Modern manufacturing techniques have allowed the production of large format porcelain tiles with a high degree of accuracy in size and shape. This has enabled tiles to very effectively mimic the appearance of other materials such as large stone slabs and timber planks.
Such products provide the benefits of porcelain tile performance and durability with almost all of the character of the original material.
Because all manufactured materials have a degree of tolerance in production, installation materials and systems have been developed to enable the best possible results to be achieved more easily.
Traditional laying by sight and touch is of course possible, however using one of the various proprietary levelling systems will generally provide superior results.
All proprietary levelling installation systems combine the use of spacers (to provide consistent grout joint gap) with a method of applying constant pressure over two or more tile edges to keep them as even as possible. Better systems are able to apply more pressure and a more consistent spreading of pressure over multiple tiles. Porcelain tiles are of course quite stiff however the application of some pressure enables the tiler to take advantage of the small amount of “give” that naturally exists within the large size tiles.
These systems assist with:-
1. Minimising any lippage (height difference between adjoining tiles)
2. Evening out minor variations in the substrate
3. Evening out minor variations in the tile shape
4. Evening out minor variations in the adhesive
5. Maintaining consistent joint width
It is important to understand that there are different types of systems available with differing capabilities. Within these differing types there are also larger and smaller sizes and typically the larger sized components have better capabilities, but are more expensive. Many also have re-usable components and special tools to assist the use of their systems.
Metz strong recommendation is that the use of a quality tile levelling system is highly desirable and that tile installers wanting to deliver high quality outcomes for discerning clients should use these systems.
For many tilers, the installation of new large format tiles remains a small component of their experience. In some case there may be resistance to the use of these fixing systems perhaps due to cost or from a sense of pride in that “I don’t need those things! ” Ultimately clients need to consider the experience of any tiler in the type of work they are requesting. It is a valid question to ask the tiler about their fixing methodology and the result expected by both parties. It is worthwhile asking for references for other similar installations – an unsatisfactory installation is difficult to correct or even improve.
Metz strong recommendation is that the use of a quality tile levelling system is highly desirable and that tile installers wanting to deliver high quality outcomes for discerning clients should use these systems. Note that lighter coloured and less patterned tiles will make even the slightest of installation variations more visible
Finally, as with all things, the correct use of the systems by following the required instructions is essential. Given the variety of tile formats including many dimensions of well over 1m, simply placing 1 levelling piece in each corner will simply not suffice.
The following is a list of various levelling system producers. Many have videos demonstrating the installation process and showing the capability of their systems. This list is not intended to be exhaustive and other perfectly satisfactory products will no doubt exist.
www.atrplastics.com.au – plates with screw down caps
www.dta-aus.com.au – plates with ratchet down caps
www.tuscanleveling.com – plates with ratchet down caps
www.lev-tec.com.au – wedges and tabs
Raimondi – wedges and tabs – google “Raimondi tile levelling system Australia” for your preferred supplier
All levelling systems are designed to improve the quality of a tile installation in terms of surface flatness and minimising lippage between tile pieces. Australian Standards state that some lippage is inherent in any tile installation. An experienced tradesman is still required to install tiles with these systems and they will not overcome poor substrate preparation and suitability of an existing floor to receive tiles.