In the nearly three decades that I have been in this industry, there have been tremendous advancements in technology, techniques and craftsmanship. Yet with all the progress that has been made, many problems still exist, including issues and failures directly related to the lack of knowledge and understanding of how critical a role proper care and maintenance play in both insuring a successful installation and maintaining a products function and beauty for the long term.
To this point, ASTM C1528 –02 does a great job of framing this issue as it relates to natural stone. However, many of the same challenges and issues also apply to tile. As the standard states: “In a high proportion of the cases, failure of a natural stone in service is a result of improper application, rather than the inherent properties of the stone. Placing stones in unsuitable environments, faulty fabrication, installation or construction practices and incompatible associated materials are frequent causes of stone system failures…”
This means it is not typically the stone’s (or tile’s) fault but rather our lack of understanding and knowledge about the material; what it will do; how to install or fabricate it; etc., that is leading to failures and problems. Therefore, if we take the time to educate ourselves, employees, customers, etc., then we stand a much greater chance of success.
While there are ANSI and TCNA standards, guidelines and best practices for virtually all aspects of installation from surface prep to grouting techniques, none exist for sealers, maintenance, problem solving and prevention. That being said, it is critical to attend educational sessions—such as those available at TISE—to become aware of the potential pitfalls and challenges and how to avoid them. Topics that will be discussed at TISE include: when to pre-seal tile or stone vs. using a grout release; how hot/cold and or wet surfaces affect the use and performance of sealers; what the function of a sealer is; how using, selling or specifying proper maintenance products and programs can prolong the sealer, the function and performance of the installation itself; and knowing which tile, stone and grout should be sealed.
While this is very understandable up front, most find problems on the back end of the removing grout haze and staining, sealer residue, stains from other trades, hiring restoration contractors to refinish the stone and in some cases ripping out the installation only to have it reinstalled properly the second time. What is seldom planned are the direct and indirect costs (both time and money) associated with not discussing or implementing a good care and maintenance program. Countless meetings, finger pointing and potential lawsuits are all real consequences. The damage to yourself and or your company’s reputation and referral business is never monetized and factored in.
The International Surface Event offers a multitude of classes and opportunities to improve your knowledge, understanding and bottom line. This class is a must for those who are looking to give themselves and or their company an edge over their competition and increase customer satisfaction. We look forward seeing you Jan. 29, at 9 a.m. – 10:30 a.m., session code MN02.
Register today at intlsurfaceevent.com to review a complete list of programs and activities.
Rod Sigman is business development manager at Custom Building Products, based in Huntington Beach, Calif. The company specializes in floor preparation products and tile and stone installation systems for residential and commercial projects.