​ACT is not a training program. It is a rigorous testing process that measures an installer's knowledge of the TCNA Handbook and ANSI standards and the installer's ability to successfully complete complex installation techniques in real life conditions. ACT certified installers represent the pinnacle of performance in the tile trade and maintain a level of excellence superior to non-ACT certified installers.

To qualify for ACT certification, an installer must be a journeyman tile setter who has successfully completed the apprenticeship program conducted by the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers or a Certified Tile Installer as recognized by the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation. 

ACT currently certifies installers in seven installation areas: Grouts; Large Format Tile & Substrate Preparation; Shower Receptors; Membranes; Mortar (Mud) Walls; Mortar (Mud) Floors and Thin Porcelain Tile. An installer may choose to become ACT certified in one or more of these areas.

ACT certification in each area is granted upon successful completion of a written online test - designed to measure the installer's understanding of applicable ANSI specifications and TCNA recommended methods - and a field test conducted by trained, third party instructors to evaluate the installer's skills under real life conditions. 

ACT is a collaboration of five leading organizations in the tile industry: Tile Contractors' Association of America, International Masonry Institute, International Union of Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers, the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation; the National Tile Contractors Association; and the Tile Council of North America.  

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Tile and stone are permanent finishes. The appearance, performance and durability of these finishes relies on the qualifications of the tile/stone contractor and the skills of the installers employed by the contractor.  

Two industry certifications offer a way for the public to know if the contractor under consideration is qualified to perform the installation and its installers possess the necessary skills to address the complexities of tile/stone projects. These certifications are the Trowel of Excellence and the Advanced Certification for Tile Installers (ACT).  

Excellence in craftsmanship requires expert installation knowledge. 
Is your contractor qualified to handle your tile/stone installation project?

Technical expertise in the installation of tile and stone materials is just half of the equation leading to successful projects.  The other half is the qualifications of the installation company. 

Trowel of Excellence™ certification was developed in partnership by the Tile Contractors’ Association of America and the International Masonry Institute. Its purpose is to offer assurance to those looking for a tile/stone installation contractor that the contractor has the experience, financial stability and integrity to successfully complete the project and stand behind its work.

To achieve Trowel of Excellence certification, a tile/stone installation company must undergo a rigorous peer review process that examines the company’s history in the following areas:

  • use of skilled installers
  • longevity
  • financial responsibility
  • customer service delivery
  • continuing education and safety training
  • ethical business practices

Only companies that meet the highest industry standards in each of these areas receive Trowel of Excellence certification and certification must be renewed every three years. This is why TCAA's Trowel of Excellence has been the "gold standard" of industry certifications since its inception in 2006.


International Masonry Institute
International Union of Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers
Promoting Excellence in Tile & Stone Craftsmanship
Tile Contractors' Association of America