What is Tile Installation Certification?
- Certification enables professional tile installers to provide industry-recognized proof of their abilities and secure more work.
- Certification is the validation of the skills and knowledge of the men and women who presently are installing tile successfully in the United States.
Certified Tile Installer (CTI) Program Overview
CTEF launched the Certified Tile Installer (CTI) program in 2008 to provide a means for good, knowledgeable tile installers to verify their skills and promote themselves to potential clients and employers. At the same time, the program addresses a significant opportunity in the marketplace:
- It provides consumers with a mechanism for identifying the level of proficiency of prospective tile installers and,
- It encourages them to use only the best-qualified installers, ensuring that their tile project is installed correctly from the beginning, and looks beautiful for years to come.
The Certified Tile Installer (CTI) program is a comprehensive testing of the skills and knowledge of experienced tile installers which includes a multiple-choice exam and a hands-on test. Both are based on current industry standards and best practices for producing a sound installation that exhibits good workmanship. The tests, therefore, require that both the observable and non-observable characteristics of a finished installation are executed properly.
>> Please note: this is a test of ability and is not considered a training event.
Marketing Your CTI Certification
Installers who pass the written and practical hands-on exams receive the following packet of marketing tools that will provide consumers, architects, designers and contractors a recognizable standard of expertise:
- Certified Tile Installer Certificate
- Plastic Wallet Identification Card
- Certified Installer logo
- Consumer Brochures
- Listing on the CTEF Website
For example, certified installers may display the CTI logo on their business cards, vehicles, and clothing. Additionally, CTEF provides promotional brochures that encourage consumers and general contractors/builders to use certified installers.
Who should register for the CTI Program?
Any installer may take the Certified Tile Installer (CTI) exams if he or she has at least two years of verifiable experience as the lead installer setting ceramic tile on a full-time basis. Experience as a helper, improver, grouter or finisher does not qualify toward the two-year requirement.
The CTI designation identifies the professional installer who has reached a level of proficiency to independently and consistently produce a sound tile installation that displays good workmanship.
For those who are not installing tile on a full-time basis, the two-year requirement applies, though more total years of installation are required to make up for the percentage of time not setting tile. For example, an installer who installs ceramic tile about 33% of the time must have six years of this experience.
Again, experience is defined as having full responsibility for substrate prep, layout, coordinating with other trades along with properly installing underlayment, tile, grouting and sealant materials.
While we encourage all qualified and interested individuals to take advantage of the certification program, we offer a friendly caution to those who have not been setting tile for the minimum amount of time.
- In order to maintain the integrity of the CTI certification program, CTEF evaluators require strict attention to even the smallest of details.
- The installer must prove he or she can competently execute all phases of installation and consistently produce finished work that is functionally sound and exhibits a high level of workmanship that will satisfy the most discriminating clients.
The grading procedure allows very little latitude for technical errors or aesthetic flaws, as CTEF pledges to uphold certification as a meaningful symbol that consumers can trust. Typically, three to five years of tile setting experience is required to attain the knowledge and skills required.
What is the CTI technical proficiency exam?
The technical proficiency exam is a 155-question, open book, multiple choice test. Upon registration, applicants will receive the following study materials:
- TCNA Handbook for Ceramic, Glass, and Stone Tile Installation
- American National Standard Specifications for the Installation of Ceramic Tile
- CTEF Field Manual for Thin-bed Installation of Ceramic Tile
To prepare for the exam, we encourage applicants to read the CTI manual and review the industry standards to have adequate time to complete the test. Exam topics include:
- Industry associations and industry standards
- Concrete substrate considerations
- Wood substrate considerations
- Crack isolation membranes
- Backer boards
- Bonding materials
- Ceramic tile performance properties
- Tile installation workmanship standards and best practices
- Cementitious grout
- Movement joints
- Flexible sealants (caulks)
The review questions at the end of each chapter in the Manual are representative of the questions on the exam. Also included in each chapter is a glossary of terms and words used in that chapter.
A maximum of four hours may be taken for the CTI technical proficiency exam.
What is the CTI hands-on test?
The hands-on test allows CTEF evaluators to verify that an applicant has the skills to deliver an installation that meets industry performance and workmanship standards.
Installers must demonstrate their ability to execute a complex layout and proper installation of: vapor retarder membrane, backer board, tile (walls and floors), cementitious grout, and flexible sealant (caulk). For each installation material, the applicant is scored on the various aspects of workmanship relevant to producing an installation that will endure use and satisfy the discriminating client.