Wood plank tile floors: What you need to know

wood grain plank tile Seattle Washington Fremont neighborhood linear shower drain
Wood plank floor tile in Seattle’s Phinney Ridge neighborhood (9x36in)

Wood-like planks and other large format tile

Be sure to take a look at my newer post: More tips for installing wood look tile flooring that talks about patterns, grout joint size, and has additional installation tips.

wood plank tile problems Issaquah
Putting the tiles face-to-face will expose any flatness issues

There are some frustrating things about porcelain wood planks that your tile contractor may not have told you… and the salesperson at the store may not know. Here are some tips that you may be interested in before you shop for your wood grain tiles.

They’re not flat

They might look flat at first glance, but if you look closely, they probably aren’t. The center is higher, in other words, they are crowned in the middle. Some brands and types are worse than others. This becomes more of a problem when you offset (overlap)  them, which brings us to the next issue:

Don’t do a full offset with wood plank tile

By doing a 50% offset, where the middle of a tile is exactly in line with the grout joint of the next row, you have maximized the amount of unevenness, or lippage, between the tiles. In fact, unless the tile manufacturers say otherwise, the American National Standards Specifications for the Installation of Ceramic Tile sets the limit at 33% maximum offset (ANSI A108.02 Section 4.3.8). This means that on a 24 inch long tile the maximum offset is 8″.

offset wood grain tile Bellevue Washington problems
lippage from wood plank tiles in an offset pattern

The floor has to be extraordinarily flat

If your floor isn’t flat this will accentuate the problems with the crown of the tiles as you can see in the image on the left. For large format tile, which is any tile with at least one edge longer that 15 in., the maximum allowable variation is 1/8″ in 10ft. Floors are just not that flat nowadays.

If you want to see some examples of what can go wrong with these types of tile installations then take a look at this post here.

Use the correct thinset

medium bed tile mortar issaquah washington
A great thinset for installing wood plank tiles

With large format tiles you want to use a medium bed mortar and the correct trowel. While I prefer Laticrete 4xlt for this, you may find Marble and Granite mix from Custom Building Products more readily available. With these types of mortars a 1/2″x 1/2″ notch trowel would be the smallest size that you will want to try. Yes, this uses more thinset and, yes, these types of mortars are more expensive, but this isn’t the time to skimp. If you want plank floors, you’ll want to use a medium bed tile adhesive.

I’ve put together an infographic on thinset that you may find of interest.

Porcelain plank floors can look good but the biggest problems with them can be avoided by simply knowing what to watch out for and planning accordingly. You’ll find that they should last a lot longer than their wood counterparts as well.

Be sure to take a look at my newer post: More tips for installing wood look tile flooring that talks about patterns, grout joint size, and has additional installation tips.

 

wood plank tile danger issaquah washington
Wood plank tile can be risky business

147 comments

  1. Alice Overstreet

    This page/article helped us prevent an expensive mistake. We had planned to put a wood grain tile floor in ourselves and from this realized epwhen were out of our league. We hired a professional who was experienced and did good work. It was still a bit tricky. Thank you for this page!

  2. So if most wood plank tiles are not flat in the middle, do “rectified” edges solve that problem? I’ve see the term used to describe some tiles but not others.

    • Good question, Lis.

      A rectified tile has to do with the fact that the tiles are cut after they are baked. This makes them consistently sized. Believe it, or not, many tiles are not consistent in their sizing. The tile I’m currently using on a project vary by about 1/16th of an inch from one to the next.

      So it is possible for a rectified tile to be the proper size but still be warped.

      I don’t know all the science behind this but from what I understand, the warp-age in the tiles comes from the edges cooling after it’s been baked, but the center cools at a different rate. So as it cools the edges want to curl.

      The bottom line is that some of the wood plank porcelain tiles are flatter than others and the only way to tell is to look at them before they are purchased. Take two of them, stack them face-to-face and see how much they will rock back and forth.

      If you want to know more about rectified tiles, Roger has a post on his Floor Elf site that does a good job of explaining it. http://floorelf.com/tile-stone-types-honed-rectified-gauged

      I hope this helps. 🙂

  3. We are planning to put wood plank tile in our basement since hardwood is not a food option down there. From your experience, are there brands you recommend vs stay away from? We ideally want narrower tiles if at all possible to coordinate without hardwoods upstairs. Thanks for the tips?

    • Hi Lauren,

      I get asked this a lot and, for a variety of reasons, I’m currently not recommending any particular brands or lines of wood plank tiles. The aim of this post is to arm buyers with the necessary information to be able to pick out what flooring will be right for them.

      I appreciate the question.

  4. Does the concern about the need for flat floors extend to all tile? If our floors are not flat, should we give up on the idea of porcelain tile flooring? I would like to use some kind of large tile in order to minimize the grouting.

    • Hi Kathryn

      The floor needs to be flat. If you aligned all the grout joints you can “roll” the floor a little more than if the tiles overlap but the official standard for big tile is no more than 1/8″ variation in 10ft.

      Your situation is normal. Most floors are not flat enough for tile so additional work needs to be done. Grinding, planing, and using self levelers are just a few of the ways.

      If you can make the floor reasonable flat, you’ll save yourself a lot of headache on the installation end of things.

      • What do you mean by aligning the grout lines and rolling the floor? I just purchased 8 X 48 wood look porcelain tile for about 600 square feet on the main floor of my house (all living areas, except the kitchen and bath). I am anxious to have it installed properly, and in the correct pattern. I do want minimal grout lines for a more real wood effect. Thanks for explaining why grout lines should not “hit” at the 50% mark. That made a lot of sense. I appreciate very much any guidance you may have for me.

  5. We purchased 250 sq/ft of plank tile and will have an experienced friend install, however, he’s never done this kind of tile before. I am gathering supplies for him, and other than the mortar, grout, tile cutter, and tiles, is there something else he needs? I’ve seen some posts talk about a cement board, some posts/videos don’t.

    • Hi Leslie, this is a good question but if your friend is experienced in tile he should know the answer to this. You absolutely need some form of tile underlayment whether it’s cement board, Ditra, hardibacker, or something else. Make sure you and the installer read the installation instructions. If you use cement board it needs to be thinset and nailed (or screwed) down and the seams need to have mesh tape and thinset on the seams.

      I just looked at a project that was built 3 years ago and the tile were loose and the grout cracked. The problem? There is no thinset underneath the cement board.

      Good luck with your project and come back if you need any further help.

      • Am I correct in assuming that the underlayment(cement board, hardibacker, etc) would only be needed when laying plank tile on a wall? Would any other underlayment other than mortar be needed for the floor?

        I have a pretty flat concrete floor that my contractor is laying 500sqft of 6x36in wood plank porcelain tile. He will be applying some ‘quick crete’ self leveler in some places where there is minor unevenness.

        Thank you for your response.

        • Backerboard type underlayment is used both on walls and over wood subfloors. Since you have a concrete subfloor you don’t need to install any underlayment over it. There are benefits to using membrane-type underlayments over a concrete floor but it’s not required to use them.

          Thanks for the questions.

