News Articles

Building Industry Fairness (Security of Payment) Bill 2017

Queensland has ushered in a new era of ‘fairness’ in the building sector as the government in that state introduces legislation designed to improve protection for subcontractors.

Introduced into Parliament, the Building Industry Fairness (Security of Payment) Bill 2017 aims to improve security of payment laws, modernise and simplify provisions for making subcontractor charges, improve ease of access to security of payment legislation and provide for greater accountability.

A critical part of the policy revolves around the introduction of project bank accounts (PBAs) - trust accounts into which progress payments and retention monies are held in trust, independent of the head contractor and principal.

These will be mandated under a two-stage process with PBAs becoming mandatory on all government building projects valued at between $1 million and $10 million between from 1 January next year and on all building projects over $1 million (public or private) from 1 January 2019.

In a setback for subcontractors, however, the rules apply only to building projects. Civil or engineering projects such as roads, ports or mines are not covered, and contractors/subcontractors on these projects will not enjoy PBA protection.

Also, the Bill applies to first tier subcontractors only - those who deal directly with the head contractor.

Whilst the Bill enables the protection available through PBAs to lower tier sub-contractors (e.g. sub-subcontractors) later, no protection will be applied for these sub-contractors at this point.

The Bill also aims to further prevent phoenix activity within the industry by clamping down on ‘shadow directors’ - those who have been banned from running construction companies in Queensland but effectively control companies from behind the scenes (such as through their spouse being a director).

Amendments to the Queensland Building and Construction Commission Act will ensure that the current definition of an ‘influential person’ is expanded to ensure that a person’s function is captured in addition to their formal role.

Other elements of the legislation will overhaul provisions for progress payment claims, improve the usability of subcontractor charge provisions and increase penalties for unlicensed work.

In its explanatory memorandum, the Government said problems in respect of late or non-payments had been identified through two years of consultation.

“What was once considered poor business practice has become a standard operating model for some licensees in the industry - higher contractors often do not make, or delay payments to subcontractors to supplement cash flow, offset the costs of other projects or to receive interest, and avoid additional financing costs for accessing further funding,” the memorandum states.

Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni said the changes will help to ensure fair practices within the building sector.

“For too long the building and construction industry has operated by pushing most the risk for projects onto subcontractors - often family run businesses,” de Brenni said.

“That changes with these new laws. We are putting the construction industry on the level.”

Tiling and Grouting in Warmer Weather

Temperatures are rising for Australia, with summer just around the corner.  Below is some helpful tips for tiling and grouting in warmer weather.

An extract taken from the LATICRETE Technical Data Sheet on Hot Weather Tiling and Grouting - TDS 1018

Conventional Portland Cement tile setting beds, thin set mortars, cement plasters and stuccos are often permanently damaged with subject to hot, dry temperatures or desert climates immediately after installation.  High temperatures remove the water content of the mortar required for Portland cement hydration, curing and strength development.  In addition, rapid drying often causes mortar to crack, crumble or lose bond.

There is a simple rule to follow when an installation is subjected to high temperatures: The 10ºC Rule – for every 10ºC above 21ºC, Portland cement and epoxy based materials take half as long to cure.

General tips for working in Hot Temperatures:

  1. For best results, always ship and store installation materials at 5ºC – 32ºC to extend the shelf life and working time. Do not store products in direct sunlight. If installation materials are too warm, they should be cooled to the specified temperature range for that specific product.
  2. Dampen or wet down substrate surfaces to not only clean the area, but to lower the temperature and lower the absorption rate of the substrate. Sweep off excess water just before mortar is applied. This step will extend the working time of the installation materials.
  3. Stir latex additives thoroughly before mixing with thin-sets, grouts, plasters, stuccos and other Portland cement mortars.
  4. Due to the rapid rate of moisture loss and Portland cement dehydration at temperatures >32ºC, cover installations with polyethylene sheeting for 1-2 days to allow curing at a more normal rate.
  5. Low humidity also accelerates the curing process.
  6. Tent off or provide shade when working in direct sunlight.
  7. Work during cooler periods of the day (e.g. early morning)

Tips for Grouting in Hot Temperatures:

