How to Lay Large Format Tiles

Get the Best Results From Your Large Format Tile

Large tiles offer several benefits over other sizes of tiles. Primarily, the aesthetic quality of the larger scale of these tiles opens up spaces visually - fewer grout lines to busy the picture. They're easier to keep clean and they come in a wide range of colours and styles; ranging from stone, concrete, metal or wood.

There are certain things you need to consider before installing them to ensure they remain as durable and beautiful as they are for many, many years to come.

Larger Tiles Require Support and a Level Surface

The larger the tile, the heavier it is going to be. Therefore, large tiles need to have a support system that is capable of handling the weight. This is especially the case if the tiles are being installed on a wall, but even on the floor, they need to have a stronger substrate to bear the additional weight.

Large tiles also demand an even surface for installation. While smaller tiles can often mask floor imperfections, this is not the case with large tiles. Large tiles will emphasize any areas that aren't level.

Installing Ditra Matting as an underlayment is one way to improve tile support. This product is designed to allow the installation of large ceramic and stone tile over any even and load-bearing substrate.

Large Tiles Need an Uncoupling Layer

Installing an uncoupling layering product like Ditra Matting not only improves tile support, but it also allows for in-plane movement that serves as a barrier between the substrate and the tile. This is important because substrate can become stressed and if an uncoupling layer isn't installed, the tile will be stressed as the substrate is stressed.

With an uncoupling layer installed, the tiles do not move with the substrate, thus reducing the likelihood of cracks developing.

Tips for Installing Big Tile Successfully

Before you start thinking about laying down an uncoupling layer, the substrate first needs to be cleaned, dry, and flat. If you bypass this step, your project is getting off on the wrong foot. Like they say in the tile business, "The tile floor is only going to be as good as the floor below it."

Large tiles are very sensitive to developing lippage, which is a term used to describe the situation in which one tile is sticking up higher than another tile. Even in ideal conditions, a bit of lippage is always to be expected, but in some cases, a lippage system may need to be installed before laying the tiles. This system includes a cap, strap, and base, which is a type of locking mechanism designed to help keep the tiles flat while the mortar sets.

Another important tip is to make sure you use tools that are designed specifically for installing large tiles. Standard-sized tools won't produce the same result as tools that are made for large tile installations.

The type of cement or mortar you use is another consideration to keep in mind. Manufacturers of these products now produce varieties of them based on the size of the tiles being installed. So, for the best result, you need to use cement or mortar that is designed for large-tile installations.

No large-tile project should be installed without expansion joints. In fact, no tile installation in general should be done without them. Expansion joints are installed over "movement joints," which are gaps or spaces next to a tile that lets the floor move slightly. They should also be installed around the perimeter, and every 20 to 25 feet for indoor installations and every 8 to 12 feet for outdoor installations.

Planning the Overall Tile Layout

Large tiles are suitable for a variety of different layouts. They work well in brick patterns, herringbone, cobblestone, chevron, straight joint, circular rectangular, and basket-weave. Therefore, laying out your tiles before you install them is an important step for ensuring you install them in the pattern that best reflects the tone of the room.

If you are planning on a traditional brick layout, it is important to note that large tiles should not be installed in the usual half-offset pattern, but rather at a one-third offset pattern. This helps keep lippage to a minimum and helps prevent cracking.

Tips for Laying Large Tile

When you are installing large format tile, you should “back-butter” the tiles. This process involves applying adhesive to both the substrate and the back of the tile being laid and it ensures that the entire tile has contact with the adhesive. A rubber mallet should be used to tamp the tile down so it is level and this will also push out any air pockets in the mortar.

If the tiles are being installed on the wall, a polymer-modified mortar is ideal. But, if the tile is going on the floor, a medium-bed mortar is a better choice, although it can be more difficult to work with.

The grout joints should be compatible with the tile’s face dimension. When ceramic and porcelain tiles are fired, shrinkage occurs causing a slight curve over the face of the tile. The variance of the curve increases with the tile’s size, and this dictates the grout joint you should use to avoid lippage.

Trust European Heritage for All of Your Large Tile Needs

European Heritage is one of the UK’s leading tile suppliers. We have large tile for every application in a variety of different colours and styles. If you need assistance finding the ideal tile for your home or advice for doing the job right, we have in-store tile experts ready to help. Stop in to one of our convenient locations today and let us help you get the best result possible out of your tile installation.

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