Ceramic tile looks good. Of course it does—skilled professionals utilize the best knowledge so you see only the aesthetically-pleasing 3 billion square feet of ceramic tile installed annually in the US. However, numerous other materials comprise ceramic tile installation—portland cement mortar, dry-set or latex-portland cement mortar, organic adhesive, epoxy adhesive, chemical resistant water cleanable tile-setting and -grouting epoxy, and chemical resistant furan mortar and grout. And, as stated in ANSI A108/A118/A136.1:2020:
“The quality and cost of ceramic tile installations are influenced by the stability, permanence, and precision of installation of the backing or base material.”
Due to the significance of the substrate and the adhesive material, ceramic tile installation is a delicate task. With such an expanse of materials to work with, ANSI A108/A118/A136.1:2020 – American National Specifications For The Installation Of Ceramic Tile covers a range of installation guidelines.
In fact, this American National Standard is not one single entity, but a comprehensive collection of specifications. In general, it is broken up into two parts: Installation Standards (A108) and Material Specifications (A118 and A136.1).
American National Specifications for the Installation of Ceramic Tile
In all, the ANSI A108/A118/A136.1:2020 document includes American National Standard specifications A108.01, .02, .1A, .1B, .1C, .4, .5, .6, .8, .9, .10, .11, .12, .13, .14, .15, .16, and .17, which define the installation of ceramic tile, as well as A118.1, .3, .4, .5, .6, .7, .8, .9, .10, .11, .12, .13, .15, and A136.1, which define test methods and physical properties for ceramic tile installation materials.
As a compilation of voluntary standards for installing ceramic tile, each can be referenced or included in the ceramic tile sections of tile specifications. Adhering to standards for ceramic tile published by the Tile Council of North America (TCNA), an ANSI-accredited standards developing organization, is crucial for those involved in the industry, as professionals largely depend upon these guidelines. For example, if ceramic tiles do not conform to ANSI A137.1—meaning that they are irregular in size and thickness—specialized methods might be needed for installation, raising labor and material costs.
While guidelines specific to unique installations can be found in each section of the document, some information is prevalent throughout the standards included. For example, many address the idea of waterproofness in ceramic tile. There is a common-held belief that ceramic tile is naturally water-resistant. However, this is not the case. Glazing is often needed for assuring that the tiles can become less porous. Furthermore, some of the grout lines may be susceptible to moisture and thus are in need of glazing. Waterproof membranes, which are highly useful for thin-set ceramic tile and other installations, are specified in ANSI A118.10 as part of the ANSI A108/A118/A136.1:2020 publication.
The installation of ceramic tile is the primary focus of ANSI A108/A118/A136.1:2020, but methods and specifications for installing other types of tile are covered as well. For example, in the publication, ANSI A108.14 deals with the installation of paper-faced glass mosaic tile.
For the ease of the user, each specification is clearly detailed throughout the document. For further aid, the standard features numerous notes, such as the following in A108.01 General Requirements: Subsurfaces and Preparations by Other Trades:
“CAUTION: Wood-based panels such as particle board, composite panels (veneer faces bonded to reconstituted wood cores), non-veneer panels (wafer board, oriented strand board, and other similar boards), lauan plywood, and softwood plywood expand and contract with changes in moisture content and are not recommended as backing materials for ceramic tile.”
Which Ceramic Tile Installation Specifications Were Revised?
Since each section in ANSI A108/A118/A136.1:2020 denotes a different specification, only certain parts of the overall document are changed during each revision cycle. For the 2020 edition, only one specification was revised:
A108.16 Installation of Paper-Faced, Back-Mounted, Edge-Mounted, or Clear Film Face-Mounted Glass Mosaic Tile
The specific guidelines for all ceramic tile installation specifications are laid out in the ANSI A108/A118/A136.1:2020 standard document.
Changes to the 2019 Installation of Ceramic Tile Specifications
However, the previous iteration of this document marked a large revision. The following specifications were updated for the 2019 edition:
A108.02 General Requirements: Materials, Environmental, and Workmanship
A108.15 Alternate Method: Installation of Paper-Faced Glass Mosaic Tile
A118.1 American National Standard Specifications for Dry-Set Cement Mortar
A118.4 American National Standard Specifications for Modified Dry-Set Cement Mortar
A118.6 American National Standard Specifications for Standard Cement Grouts for Tile Installation
A118.7 American National Standard Specifications for High Performance Cement Grouts for Tile Installation
A118.9 American National Standard Specifications for Test Methods and Specifications for Cementitious Backer Units
A118.15 American National Standard Specifications for Improved Modified Dry-Set Cement Mortar
You can also see when each specification was last revised in the ANSI A108/A118/A136.1:2020 – American National Specifications For The Installation Of Ceramic Tile document, which is available on the ANSI Webstore.