Preventing cracked tiles


When it comes to tiling over less than perfect substrates – those with hairline cracks; timber floorboards and chipboard substrates, or attempting to create a seamless floor over different substrate types , Mapei does not fade into the background and become a shy observer.

With many years of successful application under its belt, Mapetex, the innovative anti-fracture membrane from Mapei, has provided the solution to challenges faced in many tiling projects, including The Queen Elizabeth (QE) Hospital in Birmingham, Blackpool Winter Gardens, The Metro Centre in Newcastle, Wembley and Clonard Monastery in Belfast (pictured above).

Mapetex has been installed to facilitate the bonding of tiles and stone to a wide range of substrates, which would have made many Tiling Contractors flinch with nervous apprehension in the past.  With the Italian giant’s commitment to Research and Development, customers are assured of a functional high performance system when the Mapei name is involved.  Over 35,000 sq. metres sold in 2013 emphasizes this customer confidence.

Mapei Mapetex is a proven stress buster, alleviating substrate stresses at source and preventing transfer through to the tile or stone finish.  It is equally at home spanning an old day joint within a screed or covering an entire floor area where natural stone has been installed over an electric cable undertile heating system.

Where there are lateral forces within a substrate (i.e. movement from side to side), then Mapetex is the answer to the question ‘How can I prevent cracked tiles in this situation?’

As Mapetex contains no voids when installed correctly, it does not suffer from point loading issues and can, therefore, be used in areas of high foot traffic, such as shopping malls and other public buildings. There are also no size restrictions so it can be used with any size of tile or stone from mosaic to large format.

With over 10 years of project experience already completed, this guarantee is enough to justify the selection of Mapetex on your next project.
Mapetex is available in 1 by 50 metre rolls.  Alternatively it is also available cut to size (please check with your nearest stockist).

For more information on Mapei products and training days, visit, email or tel. +44 (0)121 508 6970.

Installation insights by Colin Stanyard, Mapei UK


There can’t be many of us immune to the appeal of a wet room.  Clean lines and high quality fixtures and fittings offering a sense of luxury in a spacious environment – bliss!
A correctly designed and installed wet room will give many years of use, but ‘correct’ cannot be overemphasized. Before you go ahead with a wet room project, take a step back and carefully consider all that is involved. Time spent at the design stage will be time well spent.

A wet room differs from a standard shower enclosure as the floor area forms the base of the shower, with often just a glass screen separating this wet area from the remainder of the bathroom.  The tiled floor provides a seamless transition between the two areas, perhaps defined by a different tile type or format.

Logically, the main consideration is dealing with the quantity of water involved.  A wet room is designed to get wet, which is fine but the design must ensure that the water is drained away efficiently and effectively.

Lessons learnt from nature tell us that water is a destructive element. It must, therefore, be treated with the respect it deserves.  In order to avoid leaks, the wet room environment must be watertight, constructed with suitable substrates, with floors laid to adequate falls and all areas appropriately waterproofed or “tanked”.  The only way the water should leave the wet room is via the drain.

During the design stage, reference should be made to British Standard BS 5385 – the code of practice for the installation of floor and wall tiling.  Part 4 of this document states that the basic structure behind the tiles should be watertight and that a tanking system should be applied.

The choice of substrate type is very important, with the preferred substrates being cement-based screed or rendering.  Such substrates are not prone to dimensional change and/or deterioration in a humid environment, unlike timber or sulphate-based substrates.

The use of an appropriate waterproof membrane could provide protection to non-cementitious substrates, although advice should be sought from the manufacturer of the substrate before its inclusion in any design.  If at all possible, the use of substrates, which are unstable in the presence of moisture or in humid environments, should be avoided.  There are a number of purpose manufactured moisture stable ‘Tilebacker’ boards available, some of which can be used to produce curved walls for creative effects.

When partition walling or suspended floor systems are present, it must be ensured that they are installed in such a way that they provide a solid, stable support for the tiled finish.

It is essential that there is adequate ventilation behind/beneath, to hinder the formation of condensation within the void.

When choosing the tiled finish, ensure that the size of tile or mosaic is compatible with the structure, the substrate and anticipated loading in service.  If a particular type or format is desired, bear in mind that it may be necessary to adjust the design to suit.  When natural stone and, in particular, agglomerate stone is selected, check that this material is appropriate for use whilst waterproofing.

When it comes to tiling wet areas there appears to be an urban myth that there shouldn’t be a need to apply a waterproof membrane because “my tiles and adhesives are waterproof.”  In reality, the commonly used types of adhesives and grouts are water resistant and not waterproof.  Although they will not fall apart in wet conditions, they will not prevent the passage of water.  The only true method of providing a watertight barrier is to install a waterproof membrane, which forms a ‘tank’.

Proprietary waterproof membranes, such as Mapei’s Mapelastic Smart or Mapelastic Aquadefense, used together with the elastic waterproofing tape, Mapeband, are capable of providing a watertight barrier.  These wet applied products are simple and quick to install using conventional techniques, such as brush or roller.

When ‘tanking’ the room, it is essential that the wall and floor junctions, pipe inlets, drain outlets, internal wall angles and any joints are reinforced with suitable elasticated waterproof materials, such as Mapeband or Mapeband gaskets, as these are the areas where there is the greatest likelihood of movement/leakage.  Once all these details have been addressed, the remaining wall and floor areas can then be waterproofed with the chosen coating.

Mapei offers a wide range of adhesives and grouts that are suitable for use in a wet room.  Products such as Keraquick, Keraflex Maxi or those from the Ultralite range can be used onto a wide range of substrates.  Mapei Ultracolor Plus is a versatile modified CG2WA grout available in 27 colours and conforming to EN 13888, which is perfectly at home under shower jets.  The complementary sealant, Mapesil AC can be used to form expansion joints and for general sealing.

Colin Stanyard is Ceramic Product Manager, Mapei UK Ltd
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