Thursday, October 14, 2010

Cement Tile Quality Manufacturing Standards

My good Twitter friend and Marketing Guru, CB Whittemore, often casts pearls of wisdom at me. She is the primary contributor for the Simple Marketing Blog and one of those pearls that I've been dodging is to make my blog more 'human' and to let folks know "my story". She encourages me to 'lighten it up a bit' and follow the great story-telling techniques of Paul Anater's fun and information blog, Kitchen and Residential Design. By now, you are asking, what does any of this have to do with cement tile manufacturing standards? In this post, you'll learn a bit more about me and gain a better understanding of what quality standards govern cement tiles.

Patterned Cement Tiles in a West Coast Restaurant

I've been selling cement tile for about eight years. I love the product. However, it can be a difficult sell because folks aren't familiar with it. Recently, I was working with a designer on specifying Cuban Heritage cement tiles for a commercial floor application in Las Vegas for a casino and coffee shop.  The designer was encountering some resistance from the rest of the team. She asked if I would discuss the quality and manufacturing standards with her design team. Two questions came up in our meeting that I didn't answer very well. 

  1. What testing specification are the tiles made to so that we know the floor will be durable?  Unlike ceramic tiles, cement tiles are not manufactured to conform to TCA – ANSI standards for the class/application.


  1. What standard do they confirm to and have they been tested to ensure quality for our application?  I don't know.


I thought they were fair questions. (This is where you get to learn something about me.) You see, my college degree was Mechanical Engineering. It was a "default degree" because I liked math and science and wanted a job after I graduated. I enjoy problem solving and want to understand how things work. As an Engineer, I asked similar questions and found answers before I would agree to using any product.

Patterned Cement Tiles in a West Coast Resort Lobby

I turned to one of the best manufacturers of Cement Tile, Aguayo, to get the answers. Jorge Aguayo is the vice president of this company. I've worked with Jorge for many years and he I've visited their manufacturing plant and seen installations in large, commercial applications that demand both quality and durability.

His response was something like this:

Because cement tiles are not a mass-marketed or mass-produced product, no standards have ever been developed. It's like asking if an Oscar de la Renta gown is ISO 9000 compliant.

Solid Color Cement Tiles in a Las Vegas, NV Retail Shop

There you have it! There aren't standards that govern this product. Cement tiles are a great product. However, since there are no quality standards, where you buy is almost as important as what you buy. Make sure to purchase them from a knowledgeable seller that you trust and know. Equally important, the vendor needs to understand the product, source it only from a reputable manufacturer, and provide the service and support required for your installation. The tiles will last a lifetime, if you use follow this advice.


Fun and Fit: Kymberly and Alexandra said...

Maybe you could just bring a few of the concrete tiles to your next presentation. When it comes time for those kinds of questions, start with, "Because they aren't mass-produced, there are no standards....blah blah" then do a illustrative demo. By this I mean, lay out a few concrete tiles on the floor and drop bottles, shoes, heavy laptops (or similar) on them (as long as you know the tiles won't break). Then say, "as you see, even though no official standards exists, you can see for yourself that they're durable." No-one would forget such a visible demonstration, eh?

Bill Buyok said...

Thanks, Alexandra, for your comments and descriptive explanation of 'durable.' While your demonstration might be memorable, I don't want folks to get the idea they can't be broken. Dropping large metal objects from a great distance will generally cause the tile to break; but, that isn't the way most people will use the tiles in their home (I hope).

CB Whittemore said...

Bill, marvelous post! I love the image of cement tiles being the equivalent of an Oscar de la Renta gown. Perfect!

Thanks, too, for the mention which I'm quite delinquent in responding to.