Working with Large Format Tiles – A Tilers Guide!
Introduction for Large Format Tile Handling
Tilers Tools is a member of The Tile Association (TTA) and we do all of the TTA’s accedited demonstrations on how to handle and install very large format tiles.
As suppliers of the best equipment on the market for working with very large tiles, we are often approached for advice on the best equipment, so we have created this blog for our professional tiler friends.
In this blog, we look at the equipment available under three headings:
We will also share Jim’s Top Tips! Professional tilers should feel free to give us a call to discuss their project and get the best possible prices for all their tiling equipment needs on 01565 344860.
Very large format tiles over three meters long and one and a half meters wide are becoming increasingly common, however, there is a shortage of professional tilers willing to fit these tiles. Very large format tiles are here to stay, and discerning clients are demanding high-quality installations.
These tiles are usually thin, 6 – 8mm thick being the norm so it is important to handle them in a way that minimises flex, otherwise micro-cracks can occur which may become apparent only when cutting and fitting, then breakages can result. It is therefore vital that professionals working with very large format tiles invest in the correct equipment and consumables, and adopt the recommended handling, cutting and fitting procedures as laid down by the tile manufacturers.
Raimondi has developed a great range of tools, equipment, and consumables to assist professional tilers when handling, cutting, and fitting very large format tiles. These tools and market-leading adhesives and cleaning solutions are available from Tilers Tools, the official UK distributor of Raimondi.
Handling Large Format Tiles / Slabs
Easy Move Handling Frame
The Easy Move handling frame is designed for handling large tiles and slabs. This handy piece of equipment is great for ensuring minimum flex in the tile while removing it from the crate and on location. The cross-bars add rigidity. The Easy Move handling frame in combination with the CAM Trolley is ideal for back-buttering tiles. The system also allows easy access to the vacuum cups to ensure the vacuum remains fully engaged, especially important on textured tiles. The Easy Move handling frame is an essential piece of equipment for ensuring your large slabs remain in one piece as you move them around.
Jim’s Top Tips for handling large format tiles:
- Wipe down/clean tiles before lifting from the crate.
- Always use a handling frame to move tiles around the job.
- Adjust the handling frame to size before starting.
- Check the vacuum cup from time to time.
- Handle/lift tiles safely.
CAM ADV MKIII Trolley
The CAM MKIII is another handy piece of equipment. This tool is specially designed for the transport and handling of large tiles and slabs. However, it is useful for cleaning the slabs and for back-buttering the slabs too. The equipment is very versatile, a great time saver and will make your large format tiling job so much easier.
A strong, flat work surface is vital when cutting, mitring or polishing large format tiles. Raimondi’s BM180 benches are market-leading in terms of functionality and robust construction and fold up nicely for ease of transport. The BM180 Modular Bench stocked at Tilers Tools is easy to assemble/disassemble and, once collapsed, transports and stores easily. The steel structure and anodised aluminium worktop guarantee sturdiness and stability, helping you achieve your best work.
The Raimondi RV175 vacuum suction cup is a tool designed for ease of moving tiles or slabs and it will work on non-porous stone as well as porcelain and composite materials. The RV175 creates a tight grip, even on textured materials. It is suitable for loads up to 130kg and the vacuum gauge ensures the operator can easily see when the vacuum needs to be replenished. The suction cup is supported with a heavy-duty carry case to ensure the product is protected during transport and spare parts are available to keep it in tip top shape. The suction cups can also be fitting to the Easy Move!
Cutting Large Format Tiles / Slabs
We have a large selection of high-quality equipment for cutting your large format tiles here at Tilers Tools.
Raizor Cutting System
The Raizor Cutting System is a special tool designed for cutting large format tiles. The Raizor cutting system is attached to the tiles with suction cups and comes with a breaker for tiles up to 6mm thick and a plunge scriber with a tungsten carbide cutting wheel, all placed in a carry bag. The Raizor cutter can cut tiles up to 3.3m long and an extension can be bought to enable tiles over 4m to be cut.
Our Raimondi mitre machine (known as the Power Raizor) is operated with a battery-powered grinder and can be used with a water spray or vacuum hose attachments for dust suppression. We also offer the BC45 mitre system that is used free hand without the raizor bar. The Power Raizor fits on the Raizor rail and can cut straight cuts, 45° or 180° and a half bullnose 6mm and 10mm. It can be used as a battery grinder and power grinder. Water spray system keeps blade cool. Use only with battery grinder.
We have many other products that are suitable for working with large format tiles. These include:
- Tile holders for us on the bench. The clamps hold the tiles into place.
- Heavy duty tile breaker for tiles above 6mm thick.
- Diamond hand pads for hand finishing.
- 115mm and 125mm continuous rim diamond blade for porcelain.
- Core drill bits from 6mm to 100mm in diameter. Humid use.
- Diamond pads for use on variable speed polishing grinders.
Please visit our website for our full range of products and accessories: www.tilerstools.co.uk.
