Five top tips for effective wetroom installation

Impey’s Technical Manager, Shaun Hunt, offers his top tips for successful, trouble-free,  wetroom installation.

1 Choose the right floor former
The best type of floor former for the job is determined by the location of the installation. For installation onto a concrete floor, a screed template, which offers a quick and easy way to create a drainage gradient for new-pour solid floors, is an ideal option.

Opt for an easy-to-use click-together matrix template, like Impey’s AquaGrade, which is supplied with a drain and can reduced installation time by up to 50%.

For use in upper floors or attic conversions, a prefabricated floor former is lightweight but also offers strength and rigidity. Using a floor former with a built-in drainage gradient and rotating drain plate, will mean it’s easy to avoid joists or existing pipework without the need for under-boarding; reducing installation time and costs.

2 Waterproofing
When installed well, a wetroom can offer many years of maintenance free showering. The key to achieving this is to create a highly effective watertight barrier on both the floor and walls, to guard against any leaks.

Choose a tanking membrane which is butyl rubber coated, self-adhesive and, ideally, provided on a roll to offer easy application and handling.  Don’t forget your tanking membrane should be highly elastic, resistant to ageing and have great load-bearing capabilities, to offer protection against heavy wall tiles.

3 Underfloor heating
To add a touch of luxury, and to ensure that the floor is being thoroughly dried between each usage, install underfloor heating. It allows the heat to rise, slowly distributing around the room and heating a larger surface area from the floor upwards at a lower temperature,  resulting in a consistent temperature and economical running costs.

Impey’s Aqua-Mat underfloor heating system comes in 100W and 150W versions. At only 3mm thick, with a self-adhesive mesh backing and 12-year guarantee, it’s ideal for wetrooms and fully compatible with Impey WaterGuard.

4 Drainage grates, tiling and glass screens
Now it’s time to create the aesthetic appeal of the room. As a tiling expert you may have already tiled many wetrooms.

Depending on the type of floor former you have opted for, the grate may be a standard square size or a contemporary linear version; there are lots to choose from. Some installations require a contemporary glass screen, to minimise splash to other parts of the bathroom. Opt for thick, toughened safety glass for added security and style.

5 Don’t forget to offer accessories
All too often overlooked in a wetroom, accessories can enhance the creation of a multi-functional space. In addition, the commercial prospect of add-ons like loo roll holders, towel rails and grab bars can be a welcome addition to your bottom line.

Recommend accessories that are stylish and functional, such as Coram’s Boston Comfort & Safety range of modern bathroom accessories. And don’t forget to tell your client about the benefits of a modern shower seat, which can create an effective and comfortable seating option and fold away when not in use.

Grout care: cleaning and maintenance

By Mark Atkins, Director, LTP

Most grout used in domestic situations, such as bathrooms and kitchens, is water-resistant and not water proof.  This means that while your tiles may repel moisture your grout can often absorb it.  When mopping dirt off the surface of tiles it is the moisture carrying dirt particles that absorbs into the grout causing it to discolour.

In wet areas, such as showers or wet rooms, it is possible to get a build up of soaps, moisture and sebum within grouting. If not cleaned properly this will stay within the grout and encourage mould spores and mildew to grow.

Approaches to cleaning grout
There are many ways to tackle issues of mould growth, mildew and dirty grout between wall, floor and surface tiles. Household chlorine-based bleach, baking soda and vinegar are three common approaches.

While these methods can prove effective for cleaning glazed ceramic tiles, there are a number of issues that can make them inappropriate for use with natural stone and tiles.
General-purpose chlorine bleach cleaners can damage the stone or the protective sealer applied to the surface.

Do not use products that contain lemon, vinegar or other acids on acid-sensitive stones such as limestone, marble and terrazzo, as these may etch the stone surface and damage the polish or sealer.
Do not use scouring powders or creams as these products contain abrasives that may scratch the surface.  This can also apply to glazed tiles.  Hydrogen peroxide cleaners can also be mildly corrosive.  They give short-term cleaning benefits with limited effectiveness on fungal spores, making them poor at preventing re-contamination.

Baking soda is a great option with fewer disadvantages.  However, it can often prove ineffective in tackling stubborn stains and often requires excessive scrubbing to deliver results.

In all cases the use of highly abrasive cleaning tools, such as wire wool, should be avoided, as these will scratch the surface.  Always use an appropriate abrasive cleaning pad designed for natural stone.

