Product Reviews / Interior Design / Contemporary Stone & Tile Design Magazine

Successfully Installing a Diverse Group of Stone and Tile Products

January 5, 2011
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For Artistic Tile’s new showroom on the ground floor of Luxe Home at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, IL, products from Mapei Corp. of Deerfield Beach, FL, were chosen to install the variety of tile applications. 


When Artistic Tile expanded its business to include a showroom on the ground floor of Luxe Home at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, IL, New York-based architect Stephen A. Wanta was hired to create more than 30 separate vignettes that occupy the 3,200-square-foot display area. Breaking up the showroom into square spaces separated by simple dividing walls - reminiscent of the food markets of Paris and Barcelona - Wanta used portions of two walls and a corner in each space to present four distinctive vignettes. And the assortment of tiles employed in each vignette was installed with products from Mapei Corp. of Deerfield Beach, FL.

To bring the vignettes to life, Trostrud Mosaic & Tile Co. of Wood Dale, IL, was chosen for the job. The company demonstrated how the company’s well-trained professional installers made a difference - bringing the project in on time and on budget. “This was one of the most exciting adventures in tile installation we ever embarked on,” said Brad Trostrud. 

More than 30 separate vignettes occupy the 3,200-square-foot display area that was designed by Stephen A. Wanta of New York, NY. Breaking up the showroom into square spaces separated by simple dividing walls - reminiscent of the food markets of Paris and Barcelona - Wanta used portions of two walls and a corner in each space to present four distinctive vignettes. 

The variety of tiles used gave each vignette its own distinct environment. Some tiles were made of art glass that was waterjet cut into complicated designs, parts of which were paper-face mounted. Some of the tiles were very modern and trendy, including the new ultrathin tiles recently developed in Italy. Others were hundreds of years old, giving some installers their first-ever glimpse of hand-made antique tiles from Europe. Certain materials were a real challenge to install - from fake brick to trimmed stone veneers. The installation of glass mosaics on compound curves in specially-designed vignettes presented their own unique challenges.

Strips of extruded steel separated the four vignettes in each space, while the spaces were separated from each other by 5-inch-wide strips of limestone. Umbrella-shaped fabric canopies were suspended from the arched ceilings, dispersing the soft light from crystal chandeliers. Separate high-intensity task lighting, which enhanced accurate color definition in the tiles, also left no room for error in the installations. Trostrud placed the responsibility for a “perfect job” in the hands of Mike Miller, one of the company’s most experienced and knowledgeable team leaders.

A crew from Trostrud Mosaic & Tile Co. of Wood Dale, IL, was responsible for the installation. Mapei’s Ultraflex LFT mortar was applied for large-format tile. The installers felt it worked especially well with the peculiar and unique characteristics of the different tiles, and that its non-sag properties simplified the wall installations. 

There was a huge diversity of products, and they all arrived at different times. Each box of tile was checked against specific guidelines that had been laid out, and assigned to its particular vignette. Based on each individual crew member’s abilities, Miller decided who should install that particular type of tile. This planning kept the labor to 2,466 man hours of work over a three-month period. Depending on the needs of the job, he supervised a crew of up to 11 workers on any given day.

Since the tiles had to be easy to remove and replace as trends in the showroom changed, the crew began by lining each of the steel-framed floor spaces with an anti-fracture membrane. After that, the teams used Primer™ L and Ultraplan® M20 for self-leveling in the vignettes, because the tiles ranged in thickness from ¾-inch-thick stone to 1/8-inch-thick glass tiles, and customers had to be able to move seamlessly from one surface to another. Trostrud used Planipatch® as a reliable standby for patching small areas.

Moreover, Trostrud selected Mapei’s Ultraflex LFT mortar for large-format tile for the majority of the stone and tile. The installers felt that it worked especially well with the peculiar and unique characteristics of the different tiles, and that its non-sag properties simplified the wall installations. For the glass tiles, the teams used Mapei’s Adesilex P10 bright white mortar. “This is the most incredible product,” said Trostrud. “It grabs and just stays there, making glass tile installation so much easier.” All the tile joints were grouted with Mapei’s Ultracolor Plus fast-drying, efflorescence-free grout.

“This showroom is in a category by itself,” said Trostrud, when looking over the completed project. “We have worked on jobs this year with their tile, and every installation has been beautiful.”  

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