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FREE Masterclass Webinar - 6 June 2017

Tradies - how to get customers to refer you over and over again, without having to constantly ask them!

I am hosting a free Masterclass webinar on 6th June for trade business owners. It’s all about how to convince more potential customers to contact you and to help them feel confident and book your services rather than someone else’s. And once they’ve become a customer, how to get them to refer you to their friends without having to ask them over and over again.

I'll be sharing the exact methods we have put in place for our service business clients - and showing you the results they've achieved, so you will know what to do in your business.

If this is of interest - here's the link where you can register:

Thanks for your time!

King Regards

Annette Welsford - Commonsense Marketing - Tradie Success

Patchy Grout

G’day Guys and Girls,

I wish to touch on a subject, which I have been hearing about for 50 years (or so) Shitty Grout causing discoloration in finished grout lines. Over the years I have dealt with the majority of adhesive manufactures in Australia. Some I refuse to deal with, due to their lack of Quality, Commitment and service. Every few days my Staff and I receive a complaint from a client about patchy grout. The tiler becomes disheartened at the response from the company rep and refuses to buy their range of products ever again (Adhesive included). I have heard complaints about every manufacturer in Australia. COME ON NOW they can’t be all shit! No I’m not going against my own kind, I feel us tradies are victims of other forces at play, only a small percentage of the problem may be due to bad practice.

 When you whackemon (new word) the floor, the good book says, part of the process is to clean the excess adhesive out of the grout lines, IF the tiles are properly bedded. Part of the laying process is to remove this excess adhesive, preferably whilst it is still soft. Shit hey, saw my legs off and call me shorty! The Old German I did my trade with, made sure that the neats on top of the bed came up the sides of the stone or tiles. However, it is not unusual for this not to happen, and then the next day, the grout is placed into the gaps and finished. Except on Sandstone/Freestone where we would grout then grind the entire surface flat. Another effect which occurs, is that because the adhesives are supposed to be applied with a notch trowel and the notch lines are rarely completely squashed down to make a continuous layer, this causes a line of glue next to a void under the tile. Larger notch trowels increase this situation. As the grout dries at varying thicknesses in the grout lines, the chemical reactions for cement occur differently, in part because the way the water stays in the grout (Thick & Thin) to react the cement, but also due to the differing properties of the adhesive (Thick & Thin) Where the grout is thinner it dries lighter, and where thicker dries darker. This pattern is then reflected in the grout and you end up with a “Patchy Look” in the grout lines. Easy to see with darker grouts.

Some dickhead in manufacture spilled the glaze over the tile edge. This can result in variations in colour due to differences in moisture absorption by the tile. This can be limited by wetting the grout lines with a fine water spray prior to grouting. P.S. This process slows down the time it takes to get to the watering hole with your mates! Laying and moisture issues. The grout application can have a bearing on the final colour due to both practice and site conditions.  The grout is designed to be mixed with a certain ratio of water to form a soft paste of butter consistency that holds its shape. Where the installer has added too much water, this can alter the colour due to both alterations in the cement properties and also separation of the colouring oxides from the mix (that’s the scum look on the top in the bucket). And the excess water takes longer to dissipate from the grout leading to apparent darkness, and also blotchy in appearance. There is no simple remedy to this problem other than re-installation. If the grouts are badly mixed, then the colours can be variable because the colourants are not properly dispersed through the grout, this in my mind only applies to the old days when we mixed our own grouts (1 vegemite jar + 2 cups + 1 pint, f---- this I’m off to the pub). This day and age of company mixed grout is almost flawless. Ensure grouts are thoroughly mixed before application, and mixing should be sufficient to ensure water is absorbed. The grout powder is added to water and mixed to achieve a consistent paste, let stand for 3 minutes (what another cige!), restirred and then applied. Always use a clean bucket, and drinkable water.

