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Unread 08-03-2015, 11:30 AM   #1
Ge
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spacer size

Hi everyone. Absolutely love this forum and the info I have gathered as a DYI'er. I am currently on my 2nd bath reno (4th tile job) so I am not totally clueless however, I can't seem to decide the best spacer size to use on my tub surround.

My tile is 4 x 16 subway. It has self spacers of 1/16, however the Emser website recommends 3/16 as the grout line. And to add to my confusion, the Emser warehouse folk where I bought the tile recommended 1/8". They sold me sanded grout. I never have used self spacers and although I like the smaller grout line, I figure the sanded won't be workable in that smaller joint and wonder if that space is too small for the tub area. (I understand that anything smaller than 1/8 calls for unsanded grout) I know I don't want 3/16. So my question....what do you guys recommend? Your thoughts on self spacing tiles would be appreciated, too!

Thanks a bunch!
Robin (aka happy tiler)
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Unread 08-03-2015, 01:58 PM   #2
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Welcome, Robin.

Do you have the tiles in hand?

The grout joint width recommended by the ceramic tile industry is three times the difference in size between the largest and smallest tile in your layout.

But if Emser is the manufacturer of the tile and they recommend a 3/16th" grout joint, that would become the industry recommendation also.

If the tiles are sufficiently well calibrated to actually set them using the built in lugs, you can, of course, do that. And they you would want to use un-sanded if you elect to use a cementitious grout.

My opinion; worth price charged.
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Unread 08-03-2015, 08:58 PM   #3
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Hi Robin. Can you post a photo of the tile? I don't think you have enough posts yet to post links but if you can link to the product (minus the www.? or something) then one of the moderators will connect the link.

If it's just ceramic tile I have a hard time with the 3/16 recommendation.
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Unread 08-04-2015, 05:21 AM   #4
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Probably this one.

Under the "installation and patterns" tab, it does recommend a 3/16" grout joint. Why bother putting spacer lugs on it if they're going to recommend something bigger?
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Unread 08-04-2015, 08:38 AM   #5
Ge
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Thanks for all the responses! And yes, Kman, that's the tile. And like you, I was puzzled as to why they'd put on "lugs" then recommend something different. At any rate, I fiddled around with the layout and decided that I'd have more play with a bigger grout line, especially if I have some lippage. So I split the difference and went with 1/8'. I'm happy...!

I'll try and post some pictures when I make some progress.

Have a beautiful day, all!!
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Unread 08-04-2015, 03:01 PM   #6
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many times if not always the quality of the tile you are using will dictate what size grout joint you should use to avoid lippage. then again some tile these days are so bad the it would not matter what size joint you use because you will still have lippage.
One of my biggest problems with grout joint size is with the rectangle size tiles. The rule of thumb by the TCNA is that it needs to be put only on the 1/3rd joint??? WHAT??
that's such a crock. So there is only 1 way for the rest of eternity that we are allowed to install a rectangle tile.. I say this is made up for the tile manufacturers that make a lousy product. I have purchased many rectangle tiles that were so flat you could do anything with them and some are so bad even installing them on the 1/3rd would not even help.
The TCNA manual is written by tile guys with friends in the tile business and although helpful and what almost all jobs are speced by, it is also very self serving for those who can get something written in it to cover for poor products.
There is a section in the TCNA that say porcelain tile can only be set with modified thin set. I was setting porcelain tile before modified thin set was around and my dad set porcelain tile before thin set was around.

Set that tile in any joint size you want and what the quality of the tile will allow.
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Unread 08-04-2015, 04:37 PM   #7
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I think it would be fine either way. Emser probably has a protocol for any tile over a certain size would require 3/16" but that's just a guess. I also imagine any rectangle tile they have over 16" would require less than 33% offset.
We've installed that same tile with tight joints...no problem. But if you want a "handmade" look, go with a spacer and sanded grout.
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Unread 08-04-2015, 04:44 PM   #8
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Tom, you might wanna read your TCNA Handbook a bit more carefully on that "crock." The requirement for offset no greater than 33 percent applies to tile where the offset side is greater than a nominal 18 inches. That would not normally apply to anything generally described as Subway Tiles and also wouldn't apply if the manufacturer specifies otherwise.

And that requirement in the TCNA Handbook comes directly from the ANSI standards (A108.01, 4.3.8.2). I would suggest that if you have a serious concern about that particular standard that you make that known to one or more of the technical committees that sit regularly to discuss, propose, modify, or change the specifications in those publications. A note to the TCNA Handbook Committee or the A108 Committee would get the ball rolling, or you could attend one of the meetings and make your position known there. The meetings are open and the 50 or 60 people around the table will listen to your argument.
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Unread 08-08-2015, 02:28 PM   #9
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Manufactures trump the TCNA and almost every manufacturer prints the 1/3 rd pattern on their box. My position is to treat every tile and every application as needed. I don't have to read poppycock where the big shots in the industry many that have not set tile dictate everything because they had a failure estheticly or because of poor workmanship unfortunately some tile out there is just pure garbage and nothing the TCNA says can change that fact.
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Unread 08-08-2015, 02:35 PM   #10
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Tom, if you want to continue bashing the tile industry standards and the folks who cause them to be developed, please do it in one of the existing threads in the Hangout, or start one of your own. This visitor's project thread isn't really a useful place for that, eh?
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Unread 08-08-2015, 02:40 PM   #11
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I would also like to add that I bid all my work per plans and specs and have been using the TCA handbook for almost 40 years now. It is our industries bible. Make no mistake about that.
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