Gauged Porcelain Panel Installations: What You Really Need to Know
When gauged porcelain tile panels/slabs were first introduced to the flooring industry, they typically measured one or two feet in width and length. Now, after nearly a decade of development from tile flooring manufacturers, porcelain tile panels/slabs can be as large as 10 feet by five feet, and in some cases with custom flooring—even larger.
Proper Installation Practices
Installing gauged porcelain requires special training and equipment, as well as a high performance adhesive that offers an extended open time, high bond strength, excellent workability and proper curing parameters per ANSI A108.19 (American National Standard Specifications for Gauged Porcelain Tiles and Gauged Porcelain Tile Panels/Slabs).
In the first stages of a gauged porcelain tile and panel installation, it is highly recommended that the manufacturer of the gauged porcelain tile and panel provides information regarding the tile’s service rating and suitability for its intended use. For instance, when cut and smoothened properly, gauged porcelain tile and panels can create a beautiful aesthetic and increase overall functionality of any project. Although porcelain is denser and stronger compared to ceramic tiles, there are many approaches to cutting porcelain tile. Tile nippers, angle grinders, tile cutters, wet tile saws, wet wheel diamond blades and drill bits are just a handful of some of the most universal tools used to cut porcelain. However, manufacturers and installers will provide specialized knowledge when it comes to which tools, trowels or professional cutting equipment is necessary to make the installation process as efficient as possible.
We all recognize how important proper handling and protection is when transporting a slab, especially when keeping it in mint condition. Due to the scale and style of gauged large format porcelain tile panels/slabs, specialized equipment will be required during the handling process. For example, using a glass installer’s “vacuum suction cups” and/or “installation frames” can facilitate easier handling and placing of the tile, as well as reduce the chance of cracking them during transportation and installation. Not only do these suction cup grips make the job easier, they make the handling process safer once on the jobsite.
Applying the Mortar
A huge factor in creating a successful installation is the preparation of the surface. Installers can learn exactly what building code and surface preparation requirements are needed by reviewing the wall, ceiling and floor substrate requirements set by the IRC, IBC, TCNA and the aforementioned ANSI A108.19 installation standard.
A Laticrete product that has made strides in the gauged porcelain panel installation process is 257 Titanium. 257 Titanium is the ultimate, lightweight, polymer modified, high-performance thinset mortar designed to function as the optimal choice for installing gauged porcelain tile (GPT) and gauged porcelain tile panels/slabs (GPTP) in commercial, residential and industrial applications. Offering superior bond strength and adhesion, 257 Titanium exceeds ANSI A118.15, the industry’s highest performance standard for a cementitious-based adhesive mortar. Due to its exceptional wetting out properties, superior transfer and 60-minute open time, 257 Titanium ensures maximum coverage and a high-strength bond that will not deteriorate over time. Additionally, 257 Titanium utilizes Laticrete Hydromatic Cure Chemistry, which accelerates the hydration process to rapidly consume water in the system and allows the material to cure in a predictable manner.
Another Laticrete product that makes installing gauged porcelain tile panels/slabs a breeze is Multimax Lite, a transcendent lightweight, polymer modified, non-sag, large and heavy tile mortar for interior and exterior installations of ceramic tile, porcelain tile, glass tile and stone. Offering superior bond strength and adhesion, Multimax Lite exceeds ANSI A118.15, the industry’s highest performance standard for a cementitious-based adhesive mortar. Thanks to its lightweight design, it can be more easily transported and troweled. A 25-pound (11.3 kilogram) bag provides the same coverage as a 50-pound (22.7 kilogram) bag of standard mortar. Additionally, Multimax Lite contains no silica sand, benefiting worker safety on the jobsite.
Ask an Expert
Gauged porcelain tile panels/slabs are becoming increasingly popular among designers, architects and installers due to its sleek and modern finish. However, it’s important to acknowledge all aspects that factor into ensuring a successful installation. Consult the gauged porcelain tile and panel manufacturer before selection and installation to determine the porcelain’s suitability for the intended area of use and the specified project. In addition, consult your tile and stone installation materials manufacturer for assistance on the proper selection of the installation materials ranging from leveling products, membranes, adhesive mortars and grouting products.