Thursday, May 31, 2012

Large Format Thin

Technical Service Advisory
Large Format Thin "Laminate" Type Panels vs. Large Format Thin Porcelain Panels
Some confusion in the field exists concerning the differences between “Large Format Thin Porcelain Panels” and “Large Format Laminate Type Panels”. Note that these two material finish types are very different. Note some of the differences as follows:


Large format thin porcelain panels are typically installed in similar fashion to large format porcelain tiles. The panels can range in thickness from 3mm (1/8”) up to 7mm (5/16”). Some of these panels are coated with a polyester or epoxy and mesh backing. The available Technical Data Sheet 170 – “Installing Large Format Thin Porcelain Tile Panels” deals with this topic and provides installation considerations for these finish material types. The available TDS 193 – “Installation of Large Format Tile and Stone” provides supporting information for these material types as well.

Since large format thin porcelain panels can be as large 6’ x 8’ [1800mm x 2400mm]; uniform bedding and coverage are key. In addition to having an very flat substrate, keying / spreading the latex fortified adhesive mortar uniformly and in one direction will prove advantageous in achieving the proper bond and bedding of the panel. The use of a rubber grout float or “soft” rubber mallet can aid the installer in systematically “seating” the panel while simultaneously working out any entrapped air pockets.


Large format thin laminate type panels are very different from the aforementioned thin porcelain panel types. These materials are as thin as 1.5 mm (1/16”). Generally, the backing is some form of acrylic composite material which has a very thin stone layer applied as the finish.

When these finish types first came out on the market, contact adhesive was mainly used to install the material in similar fashion to traditional laminate type finishes (e.g. Formica®). Since then, we have seen the successful use of latex fortified thin set mortar (e.g. LATICRETE® 254 Platinum) or an epoxy adhesive (e.g. LATAPOXY® 300 Adhesive) with these finish types.

However, there are some issues to consider:

1.     These finish types are typically only used on interior walls.
2.     These finish materials typically have “memory” – meaning that they can “curl” / “warp” while they are being installed. Although this feature can be advantageous and is marketed as a feature (e.g. can be wrapped around circular columns, etc…); it can also prove challenging to keep the finish material in place as it sets firm. In many cases, the laminate must be “held” in place until the material reaches an initial set.
3.     These finish material types should not be used in exterior applications
4.     These finish material types should not be used in submerged applications
5.     These finish material types should not be used on walking surface applications

These finish materials are commonly confused with and / or are mistakenly considered to be in the same category as the aforementioned thin porcelain panel types.

Therefore, please be aware of the differences in these two finish types. If you come across a specific manufacturer of these materials and are unclear on how to specify an installation method, please consult with Laticrete Technical Services.

Information courtesy of:
Arthur Mintie CSI, CDT
Laticrete Technical Services Director 
Tel. +1.203.393.0010 ext. 326


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