So you’re a manufacturer in the tile industry (tile, backer board, grout, mortar, etc.), and you want your product to be able to be installed in any interior. Easy enough to know what you want! Now the big question – how do you get your finished tile product where you want it to be?
Oh, that’s easy, isn’t it – marketing!
Nope. Well, not totally. While marketing to your intended market, in this case, homeowners, home builders, contractors, etc. is important, you have to make sure your product will withstand the wear in the area where it will be installed. What good would it do to market it as home interior flooring appropriate if it won’t stand up to the wear and tear it will receive? The Tile Council of North America (TCNA) has developed a ratings system to guide not only consumers in what kind of tile they need, but manufacturers looking to fit into a certain market.
The TCNA ratings system can help you know whether your tile is appropriate for its intended use. The TCNA system is broken down into five groups:
- Residential: Kitchens, bathrooms and foyers
- Light: Light commercial use, such as reception areas, office spaces, kitchens and bathrooms
- Moderate: Normal commercial and/or light institutional use in public spaces (restaurants, hospitals)
- Heavy: Malls, stores, commercial kitchens, laboratories, showrooms, shipping areas
- Extra Heavy: High-impact use like food plants, dairies, breweries
So you see that if your goal is to have your tile be appropriate for any area in a home interior, you want your tile to be included in the Residential group, or perhaps even the Light group.
Okay, I get it, but how do I find out which group my tile belongs in?
You need product testing, you need a Robinson Wheel Test. Now known as ASTM C627, it was developed in 1958 by the head of engineering research at TCNA, Donald Robinson, to evaluate the performance of various tile floors. This test is performed with a machine that consists of a carriage with three wheels that rotate in a circle on a sample section of floor. The test is run on a schedule of up to a maximum 14 cycles. Each cycle has a specific type of wheel that is to be used, whether soft rubber, hard rubber or steel. It also has a certain amount of weight that must be stacked on top of each wheel, and it must rotate for a certain number of revolutions. The flooring is inspected after each cycle to check for damage, including chips, loose tiles, popped, powdered or cracked grout joints or broken tiles. The number tiles and grout lines in the wheel path determines the amount of damage allowed before a specimen fails. The number of cycles without failure then determines the group the tile will go in. Residential tile can complete cycles 1-3, light use tile can complete 1 through 6, moderate use completes 1-10 cycles, heavy completes 1-12, and extra heavy must complete all 14 cycles. NTA, Inc. has PDF that explains the Robinson Wheel Test in detail.
Once you have the information you need to rate your tile, you can market it more effectively. Not only will it be easier to position your product in the marketplace, but consumers will be happier when they see that your tile performs as its label says it should, rather than be disappointed in its durability down the road. Happy consumers tell their friends about your product, and are more likely to return to your brand for future needs.
Where can I get a Robinson Wheel Test?
An accredited test lab can perform a Robinson Wheel Test, and give you a report with its findings, and NTA, Inc. has such a lab. Accredited by IAS to ISO/IEC 17025 for ASTM C627, we can test the durability of your tile. We can also use the Robinson Wheel Test to compare different installation methods, to determine which method adds to the durability of the overall floor. Our lab has the technology and experienced technicians necessary to test your tile product and provide a detailed analysis of the results.
Contact our test lab at firstname.lastname@example.org.