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Installing Tiles DIY Style? Watch Out for Lippage

Are you planning to install tiles at home by yourself? Before you do, did you know what tile lippage is? If you don’t, you run the risk of this tiling problem showing up after completing your DIY project. Find out what is tile lippage, what causes it, and how you can prevent below.

What is tile lippage?

Lippage is a condition wherein the edge of one tile is higher than the nearby tile. The tiles are spaced evenly in width, but spaced differently in height. This creates an uneven surface to your floor tiles.

Tile lippage is not only aesthetically displeasing, but it also creates problems at home. For instance, it is a tripping hazard for people who use walkers. The tiles are also more prone to damage since objects can often hit and run over the edges.

What qualifies as tile lippage?

Not every war page is considered lippage. The allowable lippage for grout joints that are less than 1/4 in. wide is 1/32 in. plus the built-in tile war page. For grout joints that are ¼ in. or wider is 1/16 in. plus the war page. This is according to the American National Standards Institute.

What causes tile lippage?

Uneven tilesThe poor installation often causes floor tile lippage. This is especially true if you take it upon yourself to install your tiles without proper knowledge of the process and the problems that may occur. Other causes include the following:

  • Uneven subfloor. Tile lippage happens when the surface is not levelled.
  • Inconsistent tile variation. A bad batch of tiles tends to show lippage more. Some types of tiles also curve as much as 0.5% the length of the tile such as polished porcelain tiles.
  • Too narrow grout joints. Narrow grout joints may look pleasing to the eyes, but it increases the chance of tile lippage.
  • Long, narrow tiles are used. Rectangular tiles are harder to lay flat, and they have more tendency to show lippage.
  • Tile patterns. Unorthodox tile patterns can expose height differences more than the usual patterns.

How to prevent tile lippage?

When lippage occurs, there’s no option than to replace the tiles to fix the problem. That’s why it’s important to address the issue as early as the installation process. Prevention is better than cure for the case of tile lippage.

To prevent tile lippage, ensure that the subfloor is as smooth as possible. Begin by levelling the floor for tiles. Determine if the floors slant with a leveller placed in the centre of the room. For concrete floors with ripples in the cement, water stains, or large cracks, repair them. For plywood subfloors warping in the middle, replace them. You have to ensure that the surface is flat before laying down the tiles.

Then, install tiles that are consistent in variation. Make sure that the grout joints aren’t too narrow. To address irregularities in the thickness of the tile, use a floor tile levelling system. A tile levelling system interlocks the tiles while the thin-set dries. This ensures that the surface remains smooth and flat. A complete system consists of strips, caps, and pliers.

With proper planning and adequate knowledge, you can prevent tile lippage from causing you trouble at home. Now, you can work on your DIY project knowing that you are well-equipped to take on the job. Gather all the materials you need and start working.


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