Tips for cleaning grout between tiles
LTP has been producing natural stone cleaning sealing and maintenance products for over 25 years.  The company’s goal is to produce highly effective solutions designed specifically for natural stone and ceramic tiles.

To clean dirty grouting on floors and walls LTP recommends the use of LTP Grimex.

LTP Grimex
LTP Grimex is an intensive grease and grime cleaner suitable for intensive cleaning of grout between glazed ceramic or porcelain tiles or unglazed natural stone. LTP Grimex is also excellent for renovating old quarry tiles, terracotta, slate, stone, marble and stone fireplaces.

LTP Grimex will not damage natural stone surfaces, if used correctly.  It does, however, breakdown protective layers of sealer and waxes on the surface.

It is, therefore, recommended that the product be tested on a small inconspicuous area before general application.  Natural stone tiles should also be resealed after use.  Glazed porcelain and ceramic tiles are not affected.

Grout cleaning tips for mould growth and mildew
Grout is porous and absorbs water, especially in humid places like the bathroom.  As a result, fungi such as mildew can often be found growing between tiles, in the grout.

Removing unsightly mould growth and mildew stains can prove a difficult challenge. The LTP Research & Development Team has developed solution to this problem called LTP Mouldex.

LTP Mouldex
LTP Mouldex is formulated to cling to grout and remove mould spores, fungus, algae and moss from grouting, silicone seals and other damp places.  LTP Mouldex has antibacterial properties that help to prevent re-growth.

LTP Mouldex, a 500ml trigger spray, is ideal for use on bathroom and kitchen wall tiles but can also be used to tackle small areas of floor grout.

When grout cleaning tips don’t work
If all your grout cleaning attempts fail, it is time to remove the grout.  This doesn’t automatically mean redoing the entire grouted area.  If the stain only affects a small area, try removing just the small section affected by the mould growth or stain.

For a shallow stain, use a hand-held rotary tool or mini sander to remove just the top layer of the grout.  Take care not to damage your tiles.  Re-seal the grout to give future protection.  A deeper stain means more of the material will need removing.  Removing such a stain may need a fresh coat of grout altogether.

Most important: protect your grout
Whether tackling mould growth, mildew, stubborn stains or ingrained grime, grout cleaning is not the most pleasant housekeeping job to perform.  Most people avoid it as long as possible, which exacerbates the problem.

So the very best tip LTP provides to its customers is to make sure that grout and stone surfaces are protected when they are installed and after intensive cleaning.
LTP advises customers to maintain tile and stone surfaces regularly, and to always top up grout protection after cleaning.

LTP grout protection options
LTP offers two grout protection options.  LTP Grout Protector, which comes in 1ltr bottles, is recommend for sealing newly laid grout.  LTP Grout Protector is a colourless barrier suitable for use in kitchens and bathrooms.  It helps protect absorbent, porous grout joints from water, dirt, oil, grease, sebum and limescale.

LTP Grout Protector is ideal for use on newly laid glazed ceramic wall and floor tiles where in normal conditions unprotected grout joints quickly become dirty. This product is also ideal for sealing grout between natural stone tiles that have been sealed prior to being laid.

LTP Grout & Tile Protector, which comes as a 600ml aerosol spray, is easy to use as a top-up coat.  It helps protect natural stone and all other types of masonry surface.  It provides a colourless barrier that helps to protect porous wall and floor grout joints from penetration by water, dirt, oil, grease and limescale.  Surfaces treated with LTP Grout & Tile Protector are easier to keep clean and repel dirt and grime.  It is ideal for use in wet rooms and shower enclosures as a top up protection for grout after intensive cleaning.

The no obligation LTP Technical Helpline is available on 01823 666213.  Visit www.ltp-online.co.uk to buy from the LTP Range of products or find out more about the company.

Meeting the critical adhesive demands of adhered stone cladding installations

Michelle Costigan, Technical Product Manager, Laticrete UK, explains how the company has developed an installation system for adhered stone cladding that provides a permanent, high strength solution that is freeze/thaw stable and protected from water intrusion, while at the same time allowing for increased productivity utilising either traditional masonry veneer fixing or the ‘tile fitters’ method.

The explosive increase in popularity of adhered stone cladding has created a need for higher performance, factory-produced, materials to assure a consistently high quality installation.
Up to now, the adhered stone cladding has required the use of a site-mixed Type S or Type N mortar: materials that are subject to large variations in consistency, quality and performance and which also limit how the stone cladding is fixed, to that of traditional masonry.

