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Is Your Floor (or Wall) Flat Enough for Large Format Tiles?

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Over the years, larger tiles have become more popular with homeowners and businesses alike. These large format tiles have their benefits, such as reducing grout lines. But they also come with stricter requirements for how flat any surface they’re installed on has to be—and getting it wrong can have serious consequences.

So how do you know if your floor or wall is flat enough for large format tiles? Let’s talk about it.

What Is a Large Format Tile?

The standards for large format tiles have grown significantly. Previously, a large format tile was any tile larger than 8” x 8”. Now, it’s defined as any tile larger than 12” x 12”. (Technically, any tile larger than 1 meter x 1 meter is considered a slab or panel, not a tile, but for the sake of convenience, we’ll stick to tile for now.)

Regardless, large format tiles are gaining traction in both residential and commercial remodeling projects. Many homeowners and businesses are embracing the benefits of bigger tiles. That’s because large format tiles can make a space feel larger than it really is, and fewer grout lines means less time spent scrubbing the gaps.

Best of all, large format tiles come in a variety of styles, colors, and patterns. From marble to concrete to porcelain to stone, you can find just about any type you want for your home or business.

What Happens If a Surface Isn’t Flat Enough for Large Format Tiles?

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If a floor, wall, or other surface isn’t flat enough, it will make it difficult to install large format tiles correctly. More often than not, you’ll end up with tiles that aren’t level with each other. The edges will be uneven, creating an unsightly appearance called lippage.

In the case of tile floors, lippage can even become dangerous, as it creates a tripping hazard. A tile installer who allows too much lippage can be sued for negligence if anyone trips or is otherwise hurt.

Both professional tile installers and DIYers must take the time to ensure a flat surface before laying any large format tiles.

How Flat Does a Surface Have to Be for Large Format Tiles?

According to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Standard for Subfloor Surfaces:

“For tiles with at least one edge 15” (0.38m) or longer, the maximum allowable variation is no more than 1/8” in 10’ (3 mm in 3 m) and no more than 1/16” in 24’ (1.6 mm in 0.6 m) from the required plane, when measured from the high points in the surface.”

For tiles with all edges less than 15”, the maximum allowable variation is 1/4” in 10’ and no more than 1/16” in 12’.

How Do I Know If My Surface Is Flat Enough for Large Format Tiles?

Figuring out the flatness of a floor or wall is pretty easy. Just lay a ten-foot straightedge on the floor or wall and move it around. As you move it, measure the largest gaps that form between the straightedge and the surface.

If you’re laying tile with an edge greater than 15”, as long as that gap is less than 1/8th of an inch, you’re fine.

If you’re laying a tile with an edge less than 15”—let’s say 12”—then the gap can be as deep as 1/4”.

And even if the surface isn’t flat enough, don’t lose heart. Mark the highest and lowest points that are causing these gaps. Then, you can fill the low points and grind down the high ones to fix the problem. This should give you a surface that’s suitable for installing large format tiles.

It’s Worth Getting Right

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Before starting your next tiling project, make sure your floor or wall is flat enough to accommodate large format tiles. The last thing you want is to discover that you’re working with an uneven surface after you’ve already started laying tiles.

It’s always better to get it right the first time than have to start all over again.

If you’d like some help, we’d be happy to lend a hand. The Downright Tile and Renovations team has dedicated themselves to mastering the art of tiling. We can make sure your floor or wall is flat enough and lay the large format tiles ourselves. We can even help you pick the perfect design for your home.

Contact us, and we’ll get started on bringing your dream project to life.

client Reviews

out of 23 reviews

Ann Butler

Cody was very professional, he was very good at advising us what would work well together. He showed up when he said he would , and never left a mess. We were under a time crunch , and Cody came through. The bathroom turned out beautiful. We are very happy with the end result.
We really appreciate all the hard work Cody and Trenton put into this job.

Stillwell, KS.

