Large format tiles: How to prevent installation failures

by Ofentse Sefolo
Large format tiles: How to prevent installation failures

Mapei South Africa recenty hosted a Large-Format Tiling Seminar at their facility in Germiston. They developed this seminar to benefit the industry across the board. There were practical demonstrations to the applicators who complete tiling projects, as well as the architects, whose visions and plans are the drivers of the construction industry.

The size of the tiles were impressive, and the demonstrations made it clear that the right products need to be selected to ensure a successful installation.

Step 1

The size of these tiles and the magnitude of the installation truly exceptional. It is almost incomprehensible to imagine that such tiles can be installed, perfectly and without any errors. But this involves a very detailed process, as outlined below, with unique steps that cannot be overlooked as it will inevitably affect the look of the final installation.

Step 2

Using the proper equipment and adhesive is crucial when installing large-format tiles. Here installers are introduced to Easy-More Adv MkIII with vacuum suction cups, manufactured by Raimondi, and distributed locally by Mactool. The suction cups assist in removing all tension from the tile during the installation process. They are using Mapei’s Keraflex S1 Express which is ideal for large tile installations.

Step 3 (key before proceeding to the next step)

The Easy-More Adv MkIII is placed on the tile and the suction cups have to be checked and secured before lifting the tile off the crate to prepare it for installation. This is key when attempting to proceed to the next step.

Step 4

The tile is then placed on the CAM Adv Cart so that the installers can start preparing the surface for installation.

Take Note :: Everyone involved in the above action steps have significant experience when it comes to installations and profound knowledge on the products used.

Before installation clean the back of the tile with warm water and a sponge to ensure that there are no residues that will influence the adhesive. It may seem like an easy step but imperative, nonetheless.

Step 5

Take Note :: Both of these trowels need to be used in conjunction with each other when applying the tile to a surface.

These are special trowels that are used in the application of large-format tiling. For the back of the tile adhesive application, the normal square grove trowel is perfectly sufficient (left), however, for the application of the adhesive to the wall or floor, a specialised Slant Ridge Notched trowel (right) needs to be used.

The reason for this specialised trowel is to ensure that no air pockets are created behind the tile. The tile will essentially “push” the air out like dominos, ensuring that there is good adhesion and no risk for air to get trapped behind the tile, as it will compromise the performance of the tile.

Application of the adhesive

Both surfaces (back of the tile as well as the wall/floor) are first prepared with a skim coat of Mapei’s Keraflex S1 Express adhesive. It is imperative that the entire surface is covered with zero gaps or empty spaces.

When selecting an adhesive it is imperative that it is of a high standard to prevent tiles from falling off the surface it has been applied to. For this reason technical adhesives are advisable. Consider Mapei’s Keraflex Maxi S1 Deformable tile adhesive. It has unique benefits that are superior to several other adhesives available in the market today.

The application of the adhesive can then commence. It is crucial to pay attention to this so that the direction of the groves is ALWAYS running from the shortest end of the tile and that the groves on the tile and the surface run in the same direction. This is critical!

Demonstrating the groves on the short end-to-end of the tile.

Step 6

Once the adhesive is applied, a minimum of two installers will need to implement the installation. The tile is placed in position and then installed against the wall. Installers will need to ensure that the tile is in the correct position before proceeding, as it will have little to no movement once it is on the wall/floor.

Step 7

Pressure is then applied to set the tile in place.

Step 8

Once the tile is in place, the Easy-More Adv MkIII is removed by letting the air out of the suction cups.

Step 9

A Volpino Compact Vibrator is then used to force any remaining air out from behind the tile. This process takes some time, but is vital in ensuring a proper installation.

Step 10

The installer meticulously moves the Volpino from the middle of the tile out towards the sides, starting at the top and moving his way down to the bottom of the tile.

Step 11

A close-up to demonstrate the domino effect.

The process remains largely the same for floor and wall applications. An alternative to the Volpino is a manually operated tile beater, which presses the air out from underneath the tile.

Cutting and drilling

Having the correct equipment makes all the difference when drilling into a 6mm thick tile of 1,2m x 3m, as any mistakes would be very costly.

A demonstration with a tool specifically designed for large-format tiles.

These large-format tiles are truly stunning, and once installed look fantastic. However, it is by no means a simple process. Experts are required, and more importantly, the correct products need to be selected for the job at hand, and in this case, it will be Mapei’s range of large-format tile products.

Mapei | Tel: 011 552 8476 | Email: info@mapei.co.za | Website: www.mapei.co.za

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