rectified tile and grout joints... am I asking too much?

girlwithaspirinAugust 9, 2006

I'm going with semi-polished, rectified 18"x18" porcelain. The tile sales rep warned me that few contractors will be willing to do a 1/16" grout joint, but she told me to stand my ground.

Sure enough, I'm gathering bids, and the first two contractors won't do a 1/16" joint. I told them the tile is rectified. One guy actually asked, "What do you mean by that?" Disturbing, no? I explained it. Five minutes later, he tried to explain to me that porcelain tiles are rarely exactly the same size or completely square. Once again, I explained what "rectified" means, wishing I could just snap my fingers and make him disappear.

Both of them have given me all the reasons why a 1/16" grout joint is impossible. My house is old, the floor can't possibly be completely level, a new subfloor won't fix anything, etc. The thing is, the current ceramic is at least 15 years old, and there's not a single crack, not even in the grout lines.

Am I asking the impossible? (Bill V., if you're reading this, your reco is on vacation -- I'm hoping he's my salvation!) Aesthetically, I love the look of a tiny grout line, especially with this sort of tile.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have never heard the term rectified tile and I have been a licensed and certified installation mechanic for 27 years, so no, it isn't disturbing at all ... I have heard the term, Dimensionally Stable Tile though.

two occurrances can prevent successful 1/16" grout joints.

one being nominal tile sizing (tiles not exactly the same dimension as every other tile), and two being the existing floors height variances that would cause a run-off.

When attempting to install a 1/16" grout joint with either present can cause tile stepping and run off becasue there is basically no joint to make it up in the installation grid system layed out prior to install.

TO answer your question, no, it is impossible.

However, the above considerations play an important role in it's success.

Since you house is older and admittedly not perfect, you want to research and find an installation professional comfortable with this, and expect to pay a handsome fee because basically they will be either installing a mud bed, or mudding the tiles in over a backer unit (a hybrid technique), which it time consuming and not a well known technique to every ceramic installer, especially those who only do thinset/backer board installations.

Many refuse to do it becasue of tile nominal sizing, extra time involved, the difficulty factors, and the lack of knowledge to pull it off successfully.

This doesnt mean they are bad installers.

On the contrary it means they care enough to admit they can't do it, so they refuse to do it.

and them some jsut do not know the difference and think it cant be done successfully, but still install great projects all the time.

I would keep searching until you find a installation mechanic who can do it.

The key is the tiles dimensions from tile to tile.

If they are the exact same with no variance, then it can be done.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2006 at 4:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I would not install rectified porcelain, even large format rectified porcelain, any other way than with a tight 1/16" joint. That said, there's atleast one installer in my area who, in every other way, is one of the best in the area, and he won't do it, either-- not even with 12x12 rectified porcelain or natural stone-- says it can't be done, in spite of the pics I've shown him of my work.

I agree with the salesperson-- don't give up. Stick to your guns.

Floorman-- the biggest way that rectified differs from other porcelain (or other tiles, for that matter) is that while all other tile, porcelain or otherwise, are stamped out to size before going into the kiln, rectified porcelain goes into the kiln in sheets, and then is cut to size afterward. If you ever see it, it'll have the same exact edge as polished stone tile, with the cutting ridges and the chamfered edge. This is why no matter what the size of the tile, it can be set tight, because the tolerances are alot stricter than they are for other tiles. You'll see less variation in size with rectified porcelain than you will even with polished stone.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2006 at 10:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Whew. Thanks to both of you.

Part of me thought I was being silly. You know, what's a couple sixteenths of an inch? But the joints on my kitchen ceramic are 3/16", and on my honed limestone, they're 2/16" -- and there's a huge aesthetic difference between those two. The 1/16" grout lines I've seen with rectified tile absolutely make the look, in my opinion.

