Tile leveling systems or crosses and installation by eye

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This time we will be discussing how to achieve a good leveling of the tiles when laying. Do automatic leveling systems really work and justify themselves, or is it better to learn from the very beginning to level tiles by hand and thus fully comprehend the craft of a tiling?

Tile leveling systems or crosses and installation by eye

What are the requirements for tiled cladding

In construction practice, tolerances for leveling ceramic tiles are a very relative concept. Indeed, the visual assessment of the alignment of the tiles is much more important than the parametric one: if the irregularities are indistinguishable with the naked eye, then the result can be considered satisfactory..

There are, however, very specific standards and tolerances for the surface of the tiled cladding, established by building codes 04/31/01. In short, the departure of the seams and the plane from the vertical should not exceed 1.5 mm / mp, and the take-off in the width of the seam and the mismatch in the plane between adjacent elements – 0.5 mm. Curvature of the plane – pits and bumps – should not exceed 1 mm / lm.

Tile leveling systems or crosses and installation by eye

The situation is much stricter with maintaining the correct geometry of the room. All finishing plumbing and installations have scanty deviations of angles and linear dimensions, which means that their abutment to the walls will make all the distortions visible. Therefore, the turning angle between the walls should not differ from the design one by more than 0.5 °, and the visually determined alignment tolerances are very close to the normative ones..

Tile leveling systems or crosses and installation by eye

In fact, such a strict observance of regulatory parameters is not always possible, and in particular this concerns compliance with the thickness of the seam. Nevertheless, this is not a reason to relax: the leveling of the tiles must be approached as responsibly and scrupulously as possible under the existing conditions..

Traditional way of alignment

If you do not take into account the very ancient tile leveling techniques, the most common method is as follows:

  1. The flatness and verticality of the tile cladding is set by a layer of preparatory plaster on the beacons, the same requirements apply to it as for the final coating.
  2. Thanks to the application of glue with a comb-type trowel with a constant tooth height, the most accurate adherence to the original parameters of the base is ensured with the possibility of more accurate adjustment.
  3. The layout horizontal is determined by the base row, the second in a row from the floor. It is with him that all work begins, a strictly horizontal rail is pre-screwed for an emphasis. It also helps to move the row of edged extensions downward, making it less visible..
  4. The constant width of the seams is ensured by inserting plastic crosses into them. Their thickness is determined by the tile format as approximately 1/150 of the widest side.
  5. Periodically, it is mandatory to control the horizontal and vertical seams, as well as the absence of blockage of the facing plane. Currently, the plumb bob and the rack level are replaced by laser marking tools.
  6. The coincidence of the plane of adjacent elements is checked with an even bar, which is carried along the seam in different directions.

Tile leveling systems or crosses and installation by eye

What is the difficulty of laying on crosses and wedges

Aligning with crosses would be ideal if the tiles were exactly the same size as stated. In reality, the deviation from the dimensions indicated on the package can reach 0.5%, that is, more than 1.5 mm for the most popular format 200×300 mm. The situation is aggravated by the curvature of the tile plane.

That is why every self-respecting master starts with a thorough sorting. The tiles are stacked alternately between each other, the gap between them is estimated for clearance. Measurements are also taken of the length and width of each element..

The tiles of the highest quality and corresponding to the format are subsequently laid in the most prominent places – opposite the door, around the washbasin and the mirror, in a belt of 1–1.8 meters in height. Tiles with less correct dimensions and shape are laid above doors, behind installations, along the lower belt and in all those places with which the eye most rarely intersects.

Tile leveling systems or crosses and installation by eye

Usually tiles for cladding are purchased with a 3–7% margin for battle and trimming. It is in this stock that the elements recognized as the least suitable according to the results of sorting are deposited. After that, addons and undercuts will be made of them, although it is recommended to set aside 2-3 high quality tiles separately in case of real damage.

And, nevertheless, even the selected tile suffers from dimensional deviation, despite the fact that each row must be aligned along the upper edge. When typing the starting row, this is provided by a lining between the tile and the strip of wedges, they are also used when laying out the lowest row to press its elements up to seal the seam along the crosses.

Tile leveling systems or crosses and installation by eye

In the upper rows, the discrepancy between the length and width is compensated for by adjusting the seams, for which you always have to keep at hand crosses one size larger and smaller than the ones used, or sharpen the existing ones with a mounting knife.

And yet the main difficulty in laying tiles along the crosses is the impossibility of adjusting the plane in both directions. When leveling the tiles, it is easy to press down, this allows you to apply glue under the comb. But it is much more difficult to move the tile towards you without tearing it off completely, here you have to use holders on suction cups, which do not cope very well with corrugated, textured and small-sized tiles.

Tile leveling systems or crosses and installation by eye

How alignment systems work

All the described tricks and subtleties lose their relevance when using systems (SVP, DLS) “automatic” alignment. In short, their principle of operation is to clamp the joints on the back and front side with special clips.

The lower or consumable part of the clip is a wide platform with a leg, laid under each tile 20–50 mm from each corner as the elements are laid on the glue. The upper, spacer part can have a different form factor, but it is due to it that the tiles are pressed against the site with a sufficiently large force.

Tile leveling systems or crosses and installation by eye

After the glue dries, the clips are knocked down with a mallet, which is facilitated by a weakened groove at the base of the leg of the consumable part. Thus, the site remains hidden under the tiles, but the seam is completely free, and nothing interferes with the grout. A separate disadvantage is the requirement for a special tool, although this does not apply to all alignment systems.

Tile leveling systems or crosses and installation by eye

With the use of SVP, the problem of ensuring the flatness of the cladding is not as such, but the task remains to control the thickness of the seam if it is greater than the thickness of the leg. It is also necessary to compare the position of the tiles at the intersections of the seams – in both cases, all the same plastic crosses come to the rescue. In this case, the plane of the tile will in any case remain ideal, and it will not be affected in any way by the shrinkage of the glue. And in the case of floor cladding, the coating will be able to take the through load as soon as possible even before the glue dries completely.

Tile leveling systems or crosses and installation by eye

We summarize: how is it better to lay tiles

The optimal way of laying and leveling ceramic tiles should be determined by their quality, that is, the grade. On the one hand, SVP elements are more expensive than crosses and wedges, their use is not always justified. For tiles of particularly inferior quality, achieving ideal tiling quality is unlikely in any case. However, it is possible to unambiguously recommend the use of leveling systems on floors with a high throughput: this significantly reduces the risk of injury to the coating.

Tile leveling systems or crosses and installation by eye

On the other hand, even very high quality tiles from exclusive collections can have dimensional distortions, such are the costs of the method of its production. However, in this case, the cost of the SVP cannot be compared with the cost of the tile itself, and the result will be much better, with an additional guarantee and the exclusion of the influence of uncontrollable factors such as glue shrinkage or simple human inattention..

Tile leveling systems or crosses and installation by eye

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