Are you familiar with the NTCA Reference Manual? It's an invaluable tool for the tile industry and a well-respected companion document to the TCNA Handbook for Ceramic, Glass and Stone Tile Installation and ANSI standards.
We caught up with Bart Bettiga, Executive Director of the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) to learn more.
What is the NTCA Reference Manual?
BB: The Reference Manual is a comprehensive culmination of knowledge, research, development and publication of the efforts of the NTCA Technical Committee members, ceramic tile contractors, distributors, manufacturers and others associated with the ceramic tile industry.
It's updated annually and includes close to 300 pages of information covering everything from substrate preparation to finished grout.
The purpose of the Reference Manual is to identify recurring tile and stone installation challenges, recognize potential problems, and gain consensus from industry experts on offering solutions.
How did the NTCA Reference Manual come to be?
BB: The National Tile Contractors Association has been developing documents addressing common installation problems and challenges in the tile and stone industry for over thirty years. That's a lot of valuable information!
However, the NTCA Reference Manual had long been considered one of the industry’s best kept secrets. That changed a few years ago when the association’s Board of Directors voted to publish the manual in print and to make it available to all industry professionals.
The response was overwhelmingly positive and we can proudly say the Reference Manual is being used more frequently than ever before.
Many of our associate member partners have invested in the manuals to help train and better educate their customers.
Examples include Schluter Systems, who provides an NTCA Reference Manual and TCNA Handbook to tile installers who complete their training and education seminar programs; and Louisville Tile, a leading independent distributor who supplies manuals to attendees who come to their training programs at any of their numerous store locations.
We thank them for helping spread the word about the value of this industry document.
Who's responsible for updating the Manual?
BB: The NTCA Technical Committee develops and maintains the NTCA Reference Manual.
The NTCA Technical Committee is comprised of some of the leading experts in the tile industry. These members are carefully selected for their expertise in all segments of our trade.
We realize that developing these documents and ensuring their accuracy is a never-ending process. That's why we've appointed sub-committees to fully review each section, and we expect continued revisions to existing documents in addition to developing new documents on an annual basis. For example, we've inserted photographs in some instances to highlight issues, and we intend to continue this practice and update the manual annually.
Several new documents have been recently approved that will help tile professionals better understand developing issues in the industry. Examples include,
- The dangers of spot bonding with mortar on both floor and wall tile applications,
- Caution when installing natural stone and ceramic tile which are back-coated with a resinous fiberglass material,
- A checklist created for tile contractors on how to navigate through an installation inspection.
Carefully selected subcommittees are developing many other new documents and those members will submit their drafts before the whole technical committee for review.
What sets the NTCA Reference Manual apart?
BB: The Manual is quite different from invaluable tile industry resources such as the TCNA Handbook and the ANSI standards for tile, stone and glass tile manufacturing and installation.
The Reference Manual is designed to complement these standards and belongs next to them on every industry professional’s computer or office desk. This is one reason why the NTCA offers the manual at a very low price for both members and non-members.
How is the manual organized?
BB: The Manual is arranged in 11 easy-to-read sections organized in a cause, cure and prevention format responding to installation problems varying in degree with references to current TCNA Handbook and ANSI standards. The 11 chapters include:
- General Requirements
- Thick Bed Method Installations
- Thin-Bed Method Installations
- Specialized Installation Procedures
- Material Specific Installations
In addition to the traditional cause, cure and prevention format of many of the documents, the Manual also contains numerous letter templates that can be used or modified to address common issues in documentation and negotiation on the jobsite.
Many of our members over the years have saved thousands of dollars using these templates.
Finally, you'll find several new documents and white papers that reflect the committee's position or stance on certain topics, such as concrete substrates, wood substrates, and large format tile installations.
The NTCA spends thousands of dollars annually developing and maintaining the Reference Manual. We've priced this resource at affordable rates in multiple print and digital formats and urge tile professionals to ensure they have the most current version in their office or on their computers, tablets, or mobile phones….
Thank you, Bart!
We, too, encourage you to have the most current copy of the NTCA Reference Manual along with the TCNA Handbook and the ANSI Standards.