For years, tile setters have relied on a keen eye, some spacers and a level to create a flat tiled floor on various substrates, whether or not the substrate or tile is perfectly flat. While some have had success throughout the years, there have been increased problems with the tile after installation for many different reasons. If the tile is not properly set into the adhesive, you now have to replace the tile which increases time, effort and cost of goods. This could end up being the downfall of the entire tile job.
With all these possible irregularities in substrates and tile, the best way to ensure a properly bonded tile and flat surface without lippage is with a tile leveling system. These complete systems will prevent tile lippage (especially with large format tile), ensure a smooth surface, eliminate settling from shrinkage, create a secure bond with the substrate by promoting full coverage of adhesive, all while saving you time and money!
What is a Tile Leveling System?
A tile leveling system is usually a 3-component system that works to remove tile lippage and promote a better bond to eliminate future problems. Most leveling systems consist of a wedge (also known as a cap), clips (also known as posts or straps) and a leveling tool (some systems do not require a tool and can be leveled by using your hand). The consumable clip will be embedded into the tile adhesive on the edge of the tile to create your grout joint between tiles. The wedge works to create a flat transition from one tile to the next, while also preventing any lift that may occur while the adhesive is drying. The tool applies the correct pressure to the leveling wedge-clip assembly into the adhesive and reduces hand fatigue when laying tile in a large area.
What is tile lippage?
When embedding your tile into the adhesive, there may be irregularities in the tile or the substrate below. If there are any peaks or valleys, there is an opportunity for the tile to either shrink into the floor or be bowed up creating a lip at the edge of the tile. Any settling into the floor can cause breaking because there is no bond between the tile and substrate. If there is a lip above the tile, it can be difficult to maintain and also looks unsightly. Tile leveling systems remove any tile lippage that can cause damages.
What advantages are there to using these systems?
Simply put - tile leveling systems save time and money. If used correctly, the leveling system will provide a flat surface on many different types of substrates without the use of different sized spacers or shims. Also, the clips are sized to provide a uniform grout joint.
The tile leveling system clips are the consumable component that gets broken off after the adhesive has cured, however, the wedges are fully reusable for future job, saving on the cost of goods.
Types of Tile Leveling Systems
There are a few different types of leveling systems you can use to install wall or floor tiles. Your choice is usually dictated by the size of the tile being set and on how comfortable you are with the system.
There are cap systems, such as the MLT Leveling System
. These utilize a thin strap embedded into the adhesive and a reinforced cap that presses the tile into the adhesive and prevents any lift. Cap and strap systems always require a leveling tool.
The latest in leveling system innovation is the spinning cap and post systems, such as Spin Doctor
and the Vite Leveling System from Raimondi. These systems require no tools - just simply spin the cap down the embedded threaded post until the the assembly is secure. Once the adhesive dries, knock out the post and spin off the cap to use again on your next job.