As the popularity of gauged porcelain tile panels (GPTP) continues to rise new designs and collections are popping everywhere to cater to this demand. This new rise in popularity has led to an increase options such as size and design. So let us take a look at what exactly are GPTPs, where they can be used and what the benefits to using them over a natural stone are.
What Are Gauged Porcelain Tile Panels?
Gauged porcelain tile panels are considered any tiles measuring at least 40″x40″ and are also referred to as large format tiles. While these tiles have been around for quite a while now their popularity has just recently begun to balloon. As demand grows so does the diversity of designs and size.
Some manufacturers have begun really pushing the limit with the size too as these panels keep getting bigger and bigger. You can easily find these panels up to 8, 10 and 12 feet in length.
As for as the design and colors you can find these porcelain panels to mimic stone, wood, wallpaper, etc. There really is no limit to what you can find. Even with all the options stone look especially white and gray tones remain by far the most popular.
Where Can They Be Installed?
Really these tile can be installed anywhere just like any other tile, however because of their size there areas we recommend more than others for their installation.
The most common place to install these are interior floors and walls. We do not recommend installing them in small areas but in big wide open floor plans they are an excellent choice. They are also great options for walls and outside facades and can make perfect accent walls in your home.
Many people look to these tiles were the demand for high performance tiles are necessary such as wet areas like showers and steam rooms.
Gauged porcelain tiles panels and slabs also are a popular option is commercial projects as well.
Why Chose GPTPs?
Because they are made of porcelain these tile panels do over many advantages over their stone counterparts. They starters they are stain and water resistant and they are also cheaper than most natural stone options. They are also more durable and have lower porosity.
The ones that are made to mimic stone can be made to match perfectly and even made to book match when meeting adjacent pieces which is not always possible with natural stone.
The porcelain panels also require way less maintenance and because of this have a longer lifespan. Natural stone also runs into the problem of depletion whereas porcelain is man made so there is no such concern.
GPTPs are also more ecologically friendly and safer to have in our house as far as your families health is concerned. They contain no VOCs or harmful toxins and is considered one of the most hygienic materials out there.
New installation guidelines have had to be established to show installer how to install such large porcelain panels. Some manufacturers even over training and certifications classes to teach these methods and ensure success in their installation.
According to and article published by tile-magazine.com these are where you can find information on the current guidelines for installation methods and products:
The Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT) program was also created through the combined efforts of six leading organizations in the tile industry — the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF), International Masonry Institute (IMI), International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (IUBAC), Tile Contractors’ Association of America (TCAA), NTCA and TCNA — to provide a level of consumer confidence for tile installation procedures that exceed ANSI standards and TCNA guidelines for floor and wall applications; ACT-certified installers represent the pinnacle of performance in the tile trade.
The ANSI A108.19 installation standard that was created in 2017 with the help of various industry organizations has also been instrumental in the advancement of GPTP. “From the design and architectural community being able to feel more comfortable that they can spec an installation standard that can guarantee them performance to the industry training that can now be conducted in a consistent way with proven repeatability, the installation standard has given stability to the category that absolutely ensures a solid future for the category for years to come,” Chitty said.
“ANSI A108.19 was critical to develop because the technology is so new that there needed to be clear and specific installation instructions coupled with the introduction of the products,” Bettiga explained. “The entire industry collaborated together to develop this important document. A standard is only effective, however, if it is followed. This is why many tile manufacturers, the NTCA and other labor associations embarked on developing a strong training program with these products. Because these materials are so unique, installation crews should first get proper training before they install them. If they don’t, they run the risk of costly installation error. It is also important to invest in the proper tools to not only install the tiles, but to move them logistically and to place them in the mortar without breaking the material. It is really difficult to successfully install these products without going through the proper training and following the ANSI A108.19 standard.”
“There are currently standards in development to improve language put into place in A108.19,” Albrecht added. “Failures are occurring constantly throughout the U.S. Manufacturers need to be held accountable for meeting the manufacturing specifications of A137.3 and not just sell to any contractor that isn’t qualified. We have come across GPTP materials advertised as meeting A137.3 that would classify as second grade. The larger the community of educated contractors and installers, the better we can work together to make sure manufacturing and distribution is held to the same standards as the installation. We bear the cross in this market and knowledge is definitely power to protect your business.”
Although Albrecht has seen several failures, Chitty said it’s been pretty smooth sailing since Crossville introduced their GPTP products about eight years ago. He also mentioned how a committee is currently in the process of developing a new ANSI standard, A108.20, which will serve as the exterior version of A108.19. “If all goes as planned, our ad-hoc group hopes to be able to present a draft to the ANSI committee by the ANSI meeting scheduled for Coverings 2020,” Chitty said.
In regard to the installation products offered for GPTP, there have been many introductions over the last several years. “Almost every installation material company has designed products specifically for large tile panels and some have designed new adhesive solutions that don’t fall inside A108.19, but offer proprietary solutions worth exploring for the many benefits of time savings, lightweight nature and increased application areas,” Chitty said. “I am confident that in the next six months we will see even more of these proprietary solutions come to market.”
“More are coming every day,” Albrecht said. “It is my belief, and many others, that premixed adhesives increase efficiency and reduce labor costs/time to the extent where all stakeholders in GPTP can be successful. There are distributors willing to give special discounted pricing for Certified Tile Installers, Advanced Certified Installers through the CTEF and NTCA Five Star Contractors. I believe this leadership and stance sends a message needed for relationships and partnerships in our industry. One more reason to earn those accreditations.”
“Tools to move and cut the material are also continuously being developed,” Bettiga added.
GPTPs Are Here To Stay
There is little doubt that this new technology is a game changer and that is evident by their meteoric rise in popularity. As the options become more and more diverse there is really no limit to what you can do with this material and that will eventually be at the expense of competing materials.
As an example to just how far the reach of these porcelain panels can be thicker panels are now being developed and are being used to build furniture.
While many of the porcelain and stone tiles we all love today will likely still be around decades from now gauged porcelain tile panels are without a doubt the future of the industry.