  1. Store grouting materials at 5ºC – 32ºC to extend the shelf life, pot life and working time. Do not store products in direct sunlight. If installation materials are too warm, they should be cooled to the specified temperature range for that specific product 24 hours prior to the start of grouting.
  2. Dampen or wet down substrate surfaces to not only clean the area, but to lower the temperature and lower the absorption rate of the substrate.
  3. Always clean the mixing pail before mixing a fresh batch of grout. Left over grout in the pail (on bottom and sides) can accelerate the setting of freshly mixed grout.
  4. Mix cement grouts with clean cool water. This step will extend the pot life and open time of cement grouts.
  5. Remix cement grouts after ~15 to 20 minutes (after initial mixing, 5 minutes of slaking / remix and use) to an even consistency to prolong pot life.
  6. Tent off areas of work to provide shade when working in direct sunlight.
  7. Work during cooler periods of the day (e.g. early morning).

Tiling in Cold Weather

Tips for Tiling and Grouting in Cooler Temperatures 

Winter has well and truly set in for Australia, but despite the colder temperatures projects still need to go ahead. Below is some helpful tips for tiling and grouting in cold weather.

An extract taken from the LATICRETE Technical Data Sheet on Cold Weather Tiling and Grouting, TDS-1002  

Conventional portland cement tile setting beds, thin-set mortars, grouts and cement plasters are often permanently damaged when subject to below freezing temperatures immediately after installation. The water content of a mortar turning into ice often results in portland cement gel structure rupturing with significant loss in strength, flexibility and durability. Subsequent repairs to the damaged work and resulting site delays are extremely costly. 

There is a simple rule to follow when the temperature is low during installation: The 8°C Rule - for every 8°C below 21°C, portland cement and epoxy based materials take twice as long to cure.

Helpful Hints:

  1. Work during warm periods of the day.
  2. Ensure that the surface temperature is within the suggested temperature range for the LATICRETE product being used during the installation and cure period. Consult the individual LATICRETE product data sheet and "How to Install" guide for more informaiton.
  3. Tent and heat areas that will be subjected to the elements or freezing temperatures during installation and cure periods.

Click on the link to continue reading the Cold Weather Tiling and Grouting TDS http://laticrete.com.au/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=DUsVmw8bdpw%3d&tabid=186

Ragni Trowel Thin Porcelain Tiles

Thin Porcelain Tiles - Practical Benefits, Design Options And Proven Installation Techniques

By offering an extensive range of exquisite porcelain tiles, exemplary customer service and a real dedication to state-of-the-art testing, Porcel-Thin has established a peerless reputation for thin porcelain contract tile supply.  But, as Ray Smith, Managing Director, is quick to point out, the success of this fast-growing business is based on much more that its broad portfolio of top quality porcelain tiles in a range of attractive styles.

“While our lightweight, ultra-thin porcelain tiles offer a range of practical benefits and attractive style choices to specifiers, architects and interior designers; it’s the added value of our range of specialist services that makes us the go-to people for tile contract supply,” explains Smith.

“From single, luxury homes, through to large scale international projects, Porcel-Thin’s dedicated contract supply department provides timely, professional support that customers can rely on. With experience in both domestic and commercial developments, including current projects in London, Dubai and Las Vegas, our specialist team are well versed in all aspects of tile contract supply,” continues Smith.

However, as TSJ’s Joe Simpson found when he recently visited Porcel-Thin’s HQ in Rotherhithe, South London, the company is keen to educate and inform customers not only about the many benefits of thin porcelain tiles, but also about the correct way to test and install this outstanding material.

For instance, Porcel-Thin provides independent PTV tile slip resistance and Light Reflectance Value (LRV) testing for specifiers, interior designers and architects.

PTV testing to determine the exact slip resistance of any type of porcelain, ceramic or stone tiles enables the company to offer advice and products best suited to any environment and usage.

LRV testing allows Porcel-Thin to accurately ascertain the exact colour of any porcelain tile or surface covering; thereby making it much easier for interior designers to attain consistent results when matching or contrasting tones.

The company also has a lot to offer when it comes to selecting the ideal tile for specific applications. From antibacterial tiles ideal for medical institutions, through to ultra-large format digitally printed stone or wood reproductions, Porcel-Thin’s lightweight yet incredibly strong tiles aim to set a worldwide benchmark for quality and design.

