bloglovinBloglovin iconCombined ShapeCreated with Sketch. Fill 1Created with Sketch. Fill 1Created with Sketch. Fill 1Created with Sketch. Fill 1Created with Sketch. Fill 1Created with Sketch. rssRSS iconsoundcloudSoundCloud iconFill 1Created with Sketch. Fill 1Created with Sketch. Fill 1Created with Sketch. Fill 1Created with Sketch. Group 3Created with Sketch. _ _ _ XCreated with Sketch. X searchCreated with Lunacy


Everything You Need To Know About Large Format Tile

Do you love the look of large format tile? In this post, you're getting an update on our progress as of Week 3 on the master bathroom renovation and a guide of everything you need to know about large format tile! 

This post and the Renovation Challenge is sponsored by Jeffrey Court. All opinions are entirely my own and do not reflect those of Jeffrey Court. This post also contains affiliate links, but nothing that I wouldn’t recommend wholeheartedly. Read my full disclosure here.

Welcome to Week 3 of the Jeffrey Court Renovation Challenge! Things are moving right along over here with our master bathroom renovation and we’re making good progress! 

Now in today’s post, we’re going to be talking about tile…specifically large format tile. 

Two men holding large format tile during installation with text overlay that says large format tile

Before we dive in here, I want to remind you that we’ve got a WHOLE post about laying large format tile, how to tile a bathroom floor with a step-by-step tutorial and ANOTHER whole post full with shower tile installation tips and tricks. If you are reading this post about large bathroom tiles, you’re probably interested in doing some bathroom tiling, so those are two must-read articles. Check out all of our tiling articles here.

Large format tiles are all the rage. What used to only be used in commercial projects, they have become increasingly popular for residential designs as well. After we did a TON of tiling in our last bathroom renovation, Logan said “If we ever do tile again – it better be large format”.

The truth is that you can save SO much time by using large format tile, especially if you are installing the tile pieces one by one (rather than a mosaic). The more surface you can cover by installing one piece of tile, the better. 

UPDATE: We’re all done with the bathroom now, check out how it turned out here!

Large format tile: overview

Now, large format tile is great because you can install it faster….but there are A LOT of other things to consider if you are going to be installing a large format tile. While we were researching everything we’d need to do, we learned a lot and so we thought we would make a little guide for you with everything you need to know about large format tile. 

Before we get ahead of ourselves here, we should probably answer a question that you may be wondering…so just to clarify… 

What is large format tile?

Large format tile is more than 15″ on at least one side. 

Pros of large format tile

  • Installation is WAY faster
  • Large format tile makes the room appear larger 
  • Fewer grout lines means it easier to clean and maintain
  • Smooth and seamless look 

Cons of large format tile

  • Flat and level surface is even more important when installing large format tile to prevent cracks or lippage (which is when the adjacent tiles aren’t even)
    • Side note: if you do have floor or wall that isn’t flat, mortar should never be used to flatten it! That’s just not what it is for. You’d want to use self-leveling patches or you may even need to sand or grind down high spots. This can add a lot of time to your project, so be sure to check all of your surfaces before you get going. 
  • Large format tile can be more expensive than traditional tile 
  • It is harder to create slopes for drainage in a shower because you can only angle the tile one way. If you need to a create a circular drainage slope, you will likely have to cut the tiles to get the right angles.
    • This is why we decided to use linear drains installed on one side of the shower. This way, we can create our shower pan angled towards one direction…rather than angling everything towards the center with a traditional drain. 
  • Large format tiles are more likely to crack in the long run
  • Large format tiles are more likely to be warped or have doming (which is where the middle of the tile is higher than the sides) during production

4 tips for working with large format tile

Are you going to be installing large format tiles? You've gotta check out this article with 4 expert tips for working with large format tile

1. Flat and level surface is key!

I know I already said this, but it’s worth saying it again because it is probably the most important part of working with large format tile. 

ANSI and Tile Council of North America say no more than 1/8″ variance for 10′ spans. 

2. You must use a medium bed mortar base that is made for large format tile

The mortars that are made for large format tile are formulated with more coarse materials, which help prevent slumping (aka large and heavier tiles sinking into the mortar) or sagging.

But a bit of a warning, they can sometimes be harder to trowel than traditional mortars. The large format tile mortar that we used has both non-sag and non-slip characteristics. 