      • You’ll not need hardi-back or any sub floor unless you are installing over a wood floor. Thinset is made for applying over cement…..flat floor YES esp. the high spots. Cover at least 20% of the next row of tiles and a tad bigger grout joint will help (3/16)Grout as close to tile color and it will look good

      • We recently had 6 x 24 porcelain plank tile (wood look) installed in our kitchen by a reputable contractor and already (it’s only been one month) the contractor has had to come back twice to “regrout” because the grout keeps crumbling and cracking. Any ideas for the reason for this? Would it be because the floor isn’t level? We bought expensive backer board – and only used 1/8″ grout lines. Just wondering if some sort of self leveler should have been used and if so, it’s too late, right? Grout is done and sealed.

        • Sometimes when grout cracks or crumbles it has something to do with the grout itself (mixed with too much water for example) but it seems that usually it has to do with movement, or lack thereof. Maybe the backerboard wasn’t thinset down? There is no movement joints at the perimeter of the tile? No perimeter joints in the install (if necessary)? Without more details it’s impossible to know but movement would be my number 1 suspect.

  6. My installer wants to use both 5″ plank tile and 7 1/2″ plank tile in a random pattern. Will this minimize any warped tile problems? Will it make for a busy looking floor?

    • I don’t think it will have any effect on the warpage. I can’t help you with the pattern. It depends on the look you want for your house.

      Good luck with your project.

  7. I should have checked out this site before starting tiling a largish terrace (over 600 sq. ft.)with dark, wood-grained rectified porcelain tiles (about 6″ x 48″ each in size).

    Almost 95% of the tiles came out of the carton slightly warped (some crowned, but mostly that were bent the other way, i.e., concave). I had resigned myself to what I thought was a defective batch (I had the tiles lying around too long to be able to return or exchange them with the vendor).

    Anyway, I had a professional installer and, since I was planning a staggered offset in any case, we decided to proceed and make the best of it, carefully selecting each tile for the best fit and cutting some of the tiles in different lengths to start each row with, which achieved the desired random joint pattern as well as reduced the discernable uneveness (by effectively halving the tile’s curvature). we still had to contend with the full length tiles along the rest of each row, however.

    One trick we learned along the way was to place weights (5 lbs or more) at the shorter joints in case of uneveness. The adhesive strength of the wet mortar, together with the flattening weights, was enough to considerably pull down and smoothen out the joints, which for concave tiles would otherwise be sticking upwards. This doesn’t work for crowned tiles, though.

    In the end, the overall finish and flatness came out to be quite acceptable, especially for an outdoor installation, with only the occasional negligible uneveness along some of the longitudinal tile edges visible.

    Good to know, though, that this is a common issue and that I hadn’t been cheated into buying rejected or recycled tiles, which is what I had begun to think ‘rectified’ implied!

  8. We are getting ready to install 8×36″ wood look tile and found we have one corner of the 160 sq ft room that slopes 3/8-1/2 inch. Do we need to self level the entire room or can we get away with bringing the one corner up to level?

    • The term leveling is a bit misleading. The floor has to meet a certain level of flatness. It’s OK to bring up one corner to help flatten the floor without leveling the entire space.

      Good luck with your install.

  9. Just wondering what the minimum grout line for 6″x36″ porcelain?

  10. Can you tell me what the minimum grout space should be for porcelain tiles that are 6″x36″?

    • First I would check with the manufacturer of the tile. They may specify a grout joint range for their tile. The second step is the industry guideline which says that the grout joint should be 3 times the amount of variation in the tile. Also the minimum is 1/16th.

      So if you line your tiles up next to each other, check how much variation there is between the sizes of them. If the longest tile is 1/16 longer than the shortest one then 3x that would be a 3/16″ grout joint.

      It’s not unusual to have porcelain tiles that are very consistent so in that case you may just decide to default to the minimum of 1/16″.

      A word of caution on your tiles: Even if they are consistently sized they probably have some sort of crown to them. Assuming they are off-set a 1/16th grout joint probably is too thin if there is any kind of lippage on the surface from one tile to another. As an installer, I don’t know that I would agree to 1/16th grout joints with porcelain plank tiles for just this reason. I normally default to an 1/8″ for 36″ long porcelain planks like yours if you are using an off-set pattern.

      One more thing: if you use a 1/16th grout joint with porcelain plank tiles make sure you use a cement grout that is in the “high performance cement grout” category. Custom Building Products makes one called Prism and Laticrete makes one called Permacolor. Mapei makes one but I don’t know the name of it. Urethane grouts, Fusion, and epoxy grouts will work for this also but check the instructions to make sure.

  11. I am installing 6X24 tiles on my concrete floors. In one of your responses you advised that hardi panel be put down first. Is there a specific thickness that should be used and what is the best way to check to see if floor is level enough without using hardi panel.
    Thank You
    Tom

    • You don’t want to use any sort of backerboard on your concrete floor. This includes cement board and fiber cement board (hardibacker).

      Tile will stick directly to the concrete if you want. Use a straight edge or level to see how flat the floor is. You are looking for flat- not necessarily level so don’t worry about what the bubble says. For 6×24 plank tiles you are looking for not more than 1/8″ deviation in 10 ft. I doubt your concrete floors are naturally that flat so you will probably need to do some prep work before hand.

  12. Do I have to have a grout line in wood-grain porcelain tile? I am using 6″x24″ inch tiles and have been told by a contractor I have to have at least 1/8″ grout line. If not, it’s almost impossible to get it straight. I initially intended to put it down side by side to look just like a hardwood floor.

    • Hi Dennis

      Take a look just a couple of comments up and you’ll see my remarks about grout joints. You will need them and I would suggest choosing a grout color that keeps the planks looking like hardwood.

      Thanks for visiting my site.

  13. Nice article. One thing that I saw mentioned in your comments section is the need for grout with wood look tile. Yes, you have to grout the tiles, and once you see the product installed you will be perfectly happy with the results. I have never had a customer who didn’t want their floor grouted like a floor that wasn’t grouted. It is a big difference between 1 piece and an entire floor. A lot of wood look tile has what I call framing around the tile. Grouting helps hide these frames as well.

    Another thing to note is that rectified is not always a more expensive characteristic. A lot of tile that comes from Chinese factories are rectified due to the fact that they can’t produce a consistent size in their tile batches. Italian and US manufacturers are much better at creating consistent sizes so each tile will still vary but a decent grout joint can hide the variation in size. So when seeing the term rectified, it doesn’t mean that it should always cost more, it just means it has been cut along the edges. Just a note when looking for your perfect floor.

  14. We recently had the 3″x36″ woodgrain tiles installed and we have raised edges as well as low spots all over the floor. We had the sales company come out and look at it. Their estimator/contractor came out and looked at the floor and finally deduced that the floor, about half way the length of the floor was crowned. Kitchen is approx 14’x 23′. Do you have any suggestions to remedy the problem? The company installing the tiles should have stopped once the tiles did not match up, but continued to finish. I see no alternative but to remove the tiles and make the surface flat. I am not sure how to go about that. The middle floor joist is a double joist.