I'll stick to my guns. I think I need to shift my focus and make sure I'm calling in natural stone installers.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2006 at 11:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

right bill .. but they call it Dimensionally Stable Tile out this way ... I just never heard it called rectified tile.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2006 at 11:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I just had 1200 feet of 5" x 16" tile put in an old house with several minor cracks and a lot of humps and hollows in the slab floor. 1/16 grout lines with sanded grout. he used a lot of leveling compound, but it looks great.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2006 at 12:34AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Your picture looks to be be around an 1/8" joint... a 1/16" is barely noticeable especially if you have a color matched grout color. I try to give the customer what they want if it will work.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2006 at 2:29AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

but they call it Dimensionally Stable Tile out this way

I've got to remember that next time I go to a site looking for rectified porcelain, and a search comes up empty! :-)

    Bookmark   August 10, 2006 at 9:43AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Any suggestions for tile brands that come in rectified porcelain, especially the large format sizes?

    Bookmark   August 27, 2006 at 10:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've been looking at Daltile's "colorbody porcelian." The two styles I'm interested in are "Landscape" and "City View". Daltile recommends 1/16" grout lines for both and they both come in large format. There are probably more styles on the website that fit your criteria, but I was focusing on contemporary style.

Here is a link that might be useful: Daltile Colorbody Porcelian

    Bookmark   August 28, 2006 at 9:48AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Dal's good. So is Crossville, Graniti Fiandre and Cerdomus.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2006 at 4:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Dang! I knew it!! I think I mentioned this issue to you on another thread, GWA--I hope you're able to get someone to install it the way you want. I requested really thin grout lines and the tiler said the closest he could do was 1/8" (builder's sub--I couldn't get a different guy). I'm learning to live with it, but I still was after a much more unified look to my 12x12's.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2006 at 7:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

catluvr- not for nothin, but in that pic, it doesn't look like rectified porcelain. I see cushioned (slightly rounded) edges, and with rectified porcelain, the edge is square, except for a very small bevel (about 1/32"). With rectified porcelain, the tile looks exactly like natural stone tiles. If that's standard porcelain, then your installer did a helluva job in being able to use an 1/8" joint. That's tough to do.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2006 at 11:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks, Bill. I feel a little better about it when you put it that way. The builder said his tiler was really good, but I was a little disappointed when I saw I couldn't get a smaller grout line. My first pick WAS like you describe (the rectified)but was discontinued and what was installed was my 2nd choice. It does have a very slight curve on the upper edge (the countertop edge was beveled by the tile guy because there were no v-caps for that tile).

    Bookmark   August 30, 2006 at 1:27AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

catluvr, for non-rectified tile, that looks great. It's beautiful and simple and very clean.

gwa, I had to shop and shop to find my tile guy. I was so depressed over how long it was taking to find someone who was anywhere near as smart as the guys here that my daughter even wrote me a letter with a pretty picture, wishing that I find the right tile guy, and posted it on our mirror so I could look at it every day...

When I found The One, it was pretty clear from the beginning. The grout clouds parted, the tile angels sang, you know the drill ;) So don't give up, insist on someone you can communicate with and who knows how to do 1/16" grout lines. My guy even let me grind down the edges of my own tile to make them flat so I could do 1/16" grout lines with non-rectified tile. Other people laughed out loud when I suggested that. But this guy just made it happen. I had asked at the place I got the tile, which yielded at the best a very commercial guy who didn't have time for residential niceties...eventually, you know where I found him? Craigslist, of all places. He had an ad that said "not the lowest prices, but I get the job done right". He does a lot of commercial, but also some residential, and was just starting out on his own business after years of working or someone else who did mostly commercial, so he was eager to have good references for residential as well. He still wasn't Bill or mongo, but hey who is...So there are some tips from my LONG search... The motto of my school was "I will find a way or make one" and that's the *one* thing I liked about that place :)

(from how some of those girls approached life, I always thought it should have been "I will find a way or marry one" but that would be catty, wouldn't it...;) [it's late!])

    Bookmark   August 30, 2006 at 2:31AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Rectfied porcelain is close to natural stone very realistic
if installed correctly.I used Laufen Basillica in my two baths floor to ceiling and am pleased.Use the tightest grout lines possible.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2006 at 11:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Now THAT'S rectified porcelain!! :-)

Beautiful work, Gary. :-)

    Bookmark   August 31, 2006 at 8:37AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi there. We will be using Porcelanosa 12/24 inch rectified tile in out tiny bathroom and also have a vertical foot of accent glass tiles in the bathtub running up the wall. Hopefully our contractor will know how to install each. ahahhahaha.

