National Institute of Standards and Technology: A Superior Installation for National Standards

When a national testing laboratory built a new facility that called for a high-performance tile installation system and a quick turnaround time, tile contractor Select Interiors chose a dependable partner, Custom Building Products. The beautiful results of the project were delivered in a high-performance installation on a compressed work schedule.

Based in Boulder, Colo., the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is the measurements and standards laboratory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Its official mission is to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing science and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life.

To better perform its high-level job, the NIST commissioned a team of builders, architects and subcontractors to construct a 150,000-sq.-ft., state-of-the-art laboratory and office space that feature an impressive 48,000 square feet of Italian porcelain tile. The contemporary space to be tiled largely consisted of primary circulation corridor floors and walls dubbed “Main Street” that connect the labs and office space.

The commercial division of Select Interiors, Inc. of Parker, Colorado, was awarded the tile installation project for the NIST. Its focus and expertise in larger projects such as labs and office buildings made Select Interiors an ideal choice to perform the spacious and intricate tile installation.

According to Sheldon Eike, president of Select Interiors, the design goal for the NIST was simple: provide an “over the top” interior finish where scientists could thrive and work safely and efficiently.

As the NIST construction progressed, Select Interiors faced challenging deadlines to keep the overall construction deadline for the project on track.

“For a variety of reasons, as with many jobs, the NIST project was behind the desired schedule when Select Interiors was able to gain access to start on tile. The finish date was not able to be extended, so there was no choice but to complete the installation at an accelerated pace. Before we could even start, we had to deal with existing undulated slabs throughout the project area, otherwise tiling would have been extremely difficult,” said Eike.

From an aesthetic standpoint, the project included the installation of imported, large format (12-inch by 24-inch) porcelain tiles with intricate inlays of non-parallel lines that serve as a focal point of the NIST laboratory and offices corridor. The inlays were used by Select Interiors in both contrasting and tone-on-tone colorations that extended throughout the central spine of the building and up the walls for a dynamic visual. The earth tones in the tile selected by the design team combine with soaring windows to bring the outdoors in and highlight the majestic landscape of the surrounding Colorado Rockies.

To perform the installation, Select Interiors partnered with Custom Building Products as its sole tile installation system provider and depended on CUSTOM to deliver a standard of performance expected by the NIST.

“Select Interiors was allowed to pick the leveler, waterproofing, thin-set mortar and grout, and we chose CUSTOM for its superior product offering,” said Eike. “Working with CUSTOM allows for sole source product specification, which in turn qualifies our client for CUSTOM’s lifetime warranty that guarantees the installation. This is appealing to all of our clients.”

“We worked with Select Interiors and recommended a system that consisted of RedGard® Waterproofing and Crack Prevention Membrane and LevelQuick ES Self-Leveling® Underlayment for prepping the surface, VersaBond® Fortified Thin-Set Mortar to set tiles, and CEG-Lite™ Solids Commercial Epoxy Grout,” listed Elliot Lowe, territory manager for Custom Building Products. “With that lineup, CUSTOM provided the industry’s best lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects that covers the cost of material and labor to repair.”

Throughout the accelerated pace of the tile installation, Select Interiors used CUSTOM products designed to complement each installation step and provide optimum results.

“Under the every rubber floor tile, carpet tile and porcelain tile, we applied a layer of RedGard as a moisture barrier, and poured CUSTOM’s LevelQuick ES extended setting leveler to achieve a level working surface. VersaBond thin-set mortar was used to set the tile and the installation was finished with CEG-Lite epoxy grout because the project called for a high-performance, stain-resistant solution for the high traffic work spaces,” described Eike.

The NIST project was completed in 2012 without compromising the original construction deadline, which impressed all those involved in the build. It impressed others, too; the project won Select Interiors the National and International Commercial/Industrial and Overall Best Tile Installation CID Awards at Coverings 2013. The success of the tile installation is evident in the beauty of the newly tiled “Main Street,” and is attributed to Select Interior’s team of skilled tile installation pros and contributions of CUSTOM. CUSTOM not only provided the necessary tile installation system, but also delivered technical assistance and customer support needed to successfully meet needs of the project.

Product(s) Used:

Boulder, Colorado

Year Completed:



HDR, Inc


PCL Construction Services, Inc. and Whiting-Turner Contracting Co.

Tile Contractor:

Select Interiors, Inc.