    • You’re right that it’s the installer’s responsibility to check the floor and point out if it needs additional work to make it flat enough.

      At this point the tiles would have to be removed and the floor brought into the proper flatness before continuing.

      With these sorts of tiles it’s basically impossible that a floor would be flat enough without having to do any prep work. The installer should know this but the salesman would also hopefully know and have included some prep work into the price. I have a hunch that neither the installer nor the salesperson figured on any prep.

      • I hit the wrong key but they are 6″x36″. Thanks for the feedback. The company is willing to replace the floor but the installer isn’t sure he can fix the issue so they are sending another installer to look at it. I would think off the flat surface of the floor with a straight edge you can determine the “drop” and add a leveling compound to the low areas. Also if they tear out the floor are the tiles reusable if not chipped or broken?

        • Hi Steve,

          It’s unrealistic if they think they can save the tile. I don’t know what it looks like but it’s probably going to involve a good amount of tear-out possibly even the entire floor. If they try to patch it in then make sure that the new tile matches the old tile. Otherwise you’ll probably see the shade variation which would be in a line across the floor.

          • Thanks again. From what I can determine there appears to be close to a 1/4″+ slope from the center of the room to the edge of the room. Other than leveling compound what would you recommend to make it flat? We thought about tearing up the subfloor and plane the joist, but that involves quite a bit of work and working around 2 cabinets over the joist.

          • Hi Steve, sorry I missed this.

            It’s tough to remove only the center high spot and try to patch it in. You don’t want to plane down the subfloor and removing the subfloor and planing the joists is probably a better option. Patching the tile back in can be problematic. I know it’s more work and more money but I would recommend tearing out an entire section, wall-to-wall, if not the entire thing. Maybe you can get 1/8″ from planing the joists in the center and 1/8″ by leveling up the edges.

            My experience with patching is that you spend a lot more time and it doesn’t look as nice as if you had wiped the slate clean and started over.

  15. Great find. Thanks for posting this. Are there any additional issues that arise when putting heating coils under this type of floor? I’m very concerned that the floor won’t look like real wood once completed (larger grout lines and uneven tiles. We are redoing a sun room open to the kitchen that was originally done with no backer board, just tile directly to floorboard. After 20 years lots of cracks and loose tile. Will have contractor put in a backerboard. Can that be used to help level up the room or is that best left to after heating pads are put down?

    Much thanks again.

    • Hi Alan

      I would say that it depends on how out of level* the room is. If it’s a little out of level it can be done with the self leveler. If it’s a lot then you don’t want the wires down 1 inch in one spot and next to the surface on another.

      Here’s a free tip: Sun rooms get a lot of sunlight and the tiles want to expand and contract more than a normal interior room. You’ll need to put movement joints (also called soft joints) in the installation every 8-12 ft. in each direction. I know you won’t like to hear that but the reason that your tiles are cracked and loose may not be because of the substrate. It may be because of a lack of movement.

      *level isn’t really the right term. Flatness is what’s important, not necessarily level.

  16. My tile man is nervous about the installation of 48″X8″ Plank tiles in my basement due to the floor’s rolls. (1939 house) The decision is to either put down self leveling materials, or to shorten the planks to avoid rises/drops. After reading the information above, I’m wondering which is the best route to take both esthetically and cost effectively. Could you please give me your thoughts on this? Thank you kindly.

    • The question that I would ask is “What does shortening the planks accomplish?” Shortening the planks wouldn’t help you to avoid the rises and drops but it might help a modest amount in allowing the tile to rise and drop with the floor.

      The older and more experienced I get the more prep work I do and the flatter I get my walls and floors. If this were my project I would do a combination of dustless grinding of the high spots, self level the low spots, and then use a feather finish-type leveler to fine tune it from there. In other words, I would make the substrate flat before tile. Yes, this costs more but that’s the proper way.

      Offset plank floors need to be flat or the edges will stick up. So when you think about it, flattening the floor isn’t really an option- the final product determines this. So if it’s done during the process of installing the tiles (which is very frustrating as an installer) or done ahead of time through proper floor prep- either way it has to get done and has to be baked into the cost of the install.

      The only budget-friendly option I can think of would be to go with really small square tiles and let them roll with the floor. And be prepared to put blocks under your furniture legs. 🙂

      • Thank you for your response sir. I will forward to my tile man. You recommended the Latricrete 4XLT Medium set. I went to the site and saw the 4XLT, 4XLT-rapid, 255 Multimax, and 220 Marble and granite Mortar. I have no idea of the difference in each except perhaps the rapid set. For the basement application, do you recommend one over the other?

        • I really like Laticrete 4XLT for installing big tile. The 255 Multimax is a lightweight mortar which is usually used for walls. It can be used on floors but it costs more than the 4XLT. I’m not familiar with the 220 mortar but I think it’s a medium bed unmodified mortar. Most thinset manufacturers want polymer modified mortars to be used when porcelain tile is being installed. Maybe your installers plan on using a liquid additive to modify the 220 or maybe they have another use for it?

          If they’ve stocked 4XLT and 255 then they are buying the proper mortars for plank tiles. It indicates that they’re not cutting corners and this is a good sign.

          • I don’t know if you responded to this already, but is a polymeric mortar bad when laying 8×48″ planks? We’re just learning about the difficulties of wood like tile and are in mid installation because of the unevenness. We thought it might have been the mortar.

          • I apologize but I don’t understand the question. Do you mean polymer modified?

  17. Excellent article. I learned so much about 12X24 tiles from it. I will use this info to work with my contractor to make sure that he will do the installation correctly.

    Regards,

  18. Hi – I am about to have 8 X 48 inch porcelain planks installed in my main floor living areas. The length of the room is 34 feet (extending from front door to back patio doors). Due to this long, well lit room, I chose the really big planks, vs the 6 X 24 inch option, as I felt that I would get a more realistic wood appearance with the longer planks. Having read this forum, though, I am concerned about being able to get my cement slab flat enough for long, inflexible planks. I do not want lipping to occur, and the contractors I have spoken with state that a little lipping is just par for the course. Hmmm. I plan on purchasing self leveling filler, but I wonder if I should re-think the longer/bigger planks. Suggestions? Finally, I understand that the tea need to be staggered no more than 33%, to avoid a grout line at the middle of the tile, where the arch is greatest. However, I can still stagger them, so that I don’t have grout lines marching across the room at the same place every other row, right? I have seen it laid like that, and it makes the wood-look tile look like, well – TILE.

    • A lot of times the customer wants a random offset that mimics real wood planks. Below is a photo of a small bathroom that I did with a random offset. It’s hard to do this without sneaking in a couple of offsets that are greater than 33%. With the project in the photo I chose to put them in under where the vanity goes and behind the toilet. This was a small floor and it was easy for me to dictate where these planks would go. With a bigger floor you probably won’t have this luxury.

      In regards to your first question, going with shorter planks will have a minimal benefit of helping the lippage unless you were to also to eliminate the offset pattern, in my opinion. Obviously that isn’t the look that you are going for. Your best bet is to get the slab as flat as possible and choose plank tile that is as flat as possible. Planks have come along and it’s not difficult to find this kind of tile without the crowning anymore.

