Are Large Tiles Harder To Install?
If you’re planning your first tiling project, or working as a solo DIY tiler like me, or still a beginner when it comes to installing tile you might want to avoid those extra large tiles that are showing up in the stores lately. Here’s what you need to know before you buy.
Are Large Tiles Harder To Install
Most sites right now will tell you that large tiles are actually easier to install. They aren’t technically wrong. They’re just outdated. Those sites are referring to the original, common large format tile sizes.
New extra large format tiles can be 2 or 3′ square or extra long, like the 5′ long wood look porcelain tile I just installed in my home. Those new extra large tiles are harder to install, for a few reasons.
I’ll go over all of the reasons that I think large tiles are harder to install. But be sure to watch the video below about the pros and cons of installing extra large format tile to get a better idea of what installing large tile is like.
You can see in that video just how hard it was for me to flip that long tile over and try to line it up with the edges of the tile I had already installed. It was pretty awkward working with that large tile. And, quite a work out for my back and arms.
My Past Tiling Experiences Didn’t Prepare Me For These Extra Large Tiles
As someone who has installed tile around 20 times over the years, I have installed lots of different types and sizes of tile. From beautiful marble mosaic tile in my bathroom, to subway tile backsplashes in a kitchen remodel, to installing tile flooring in the more typical 12″ x 24″ size that’s popular lately.
The 5′ long wood look tile I just installed was the hardest tile I’ve ever installed and it took longer than I expected too. That extra large size made it harder to move around, harder to apply thinset to, harder to flip, and harder to line up properly on the floor.
I absolutely think a first time tiler shouldn’t try installing these extra large tile sizes, unless they’ll be working with a partner that can help them hold the tile and line it up properly with the tiles around it.
Now, let’s get to what you need to know about whether or not Large Tiles Are Harder To Install.
Why Are Extra Large Tiles Harder To Install?
I kind of mentioned them above, but here are the reasons I think extra large tile is harder to install.
- The extra weight of the tile makes it much harder on your body. Heavy tiles are harder to flip over, kneel down with, lean forward while holding, and line up properly. It wears your back and arms out.
- Longer tiles can be almost too long for the average person to hold alone. I’m 5′ 8″ tall. I would say I have kinda long limbs. The 5′ long tile I installed had my arms uncomfortably stretched to their limits. I honestly thought I’d drop them because they were the max width my arms could handle.
- I literally couldn’t see the ends of my hands when I was lining up the tile over the floor. I had to pull tile off the floor and redo the thinset much more often than I ever have just because I was kinda guessing about where to put the tile on the floor. Watch the video to see what I mean.
- I do most of my DIY Home Remodeling projects alone. My husband just isn’t as in to it as I am. With these extra large tiles, they’d be much easier to install with a partner. That would make it easier to flip them, hold them, and line them up to install them.
- In fact, most tile installers charge extra to install these extra large tiles because they have to have extra labor to help them install the tile. Even they know it’s easier to install larger LFT with a partner.
- And, due to that extra weight, length, and difficulty in lining up these tiles; extra large tile takes a lot longer to install. I naively thought it would be faster when I bought them. But, it was probably 50% longer than it would have been with a more typical 12″x24″ tile.
- These extra large tiles are harder to transport. This 5′ long tile barely fit in my midsize SUV. I really should have used a truck.
You can find tips for DIY tips installing floor tile in a previous post.
What is LFT or Large Format Tile?
When large format tile first started to be available in the stores a tile was considered a large tile if they were 12″ x 12″. Today, tile needs to have at least one side of the tile 15″ or longer to be considered a LFT. Those tiles were called LFT or large format tiles.
LFT tiles started to become more popular and available in a variety of styles when large format tile mortar was made that was strong enough to support the weight of large tile.
That LFT mortar, or thinset, made it possible to install larger and larger tiles on the floor of your home. Until recently, most LFT tile was probably a 12″x12″, 12″x24″ or maybe a 5″x36″ wood look tile.
Those LFT sizes became popular with homeowners because they look great and they require a lot less grout lines than tile had in the past. You can see in my How to Whiten Grout post why grout can be a pain to maintain. 😉
Over the last 2 or 3 years, I’ve noticed larger and larger tile showing up in stores like Floor and Decor. It seemed to have started with tiles that were about 30″ x 30″ square. Or somewhere around that size. And, the occasional 2′ x 3′ tile.
Now, it seems that extra large and or long wood look tile is becoming much more popular. I found at least a dozen options that were around 4 or 5 feet long in various widths.
And, I have to admit they look beautiful!! And, you get a lot less grout lines with these extra large tiles. So, even though extra large tiles are harder to install I do love the look.
Is it Easier to Tile with Large or Small Tile?
Generally, it is easier to install large tile. Large Format Tile that is around 1′ square, 1’x2′, or 5″x36″ in size is usually faster and easier to install than small tile and extra large tile.
I already went over why extra large tile is harder to install. Let’s talk about why the original LFT sizes are actually easier to install.
Why Average-Sized Large Tile is Easier To Install
Those average-sized LFT’s are easy to apply thinset to, easy to flip, and easy to line up on the floor. And they aren’t so heavy that they wear your muscles out.
Another big plus with installing large tile is that you can make less trips outside to cut tile. For example, you usually need to cut tile on each end of a row. If each row is only 4″ wide, you’d have to go outside to make 6 different cuts to cover about 12″ of floor space.
But, if your tile is already 12″ wide, you only have to take 2 trips outside to cut tile to cover the same amount of space. Once on each end of the row.
That might not seem like a big deal until you think about a full room. Using the example above, a 12′ long room would need about 72 trips outside to cut the end pieces on 4″ wide tile.
And, it takes more time to grout smaller tiles. Making sure that you completely fill all of that open space between the tiles with grout can take time. And, you need to have good attention to detail to make sure that you do it right.
Do Larger Tiles Make a Room Look Bigger or Smaller?
It may seem counterintuitive, but larger tiles do make a room look bigger. With larger tiles there are less grout lines breaking up the pattern.
Pick a tile with a solid or close to solid color to help make the room feel larger and more open. The more pattern or variation the tile has, the less likely it will make a room feel larger.
Also, go with the thinnest grout line allowed for your type of tile. Again, it’s about keeping the grout lines out of sight so that the floor feels like one big solid surface.
That’s it, guys.
Looking for more of my Home Remodeling Videos? Check out this DIY Home Improvement playlist on YouTube.
You might also like this DIY for How to Whiten Tile Grout. It’s a Game Changer!
Check out Does Grout Renew Work for more tips for making your grout look new.
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And, if it is time to Stain your Front Door, check out these steps for how I restain a front door without stripping it or removing it. 🙂
Are Large Tiles Harder To Install? Are you still going to install that beautiful, extra large tile? Let me know if you have questions. Don’t forget to sign up for the Abbotts At Home email newsletter to get DIY, Remodeling, and Crafty ideas in your inbox.