Of course, the basis of thin porcelain’s appeal lies in the material composition and manufacturing technique.  While standard tiles are made using wet clay, porcelain tiles are formed from the dry dust of high quality porcelain clays. The result is a tile which is harder, smoother and with a finer grain. While ceramics are baked to remove the high-water content porcelain tiles can be fired at a much higher temperature, producing a tile with a much lower water absorption rate. This makes them tougher, longer lasting and much more resistant to water and frost than ceramic equivalents.

The porcelain clays used are much denser, have a higher feldspar content and fewer impurities than ordinary clay, giving porcelain tiles their great strength and hard-wearing nature.

Consequently, the porcelain tiles distributed by Porcel-Thin typically have much higher PEI ratings than ceramic alternatives – typically around PEI 3 to 5 – making them ideal for heavy residential and commercial traffic.  Hard-wearing, strong and with a high resistance to water absorption porcelain tiles are also far superior for outdoor use, in all weathers.

Porcel-Thin’s business ethos is that only one surface material is superior to a porcelain tile … and that is a thin porcelain tile.  By working closely with some of the most technically competent manufacturers around the world, particularly in China, Porcel-Thin has moved porcelain floor and wall tiles forward by applying innovative design and next generation manufacturing techniques.

Typically, a mere 4.8mm thick, Porcel-Thin’s porcelain tiles are less than half the thickness of standard 13mm porcelain tiles. This results in amazingly thin, lightweight tiles.

“With an ultra-low water absorption rate of just 0.05, Porcel-Thin’s porcelain wall and floor tiles not only have better resistance to moisture and dirt, but independent testing has also confirmed that they are nearly twice as strong as their conventional, full-thickness equivalents,” says Smith.

“In addition to this, we’ve also managed to pull off the seemingly impossible concept of making Porcel-Thin porcelain tiles not only lighter and stronger but larger too,” continues Smith.  “Our large porcelain wall and floor tiles measure 1,200mm by 600mm or 1,800 by 900mm for our Mona Lisa and Mono collections; yet remain light enough to be easily handled by one person. Needless to say, this larger standard format also allows for faster, easier area coverage, even in areas which are traditionally tricky. Using our large porcelain tiles also means less grouting, producing a more seamless finish with fewer materials. Porcel-Thin large porcelain tiles can also be easily applied directly over existing tiling, saving you time and money by not having to worry about prior removal or making good afterwards. Our lightweight wall and floor tiles also mean less overall loading in building construction,” explains Smith.

With thin porcelain, there are also huge benefits in on-site handling, lower production and transportation costs: all factors that play well in an era where sustainable construction is so high on the agenda.

Book Match Tiles Provide The Wow Factor

Porcel-Thin’s Calacatta marble-effect porcelain tile range is the perfect blend of practicality with classical elegance.  A sophisticated reproduction of white marble with strong black veins, the book match collection can create up to seven striking and eye-catching mirrored patterns; all of which are easily achieved to cover an area 4.8 metres in width by 3 metres in height.

Using ultra-realistic digital printing, these Calacatta marble effect tiles recreate the opulence of natural stone, without the drawbacks of cutting and installing heavy, fragile natural marble.  In addition, the mirroring effect of book match thin porcelain tiles enables the creation of stunning fractal designs, highly suitable for the creation of large feature walls in both domestic settings and commercial spaces.

The hardwearing nature of Porcel-Thin’s book matched marble-effect tiles also lends itself to uses for which natural marble would be unsuitable, such as the construction of feature floors in the entrance halls of large luxury houses or commercial reception areas.

Porcel-Thin’s Calacatta range has already proved popular.  It was, for instance, specified by The Studio Harrods for their luxury hotel suite design study, unveiled at the Sleep Design event in November 2015.

Porcel-Thin will be extending its range of book matched marble-effect tiles through 2016 and beyond, the aim being to ensure that there is an attractive, hardwearing and scratch-resistant mirror pattern available for use wherever high quality and elegant designs are valued.