      I hope this helps.

      https://twitter.com/TigerMtnTile/status/439837612577013760

      random offset of porcelain wood plank tiles

      • Hi. Thanks so much for your reply. I have played with the tile planks I bought – placing them over my existing flooring in different patterns to get a feel for what looks best. As a result, I feel better about the size of the planks. Also, I am happy to say that the tile is pretty flat, and very uniformly cut and shaped. The color is very variable, which helps camouflage flaws in the installation (I am hoping). I love your blog here. I learned a lot by reading the posts and your responses. The Laticrete mortar is not available here, but the other option you mentioned is. I plan to use fusion grout in a color that pretty much blends with the tile – in a 1/8 size joint. Would you agree that the best way to lay wood look plank tile is perpendicular to the light source in the room?

        Thanks again for your reply. Any and all advice you provide is very much appreciated.

        Dawn

  19. Nicole from NY

    Thanks so much for the information here. I found it very helpful. How do you recommend determining a starting point when laying 4×24 tiles in a room that measures approximately 12’x22′? Walls are never perfectly square so I don’t know if starting against one wall would be the best way. Should we drop chalk lines to locate the center of the room and work off of that? Any advice you can for would be appreciated. Thanks again!

    • It depends on the room. With square tile, I typically want to see a full tile when entering the room. There are exceptions to this but I’ve found them to be rare. With plank tile and a random offset it won’t matter how you start- assuming there is only one entrance to the room. If there are multiple entrances then you usually will want a full tile to be the lengthwise way at the entrance. I hope I’m writing this so that it’s understandable. Feel free to ask for clarification.

      • We’re planning a bathroom renovation, and I was so pleased to come across your informative posts about wood plank tile floors.
        Please explain more about tile installation at the doorway entrance to the room. The bathroom is about 6×8′ and the planks are 6×36″. Is there a preferred direction for the planks to run? I believe they should run perpendicular to both 64″ vanity and 30″ doorway, and parallel to the 54″ shower, eliminating cuts at the shower seam. However, the contractor drew the planks in the opposite direction. Is there a rule of thumb which direction they should go?
        Thanks so much for your reply!

  20. I just purchased 8 x 48 porcelain tile for our basement (700 square feet)…The installer told me to pick up the mortar and grout, but said its up to me to pick sanded vs. un-sanded, along w/the color of grout, and I also don’t know whether to get pre-mixed or not as this is all new to me (nor do I know what amounts to purchase)…he is thinking 1/16th for the grout lines to keep the wood look as sharp as possible – is this too thin? I prefer thin but I see some suggestions at 1/8 for larger tile so please advise. He also wants to do 4 different offsets – is there a magic formula or % at this size that I should tell him? also, any input on what type of mortar and/or grout to go with & how much of each? Do you know if this brand/style is relatively flat? Sorry for all the questions but I just started to worry after reading some of these comments and am clueless on what to purchase as the people at Lowe’s didn’t want to guess either on the supplies…Any input is much appreciated!

    Brand: Style Selections Natural Timber Chestnut Glazed Porcelain Floor Tile (Common: 8-in x 48-in; Actual: 7.72-in x 47.4-in)…came in at about $3.40/sq ft after discount…THANKS!

    • There was some talk previously in this post about grout joint size. I would review some of those comments. For an 8×48 plank tile I really don’t think 1/8 inch is too big but if your installer is good and has inspected the plank tiles and feels he/she can do 1/16 than I say let them. For grout you will usually want sanded (it comes in a bag), especially if you end up with 1/8 inch joints but your installer really should specify which grout to get. You may also look into urethanes or epoxy stain proof grouts. I’m not sure what Lowes carries in this regard.

      There’s no magic formula for offsetting the tile. You need to work out with your installer if you want a pattern or random offsets. The maximum offset is 33% unless the customer approves more. That’s an industry standard.

      Mapei Large Tile Mortar from Lowes

      If you are buying the thinset from Lowes I found a product online called Large Tile Mortar. If they have that at your store then that’s probably what you want. 8×48 tile are considered “large format tiles” and require a medium bed mortar. The gray is probably slightly less expensive than the white and will work fine for your tile.

      I don’t know why your installer wouldn’t tell you how much to get. I can’t imagine sending someone to the store and not specifying what to buy or how much. How much does your installer want? I guess it’s a mystery. If it were me I would start with about 15 bags and see where that gets me.

      Good luck to you and I hope this helps.

  21. We are having wood look tile installed (6×24) and are having issues with lippage. At first they started installing in a not so random pattern, which caused me to focus on continual lines across the floor. I had discussed this with install manager before the job started but the installer didn’t seem to know. So they took it out and started over, but said because the planks are “warped” we will have lippage throughout. We chose a hand-scraped look. I think they hate this tile! Said manufacturer suggests less random pattern to minimize unevenness. We are cautiously optimistic that it will be fine, but still nervous. Are we making a mistake with this tile, and letting the job proceed? We are on day 5 of the project and it should be finished today.

    • Hi Carole, it’s hard to know if you’ll have a problem because it’s impossible for me to tell how warped the tiles are over the internet. But if you do a mock up on a perfectly flat surface you should be able to tell what the minimum amount of lippage you should expect. Doing this will tell you the best case scenario if the installation is perfectly flat (it never is). A wider grout joints helps to alleviate the issue but people that want wood porcelain planks don’t want big grout joints.

      Sorry I can’t be of more help but it sounds like what’s done is done. Hopefully all is well with the install. Feel free to report back with how things went. Thanks for checking in.

  22. Hello. We are also looking at installing a 6×40 plank tile throughout the entire downstairs (approx. 2000 sqft). Reading these posts has made me nervous since they are non-rectified and our installer says he can do a 1/16th grout line but there will be a lot of lippage and based on the previous posts it may be wavy. Any suggestions would greatly be appreciated!

  23. Hello,
    Fantastic info – thanks so much.
    Considering 8 x 48 in for a 34 x 16 room. I was advised to only get rectified – does this truly help achieve a more natural wood look? Also – it is an entirely open plan room and we are considering adding a layer of self leveler over the entire existing tile floor. Floors are in rock solid, perfect condition. Can you give me your opinion on this?

    • Hi Kevin, I’m never crazy about the idea of tile over tile but it can be done. Be sure that you are aware of the ramifications of raising the floor in other doorways, etc. When you say the floor is in rock solid condition I’m assuming that you are referring to the structural aspect of it and not the flatness, otherwise I don’t know that you would need a self-leveler. Keep in mind that your self-leveler will need a bonding agent and for going over tile I would recommend a multi-surface bonding primer. Mapei has one called Eco Prim Grip that I’ve used before and I just noticed that Custom Building Products has one out called MBP. You’ll want to apply this over your tile before the self-leveler. I would mechanically abrade your floor before the primer but they makers of the product may not require it.

      Rectified tile look better but are harder to install. The corners are sharper and less forgiving.

