Is Large Format Tile All That It Is Cracked Up to Be?
Western Canada has seen an increased demand for large format tile over the last few years which has driven the need for a more versatile selection of options and tile formats; to be installed on walls and flooring, backsplashes, showers, slabs used for accent walls, and outdoor living spaces called 2 CM.
So exactly what is large format tile? Rectangular or square tiles that are larger than 12" x 12" is a generally accepted benchmark. Unique Versatile Ltd. (UVT) was formed based on a vision to educate clients who choose large format porcelain tile and the tools necessary to install this specialty tile.
Since it is a fairly new product to the market, the industry has been on a learning curve and many clients have been nervous about the installation process, so UVT decided to dive right in and find out what other experts had to say on some straight-shooting questions:
- Pros and Cons of Large Format Tile?
- Do Large Format Tiles crack more easily?
- Why Choose Large Format Tile?
Pros and Cons of Large Format Tile?
Sheri Bruneau (Designer/Owner) of Get It Together in Calgary answers some of our questions with humor and a sense of intelligence in one of her blogs “Is Bigger Really Better?”. She has experience with large format tile and advocates the following benefits:
- Client has less grout lines to clean
- Can be super thin- so cost of material is reduced and very affordable
- Installation is very quick – she did a fireplace in one day
According to Making Dream Surfaces Attainable (MSI) a leading nationwide distributor of flooring, countertop, wall tile and hardscaping products headquartered in Orange, California, porcelain tile is the ideal choice for any room where water spray, splashes, or spills will be a major theme – like the kitchen or bathroom, especially the shower as porcelain tile is tough and durable, as well as water resistant.
- Porcelain is ideal for areas that may be exposed to water
- Fewer lines to break up the space visually resulting in overall calmer design. A favorite trick to decorate a small room.
Sheri does caution that the only “con” she can find in large format tiles is to be prepared for HEAVY!! Always check BEFORE committing to a purchase that the tile can be transported to tight fitting locations.
- Large format tiles are heavy so require additional planning
(MSI) explains that “for flooring, accent walls, shower and tube surrounds, countertops, backsplashes, and kitchen islands, large format tiles can help visually expand your space and create a cohesive feel”, they do advise us to pay attention to three key areas that pertain to the installation process:
- Ensure properly supported
- Use mortar sets to ensure gravity doesn’t pull them out of place
- Overall weight of floor remains the same but heavier tiles require a stronger substrate
- High points in floors can cause tile to slope
- Use mortars or thin-set specifically formulated to support larger tiles whether vertical or horizontal
- Plan your layout
- Select a pattern that best suits the room
- Offsetting your pattern correctly will help to prevent cracking and lippage
- Choosing Grout
- Adhere to the recommended grout line widths, recommended patterns, and installation guidelines
Do Large Format Tiles Crack More Easily?
MSI admits that cracking can be an issue for large format tile but that can be alleviated with an understanding of how cracking can occur. According to MSI:
- Cracking is a concern when not installed as recommended
- Shrinkage of the mortar and uneven surfaces are often the cause
The owners at Unique Versatile Ltd. (UVT) recently had a personal experience that they would like to share with you. One of the partners family was recently installing some large format tile in their home and asked them to do the installation. Well, how could they resist that challenge? Although there was no pressure to ensure the perfect installation the experience did bring forward two learning lessons; use the right tools and have the right training to use the tools before the installation. And yes - there is a learning curve to using large format tile tools – and did we mention there was “no pressure”? Just joking.
UVT recommends using the tool product line of Montolit when working with large format tiles. The Montolit line originates from Italy and has specialized in tile installation tools since 1946. They have developed tools dedicated to the unique challenges presented by large format tile; for tasks such as, transporting slabs on location, beveling and removing air pockets in the cement and/or thinset underneath the tile. which can cause breakage, to protecting the corners of large format tile, cutting slabs and drilling holes.
- The right tool is necessary to support the proper installation process of large format tiles without cracking.
Since large format tile is fairly new to Western Canada and has special requirements regarding installation the ability to find experienced tile installers for these products has been limited so training is a crucial part of ensuring a successful project and longevity of the tile.
Why Choose Large Format Tile?
In summary large format tiles do require specialized knowledge, handling and planning from designers, architects, project managers and installers but they are definitely worth the effort. When the planning and installation process is completed successfully large format tiles can be a cost-effective solution both in the cost of the tile and the time required to install allowing a project manager to move more quickly on to the next project. On the installation end it is imperative to use the correct tools during the installation process in order to produce a quality installation. For our customers the beauty, low maintenance and durability keeps them coming back for more!
Get It Together
Making Dream Surfaces Attainable (MSI)
- Sharron Martens