What's so tough about sticking ceramic tile to a floor, wall, or countertop? Well, hundreds of thousands of failed installations speak volumes. And, contrary to the old adage, what you don't know can hurt you. The Tile Council of America (TCA, Anderson, S.C.; 864/646-8453, www.tileusa.com) speaks back with its own volume, the 41st edition of the 2003-2004 Handbook for Ceramic Tile Installation. The new edition of the guide promises "14 new installation methods," and "almost 200 editorial changes," in its 47 pages. Clearly, ceramic tile installation is a dynamic field. The question is, how often do tile installers update their knowledge base and methods? Are the tile subcontractors you hire, or you yourself, exercising the necessary due diligence? Both tile consumption and tile technology have grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, but some inside the industry note a deficit of trained ceramic tile installers. Dave Gobis, of the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation and a member of the TCA Handbook conference, cites current sales figures of 2.8 billion square feet, a growth rate of 100% over the last 7 years and 200% over the last 14. Meanwhile, according to the U.S. Census, the number of people describing themselves as tile installers lags seriously behind that product growth. A reliable resource. The TCA develops its details and outlines only by consensus among a board of active national and regional cross-industry representatives. This means that adhesive manufacturers, flatwork masons, ceramic and glass tile manufacturers, backerboard producers, tile installers, gypsum manufacturers, and various association and council members sit down and come to terms on each and every installation detail published.

On the other hand, it means that any method or item that could not achieve consensus is left out. You can safely consider the Handbook an authoritative, up-to-date, and indispensable reference, but, because of the process, it may not be exhaustive in its coverage of newer materials and technologies. Note that the Handbook is designed to function...

or Register to read the full article.