We ordered 12" x 18" tiles for our shower and intended to have them installed horizontally. Our tile guy says he wants to install them vertically because of warping issues that he says typically occur when they are installed horizontally.
I have two questions:
1. We have seen more horizontal shower tile installations than we can remember. However, these have been in tile showrooms or in decorator photos online. We have not seen any that have undergone daily use. Is our tile guy right about the warping if we install the tiles horizontally?
2. What kind of backer board should be used in the shower and is there any special backer board that would reduce or eliminate warping if the tiles were installed horizontally? (Since we are doing a direct replacement of an existing bathroom, our contractor originally wanted to strip the old tiles off the backer board and reuse it. I told him I wanted new backing installed.)
Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
You may have misunderstood what he meant. It's not that the tiles will warp if installed horizontally. The issue is that large tiles already may have some warped in them due to their size and the manufacturing process, a common situation.
He also thinks that it's likely your wall is not flat due to possible warped studs, making them out of plane. The two issues and installing them in the common "running bond" (subway pattern), emphasizes the hump in the center of the tile meeting the low spots at the ends. This is why the industry recommends offsetting the tiles no more than about 1/3 of their length instead of 50%.
Solution, spend more time making the walls flatter before starting, (+$) and take more time installing them. (+$) And of course supply high quality tiles which may have less warpage in the first place.
TILE GUY - retired- TROY, MI - Method & Product suitability consulting.
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Just to close the loop, the tiles fit fine horizontally and the tile guy says the quality of the tiles was quite good. However, if we had listened to his suggestion and allowed the tiles to be mounted vertically, the shower would have looked pretty ugly. Instead, it looks great.