ANSI A108/A118/A136.1:2021 – Installation of Ceramic Tile

Orange gloves following ANSI A108/A118/A136.1:2021 to lay ceramic tile.

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/A136.1:2021:

“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/A136.1:2021 – 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/A136.1:2021 document includes American National Standard specifications A108.01, .02, .1A, .1B, .1C, .4, .5, .6, .8, .9, .10, .11, .12, .13, .14, .15, .16, .17, .18, and .21, which define the installation of ceramic tile, as well as A118.1, .3, .4, .5, .6, .7, .8, .9, .10, .11, .12, .13, .15, .16 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/A136.1:2021 publication.

The installation of ceramic tile is the primary focus of ANSI A108/A118/A136.1:2021, 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/A136.1:2021 denotes a different specification, only certain parts of the overall document are changed during each revision cycle. In 2021, the following specifications were revised:

  • A108.01 General Requirements: Subsurfaces and Preparations by Other Trades
  • A108.5 Setting of Ceramic Tile with Dry-Set Cement Mortar, Modified Dry-Set Cement Mortar, EGP (Exterior Glue Plywood) Modified Dry-Set Cement Mortar, or Improved Modified Dry-Set Cement Mortar
  • A108.14 Installation of Paper-Faced Glass Mosaic Tile
  • A118.3 American National Standard Specifications for Chemical Resistant, Water Cleanable Tile-Setting and -Grouting Epoxy and Water Cleanable Tile-Setting Epoxy Adhesive

Several specifications were also reaffirmed, including:

  • A108.1C Contractor’s Option: Installation of Ceramic Tile in the Wet-Set Method with Portland Cement Mortar or Installation of Ceramic Tile on a Cured Portland Cement Mortar Setting Bed with Dry-Set or Latex-Portland Cement Mortar
  • A108.13 Installation of Load Bearing, Bonded, Waterproof Membranes for Thin-Set Ceramic Tile and Dimension Stone
  • A108.17 Installation of Crack Isolation Membranes for Thin-Set Ceramic Tile and Dimension Stone
  • A118.5 American National Standard Specifications for Chemical Resistant Furan Mortars and Grouts for Tile Installation
  • A118.8 American National Standard Specifications for Modified Epoxy Emulsion Mortar/ Grout

Are There Any New Ceramic Tile Installation Specifications?

In addition to the specifications that were revised and reaffirmed, three new specifications were added to ANSI A108/A118/A136.1:2021:

  • A108.18 Unmounted Glass Tile Installation
  • A108.21 Interior Installation of Flowable Hydraulic Cement Underlayment / Self-Leveling Underlayment
  • A118.16 American National Standard Specifications for Flowable Hydraulic Cement Underlayment / Self-Leveling Underlayment

You can also see when each specification was last revised in the ANSI A108/A118/A136.1:2021 – American National Specifications For The Installation Of Ceramic Tile document, which is available on the ANSI Webstore.

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8 thoughts on “ANSI A108/A118/A136.1:2021 – Installation of Ceramic Tile
  1. Team,

    I have a commercial project that the floor beams are 4′ foot on center with 1″ T&G car decking. Does anyone have the install guidelines on wood subfloors or possibly send me a link to where I can find the information.
    Thank you,

  2. Can anyone tell me if theres an industry standard for this??

    A contractor did a bathroom tile job from tub to ceiling,
    And the shower head water lever and faucet are not lined up. Not even close like 3 inches off.
    I asked the contractor to fix it, he said he would, but I would have to pay labor costs.
    Is this normal? What should I do?

    1. Regarding a new tub to shower conversion with 3×11 tiles – my question is this: When I lean on the side wall, it creaks. The wall is stable top/bottom and on both sides of the side wall, but in the middle it creaks when I lean on it. Is this normal? What is causing this? Contractor said they put in four 2×4 studs behind wall but I never saw them bring these in. This was just done last month but he is coming back tomorrow to put in the bathroom backsplash and I would like to know your answer before he comes. I haven’t spoken to him about this yet. I was referred to the contractor by a “tile inspector.” Thank you so much.

  3. What is the percentage of a tile’s area that is permissible to be non-adhered to its substrate (hollow)? The tiles in question are 4’x4′ interior and exterior.

    1. Please direct any technical questions like this to the Tile Council of North America (TCNA):

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