3. Get a large notched trowel

Using a larger trowel when installing large format tile is going to save you a ton of time. When you’re trying to renovate an entire bathroom in less than 6 weeks, you’ll do anything to save some time!

It is recommended to use a 1/2″ square notched trowel to get the proper setting for large format tile. 

4. Back butter your tiles

Getting good coverage on large tile is important, they require 90%+ mortar coverage. This means that if you were to pull up one tile while you’re installing it, the back of the tile should be at least 90% covered in mortar. And yes, you should totally be pulling up tiles as you go to be checking your coverage. 

Back buttering is a method of applying mortar to the back of the tile using the flat side of the trowel before laying it down on the bed of mortar (which should be combed with a notched trowel). 

See told ya there was a lot to learn about installing large bathroom tiles! They can be great for getting a job done fast, but there’s a lot to learn and consider when you are installing them…like making sure you are using the right materials and supplies and ensuring everything is flat and level. 

For more tips on laying large format tiles, check out our step-by-step tutorial here.

UPDATE: We’re all done with the bathroom now, check out how it turned out here!

Week 3 Progress Update for Bathroom Renovation

Well if you watched our behind-the-scenes video above, you know that we had another week of ambitious goals. Logan was headed out of town at the end of the week, so we wanted to be sure that all of the drywall got attached and textured so that I could start painting next week. 

A bathroom wall with plywood is ready for drywall attachment in this bathroom renovation
Renovation progress photo showing attached dry wall before the painting process

Once we got the drywall and texture crossed off our to-do list, we moved on to the shower pan. 

During our bathroom renovation, we got the walls set up with dry wall, all primed and painted
This bathroom renovation is in progress, with drywall around a window and line paint

Now, this is one of those complicated projects that we’ve never tried before. So when we learning something new, we reach out to some friends and family and try to find someone that has attempted it before. We didn’t really know anyone that has ever attempted the type of shower pan we needed to create. 

During our bathroom renovation, we're cementing the shower pan in what will eventually be our new bathroom show

So we resorted to YouTube, of course. We watched a bunch of tutorials and did research…..but we were having ALL sorts of problems. You’ll see in the video that we actually had to redo it 4 (yes, FOUR) times. 

Removing the old shower pan cement floor during our bathroom renovation

Since the shower pan is literally the foundation for the shower tile, we wanted to get it right. So we kept starting over and trying different methods until finally, it worked! 

The final shower pan cementing in our master bathroom renovation

The video above shows you what kind of problems we were having and what we ended up doing to create the shower pan. 

After working on it for about 2 days this week, it’s safe to say that the shower pan debacle slowed us way down. We were hoping to start the tiling before Logan left town, but we didn’t quite get there. 

So, that’s where we are at. A little stressed. A little overwhelmed. A little wondering how the heck are we going to pull this off in time.  

You can check in on how all of the other participants are doing here!

UPDATE: We’re all done with the bathroom now, check out how it turned out here!

Project list for our bathroom renovation:

  • Demo entire bathroom
  • Cover up doorway to hallway
  • Open new doorway to master bedroom
  • Rough in new plumbing (toilet, showers, sinks)
  • Add new subflooring 
  • Create shower pan – in process
  • Add recessed lighting 
  • Add new vanity light electrical 
  • Add bathroom exhaust fan
  • Install shower niche liners 
  • Install insulation
  • Add sheetrock
  • Tape and texture drywall 
  • Paint walls
  • Tile shower walls
    • Install shower niches with accent tiles 
    • Tile around window and in windowsill 
  • Tile floor
  • Install new toilet
  • Relocate vanity
  • Install new countertop 
  • Tile backsplash on vanity
  • Install fixed shower door panels
  • Install shower heads
  • Build DIY laundry hamper 
  • Install floating shelves
  • Build DIY barn door
  • Install vanity lights
  • Install trim and baseboards
  • Install bathroom accessories
  • Hang shelf for mirrors
  • Hang mirrors
  • Decorate! 

3 thoughts on “Everything You Need To Know About Large Format Tile

  1. Thanks for sharing this informative article regarding large format tile. Very informative indeed and on point detailed post.

  2. Thanks for your DIY, Im retired now from administrative job and your diy can help. I have worked on house plumbing recently and I have seen your DIY on tiling–thinking will do it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll back to the top