Have you considered large format tiles for your home but thought they might be the wrong size? These tiles are much bigger than the floor tiles you might expect. They range from 12″ x 24″ to 40″ x 120″ inches, sometimes larger size sheets. But that doesn’t mean they are too large for most homes. It means that you might need professional installers.
It’s rare for an amateur to have the skills (or necessary tools) to work with large-format tiles. Once we’ve shared some of the benefits of large-format tile installation and the proper tools to do so, we hope you’ll agree that these tiles would add a lot to your home.
What Are Large Format Tiles?
Also often known as “slabs”, are wall or floor tiles that exceed the average 12×12 sized tile, with each tile-able to cover a relatively large area. You often see large-format floor tiles in supermarkets, hotel lobbies, and even on facades of other commercial spaces.
Choices in Large Format Tile
This format tiles size for your home can come in various materials, sizes, and textures. You might see some in non-traditional shapes, too. And, along with large-format floor tiles, you can find similar wall tiles too.
These tiles come in essentially the same materials as smaller size tiles. These could include:
- Synthetic (e.g., vinyl, linoleum, or composite)
Of course, the tile material affects its texture as well. Where stone and cement have rough surfaces, glass and glazed clay surfaces are smooth.
Some materials are better for floors, and others are better for walls. Most do well in either capacity.
Where to Put Large-Format Tiles in Your Home
Large-format tiles are a shower’s best asset. One or two large tiles can make up a shower wall, and one very large tile can have a drain hole cut to accommodate a drain and serve as the shower floor.
In fact, even smaller bathrooms are great places for both large-format floor tile and wall tile. Some homes have used large-format tiles to replace smaller tiles as a sink backsplash.
Large-format tiles also make excellent flooring for the area around the bathroom fixtures. Thus, they also make excellent laundry room floors. These tiles have fewer joints to absorb water, collect grime, or grow mold.
The kitchen could easily be people’s favorite place to install the large-format tiles. With larger tiles, the comparatively joint-free surfaces make the floor easier to sweep or mop. Plus, they contrast well with all the appliances, cabinets, and countertop items.
Large-format tiles can also enhance a larger room or an entire house level with an open floor plan. Smaller tiles with lots of grout lines can overwhelm the space, especially if they have intricate patterns.
The smooth, uninterrupted look of most large-format tiles can give rooms a “dramatic” appearance — a sense of gravitas, you might say. It works well in larger spaces or those you want to appear larger than they really are.
Large-Format Tile Installation
But what is involved in installing large format tiles? After all, traditional tile has developed a reputation as being the choice of DIY homeowners. Are larger tiles as easy to install?
Let’s face it. Large-format tile installation comes with challenges.
But isn’t that why we have tiling professionals? You want the job done right, regardless of tile size or material. That takes training and experience.
Among other concerns, large-format tiles’ weight and dimensions make it harder to handle for both floor and wall uses.
Heavy stone floor tile especially can settle into the mortar bed and cause “lippage” where one tile’s edge is higher than others. Thus, the finished surface is uneven — to the point of being a tripping hazard.
Large-format tiles are also more awkward to cut. Installers need special cutting tools and surfaces. If not properly handled, larger tiles can break under their own weight.
Achieving secure substrate bonding with natural stone tile is also critical. An inadequate amount of bonding material could result in hollow-sounding spots. Such spots are susceptible to damage from any concentrated weight.
Cracking results when tiles are bonded directly to concrete. The cracks form when the tile is bonded directly to concrete. The cracks often move from the substrate to the bonded tile.
Breakage is also possible where the wood subfloor is not installed in the right way.
How Large Format Tiles Benefit You and Your Home
Traditional tiles are fine for a home, even though many might be old and need replacement. If this is the case where you live, we encourage you to think about replacing them with large-format tiles. Here’s why:
1. Aesthetic Appeal
Larger tiles have fewer grout lines, thereby offering a smooth and visually appealing surface. Almost any room will look more open and expansive with large-format floor tiles.
Longer rectangular tiles will draw the eye toward the more distant parts of a room and create the illusion of more space. While it is only an illusion, the psychological effect can be profound.
