Discuss Ultra thin porcelain tiles de bonding in the Tiling Forum | Tile Advice area at TilersForums.com

Evening all, a question for all you tiling pro’s please
I’m an old school plumber & bathroom fitter of over 35 years in my mid 50’s, self employed with a brilliant reputation, never been limited company and never had professional indemnity insurance, however,
I’ve got a problem where there are possible de-bonding issues of ultra thin large format tiles that were supplied to me on a job undertaken a couple of years ago.
The tiles were 1200 x 600 and supposed to be from 4.8mm to 5.5mm thickness, according to the packaging and the companies website, however a TTA report states within their report that surplus tiles were measured with a digital calliper @ 3.81mm, Which is between 26% to 45% less than they should have been.
When I first contacted the tile supplier (client chose & bought the tiles not me) and I told them that I had 3.8mm tiles, he immediately said that they couldn’t be theirs & probably from one of their cheap competitors. He said to avoid them as they will be brittle and likely too flexible with possible de-bonding!
The TTA report doesn’t make any further comment about the tile thickness & I am currently being sued for a vast amount (50 times what I charged) to strip everything and replace, when it seems to me that if the tiles supplied were not as described, they could possibly have been not fit for purpose? And as such the issues that have since arisen may be down to the tiles rather than the fitting.
I used Bal flexible fibre plus for the walls and Bal PTB for the floors together with Ditra matting, which I’ve used dozens of times before on floors & never had a problem
TTA say a tap test suggested large voids beneath all tiles (floor & walls) although Schutler, who make Ditra 25 say that their product can sound hollow when tapped.
Any thoughts please as I may loose my home because of this TTA report!
 

Tom Astley

TF
Trusted Advisor
Tilers' Arms Member
any photos?.... now there is an official report, be careful what you write on these forums.

Also, you need to tell us, exactly, what your fixing method was - not just what adhesive was used. (it will save many repeat questions from different tilers)
 

jcrtiling

TF
Trusted Advisor
TTA Member
Tilers' Arms Member
They can't just sue you for the cost of doing the strjp out and replacement , you have to be given the opportunity to correct any faults in your work . I think you will find it's the law .
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #4
Thanks for your replies.
As for fixing the tiles with the floor, new replacement floorboards were screwed (as original boards were rotten) then 9mm plywood screwed every 150mm, Shutler Ditra matting laid onto ply using Mapei VS90 latex then tiles laid onto the Ditra using Bal PTB pourable flexible tile adhesive. Both Bal adhesives and Shutler say this process is perfectly good and to my knowledge is in total compliance with BS 5385 although I believe this standard was updated 30 June 2018, two months after I left site.
As for the walls, I was given (at the last minute) Areogel magnesium insulation boards ( designed by NASA!) to fit directly onto the outside walls to tile upon, which I have since discovered by the manufacturers that I was given the wrong fixings, other areas Aquapanel was used throughout. Bal flex fibre plus adhesive was spread onto the wall & back of tiles.a tile levelling clip system was also used to prevent lipping, especially as the tiles were slightly flexible!
I had never before come across these ultra thin tiles or the insulation boards and made my client totally aware that I didn’t want to get involved with the both as I had no prior experience & didn’t even have a big enough tile cutter but the client persuaded me to undertake full installation saying he had every faith in me. I agreed on the basis that I was merely an installer following his instructions.
I undertook 3 bathroom plus a separate toilet over a period of 8 months and everything looked great. No snagging at all.
It was only because the client failed to pay my final invoice for over 6 months without any reason why, that I threatened legal action & eventually took out a online county court claim that suddenly he counterclaimed for a massive amount through solicitors claiming everything undertaken was faulty, including a new boiler installation was undersized.
I’ve employed my own expert witness that totally trashed his expert report about boiler undersizing but I cannot find a tiling expert witness anywhere in the uk prepared to challenge a TTA report, which incorrectly assumes numerous facts.
As for being given the chance to rectify issues, I have always stated that I am prepared to do this but the client has got it in for me as I had the cheek to sue him and refuses to allow me to return on the grounds that I do not have the requisite skills, despite the fact that he knew full well before starting that I had never heard of these tiles let alone fitted them but still wanted me to do 3 bathroom installations including the full wall & floor tiling because I was cheap.
I was suing for 4K unpaid invoice, he is counterclaiming for over 160k plus costs which could be between 50 & 100k on top.
If someone had told me 2 years ago that this could happen to a professional tradesmen, I wouldn’t have believed them.
The fact is that because he is wealthy and I am not, he knows that I cannot afford to pay solicitors over £300 per hour for months on end (Barrister even more), so I will be forced to settle before trail (money I don’t have) as the costs rocket even further
I’ve already spent over 20k on solicitors & expert & cashed in my pension to pay for costs. It’s made my wife & myself quite ill.
 

