When Bigger is Better - The Impact of Large Format Tile
Updated: Jun 6, 2022
Defined by its grand dimensions, large format tile is one of the top contenders for homes and businesses. They offer sleek lines, minimal need for grout and go well with design styles from contemporary to traditional.
In addition to their aesthetic appeal, large format tile offers several benefits:
They deliver an undeniable, eye-catching impact that can make your room appear more spacious.
They allow for fewer grout joints, which creates a clean, modern look.
Available in so many versatile designs, colors and patterns that it has become a top trend in interior design.
What is Large Format Tile?
Until 2011, the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) handbook defined LFT as 8” x 8” and greater. Today’s definition is that a tile with any edge longer than 15” is considered a large format tile. Available in various shapes and sizes, expect to see rectangular sizes like 18"x36", 16"x32", 24"x24", plus long, plank formats like 6"x24", 8"x36", 12"x48". They’re also available in square sizes like 20"x20", 24"x24", and 30"x30". A newer option is large panels that go as large as 60"x60" and 60"x127".
One of the best things that large-format tiles do is minimize grout joints, creating a crisp and elegant design. Not only does this create a seamless look, it is also easier to clean and requires less maintenance.
The large size transforms a space; these tiles create a smooth look and a feeling of spaciousness, bringing unexpected drama to your home. It’s a myth that large scale tiles shouldn’t or can’t be used in compact rooms, when in fact, these spaces are perfect for them. Using oversized tiles in a small area tricks the eye into thinking that the room is much bigger than it is, so can help to create a sense of scale where it doesn’t naturally exist.
Not Just for Floors
Large format tile can be used as countertops, expansive backsplashes, seamless shower walls, tub decks, fireplaces, cabinet coverings and many outdoor applications. Often made to mimic materials like natural stone, concrete and industrial metal, they feature:
Durable, heat-proof, resistant to scratches, stains, and aggressive chemicals with no maintenance issues.
Can be installed in exterior applications like outdoor kitchens, driveways and paths.
Some brands offer bookmatched slabs
While large format tiles are a great way to provide a modern look to a large space, they do come with their own set of challenges where installation is concerned. Large format tile installation requires particular attention to proper substrate preparation, mortar coverage and grout joint sizing.
Lippage Prevention - Proper subfloor preparation and leveling is vital. It’s best to use a self-leveling underlayment to ensure adequate flatness and to avoid lippage.
Mortar Coverage - Must be at least 90% mortar contact and a minimum grout joint of 3/16" using medium bed mortar. Back buttering tiles of this nature in the installation process will also assure proper coverage.
Grout Joint Size - All large format tile requires a minimum 1/16” grout joint according to ANSI. Some installers recommend that large tiles have a 1/8” or 3/16” minimum grout joint for the most successful installation.