What does it take to ensure that you have a quality tile installation? Based on our experience, knowledge and work with the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) Handbook, we have identified ten requirements. Here they are.
CTEF's Top Ten Requirements for a High Quality Tile Installation
1. Hire Only Skilled Tile Installers
Only well-trained and experienced tile installers can produce installations of the highest quality which provide long lasting beauty and functionality.
In order to differentiate this quality oriented tile installer from others in the field, consider hiring a CTEF Certified Tile Installer (CTI). CTIs have proven that they have the knowledge and skills which meet industry standards and best practices.
2. Incorporate Movement Accommodation Joints in the Tile Installation
All tile installations, both residential and commercial, will move with temperature and humidity variations.
To accommodate this expansion and contraction activity, the use of expansion joints per the TCNA Handbook for Ceramic, Glass and Stone Tile Installation method EJ171 must be incorporated into the tile work. As stated in the Handbook,
“The architect or designer shall show the specific locations and details of movement joints on project drawings.”
Be certain that all parties involved in the project including the architect, the specifier, the designer, the salesperson and the tile installer know and understand the critical use and placement of expansion joints.
3. Work Only With Premium Materials to Install Tile
The use of premium quality bonding materials is money well spent.
Tile Industry experts agree this is one of the easiest insurance policies for preventing installation problems. All types of setting materials are available in various performance grades to meet the requirements of the job.
Contact the setting material manufacturer for products with the specific characteristics and performance levels necessary for success.
4. Confirm that Tile Installation Surfaces are Flat
In order to provide a flat ceramic or stone tile installation, carpenters, masons, concrete installers and other trades must meet the tile industry standards for flatness tolerances.
If substandard surfaces are encountered, they must be corrected before installation begins. Otherwise, you will not have a quality tile installation.
5. Verify that the Tile Installation Surface is Rigid
Ceramic tile installations require a stiff or rigid surface. In some cases, installations, including natural stone, may require additional subflooring, wall studs or bracing. Realize that the substrate for natural stone tile installations must be twice as rigid as that for a ceramic or porcelain tile installation.
Tile contractors should follow the applicable recommendations of the TCNA Handbook for Ceramic, Glass and Stone Tile Installation, the ANSI (American National Specifications for the Installation of Ceramic Tile) as well as the recommendations of the manufacturer’s products being used in the project.
>> See Tile Installation Resources
6. Minimum Mortar Coverage Must Be Provided
Tile industry standards require minimum mortar coverage of 80% in dry areas and 95% in wet (showers) or exterior areas. Natural stone tile installations require 95% coverage in all applications.
This refers to the contact area of the bonding material (thin-bed mortars, large and heavy tile mortars or epoxy adhesives) with both the back of the tile and the surface being tiled.
7. Ensure that Tile Site Conditions Are Controlled
Jobsite conditions can have a serious impact on the success or failure of a tile installation.
Many products used in tile installations require that the temperature be maintained within a specific range and duration. Be certain to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure a long-lasting installation.
8. Use Only the Correct Tile Installation Methods and Materials
Not all installation methods and/or materials are suitable for all applications. Be certain that your contractor will use the TCNA Handbook method rated for the intended application or a method that is recommended, fully specified, and warranted by the product manufacturer.
Research manufacturer’s websites to determine suitability, application recommendations and product warranty information.
Review the manufacturer’s product data sheets and recommendations for the tile, backer board, bonding materials, membranes and grout which will be used on the job.
Just because a product is available doesn’t mean that it is appropriate for a given installation.
9. Allow for Adequate Cure Time
Allow a tile installation to cure sufficiently per the manufacturer's recommendations before exposing it to moisture, traffic, temperature changes or overlaying products. Otherwise it will not perform as a quality tile installation.
The amount of time required will vary based on site conditions and the specific materials being used.
10. Make Use of Crack Isolation Membranes as Needed
Cracks in concrete and other areas of movement should be treated with a crack isolation membrane to help eliminate cracked tiles.
Check with the membrane manufacturer for specific use and application recommendations.
What Requirements Would You Add?
What would you add to this list of requirements for a high quality tile installation? Let us know in the comments.