Projects that have been plagued by delaminating stone, water intrusion and other performance issues have left specifiers in need of a co-ordinated solution.  This traditional method is not engineered as part of a complete wall system and therefore does not offer warranties from a reliable source willing to stand behind the installation.

The Solution
Realising these needs, and based on our globally proven technology, Laticrete has developed an installation system that provides a permanent, high strength solution that is freeze/thaw stable and protected from water intrusion.  Backed by the Laticrete 25 Year System Warranty, the Laticrete system allows for increased productivity utilising either traditional masonry veneer fixing methods or the ‘tile fitters’ method.  Help and support is offered to designers, contractors and installers to help understand the range of possible applications and appropriate products and methods which will assure long-term performance on projects of all types.

For over 60 years, Laticrete has led the industry with pioneering advancements, developing high-performance building materials for architects and construction professionals worldwide.  From time-tested to ground-breaking, our broad product portfolio provides superior quality and value.  We are fully committed to innovation, growth and a complete system component approach.  The Laticrete system keeps up with the increasing popularity of adhered stone cladding.  Trust your installations to a complete productivity-boosting system designed to deliver superior, long-term performance on masonry projects of all types including residential, commercial, and industrial applications.  Unlike traditional methods and materials, the Laticrete system is engineered to provide a permanent, high-strength installation that uses a revolutionary waterproofing membrane to protect against weather and water intrusion, and provide freeze/ thaw stability.  The system is designed for thin-brick, manufactured stone and natural stone cladding for interior and exterior applications.  Laticrete industry-leading products provide complete system solutions from the substrate up through the grout for virtually any type of tile or stone installation in commercial, industrial and residential applications. Product categories include surface preparation, waterproofing, adhesives & grouts, all designed to work together, providing a comprehensive installation.

Masonry Veneer Installation System (MVIS)
For external stone cladding installations, the Laticrete system begins with a two-coat application of MVIS Air & Water Barrier;
Laticrete MVIS Air & Water Barrier is a single component, load-bearing, vapour-permeable, liquid waterproofing and crack-isolation membrane.  It produces a seamless, monolithic elastomeric coating and bonds directly to a wide variety of substrates.  Note that if a levelling render is required prior to the application of MVIS Air & Water Barrier, Laticrete 3701 Fortified Mortar is applied first and allowed to dry.

The background substrate is now suitably prepared to receive the adhered stone cladding, for this the appropriate Laticrete MVIS adhesive is chosen.
Laticrete MVIS adhesives are the ultimate, polymer-fortified, adhesives for interior and exterior installation of adhered masonry veneer, stone, ceramic tile, pavers or thin brick.  The MVIS adhesives mix easily with water and are formulated to achieve unsurpassed workability and adhesion. Laticrete MVIS adhesives are available in rapid or standard set, to suit site conditions and the needs of the installer.

If a pointing mortar or ‘grout’ is required for the installation, Laticrete Permacolour can be used. Formulated from a blend of high strength Portland cement, graded aggregates, and colour-fast pigments, it is designed to be mixed with water only and produces a joint that is dense, hard and durable

Working in partnership with industry experts
For internal stone cladding installations Laticrete adhesive have been tested and approved for use with all the major building board companies including James Hardie Building Products.

Steve Twin, European Technical Director, James Hardie Building Products Ltd
“Regarding Laticrete: I have tested their adhesive product in conjunction with our fibre cement tile backing products and found its bond to be considerably stronger than that of regular high quality tile adhesives.  It is the only adhesive that we are comfortable with, at this time, for bonding Norstone to our boards.”

Laticrete in the UK offer technical and site support to architects, designers and contractors on all aspects of stone cladding installations and has been working closely with a number of stone cladding suppliers, one of them being Norstone UK whose cladding systems are used world-wide.

Jack Jago, Director, Norstone UK
“Laticrete has proved to be an invaluable partner to Norstone UK by providing unique warranties for our premium natural stone products.  As we deal mainly with architects, often on very substantial and prestigious projects, it is essential for all parties to have complete peace of mind and we have every confidence in Laticrete’s superb adhesives and unrivalled technical expertise.  We strongly recommend Laticrete to all our clients.”

