The Robert D. Love Downtown YMCA in Wichita, KS, officially opened in November 2012. After almost two years of planning and designing, the architect, general contractor and tile installer all worked together to help bring the project to life, which features various types of porcelain and ceramic tile from American Olean, Daltile and Atlas Concorde.

“This was a fast-paced project,” said Kevin Fox of Fox Ceramic Tile in St. Marys, KS, who utilized a range of Tec products to complete the tile installation. “Not only did this project have an aggressive schedule, it also required mechanics with a high skillset for each area of work.”

More than 50,000 square feet of mosaic and larger-format tile was used throughout the 110,000-square-foot LEED-certified facility on the walls and floors, as well as in the pool areas. The locker rooms and pool deck floors consist of 8,300 square feet of running bond mosaics, 12,600 square feet of larger-format wall tile, 14,000 square feet of larger-format floor tile and another 15,000 square feet of floor and wall mosaics installed with conventional trim pieces (coved corners), of which 80 non-standard pieces were ordered.

On the walls and floors throughout the lobby, main areas, hallways and bathrooms, Fox utilized 18- x 18- and 18- x 36-inch tiles from American Olean’s Alloria collection in the color “Sable,” in both polished and unpolished finishes, as well as 10- x 22-inch tiles from Atlas Concorde’s View collection in “Brown” and “Red.” For the floors and walls of the pool areas, including the whirlpool and steam room, 1- x 1-, 1- x 2- and 2- x 2-inch tiles were used from American w Olean's Unglazed ColorBody Porcleain Mosaics series in the colors “Glacier,” “Peacock Blue,” “Willow” and “Willow Speckled.” On some walls of the complex, 6- x 6-inch ceramic tiles from Daltile’s Semi Gloss and Matte collection were also used in the neutral color, “Urban Putty.”

“One of our signature touches we provide to our clients is full-size porcelain wall bullnose,” Fox added. “We feel this gives the space an uninterruptible wall design. In lieu of utilizing the factory-available 4- x 18-inch bullnose, we fabricated in-house 750 pieces of full-size 18- x 18-inch single-sided bullnose.”

Fox explained how the lobby floor was designed to incorporate a modified herringbone pattern with the larger 18- x 18- and 18- x 36-inch tiles, which presented some challenges. “With this pattern, many locations placed the corner edge at the center of the 36-inch length of the 18- x 36-inch tile,” he said. “Since the manufacturer calibrated these two sizes to be installed only with a 1/8-inch grout line, we could not install this pattern without having excessive lippage at this location. Therefore, after meeting with the architect, physically showing and explaining the engineered warpage of the tile, reviewing ANSI and, and eventually performing a mock-up of a few grout widths, a 3/16-inch grout line was agreed upon. We then worked with the supplier and manufacturer to custom produce these two sizes [18 x 18 and 18 x 36 inches]. It was a challenge to coordinate this specific requirement with the manufacturer.

“Our next challenge was to find an acceptable expansion joint location and spacing that was acceptable to the architect’s floor pattern,” Fox went on to explain. “The final design was a 64-tile, 15- x 15-inch repeatable pattern. Pre-manufactured Schluter expansion joints were used to provide the owner a maintenance-free joint.”

Fox was also tasked with procuring a highly stain-resistant, durable grout and providing full-coverage crack isolation for the floors, while still maintaining the budget and aggressive schedule, which was aided by products from Tec in Aurora, IL, and NAC Products in Akron, OH. “After consultation with H.B. Fuller and partnering with NAC Products, it was determined to use Tec’s AccuColor® EFX Epoxy in the showers and steam rooms due to the harsh environment, and Tec Power Grout in all other areas,” said Fox. “Full-coverage crack isolation was provided by NAC for all of the floor tile. Together, a system warranty of 15 years was offered to the client.”

NAC Products’ ECB® 75 anti-fracture membrane was specified for the floors, which is a self-bonding, sheet-applied elastomeric membrane designed for use under floor surfaces that require protection from structural movement. In addition to Tec’s AccuColor EFX Epoxy and Power Grout, HydraFlex™, Ultimate Premixed Mortar, Ultimate Large Tile Mortar, Full Flex® and AccuColor 100® were also utilized. All installation products were supplied by ISC Surfaces in Kansas City, KS.

Given the project’s tight deadline and project schedule, Fox and his team were only given 15 weeks to complete the installation. “To help us during a critical stage in the project and to assure we were able to secure outstanding mechanics, we teamed up with another Five Star Contractor employing Certified Tile Installers [from the CTI program by the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation] that provided 360 man hours of labor,” said Fox.

The YMCA came together successfully and has been locally and nationally recognized ever since. Fox has received various accolades for the project, including the grand prize of Tec’s 2013 “Imagine Achieve” contractor contest for the YMCA, where projects are judged based on their imagination, craftsmanship and superior use of Tec products during installation; and “Honorable Mention” for the National Tile Contractors Association’s “Five Star Contractor Project of the Year” at the 2013 edition of Coverings in Atlanta, GA.

“This project’s success was greatly enhanced by our working relationship and trust with the general contractor and architect,” said Fox. “We were able to be involved from early preliminary design to final installation. The result is not only a beautiful installation, but one that is installed with products specifically selected for each space to meet the demands of the schedule, budget and end use.”

Robert D. Love Downtown YMCA

Wichita, KS

TILE INSTALLER: Fox Ceramic Tile, St. Marys, KS

TILE SUPPLIERS: Daltile, Kansas City, KS; ISC Surfaces, Kansas City, KS; RBC Tile and Stone, Overland Park, KS (American Olean’s Alloria collection in “Sable,” Unglazed ColorBody™ Porcelain Mosaics in “Glacier,” “Peacock Blue,” “Willow” and “Willow Speckled;” Atlas Concorde’s View collection in “Brown” and “Red;” Daltile’s Semi Gloss and Matte collection in “Urban Putty”)

INSTALLATION PRODUCTS: NAC Products, Akron, OH (ECB 75); Schluter-Systems, Plattsburgh, NY (Schluter®-Dilex-BWS, Schluter®-Trep-FL); Tec, Aurora, IL (AccuColor EFX Epoxy, HydraFlex, Ultimate Premixed Mortar, Ultimate Large Tile Mortar, Full Flex, Power Grout, AccuColor 100) — all supplied by ISC Surfaces in Kansas City, KS