Skip to main content

Supporting large format tiles

May 21, 2020

More and more projects include large format tiles being used in wet area floors and walls. Gone are the days of 600 x 600 being considered large format, tiles today can range from 600 x 900, 600 x 1200, full height tiles and even engineered stone.

As the new becomes more contemporary, questions have been raised about the capacity of linings and support frames to carry additional dead loads in wet areas?

Let’s look at the issue in more detail to get a better understanding.

There are many brands of wet area linings, the most common types include fibre cement wall sheeting, wet area and water resistant (WR) plasterboard.

The critical component when dealing with larger format tiles is to understand the weight ratio, shown as kilograms per meter squared (Kg/m2). To answer the question of whether large format tiles are appropriate in our environment, we need to understand the following points:

  1. The weight ration of the tile,

  2. The maximum weight capacity a substrate can support.

Obtaining information on the tile weight in Kg/m2 is not always easy.

A shipment may refer to pieces per pack, number of packs per pallet, thickness of the tile, weight per tile or weight per pack.

Collation is required to convert each tile into a Kg/m2 ratio. Large format tiles come in a variety of sizes meaning translation is not straight forward. Appendix A lists some examples from a popular supplier.

Tile weights generally range between 14 Kg/m2 to 23 Kg/m2. Although this is common, it is important the installer check with the tile supplier to determine correct weight for their selected tile. In simple terms, a thicker tile tends to be heavier.

The lining

The capacity of the lining to carry weight is dependent upon the choice of supplier; fixing requirements differ between each.

Villaboard, for example is a commonly used fibre cement sheeting in wet areas, and on the manufacturers specifications for that product notes that it can support up to 50 Kg/m2. IT also notes that where tiles are supported by the board, the lining is to be fixed back to the wall frame at 200mm maximum centres along studs, top and bottom plates. Stud placements are dependent upon the selected tile thickness.

Referring to the example tiles in Appendix A, The installer would need to ensure 10mm thick tiles are either supported by 450mm centered studs when using 6mm sheet or 600mm centered studs when using 9mm or 12mm sheeting.

Another example of lining is wet area plasterboard. Typical specifications note that the wet area plasterboard can support loads of up to 32 Kg/m2. This is dependent on how the board is fixed to the supporting frame, which can either be constructed of timber in accordance with AS 1684 or steel in accordance with NASH standards.

Stud spacings can be located at a maximum of *600mm centres within N1 to N3 wind speed zones provided the lining is fixed in accordance with the manufacturer’s installation guide. Referring to the example tiles listed in Appendix A, the lining will need to be fixed to the frame at 100mm spacings where nominated.

*centres may vary in different windspeed zones

The supporting frame

Another critical component is ensuring the wall framing can support a heavier load. For timber frames, AS 1684.2 allows a dead load limit of 0.4kN/m2 for walls supported by pad footings, equating to 40 Kg/m2.

To determine the suitability of supporting wall frames, the weight of the tile and the weight of the lining must be considered together.

Referring to the example tiles listed in Appendix A, timber frames will be adequate to support the combined loads of the tile and wall lining when using most standard size wall linings. Timber frames supporting 10 - 12mm fibre cement and 10mm thick tiles will fall close to the 0.4kN/m2 limit and may require closer attention paid to the specific material types in conjunction with their accompanying product specifications.

It should be noted that raft slabs supporting wall frames may support a larger weight distribution pending the design of the slab.

It is also important for installers to review product specifications when using steel frames to support large format tiles. In some circumstances the frames may require individual assessment and design by a structural engineer.

Reviewing the relevant product data sheets for the product

Each manufacturer has technical specifications specific to their product with varying load limits,  fixing requirements and waterproofing detailing. Therefore it’s critical not to assume that it’s all done the same way.

Viewing the technical contents from suppliers, large format tiles are a credible solution for consumers. They pose little risk provided the manufacturer’s installation guidelines are met and the tile specifications are observed. Technical data sheets and product specifications can be found either at the product suppliers webpage, in their stores at some locations or on the manufacturers webpage listed under ‘Product Specifications’ or ‘Technical Data’.