“Our partnership with Laticrete has allowed us to not only produce bespoke systems for numerous challenging installations but also to provide dual warranties.”
“We now provide a 25 year system warranty for Norstone on brick, block or concrete using MVIS Air & Water Barrier in conjunction with the appropriate MVIS adhesive or a standard 10 year warranty when only the MVIS adhesive is used.”

“We also provide a 10 year dual warranty with James Hardie and Laticrete on internal installations for Norstone affixed with Laticrete on Hardie Backerboard.  Norstone is unique in this respect and we continue to work closely together to develop new solutions and systems.”

“As Norstone is a 100% natural stone product weighing approximately 65kg per sq. metre we were delighted when rigorous testing by Laticrete allowed us to specify and warranty aerated blockwork, giving another cost-saving option to developers.  Needless to say, it also meets stringent U-value requirements.”

“It seems no challenge is beyond Laticrete and we are delighted to work so closely with them.  It gives us and, more importantly, our clients complete confidence, peace of mind and, above all, a perfect installation.”

The tiling industry gears up for its big night

The Annual TTA Awards are getting close now.  On Friday 19th May, the Radisson Blu Portman Hotel, Central London, is the place to be. This year has seen impressive numbers of very high quality entries, so you can be sure of an interesting night, as well as great entertainment as the TTA raises the roof with this year’s burlesque theme.

There are still seats available for the tiling industry’s gala event of the year. Individual tickets are £175 + VAT, while tables for ten cost £1,575 + VAT and £1,400 + VAT for additional tables of ten.

There are also still sponsorship opportunities available, including Category sponsorships, which are £2,500 per category. This is very good opportunity for the sponsoring company to be associated with success and raise its own brand profile. It includes the opportunity for a company representative to go up on stage to present the Award.

Many thanks once again to this year’s Gold sponsors: Ardex, BAL, Bellota, Impey, Norcros Adhesives and Tilemaster Adhesives.

The Tile Assocxiation is growing stonger by the day
As more and more businesses and individuals within the tiling industry come to understand and appreciate the benefits of the work that the TTA is doing and the specific benefits of membership, so we see membership numbers steadily increasing.

This year, in particular, there seems to be a step change in the numbers of new applicants for membership.

The first three months of the year have seen a 143% increase in membership applications. This is coming from all across the board, all categories of membership, but in particular from independent fixers.

No doubt this reflects the various initiatives that the Association has had in place to attract them into membership, but in particular it results from the fact that fixers are recognising the many benefits that TTA membership brings them.

These include sales leads, technical and business support and training, as well as the level of reassurance that TTA membership provides to customers.

In line with this trend, the TTA is also seeing an increase in the number of Technical Inspections carried out – up 25% for the first three months of the year. Our highly trained and experienced inspectors can assess a job against the relevant British and European Standards and provide evidence which can if necessary be used in court.

Special accolade for Skillbuild winner Gordon Cook in March
The Worshipful Company of Tylers & Bricklayers has made a special presentation to the 2016 winner of Skillbuild. This competition, organised by CITB, and supported by Crown Paints, the National Federation of Roofing Contractors, The Tile Association and the Stone Federation, has taken place for over 40 years. It aims to find the most highly skilled young apprentices in their chosen trade.

The Winner in the Wall & Floor Tiling category for 2016 was Gordon Cook of Glasgow, City of Glasgow College, employed by A De Cecco Ltd.  He overcame stiff competition from Kieran Brown of Northumberland from Plunkett Tiling; Lee Hembury, of Cardiff & Vale College; Keiran Milnes Leeds College Of Building from Shea Tiling: Alan Orchard of St Helens College; Brandon Richards of Moulton College; Jordan Smith of City of Glasgow College from Keith Milne Tiling; and Sam Pickles of Leeds College of Building

Gordon Cook, with his tutor from City of Glasgow College, Andrew Pollock, attended an Awards Evening hosted by the Worshipful Company at Trinity House in Central London in March. The Awards lunch is an annual event, which seeks to reward individuals who have excelled in their various disciplines. The Awards are presented across three different craft categories: Wall and Floor Tiling, Roofing and Slating, and Bricklaying.

Gordon Cook won the Wall & Floor Tiling Award at Skillbuild last year.  In all, 78 competitors took part in the finals, which were held at the NEC in mid-November, spread across ten categories.
The TTA has a long history of support for SkillBuild as it attaches particular importance to the ongoing work to drive up skill levels in our industry, working in particular with young independent fixers.