      Also, you’ll need a movement joint, or soft joint, in your 34 foot run. This is a joint that isn’t grouted but is caulked instead. I know you aren’t going to want to hear that but it needs to go in. 🙂

      Thanks for checking out my blog and I hope things go well on your floor.

  24. Bought enough .8 x 48 hand scraped look porcelain for about 1100 feet to be installed over a concrete slab. Installer said tricky on long planks and is slow (taking his time?) to install. About 400 feet laid this far and I am struggling to accept the end to end joints are not flat. He claims some bowed up and others crowned and suggested they are defected which I see here is quiet common. I think he is not doing a good job of selecting matching tiles when laying and is using a 1/4 trial. 2 planks have broken already after a week of drying. He is using type 1 mastic for tile and stone by Tec Invision though it says on floors for 8×8 tiles or 12×12 on walls. Any suggestions before he does the next 700 feet?

    • If you’re sure that he’s using Type 1 mastic of any brand for porcelain wood plank tile, especially over concrete, I would ask your installer to stop where he is and you’ll have to find someone else to finish the project. It’s absolutely the wrong adhesive to use in that application. You’ll have to remove the tiles and start over. The bright side is that there is a good chance that you can save the tiles and clean them up as the glue takes a lot of time to dry. More than likely the reason the tiles are breaking is that the adhesive isn’t dry yet and they still move.

      Some guys mix thinset in the empty mastic buckets- that’s different and I would make sure that this isn’t the case. Hopefully you can get this handled before more damage is done.

      • Yes positive as I read it off the can and saw him open it and use. I questioned this base on previous comments and said lowes recommended it for those tiles. What is the issue with this type mastic versus the one you recommend?

        • The issue is that this sort of adhesive is to be used for small tile in non wet areas. You need a thinset that is made for large format tile which is what you have. The mastic won’t dry and will probably mold.

          I don’t expect you to take my word for it. It’s prudent for you to investigate further. This is the Tec Specialty website. This is a link to their Type 1 mastic. They say a maximum tile size of 8×8 for floors- and that’s with no lugs on the back of the tile. For what it’s worth I would never use a mastic on a floor for any situation. It’s not a good practice.

          Call their hotline and tell them which product is being used and ask if it’s ok for that application. (1-800-832-9023).

          Tec makes good products but the right ones have to be used for the right application. I hope this is helpful.

  25. Hello. I’m looking to install 6×24 wood look porcelain, the room is 10×17 (old tile with some plywood) but will be putting heating wires (said to be less of 1/8) on only part of the room (not under furniture). Should I use two sizes of trowels to make up for the difference on height? What is your suggestion? Is my first time doing this. Thank you in advance.

    • With heated wires below your plank tiles my recommendation is to use some sort of leveler over your entire floor and get it all a similar height. A self leveler would work for this type of application. You need to encase the wires in a cement product anyway to help keep them in place. I would just do your entire floor. BTW, in my experience, heat wires are closer to 1/4″ rather than 1/8″ when it’s all said and done.

  26. Great information on this site….thank you! It is enormously helpful!
    What kind of tile saw can handle these long 40″ tiles? Our tile installer doesn’t have a saw that can cut these lengthwise. Suggestions?

    • This is a good question and there are several answers. You can buy what’s called a “rail saw” that run $2000 and up or a snap cutter, also called a score board, that will cut them and these will run $600+.

      But a simpler cost effective way of cutting them is to purchase a small tile saw that looks like a mini circular saw with a water feed. The one that I own is the Felker FHS-4. They usually run anywhere from $60-$200 and would probably be nice for a DIY’er.

      A word of caution: they aren’t the best if you need a really nice cut that will show. They work best when you will cover the cut with wood base board, for instance.

      One final option would be to take the tiles to a slab shop that has the equipment to cut really long tiles. Obviously you would only do this if you don’t have many cuts or you only need them to cut the showing cuts.

      I hope this helps.

  27. after putting down wonder board does all of board need a coating of thinset or just taped seams?

    • You’ll want the seams taped and mudded before you install any tile. The board should be coated as you install the tile. I recommend using a notch trowel on the cement board and the flat troweling the back of the tile before it’s installed.

  28. I have read in the comments about having a flat floor.
    My issue is I have a floor that is flat going North/south but is crowned in the middle going east/west.
    Leaving the floor will be difficult due to cabinets and height allowances.
    I thought that if I lay my 6×24 tiles length ways going north/south I would get less lippage and issues. Am I correct in this thinking?

  29. We just had wood like tile installed in our dining room , kitchen and laundry room …what would you recommend to seal the grout/tile to protect against dirt and stains. Grout line is 1/8 (recommended by installer).

    • I typically use a penetrating sealer when there’s a cement grout. It goes on the grout joints only- not the entire tile. It’s ok to get it on the tile but you have to wipe it off.

  30. Wish I had located this page prior to going it alone, on my own. Good information I will remember for next time. I have an uneven floor. I’m considering pulling it up and starting over.

  31. I am looking at various wood-look tiles for a remodel and not sure how to judge/choose the quality of the finish. In other words, how do I determine the quality of the wood appearance. are there different methods of producing the color and uneven, hand scrapped feel that will matter in terms of long term wear and overall quality? thanks.

  32. My installer mentioned if I wanted plank tile because of what she called cuppage she recommended a mud set vs. thinset. She said it was double the price but I would see a much better result. Do you find his to be true?

    • A perfectly flat mud set is a better way. The cost I’m not sure about. I find that once the prep is figured in the cost isn’t that much different than a mud floor.

  33. This site has been really helpful.

    My wife and I would like to tile a 540 sqft basement that is already tiled on a noticeably uneven floor (we would be the new owners but the house was built in 1910). Reading the comments above where you repeatedly say the floor should be level but doesn’t have to be flat and I was wondering if the prep work could just be pouring self-leveling concrete on top then tiling. The ceiling has the normal 8ft height so it wouldn’t be an issue in that sense but are there longterm or installation drawbacks I’m not considering?

    • You can do this but understand that the term “self-leveling” is a little misleading. Yes, it flows to find it’s own level but getting it perfectly flat isn’t a piece of cake. You’ll find that the leveler will leave low and uneven spots, in particular where two or more batches meet up. I typically figure at least one additional trip of flattening out the self-leveler.

      • Thanks. SO does would it matter if this was done with the self leveling (soupy small batch) mix or would it matter if I got a concrete truck? I know that I could do either but I don’t know which would be best to place the tile on top of.

        How do you handle this problem when you prep for these tiles?

        • I’m not sure I understand. I think concrete needs a minimum thickness and it’s two very different solutions to your problem. If you need a thin layer to smooth out your slab then self leveling is what you would want to use. If you need to come up, say 4 inches, then I would think concrete would be the way to go. The concrete slab still needs to be flat and it has it’s own set of challenges. I think your best bet is to use SLU and be patient with it and plan on going over it in repeated applications.

          • Thanks. I do think that it is a completely warped sort of thing but because I don’t know what level is I couldn’t say exactly.

            Your answers have been very helpful. I’d hire you if you were in Brooklyn or a recommendation if you know anyone in NYC.

