CTEF Tile Tip: Adapting to New Installation Techniques
Not too long ago the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) Handbook considered an 8” x 8” tile to be large format. Then, unofficially, the 12” x 12” tiles took over that designation. Now a tile with at least one edge 15” in length or longer is considered to be a large format tile (LFT).
But how large can a tile increase in size until that designation changes? For that answer, we need to consult the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A137.3 American National Standard for Gauged Porcelain Tiles and Gauged Porcelain Tile Panels/Slabs. Under section 3.0, Definition of Terms, it states: “Tile Panel/Slab: A ceramic tile of size greater than or equal to 1 m² (11 ft²). A product less than 1 m² (11 ft²) shall be regarded simply as a tile.” The actual size in English measurements for 1 m² would be 39-3/8” x 39-3/8”.
This allows for a wide range of tile sizes in between. The tile shown in the attached photo is approximately 9” x 82” which is over five square feet! This would be comparable to installing five 12” x 12” tiles at one time. However, this is less than half of the ANSI tile definition of “simply a tile” at 11 square feet. The installation technique needed to install this large and long woodgrain plank tile is incredibly different. It would be almost impossible for one installer to set a tile this long without help.
A well trained and experienced tile installer should be able to single-handedly set tiles ranging from 12” x 24” up to 24” x 48” on a floor installation. But the popularity of installing those same tiles on walls is gaining momentum, which brings its own challenges. Things like getting each tile in a flat plane with those around it may require the use of a lippage control device to be within the ANSI allowance of 1/32”, or achieving the required 80% mortar coverage in dry areas and 95% mortar coverage in wet areas can be difficult.
But what happens when the tiles are even larger than those described in the last paragraph? Enter the new really long tiles which will require everyone in the tile installation business to rethink the methodology used to install this longer floor tile. The use of a good quality pair of suction cups and maybe two installers is needed to accurately and efficiently install one five square foot plank. This additional help could increase the bid price.
This is not to say that you as the installer, should be afraid, but rather, well informed and equipped to handle these new entries into the market and get paid a fair wage to install them. Qualified labor may be slightly more expensive, but it pays in the long run.
As tiles continue to increase in size, it’s time to change installation techniques.