By Stuart Middleton, Executive Chairman of Aquacut Limited and Tilers Tools discusses the background to levelling systems.
Launched a number of years ago, levelling systems are a staple consumable of the tiling sector. Many professional tilers and landscapers wouldn’t dream of installing tiles without using a levelling system, but why do they bother?
Let me start with an anecdote that goes back a few years when levelling systems were starting to be used in the UK. A tiling customer of ours, using one of our levelling systems for the first time, was finishing off an internal floor having laid polished porcelain. As he was applying the finishing touches to his work, a casually dressed chap appeared and complimented our tiler on such a great job, remarking on just how smooth and even he had managed to get the finish. Our customer confessed that he was using our levelling system for the first time and was delighted with its performance, but being curious, asked the stranger who he was.
He was the architect/designer who specialised in large prestigious commissions and promised our tiler that, if he continued to do such great work, he would be offered all the architect’s future tiling jobs. Needless to say, our customer is a regular buyer of our levelling systems and hasn’t struggled for work.
The headline benefit of levelling systems is they are used to push adjacent tiles into the same plane, creating an even, lippage-free surface. There are however other benefits of using a good quality system:
There are two basic types of levelling system:
There are other marginal systems out there, but they tend to come and go as they are not in favour as are the wedges and screw down caps.
My judgement is the screw cap is a superior system that is easier to use and avoids having to search around for the pliers, but both will achieve the same perfect results.
Professional tilers are most likely to use the wedge system. That was the system first introduced and was adopted by the tiling fraternity. Having got used to the system, and having a supply of the reusable wedges, tilers preferred to stick to what they know, however they are increasingly switching onto the screw cap.
20mm thick porcelain emerged in the landscape market at the time when the screw caps came on the scene. Consequently, landscape professionals invariably use these in preference to wedges.
Our screw system can accommodate tiles up to 26mm thick, so are perfect when installing 20mm porcelain, stone, and cementitious products.
Tilers Tools systems offer scratch protectors for use when installing polished tiles - these do what they say on the tin, avoid scratching the tile surface and are reusable. They are available for the wedge and screw cap systems.
Beware of cheap imitations
One final word of caution. Beware of cheap imitations. We regularly hear horror stories about the performance of cheap knockoffs:
So, in conclusion, do yourself, your client, and your designer a favour. Find a branded levelling system you work well with and stick to it to achieve the best professional results - after all your reputation is important in driving new referrals, remember the tale of our customer I mentioned above.
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