            Thanks again

          • Here’s three places that I recommend to look for tile contractors: the John Bridge Forum, the NTCA website, or the CTEF list. At the John Bridge Forum you can go on and request a tile contractor in your area and see who shows up.

            Good luck!

  34. I have installed tile for 30 years: ceramic, porcelain, vitrous china, glass, saltillo pavers, slate, marble, granite, travertine and the list goes on. Never did these porcelain 6X24 large format tiles until now. Reading your comments has got me scared sh*tless. The house was flooded from Hurricane Sandy and now raised up. The area they want tiled had been slab and now has a framed floor with 3/4″ OSB with the contractor framing with 2X8 16 inch on center. When someone walks through the house the floors flex. Used 1/4″ Hardi, but am now scared even if my tile job comes out great cracked tiles and loose grout are in the future from this floor. Eventually coming back to haunt me. The salesperson at Lowes sold the materials to my customer based on my square foot measurements, and after getting thinset that isn’t for large format suspect that Lowes rep never installed large format either and is supplying based on a normal porcelain tile job as I might having never done large format. Any suggestions about 2X8 floor movement and 6X24 “wood” tiles?

    • I would run your numbers through the Deflecto machine over at JohnBridge.com and see if your floor is stout enough for tile. Other than that, use the right thinset and install things according to instructions and I think you’ll be alright.

  35. Well, I read through the whole thread and couldn’t find anything about installing these wood plank-like porcelain tiles on shower walls. We have a shower base (corian) and want tiles on the walls up to the ceiling. Would there be a problem with using wood plank tiles like Happy Floors Hickory or NuTrend? We’ve got cement board on the walls. Does that need to be treated the way you recommend on floors? Any special technique where the tile runs into the shower base flange?
    Thank you so much!

    • This post was written with floors in mind but the same principals apply to installing planks on walls: medium bed mortar, flat walls, etc. Make sure you caulk the bottom around the base with silicone caulk. Most grout companies make a matching 100% silicone caulk.

  36. My mom is looking at wood plank tiles to put in a house she will be renting out for 3-5 years and then it will be her permanent home after that. I have several questions and was wondering if I could get your email address so I can ask you some questions

  37. Which direction do you normally lay the tile? In a house we are building, walking through the front entry is the family room, however, there is a visible hallway off to the right. Would you lay the planks the same direction you are walking into the family room or cross-way, same direction of hallway?

    • Hi Cindy and thanks for checking out my site. The direction that the porcelain planks are installed is a personal choice. I couldn’t tell you a right or a wrong from my computer- especially without seeing the project.

      From an installation point of view, the shorter the run the easier it will be to install. In your hallway, for instance, it would be easier to run them across the hallway rather than down the length of it.

      I hope that’s helpful. 🙂

  38. We are preparing to install ceramic plank flooring (6 x 35).Our home was built in 1970 and some parts of the cement sub-floor still have the original linoleum peel and stick tiles present. I have read some information stating that if they do not come off easily it is better to leave them in place and tile over (as many contain asbestos). What do you recommend?

    • The ideal way to do it is to remove them but sometimes it’s not practical. Sometimes there’s asbestos in them or in the glue. If they are stuck down you can leave them down but will need to clean them really well and strip off any wax or sealers off of them. I tend to go with a higher octane thinset to make sure it grabs. Megalite from CBP is available at Home Depot, is extremely strong, and is a medium bed mortar. That would be my first choice for thinset. You may need to apply their bonding primer first.

  39. I planned on using versa bond and 1/4x/1/4 trowel with my 6×24 wood tiles because of the transition height to the wood floor in my kitchen. the floor itself was challenging to level because of a higher joist so now If I use 3/8 or 1/2 the floor will be higher than my traditional wood floor adjacent.The floor is level and has 1/4″ backerboard laid with thinset and screws. The first row of tile went down well. Do you think the 1/4 x1/4 trowel is not sufficient with versa bond? (I have tiled quote a bit and this has been the most challenging by far due to the large room size and leveling issues) advice appreciated

    • Hi Sue and I appreciate your visiting my blog. 🙂

      I would recommend neither the Versabond nor the 1/4 inch notch trowel. If you are buying your supplies at Home Depot they have a product that used to be called Marble & Granite mix. I think it’s now called Natural Stone and Large Tile Mortar? or something similar. It’s made for tiles the 6×24 and similar-type of tiles. The Versabond is for smaller tiles like 12×12’s and smaller.

      The issue with the trowel size is that you need to have good thinset coverage on the back of your tile and it’s very difficult to get with a 1/4 inch notch trowel. If you can get 80% or better coverage- then great! But I just don’t think it can be done with the bigger tiles. I would rather see you use a larger notch trowel and try to thin it out at the entrances if possible. It may not be possible to do that.

      The better way of handling it would have been to not go with the 1/4 inch backerboard and instead use an uncoupling mat like Ditra (1/8″ thick) or even a crack isolation membrane like Nobleseal CIS (about 1/16th thick). That would have bought you the room to match up with the hardwood. But it sounds like it’s too late now.

      Good question. The 1/4 inch notch trowel is a very popular size and people seem to really like using it.

      • Thank you for the response- I think I can get away with a 3/8 trowel and make it work. because the tile is a dark taupe wood, I wanted to stay away from white mortar ) the one you mention my HD only has in white) that would bleed up to mar the dark taupe grout I will be using- so I need a mortar that comes in grey- how about Tec full flex which comes in gray- or any other that lowes or florida tile may carry? This has certainly been a challenging start to this project and I appreciate your advice!

        • I understand wanting to go with a gray mortar. At Lowes they have mortars called “large tile and stone” but I don’t know if they carry gray, white, or both. I’m not sure what brand your Florida Tile carries. Tec has a mortar called Ultimate Large Tile mortar. Custom has one called Versabond LFT. Laticrete make LHT and 4XLT. Anything that says large tile, LFT, LHT, or Medium bed. These mortars are made for bigger tile and they don’t shrink and move the tile afterwards like the others can.

          Thanks for your questions. I know it can be challenging but the wood look tiles are popular, well liked, and you’ll save yourself a lot of money by doing it yourself. Good luck!

  40. On the Internet, many of the pictures of wood-look ceramic floor tile installations appear to not have any grout in the seams. In fact, they look just like real hardwood flooring which is installed flush to each other. The 6″ x 24″ wood-look ceramic floor tile we plan on using doesn’t have any bumps on the sides that force a pre-set seam width for grout. Is it meant to be installed flush without any grout?

    • The thing to do is to look up the manufacturer’s instructions for your tile. They will usually have a recommendation. You’re right that sometimes they have a built in spacer. If so, then that would be the minimum for the tile. If all else fails the minimum industry standard grout joint is 1/16th of an inch. Keep in mind that you are the end user. If you want to do something different then it’s up to you.

      It sounds like you’re looking for a grout color that blends, or disappears, when it’s installed.

  41. I am installing 500 sqft. of wood tile (6X36). I’ve read some comments on here, but I still have a question. I am currently looking into some type of leveling spacer system. Do you recommend using such a system? If not, why? I have also been told to use unsanded grout if going less the 1/8″?