Bloody Efflorescence (which means "to flower out" in French) is the loss of water (or a solvent) of crystallization from a hydrated or solvated salt to the atmosphere on exposure to air. This is a physical condition that occurs where water soluble salts rise to the surface and then when the water evaporates the salts deposit out as a powdery or crystalline crust. There are two types of efflorescence:

Grout efflorescence is typically whitish in colour and results from soluble calcium salts being deposited. (Talk to Ben this is his baby). It can be blotchy or produce an overall light colouration. Primary efflorescence occurs immediately and secondary occurs at a later date. Dark coloured grouts are more likely to show efflorescence due to colour contrast and all cement based materials can show efflorescence. Efflorescence occurs due to several conditions and is made worse by cool temperatures and overall dampness, therefore winter and coastal or very humid environments are more likely to show efflorescence. Where the tile installer has used excess water in both mixing the grout and also clean up, soluble salts can be leached from the grout cement (this also applies to the tile adhesive) and then deposits on the grout surface as drying occurs. Cool temperatures at the time of installation both prolong cement curing and also retards water evaporation. This can increase the likelihood of efflorescence. Where there is ground water, rising damp or damp slab, soluble salts can move with the ground water, or be leached from the slab, tile adhesive or grout and deposit on the grout, since this is the most porous area for evaporation to occur. Efflorescence may also appear on porous tile (good old quarry tiles) surfaces and brickwork. Ground water and rising damp are beyond the scope of this bulletin, but should be addressed as they lead to other more serious problems. Rain water running down tiled facades between the masonry walls and the tiled surface can generate significant efflorescence on the grout lines. Run off can also create efflorescence on the edges, but also within the field of decks. The tile grout has been applied too soon after the tile adhesive which has not fully dried. The moisture from the tile adhesive then leaches through the grout carrying soluble salts which deposit at the surface. The slab or screed was not dry, or insufficiently cured and then moisture travels up through the grout. I can’t stress how important this is, stick to the correct water mixing ratios during installation. Slabs typically take 28 days to cure, (useless information, the concrete bed for a sugar mill, mill train takes about 100 years) though drying is typically 25mm per month of slab thickness. Screeds take around 7 days to cure, and dry around 1mm per day. Check that rising damp is not present (the old rubber car mat trick). Try to work at temperatures above 10C and have adequate ventilation to promote water evaporation.  Allow adequate curing times for the tile adhesive so SO important during the cold months. Once again talk to Ben he knows about efflorescence!

Cheers, Old mason’s ramblings, sorry.

Australian Master Tilers Association

The Australian Master Tilers Association Ltd. is a national specialist association for tiling and waterproofing professionals, suppliers, retailers and manufacturers, providing members with timely and up to date information, Continuing Professional Development, and networking opportunities.
We are a not for profit, non political organisation, established for the benefit of the tiling and waterproofing industries and the community by promoting and developing educational programs and industry best practice guidelines. We provide a collective voice for the industry in order to accomplish objectives that members could not achieve individually.
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Tiling and Waterproofing contractors, Builders, Architects, Certifiers, Consumers etc. are welcome to take part in our forum discussions. If you have Do-It-Yourself questions, need technical answers or you just want to contribute to discussions to benefit the industry, join the Australian Master Tilers Association Forum.
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Thin Slabs & Tiles

The old stonemason’s take on slim panels and tiles.

I am still trying to get my head around slim panels and slim tiles 3 m x 1 m panels by 3 mm in thickness is a totally new concept to myself and many other old masons and Tilers.

Here is a few things that I have gleaned about this slim tile. Apparently these slim panels in many formats and thicknesses can be used on almost any vertical or horizontal internal or external floor and wall substrates. One of the main places I feel that these slim panels will be used is tiling over existing bathroom walls and floors, providing of course that these services are sound and true. Apparently there is a 5 mm product which can be used on floors and 12 mm product which is suitable for kitchen bench tops. Also I have observed that moving these panels around is very similar to the way you would move sheets of normal glass. One of the major pluses to these slim panels is the weight, it appears to be about 15% of the weight of a granite panel. New tools have been developed already to cut these slim panels and are now available in Australia.

