I very often observe detached or broken tiles in outdoor installations. Among the most frequent are those of facades and garage ramps or residential driveways. Why is this happening? Our Caribbean climate presents us with challenges that we must bear in mind when installing slabs outdoors.
And it is that in Puerto Rico we are subject to abrupt changes in temperature caused by periods of intense sun, followed by sporadic rains. These high variations in temperature, of up to 15° F, affect the surface where the slab is installed, since the concrete that expands when the temperature increases and contracts when it decreases. So, with such expansion and contraction movements occurring inside the installation surface, how to ensure that the installed slab does not break and peel off?
The key is in the proper selection of the product to be used and the installation technique used. Here are my tips for a successful and long-lasting outdoor tile installation:
Whenever possible, use high quality porcelain tiles (“porcelain tiles”) and thicknesses greater than 10 mm, as these will be more resistant to traffic on the floors and ramps of the marquee. Avoid using inexpensive ceramic tiles 7mm thick or less as these will break easily.
Avoid using natural stones that are sensitive to moisture, such as Slate, as these are constantly expanding and contracting, and are more susceptible to peeling.
Select a highly flexible polymer glue. There are many polymer glues on the market, but it is important to know that not all of them behave the same. Polymer adhesives allow bonding of low water absorption slabs and substrates, something that is impossible if regular adhesives that do not contain polymers are used. However, basic or inexpensive polymer glues, such as those more economical that meet only the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A118.4, provide a rigid adhesion. However, for outdoor installations we want to play it safe with a glue that not only provides high adhesion, but also high flexibility. These glues, in addition to complying with the ANSI A118.4 standards, comply with ANSI A118.11, which means that they are deformable and more flexible to the expansion and contraction of concrete. For exterior installations, I recommend Weco® W2000 MAXX™ adhesive, a highly flexible adhesive formulated with “Tri-Polymer” technology that will provide the greatest protection and durability in exterior installations.
Apply the glue making grooves in only one direction (horizontal if it is in façade installations), and press the slab in a slight movement in a direction perpendicular to the grooves to close them and achieve a minimum 95% coverage. To ensure the greatest coverage of the glue in the installation, apply a layer of glue to the back of the slab, a technique called "back-buttering" or double-gluing.
Follow the recommendations of the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) and leave movement joints in all corners and every 10 to 12 feet apart. This will allow the slab to expand and contract along with the substrate, without the slab lifting or breaking in the absence of room to move.
If your remodel involves installing tile outdoors, whether it's floors or walls, make sure your contractor uses the proper tile and glue for outdoors, and that they install in accordance with these recommendations.
You can get the W2000 MAXX™ Professional Glue and other Weco® Professional System products at any of The Home Depot, International Rustic Tile, Ceramica Alba, The Tile Shop, The Marble Shop, Stone & Tile, Cerapisos, Centro de Tiletas stores. y Baños, Centro de Terrazos y Azulejos (CTA), or ask for it at your nearest tile house or hardware store. For more information, go to www.wecopr.com, facebook.com/wecopr or call (787) 739-3751.
Engineer Carly Carrión is a remodeling specialist, founding partner of Black & White Diversified, One-Studio and a Weco contributor. For more ideas and useful information on remodeling, go to www.preguntaleacarly.com, facebook.com/remodelacionescarly or call (787) 234-3777.