Tile contractors reached a major turning point this May, with code changes pushed by the International Masonry Institute (IMI) to make them more competitive with glass and other exterior finishes.

At the International Code Council’s (ICC) May hearings in Dallas, the IMI Code Committee says it convinced the ICC to add new text to International Building Code’s section on acceptable weather covering for building exteriors. [Table 1405.2, Exterior adhered masonry veneers – porcelain tile.]

The change removes any ambiguity about tile’s proper place as an exterior finish. It will take effect as areas adopt the 2012 I-Code, which will be available April 2011.

The new text limits any porcelain tile face dimension to three square feet total, and less than 9-lbs./sq. ft. Anything larger has to be mechanically anchored, which will bring more reliable exterior tile installations by qualified contractors.

“We applaud IMI's work on this issue,” said John Trendell, president of Tile Contractors' Association of America (www.tcaainc.org). “It is certainly important for architects and owners to understand the materials they have chosen for an exterior installation. 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.”