Floor tile: How much higher can one tile be than another? How to document the difference?
August 16, 2010 9:03 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for (tiling) industry standards for acceptable amounts of lippage (one tile higher than the one next to it) for 12"x12" granite tile. Also, what's the best way to a) Measure and b) photograph the amount of lippage?

My contractor has installed an uneven floor where some tiles are higher than others and I consider this difference unacceptably large. However, in order to proceed in remedying this I would find it helpful to have an actual source on how much lippage is acceptable. My googling shows that this varies with the size of the tile and that I see lots of references to "no more than the thickness of a dime." on forums.

Can someone point me to a reliable citable source on how much lippage is acceptable?

Also, if I wanted to document the current amount of lippage what's the best way to do this? Note that the ruler method is a problem because rulers aren't mostly marked so close together and because it's hard to have the ruler plumb and photograph the difference head-on since the camera touches the floor keeping the lens well-above lippage height.
posted by If only I had a penguin... to Home & Garden (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The Tile Council of North America is the organization that sets standards and best practices for tile work. They publish the TCA Handbook, which might be helpful to you. Before buying the book (or CD), I'd try calling and seeing whether they wouldn't let you chat with a technician or consultant of some variety.

I also suggest you join and post your question to the John Bridge tile forums. Helpful folks there.
posted by jon1270 at 9:18 AM on August 16, 2010

As an accomplished DIY tile man, I wholeheartedly agree with the above comment which I was going to make myself until I found jon1270 did it for me.

I will add that your lippage is not going to change all by itself, so "documenting the current amount of lippage" would be for me as simple as measuring and noting the variance; I wouldn't bother trying to take pictures.

I would measure with something like this, using the non-caliper end that's designed for these kinds of depth measurements. I don't know if you want to buy a tool just for this, though, as it sounds like you don't have one already.

If I were determined to do it without calipers I'd probably use the end of a pencil to get the depth difference between adjacent tile, and mark it with my fingertip/fingernail and then hold it up to a ruler to get a rough idea.

The lippage also varies with the desired effect/material. I'm installing ungauged slate tile with at times fairly significant lippage (certainly thicker than a dime), but the surface of the slate varies considerably anyway. If your granite was reasonably flat (e.g., if it were polished) I wouldn't expect lippage that's obvious.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 9:32 AM on August 16, 2010

To measure all you really need is a straight edge, a clamp and a steel ruler.
  1. Lay the straight edge over the area of concern.
  2. Stand the ruler vertically up against the straight edge with the end touching the floor.
  3. Clamp the ruler to the straight edge.
  4. Read the amount of deviation off the ruler by observing the intersection with the straight edge and photograph if desired.
A combination square is essentially the three above tools in a single package. Cheap ones are only a couple dollars (they usually aren't all that square at that price point but the rulers are accurate enough).
posted by Mitheral at 10:13 AM on August 16, 2010

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