9 Requirements of a Quality Tile Installation

A skilled tile installer—particularly a Certified Tile Installer (CTI)—will:

Use the correct methods and materials for installing tile products. There are only two ways to install tile: the right way, and the wrong way. A CTI won’t cut any corners, because they know a shortcut now will most likely result in damage later.

Use premium bonding materials. Cheap materials, from grout to backer boards, might save a few dollars on the install, but will likely cost far more than is saved when those inferior products cause cracks, mold, and other damage that will require repair or replacement far too soon.

Carefully control site conditions. Temperature and humidity should be maintained at optimum levels. Safety equipment, such as goggles and gloves, should be plentiful. Materials should be neat and orderly and, most of all, complete. Nothing can slow down a job, or worse, create the conditions for mistakes, as badly as multiple trips to the materials supplier.

Ensure that the installation will be on a flat surface. This may seem obvious, but improper planning has resulted in many thousands of dollars worth of damage. Tile is flat. The surface it goes on must be perfectly flat. Not taking the time to do this critical preparation is a sign of an unprofessional and unsafe installation.

Ensure that the installation surface is rigid. Most tile is fairly solid, but not rigid enough to prevent cracks if the surface it’s installed on can flex too much. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, especially when dealing with tile.

Know to use a crack isolation membrane when necessary. You’d think a concrete floor would offer the best foundation for tile, and it would were concrete not prone to shifting and cracking. A crack isolation membrane creates a buffer between the tile and installation surface, so if the house shifting over time results in underlying damage, the tile remains beautiful and intact.

Pay attention to industry standards for minimum mortar coverage. Minimum mortar coverage refers to the contact area of the bonding material with both the tile and the surface being tiled. The standard of 80% in dry areas and 95% in wet (showers) or exterior areas is critical to prevent cracked tile. Natural stone tile installations require 95% coverage in all applications.

Know to use movement accommodation joints for temperature and humidity variations. The Tile Council of North America’s standards recommend allowing for expansion and contraction in every room. In small rooms, a gap at the perimeter of the room (often hidden by baseboard or shoe molding) is sufficient. For larger areas, movement joints are needed to allow for some give.

Plans for adequate curing time before exposing the installation to moisture, traffic, temperature changes or overlaying products. Tiling is a craft as well as an art, and time is one of the greatest tools at a CTI’s disposal. CTIs will ensure their work has enough time to set and settle before opening it up to regular use. If you’d rather sit back and relax knowing your installer will be following all the best practices in the business, Flooring Masters & Professional Remodelers employs certified installers who stay on top of the latest trends and standards with continuing education and regular evaluations. Call or email today for a consultation and let us guide your next project.

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