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I was planning on replacing the carpet on my middle (entrance) level with wood look tile. The maximums of the dimensions are ~ 25' x 18'. The area is semi-contiguous. The sub-floor is plywood.

However, reading up, lippage can be a major issue with the long wood look tiles if your surface is not quite flat. While I have not measured yet, I suspect my floor is fairly uneven.

Applying self-leveling compound to the area would be unreasonably burdensome in my particular circumstances, and is something I need to avoid.

To help avoid lippage, I am considering using smaller wood look tile (6" x 24") and doing a 8" overlap instead of a 12".

Will using a "smaller" tile be sufficient? Are there other measures that can help?

Or should I just give up and use 12" x 12" or smaller tiles?


Also: With my home, over-building is a real concern; so I aim to avoid overly time or money intensive solutions.

  • No matter what size you use if the floor is not smooth or totally flat you will have lippage! Why waste good $ on any flooring that is not installed correctly. Self leveling compounds are not hard to put down or very expensive compared to the flooring. – Ed Beal Sep 28 '17 at 1:53
  • @EdBeal but the larger the tile, the more pronounced the lippage will be from the same amount of unevenness in the subfloor. As I said, my living situation house make it hard to apply self-leveler – TheCatWhisperer Sep 28 '17 at 13:59
  • Any way you do this, the walk on time will be days. Plan to do this when you have a full weekend and can use another entry way, otherwise you will need to build yourself a small "deck/bridge" to span the area to avoid traffic on it. When I tiled my new kitchen, the backerboard was 24 hours, the backerboard fill in was another 24 hours. Then the tile was placed and another 24 hour wait, then I placed all my cut tiles around the edges and in the center of the room was a decorative area, another 24 hours, then the grout, 24 hours. So about 6 days before it was open to foot traffic. – Jeff Cates Sep 28 '17 at 19:46
  • @JeffCates this is related the problem I am talking about. I can deal with the tile dry time, but the selfleavling compound is not doable – TheCatWhisperer Sep 28 '17 at 21:20
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    I would skip the self leveler and use the backerboard to start with a fresh level surface. You can also get the self leveler in powder form and mix it up yourself. If the floor is really bad, then you would want the leveler just to make it an even surface. Assuming the sub-floor is good, just do the backerboard and continue the tile build. – Jeff Cates Sep 29 '17 at 22:57
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Lippage in wood look tile or long narrow tile isn't caused by a uneven subfloor in most cases. flatness is very important and all floors should be brought into the proper deflection tolerance, but in the case of these longer, narrow tiles, lippage is due to the tile being bowed 95% of the time. That is why stagger patterns are 33% offset now. they're try to match the bow in tile up, in addition to the new offset the use of a leveling spacer or lippage tuning strap should be used. they clamp tile together to bring them all into plain and hold them in plain while the mortar cures. again proper prep is always a must, bring the floors into tolerance, but lippage is mostly due to tile being bent or bowed, for that a lippage tuning system is needed. Also, mortar is a glue, it is not used to fix uneven floors; it doesn't have the strength for that.

  • Hello, and welcome to Stack Exchange. You've added a lot of great answers in the last day or two: thanks, and looking forward to more! One note: getting capitalization and spelling right really helps make your answers easier to read, and people will get more out of them. Thanks again! – Daniel Griscom Feb 10 '18 at 14:58
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Not sure what lippage you are referring to. To properly install a tile floor, you need to ensure the floor is even, not necessarily level, as well as a sturdy sub-floor. This is why they have a minimum sub-floor thickness, and a lot of installer will use concrete backerboard to help stiffen the area. You don't want to install a nice ceramic floor, only to have the grout crumble and the tiles pop up because of a poor sub-floor. Using the backerboard and or the minimum plywood thickness, you may have a floor that is higher than the floor in the adjacent room. This can be fixed with step nose transitions and such. With a tile floor, its best to do it right and make adjustments elsewhere rather than cheap it out.

Lippage, has to do with the amount of mortar under the tile and having an even surface. That can be corrected by making sure the tiles are sitting at the proper height relative to each other, using a mallet and block of wood as necessary, or adding a little more mortar underneath.

I would skip the self leveler and use the backerboard to start with a fresh level surface. You can also get the self leveler in powder form and mix it up yourself. If the floor is really bad, then you would want the leveler just to make it an even surface. Assuming the sub-floor is good, just do the backerboard and continue the tile build.

  • I was thinking about using ditra decoupling membrane, but it price prohibitive, and I am not sure how much it would even help with lippage. For somereason, I did not think of hardie backer, I will look into that. Here is the kind of lippage that is common with long tiles: st.hzcdn.com/simgs/18e27f7504aee5df_8-8258/home-design.jpg – TheCatWhisperer Sep 27 '17 at 18:17
  • Oh, ok lippage, that has to do with the amount of mortar under the tile and having an even surface. That can be corrected by making sure the tiles are sitting at the proper height relative to each other, using a mallet and block of wood as necessary, or adding a little more mortar underneath. – Jeff Cates Sep 27 '17 at 19:25

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