As the feature in this issue of TSJ shows, underfloor heating is enjoying a period of sustained growth and popularity.  Already firmly established in Northern Europe, it is fast becoming the preferred option for new build homes in the UK.  If the UFH system selected is either hot water pumped through pipes under the floor (a ‘wet’ system) or electrical heating coils beneath the tiles (a ‘dry’ system) thin porcelain tiles, claims Porcel-Thin, are proven to be the perfect partner for UFH.

While ordinary ceramic tiles, natural stone and even wooden floors can be installed above UFH systems, large thin porcelain floor tiles make the most of an UFH system.

“Typical of the current UFH market,’ explains Smith, “was the developer of a stunning penthouse apartment in central London.  He chose Porcel-Thin tiles for their size and quality, but also because their ultra-thin format allowed the underfloor heating to heat up faster and work more efficiently.”

“With a thickness of between 4.8mm and 5.5mm, our large porcelain floor tiles are significantly thinner than traditional porcelain tiles (typically 10 to 13mm thick), and thus require around a third less energy to reach and maintain their required temperature.  Consequently, our ultra-thin porcelain tiles also heat up faster than standard tiled or wood floors, ensuring that the underfloor heating much more responsive,” says Smith.

Despite their slim profile Porcel-Thin’s large porcelain floor tiles are incredibly strong and hardwearing, due to their being pressed rather than extruded.  This rugged, highly resistant, construction also means that Porcel-Thin’s tiles do not require any additional strengthening, such a fibreglass mesh.  Smith is very clear on this point.  “The use of strengthening materials can actually cause lesser thin tiles to fail, with the mesh matting expanding at a different rate and thus stressing the floor tiles laid on it. With Porcel-Thin’s large porcelain floor tiles this is simply not a problem,” he claims.

Cutting Edge New Designs

Treasured since classical antiquity, the exquisite splendour of Statuario marble has now been flawlessly reproduced by Porcel-Thin for the new Statuario Onyx marble-effect wall and floor tiles.  Utilising cutting-edge digital printing techniques, this new stone-effect tile forms part of the popular 3D Shadow tile collection.  Statuario Onyx marble-effect tiles replicate perfectly the much prized white Italian stone, shot through with elegant veins; the colour of which, in natural marble, can vary from grey to gold.  In this aspect, the Statuario marble effect floor and wall tiles are similar in appearance to the classic Carrara and Calacatta marble tiles already in Porcel-Thin’s Ferrara Collection; enabling easy matching while maintaining the subtle individuality of each collection.

Available in the extra-large 1,800 by 900mm format, or in a smaller 900 by 900mm option, the new Statuario Onyx marble effect tiles a striking new addition to the portfolio.  They are straightforward to install, offering easy cutting, simple shaping and lightweight handling on site.

Another new design, the Paris collection, is billed as Porcel-Thin’s premier league porcelain floor and wall tiles.  Just like the city from which it takes its name, the Paris collection is the epitome of modern style.  Chic and sophisticated, it comes in an impressive range of thirty-six different designs: from classic plain colours like pure white, warm cream, bold aquamarine and elegant grey, through to contemporary patterns and even abstract nature prints.

The Aquamarine large porcelain tiles make an elegant and practical substitute for coloured glass in kitchens and bathrooms; an excellent choice for a hardwearing splashback, as they were in one of the bathrooms created by Porcel-Thin for the 2015 Sleep hotel design event.

The Paris range has already found favour with high end designers and luxury developers.  Interior design and project management consultancy, Nicola Scannell Design recently made use of Porcel-Thin’s porcelain bathroom tiles in a luxury south-London home refurbishment and extension, using a mixture of the Vintage Floss and Tree pattern porcelain tiles to create a cool, modern look.

The company’s standard 1,200 by 600mm thin porcelain tiles are robust enough for both indoor and outdoor applications, allowing for a wide variety of design options. Even at only 4.8mm thick the matt or polished porcelain tiles will resist water from a power shower or steamy bathroom.

Another popular option in Porcel-Thin’s range are highly realistic wood-effect porcelain tiles.  These offer all the warmth and elegance of timber yet still retain the convenience of a hardwearing, easy to maintain, modern surface. Offering the textured feel of natural wood, but without the drawbacks which prevent timber products being used in areas such as bathrooms and wet rooms, Porcel-Thin now has two premium porcelain wood-effect wall and floor tile ranges: Pattaya and Mono Lisa.

