the right way. I see how someone may want to take a short cut, but that will only lead to a failed installation.

After this experience, I can only emphasize even more the importance of following proper guidelines and standards when working on your tile installations. While Schluter-Systems offers workshop such as the one Heather and I attended to its customers, other installation product manufacturers willingly provide technical guidance as well. Tile manufacturers are also a good source for an installer to check in with before starting an installation with a particular tile product. Who better than the manufacturer to know how the tile product will perform and what products work best for its installation?

The National Tile Contractor’s Association (NTCA) and the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) are also two reliable sources of information. The NTCA is a non-profit trade association dedicated to the professional installation of ceramic tile and natural stone. The association offers weekly workshops throughout the country. Heather recently attended one hosted by The Tile Shop in Rochelle, NJ. These workshops are an excellent way for those new to the business, or an installer who wants to learn more about a particular topic, to educate themselves. You can learn more about the recent New Jersey NTCA workshop beginning on page 34.

The CTEF offers tile certification classes, which is a way for a tile contractor to set themselves apart from the rest. Having a certification provides security to homeowners, as well as architects and designers, that the installation will be done right the first time and last for years to come.

I think I will put my trowel back on the shelf for now and leave the tile installations for the professionals. Kudos to all of you who take the time to become educated on the latest tile products and standards needed for a successful installation. It might not be easy to find the time, but in the end it pays off.