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The American Model

The body of standards and documentation available on ceramic tiles and adhered tile installation is very extensive and detailed in the United States, in addition to having a long track record [the 45rd edition of the Handbook for Ceramic Tile Installation was published in 2008].

Pioneering work has also been done in putting forward selection guides for materials [tiles, adhesive, grouts, etc.] and in publishing installation handbooks, including the installation of natural stone tile and glassy mosaic.

The Tile Council of North America [TCNA, Inc.], with a track record of over 60 years, also authored the first construction solutions adapted to the environmental conditions and service conditions of tilings. These guides for tile installation on walls and floors were taken as a reference in drawing up Australian standard AS 3958.

Together with the United Kingdom and Germany, they were the first to put forward construction solutions for the most problematic modular rigid coverings, owing to the nature of the substrates or to the functional requirements.

The English version of the TCA handbook (2003–2004)The Spanish version of the TCA tile installation handbook (2006)The American standard on tile installation techniques and materialsThe Canadian tile installation specification guide TTMAC (2002)

The documentation issued in the United States is grounded on a set of standards that encompass materials specifications and installation specifications, as well as test methods for the evaluation of characteristics [see SPECIFICATIONS].

The Handbook for Ceramic Tile Installation [43rd edition, 2006] classifies tile installation methods, understood as construction solutions, as follows:

  • Cladding and flooring
  • As a function of the type of substrate [brick masonry or concrete, wood, and steel], type of building construction [commercial or residential] and exposure to water [dry environments or environments with little exposure to water, wet environments], in the case of cladding
  • As a function of the type of traffic [residential, light, heavy, or very heavy] and the type of substrate [concrete or wood], in flooring

It also provides a selection guide for grouts [cementitious, epoxy, furan, silicone, and mastics] as a function of the type of tile [extruded ceramics, earthenware tiles, porcelain tile, mosaic, stone], the location [flooring, cladding, internal, external], and exposure to water [dry or wet], while also furnishing a recommendation regarding tile-to-tile joint width and an evaluation of stain and cracking resistance.

The technical specifications of each construction solution are structured in sections, while it also provides a scheme of the multilayer system: Recommended uses, requirements, materials, preparation by other trades, preparation for the tile industry, movement joints, and tile installation specifications.

The constant cross references to standards in each section make the Handbook a useful document for the North American specifications writer when it comes to drafting the technical documents in tiling projects.

The construction solutions envisaged in the Handbook include:

  • External floorings without waterproofing, with drainage
  • External floorings with waterproofing
  • Internal floorings on concrete floor, thick-bed or thin-bed fixing, with or without a separation or waterproofing layer
  • Internal floorings with chemical resistance on concrete substrates
  • Internal floorings on wood substrate, in the floating mode or installation with an organic adhesive
  • External claddings on brick masonry or concrete envelopes, installation with adhesive mortar
  • Internal claddings on brick masonry or concrete substrates, on regularising layers, reinforced or not, and thick-bed fixing with mortar or thin-bed fixing with adhesive
  • Internal claddings on drywalls [wood, gypsum wallboard, panels, etc.], with or without reinforcing lath or waterproofing membrane. Thin-bed fixing with adhesive.
  • Roof cladding
  • Cladding of walls surrounding bathtubs
  • Claddings for showers, including trays
  • Cladding of swimming pool surrounds, edges, and basins
  • Cladding of benchtops, counters, and ledges
  • Cladding of stairs, on concrete, wood, and metal substrates
  • Cladding of cold stores
  • Cladding of saunas
  • Cladding on pre-existing wall tiling
  • Cladding of door lintels, and window sills
  • Soundproof and fire-resistant claddings
  • Soundproof floorings
  • Design and installation of movement joints

The Handbook for Ceramic Tile Installation is complemented by standards A108 (parts 1-17) [devoted to installation specifications], A118 (parts 1‑12) [devoted to bonding and grouting materials, as well as to waterproofing membranes], and A137.1 [devoted to ceramic tiles]

The details and Internet sites of the Organisations that publish the above documentation are given below:

100 Clemson Research Blvd.
Anderson, SC 29625
Phone: 864-646-8453
Fax: 864-646-2821

11 W. 42nd Street
New York, NY, 10036
Phone: 1.212.642.4900
Fax: 1.212.398.0023

100 Barr Harbor Drive,
West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, USA
Phone: (610) 832-9500
Fax: (610) 832-9555

810 First St. NE, #510
Washington DC, 20002
Phone: 202-289-5440;
Fax: 202-289-3707

Batterymarch Park
Quincy, Massachusetts
USA  02169-7471
Phone: 1 617 770-3000
Fax: 1 617 770-0700
  • Canada also has a Tile Installation Manual [Specification Guide 09300], published by the Terrazzo, Tile and MarbleAssociation of Canada [TTMAC], with very similar contents and structure to those of the TCNA Handbook, based on United States and some Canadian standards. The Manual is published in English and French.

   30 Capstan Gate, Unit 5, Concord, ONTARIO L4K 3E8 Canada
   Phone: (905) 660-9640
   Fax: (905) 660-5706

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