Jim’s Top Tips when Cutting!
- Don’t forget your PPE.
- Make sure your tiles are on a flat, stable cutting station such as our BM180 benches.
- Measure twice, cut once (it’s an old one but a true one, and mistakes can be costly!)
- Double scribe the ends of the slabs (circa 20mm) and keep cutting stoke under constant pressure and speed – don’t stop.
- Treat the tiles as glass and don’t apply too much pressure.
- Keep the cutting rail clean at all times, this is particularly important for the suction cups.
- Use a heavy-duty breaker for tiles above 6mm and use on both ends till you hear the crack.
- When breaking the scored strip, especially along the long length, you ought to have two people working together.
- If cutting narrow strips, crack each end and work along the scribe, gently easing the strip from the main body of the tile.
- Use good quality diamond blades for cutting and good quality diamond pads for finishing cut edges.
Fitting Large Format Tiles / Slabs
It is important to use a slant ridge trowel when applying adhesive, as these will allow for a better bond. Remember the rule of 13 – we suggest a 10mm trowel for applying adhesive on the wall or floor and a 3mm trowel for back buttering (or a 9mm and 4mm). Apply adhesive in straight lines parallel with the short edge. Always use a slant-notched trowel which enables more air to be expelled giving a better bond.
Manipulating tiles when applied to the floor or wall can be an issue. The Raimondi closure system can help you move tiles to achieve even grout joints.
Use a hand-held vibrating plate such as the eFox to expel the maximum amount of air. A tile beater can also be used, but we do not recommend the use of a mallet!
A suitable levelling system such as Raimondi RLS or the VITE system as shown will ensure a nice level finish. We are also able to supply a soft washer which can help prevent scratching tile surfaces when applying the levelling system. These are particularly useful on polished surfaces.
The safety withholding RAI-FIX hooks are simple and effective devices. They prevent tiles/slabs (set with an adhesive) to fall down in the event of detachment from the wall. When installing tiles/slabs bigger than 30cm in a façade with adhesive, you need to use a mechanical safety system. Adhesives guarantee perfect anchorage of tiles/slabs, only if perfectly applied but this is not always the case. In addition, it is hard to predict the strains the tiles/slabs will have to bear because of building settlement as well as expansion of temperature range, extreme weather conditions, etc. Therefore, the RAI-FIX safety withholding hooks are a crucial ally to assure maximum safety. RAI-FIX expands the design possibilities as tiles and slabs of any size can now be used. Aesthetically speaking, RAI-FIX hooks are the perfect solution as they are completely invisible once the façade is done. RAI-FIX hooks are placed between the tiles/slabs and the wall and are 100% hidden. The RAI-FIX safety withholding hooks are made of Grade 316 stainless steel and can be used with tiles/slabs of a minimum thickness of 5mm (0.20 inches). The installation is very simple and is carried out directly on the job site in a few seconds.
Jim’s Top Tips when Fitting!
- The Easy Move frame should still be used (hung on the CAM ADV trolley) when back-buttering and offering the tile to the surface to be tiled, when possible.
- Holes can be drilled using a humid use diamond core drill system. Let the core drill do the work, use it in an oscillating motion with a battery drill and spray water bottle.
- When cutting check-outs, always pre-drill the corners of any 90° cuts to reduce the chance of a crack forming at the corner. Position the suction pads on the Easy Move away from the 90° corner check-outs to minimise stress on the cut area.
- As well as cleaning the face of the slab when removing from the crate it is always important to clean the back of the tile before applying the adhesive as dust can cause de-bonding.
- The Power Raizor system can be used for straight cuts, mitre cuts or bullnosed edges.
- When applying the adhesive, Jim recommends using a slant notched trowel (10mm) on the substrate and 3mm mosaic trowel on the slab – the rule of 13 applies, so you could use a 9mm and 4mm, if desired.
- When applying the adhesive, the serrations should be straight lines parallel with the short edge of the tile. The adhesive on the substrate should also be straight and flow in the same direction as the adhesive on the tile.
- This ensures the maximum amount of air can escape when fitting.
- Use appropriate levelling system, such as our Raimondi VITE, plus spacers.
- Consider using the closer device when positioning the tiles to give an exact grout joint.
- Jim recommends using the Volpino vibrating plate to ensure maximum air displacement, alternatively the tile beater (not a mallet).
- Keep all joints clean and tidy from adhesive.
The handling, cutting and fitting of large format tiles can be a complex process when the correct tools are not at hand. Tilers Tools offer a wide range of high-end Raimondi tools, equipment and consumables developed to assist professional tilers throughout the installation of large format tiling. We hope this blog post has been insightful for you in your large format tiling journey! If you wish to purchase any of the products discussed in this blog post, please visit our website, or alternatively call our sales office on 01565 344860.
If you would like to see the products mentioned in this blog in action, please visit our YouTube channel where you can find an extensive range of informational videos on our products.