LEE MAC

TF
Trusted Advisor
Tilers' Arms Member
It reads like you’re being bullied to me!
If all you say is absolutely correct I can’t see a judge finding you at fault, they may say that you ultimately took on a paid for job without the necessary qualifications but then you could hopefully prove that you made that absolutely clear and that honesty and good intention should stand you in good stead.
I’ve been involved in high court proceedings regarding construction as a claimant before in Ireland, it’s a stressful scenario for sure.
 

Tom Astley

TF
Trusted Advisor
Tilers' Arms Member
Ring Judge Rinder......he will back you up no problem.
Post automatically merged:

Seriously, either your solicitor is thick or you ain't telling us the truth.

Law states you have to be able to rectify the problem (if there is one) and for the sake of £1800 against maybe £50 - 100k ......get your own TTA report done if you are that worried.
 

jcrtiling

TF
Trusted Advisor
TTA Member
Tilers' Arms Member
Thanks for your replies.
As for fixing the tiles with the floor, new replacement floorboards were screwed (as original boards were rotten) then 9mm plywood screwed every 150mm, Shutler Ditra matting laid onto ply using Mapei VS90 latex then tiles laid onto the Ditra using Bal PTB pourable flexible tile adhesive. Both Bal adhesives and Shutler say this process is perfectly good and to my knowledge is in total compliance with BS 5385 although I believe this standard was updated 30 June 2018, two months after I left site.
As for the walls, I was given (at the last minute) Areogel magnesium insulation boards ( designed by NASA!) to fit directly onto the outside walls to tile upon, which I have since discovered by the manufacturers that I was given the wrong fixings, other areas Aquapanel was used throughout. Bal flex fibre plus adhesive was spread onto the wall & back of tiles.a tile levelling clip system was also used to prevent lipping, especially as the tiles were slightly flexible!
I had never before come across these ultra thin tiles or the insulation boards and made my client totally aware that I didn’t want to get involved with the both as I had no prior experience & didn’t even have a big enough tile cutter but the client persuaded me to undertake full installation saying he had every faith in me. I agreed on the basis that I was merely an installer following his instructions.
I undertook 3 bathroom plus a separate toilet over a period of 8 months and everything looked great. No snagging at all.
It was only because the client failed to pay my final invoice for over 6 months without any reason why, that I threatened legal action & eventually took out a online county court claim that suddenly he counterclaimed for a massive amount through solicitors claiming everything undertaken was faulty, including a new boiler installation was undersized.
I’ve employed my own expert witness that totally trashed his expert report about boiler undersizing but I cannot find a tiling expert witness anywhere in the uk prepared to challenge a TTA report, which incorrectly assumes numerous facts.
As for being given the chance to rectify issues, I have always stated that I am prepared to do this but the client has got it in for me as I had the cheek to sue him and refuses to allow me to return on the grounds that I do not have the requisite skills, despite the fact that he knew full well before starting that I had never heard of these tiles let alone fitted them but still wanted me to do 3 bathroom installations including the full wall & floor tiling because I was cheap.
I was suing for 4K unpaid invoice, he is counterclaiming for over 160k plus costs which could be between 50 & 100k on top.
If someone had told me 2 years ago that this could happen to a professional tradesmen, I wouldn’t have believed them.
The fact is that because he is wealthy and I am not, he knows that I cannot afford to pay solicitors over £300 per hour for months on end (Barrister even more), so I will be forced to settle before trail (money I don’t have) as the costs rocket even further
I’ve already spent over 20k on solicitors & expert & cashed in my pension to pay for costs. It’s made my wife & myself quite ill.
If Schluter and bal both said your method of strengthing the floor was ok you should get that in writing from them , that will sink that one as bal I'm pretty sure help come up with British standards . Although I would be pretty sure 9mm ply is not mentioned pre 2018 , but you are doing it inconjuction with ditra25 . I would think with a tile that thin that the tile company would not be happy about point loading on top of ditra 25 but you have not mentioned any issues regarding that .
 