  42. Hi. Great article. My question is can the self levleing spacers take care of the crown problem by pulling the tiles together? Can you do them in a line pattern rather than a brick pattern? Thanks.

    • I’m not sure I completely understand what you are asking. If you are asking if tile leveling systems can actually flatten out the crown of the tile the answer is: sometimes. Typically longer tiles have a tiny bit of flex to them and a leveling system can flex the tile a little. If you can flex the tile with your hands then that’s probably what you could expect with a leveling system.

      As far as a pattern, yes, you can do them in line with one another. It’s more of a contemporary look.

  43. Hello, thanks for all the tips for proper installation of tile. I am researching everything as we are a commercial business that had the installation of LVT vinyl plank flooring installed a year ago in our office where the bond failed. Unfortunately, our concrete substrate is in a building from the early 60’s where they did not put a vapor barrier to keep ground water out and I’m hopeful that with the proper installation tile will prevent another mishap. We have removed the flooring, sanded down the concrete, which removed some of the prep used for leveling and as much of the adhesive as possible and put a liquid membrane over the substrate (RedGuard). Now that the membrane is down, you can see how many gaps are in the surface. The installer said they won’t need to prep and/or fill the gaps to make it a smooth surface as they will use the mortar to fill in and a level on the tile as they install to insure a level floor. We are installing 8″ x 24″ porcelain plank tile, which I will be sure they don’t offset by 50%, per one of your comments above; however, do you see a problem with them installing the tile without prepping the surface first. Also, would you recommend Mapi Mortar for this installation or porcelain tile fortified thin-set mortar? Is there a grout that works well for moisture should the membrane not work 100%?

    Thank you, Karen

    • Hi Karen, This isn’t an area that I know in depth. I don’t go over a tremendous amount of concrete slabs up here in the PNW and I’m just not up on all the ins-and-outs. Here’s what I can tell you:

      I’m not sure that Redgard is the right product for what you want to accomplish. Redgard is approved for water vapor but if you have actual water problems with the slab I think you’d be better off going with a different product. Which product? I’m not sure. You might try to contact someone in your area that knows a bit about basement waterproofing.

      Redgard data sheet

  44. Indeed, when putting down a long tile like a wooden plank then the floor needs to be flat. Not only that, but you need to make sure that there is absolutely noting on the ground where it goes in. Something like a dime can cause a lot of heartache later on in the installation process.

  45. In removing laminate, is it necessary to remove 100% of glue residue? Can I make up for suttle uneveness with manipulating the amount of thinset in problem areas? Based on your above comments, I already bought a boat load of versabond to do about 1700 sq ft in 6×24 wood plank look tile, is this doable or do I need to eat the cost and buy sometyhing else?

    • The proper way to do it would be to grind the concrete with a grinder to remove the glue. However you might be able to use a product like Mapei Eco Prim Grip as a way around removing the glue. You’ll have to look into it and see if it fits your situation.

      As far as using the Thinset to make up for unevenness I guess it depends on how much unevenness? A product like Versabond can be as thick as 1/4 inch. Some of the LFT mortars can go thicker. But if you want to use Versahond with plank tIles you’re probably better off getting you’re floor as flat as you can.

  46. I’m want to instal ceramic plank tile. What is the best mm thickness the plank should be.

    Thank you

    • I’m not really sure what the answer to this is. I think they usually run in the 8-10mm range (5/16″-3/8″). They are coming out with larger panels that are really thin which are about 5 millimeters thick and I would stay away from those for the time being. They are still working out the kinks. I don’t know if porcelain planks are that thin however.

  47. no time to order large arabesque tiles that we need, is it ok if we purchase regular 12 by 12 or larger tiles and have a fabrication company cut them to an arabesque shape?

  48. I just ripped up hardwood floors and it left a nasty mess of glue residue. It looks like maybe they used 2 different kinds of glue or did a patch job because most of the floor has a dry brittle glue, but there is about a 4 foot section down the middle of the room that has a white, petroleum like adhesive that was almost impossible to remove the wood from; it even ripped up patches of concrete it was so strong. My question is, can you reccomend the best method to remove wood floor adhesive from concrete? I see HD has floor maintainer machines with Dimabrush heads; wondering if this would be the route to take or try some kind of chemical remover. It seems these floors were glued down very well.

    • I think you’re on the right track. Scarification is the only way that I know to get the glue off of the concrete (and especially the petroleum). You might look into Mapei Eco Prim grip but the scarification is the best way. My opinion.

  49. What grout line size would you reccomend for 6×24 plank pocelin? I want to go small as possible, I was leaning towards 1/8 but manufacturer reccomendations are 3/16 minimum. I’ve seen where some people install and use zero spacing to look more wood-like, what do you think?

    How much expansion space should be left between tile and wall?

    What size trowel would you recommend? I was leaning toward 3/8

    • 1/8 is usually what I shoot for. 1/16 is the minimum. Don’t do them tight. 3/16 is the easiest of the three.

      You want 1/4″ between the tile and the wall that doesn’t get filled with grout. (Good question!)

      I use a 1/2 x 1/2 but a lot of guys prefer the 1/4 by 1/2. I feel the 3/8 is bit on the small side.

  50. Thanks for article. I found when Googling “will 48″ porcelain tile break?” We are considering an 8″x 48″ porcelain wood plank tile. There is a crack in our foundation and we are concerned about weakness and possible breakage over that area. We will have it professionally installed. Are there concerns regarding longer planks vs. the shorter 24″ planks? Thanks again!

    • Longer planks can be more difficult to get flat and more difficult to cut but, other than that, there really isn’t a lot of difference. I prefer the look of the 48s over the 24’s but that’s just personal opinion.

  51. I layed my hardi-back board in my tiny bathroom (50 square ft.) using pre-mixed thinnest mortar, as i was nervous about know what consistency to use in making my own. I am planning on laying my plank tile using the same thing. Is this okay? thanks for your help.

    • Hopefully, I’m not too late on this. I wouldn’t use the premixed thinset. You might get away with it under the hardibacker but it shouldn’t be used for the tile. You want to use thinset that you need to add water to. Check out my post on thinsets for the correct kind for your project. In regards to the hardibacker being uneven you want to make sure the panels are down well. A 1/8 inch high joint means that the thinset dried unevenly or the subfloor is out of whack.

  52. Let me add to my above comment that i am using Italian made 6″ x 36″ ceramic plank tiles. i also should confess that although the subfloor under the hard-board was level, I have one joint that is off by about 1/8″ (its a little high!) I tried so hard to keep it level, and screwed in boards immediately after laying (i even did a dry layout) Am I doomed?

  53. What are the likely problems to occur if I use regular VersaBond thinnest? I had already purchased this many months back and just now am seeing oyur recommendation for a medium bed mortar.

    • Hi Cory, the problem is that you are exceeding the maximum thickness of the Versabond. What can happen is that you get the tiles to the level that you want and come back the next day and some of them are uneven. The thinset “shrunk” as it dried. There could also be problems with them coming loose down the road.