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James Pate

Downright Tile are true craftsmen. They take genuine pride in their work and make sure the customer is happy throughout the entire process. Some specifics from my experience:
-exceptional client communication
-upfront/honest pricing
-very prompt
-kept work area clean and free of debris
-extraordinary finished product!!!
I couldn’t be happier with my experience. Would hire again without question.

Weatherby Lake, MO.

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Nicole Galemore

Our experience with DownRight Tile was exceptional. We hired DownRight to install glass subway tile for our kitchen backsplash and coffee nook. They were extremely helpful throughout the entire process. From the get-go, they answered my millions of questions quickly and thoroughly. They were on-time throughout the project. I would say our project was a bit more complicated due to using glass tile and having a 70+ year old home with warped walls that weren't square. They exceeded our expectations and now we are using them for our bath remodel!

Shawnee, KS.

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Patricia Landwehr

My husband and I contracted with Downright Tile and Renovations to tile our basement laundry room and bath. Our house is 100 years old and the basement floor is not flat in places. They were able to level it out before installing the tile. The walls are not perfectly square, so we had lots of discussion about the best way to lay the tile to minimize the issue. They were very professional, arrived when they said they would, cleaned up the area daily and did a great job installing the tile. My husband is an engineer and very picky and was very pleased with the work. We highly recommend them. They are true craftsmen.

Brookside, MO

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Donald White

Downright Tile and Renovations repaired a faulty installation of a tiled shower floor. The previous contractor did not know what he was doing and the floor leaked badly. Downright Tile was great to work with on the project and now the shower works great. They were responsive, on time and within reason on cost. They finished the job ahead of schedule.

Independence, MO

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Dan Welter

Downright Tile and Renovations were wonderful. They are true craftsmen. Easy to work with and the results are just what I wanted. I think their pricing is too low, but don't let them know till I call them again. Thanks.

Overland Park, KS

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Shanna Smith

We are so happy we found Downright Tile. They were able to give us a custom look using the products we preferred, including modern design elements like a linear drain. They were friendly, respectful, and communicative, and do everything they can to pass cost savings on to you. Their attention to detail is fantastic. We recommend them to everyone we can, and we plan to have them back for a project in the future!

Overland Park, KS

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Jon Sestak

I cannot speak highly enough about my tile experience with Downright Tile and Renovations. First of all I want to say that the attention to detail is fantastic. Our job took a little longer, but the overall product looked amazing once finished. Typically, I would expect a job to be rushed in our circumstances, but the attention to detail did not diminish as the project went longer than expected. Would give these guys six stars if possible.

Overland Park, KS

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Kiven Moise

Downright Tile and Renovations are very professional. They did an excellent job tiling my shower walls. If your up against the fence about a tile job give them a try you won't be disappointed.

Independence, MO

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Alexzis Thomson

Thank you, Downright Tile and Renovations, for the awesome tile work! You helped convert our nightmare shower into a working shower! We initially hired a family friend to tile our master shower and shower floor. Long story short, the shower floor was not set properly and did not drain the water. :( I found Downright Tile and saw they had a knack for tile (especially showers), and knew they were the right company for the job. They knew exactly what to fix and how to fix it PROPERLY. They came in and did the job fast and effective! I can't wait to use the shower and not have to use a squeegee every time I get out. Thank you again!!! I highly recommend!

Blue Springs, MO

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Brian Joy Wilhide

We hired Downright Tile to install new tile in our fireplace. Our old tile was pretty dull... we replaced it with Jinshan Coffee tile. They advised us as to the condition of the new tiles (some chipped, some cracked, etc.) and we were able to request a new batch before we start our bathroom tiling project. They were able to select some very nice tiles for the fireplace and it is quite beautiful now. As soon as we have our ducks in a row with the new tile, we will be happy to bring Downright Tile back to replace our bathroom tile.

