Understanding and Preventing Tile Lippage
Lippage, the height difference between two adjacent tiles, can significantly impact the aesthetics of your flooring and pose a potential tripping hazard. In this article, we will explore the causes of lippage and offer advice on how to prevent it during your tile installations.
Identifying the Causes of Lippage
One common cause of lippage is an uneven subsurface. Tile installers must prioritize leveling the subsurface before laying any tiles or stone pavers. If they encounter an uneven surface, various products are available in the market to assist in achieving a level foundation. A crucial guideline to follow is that for proper installation, larger tiles should have a level tolerance of no more than 1/4-inch per 10 feet.
Tile Size Matters
The size of the tiles plays a significant role in lippage. Smaller tiles are more forgiving and can easily align with adjacent tiles, even on uneven surfaces. However, as tile size increases, so does the challenge. Today, larger tiles, such as 16-by-16 and 24-by-24 inch options, are becoming more common. Larger tiles are less forgiving, making surface preparation even more critical to reduce lippage effectively.
Grout Joints and Minimizing Lippage
The spacing between tiles is another factor contributing to lippage, especially when installing larger tiles in an offset design. While rectangular tiles are typically ground and shaped to exact dimensions, this process does not eliminate any existing warpage of the tile. In such cases, opting for a wider grout joint can help minimize the appearance of lippage.
Utilizing Tile Leveling Tools
Fortunately, there are tile leveling tools available that make installing large-format tiles more manageable and help achieve a lippage-free result. These tools keep the tile surfaces flush with one another during installation and the initial slump and shrinkage period that occurs with the most commonly used mortars.
Explore Tile Leveling Systems
For those looking to invest in tile leveling systems, two of the best options on the market are the Spin Doctor Lippage Leveling System and the ATR Tile Leveling and Alignment System.
In conclusion, understanding and preventing tile lippage is essential for a successful tile installation. By addressing the causes, choosing the right tile size, considering grout joints, and utilizing tile leveling tools, you can ensure a smoother and more aesthetically pleasing result. Remember that proper surface preparation is key to reducing lippage and achieving a professional finish in your tiling projects.
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