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 standards in the industry and to ensure that they 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. 


  1. This has been read by many time served tilers who are not TTA members, but do respect the cardinal rules of tiling, use the latest approved methods and have up-to-date copies of BS5385, or at least access to them, and stick to them in everything that they do on site. Many see it as a backhanded attempt at enforcing membership to the TTA and gaining revenue. A scare tactic against non TTA members that they shouldn’t be recommended by anyone, to perform their craft unless they pay a yearly subscription for the privilege and show a blue and white sticker on their van.

    They have underhandedly manipulated the standards to their own advantage, to promote their own members as if being a member is some kind of sales pitch (the vetting process really isn’t that hard, no proper assessment of skill or workmanship, they just want your money), and to pursuede other tilers that it’s their way or the highway, scaring people into becoming members for fear of not getting future work.

    I agree that it could weed out some of the cowboys, I have had to put right many jobs and it makes me angry that such poor workmanship gets through, but this has the very concerning potential of putting many excellent time served tilers, who are an asset to the industry, out of business.

    Very poor form of the Standards committee and TTA for this in my opinion, completely selfish and elitist. I am not a TTA member, nor will I ever be due to their attitude against non-members. But if someone from the TTA wishes to contact me and try telling me that my 4-year apprenticeship, further 20 years experience and hard work as a sole trader, having attended many courses from the likes of Palace, BAL, Schluter and Jackon, are worth nothing and not good enough for their industry, I’m all ears.

    1. Hi Peter

      Thank you for your post.

      TTA’s only interest in this is to promote best practice and drive up standards for the benefit of all fixers working in the tiling industry. Poor quality work – dot and dab etc – reflects badly on everyone and can bring our industry into disrepute.

      We represent the industry as a whole and believe that driving up standards and encouraging everyone to work to a common standard is the best approach to secure a future for us all. This has been done in other industries, such as the Gas Safe Register and the Fensa Certificate in the window and door industry. Tiling needs skilled labour too.

      It’s great that you have a four years’ apprenticeship and 20 years’ experience under your belt. Unfortunately too many don’t – our inspectors all too frequently get to see the bad jobs out there. Our aim is to encourage all fixers to join their industry association, to get training, to improve customer satisfaction, tackle bigger jobs – and in the end everyone benefits.

      Talking of benefits, there is a whole bunch of other reasons, why it’s in a fixer’s interest to join TTA. What’s not to like about £50 cashback for insurance, unlimited H&S advice, free access to TTA technical documents and sales leads from your listing on the TTA website. (Members’ directory listings on got over 100,000 visits in the 11 months to 30 November last year!).

      This is certainly not a self-serving campaign for the glorification of TTA. It is worth pointing out once again that all TTA’s board and committee members give freely of their time, often in fact ending up out of pocket, solely for the benefit of others in the industry, driving up standards and encouraging best practice in all our work.

      If you or any other non-member wishes to join, get involved and maybe suggest ways in which things could be improved, you would be more than welcome at any time.

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