It's reassuring to know that there are numerous and comprehensive British Standards (BS) which detail best practice relating to the installation of floor and wall tiles. Unfortunately, there are numerous and comprehensive British Standards (BS) that the tiler or builder you employ may not be aware of, or choose to adhere to.
This doesn't mean to say that if your tiler can't recall verbatim every word of the BS for fixing tiles, they won't complete the installation to a satisfactory standard. However, it’s prudent to discuss these with them before they start the installation, the standard of finish you expect, and the methodology they plan to adopt.
Generally, the issue of British Standards only arises when a customer isn't happy with their installation. The quality of the finished installation doesn't just depend on the tiler’s skill and experience, it also depends on the state, condition, and type of the floor/ wall substrate, the quality and type of tile, and the materials used.
British Standards all have the same basic purpose of setting out agreed principles or criteria so that customers, tradesmen, and suppliers can make reliable assumptions about products and services. Some standards essentially amount to advice and guidance, such as the gap between rectified porcelain tiles, others are much more prescriptive and set out absolute requirements, such as using the correct adhesive for fixing limestone tiles to a wooden floor.
The Tile Association (TTA) is the recognised UK wall and floor tile trade association, with many of its Board & Committees members contributing to the formation of floor and wall tiling British Standards.
Sometimes, despite having discussed your expectations prior to commencement of an installation, and a tiler advising you of any issues which may affect the project, disagreements occur. It is the TTA who will likely be involved if a customer or tradesman wishes to make a claim of compliance, or non-compliance with a standard.
So what are the key issues of the relevant BS relating to the installation of marble floor tiles and porcelain wall tiles?
- The substrate: Is the wall or floor capable of taking the weight of the tiles? Are the walls flat, square, and even? Is the floor stable and secure? Is there a combination of different substrates for example, wood and concrete?
- The tiles
- The materials Most tilers prefer to use a brand of adhesive and grout they are used to working with, although some tiles such as Jura beige limestone tiles require flexible white rapid set adhesive and are best fixed with specialist products such as Kerakoll Marmorex to avoid issues during and post installation.
The most common situations we're asked to resolve are when a tiler has mixed and fixed porcelain bathroom tiles from different batches resulting in shading issues, and conversely when marble floor tiles are not 'shuffled' and are fixed without considering natural shade and tone variations.
We are also sometimes asked to resolve issues when a tiler has scratched polished porcelain tiles by using a course grout, and when stain-preventing sealer is applied to polished stone tiles without any excess being removed.
Whilst it's the tiler’s responsibility to work with best endeavour and due diligence, as a customer you can save lots of time, stress and money by discussing the basic technical and professional elements of the project before fixing commences.
Should you want or need to access the full BS relating to floor and wall tiling these are the ones you should be considering: BS 5385-1 Wall and floor tiling. Design and installation of ceramic, natural stone and mosaic wall tiling in normal internal conditions. Code of practice. BS 5385-5 Wall and floor tiling. Design and installation of terrazzo, natural stone and agglomerated stone tile and slab flooring. Code of practice.