With nearly a million square feet of enclosed retail space, The Shops at South Town in Sandy, UT, is one of the state’s largest malls. Ownership at the shopping center has made a significant investment to renovate the property, including over 100,000 square feet of striking, large-format porcelain tile in the main concourses on both levels. In a second phase of construction, 20,000 square feet of widely varied and often colorful tile was added in restrooms and at a newly expanded food court. Fusion Pro Single Component Grout from Custom Building Products was selected to provide stain protection in all public areas of this busy mall that attracts 8 million visitors annually.  

“Phase one of the project was all done at night,” said Russ Moore, president of Westech Tile, located in Salt Lake City, UT. “We had a contractor that we worked with at night that would demo approximately 500 to 600 square feet each night using a dust-free system. Basically they had a rolling scaffold system that had six fans that sucked air up and ran it through filters so there was zero dust. In the mall, you have tenants that will throw away anything that has dust on it, so this was key for us. Also, it helped us install and grout the next night, not having to deal with dust.”

Custom’s Fusion Pro was used on the project because it is stain proof and color perfect, plus it’s ready-to-use and easy to spread and clean. Unlike typical epoxy alternatives, Fusion Pro’s patented formula will not discolor when exposed to sunlight through the atrium roof of the shopping center. Because Fusion Pro is applied and then cleaned immediately, with no need to return for sealing, crews grouted continuously through the night to keep retailers open for business during the remodel.  

“Fusion Pro is everything that a tile guy wants in a grout,” said Moore. “This product performs – it really does what they say it does. It’s also in an environment where a kid can be walking around with an ice cream cone, drop it on the grout. They come around to clean the mall at night with their cleaner, it looks just as new.”

Tile with natural finishes, from different sources or even within the same lot, can present a range of coatings and textures that may affect grout installations. Contractors at South Town began the grouting process by applying Aqua Mix Grout Release to ease cleanup over the variety of tile surface textures present on the project. The project’s first phase was 87,000 square feet that was completed in 31 weeks, completing 500 square feet of laying tile one night, followed by grouting it the next. They used crews of nine to 12 people per night, depending on job demand.

Grouting with Fusion Pro was completed by teamwork due to the size and speed of the job. With this method, one installer spreads grout across the joints, one shapes the joints with a sponge and one cleans the tile with a microfiber towel. The installers continue moving across the area applying and cleaning the grout very efficiently. Because Fusion Pro is spread and then cleaned up in a matter of minutes, a team approach works well on any large expanse of tile or fast-track project.  

“We have found that is it less expensive to use Fusion Pro since the need to return and apply sealer is eliminated,” said Aaron Colledge, project manager at Westech. “This also helps to maintain accelerated construction schedules.”   

South Town’s design inspiration is described as “mountain meets urban” in an area of Utah known for its outdoor lifestyle and located only minutes from world-class mountain resorts. Tile of literally every shape and size recreates the kind of material juxtapositions seen in nature, such as mountains, forests and bodies of water. A rugged but warm look of weathered timber and stone was achieved by utilizing multi-colored wood-look planks. The layout complements the wilderness surroundings and is right on trend. Custom’s nature-inspired, 40-color grout palette offers Fusion Pro in shades to match this broad spectrum of tile.  

The large-format tile chosen for the concourses ranged from 12- x 24- and 24- x 24—inch squares to 36- and 48-inch-long planks – even 16- x 68-inch tile. Planks were placed in a running bond pattern with a one-third offset to help prevent lippage and achieve a flat tiled surface. Other square and rectangular tiles were installed in a modified hopscotch pattern, with planks included as accents in some areas. Tile craftsman Jesus Villalobos created the elaborate, sweeping cuts that mimic river and rock formations.

Gensler’s interior design team composed the patterns using porcelain tile from Stone Source, SpecCeramics and Crossville. “Our design intent was to bring the natural forms into the interior space adding warmth and a fluid floor pattern,” said Sean Park, project architect with Gensler. “On the practical end, the porcelain tiles are an excellent choice as they are durable for high-traffic commercial use and meet the slip coefficient.” 

All tile on this fast-track project was set with polymer-modified mortars that exceed the requirements of ANSI A118.4 and A118.11 for setting porcelain. VersaBond-LFT Professional Large Format Tile Mortar is designed to support the weight of heavy tiles and SpeedSet Professional Rapid Setting Thin-Set Mortar allows grouting in as little as three hours. Installers used ½- x ½- x ½-inch square notch trowels and back-buttering to achieve a minimum 90% mortar coverage to the back of the large-format tiles. 

Intermittently wet areas such as the restrooms were treated with RedGard Waterproofing and Crack Prevention Membrane. RedGard exceeds both ANSI A118.10 and A118.12 to protect tile from crack transmission and the building envelope from moisture intrusion. Fusion Pro was applied throughout with SuperiorBilt ProBiltSeries Stone Grout Floats, which are ideal for use with textured tile. One exception was the large water fountain, which was grouted with Prism Ultimate Performance Cement Grout. Prism develops early high strength, will not effloresce, and is ideal for submerged applications like pools and water features. After grouting was completed in each area, movement joints were filled with permanently flexible Custom Commercial 100% Silicone Sealant. 

Moore said one of his biggest accomplishments of this project was having zero tenant complaints. “We have done a lot of projects like this, and our biggest accomplishment and what we strive to do each time, is that we didn’t have dust or disruption complaints for any tenants, not a single one,” said Moore. “That is something that is extremely hard to do, but we are proud of it. Also, the mall management has been extremely happy with the tile and the work that we did.” 

Shops at South Town

Sandy, UT

ARCHITECT: Gensler, Los Angeles, CA

GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Unified Construction Group, Westmont, IL

TILE CONTRACTOR: Westech Tile, Salt Lake City, UT