3_fall

Admin
Staff member
Trusted Advisor
Tilers' Arms Member
This is not going to go down well then.
Schluter will not guarantee ditra 25 for thin tiles under 5.5mm thickness, it was 6mm until middle of last year when it was reduced to 5.5mm.
Who from Schluter said their product was suitable?
Don’t mention a name, just their position will do, is it in writing?
Post automatically merged:

And who is the tile manufacturer .
Theres only one GENUINE supplier of these tiles in Uk, I believe he has a few outlets, but there’s only one genuine importer.
Do not mention names @jcrtiling
 
Last edited:

acaciaguy

TF
Tilers' Arms Member
Sorry to hear your story. Another example of why it’s so important to have insurance. Legal costs will always outstrip the actual claim value. It gets very expensive very quickly.
 
Last edited:

Paul C.

TF
Trusted Advisor
Tilers' Arms Member
I'm in the middle of my thoughts on this one. on one hand, I am sympathetic for the stress you and your wife are going through. The amount they are trying to claim is totally inappropriate and disproportionate in my opinion. And as above, by law, they cannot make any claim against you unless they have given you the opportunity to resolve and you refuse.

But this is a specialised tiling project. Not one I would personally suggest a plumber take on without sufficient training specifically in thin porcelain and the correct knowledge of what preparation is required, no matter how much the customer leaned on you. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and in hindsight, you'd have walked away on the understanding that you yourself knew before you had started, you were not experienced enough to take it on.

Only the wall fixing code of practice (BS5385 Part1) was updated to eliminate ply as a suitable substrate. But for floors, 9mm ply is still not recommended as per BS5385 Part 3:2014 and never has been in past editions as far as I can recall. WPB ply of 15mm minimum thickness, screwed at 300mm intervals, is still allowed for floors although cement board would still be a better option. And for thin tiles, I'd be more comfortable with using 12mm Hardie instead of 6mm, purely for the rigidity required for the type of tile being used.

As above, for Ditra, the minimum tile thickness allowed is 5.5mm (as per Schluter's Ditra25 installation instructions). So in the knowledge that the tiles should have been between 4.8 and 5.5mm, fixing on Ditra was a significant risk. Before fixing, the tiles should have been inspected to ensure they are of suitable dimension/thickness for installation on the intended prep, before possibly going back to the supplier to resolve if the were not fit for the specific installation, or adjust the preparation method to suit (an alternative decoupler for example, or not plywood). If they were only 3.8mm you may have had a case for false advertising or being given incorrect information, but you've fitted them now, you've accepted them for what they are. By law, the supplier or factory is under no obligation to provide a resolution once the product is used, although they may offer assistance with a replacement product as goodwill.

Thin porcelain tiles are quite bendy over the length/width of a tile. I remember an image that someone posted a while back showing how flexible a 1200x600 can be under force. The adhesive is not designed to stretch to that extent, so under point loading, if the floor is not braced sufficiently or under the Ditra compressing, you are at risk of the adhesive shearing around the area of pressure.