Porcelanosa makes some beautiful big rectified tiles.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2006 at 12:53PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Porcelanosa is known for their large format tiles, both porcelain and conventional ceramic. It's a good tile, for sure. :-)

    Bookmark   September 1, 2006 at 6:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

very nice work in those pictures, gary.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2006 at 2:07AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am also choosing rectified porcelain tiles, but in a 12"x24" format. The tile setter that was originally lined up is unable to do it now. So, I am getting the flooring company to supply and install the tiles.
The sales person told me that the mim. grout they can do is only 3/16" (that how the spacer comes in). If they do the grout any skinnier, they cannot get the "grout down" evenly. This would cause grout failure/cracks in grout. So, his recommendation is 3/16" or no grout at all.
I read in another thread (on wall tiles) and Bill did not recommend no grout at all. I have seen 1/16" rectified tiles all over. The consultant at the tile company basically said that there is no point in going with the rectified tiles if I am not getting a 1/16" grout.
So, is there a special grout mix for 1/16" grout install? Are there also special skills required for the 1/16" grout install? I just need to convince the flooring people that it is OK to do a 1/16" grout for the rectified tiles. If there is special skills involved, I also want to know that their installation team has experience with 1/16" grout.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2006 at 11:08AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

There is a special "grout mix" for 1/16" grout lines -- you use unsanded grout, whereas for anything 1/8" or larger, you use sanded grout.

I used rectified tile in my bathroom (all over) and the tiler did use 1/16" lines on all the walls, using unsanded grout. It looks fantastic. I failed to specify that I wanted tiny lines on the floor, too, and he did wider lines, using sanded grout. Fortunately, it still looks really good, just not how I would have done it had I remembered to specify.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2006 at 12:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We installed our 16" travertine tiles (1000 sq ft of it) ourselves with 1/16" grout line. The job is not perfect, and there is lippage but for DIY i am pretty happy. The MOST important thing was to have the smallest grout line possible.

otherwise we would have missed the modern look that we were going for. Larger grout lines tend to look more country or rustic. the monolithic look is more modern...just my opinion :)

    Bookmark   October 19, 2006 at 1:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

When I pursued this further, I was told the following.
"We can do a 1/16 grout line. It will have to be in unsanded grout which is a wall tile grout and not designed for foot traffic. Also there will be minimum penetration in the space between the tiles. We will not be able to guarantee that the grout will not walk through or break out."
Are rectified tiles with 1/16" grout unsuitable for floor application then? Has anyone installed rectified floor tile with 1/16" grout with favourable results?

    Bookmark   October 19, 2006 at 6:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The sales person told me that the mim. grout they can do is only 3/16" (that how the spacer comes in).

That's all I'd have to hear, and I'd be out the door. These people are morons, as backed up by their followup statement-- "We can do a 1/16 grout line. It will have to be in unsanded grout which is a wall tile grout and not designed for foot traffic. Also there will be minimum penetration in the space between the tiles. We will not be able to guarantee that the grout will not walk through or break out."

This moron has no idea of what they're talking about, or how to install tile. NOT IDEA AT ALL.

Seriously-- Go somewhere else, or you'll be the next person posting a horror story. Please trust me on this.

Nevermind FOOT traffic. I've done 18x18 rectified porcelain in car showroom floors with 1/16" grout joints and unsanded grout. It stands up to CAR traffic!!

If it were me, I'd have told the person to go back to asking if their customer wanted large fries with that!!

    Bookmark   October 19, 2006 at 8:53PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks to the advice from members of this forum, I insisted on the 1/16" grout for my rectified tiles. The tiles are now down and grouted, and they look good. The grout guy suggested that I seal the grout line myself. The tiles are mostly in bathroom applications and unsanded grout is used. Do I need to seal the grout lines and what product should I look for? Thanks.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2007 at 5:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It wouldn't hurt to seal them. The best, most available products would be Aquamix's Sealers choice 15, or Miracle's 511 Impregnator.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2007 at 5:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I wish I had read all this prior to being made a fool by my contractor. I asked specifically for 1/16th on my porcelain 12x12. I got what he called 1/8th, but certainly looks larger than that.

