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Tile Specification Tips for Interior Design

A good tile specification lays the foundation and ground work for a successful installation, providing detailed step-by-step instructions along the way.  A comprehensive specification guides and protects all parties from job site failures, construction delays, time consuming RFIs, and costly change orders.  Here are my top 5 tips to specifying the smart way.

1. Be specific

Using a broad and generic ANSI standard is not enough. List specific TCNA methods for each area that receives tile.  With so many different categories of tile and installation products on the market, providing specific TCNA installation methods per scope and area removes ambiguity and uncertainty.

2. Out with the old, in with the new

Updating an old recycled master specification with new and relevant methods is key. Delete all non-applicable terms and methods in both the Product and Execution portion of the tile specification.  With tile and installation products constantly changing and evolving, your tile specification needs to be current and relevant as well.

3. Extending the warranty

My rule of thumb is to obtain all the products from a single source manufacturer. Doing so not only allows for extended warranties from the manufacturer, but also ensures full compatibility and compliance of the products used.  Single sourcing of materials, in many cases, extend well beyond the standard one-year warranty – 5, 10, 15, even lifetime warranties are available. If you’d like more detailed information on this topic, Creative Materials offers a continuing education course which is registered with the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Continuing Education System (CES) for continuing professional education, and with the Interior Design Continuing Education Council (IDCEC) for continuing education credits. The course is called: Spec Smart: Understanding What Happens After You Specify Tile. Please contact us if you’d like to schedule a presentation.

4. Don’t skimp on the prep

There is not a one size fits all mentality when it comes to proper floor prep and substrate requirements. Tiles are becoming increasingly larger and thinner, which means that the appropriate measures need to be addressed and specified.  Floor flatness tolerances are stricter for larger tiles – any tile with one side greater than 15”.  Make sure to specify the appropriate self-levelers and patching compounds for proper substrate preparation.

5. Keep it moving

One of the most commonly overlooked components of a tile assembly is the absence or improper placement of expansion joints and movement joints. With any “hard finish” product, the entire system needs to be able to move and flex with the contraction and expansion of the substrate it is bonded to.  Follow the guidelines of the TCNA and reference specific methods for expansion and movement.

Well, there you have it!  Remember, if you’d like to know more about writing specifications for tile installation or need technical assistance on your next project, reach out to me or anyone on the Quality Assurance & Technical Team.  We’d be glad to help or walk you through our 3-part specification guideline.

Until next time,