It should be noted that this information sheet was limited to tile examples no greater than 10mm thick. Anyone who wishes to use heavier tiles than those listed in Appendix A are encouraged to follow the above mentioned steps and ensure everyone in the design, approval and construction process are fully briefed. These steps are also relevant to follow for large format floor tiles, floor lining and framing.

For further information on these matters HIA members can contact HIA's Building Services team on 1300 650 620 or email hia_technical@hia.com.au

Appendix

Sicily stone light grey GL-PORC LAP RECT 450X900

SICILY STONE LIGHT GREY GL-PORC LAP RECT 450X900

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Size 450 x 900 
Pieces per pack 3
Pieces per pallet 180
Pieces per m2 2.47
Thickness (mm) 10
Weight per piece (kgs) 9.16
Weight per pack (kgs) 27.5
Weight per pallet (kgs) 1650

Total = 22.62 kg/m2

Lux pulpis GL-PORC RECT 600X1200

LUX PULPIS GL-PORC RECT 600X1200

Size 600 x 1200
Pieces per pack 2
Pieces per pallet 60
Pieces per m2 1.39
Thickness (mm) 10
Weight per piece (kgs) 15.75
Weight per pack (kgs) 31.5
Weight per pallet (kgs) 945

Total = 21.89 kg/m2

Timeless amani grey GL-PORC POL 6MM RECT 797X797

TIMELESS AMANI GREY GL-PORC POL 6MM RECT 797X797

Size 800 x 800
Pieces per pack 3
Pieces per pallet 120
Pieces per m2 1.57
Thickness (mm) 6
Weight per piece (kgs) 9.27
Weight per pack (kgs) 27.8
Weight per pallet (kgs) 1112.8

Total = 14.55 kg/m2

Timeless amani grey GL-PORC 6MM RECT 797X2397

TIMELESS AMANI GREY GL-PORC 6MM RECT 797X2397

Size 800 x 2400
Pieces per pack 1
Pieces per pallet 30
Pieces per m2 0.52
Thickness (mm) 6
Weight per piece (kgs) 30.39
Weight per pack (kgs) 30.39
Weight per pallet (kgs) 911.82

Total = 15.80 kg/m2

Grand atlantis gold CB-Porc Silk 6mm Rect 1000x3000

Grand Atlantis Gold CB-Porc Silk 6mm Rect 1000x3000

Size 1000 x 3000
Pieces per pack 1
Pieces per pallet 20
Pieces per m2 0.33
Thickness (mm) 6
Weight per piece (kgs) 47.56
Weight per pack (kgs) 47.56
Weight per pallet (kgs) 461

Total = 15.69 kg/m2 

Haven light tan shine BT GL-PORC 600X600

HAVEN LIGHT TAN SHINE BT GL-PORC 600X600

Size 600 x 600
Pieces per pack 5
Pieces per pallet 180
Pieces per m2 2.78
Thickness (mm) 9
Weight per piece (kgs) 7.19
Weight per pack (kgs) 35.95
Weight per pallet (kgs)

Total = 19.98 kg/m2

Belga charcoal BT GL-PORC 450X450

BELGA CHARCOAL BT GL-PORC 450X450

Size 450 x 450
Pieces per pack 7
Pieces per pallet 230
Pieces per m2 4.94
Thickness (mm) 7
Weight per piece (kgs) 3.21
Weight per pack (kgs) 22.5
Weight per pallet (kgs) 1800

Total = 15.85 kg/m2

Belga charcoal BT GL-PORC 300X300

BELGA CHARCOAL BT GL-PORC 300X300

Size 300 x 300
Pieces per pack 16
Pieces per pallet 1024
Pieces per m2 11.11
Thickness (mm) 6.5
Weight per piece (kgs) 1.26
Weight per pack (kgs) 20.23
Weight per pallet (kgs) 1295

Total = 14.00 kg/m2

* the above mentioned examples are only a selection of large format tiles available on the market