Large Format Ceramic Tile, Beware Brick Patterns

Beware the Normal Brick Pattern with Large Format Ceramic Tile.

A tile or stone larger than 16” x 16” is generally defined as “large format.”

Large Format Ceramic Tile in Normal (50%) Brick Pattern
Large Format Tile in Normal (50%) Brick Pattern

Due in part to customer demand, tile manufacturers have shifted focus to promoting and providing these larger tile.

The advantages of installing large format ceramic tile include:

  1. Narrow grout joints – rectified, large format tiles allow for thinner grout joint widths.
  2. Easier maintenance – it is easier to clean a tiles’ face than to clean grout.
  3. Room size perception – large tile make a room appear larger.

Unfortunately, large format ceramic tile installation is problematic.

Large format tile create unique demands related to workable patterns, grout joint size and possible lippage issues.  People purchase larger format tiles specifically because they want fewer grout lines and want those grout lines as narrow as possible.  Therein lies the rub. Sometimes the tile will not allow it when placed in a conventional brick pattern of 50%.

A Standard Brick Pattern Using Large Format Tile Produce Lippage.

Lippage is defined as a condition where one edge of a tile is higher than an adjacent tile, giving the finished surface an uneven appearance. This condition can be worsened when the tile pattern in placed in a running bond pattern. The installer now has to deal with at least six points to ensure a level surface.  With the increase in use of large format ceramic tile and stones on floors, the issue of lippage is becoming more common place.

Since the tile and stone facial dimension is much larger, the facial dimension tolerance will also increase.  This can present problems when attempting to maintain tight joints. The joint width can be only as tight as the actual facial dimension range of the tile. In many cases, even rectified tiles will require a grout joint to be at least 3/16” in width depending on the size. Non-rectified tiles may necessitate a wider minimum grout joint width.  It is important to note that a certain amount of lippage is unavoidable and inherent in large format ceramic tile installations and may also be unavoidable due to the tile tolerances

About three years ago TCNA (Tile Council of North America) came out with a warning about large format rectified porcelain and warpage.

It stated that, in essence, longer ceramic tiles tend to warp during the firing process. Along with the alert, came their recommendation that one could avoid installation problems inherent in all large format tiles, by following ANSI A108.02 specification which states that the actual grout joint size shall be at least 3 times the actual variation of facial dimensions of the tile.

In response to the warning issued by both The NTCA (national Tile Contractors Association) and the TCNA (Tile Council of North America), Dal-Tile distributed this notice to its distributors and contractors:

Rectified tiles continue to increase in popularity, particularly in the commercial arena. For years, the industry and Dal-Tile have recommended that Rectified tiles can be installed with a 1/16″ grout joint. However, from the contractor’s perspective, installations have become more time consuming and difficult to ensure compliant installations when attempting to install a Rectified tile with a 1/16″ grout joint. In response, the new TCNA (Tile Council of North America) Handbook addresses this issue by recommending that the width of the grout joint used be determined by the ANSI A108.02 specification which states that the actual grout joint size shall be at least 3 times the actual variation of facial dimensions of the tile. To simplify: Rectified tiles, regardless of size, shall have a grout joint width no less than 1/8″. As a result, Dal-Tile is changing its recommended grout joint width to be 1/8″ for all of its Rectified tiles.

In addition, we will no longer recommend in our literature that Rectified and Non-Rectified large format rectangle sizes (Ex: 12″ x 24″) can be installed in a brickwork or running bond pattern where the overlap is 50%. The reason for this is that the allowable warpage for a tile based on ANSI specifications can create an installation issue when large format rectangular tiles are installed in a brickwork/running bond pattern. This allowable warpage can create a scenario where lippage is inevitable given the overlapping pattern. To mitigate this effect, Dal-Tile will be removing the brickwork pattern from our catalogs and literature. This will be replaced by a new pattern that will be referred to as a “Staggered” brickwork pattern where the overlap does not exceed 33%, and the grout joint width must be a minimum of 3/16″.

A grout joint width of 3/16″, to my eye, is enormous. A customer who purchases larger format tiles specifically to avoid a lot of grout lines is not going to be happy. So, if narrow grout lines are important, then avoid brick patterns with large format ceramic tile or stone.

Quality Work is My Hallmark.
(772) 828-8909.

Port St. Lucie Marble and Tile Contractor.

My tiling service areas include Port St. Lucie (PSL), Fort Pierce, Stuart and Vero Beach, FL.

In St. Lucie County Boyer Tile LLC. services Port St. Lucie, St. Lucie West, Tradition, Torino, Tesoro, Lake Charles, Lake Forest, Magnolia Lakes, PGA Village, The Vineyards, St James Golf Club, The Cascades, and Fort Pierce, FL.

In Indian River County Boyer Tile LLC. services Vero Beach, Indian River Shores and Sebastian, FL.