Tuesday, 25 August 2015

4 key points on wood-look planks and large format tile

There are some things that neither the customer, their contractor or even you, the salesperson, may not know about large format wood-plank tiles. This article points out some key issues you should inform customers and contractors of when they are shopping for large format tiles, especially wood-look plank shaped tiles.

1. They’re not flat

They might look flat at first glance, but if you look closely, they probably aren’t. This is not to say they don't conform to the international standards, they probably do, but the very shape of these tiles makes their flatness all the more critical. Basically with these tiles, the center is higher, in other words, they are crowned in the middle. Some brands and types are worse than others. This becomes more of a problem when you offset (overlap) them. Variation should not exceed 2mm over the length but this is still enough to cause problems.

2. Don’t plan on doing a full offset with wood plank tile

By doing a 50% offset, where the middle of a tile is exactly in line with the grout joint of the next row, you maximize the amount of unevenness, or lippage, between the tiles. In fact, unless the tile manufacturers say otherwise, the American National Standards Specifications for the Installation of Ceramic Tile sets the limit at 33% maximum offset (ANSI A108.02 Section 4.3.8). This means that on a 60cm long tile the maximum offset is 20cm as in the photo above.

3. The floor has to be very flat

If your floor isn’t flat this will accentuate the problems with the crown of the tiles. For large format tile, any tile longer than 45cm, the maximum allowable variation is 3,2mm in 3m Floors are just not that flat nowadays.

4. Use the correct thinset - medium bed adhesive

Porcelain or ceramic plank floors can look good but the biggest problems with them can be avoided by simply knowing what to watch out for and planning accordingly. You’ll find that they should last a lot longer than their wood counterparts as well.With large format tiles you want to use the best medium bed mortar and the correct trowel. With these types of mortars a 12mm x 12mm notch trowel would be the smallest size that you will want to try. Yes, this uses more thinset and, yes, these types of mortars are more expensive, but this isn’t the time to skimp if you want well laid plank floors, 

Contact us with any enquiries about tiles.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Cutting Ceramic Tile.

The very first tile cutter invented by the Boada brothers in 1951 in the town of Rubi near Barcelona, Spain.
We've been assembling tile samplers for our newly appointed agent for the U.S. market recently. Of course this has required a lot of careful tile cutting. This got me to thinking about methods and tools.

Thin wall tiles can 
be cut using a simple glass cutter and a straightedge then snapping the tile along the scoreline against another tile. Mass-produced ceramic tiles of medium to soft grades are cut easily with hand tools. Heavier tiles require the use of a specialised tile cutter or a watercooled rotary tile saw. For extreme accuracy industrial high pressure waterjet machines are used

The ceramic tile cutter, or beam score cutter, is a tool invented in 1951 by the Boada brothers, in the town of Rubi near Barcelona, Spain. The first tile cutter was designed to facilitate the work and solve the problems that masons experienced when cutting hydraulic mosaic, a type of Spanish decorative tile made with pigmented cement.

Hydraulic mosaic was very popular in the 1950's but was particularly thick making it difficult to cut. The invention allowed for a deep scratch to be made in a straight line. Then pressure was applied on both sides of the scratch with a lever thus cracking the tile. The machine was popularly known in the industry as the 'Rubi'. Over time the tool evolved, incorporating elements that made it more accurate and productive. The first cutters had an iron pen to make the scratch. This was later replaced by the current tungsten carbide scoring wheel. 
Snapping pressures on modern machines 
vary widely, some mass-produced models exerting over 750 kg.
Contact us with any enquiries about tiles.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Challenges with Large Format & Plank Tile.

Flooring installation challenges
Large-format tile and wood-look long plank tile presents several challenges when used in floor installations. Some of the common concerns are described below. As a supplier you should advise your customers and installers of the possible difficulties.
Lippage is the degree to which one tile rises above an adjoining tile. One of the implications of larger format tiles, even simply longer tiles is the likelihood of more lippage. You might think that if the substrate is flat you shouldn’t have to worry about lippage but the fact is that the tiles themselves are not perfectly flat either. You won't notice this so much with square 60 x 60cm tiles but when a tile is much larger or is cut to a plank format like a 15 x 90cm the curvature in the tile can make a noticable difference, especially if planks are offset to each other. Along with smaller grout joints, typically requested for wood look tile, you end up with lippage.
Sometimes customers request a 50% offset however you should know that the industry recommends an offset of 33% or less on larger tile.

