An evolving tile industry
Five years ago when I began working at TILE Magazine, I remember one of the first articles I edited, which focused on “thin porcelain tile” (TPT) and “thin porcelain tile panels” (TPTP). A new category of material at that time in 2014, TPT was defined as porcelain tiles that spanned 1 square meter in outer dimension, while TPTP were defined as pieces that exceeded 1 square meter. In all cases, tile that was at least 6-mm-thick or less was designated as “thin.”
In the article, “Considerations still being taken for thin porcelain tile,” Noah Chitty and Tim Bolby from Crossville discussed how pertinent it was to develop the proper product standards so TPT and TPTP would be specified and installed correctly, which was the biggest hurdle during their introduction. There was no guide for designers, installers and even consumers as to how to transport, handle or install the large-format material, leaving contractors to just “figure it out” and thus, upcharge between 50-300% for certain jobs. Since the material was rapidly growing and being specified all over the country, Chitty and Bolby strived to clarify the confusion behind the material with their detailed “how-to” guide, which described the proper receiving and handling, cutting and installation methods.
In 2017, after more than four years of cross-disciplinary industry collaboration and 4,000 hours of research, the Tile Council of North America (TCNA), which is responsible for devising material and installation standards for the tile industry, unveiled two new standards for the materials, which are now referred to as “gauged porcelain tiles” (GPT) and “gauged porcelain tile panels” (GPTP) — ANSI A137.3, the American National Standard Specifications for Gauged Porcelain Tiles and Gauged Porcelain Tile Panels/Slabs, and its companion, ANSI A108.19, Interior Installation of Gauged Porcelain Tile and Gauged Porcelain Tile Panels/Slabs by the Thin-Bed Method bonded with Modified Dry-Cement Mortar or Improved Modified Dry-Set Cement Mortar.
ANSI A137.3 standardized the minimum required properties for the products themselves, while ANSI A108.19 standardized the methodologies for installing the products in interior installations by the thin-bed method with specific mortars.
Now, only two years after the standards have been introduced, the segment has seemingly exploded. GPT and GPTP were originally specified for walls and mid-traffic floors in hospitality projects, when it was known as TPT, but now it’s being used for everything in both residential and commercial spaces — from cooktops to tables and even bookshelves and chairs. The possibilities are seemingly endless and the category just keeps growing, which is why we thought it fitting to put together an industry forum on installation issues and solutions for GPT and GPTP, featuring Chitty, Crossville’s director of technical services, along with a couple other professionals. Flip over to page 40 to read what they had to say about the evolving category.
We also touch on installation issues and solutions when it comes to cement backer boards in this issue, which Colin Litow from James Hardie explains more about on page 47. And don’t forget to browse through the newest sealers and maintenance products on the market, which can be viewed on page 12.
Until next time, my friends.
Heather Fiore, Editor