Installing large format tile for beautiful, durable floors

(BPT) – Floors set with large format porcelain and natural stone tile continue to be the rage among homeowners and interior designers. Large format tiles, which are defined as 15 inches or longer on one side, make any room feel more open and welcoming. These popular tiles make a bold statement that can range from ultra-modern to rustic. However, their added length, thickness and weight require some special planning before the installation begins.

The most common failure with large format tile is unsightly cracks. Caused by improper surface preparation or installation, along with subfloor movement, cracks in large format tile projects are usually preventable. Whether you’re installing the tile yourself or hiring a contractor for the job, following these tips will lead to a beautiful and durable floor while avoiding costly and time-consuming headaches down the road.

* Large format tiles require a very flat and level floor to help prevent breakage, which can be achieved by applying LevelQuik RS Self-Leveling Underlayment or another cementitious leveling material. Mixing, pouring and spreading leveler must be done quickly, so it is a two-person job.

* Install a crack prevention membrane like RedGard Uncoupling Mat or RedGard Waterproofing and Crack Prevention Membrane to help prevent cracks from transmitting through the floor into the tile and grout. Many of these membranes also provide moisture management in intermittently wet areas like bathroom or kitchen floors.

* Choose a mortar like ProLite Premium Large Format Tile Mortar, Natural Stone and Large Tile Premium Mortar or VersaBond-LFT Professional Large Format Tile Mortar that can be applied thicker than standard thin-set mortars. Designed specifically for large format tile and natural stone, these mortars are formulated to support the weight and dimensions of larger, heavier tiles.

* Use a large, notched trowel, such as 1/2 by 1/2 by 1/2 inch, to achieve maximum coverage and support of the tile. Comb the mortar on the clean, dry subfloor in one direction to form straight, parallel lines across the short side of the tile.

* To fill depressions in the back of the tile and create a strong bond, apply a layer of mortar to the back side of the tile. With the flat side of the trowel, apply a thin coat of mortar, like buttering toast. Set one tile at a time into the mortar, being sure to apply pressure, and move the tile across the ridges of mortar to collapse them under the tile.

* Be sure to include movement joints in the tile assembly with a flexible sealant to allow for some expansion.

Every large format tile floor project has its own unique installation requirements based on a variety of design factors and job site conditions. However, choosing the right products and using the correct techniques will help ensure a tile floor that is beautiful and long-lasting. Before beginning your large format tile project, visit for more detailed information and how-to videos, or call 800-272-8786.


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