The ANSI A108.02 recommendations regarding grout joint size, particularly in relation to the tile size, dimensional precision and offset pattern are that where the running brick joint offset is 45cm (nominal dimension), the running bond offset will be a maximum of 33% unless otherwise specified by the tile manufacturer. If an offset greater than 33% is specified, specifier and owner must approve mock-up and lippage.

The Tile Council of North America (TCNA) Handbook for Ceramic, Glass, and Stone tile installation states that the factors that influence lippage are: 
  • Allowable thickness variation in accordance with manufacturing standards.
  • Allowable warpage of tile modules.
  • Spacing or separation of each tile module, which would influence a gradual or abrupt change in elevation.
  • Angle of natural or manufactured light accentuating otherwise acceptable variance in modules.
  • Highly reflective surfaces of tile modules accentuating otherwise acceptable variance in modules.

How much lippage is considered acceptable?
The TCNA Handbook states: For pressed floor and porcelain tiles with a joint width of 1.6mm to less than 6mm, the allowable lippage is 0,8mm. For 6mm or greater, allowable lippage is 1.6mm.

Now we know the acceptable lippage, but what about floor flatness? The TCNA Handbook states:
Subsurface Tolerances for Thin-Bed Methods. For thin-bed ceramic tile installations with tiles at least one edge 45cm in length or longer, maximum allowable variation is 3,2mm in 3m from the required plane, with no more that a 1,6mm variation in 60cm when measured from the high points in the surface.
For Mortar Bed Methods. For subsurface tolerances with the thick-bed mortar, or self-leveling methods, maximum allowable variation in the installation substrate is 6 mm in 3 m.

Fortunately, there are several systems available to help the tile setter to minimize  lippage. These systems work on floors, walls and ceilings. Two examples of typical systems are shown below.

Other risks.
Tile weight is also a major challenge. Heavy floor tile that settles into the mortar bed can cause lippage. The result is a finished surface that has an uneven appearance. In a worst case, it is an uneven floor that causes a tripping hazard.
A substrate that isn't perfectly flat to begin with will exacerbate an uneven floor problem as the tile is installed. 
In addition, it is crucial to achieve secure bonding of the substrate and the tile flooring. Applying an insufficient amount of material may result in hollow sounding spots. The hollow spot is susceptible to damage from concentrated weight because of a lack of support from the mortar in that area of the tile.
Cracking is a possibility if the tile is bonded directly to concrete. This is because cracks naturally occur as water in the concrete substrate evaporates. These shrinkage cracks can transfer from the substrate and into the bonded tile. Cracking can also occur from improperly installed wooden subfloors.
Contact us with any enquiries about tiles.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

12 pieces of advice to give a DIY tiling customer.

Here are a dozen pieces of advice to give a DIY customer when they're buying tiles for their project. If your customer is a DIY home improvement enthusiast and can't wait to embark on their home renovation tiling project, you should definitely give them a copy of these tips. keep a copy of this email in a folder or make some printouts to hand out to customers.

12 DIY Tiling Rules.
Follow these golden rules for better and faster DIY tiling.
1. The first and most important rule is that the tiles should be clean and dry when you start placing them. There should be no grease, curing compounds, wax or other substances on the surface of the tiles and all forms of contamination should be avoided.

2. Small cracks of up to 2mm in walls or subfloor should be filled in before laying tiles. Grind the surface and leave it to dry.
3. Tiles must never be stored in direct sunlight prior to fixing
4. Use a notched trowel especially made for applying the adhesive. The adhesive should be applied horizontally with a notched trowel. Using swirling motions is not recommended. Make sure there is enough of it to make good contact with the surface of the tile.
5. Make sure no voids occur beneath the tiles by pressing tiles firmly into the adhesive.
6. Check whether the tile has made a complete contact with the adhesive by trying to lift each tile gently from the adhesive.
7. Do not place the tiles on dry or too thin layer of the adhesive. Touch the adhesive just before laying each tile, your finger should come away tacky. If your finger comes away clean and dry the adhesive is too dry to use. 
8. Wait 24 hours for the adhesive to set and dry completely before grouting the tiles. Make sure the tiles are protected from grime and moisture which could lead to them not setting properly. Follow the guidelines on the adhesive packaging strictly.
9. For better adhesion with cement-based adhesives, moisten the floor or wall lightly before applying the adhesive.
10. Dust each tile and clean the back before placing them on the adhesive.
11. Construction joints (expansion joints in the subfloor) should not be tiled, install a matching expansion joint in the tiles.
12. When thin bed-fixing tiles, the minimum thickness of the adhesive should be 3mm.

Always follow these 12 rules of tiling to successfully complete your home tiling project.

Contact us with any enquiries about tiles.