One of the hottest trends that we’re seeing at all the latest floor covering shows has got to be the emergence of thin tiles. These thin tiles start at a thickness of about 2.5mm for wall applications and up to about 6mm for floor applications. Manufacturers tout a range of advantages, including installation over existing floor or wall coverings, eliminating the need for ripping out existing finish materials in renovation projects, thus saving time and money in labor costs. It’s the perfect solution for covering up that old, out of date shower tile that you’ve been dying to get rid of but don’t want the hassle of tearing your shower apart. Because the tiles are available in slab form, sizes as big as 48″ x 142″, installing them will create a very clean and uninterrupted appearance!
Because this is such a new product there are no nationally-recognized installation standards for thin tiles. Efforts to develop ISO standards for thin tile and installation standards are afoot. The TCNA is collaborating with labor to quickly develop installation standards for North America to reduce incidents of performance failures due to incorrect methods or materials. For now, some important factors installers must consider in thin-tile installation are: Lippage must be virtually non-existent to avoid chipping damage. Coverage must be 100% at the edges to prevent cracking. The amount of extra tile needed for a job can be much more than a regular project if the pieces being installed are large. The larger tiles can be easily broken. Some tips from the field include: Using a trowel with slanted teeth to allow the mortar to lay down more easily without sliding the tile to comb over the trowel ridges. Although it goes against the grain of traditional tile installations, walk on the tile to embed it into the mortar. “This tile is flexible…stepping on it pushes it into place”. Beating it into the mortar with a rubber hammer can cause breakage.
Here are a few thin-tile products to look out for:
Cotto d’Este: Black-white, from the Kerlite collection, is manufactured to a slim 3mm thickness using the Lamina process. Sleek and contemporary, Black-White comes in 3×1 meter and 1×1 meter in black and white. Eco-friendly manufacturing is earmarked by reduced emissions and 25% natural gas consumption, plus recycled materials for packaging. Large porcelain stoneware slabs above 3.5mm thick are reinforced with fiberglass mesh. www.cottodeste.it
Gardenia Orchidea: Crete Di Piandella Fornace is the latest innovation from Crystal Ker brand, which uses traditional press technology in a new way to produce extra fine, extremely thin, very white porcelain stoneware in 2.5mm thickness for wall covering and 4.5mm for flooring. www.gardeniaorchidea.com
Laminam: Linfa ceramic slab features Lamina technology to produce a 3 meter-long, 3mm thick tile with surface effects that imitate various types of wood such as cotton, hemp, bark and coconut. Linfa is made with up to 48% recycled content. www.laminam.it/eng
Lea Ceramich: Slimteck Re-Evlolution 3mm porcelain now comes in sizes as large as 40″ x 118″, in a new resin-like texture created by Lamina technology. www.ceramichelea.it
Refin: Skin is a the brand-new, 4.8mm slim porcelain stoneware. Using dust-pressed technology, Skin offers the same technical and resistance features of standard thickness porcelain stoneware tiles, with added benefits offered by thin tile. www.refin-ceramic-tiles.com
Stop into the showroom to see samples of the latest and greatest!