If you can get it in writing from BAL or Schluter that the tiles were suitable to lay on Ditra, and 9mm ply, you may have some form of defence, but I fear even they would struggle against the TTA as they are both members, and BAL's head of technical is on the TTA's board of directors.

Although you haven't made it easy for yourself, I do wish you all the best in getting this sorted.
 
Last edited:

Dan

Admin
Staff member
I don't like these TTA reports. It's a product they sell. So it's going to always go in the favour of the person paying?

Have I missed which tiles were being used? And which adhesive?

Can those guys get involved and back you up? If you followed their spec for that tile and that adhesive. Kinda thing.
Post automatically merged:

Ring Judge Rinder......he will back you up no problem.
Post automatically merged:

Seriously, either your solicitor is thick or you ain't telling us the truth.

Law states you have to be able to rectify the problem (if there is one) and for the sake of £1800 against maybe £50 - 100k ......get your own TTA report done if you are that worried.
Get a report by somebody other than TTA. I'd say. They'll just appoint the same tiler for the report and come out with the same results.

Get manufacturers involved. They'll be way more clued up than a retired tiler who's getting paid by TTA to go around do reports perhaps? Not sure.
 
Last edited:
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #14
What incorrect fact are they assuming ,
Bought on behalf of client Bal PTB for floors & Bal flex fibre plus for walls from Topps Tiles & invoiced customer. Was bulk buying to obtain better prices. At the very end of the job, Topps were no longer doing the multi offer on the Bal adhesives but were doing it on Topps adhesives. As I only needed one bag to complete the final bit of wall tiling but would need more for the future stage of works being the kitchen (which i never ended up doing), it was agreed to buy the Topps adhesive instead in bulk.
TTA saw the bags of Topps tiles adhesive and just assumed that this was used on all the walls and floors everywhere.
TTA also assumed a solid ground floor shower room floor tiling was tiled onto a solid screed, when, in fact it was levelled with Hardi backer boards.
Client was short of tiles on every room and needed to buy more. However, one room (an en-suite bathroom floor) the client failed to buy more tiles needed, as he was told by his supplier that they did not have any more from the same batch.
As only 1 full tile was needed which would be seen plus various others needed beneath a bath that wouldn't be seen, I was asked to use a discarded cracked tile. The TTA assumes this cracked tile occurred since completion but it obviously didn't and you can see the floor grout within the crack.
TTA report continually mentions that no expansion joints were used but all wall and floor areas were far below 5m
TTA report criticises a wall that was not perfectly level showing a photo using a spirit level but as far as I am aware, there is nothing within the standards that all existing walls must be made perfectly level. Nothing was fixed to this wall other than a towel rail radiator, which had adjustable brackets to ensure that it was perfectly level despite the wall.
 

jcrtiling

TF
Trusted Advisor
TTA Member
Tilers' Arms Member
I've only read this quickly . But firstly are they suggesting topps adhesive is sub standard if they are im sure as a member of the tta topps would like to hear this .
Did you grout the corners of the room or use a silicone joint .
 

Dan

Admin
Staff member
Bought on behalf of client Bal PTB for floors & Bal flex fibre plus for walls from Topps Tiles & invoiced customer. Was bulk buying to obtain better prices. At the very end of the job, Topps were no longer doing the multi offer on the Bal adhesives but were doing it on Topps adhesives. As I only needed one bag to complete the final bit of wall tiling but would need more for the future stage of works being the kitchen (which i never ended up doing), it was agreed to buy the Topps adhesive instead in bulk.
TTA saw the bags of Topps tiles adhesive and just assumed that this was used on all the walls and floors everywhere.
TTA also assumed a solid ground floor shower room floor tiling was tiled onto a solid screed, when, in fact it was levelled with Hardi backer boards.
Client was short of tiles on every room and needed to buy more. However, one room (an en-suite bathroom floor) the client failed to buy more tiles needed, as he was told by his supplier that they did not have any more from the same batch.
As only 1 full tile was needed which would be seen plus various others needed beneath a bath that wouldn't be seen, I was asked to use a discarded cracked tile. The TTA assumes this cracked tile occurred since completion but it obviously didn't and you can see the floor grout within the crack.
TTA report continually mentions that no expansion joints were used but all wall and floor areas were far below 5m
TTA report criticises a wall that was not perfectly level showing a photo using a spirit level but as far as I am aware, there is nothing within the standards that all existing walls must be made perfectly level. Nothing was fixed to this wall other than a towel rail radiator, which had adjustable brackets to ensure that it was perfectly level despite the wall.
Walls are meant to be within 3mm.

