Tile distributors and retailers could find themselves coming unstuck over any tile fixer recommendations that they pass on to their customers.

This is because one of the requirements incorporated into the latest revision of the main British Standard on tiling (BS 5385 Part 1: 2018) includes a clause relating to workmanship (Clause 7.1.3). For the first time the Standard now recognises that the installation of ceramic or natural stone tiling should be carried out with ?efficient supervision and the employment of properly trained operatives, skilled to an appropriate level of competence, certified by a recognised authoritative body, eg. The Tile Association?.

This is a change that TTA has been lobbying for and is highly significant for the whole industry. TTA believes it is a change which will help drive quality through the industry and protect TTA member fixers who are carrying out high quality work for their customers.

The new wording of the Standard does however increase the possibility of liability issues for tile retailers and distributors if they, even unwittingly, promote or recommend a tile fixer who is not competence certified or a TTA member, in the event that any poor workmanship problems arise on a job that has been carried out by somebody they have recommended who was not appropriately certified.

TTA therefore recommends that all those involved in the direct sale of tiles, adhesives and grouts etc., to the end-user rather than to the tile installer, should make themselves aware of who are their local TTA-registered fixers, and be sure only to promote these fixers. Information on TTA-registered fixers in all parts of the UK is available on TTA?s website. Additionally retailers should also provide details of several appropriately competence-certified tiling contractors, not just one, and should encourage consumers to seek multiple quotes, again from competence-certified installers and in any information provided, should include appropriate disclaimers.

?The emphasis on fixer skill levels enshrined in the Standard fits with Government initiatives to qualify the workforce,? says Brian Newell, chairman of TTA?s Technical Committee. ?The fact that TTA has been explicitly mentioned in the Standard is a recognition of the work that TTA has been doing to drive up quality in the industry and to ensure that quality levels are adequately policed. The formalisation of a commitment to quality is a very important development which will enhance customer confidence in the sector.?

It is worth noting that ceramic and natural stone tiling is the first sector of the construction industry in which a recommendation regarding competence-certified workmanship has been incorporated into the relevant British Standard. This reflects the persistent lobbying on this subject carried out by TTA in recent years.