Pattaya draws its inspiration from the elegant wood grain patterns of South East Asia.  It is available in five tones, from Rice White to Ebony, with three natural colour shades. The Mono Lisa range, available in an 1,800 by 900mm format, provide a choice of two ash-effect ash tiles in light or dark tones, together with a Wood Wave tile with a deep colour reminiscent of dark mahogany or rosewood.

Wood-effect tiles can be used in all areas of the home including challenging locations such as bathrooms, steam rooms, wet rooms, swimming pools or exterior areas.  Due to their high strength and durable nature, wood-effect porcelain tiles can also be used in high traffic areas, such as entrances or hallways.  Together with their innate weather resistance this allows for designs which flow from the exterior of a building into the inside: design styles which ‘bring the outside, inside’ are very much in vogue at the moment.

Wood-effect floor tiles are also efficient when used in conjunction with UFH systems. Natural wood is an insulant, which makes wooden floors slow to heat and inefficient. Thin porcelain tiles conduct the heat much more quickly, warming a room in less time and using less energy.

New Antibacterial Tiles

In 2016 Porcel-Thin launched a new range of porcelain, antibacterial tiles that take advantage of the properties of Zinc Oxide (ZnO); a compound that is well known for its ability to kill and control a wide variety of harmful bacteria. The zinc oxide nanoparticles used in the new antibacterial tiles are highly stable, have a long shelf life and, most importantly, contain high levels of antimicrobial agents.  These properties create an ultra-thin porcelain tile that is ideally suited for long term use in any environment where cleanliness and hygiene are major considerations.

One of the biggest problems with traditional bacterial control ceramic and porcelain tiles is that once the glaze, which houses the antibacterial properties, is damaged (through ageing, wear and tear, etc) the effectiveness of the tile is compromised.   Once this first and only line of defence is breached, the exposed inner make-up of these tiles can allow bacteria to form.

Porcel-Thin’s new concept of imbuing the whole of their bacteria control porcelain tiles with antibacterial properties solves this problem at a stroke.  With the entire porcelain tile containing antibacterial zinc oxide nanoparticles the new Porcel-Thin product retains its bacterial fighting properties, even if the surface is penetrated.

These new antibacterial tiles have undergone independent testing by the UK Health & Safety laboratory and were found to be extremely effective in killing both MRSA and MSSA.  Their tests recorded that a bacterial kill rate of 98% and 96% respectively was seen over a 24-hour period.

These antibacterial tiles are ideal for use in a wide range of applications. Perfectly suited for medical institutions, such as hospitals, doctors’ surgeries, dentists, clinics or even veterinary surgeries, their long lasting, durable bacteria control can also be highly desirable in places where hygiene is an important consideration, such as food and beverage production units or research laboratories. Moving beyond such specialist environments, antibacterial tiles can also be of great value in gyms, health clubs, swimming pools or businesses such as tattoo parlours, beauty clinics and therapy rooms.

Insiders Guide To Cutting And Installation

It is fair to say that the installation advice provided by Ray Smith and his team is sometimes at odds with the accepted wisdom of the UK tiling fraternity.  However, Porcel-Thin points to the top-notch list of contractors with whom the company has long established business relationships, and the host of successfully completed contracts, as proof that their carefully considered installation techniques really work.

For Smith, cutting and shaping thin porcelain tiles starts with a robust workbench, covered with a layer of fibre-bonded carpet.  This material is used because it absorbs vibration, reduces noise from power tools, protects tiles against accidental damage and, perhaps most importantly of all, allows clear unobstructed access to the tiles without tiring bending by the fixer.

“Porcelain tiles are generally harder and more durable than ceramic products.  Some people believe that this makes them harder to cut and shape,” comments Smith.  “This is not the case with Porcel-Thin.  Although it is, indeed, an incredibly strong, solid porcelain tile, with the correct tiling tools and knowledge Porcel-Thin tiles can be easily cut, drilled and shaped for a perfect finish every time.  To prove the point readers can visit our website - www.porcel-thin.com - and watch a simple video in which I demonstrate how easy it is to cut, drill and shape Porcel-Thin large format ultra-thin tiles using a variety of tools and techniques,” says Smith.