So it says in the British Standards that if you put a 3 meter straight edge on a wall, there should not be a gap bigger than 3mm (I think) over that distance.

I'm assuming that's the photo you are talking about.

It's impossible in a real world to be fair.

Whoever came up with that rule didn't tile a wall in a house for sure.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #17
I'm in the middle of my thoughts on this one. on one hand, I am sympathetic for the stress you and your wife are going through. The amount they are trying to claim is totally inappropriate and disproportionate in my opinion. And as above, by law, they cannot make any claim against you unless they have given you the opportunity to resolve and you refuse.

But this is a specialised tiling project. Not one I would personally suggest a plumber take on without sufficient training specifically in thin porcelain and the correct knowledge of what preparation is required, no matter how much the customer leaned on you. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and in hindsight, you'd have walked away on the understanding that you yourself knew before you had started, you were not experienced enough to take it on.

Only the wall fixing code of practice (BS5385 Part1) was updated to eliminate ply as a suitable substrate. But for floors, 9mm ply is still not recommended as per BS5385 Part 3:2014 and never has been in past editions as far as I can recall. WPB ply of 15mm minimum thickness, screwed at 300mm intervals, is still allowed for floors although cement board would still be a better option. And for thin tiles, I'd be more comfortable with using 12mm Hardie instead of 6mm, purely for the rigidity required for the type of tile being used.

As above, for Ditra, the minimum tile thickness allowed is 5.5mm (as per Schluter's Ditra25 installation instructions). So in the knowledge that the tiles should have been between 4.8 and 5.5mm, fixing on Ditra was a significant risk. Before fixing, the tiles should have been inspected to ensure they are of suitable dimension/thickness for installation on the intended prep, before possibly going back to the supplier to resolve if the were not fit for the specific installation, or adjust the preparation method to suit (an alternative decoupler for example, or not plywood). If they were only 3.8mm you may have had a case for false advertising or being given incorrect information, but you've fitted them now, you've accepted them for what they are. By law, the supplier or factory is under no obligation to provide a resolution once the product is used, although they may offer assistance with a replacement product as goodwill.

Thin porcelain tiles are quite bendy over the length/width of a tile. I remember an image that someone posted a while back showing how flexible a 1200x600 can be under force. The adhesive is not designed to stretch to that extent, so under point loading, if the floor is not braced sufficiently or under the Ditra compressing, you are at risk of the adhesive shearing around the area of pressure.

If you can get it in writing from BAL or Schluter that the tiles were suitable to lay on Ditra, and 9mm ply, you may have some form of defence, but I fear even they would struggle against the TTA as they are both members, and BAL's head of technical is on the TTA's board of directors.

Although you haven't made it easy for yourself, I do wish you all the best in getting this sorted.
Thank you very much for taking your time to respond. It really is quite humbling and I am getting more answers to questions on this forum that anywhere else, including my solicitors, who I am paying £270 an hour plus VAT.
My solicitor is adamant than the customer does not have to give me the opportunity to put things right, especially when he has a TTA report stating that a tap test assumes all tiles may have debonded. Only 2 wall tiles in 3 bathrooms have moved, there does not appear to be any signs of movement to any floor tiles at all so I think that the Ditra 25 is fine.
I appreciate that Ditra 25 requires tiles at least 5.5mm and I did not measure them as I did not supply them, I also did not own or carry a digital caliper, but have bought one since.
Both of the massively expensive quotes that the customer has obtained from large organisations both also specify using the Ditra 25 with the replacement tiles!

