The tile and stone industry is constantly evolving to keep pace with new innovations and trends in the marketplace. One of these recent trends has been the development of large format tiles.
A large format tile is loosely defined as any tile with at least one edge 15” or greater, though the size of tiles currently on the market far exceed these measurements. With minimal grout lines, super format tiles have a unique appeal, especially when used in large spaces.
Installing tile of this size makes innovative tools and installation materials a necessity, as placement, adhesive coverage and lippage concerns all become more difficult. Suction cups, specialty trowels and lippage tuning systems have evolved to address the installation challenges associated with super format tiles.
In response to this need, several companies have brought their lippage control systems to market. For the sake of simplicity, we will analyze the MLT (mechanical lippage tuning) system, though other available systems may vary slightly in operation.
MLT is designed to be used with regular porcelain, natural stone and gauged (thin) porcelain. One non-reusable strap is provided for tiles sized 12”x24” to 18”x36”. For larger sized tiles, 24”x48” and up, a reusable strap is available.
The straps are designed to address the installation challenges presented by gauged (thin) porcelain tiles and guarantees the removal of the strap below the grout joints. This saves clean up time and limits the potential for tile damage. The MLT plates are also designed to provide proper support under the tile and prevent voids.
The cap is designed to be disengaged after tensioning to allow for proper cleaning of grout joints, which saves time and possible tile damage due to aggressive cleaning. There are two options for the cap. The first is a rubber feet option which prevents mars and scratches of highly polished materials and is ideal for wall applications. The second is metal stainless steel inserts, which offer extra grip and tuning ability – perfect for a lippage-free install.
The system also comes with a setting tool that has five settings, from 1 to S (S standing for “snap”) to offer the installer different torque settings.
The flexibility of the MLT system addresses many of the challenges installers face when working with large format tiles. By creating an eco-friendly option for installing the smaller tiles, to providing a setting tool that allows the installer to apply equal torque on all the straps – it’s an innovative solution that addresses the problem of lippage in large format tiles.