WASHINGTON, DC – The Tile Council of North America today unveiled a groundbreaking agreement with Brazil’s tile manufacturers to undertake a mutual effort to coordinate each country’s ceramic tile standards.  This unique government-supported endeavor will strengthen regulatory cooperation between the U.S. and Brazilian industries, and facilitate broad recognition of the need for stringent and accurate testing requirements for porcelain tile.

The agreement, brokered this week at the U.S. Department of Commerce as part of the U.S. – Brazil Commercial Dialogue, comes in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) and ANFACER, Brazil’s tile industry association.  In the MOU, both TCNA and ANFACER pledge to undertake a work plan in which both industries would compare national standards and explore the possibility of “regulatory convergence.”  Key to this effort will be a mutual understanding on the best method for testing the water absorption of porcelain tile, which must, by definition, have 0.5% or less water absorption.  As water absorption relates to tile performance, the United States tile industry utilizes a water absorption test that is the most stringent in the world, and has long advocated the importance of full saturation when determining a tile’s true water absorption.

“This is a big deal,” said Eric Astrachan, Executive Director of TCNA.  “Both Brazilian and US consumers have been negatively impacted by imports that claim to meet national standards but which do not. To address this, both countries have implemented voluntary certification programs with some success, but falsely-labeled imports are still coming in to the customer’s detriment. We commend our colleagues at ANFACER for the steps they have taken in Brazil and their willingness to recognize our US criteria as we recognize theirs. We are looking forward to exploring together closer alignment of our national standards. We hope other nations will do the same. We’re very grateful to the U.S. Commerce Department for facilitating our dialogue with Brazil’s industry.”

“We will be discussing with ANFACER a new method to measure the water absorption of ceramic tile.  TCNA has just completed extensive inter-laboratory testing and the new method is much faster than current methods, but is just as effective in achieving full saturation.  We look forward to sharing our laboratory findings with Brazil’s tile industry, and believe this new method will benefit those tile manufacturers reporting the full saturation value of their tiles,” said Mr. Astrachan.

The Tile Council of North America is the trade association of the North American tile industry, representing companies that account for over 99% of U.S. tile production and over 99% of U.S. mortar, grout and related installation products manufacturing.