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60,000 square feet of tile being replaced after mortar fails at State Capitol

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Posted at 9:44 PM, May 18, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-18 23:44:38-04

SALT LAKE CITY – The tile placed at the Utah State Capitol was meant to last for 50 years, but even though the tile was put down in 2008 it is all being replaced in a lengthy, expensive process.

The new tile was part of a $250 million restoration project that was finished six years ago, but two years ago the tile in the building began to break down.

"We were noticing some premature failure in the tile, so we did some additional investigation and determined that the mortar bed that's underneath the tile system was failing,” said Terry Wright, who is the senior vice president of Jacobsen Construction. "Not very often does a mortar bed fail like this, so it caught a lot of folks off guard."

The tile needed to be replaced, all 60,000 square-feet of it. Jacobsen Construction helped install the original tile and is overseeing the current project to replace it. A $4.4 million insurance settlement is helping to foot the bill, and Jacobsen Construction is paying for the rest. The exact cost is unknown.

“All the new tile had to be purchased new, because during the demolition process, the tile is essentially destroyed,” Wright said.

The process isn’t expected to be completed until the end of 2015. Crews work at nights, which is part of the reason the project will take so long. They can’t work during the day, as the building is occupied, and the same is true on weekends—when the facility is often used for events like wedding receptions.

"It's difficult because part of the challenge is we are working within an operating facility,” Wright said.

Crews said they are taking their time with the project and making sure it gets done correctly.

"We are double checking lots of different things on this one, mortar placement, the mixing, everything about the assembly is being checked and double checked,” Wright said.