Challenges of Setting Long Lengths of Tile

I was called out to inspect various tile and grout issues on this job and write a technical report for the general contractor, as his current tile contractor had abandoned the job.

The tile on this wall looks rippled.  There is lippage on this installation.   “Lippage” is defined in the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) standard A108.02, Section 4.3.7: “Lippage refers to differences in elevation between edges of adjacent tile modules.”  In other words, it refers to tiles that are out of plane with each other by more than a dime’s thickness.

This is not the fault of the installer; the actual tiles are curved in the center, and when you stagger them above and below each other the curve is accentuated by the natural crown of the tile.  Lippage occurs on stagger-set installations because the ends of the tile are flatter, and adjacent to the center crown of the tiles above and below it.

Also, lippage tends to be a common problem when installing plank-length floor tiles as well.  Examples of this would be 6×24″, 6×36″, and 6×48″ sizes, usually finished to look like wood.

One way to lessen the lippage is to stagger set in thirds.  This photo shows a stagger set in halves.  Lippage occurs with a stagger set layout in thirds, but it will be greatly reduced.

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Wood!

1_wood_plank_tile
This plank tile has the look of real hardwood with the durability of ceramic tile.  Imagine never having to re-finish your floors!  This tile is also scratch, stain, chemical and frost resistant.

2_marazzi_plank_tiles
This is the medium dark tile called “Saddle”.  There is one more darker option called “Spice”.  These tiles are made in the USA by Marazzi.

3_surface_texture_plank_tile
Here you can see the surface texture of the tile, which has been crafted to resemble the grains in real wood.  They obtain the grain look through a 3-D printing technique.
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Changing grout color around plank tile

1_grout_colorant
This plank floor was in a brand new home and the builder did not allow the homeowner to choose light colored, narrow grout joints.  The homeowner was worried the grout would darken and take on a grid-like appearance over time.  The best option was to lighten the grout color by applying an epoxy-based grout colorant which also resists staining.