Being a certified tile installer (CTI) does not mean I’m the only qualified installer for Columbia Missouri. I wanted to start by being clear on that point. Of course there are other qualified tile installers in my city, I’m not the only one. I also know there are many installers that shouldn’t set another tile. This post is about the process of being a Certified Tile Installer and why I think it’s a good program. I encourage anyone to test their skills and earn their certification. Until then, I will brag that I am the only CTI in Columbia, Missouri. I have that going for me, which is nice.
What is a Certified Tile Installer?
A Certified Tile Installer is a lead installer with a minimum of two years full time tile setting experience. I earned my CTI by passing a hands on test and an open book test. The open book test I took online, I had to travel to Kansas City for the hands on portion. My hands on test was evaluated by a member of the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF). The Ceramic Tile Education Foundation started the CTI program to combat the lack of skilled installers in the trade. I know several installers that have had to make several attempts at passing their test. Fortunately, I was able to pass my CTI on the first attempt.
What is Covered in Open Book Test?
The open book test is a timed test and it also consists of 155 questions. The Ceramic Tile Education Foundation sends study materials for both the hands on and written tests. The study materials include a field manual, ANSI Standards and TCNA handbook. The field manual consists of 11 chapters and each chapter has a sample test at the end. There is a lot of information to process in the books and I am a better installer for reading them. The ANSI book also contains information about tile manufacturing and substrate requirements. Thinset mortar and grout types are also classified by ANSI standards.
Hands On Test
When I got to Kansas City I could pick my own testing module. The testing module consists of a wood floor substrate and wall studs. It is the installers responsibility to properly cover the substrate with vapor retardant and backer board. The evaluator uses ANSI standards to score the hands on test. The module has only about 20 square feet of tile to install and every aspect has a feature. The floor has a border and diamond inserts that must follow a specific pattern. The wall consists of a straight lay pattern and it has a diamond insert. The top of the knee wall must be properly sloped and all changes of plane must be treated appropriately. The CTEF gives each installer a sample grade sheet, so we know what the evaluator is looking for.
To receive the Certified Tile Installer certification, you must receive a cumulative score of 85%. The hands on test is worth 75% while the hands on test is worth 25%. I figured I needed 150 or better on the written test and 80% on the hands on. Knowing that results typically take 3-4 weeks to get back I was curious about retaking the test. An installer can take the test twice in six months. If the first attempt is not successful you will be notified of your weaknesses and to schedule your makeup test. The makeup test is not as expensive as the first attempt. You receive your certificate if you pass, but your score is not given to you.
I hope you will consider hiring a qualified installer for your next tile project. If you are in the central Missouri area I encourage you to please contact us. If you aren’t in my area please check out the ceramictilefoundation.org and look for a Certified Tile Installer in your area. Hiring an installer because they are less expensive could be the most expensive mistake you’ll ever make.