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Old 05-04-2012, 07:22 AM   #1
John Bridge
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Thin Tiles/Porcelain "Sheets"

I've been pondering large, thin porcelain panels that have arrived on our shores fairly recently. We were able to see some of them at Coverings, and I was recently invited to examine the 6mm thick 300cm x150cm material made by Graniti Fiandre and imported by Stone Peak of Crossville, Tennessee. I examined the panels at one of their Houston distributorships.

The people I spoke to at the distributorship are sales and marketing folks who have limited knowledge on how materials are installed, so I didn't get a lot of technical information there. It turns out that except for the manufacturer and importer there is no information at all.

The first thing that comes to mind is that the material is not tile and not stone, so there are really no standards in place for its properties and installation. The Stone Peak material is called "Maximum," and they have limited installation instructions in their catalog, http://www.granitifiandre.com/downlo...um-posa-en.pdf ,but nothing that would make a person comfortable in placing the material. There is also a video on You Tube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4ZktU59JzA

I've talked to a person at Stone Peak who is very involved in developing standards and installation techniques for Maximum, which, at nearly five feet by ten feet is presently the largest "thin" porcelain panel available.

In my reading and communication with people in the setting materials industry I'm beginning to hear this type of material called "tile." I wonder if we ought to settle on a definition of what "tile" is and what it is not.

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Old 05-04-2012, 07:40 AM   #2
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I would call it a panel as you said. its far from a tile which to me would be smaller pieces.

John Koessler (doitright)and I looked at them and spoke with them. while it seems all new and exciting I think there will be limited use of them and not much with be residential. but that will be up to designers and architects to determine and us tell them if it can happen.

sorry for the model in the first pic, he wouldn't move.

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Old 05-04-2012, 07:49 AM   #3
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After watching that video, it definately shouldnt be considered tile. When they were laying it, it was flexing. When you put a tile down it doesn't flex like that.

In my opinion, a Tile should be considered something that is a naturally occurring stone, such as travertine, marble, etc. A manufactured tile should consist of the traditional materials that traditionally make a tile.

I'm sure others will chime in as well.
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Old 05-04-2012, 08:17 AM   #4
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these panels have been out for some time now, I remember when I joined the forum Trask, Shaughnn and some others took a picture of one at a Coverings they went to in 2007 or 2008.

Mick at TLS had asked me to contact a couple people in Florida a few years ago
about installing some thin tile (1/8) you set and then vibrate into place. I passed
and didn't follow up since it was something I wasn't interested in back then.

I dont see where these manufacturers are going anywhere different then Cultured
marble panels you find in hotels, or Formica, FRP or even the large marble panels
like Forza Stone.

they will have there place somewhere in some sort of installation.
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Old 05-04-2012, 08:37 AM   #5
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A few of our guys have had the opportunity to install these. In fact, Dan Welch, President of WelchTile was able to see these first hand at Coverings this year and play with them a little bit as well.

If these "panels" or "sheets" or whatever you want to call them take off, they'll likely only be found in the commercial industry as they have the flooring area's to place these products. Sure you could take one of these and custom cut it to be the floor covering of an entire bathroom.. but i'm not sure if it will be cost effective. Our estimating department has been seeing more and more of this type of product on bids their submitting.
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Old 05-04-2012, 09:27 AM   #6
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Well, on the bright side, a jar of spacers will now last a lifetime!!

Then again, with stuff like this, the days of working alone are probably gone. Better invest in some power grip suction cups!
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Old 05-04-2012, 11:17 AM   #7
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I am aware that thin porcelain tiles, some of them in impressive sizes, have been around for a few years, but nothing this large. I was told by the distributor that there is only one machine capable of this size, and that it is controlled by Graniti Fiandre. Take that for what's it worth.

The first very large "tiles" I saw years ago were 2x4s. Then 3x3s and so on. Now we have a panel that is 5x10. That is the size of the average marble or granite slab.

So for one thing, I think we should start working on establishing the maximum size of a ceramic tile.

Another question that arises has to do with expansion. For example, a concrete slab expands and contracts at a rate far exceeding that of porcelain tiles (or panels). With tile you have grout joints that help control damage to the surface. What happens when the joint fall ten feet apart? Guess what. Nobody presently knows.

What about flatness of the substrate?
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Old 05-04-2012, 11:31 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JB
Another question that arises has to do with expansion. For example, a concrete slab expands and contracts at a rate far exceeding that of porcelain tiles (or panels). With tile you have grout joints that help control damage to the surface.
I would say in that case a 125 Sound & Crack Adhesive membrane from
Laticrete would be the perfect fit.

install the panels with seams close to the control joints and use Latasil.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JB
What about flatness of the substrate?
looks like a lot of SLC will be sold too
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Old 05-04-2012, 11:51 AM   #9
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that company I was thinking of from years back is Kerlite.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NtQ6yvtBTnE


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Old 05-04-2012, 02:36 PM   #10
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Since it's early in the development of these biggies we still have a shot at altering the standards, terminology, and perception of these; which can then affect whether they expect to pay rates for a 48x48 "tile" more similar to slab installed by a fabricator or rates closer to regular tile.
Perhaps we could borrow a bit from the stone industry, where a 2'x2' piece is the dividing line, being called a "slab tile" itself, and anything larger is slab. So I might propose:
1) Anything larger than 4sf is not a tile at all.
2) We call them "porcelain slabs" to borrow from the sizing standards of the stone industry.
I just put in some 1'x4' porcelain last week. Those things would like to break my back.
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Old 05-04-2012, 05:33 PM   #11
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I think it's safe to say the porcelain tile manufactures really truly do hate us. Or they love us enough to give us the opportunity to make several hundred dollars for each tile we set. And it'll go so quick too, because bigger tiles go quicker....cause theyre bigger
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Old 05-04-2012, 05:52 PM   #12
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more waste with bigger tiles, we have them here at 1.2x1.2m they are for over existing tiles, you cut them with a box cutter
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Old 05-04-2012, 06:02 PM   #13
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I'm gonna need a bigger saw.
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Old 05-04-2012, 10:54 PM   #14
Shaughnn
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I prefer the term "ceramic veneer" instead of tile.
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Old 05-04-2012, 11:20 PM   #15
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There was an article in Tile Letter a month or so ago about the "thin tile trend" I was talking to a few Mapei higherups at a Mapei event in Denver a few weeks ago, and was told they are (Mapei) working on specific install procedures, with their products of course. They aren't going to make a new mortar as of yet (they will probably require KK or Granirapid, but that is just my guess) but more of how you have to comb the floor, and the back of the tile slab and then knock down the notches kind of like glass.

The biggest problem I see is I would think you would HAVE TO have 100% coverage. No matter what I don't think it is a liability I will take on anytime soom.
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