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I just had my bathroom floor tiled and I am concerned about lippage. Before bringing this up with the contractor, I want to get an idea of how bad it is really. The tiles are 2.25" octagons with diamonds filling in the gaps on the ~12"x12" sheets. There are a few places in the bathroom where 1-3 of the octagons seem too high. Before complaining, I would like to measure the lippage on the tile.

I was thinking of using a penny, like I would to test tire tread (if I can't see all of Lincoln's head the lippage is too much), but I was hoping that there was a tool that might be more accurate and not have me with my cheek pressed against the floor for an hour or so. What is the best way to measure tile lippage?

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Lay a straightedge of a suitable length* across the tile. Use a leaf-type feeler gauge to determine the gap at the widest location.

  • Holding the straightedge snugly to the floor, find the gauge leaf (or combination of leaves) that just fits under with slight resistance when pressed down tight to the tile.
  • Read the leaf thickness or combine multiple thicknesses to calculate the total gap.

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* The question of straightedge length is messy and subjective. Do you span two tiles? A series of tiles? Just keep in mind that at some point you aren't measuring lippage anymore, but overall floor flatness.

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Since lippage is how flat the tiles are a penny would be a waste of time, the Height difference from tile to tile would require a straight edge across a section. There will be differences in height for several reasons.

Is there a min max NO. I have had customer sue with a 1/16 difference because of the tile they specified was natural and had a large variance sheet to sheet of 1/16” (they paid lawyer fees) The contractor should have leveled the flooring but it all comes down to the contract. If not specifically listed tile Can be somewhat uneven where the subflooring is not flat causing irregularities in height. It comes down to is this a bargain basement contract or a 5 star contract (it makes a difference) there will be slight differences sheet to sheet but you don’t specify or show a photo the contractor can say it meets standard practices and if you would like a change order they will comply for X dollars.

Sorry but I have done lots of tile jobs and the few problems I have had were on larger and intricate jobs where the owner wanted a change for free or a 10k job for 5k or less, if it is a sloppy job provide a photo and get some opinions other than that industry standards has some variation when it comes to tile.

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  • Thank you. I used a sliding ruler to measure the height difference between adjacent tiles in the few spaces that I thought were really problematic. There was consistently between 3/16 and a 1/4" height difference for these few tiles. This is a ceramic tile being laid over new joists, subfloor, and cement board backer. The height differences in the other places I spot checked were less than 1/64". This is 100+ Sq ft bathroom and the tile guy blew at most a dozen of the tiny tiles. The contractor is closer to 5* than bargain basement. – StrongBad Aug 20 '19 at 12:23
  • A 1/4” is a lot since the entire floor was replaced if the height is below the rest the contractor laid the loose pieces without some mesh or a tile on the edge of the mesh, has it been grouted yet? If not the the dozen tiles could be pulled and reset or replaced if high. once the grout is in it is tough to remove the grout remove the tile reset and regrout without it showing up. If it is a 5 star type of job I would talk to the contractor. What is the grout line width? The narrower the width the more obvious the variation will be. If they are not flat and Above height you might have a case. – Ed Beal Aug 20 '19 at 13:32
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    The issue is moot now although I would still like to know how to measure lippage. Apparently the contractor is 5*. He showed up yesterday to check on the job and when I got home all the tiles I thought were bad and some additional ones had been ripped out. The contractor sent me an email saying some of the tiles weren't laid well and he was replacing them. – StrongBad Aug 21 '19 at 15:16
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    I use a straight edge or level across several tiles to get an average height anything above this average is questionable. This is why I said a penny is useless tile has some variation because of the manufacturing process is not exactly the same for all tiles. By taking a 3 tile average anything above that I would consider lippage. As I have said I had a customer that wanted perfection I had 1/2 a box of some of the worst tiles all I had to do was to put the thickest and thinnest one on the stand with a straight edge and the judge not only threw out the case but gave me fees and time lost – Ed Beal Aug 21 '19 at 15:29

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