International Masonry Institute News

IMI Gains Outside Advantage for Porcelain Tile

Most of us wouldn’t mind having an “inside advantage,” but when it comes to porcelain tile, it’s the outside that can make a big difference. That’s why IMI fought so hard to get it included in the International Building Code as an acceptable weather covering for building exteriors.

After quite a few rounds through the code gauntlet, final success came at the International Code Council’s May hearings in Dallas. Until then, porcelain tile was not specifically included in the building code as an acceptable exterior finish, which made designers hesitant to use it.

Now with this major victory for tile contractors and craftworkers, they can fairly compete with glass and other exterior finishes.

The fine print

On May 19, the IMI Code Committee succeeded in getting Porcelain Tile added in three places of the IBC: Section 1402 – Definitions; Section 1405.10.2 - Installation of Wall Coverings; and Table 1405.2, where it was added as an acceptable Exterior Weather Covering.

New language for Table 1405.2 - “Exterior adhered masonry veneers-porcelain tile” - limits the size and weight of porcelain tile units. Those stipulations are critical, because anything larger has to be mechanically anchored. The section also specifies that the tile “shall be adhered to an approved backing system.”

The groundwork

As anyone who deals with codes knows, changes like these don’t come overnight. IMI first had to convince the Tile Council of North America, which serves as Secretariat for ANSI 137.1, to submit the 2005 revised ANSI 137.1 standard, with the new reference for Porcelain Tile in Table 10. The updated 137.1 standard was then referenced in the new definition submitted by IMI to the ICC, which helped define Porcelain Tile for the IBC 1402 definitions section. The changes will take effect as areas adopt the 2012 I-Code, which will be available April 2011.

The bottom line

The practical effect of these victories will be more BAC man hours and more reliable exterior tile installations.

“It is certainly important for architects and owners to understand the materials they have chosen for an exterior installation,” said John Trendell, President of Tile Contractors' Association of America. "With the right materials and the high quality installation practices offered by our companies, architects and owners can be assured of the best possible installation.”

We applaud IMI's work on this issue.”

Read the press release

Download the latest IMI Update on Tile Codes and Standards