His excuse was that they used the smallest possible spacer availble, that he never promised me 1/16th because that would have been a custom job, special order, more expensive, blah blah blah. Not only did I not get what I wanted-- I was made to look like a fool who didn't know what I was asking for. (I'm new to renovations, so yes-- I learned that lesson the hard way).

So two days later I walk into home depot, go straight to the tile guy and ask him what's the smallest spacer they recommend for my tile, and voila- aisle 20 filled with 1/16th grout spacers. I bought a pack and will give it to my contractor as my thank you gift, with a sweet note: I thought these could come in handy next time a client asks for 1/16th.

At this stage- to redo the floor would set my whole renovation back substantially, and is simply not worth the fight. I'll just love my floor as is. Fortunately, I have plenty of love to give. Just none of it will go to my a**hole contractor.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2007 at 8:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


1. a true tile craftsman does not use spacers. They installs to their grid system (chaulk lines). This is much more accurate if laid out properly.

2. 1/16" isnt always possible depending on the tile (even with spacers).

3. tiles squareness and tile size accuracy from tile to tile is what determines the mminimum grout joint size.

4. rectified tile and dimensionally stable tile are guaranteed to be able to have ultra thin 1/16" joints,. but be prepared to pay considerably for that.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2007 at 3:23AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for the info, floorman.

The tile was rectified, and I had specifically asked for 1/16th based on my conversations with the tile sales people. The problem really was that the contractor never allowed for the possibility (even if had been at higher cost) and went ahead and did it with 1/8th without further discussion.

It's good to know that spacers aren't really used. If a chaulk lines are used, does that mean you get any size grout you want? The contractor claims it was 1/8, but measuring with tape it looks like a 1/4.

I'm happy to be sorting this out for a few years down the line, when I do my bathroom with similar tiles, I'll know to stand my ground or look for a different contractor who will at least discuss the option of 1/16th.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2007 at 9:10AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If the tiles have a beveled edge, it is very possible to get a full grout joint. Making an 1/8 that is actually between tiles, pack wider then an 1/8. I hope I drew a clear enough picture.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2007 at 4:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

yes, by gridding out the installation area with chaulked grid lines, you can set any joint width you desire, however, as floorguy states, beveled edge tile makes the minimum VISIBLE joint side wider than the actual joint size from tile to tile because of the space the bevel takes up.

before you snap a grid system though, yo want to dry lay a few tiles out to form a square with the desired joint size to get the overall block size for the grid system.

here is an illustration of what i mean by a tiling grid system. I wrote this up for another poster some time ago about a diagonal installation, but it shows a grid system pretty well.

the red lines are the main control lines.

the pink lines are also main control lines but figured off of the red lines to make the instalaltion a diagonal.

the dark blue lines are the actual installation grid the tiles are set to.

the light blue/aqua lines represent the tile joints.

as you can see, a tile chaulked line grid system provides for exact tile spacing, facillitates squareness of the entire installation, and facillitates evening up the cuts and ensuring the isntallation stays on track throughout the entire area, no matter where the isntallers starts it, becasue you set the tiles to each individual grid and respective installed tile. This also makes cuts a breeze to do all at once before the field install, during the field install, or after the fields install.