      So that’s what the potential problems are. This doesn’t mean that these things will happen to you. A good many installers use improper thinsets and nothing happens. Using Versabond to install your plank tiles doesn’t guarantee failure.

      There’s nothing wrong with Versabond as a product but it has to be used properly. Versabond may work but I believe medium beds are a better choice.

  54. When backbuttering the 6×24 planks, is it better to do this with flat or notched side of trowel?

  55. I am going to swap it out at HD where I bought it for Versabond LFT. Do i mix at same consistancy as regular thinset?

  56. Is it possible to compensate the crowning of the plank by compressing it with a weight?

    • I think you’d be in for a lot of frustration with that strategy. Putting weight in the centers is going to make the whole tile want to sink. Not just the centers.

      Even with a leveling system you’ll have very limited success trying to “bend” the tile with most porcelain planks.

  57. We just had an installer install 200sqft of 8 x 45 wood like tiles in our kitchen. He used floor leveling clips during install. The day after a few popped out. He re-did them. He didnt use 1/2″ trowel to begin with. On day two he used 1/2″ trowel and back buttwred them. But didnt use leveling clips so there is some lippage. Two days later, i noticed two more lose tiles. At this point, should we re-do the entire floor ?

    Proper way to do is notch the floor with trowel and back butter the tile completely?

    If we remove all the tiles out, will we hurt the hardibacker (1/4″) when we scrape the thinset off ? Is it possible to get a clean flat surface again ?

    What are my options here ?

    Thanks

    • You should be able to tap around to figure out which tiles are loose. The loose ones sound hollow.

      There’s supposed to be a minimum of 80% coverage on the backs of the tiles. Back buttering is not a requirement- but the 80% is. It’s difficult to get 80% without backbuttering.

      One thing about scraping the Hardibacker is that it can come off in layers. But depending on how the thinset is stuck it still may be difficult to get a flat surface. Sometimes it’s easier to leave the thinset stuck on and go over it which would make the floor slightly higher. Sometimes it’s easier to start over.

    • I haven’t used that particular one. I do know that the style of that one is fairly popular. QEP and Raimondi both make similar style systems.

      If you have a lot to do I understand that it’s tough on the hands. The pliers that go with it may be a good investment.

  58. OK I’ll check out those brands. Do these tile leveling systems help mitigate variations in sub floor flatness? I know it likely would not help if there was a 1/2″ in hump in the floor but slight variations?? I am looking to do plank flooring (6″ x 36″) on top of concrete slab floor (about 2100 sf) some areas are carpeted now other areas have existing tile that will need removing. The existing tile (16″ x 16″) looks flat with a few edges slightly raised here and there. But I don’t know if that is from the floor not being flat or just poor workmanship?

    Also in terms of tile quality, I took a couple pieces of tile (thinking of buying) and put them face to face. When held up to the light you can see that there are high and low spots across the length of the tile. In other words is like the tile has a wave down the length of it. Mind you that it’s not major amount of “wave” but it is enough to lit a sliver of light shine through in those areas that the variation occurs.From what I have read before it is common to have a high spot in the center of the tile. But these are not that way, so I’m wondering if that is indication of a better or poorer quality tile?

    Thanks of the feedback.

    • No. The leveling systems can’t work miracles. The tile has to be pretty flat. The tile leveling systems can basically do two things:

      1. if you hold two tiles together face-to-face you may be able to pinch the ends together and get a very slight amount of flex. With 36 inch tiles you may get a slight amount of flexing or bending. I’ve found that 24 inch tiles really don’t move. But a leveling system can help to bend the tiles that very slight amount until things dry. It does help.

      2. Leveling systems can help keep things rigid and “together” while the assembly dries. This way things don’t move after they’ve been set.

      In my opinion leveling systems have been a bit over-hyped. I’m not saying they are not useful but I think people expect too much from them.

      In regards to quality, I’m not sure what you are referring to is a sign of quality. I do think higher quality tiles will have higher manufacturing standards but I think there’s a little bit more involved to declare a tile as being high quality.

      Also, I don’t care what brand of leveling system that you use. Use whichever one you like and is in your price range.
      I don’t care what brand you use.

  59. I am laying 6″x24″ porcelain “hand-scraped” wood-look tile, and plan to use the 33% system (24 inches down to sixteen). The tiles have a slight bevel on all four edges. Would you trim off both end edges, to avoid bevel agaainst “rectified” edge? Using the manufacturer’s 1/8″ grout joint.

    I am new to the plank style tile, and really appreciate your insight.

    • I think I understand what you are asking and I don’t think that I would do that. I would try to work with them the way that they are. Having to cut all the edges would be a lot of work and you might find that they go together even worse than if you had used them with the factory edges.

  60. I wish we had come across your info before we were 90% done with laying the tile in our bedroom and master bath! We ordered Marazzi wood look 6×24 tiles and the flooring “expert” at Home Depot loaded up our cart with everything he recommended we needed. He gave us the Versabond Thinset Mortar he said we needed, and now we find out that we should have used a LFT Medium Motar!! This is our first DIY tile attempt and we trusted his experinece, since we had no clue that the tile size determined what mortar to use. Now I am concerned about our flooring and not sure what to expect or to watch for?? Do we need to wait longer for it to settle before we grout, etc?? Should we use the Fushion Pro premixed single component grout he recommended, or is there something else we should be looking at? Thanks for any input or info you can give us!

    • One thing is that just because the wrong thing was used it doesn’t mean that failure is imminent or even guaranteed. It’s not uncommon for people to use Versabond with big tile and have no issues. But sometimes problems can arise later.

      So, at this point, I don’t think I’d worry about it unless something happens.

      Fusion is a good product to use with plank tile. Follow the instructions the best that you can.

  61. I am installing 6 X 36 tile on concrete slab at the walk-out level of my home. The dimensions of the room ar 16 ft X 24 ft. I originally wanted 1/16 grout lines, but after reading your suggestions, I am leaning towards 1/8 in grout lines. My question is where (if at all) I should install the “soft joint” caulk instead of the power grout. The tiles are going to be laid in a random order (not exceeding the 33% overlap) going the length of the 24 ft dimension of the room. Should I put down a soft joint the length of the 24 ft in the middle of the room, and then another through the random overlap at the middle of the room, going the other way too? How important is it that I use a soft joint?

    Thanks for all your comments!

    • You’re going to need to make sure that you have a 1/4 inch perimeter joint around the whole room. But otherwise your room dimensions are within the limits for interior soft joints.

      I have a post on soft joints (movement joints) that goes into this on more detail.

  62. Help, please. We will be installing two different types of floor tile. Both are 6 x 24, but they are not the same thickness. The thinner tile will be in the bedrooms and the thicker tile in the hallway. How do I butt these two tiles together? Thank you.

    • Trowel size would be the easiest way. Another thing that you could do is backbutter the thinner tiles with a small notch trowel rather than using the flat side. So maybe you use the flat side on the thicker tiles and a 1/4×1/4 V notch on the thinner ones. At least in the beginning and maybe feather it down to normal.

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