For cutting straight edges, or even curves, Smith swears by a professional glass cutter with an integral oil reservoir.  Offering fast, smooth cutting, the life of the tungsten carbide wheel is greatly extended by the lubricating oil which is dispensed via a pressure release system. These oil-filled glass cutter, originally designed for 6 to 12mm thick glass, make light work of Porcel-Thin’s 4.8mm thick porcelain tiles, producing sharp, clean cuts time after time.  All that is required is a straight-edged guide.

Smith is certain that using a glass cutter on a work bench offer superior results because it allows even the largest tiles to be scored and snapped in one fluid, continuous, movement: something, he contends, is very hard to achieve with conventional tile cutters.

Smith has equally clear views on mixing and applying adhesive when fixing ultra-large format porcelain tiles.  He is convinced, following extensive testing, that a standard width notched floor trowel, with adhesive mixed at the stiffer end of its mixing envelope, simply will not provide the degree of adhesive coverage required to achieve failure-free installation.

His preferred method is to mix the adhesives at the upper limits of its wetness range, creating an easily deformable mix.  He then advocates applying this with a Ragni R319 mastic trowel with a serrated edge.  This provides a high count of thinner adhesive beads.  The tile, back-buttered with a 1mm skim, can then be slid into position, achieving extremely high coverage rates.  The alternative method of vertically placing the tile and then spreading the adhesive beads using pressure simply does not achieve the same high coverage rates, believes Smith.

To prove the enhanced coverage achieved with the ‘slim bead and slide’ method, Smith advocates that fixers use a simple glass sheet as a ‘trial’ tile.  This allows the installer to witness the enhanced coverage that this method achieves; as the results can be clearly seen through the transparent glass tile.

In addition to invaluable tips on thin porcelain tile cutting and adhesive preparation, Smith is also more than happy to provide professional tiling contractors with fully researched and tested guidance on selecting suitable backerboards, installing tiles over UFH systems, and selecting and installing movement joints; as well as practical advice on edge protection, adhesive and grout formulations, and tiling trims.  His aim is to ensure that the manifold benefits of thin porcelain tiles are not compromised by poor site practice and ill-conceived installation techniques.

Ragni Mastic Trowel

Manufactured from the highest quality steel.  Well balanced and sturdy yet light in weight.

Banana shaped ABS plastic handle provides a comfortable grip which prevents fatigue even when used over long periods.

Type. Serrated Edge 4 mm. (U Type).  For spreading Mastic on wall and floors before ceramic tiling.

Blade Size. 280 x 120mm (11 x 4.3/4 in)

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3000 x 1500 × 6mm Porcelain Panels

Tilers & Trade Shop have a range of C1 & C2 Adhesives in stock for these types of tiles.

Graniti Fiandre’s proprietary technology has made it possible to create stunning slabs in an astonishing size associated with a minimum 6mm thickness that are also environmentally friendly.

MAXIMUM Porcelain Panels are made entirely from natural materials such as sand, quartz, clay, feldspar and recycled content. No toxic resins or chemical binders are used, as with reconstituted stone products. This substantially reduced 6mm profile means that 2 to 3 times less raw material are used compared to quarry materials, not to mention requiring lower energy consumption during production.

State of the art technology and equipment is used to combine materials in a unique manufacturing process.

MAXIMUM panels, with a high impact 3000 × 1500 size, enables 4.5 square metres of coverage per panel. This innovative form of high-tech lightweight (14.5kg/m2) ceramic offers a minimal thickness of only 6mm delivering designers the inspiration to experiment with new forms and expressions.

MAXIMUM combines maximum design freedom with greater flexibility.

The maxi slab dramatically reduces the number of interruptions in the design unit and, at the same time, the wide range of sub-multiples offered guarantees great versatility for all requirements.

The revolutionary MAXIMUM material combines the established, classical characteristics that have always set Fiandre’s porcelain stoneware tiles apart, with new exceptional, high performance qualities: strength, lightness, flexibility and ductility, with a choice of finishes from sophisticated matte finishes to the bright sheen of a polished finish.

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