How To Fit Large Format Tiles

Adding large format tiles to your home has many advantages. From less maintenance, long-lasting durability, multiple finish options and contemporary style, these tiles are a great addition to any room in any home.

With their increased size and weights, a slightly different installation technique is required, to learn how to fit large format tiles, take a look at our in-depth guide below.

To begin with, before you start to lay your tiles or even prepare the area where your tiles will go, you need to know what surfaces can safely hold them.

Surfaces That Hold Large Format Tiles

Some of us will have had that tile-nightmare when your new, stunning tiles are too heavy to be placed on your bathroom wall. Don’t make the mistake of overestimating the strength of your walls. You don’t want to be incurring further expense by having to buy replacement tiles or, even worse, having to repair your walls that might have been damaged by falling tiles.

Plastered walls can only support a combined tile and adhesive weight of 20kg/m2, and unskimmed plasterboards will hold up to 32kg/m2, whereas 12mm No More Ply cement based construction boards will hold a massive 65 kg/m2.

When installing your large format tiles on a floor, it's important, that the floor is rigid and doesn’t flex, as movement may cause cracks in your tiles.

Good to know: If you’re unsure whether your wall type is suitable for heavier tiles speak to our experts who are always on hand to help

1. Preparing The Surface

Probably the most important point to remember is that the surface you’re working on, may that be the floor or wall, should be completely flat. Tiles do not bend and particularly large tiles find it harder to ‘correct’ any imperfections on the surface, ending in a messy finish.

Before jumping straight in and sanding any bumps or filling any holes, it’s important to inspect your surface. This will help you to accurately see where the imperfections lie so you can effectively prep your surface.

How To Create A Flat Laying Surface

To do this, use a spirit level or straight edge and hold it across the wall or floor. If you see it moving from side to side, you’ll should mark these areas with a light pencil so when it comes to treating them, you know the exact spot to target.

Good to know: Minor holes or bumps won’t make a big deal however for best practice, we advise that you ensure the surface is 100% flat for maximum results

Once you’ve checked and made the changes to the surface, made that be filling holes or removing bumps, you should then check the entire surface again and each time, altering your angle. This will ensure you’re surface is completely flat and give you the precision you need.

A speedy way to prepare a rough floor for your tiles is by using a pourable self-levelling compound such as Mapei’s Ultraplan Renovation Screed, which, as the name suggests simply uses the combination of gravity and a flowing cement to produce a flat surface.

Once you have a flat surface and its clean and dry, the surface can be primed and sealed by brushing with a solution of Mapei Primer G to prepare it for tiling.

2. Inspecting The Tiles

The process of turning clay into the hard ceramic tiles, combined with the very high firing temperatures of around 1200oC can cause some slight variation is shade and shape through the production batch. However, the manufacturers limit this variation by splitting and classifying the shade (Tono) and size (Calibre).

On receipt of your tiles, it is important that the packs are checked to ensure that all of the packs are of the same batch, shade and size. Once this is confirmed it is always best to dry lay a mixture of tiles, taken from a number of packs to ensure that you are happy with the blend once the tiles have been fixed in place.

3. Creating Your Tile Pattern

Inline with the recommendation from the UK’s trade body for the tile industry, The Tile Association, Tile Giant advises that large format tiles i.e. those with a length 60cm and longer are not fixed in a 50:50 brick-bonded pattern and that the maximum offset is 33%.

Creating Your Offset Tile Pattern
Scorcio Corsican Taupe tiles in brick-bonded pattern with 33% offset.
Scorcio Corsican Taupe tiles in brick-bonded pattern with 33% offset.


With long, plank type tiles we recommend that the tiles are fixed in a random bond effect, with a maximum offset of 33%. With wood effect tiles, this pattern not only replicates the random staggering of floorboards and laminate but also ensures minimum wastage from cuts.

Umbra Grey Tiles in a random bond effect.
Umbra Grey Tiles in a random bond effect.


4. Cutting The Tiles

Of course, there will be times during installation when tiles will need to be cut to fit to your floors and walls. To do this, you need a heavy duty cutter that is capable of reshaping your tiles.

However, as each tile slightly differs, so does thickness and so, it’s best to contact our experts to learn which tools we recommend to use for your specific tile of interest.

Plus, depending on what type of cut you are trying to create, will determine which cutter you need. For straight cuts, you’ll need to use a score and snap dry cutter. For shaped cuts, you’ll need to use a water-cooled tile saw.

Top Tip As a common practice, we advise against using an electric saw. More often than not it results in a lower quality finish as it can be hard to get a precise, clean-cut result.

5. Applying The Adhesive

What Adhesive Should I Use?

We recommend that you use what’s known as a quality ‘flexible’ powdered, cement based adhesive such as fast setting Keraflex Maxi Grey.

With large format tiles, it is important that there’s a full bed of adhesive between the floor or wall and the tiles to ensure full contact. This can be achieved by combining the adhesive on to wall or floor using a deep notched trowel and by “back buttering” each tile with a skim of adhesive on its back before it is placed into the ribbed adhesive in a twisting motion.

Top Tip Large format tiles can be heavy and it may be best to place the tiles in to the adhesive with the aid of an assistant.

Tile suction cups which adhere to the front of tiles can help in moving the large format tiles and in cleanly positioning them into the adhesive.

6. Grouting The Tiles

Very large stone effect tiles which replicate the flagstone flooring found in historic buildings, often look best when fixed in a random offset bond pattern, with wide grout joints to further replicate the effect.

Top Tip Mapei Ultracolour grout is not only suitable for grout width up to 20mm but is also available in numerous colours, allowing you to co-ordinate or contrast with your tiles.

Coniston Limestone Tiles with wide joints.
Coniston Limestone Tiles with wide joints.


Summary

There are six key aspects to take on board when learning how to fit large format tiles. These are summarised as:

  • 1. Prepare the surface by removing any bumps and holes and then prime using the recommended primer for your wall or floor surface and tiles.
  • 2. Next, inspect your tiles and plan your layout by dry laying tiles from different packs.
  • 3. Use the correct type of cement based adhesive for your wall or floor type and the tiles using the “back buttered” method to ensure full adhesion. For a ‘brick bond’ pattern, you’ll need to ensure you are offsetting the second row of tiles by a maximum of 33%
  • 4. Ensure that you have the correct tools to cut your tiles
  • 5. Get professional advice on the correct adhesive for your tiles and the surface on to which they are to be fixed
  • 6. Finish the job with a coordinating or contrasting quality grout to finish your project

Disclaimer: Though this guide is considered to be an in-depth document for learning how to fit large format tiles, it’s important to understand that your home, wall or floor surface and the products you use to apply the tiles, will determine the quality of finish. For further assistance, please contact our customer service team.

 

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