Throughout the year the TTA does much through its Training Committee, on seminars, developing qualifications and promoting training awards.

Bob Howard MBE, TTA Director and Chairman of the Training Committee, says: “It was really inspiring to be able to recognise the achievements of this young man at the Annual Awards Event of the Worshipful Company of Tylers & Bricklayers. It was a prestigious event which reflected well on the efforts of the TTA to raise the bar even further with regard to training and skills development for young people who are just starting out in our industry.”

TTA seeks industry views on import tariff duties
Possible changes are on the way for import tariffs, currently imposed on Chinese tiles imported into Europe.

Anti-dumping tariffs have been in place since September 2011, when the current measures were put in place.

Their intention has been to protect EU ceramic tile manufacturers from the possibly destabilising effects of large quantities of heavily-subsidised Chinese tiles being imported.

The import duties which have been levied vary between 30.6% and 69.7%, depending on whether the companies involved co-operated with the initial investigations or not. The majority of companies did.

There were no tariffs imposed on the import of natural or agglomerated stone tile products.

Two things happened last year which have changed the situation.  Firstly the initial round of tariffs was only due to last five years and, therefore, expired in September 2016.

It is likely that they will be renewed and their level for the coming five years is currently being reviewed. Changes to the methodology of their calculation is under discussion within the EU.

The second factor is, of course, that the UK is embarking on a process of leaving the EU, and will, therefore, have an option of whether to follow the EU tariff, when agreed, or to set its own in individual discussions with China.

So the industry needs good transitional arrangements in place during the process of exiting the EU.

Much of the recent discussion on this issue in the UK has been focussed on the wider ceramics market, the requirements of which are not necessarily the same as those of the tiling sector, due to the wider prevalence of UK ceramics manufacturers in the sanitaryware and tableware sectors.

Currently there are only two significant manufacturers of ceramic wall tiles in the UK and no manufacturers of ceramic floor tiles.

Therefore, to agglomerate employment figures in the ceramic tile manufacturing sector with those in the general ceramics sector is to overstate the importance of tile manufacturing for the UK tiling sector.

The TTA is keen to canvass the views of the tiling sector specifically, which is why it is contacting the industry about this issue now.

The TTA welcomes comments on the following questions sent to info@tile.org.uk

  • Do you support the continuation of import tariffs against Chinese manufacturers of ceramic wall and floor tiles?
  • Do you think these should be extended to include, for example, natural stone wall and floor tiles?
  • Do you think the level of tariff is about right, or should it be changed?
  • What effect would higher tariffs have on your business?
  • What effect would lower tariffs have on your business?
  • What transitional arrangements should be put in place to support the UK industry during the process of exiting the EU?

The shifting hues of Craven Dunnill’s new Brilliance wall tiles

Brilliance is the latest wall tile collection from Craven Dunnill’s Renaissance Collection and features a special, hand-plastered effect.

The appealing character of the textured surface is accentuated in an eye-catching lustre-glaze, which shimmers discreetly.

The colour palette features pretty tones of milky blue, green, white, grey and ivory, whilst the play of light drifting over the gentle sheen of the lustre glaze produces subtle variations of shading.
Brilliance is offered in a contemporary brick-styled format, 200 by 65mm, and a classic, small tile format, 100 by 100mm.

T: 01746 761611
W: www.cravendunnill.co.uk

Concrete look delivered with Italian bravura

The new Claymood collection in porcelain stoneware by Ceramiche Piemme is designed to recreate the effect of concrete, but be as easy to lay and maintain as tiles. The digital printing processes used reproduce the surface of mortar to create floorings with a minimalist feel.

Claymood also features a line of wall tiles inspired by natural materials and by artisan clay work.  The colour palette offers four shades of grey and sand, with hazy effects and shadings, which, combined with the 3D stone effect and mosaic surfaces, and the wide range of sizes,  make the Claymood one of Piemme’s most complete and flexible ranges.

The colour options are grey, pearl grey, sand and taupe (dark beige).  the format options are 300 by 300, 450 by 900, 300 by 600, 600 by 600, 800 by 800 and 600 by 1,200mm.  Decorative surface options are  3D Rock in 150 by 900mm and mosaics.  There are also two third-fired decorations: Shape Murano and Shape Florence, both 600 by 600mm.
W: www.ceramichepiemme.it