As you are aware of the Australian standards have now been replaced by the Australian ISO standards. This is to say we are now using the ISO standards but with minor changes to suit Australia. One of the new Australian ISO standards for these slim tiles is for the background to be plumb smooth and flat and free from any contaminants. The tolerances allowable for this new standard pump plus or -3 mm under a 2 m straight edge. All movement IE expansion joints still apply to this product. And under no circumstances like all other tiling material are they to be butt joined. It is thought that the joint between 3 Mt panels will be no less than 5 mm wide.

Because of the thinness of these panels and tiles all adhesive will have to be removed from the formed joints. Due to the thickness of these panels the coverage of adhesion will have to be 100%. This can be achieved by notching the substrate with a 6 mm notched trowel and the back of the panel with a 3 mm trowel. Don’t fall into the old trap of notching up to a chalk line which then leaves the very edge of the tile unsupported.

The good points for these slim panels and tiles are as follows resistance to abrasion, very low porosity, colours and patterns do not fade when exposed to sunlight, easy to clean, germ resistant surfaces, will have a green guard certification and of  course the lightness of the product.



Building Industry Newsflash - Parliamentary Inquiry recommends disbanding of the BSA

On Friday 30th November 2012 the Queensland Parliament's Transport, Housing and Local Government Committee tabled it's report resulting from the Inquiry into the Operation and Performance of the Queensland Building Services Authority 2012. The committee made a total of 41 recommendations and there are quite a few recommendations which could affect the way we do business in the QLD building Industry and they may well have implications on a national level when the National Occupational Licensing System comes into force over the next few years.

Probably the most important and far reaching recommendations are Recommendation 1 & 2:

  • Recommendation 1 - The Committee recommends that in the interests of improved confidence and transparency, the “one stop shop” model for the provision of Queensland government building services be discontinued and that the Queensland Building Services Authority be disbanded as soon as alternative mechanisms for delivering its functions can be established.
  • Recommendation 2 - The Committee recommends that the Minister for Housing and Public Works restructure the building services currently provided by the QBSA so that there is a clear and transparent divide between the roles of licensing; management of directions to rectify and complete work; and management of the limited home warranty scheme. We do not know as yet which form the new Authority will take, however, we have a unique opportunity as an Association representing the tiling and waterproofing industries, to influence the creation of this Authority in a positive way. The final report by the committee quotes extracts from our submission into the inquiry a total of 5 times and it would appear that industry Associations such as ours are likely to be consulted in the process. The Committee made the following additional recommendations:
  • Recommendation 8 - The Committee recommends that the Minister for Housing and Public Works take the views of stakeholders into account when examining the appropriate structure for the reformed building authority and Board.
  • Recommendation 32 - The Committee recommends that the Minister for Housing and Public Works use evidence provided to this inquiry on the current licensing regime to undertake an independent review of all existing licenses to test for fitness for purpose, eligibility requirements, costs and benefits.
  • Recommendation 40  -The Committee recommends that the Minister for Housing and Public Works use the evidence provided to the inquiry to examine ways in which the industry groups can take a greater role within the newly formed building authority in terms of licensing standards and procedures for their members. We have a golden opportunity to influence and help shape this new Authority to deliver better outcomes for consumers and contractors, by making it more difficult for cowboys, educating the public and delivering a better job.

If you are reading this and you aren't a member as yet, now would be a good time to consider membership. The greater our numbers the greater our chance of getting real results.

The full parliamentary report can be viewed here:

The report also made a recommendation for National Licensing:

  • Recommendation 41 - The Committee recommends that the Minister for Housing and Public Works take the recommendations contained in this report into consideration before agreeing to any time frames for the introduction of the draft Regulations stemming from the National Occupational Licensing System. As the National Licensing reforms affecting tilers and waterproofers are unlikely to come into effect before 2014 at the earliest, there is not a lot of information available as yet. We'll have to see what is proposed and then provide our input.

We have received (unconfirmed) information that Premier Campbell Newman has pulled on the reigns somewhat. He is looking for more information and more consultation before any changes are made, mainly it seems because of the costs involved in setting up a new Authority.

At this early stage it is unclear exactly what will happen and we hope that we will be involved in the consultation process no matter what the outcome is.

We are looking for feedback from the tiling and waterproofing industries and a discussion thread has been started in our forums which can be accessed here:

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