The benefits of a large-format tile layout are particularly palpable in small spaces like bathrooms or efficiency apartments that often make people feel claustrophobic. Having large-format tiles in showers also helps in this regard.
Large-format tiles can enhance a larger room or open floor plan. But smaller tiles, with their many grout lines, sometimes crowd the area — even if it’s otherwise uncluttered.
2. Easy and Effective Cleaning
Large, uninterrupted floor surfaces are easier to clean than those with wide grout lines. Plus, with a large-format tile layout, there’s less need to scrub the grout — which is known to collect dirt, grime, spills, and germs.
Large-format floor tile has virtually the same materials as smaller tiles. So, it’s best to follow the cleaning recommendations for your tiles’ specific composition.
Be sure to scrub grout lines from time to time since they do accumulate some dirt. But since the lines connecting large format tiles are tiny, it’s hardly the same chore as with floors with a lot of exposed grout.
3. Cost for Materials and Installation
Large-format tiles sometimes cost less to buy and install. Sometimes materials that replicate natural stone can be cheaper when and if it takes fewer individual tiles to cover more floor or wall space.
Remember, though; it takes a trained professional with the best tools to measure precisely enough not to waste tile.
Efficient work involves the tiles themselves, the grout, the mortar, and other installation materials. And when it comes to labor, workers might spend slightly less time laying single tiles that are larger in area. But only if they’re experienced at handling them with the proper tool’s design for it.
Laying smaller tiles is more labor-intensive due to cutting and alignment, grout work, and the need to ensure all tiles are level. In other words, installing large-format tiles could take less time and detail work since there are fewer joints.
Bear in mind the size and weight of large-format tiles, and the paid time it takes workers to carry and maneuver them. Again, if you aren’t working with pros, the heavy labor and any consequent breakage could offset any savings.
4. Tile Customization
Does your renovation work require tile pieces in custom shapes or sizes? That’s how they fit floors with angled edges, around bathroom fixtures, and in other irregular spaces.
Large-format tiles hold a distinct advantage over smaller ones: usually, only one large tile needs cutting, rather than a few small ones. This means there’s little need to align the edges of multiple cut tiles.
That is, of course, provided the cuts are made with a great deal of precision, someone trained to make these cuts, and the proper tile saws or manual cutters to execute them. Take a look at the complete range of RUBI Tools Slab System for this type of execution or installation.
5. Large Format Porcelain Tiles Can be Lightweight and Durable
Did you know that many large-format tiles are made of porcelain? It’s because of the manufacturing process. Its composition is denser than that of other tiles because of how it’s stamped or pressed before firing.
So, as a popular large-format floor tile, porcelain is quite durable and can be manufactured in larger sizes. Yet, despite the higher density and larger dimensions, porcelain tile is much lighter in weight than other slabs made of natural stone, for example.
These are some compelling reasons for the widespread use of large-format porcelain tile. You can see them in both commercial and residential spaces.
6. Some Noteworthy Non-Traditional Uses
Of course, the floor signage you see in supermarkets and shopping malls is facilitated by the flat surfaces. That’s where advertisers adhere the decals. Some of those surfaces consist of poured concrete with resin surfaces, not necessarily tile.
Others are the flat large-format tiles you see in supermarkets, drugstores, discount stores, etc. Then there are the unorthodox large-format tile layouts you see in (or, as mentioned below, on the sides of) homes?
One example of this trend (that we expect will continue) is using large-sheets of tiles in the design of building facades. Not only does doing this give the structure a distinctive organic appearance, but it also helps protect the exterior.
Are You “Sold” on This Size Tiles?
We hope you have learned a few things about the benefits of large-format tiles by reading this. Although we see layouts with the use of slabs all around us when we go out, we rarely stop to wonder how this type of tile might look in our homes.
There’s little doubt that demand for large-format tiles in residential spaces will grow. And along with it, we could see more innovations in its manufacturing and installation processes — plus some more unexpected uses, as discussed above.
If you or your contractor ever need tile tools or supplies, please let us know. We carry a wide array of saws, drills, mixers, and other tiling necessities.