Aventura Mall in Miami’s legendary South Beach is a Mecca for both well-heeled locals and upscale tourists. In fact, it is the number one shopping destination in South Florida for international visitors. It recently underwent a $125 million expansion, adding a three-level wing of high-end stores and restaurants, anchored by Nordstrom. The project features 53,000 square feet of large-format Italian porcelain tile with 2-inch by 2-inch mosaics, and was designed and specified by JPRA Architects of Novi, Mich.
With 20 million visitors to Aventura Mall annually, JPRA’s project manager, Mark von Werder and his architectural team, put a premium on long-term quality and durability, specifying an installation system from Custom Building Products that included LevelQuik RS (Rapid Setting) Self-Leveling Underlayment, MegaFlex Crack Prevention Mortar and Prism SureColor Grout, protected by a single-source lifetime warranty. This system would ensure an even substrate with high compression strength, unsurpassed bond strength for large porcelain tile, and grout that would maintain consistent color across a large area, even in South Florida’s steamy climate.
“We began specifying Custom products several years ago, during a major renovation of this same mall,” said von Werder. “It was a very complex installation, and at that time Custom was the only manufacturer willing to write the kind of warranty that we needed to protect it. Now we use Custom almost exclusively because of the quality of its products, level of partnership and support, and its exceptional warranty program.”
The tile contractor was Emerald Flooring, Pompano Beach, Fla. Emerald Flooring is a commercial flooring contractor; however, the team had never worked with Custom’s products before and was unsure what to expect. Considering this fact and the project’s large scope and compressed construction timelines, Custom sent its team of consultants to the jobsite to help facilitate the installation. Led by architectural consultant Cairo Molina, Custom’s team worked with Emerald’s project manager Tom Moore and two full-time, on-site Project Supervisors, Quinde Falcone and Moses Rodriguez to provide training and support.
LevelQuik RS was used to create an even, pristine substrate for the tile. “It poured fast, and set up very quickly. Given the confines of our schedule, this was very important. We appreciated the help of the Custom team as we learned to handle the product with ease and get the best performance from it,” said Moore.
The Italian porcelain tile, from Fabrica Miami, was mostly large-format, ranging in size from 24-inch by 18-inch, 18-inch by 18-inch and 12-inch by 12-inch, and was used on the floors and approximately 6,000 square feet of wall space. It was set using MegaFlex Crack Prevention Mortar, a premium thin-set mortar with the industry’s highest bond strength and flexibility. “What a great product MegaFlex is,” said Moore. “Every one of our installers loved it. The workability and the bond strength are the best we’ve ever seen, and there was absolutely no shrinkage. It supported these large, heavy tiles without any sagging—even with the 18-inch by 18-inch wall tiles. We look forward to the chance to use MegaFlex again in the future for large scale commercial jobs where bond strength and flexibility are important.”
The final step in the installation process was grouting, and Moore admits to some early skepticism about Prism SureColor Grout. “It was a new product, with new technology, and a slightly different feel, so we were a little leery at first,” said Moore. “With the Custom consultants on hand to demonstrate the correct mixing techniques for our project, it went extremely smoothly. Prism’s creamy texture was easy to work with, and the color was superb. Whether we were mixing an entire bag, or just a small amount for a minor repair, it dried consistently and the color was always correct.”
Even with an aggressive timeline of just 90 days, Emerald Flooring was able to complete the Aventura Mall installation to everyone’s complete satisfaction. “We’ve had nothing but compliments from the general contractor, the architects and the mall owners,” said Moore. “I was very proud of our team, and the coordinated effort with Custom to ensure a successful project. It was a winning formula that we’ll be using again and again in the future.”
Miami, FLYear Completed:
JPRA Architects, Novi, MIContractor:
James A. Cummings, Inc., Fort Lauderdale, FLTile Contractor:
Emerald Flooring, Pompano Beach, FLCBP Architectural Consultant:
Cairo Molina CTC, CSI