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How to install large format tiles

Updated: Feb 22, 2021

Large format tiles are a popular choice, thanks to their easy maintenance and ability to visually increase the size of the room. However, with tiles available that can measure up to 3m in length, there are some steps you will need to follow to ensure a successful high-quality installation.

Step 1: Create a flat surface

It is important to ensure that the wall or floor surface is perfectly flat, so that one edge of the tile does not sit higher than the adjacent tile, a condition known as lippage. According to the BS 5385 standards, when the tiled area is checked with a 2m level, the difference in height should not exceed 3mm.

A great option are these Baseboard Panels, which are suitable for use on metal and timber stud work, or on existing walls and floors which are uneven or unstable. The boards will create a stable, flat and impervious surface which is ready for tiling.

Step 2: Consider tile handling

Before moving any tiles, it is important to consider how they will be moved safely, bearing in mind their size and fragility. There are a variety of tile lifting systems available, such as this Montolit Superstick, which will ensure tiles remain safe, stable and flat during transportation. This particular system is designed for large format tiles measuring more than 300x150mm and will offer tiles a flexible solution thanks to its modular form.

Before using the lifting frame, you should ensure the tile surface is completely clean and free of dust. If there are any protective layers or dust on the tiles surface, this could prevent the frame from being able to suction correctly.

Step 3: Cutting a large format tile

If any of the large format tiles need to be cut to size before laying, they should be transferred to a stable base. If you are making a straight cut, the standard score and snap technique can be used with equal pressure applied throughout the score.

Step 4: Choose the correct adhesive

There are a variety of potential adhesives available, so it is important to choose the correct choice for large format tiles. The Python ST Tile Adhesive is an ideal choice for fixing large format tiles, thanks to its brilliant workability and non-slip properties. As a polymer modified cement-based adhesive it is specially formulated for use with many tile types, including natural stone, porcelain and ceramic.

The adhesive should be poured into a PVC bucket and mixed with the correct amount of water using a mechanical stirrer. Begin by stirring for roughly 3 minutes and then leave for 2 minutes before remixing, this will allow the polymer to create a smooth adhesive paste which is free of any lumps.

When it comes to large format tiles, it is important not to take any risks. This means using a solid bed fixing, with a thin layer of adhesive set over the substrate, which is then combed with a notched trowel. The ribs of adhesive should be parallel to the shortest length of the tile, with all lines running in the same direction.

Another layer of the adhesive is then applied to the back of the tile using a trowel with larger notches. To ensure even coverage, the ribs should be applied to run in the same direction as the lines in the back of the tile. It is good practice to lift a tile occasionally to check the coverage of adhesive and ensure the correct bedding level is being achieved. If any ribs are visible, this will indicate insufficient coverage and that more adhesive is required.

Step 5: Lifting the tile into place

Once the adhesive is applied correctly, the lifting frame can then be used to position the tile in place, Next, you will need a hard rubber float to compact the tile and remove any air, as it is important that the tile achieves 100% contact with the adhesive and the reverse of the tile.

Step 6: Levelling the tile

Once the tile is in place and compacted, a tile levelling system can then be used to create even and level joints. A great example is the LevTec Levelling System Kit, which includes tile spacer clips, wedges and pliers.

The system is designed to create a flawless tiled finish and can be used with tile thicknesses between 3 and 12mm. Simply position the clips beneath the edge of the tile where it will act as a spacer when the next tile is butted against it. Once the tile is positioned in place, the wedge can be fitted to ensure a level finish.

Finally, wait for the adhesive to set and use a rubber mallet to remove the wedges and the top of the clip. The breakpoint will then be positioned below the tile ready for grouting.

Step 7: Grouting

It is important to use a grout with a class level of at least CG2, such as the Python CS Tile Grout High Flex. This specific grout is designed to offer a highly versatile and smooth mixture with controlled workability. The grout should be applied liberally with a grout float and smoothed firmly into the tile joints.

As one of the leading wholesale suppliers of tiles, we have excellent links with wholesale suppliers of tiling tools, grouts, adhesives and tile handling equipment. To find out more about stocking our products, please contact our knowledgeable team today.

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