Despite my email contract stating that I must be informed of all aspects of bathroom products/tiles etc that is intended to be fitted before starting works, so that I could ensure that adequate time and costs are allowed to protect both parties and indeed that I was familiar or skilled to fit whatever was being supplied, the customer NEVER provided this information, despite various reminders and requests. His response was always "well it is what it is"
As the first stage of works was undertaking the heating & hot water, pressure boosting, water softener etc, which would take a few weeks as it was a big property on 3 floors plus cellar, I had to remove one bathroom upstairs and take up the floor to adapt all hot & cold pipes plus install new heating pipes for different zones, so in effect, I had already started on 1 bathroom without still knowing what was going to be fitted.
As you say hindsight is a wonderful thing and being a trusting person I have always got on well with customers but this client seemed hell bent on not giving me any information at all. I never found out who the tile supplier was until I received the legal papers in the post.
The boxes containing the tiles said Porcelobobo or similar but they were supplied by Porcel-thin.com in Rotherhithe London
The tiles are manufactured in the far east and imported by Porcel-thin.com
I first contacted Ray Smith the MD of Porcel-thin after receiving the TTA report and stated that I have 3.81mm tiles but he immediately said that they couldn't possibly be his tiles as all their tiles range from 4.8 to 5.5mm. He assumed that they were his competitors tiles which are cheaper mesh backed and advised me to avoid them as they would be too fragile and possibly lead to de-bonding!
When I phoned him a second time and made it clear that Porcel-thin had supplied the tiles, he changed his position stating that the tiles would be fine, although he still didn't believe that they could possibly be as thin as 3.81mm.

One company that I called, when searching for a tile expert, advised me to check if the tiles were CE certified, which they are, however all tiles sent for testing were between 4.78 to 4.93, therefore the tiles I was using were up to almost 30% thinner than those sent for CE testing.
The really annoying thing is that Porcel-thin show on their web-site that he provides free in-house training, taking just a couple of hours.
Had I known in advance, I could easily have attended and learnt more about these specialist tiles, rather than learn on the job

Looking back, I think that I have been played all along
As for what happens now, I'm advised to make a Part 36 offer which, if is accepted, will put an end to the matter before Court costs and barristers costs spiral out of control, although if i do this, i am also agreeing to pay all his costs, including expert fees for the past year.

I have and have always had public liability insurance of £10m but I do not know anyone other than doctors, architects etc that have professional indemnity insurance, which, when started must continue for 6 years regardless if you stop trading.
I would urge everyone to simply set up a limited company
 

Dan

Admin
Staff member
So these are porcel thin tiles debonding.

Ray said somewhere he only lets them get installed by people he teaches himself doesn't he?

@3_fall our admin here did some training with these once and fits loads of them.
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #19
I've only read this quickly . But firstly are they suggesting topps adhesive is sub standard if they are im sure as a member of the tta topps would like to hear this .
Did you grout the corners of the room or use a silicone joint .
Silicone to edges, although to be fair some grout did get in as well when spreading
Post automatically merged:

Walls are meant to be within 3mm.

So it says in the British Standards that if you put a 3 meter straight edge on a wall, there should not be a gap bigger than 3mm (I think) over that distance.

I'm assuming that's the photo you are talking about.

It's impossible in a real world to be fair.

Whoever came up with that rule didn't tile a wall in a house for sure.
This whole house had been underpinned the previous year. There was not a single straight and true wall within the entire house built in 1903, looks like I'm screwed!
 

Have you entered in JOTM Comp?

  • Yes I have :)

    Votes: 3 75.0%
  • No I haven't but I will :)

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • No but I will in the future :)

    Votes: 1 25.0%

Tiling Forum

Get free wall and floor tiling advice from TilersForums.com's Tiling Forum. Both DIY and professional wall and floor tilers use this forum to make sure their tiling is spot on.

Find a Tiler (New Entries)

Top Bottom