CUSTOM Tile Installation Sets Standard of Care at San Diego Hospital

Critical care was taken with the design of Jacobs Medical Center, a 500,000 SF specialty hospital in La Jolla, California.  Construction specifications for this landmark project included a full system of CUSTOM tile installation and flooring preparation products on all 12 floors.  This cutting edge medical center focuses on innovating complex procedures such as brain surgery and marrow transplants.  To support its medical advances, the healing environment is filled with a cheering array of ceramic and glass tile precisely installed in patient bathrooms, public and staff areas, the kitchen and a welcoming cafeteria.

Tile Installation

The tile installation at Jacobs Medical Center began with surface preparation in accordance with industry standards.  Wet areas, such as patient bathrooms and showers, were treated with liquid-applied RedGard® Waterproofing and Crack Prevention Membrane, which meets the requirements of ANSI A118.10 and A118.12.  RedGard is a ready-to-use elastomeric membrane that creates an effective, continuous waterproofing barrier with outstanding adhesion to drain assemblies.  A single coat of RedGard was also applied on floors in dry tiled areas to provide crack isolation up to 1/8″.

Two polymer-modified, cementitious mortars from CUSTOM’s established VersaBond family were used.  VersaBond®-LFT Professional Large Format Tile Mortar was selected to install large format tile throughout the project.  This includes 12″ x 24″ porcelain in patient bathrooms on all floors, plus 9″ x 36″ and 6″ x 36″ wood-look planks in the hospital cafeteria.  VersaBond-LFT is a non-slumping mortar that can be applied as thick as ¾” on horizontal applications to help prevent lippage issues common with large format tile.  Kitchen quarry tile and 2″ tile on shower floors were set with VersaBond® Flex Professional Thin-Set Mortar.  VersaBond Flex is formulated for high bond strength and extended open time to allow for tile adjustment.

Patient bathrooms and nursing stations on each floor received one of three different three color schemes with 3/4″ x 3/4″ glass mosaic wall tile in shades of green, blue and peach.  Public restrooms were tiled in a dramatic black and white pattern with 1/2″ by 1/2″ ceramic mosaics.  Specifications designated wall tile installation throughout the project with ProLite® Premium Large Format Tile Mortar.  ProLite offers non-sag performance on walls along with excellent handling characteristics, making it an installer favorite.  This versatile mortar also exceeds ANSI A118.4TE, A118.15TE and A118.11 standards for demanding installations.  ProLite is formulated with lightweight, recycled aggregate, so it weighs 40% less than other mortars.  This makes ProLite easier to carry, mix and apply than other mortars while also making projects eligible for LEED points.

“Out of all the mortars we have used over the years, our installers like CUSTOM’s ProLite the best,” said Gary Rodocker, superintendant at Inland Pacific Tile.

For chemical and stain resistance in a clinical environment, CEG-Lite™ 100% Solids Commercial Epoxy Grout was specified for use on all floor and wall tile.  CEG-Lite is easier to spread than typical epoxy grouts, cleans up with only water and contributes towards LEED certification.  This grout exceeds the performance requirements of ANSI A118.3 and is suitable for vertical grout joints without an additive.   Movement joints were treated with CUSTOM’s Commercial 100% Silicone Sealant to remain flexible and protect the assembly in accordance with TCNA Handbook detail EJ171.

CUSTOM manufactures all of its grouts and sealants in an array of 40 designer-inspired colors and many of the shades were used to match the nuanced tile palette at Jacobs Medical Center.  The extensive ceramic, glass and large format porcelain tile set throughout the hospital was supplied by Daltile.

“We are very satisfied with the performance of the products and the support of the staff at CUSTOM,” said Dann Salinas, senior estimator and project manager at Premier Tile & Marble.  “The Technical Services team was very responsive and attentive to our needs during all phases of the project.”

Flooring Preparation

Prior to installation of floor coverings, substrates at Jacobs Medical Center were prepared with a CustomTech™ underlayment system.  The Rouse Company addressed floor flatness on 330,000 SF of concrete slabs including corridors, laboratories and patient care areas.

TechPrime™ A Advanced Acrylic Primer was used to seal the surface and improve the bond of the calcium aluminate-based underlayment.  After just an hour of dry time for the primer, the installation team poured TechLevel™ 150 Self-Leveling Underlayment up to 1-1/2″ deep.  Premium quality TechLevel 150 achieves greater than 4,300 psi compressive strength to resist point load, which is important given the weight of hospital equipment.

“TechLevel 150 is my go-to leveler if I have a choice.  We definitely prefer it over any other product and use it on all of our jobs,” said Josh Reed, concrete division manager at the Rouse Company.  “The entire CustomTech flooring prep system is easy to use and works great.  We love it!”

CUSTOM tile installation and flooring preparation systems were selected on the basis of rigorous product standards, unparalleled technical support and quality backed by an extended warranty.  The high use, high traffic tile assemblies at Jacobs Medical Center qualified for a 15-year installation system warranty.  Two lightweight Emerald Systems™ formulas included in the installation, ProLite and CEG-Lite, can also earn carbon offset credits for any project where they are installed.

A project of this scope and scale called for a team with extensive expertise in hospital construction, led by architects Cannon Design and executed by general contractor Kitchell Contractors.   Commercial flooring specialists the M.S. Rouse Company applied a CustomTech™ flooring preparation system.  Tile contractors on the job included Premier Tile & Marble, who set the tile on floors B1, Lower Level and 1-3, and Inland Pacific Tile, installers for floors 4-10.  Architectural and technical representatives from CUSTOM assisted the designers and contractors during each phase of the construction.

“Jacobs Medical Center is a showcase facility that joins the rapidly growing ranks of impressive projects specifying Custom Building Products,” said John Diaz, commercial architectural coordinator with CUSTOM.  Jacobs Medical Center is owned and operated by UC San Diego Health in La Jolla, California.


La Jolla, CA

Year Completed:



Cannon Design, Los Angeles, CA


Kitchell Contractors, Del Mar, CA

Tile Contractor:

The Rouse Company, Rancho Dominguez, CA; Premier Tile & Marble, Gardena, CA; Inland Pacific Tile, San Bernardino, CA; work also completed by Wirtz Tile and Stone, San Diego, CA and Howards Rug Company, San Diego, CA

CBP Architectural Consultant:

John Diaz, CSI, CTC, commercial architectural coordinator

CBP Regional Technical Representative:

Brian Swann, CTC, territory manager; Chris Vombaur, CTC, and David Stephens, CTC, regional technical services representatives

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