CUSTOM Tile Installation System Swims with the Sharks

Swimming with sharks, rays and other native fish is the main attraction at Aquarium Encounters in Marathon, Florida.  Visitors can enter dive tanks to interact with and feed a wide variety of marine species.  But first –they have to take a shower to protect the water quality of these aquatic ecosystems.  A complete system of CUSTOM tile installation products was used to hold up to the constant daily shower use at this unique wildlife park.

CUSTOM Tile Installation System Swims with the SharksAquarium Encounters attracts tourists visiting the Florida Keys who come to see its 250,000 gallon main dive tank.  The park is open daily and can accommodate 48 dive encounters each day.  That could add up to over 35,000 showers per year, including showers after the dive. With three shower stalls available, that is over 11,600 showers per year in each shower.  This is very intensive usage, considering that a luxury hotel shower is utilized up to about 600 times in a given year.

CUSTOM Tile Installation System Swims with the SharksProject owners planned for long-term investment in their park facilities and CUSTOM products were specified in all tiled areas, including the gift shop and café area.  All three shower stalls were treated with RedGard® Waterproofing and Crack Prevention Membrane.  Two coats provide IAPMO listed shower pan liner protection and meet ANSI A118.10 standards for effective waterproofing.  RedGard also provides crack isolation up to 1/8″ and offers an extra heavy service rating appropriate for these commercial conditions.

VersaBond® Flex Professional Thin-Set Mortar was used to install 12″ x 12″ ceramic tile on floors and walls with sheets of 2″ x 2″ on shower floors.   VersaBond® Flex offers high flexibility and bond strength with excellent handling characteristics.   An extended open and adjustment time proved its value during tile setting in Florida’s tropical heat.

CUSTOM Tile Installation System Swims with the SharksTile was grouted with stain proof Fusion Pro® Single Component® Grout.  Fusion Pro features unsurpassed stain resistance with no sealing required. It is ready to use right from the bucket, delivers ultimate color consistency and is easy to spread and clean. Fusion Pro can be installed in commercial and residential environments, interiors and exteriors, and on walls and floors. Its patented formulation has built-in Microban® antimicrobial product protection for added assurance in wet areas like showers.

Aquarium Encounters is unique in the U.S. as most marine parks focus on mammals, like dolphins, not fish, like sharks and rays.  Conservation and stewardship of the local eco-system of the Florida Keys is an important mission at the park.  Marine biologists on staff educate visitors though a variety of presentations, touch tanks and viewings, culminating in the popular dives.

CUSTOM Tile Installation System Swims with the SharksAdventurous tourists can enter an undersea world in safety and get face to face with creatures from coral to cow-nosed stingrays.  Large or aggressive predatory fish like sharks are on the opposite side of the tank divided by clear acrylic panes.  Divers can actually feed the sharks through special portals in the divider.  The massive main dive tank and the Aquarium Encounter experience were featured on the Animal Planet show “Tanked.”

After a dive, visitors can buy video and photos of their interactions with the different marine species – and even opt for another shower.


Marathon, FL

Year Completed:



Dynasty Marine, Marathon, FL

Tile Contractor:

Lopez Tile, Marathon, FL

CBP Architectural Consultant:

Nick Macrino, CSI, CCTS, CDT, CCSMTT, commercial architectural services representative

CBP Regional Technical Representative:

Patty Velez, CTC, territory manager; Larry Maura, CTC