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Getting your tile measurements right. A general guide

26 May

Typically most customers have a professional installer lined up to “fix”the natural stone tiles to their walls and floors. Generally our advice when it comes to measuring up is to get them to do this for you as part of their job. A professional installer will be able to get accurate measurements of all surfaces to be tiled. This is referred to the “surface area”. The surface area isn’t the quantity of tiles you will need to complete the installation. Unless you have a perfectly shaped floor and you’ve chosen a tile that fits in there exactly without the need to cut any to fit around the edges, you will always need to order more than the surface area to allow for tiles that need to be cut to go up against edges of rooms, corners of walls and ceilings. These are generally known as the “cuts”.

When a tiler has to cut a tile to fit somewhere in a room, the off-cut is usually put to one side and considered for use the next time a tile needs to be cut to fit – basically, you always try and get two cuts pieces out of one tile and the piece that’s leftover is typically discarded. Why is it discarded? For instance when marble tiles are cut by an installer's machine, the edge of the tile they have just cut isn’t as good as the 3 other edges of the tile that were cut in a factory. It’s also unlikely that it will be perfectly parallel to its opposite edge – the cut edge only has to be a fraction of a millimeter out of parallel to give you a tapered gap if you try and butt it up against another tile in the installation. Cut edges usually go up against a wall edge or a ceiling. The piece of tile that is leftover will have two of its four edges cut by the installer’s machine and generally wont be usable in the installation without some compromise. These are known as “waste”.

Allowances for tile cuts and waste.

When you know what the surface area is, the rule of thumb is to order 10% over and above this area to take into account the “cuts” and the “waste” or what is universally known as “cuts & waste”. This 10% should give you enough to complete the installation without running out of tiles.

Sometimes it’s possible to order less than 10%. Large floor areas will require fewer pieces to be cut as an overall percentage of the installation. Maybe only 5% extra will be required in this instance.

The opposite goes for small areas to be tiled as they will need more tiles cutting as an overall percentage of the total tiles required to complete the installation. For areas below 10sqm we recommend ordering 15% extra for the cuts.

Waste doesn’t just mean the off-cut pieces that can’t be used. Natural stone tiles, especially limestone tiles,marble tiles and travertine tiles are reasonably delicate. They have journeyed thousands of miles across water to get to us, and then we have to prepare them into an order for dispatch through the pallet network to get them to you. There will always be the odd one that gets damaged in transit or comes out of the crate with a small chip on an edge or a corner broken off. This is quite normal and acceptable upto to 5% of the whole order as industry standard. There is no reason why a tiler can't use most of these tiles in the “cuts”, making sure the off-cut piece retains the damage.

Life isn’t perfect and accidents will happen. Somebody might drop a few pieces by accident or damage the tiles taking them out of the crate clumsily. There will always be a few that aren’t perfect. A good installer will grade the tiles prior to installation and set aside any that have minor imperfections for consideration in the cuts. If they don’t follow this practice, then they probably don’t know what they are doing which would raise alarm bells for me. Installing imperfect tiles and having perfect ones left over at the end of the installation is nothing short of incompetence.

Ultimately, it should be your installer that tells you what you will need to finish the installation in one go. Getting all the tiles you need at the same time is really important fora number of reasons.

  1. If you run out, then you will have to order more from StoneSuperstore and you will incur the cost of delivery which in many cases would be as much as the original delivery. We dispatch tiles on pallets and delivery charges are per pallet and not per tile making it expensive just for a few pieces!

  2. Your installer could end up scratching his head for a few days whilst the extra tiles turn up and charge you for the pleasure!

  3. The batch the extra tiles come from may differ from the ones you received originally and not match up as well.

  4. We might be out of stock when you come back to us and there could be an extended wait before we receive new stock.

Our advice is to always get more than less for the above reasons. If you have a few left over at the end,keep them in the garage, shed, loft or wherever because you just don’t know what’s around the corner - you might end up needing them if you have to replace a few down the line.

If you're going down the DIY route then make sure you’ve measured up the surface area correctly to start with.If you feel like you are competent enough to attempt a natural stone installation on your own, then you should be able to get the tile measurements right. If you struggle to get it measured up properly, you might be better off getting somebody else to do the tiling for you. After all, a professional will always do a better job!

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