Lenexa, KS

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Angie's List Customer Review

We hired Downright Tile and Renovations to re-tile two fireplaces and our master bath floor. We picked our floor tile and when it arrived, found a lot of surprises. It was the last tile of it's kind from the quarry and there was a lot of variety. Downright Tile came up with a unique design which made great use of the variety and the final product is truly beautiful. They also re-tiled our family room fireplace with the same tiles. They suggested stacked stone tiles for our bedroom fireplace. Both fireplaces were transformed from boring to beautiful. Downright Tile took on our project where others might not have. It required a lot of extra cutting of tiles. They enjoyed the challenge and we are very happy with the outcome. We would confidently hire them again for any future tile work.

Kansas City, MO

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Daniel J Lopez

I am very happy with my experience with Downright Tile and Renovations. They had great communication, explained everything well, were punctual, and kept the job site clean. The finished product is exactly what we were hoping for and the price was good. I would definitely recommend them for any tile jobs you have in the future.

Overland Park, KS

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Will Woodford

Downright Tile and Renovations were extremely helpful and fast. They solved problems created by other contractors so that I didn’t end up having to deal with it. Downright Tile are perfectionists from step 1, and will not leave you without an excellent result.

Shawnee, KS

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Imene McCoy

Prompt, professional and clean! I had the best experience- Downright Tile and Renovations were fast, efficient and made the whole process super easy!! I highly recommend them!

Kansas City, MO

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Madison Grace

Very nice work & very friendly guys

Kansas City, MO

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Angie's List Customer Review

Downright Tile and Renovations were excellent to work with. They clearly understand their craft. They were professional, clean, and conscientious. I'll hire them again when I need more tile work done and refer them to others.

Kansas City, MO

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Beverly Bellinger

The project went beautifully. There were several areas around the tub and where the tub meets the floor that needed to be re-caulked; Downright Tile noted wherever new caulk was necessary within the shower/tub area and took care of it all. The amazing difference is in the floor. White tile with white grout can become discolored and hard to clean after a decade. Now it looks as good as when first installed, plus they offered care tips to maintain it. They also very graciously looked at a couple of loose kitchen backsplash tiles and provided advice on those. They're meticulous, professional and probably something of perfectionists—color matching was of critical importance to them. Our minor restoration project was clearly unworthy of their talents. Their charge was exactly as estimated ($300 plus materials). Imagine what a wonderful job they'd do on a start-from-scratch tile installation! If I had another tile project, Downright Tile is the only supplier I'd call.

Kansas City, MO

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Angie's List Customer Review

We were very satisfied with Downright Tile and Renovations' services. They were very responsive via text and were able to schedule us quickly. We had a very positive experience working with Downright Tile and love our new tile. We highly recommend them and would use them again if we eventually need tile work again.

Kansas City, MO

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David Duffield

As a very competent DIYer, it has always been difficult for me to relinquish control and hire someone else to do work on my home. My past experiences with hiring contractors has always left me disappointed in the quality of workmanship and/or the professionalism of the contractor. I can honestly say that, for the first time, Downright Tile and Renovations have exceeded my expectations. The crew were professional, timely, and the level of craftmanship was exceptional. Downright Tile took the time to plan the layout of the tile so there were professional results. I couldn't be happier and will definitely use them again on other projects. Thanks Downright Tile for all of your efforts!

Overland Park, KS

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Dan Lopez

Our house sold opening weekend. I’m sure the bathroom was a key contributor. We’re in a brand new house now so we’re set but I will definitely pass along your info to anybody who is looking. You did great work.

Overland Park, KS

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James Densmore

We recently remodeled our basement bathroom. We had multiple bids and they were all about the same. We chose to go with Downright Tile and Renovations as they warrantied their work more than the competitors. We picked out the tile and materials and then Downright Tile installed. They were on time and finished the project as expected. They explained various things when asked. We would use Downright Tile for a future project.

Mission Hills, KS

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Anna Challacombe

We hired Downright Tile to re-tile our guest bathroom and they did a phenomenal job. We've never hired anyone with more integrity or attention to detail. They always showed up when they said they would, communicated expectations, did a really exceptional job on the tile itself, and went above and beyond to make sure we were happy with the finished project and that it met their exacting standards. I would highly recommend Downright Tile to anyone looking to have tile work done.

Merriam, KS

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