With over 30 years of experience in tile and stone installation, Kevin Killian of ProFast Commercial Flooring has learned a great deal about what it takes to succeed in the tile business. His knowledge and skill at adapting to new tile trends has led to a high demand for his services, as well as a unique perspective on how to provide customers with results that they want.
How did you get into the tile business?
32 years ago, I decided that I was looking for a change in careers. I ran into a friend of a friend who operated a tile installation company in Buffalo, New York, and he was looking for help on an installation at a General Motors plant. I was shoveling sand and mixing mud in 10 degree weather! I fell in love with the work and climbed the company ladder, from mechanic to foreman to superintendent to estimator, working on large projects across the east coast. Sixteen years ago, I started my own company.
What type of installations are your specialty?
We specialize and thrive on work at shopping malls, especially in large and common areas that receive a large amount of foot traffic. We also service various clients in hospitality, education and corporate environments.
When did you start seeing customers select large format tile?
We first started seeing requests for larger tiles around six years ago. These days, we're more likely to see requests for large format tile than any other size.
What are some of the challenges you face when installing large format tile?
The majority of our installations are renovations of pre-existing surfaces, meaning that we'll have to tile over tile, which can range in size from 8" x 8" to 12" x 12", or even 4" x 8" brick . The undulations and lippage in the uneven surface require that we level and straighten the floor out to provide the best results for the new installation.
Which types of large format tile are more challenging to install?
The larger end of the large format spectrum can be particularly challenging. When installing 24" x 48" tiles, there's a team working on every tile: one person spreads the thin-set, but two are needed to put it in place.
Which mortars do you use on large format tile projects?
We always use CUSTOM products when setting large format tiles. For some of our current renovation projects with 12" x 24" and 24" x 24" floor tiles, we use Complete Contact-LFT RS, as the facilities remain in operations and the surfaces need to cure quickly. We use ProLite RS for this too, especially on wall applications for large format tile.
What tips or tricks do you have for large format tile installs?
We don't really have any tricks to installing large tiles; if you improperly lay a large tile or don't give it enough coverage so a corner breaks, you've just lost several feet of tile. The best way to get a solid installation is to take care with your preparation and make sure that the floor is flat so it can accommodate the large tile.
Which developments with large format tile make you the most excited? Why?
New designs are coming out for large tile all the time, which offer more opportunities for their application. The advancements in setting material technology are impressive too. There are new standards and innovations that perform even better than the last batch, which was already performing very well! We recently had to replace a large tile three days after installation, and the mortar bond was extremely solid.
Are there other key components to a successful installation?
It's very important to have dependable teams working on your installation and providing product support. In addition to product performance, technical support and their warranties, I work with CUSTOM because of their customer service. Big projects mean that we need things as quickly as possible, and CUSTOM provides them to us in 24 to 48 hours.