This isnt as simple as it looks and sounds. You have to ensure every lines is respectively squareness or true perpendiculars to opposing lines. An easy way to check for squareness of the installation grid is by measuring the blocks corner to corner. If they are exact then you are square, if not them something is out of whack and needs adjusted.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2007 at 2:21AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

here is another illustration representing a tile grid system square to the walls and the formula used to ensure squareness of the perpendicular control lines the grid block lines are measured off of (Pythagorean+Theorem using Pythaorean Triples

    Bookmark   August 25, 2007 at 2:51AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

in case you were wondering how to figure out those grid block sizes, here is another illustration for it.

if each tile is EXACLTY 12"x12", we want a 1/16" grout joint, and we want our grid to be 3 tiles by 3 tiles, our grid size would be 3 foot 3/16". Please note that on two sides we add an extra joint, else we would be joint crushed when we install! We do this so we have a grout joint against the last installed tile (on starter rows we remove that extra joint becasue it is a tile to tile measurements and we arent installing against any other tiles, but this can be replaced with a cut row/block to make it easier if needed).

ignore the 3/16" shown on the illustration ... it was for another thread.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2007 at 3:03AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm stunned at the ignorance displayed in this forum.
I've been installing ceramic/stone/porcelain, as a private
contractor for over 25 years (i.e. since there were only 4x4, nominal of course, tiles available on walls and only porcelain mosaics or kiln baked ceramics for floors. You know, the ones with the knobs on the bottom side. Think I know what I'm talking about? I am recognized as a superior installer in Bergen County NJ as evidenced by staying in business for over 25 years and never spent a nickel on advertising. I work 6 and sometimes 7 long days a week at a moderately competitive price all by word of mouth. Anyway, on the subject of rectified tiles and how wonderful Porcelanosa tiles are. I very recently installed 500 plus square feet of rectified tiles of which the dimensions were 26 inches by 17.5 inches. BTW no one in this forum has mentioned a tile of that size yet. The degree of difficulty is extreme at that size. I was also asked to space the tile BUTT, not even 1/16 inch joint over an extremely well poured and "flat" slab of concrete.The area to be tiled has a straight run of over 60 feet long by 9 feet wide in a printing factory. Even though I am a very careful and conscientious worker I was given a D minus on the job and was not paid. I might even get sued.The
bottom line is, if the floor is PERFECTLY FLAT (which NO floor is : repeat NO floor)you will still get a degree of lippage, no matter how minimal it is. Which leads the the almighty question of how tolerant the homeowner or building owner is when they look at your job. People in this forum have used the word good job. No one has said great job. Job quality is in the eye of the beholder, but rest assured no one can EVER expect a perfect install, with rectified tile. Go to any Porcelanosa showroom or for that matter, anywhere in the continental United States and examine the sample installations for yourself. Learn what to expect before you get your hopes too high. Going from a 1/16 joint to a 1/8 joint will greatly increase your satisfaction. Don.t be fooled by someone who says he can do what YOU want to make him do. We are all trying to make a living. In ending I would love some feedback from anyone who claims to put in a perfect floor (rectified w/1/16 joint, and I am willing to travel anywhere to see this work.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2008 at 10:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You are not asking to much at all! My home has just under 1,200 sq' of 20" rectified porcelain tile with 1/16 grout lines. It has been in place for 11 years, and in that time we have not had a cracked tile or separation in a grout line. That is saying a lot considering the number earthquakes we have had in SoCal.

We have been so delighted with this tile and the way it was floated and set that we are in the process of searching for a company with installers capable of replicating this installation.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2010 at 3:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've never heard of rectified tiles before and am still not clear on what I'd be looking at. Except for the usual high gloss marble "real stone tiles" that I've looked at don't have perfectly squared clean cut edges. I even seem to recall often seeing a bevel on the polished marble. Stone floor tiles often have the more rustic irregular chiseled edge and uses wider joints. I have never been made aware all this firing stuff needed to be worried about when choosing a tile.

Regarding 1/16" grout lines, there has been an update discussed here recently that I will link to for a more up to date reference:

Here is a link that might be useful: new TCNA recommendations on grout widths for large format rectified tiles

    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 10:19PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Where can I find some replacement Haddon Hall parquet tiles?
I've been searching the Internets for a particular...
Float or glue engineered wood over very smooth concrete slab
Hello, I am a recent first time homeowner who has been...
Ceramic wood tile into sunken living room?
Getting ready to remodel a house I am purchasing. Would...
EZ Lay Vinyl Plank Reviews?
We are looking at installing the Tiramisu EZ Lay Vinyl...
Reviews : Brazilian direct - -
Did any one purchase solid hardwood from Brazilian...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™