The title "tilesetter" defines a person who, because of his or her knowledge, training, and abilities, is capable of covering, repairing, and decorating exterior and interior walls, floors, swimming pools, saunas, and other surfaces using ceramic, mosaics, marble and quarry tile, slate, stone or granite slabs, or terrazzo.
Tilesetters read and interpret architectural drawings and material specifications to determine tile layout, finish, and installation requirements. They prepare surfaces for tiling by applying a variety of underbeds such as metal mesh, anchor bolts, cement beds, or scratch coats. They select, mix, apply, and spread mortar, cement, mastic, or other adhesives to the tile to be set or the surface to be tiled. They cut and fit tiles to a variety of surfaces, and finish tiles using grout. Tilesetters also lay and set mosaic tiles to create decorative wall, mural, and floor designs. Some tilesetters cut, polish, and install marble and granite and mix, lay, grind, and polish terrazzo surfaces.
Because tilesetting is a final step in the construction process, tilesetters generally work indoors in relatively comfortable conditions. However, some of the work is exterior and is therefore exposed to inclement weather. The work requires considerable bending, crawling, kneeling, and reaching. Installing some material may also involve heavy lifting. Hazards include exposure to dust, silica, epoxy fumes, and repetitive stress injury.
Tilesetters are required to have a good sense of layout and design, and often prearrange tiles on a dry floor to confirm a specific design. Tilesetting requires considerable planning, and tilesetters must be able to visualise the finished design as they work with the small components at close quarters. Tilesetters must be familiar with the material properties and installation requirements of ceramic, mosaic, marble, quarry tile, stone, and terrazzo. All tilesetters are required to be competent in the use of a variety of specialty hand and power saws, tile cutters, and grinding and polishing machines.
Some tilesetters may be employed by tile contractors, while others are self-employed. On small jobs, tilesetters may work alone with minimal supervision. They may also supervise an apprentice or helper. On large jobs, they may work under the direction of a supervisor.
Tilesetters interact and work co-operatively with the full spectrum of construction tradespeople, such as carpenters, bricklayers, painters, lathers, cabinetmakers, plumbers, and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning technicians. They are required to constantly adjust their schedule and work to accommodate the schedule of these other trades since their role is one of final finishing.
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