What is the acceptable lippage in a tile installation?


What is the acceptable lippage in a tile installation - I am a cabinet supplier trying to mediate between a tile setter and a homeowner as a third party. I have no investment in either party other than a trust level with the homeowner and am trying to find some installation standards for the alignment of ceramic tiles in a kitchen floor application. The current installation has variations between tiles of 1/16" in some areas and the expectation of the homeowner is a perfect flush alignment throughout the installation. I am only talking about the surface alignment since the gaps between are very close to perfect.Could you educate me on the proper alignment variances and what resources are available to educate myself and the consumer. Thanks in advance for your guidance.


 ANSWER - I'm not certain I fully understand your question, but I think you are saying that the floor tile installation grout joints are consistent in width, but the height difference between two adjacent tiles, which we referred to as lippage, varies 1/16".
There are tolerances for tile lippage. The ANSI A108.02 standards say that acceptable lippage for floor tiles with a grout joint width of 1/16" to less than 1/4" is 1/32" plus the allowable inherent warpage of the tile.  If the grout joint width is 1/4" or greater, then the allowable warpage is 1/16" plus the allowable inherent warpage of the tile.  Allowable warpage per ANSI A137.1 depends on the type of tile, but ranges from approximately 1/32" to 3/32".  So 1/32" warpage plus 1/32" equals 1/16" allowable warpage for most tiles with some exceptions.

Note that the standards also say that the actual grout joint width should be at least three times the actual variation of facial dimensions of the tile supplied.  It also says that for tiles with any side greater than 15" installed in an offset pattern (called running bond or broken joint pattern) that the grout joint width should be a minimum of 1/8" for rectified tiles (more precisely sized by grinding) and a minimum of 3/16" for calibrated tiles (not rectified).  Plus it says for tiles that have at least one side 18" in length that they should not be offset more than 1/3 or you can get excessive lippage.

Excessive lippage can be caused by poor workmanship, excessive warpage or thickness variation in the tile, the substrate surface being too irregular, the tile being installed in an offset greater than 1/3 for tiles with edges greater than 18", and the grout joints being too narrow.

Perceived or apparent lippage is a condition where in fact the tile installation meets the standards and does not have excessive lippage, but appears to have excessive lippage.  This can be caused by natural or manufactured lighting emanating from an angle that accentuates the lippage by creating a shaded edge.  Highly reflective surfaces can compound this condition making it appear to be excessive lippage when it isn't.

I hope this answers your question.

41 thoughts on “What is the acceptable lippage in a tile installation?

  1. Rajan Atri says:

    We are currently doing a project where we have very large format marble tiles in honed finish. The range of large format ranges from 1800x900x20mm, 1800x300x20mm, 1200x600x20mm, 1200x300x20mm, 900x600x20mm, and small sizes 600x600x20mm, 800x300x20mm and 600x300x20mm. We have an issue of Lippage mainly in large format tiles ranging from 1 to 3mm, and some places 4mm. We seek your adivce on the acceptable tolerances on the lippage as the client is insisting of the tolerance of ANSI A 108.02 which is only 0.80mm. The Project is in Middle East (Muscat – Sultanate of Oman)

  2. Donato Pompo says:

    The marble institute of America and Terrazzo Tile Marble Association of Canada recommend that natural stone should not have more than 1/32″ or 1 mm of lippage. If the lippage is excessive you can refinish the stone floor by grinding it down using a store restoration company. Stone can be ground down and honed.

  3. Deepak Bhatnagar says:


    We installed high gloss tiles in living room and noticed few lippages of 1+ mm, also the grout width 1-2 mm is not consistent. The craftsman insists its normal but we have doubts that it may cause tiles to break if we slide anything on it, and also it creates a slite compromise on high gloss looks.

    We need to release craftsman payment and would also like to know an expert advice about what’s is acceptable and what is not .

    • Donato Pompo says:

      For natural stone the standards say that the tile lippage should not be more than 1 mm for grout joints that are between 2 mm to 7 mm wide.

      For ceramic tiles, which includes porcelain tiles, they are allowed to have 1 mm of lippage plus the actual warpage in the tile, which is normally about 1 mm, for grout joint widths between 2 to 7 mm. So that means that 2 mm lippage would be acceptable to ceramic tile.

      It is recommended that grout joints are never less than 2 mm wide, and should be 4 to 5 mm wide. Generally speaking the grout joint widths should not vary more than 25% of the intended grout joint width.

  4. Prabhvir Sandhu says:

    We have installed Matt look tiles in our new house tiles look uneven some tiles has more than 2mm lippage tiler filled up with grout it’s looks ugly and tiler say up to 3 mm lippage is acceptable

    • Donato Pompo says:

      as it states in my above responses, in Canada the allow lippage for a grout joint that is not more than 7mm wide is 1mm plus the inherent warpage of the tile that meets the standards. So that works out to less than 2mm of allowable lippage at most.

      • Al says:

        What if some lippage is just 2 mm, can it consider be allowable? 2 mm difference in height between tiles can cause trip hazard.

        • Donato Pompo says:

          If it is natural stone then you are only allowed 1 mm lippage. If it is a ceramic tile with a wider grout joint that is more than 1/4″ wide the allowable lippage is 2 mm plus the actual warpage of the tile. So depending on the type of tile and the width of the grout joint and how much allowable warpage the tile has determines what is or isn’t acceptable.

  5. Sagar Suryavanshi says:

    Hey Donato,

    Thank you for answering our questions here can you please take a look at my issue and let me know what you think?

    I am a first time home buyer, we bought this town house in one of the best parts of the city and is little over a million $.

    I have told the builder I am very unhappy with the bathroom and they are coming tonight to check it out. What is a reasonable expectations for finish I should expect?

    Pictures: https://imgur.com/a/J7hEq4x

    My Problems:

    – Tiles are not all flush, gaps are enough to have a credit card sit on it.

    – Grout lines are uneven, thin, thick, angled.

    – Alignment, the lines are not straight.

    – Corner chips, some tiles have chips in the corner.

    – The floor, no pictures, is uneven too.

    – Any other issues?


    • Donato Pompo says:

      It is hard to quantify and see the conditions from photos, but it does look like the tiles might have not been installed to meet industry standards. There are allowable tolerances. With ceramic porcelain tile with a grout joint less than 1/4″ you are allowed a 1/32″ lippage + the allow able warpage in the tile, which is almost up to 1/16″. Tiles are to be installed with consistent width grout joints +/- 25%. They should not have any chips.

      The only way to determine if it meets the industry standards and the standard of care for professional installers is to have a qualified inspector, like CTaSC, perform an inspection and evaluate it.

      • Denise Thibaut says:

        How do you find a CTaSC to conduct an inspection. We are homeowners and have the same problems with the installation. There is quite a bit of lippage on the floors, walls, we also had a border installed around a beam and where the subway tile meets the border there is a significan t difference from where the subway tile stops and the border begins. We have many other problems and need an inspection so we can speak intelligently to the installer

        • Donato Pompo says:

          To retain CTaSC services to perform an inspection to evaluate a tile or stone installation that has problems you can click on https://ctasc.com/about-ctasc-2/contact-us/ to request a proposal for performing the inspection.

          With your request we need to know the address of the location where we will perform the inspection. We have to know what kind of tile was used, what is the application, and approximately how many areas or square feet are involved.

          CTaSC has inspectors near most major markets who can perform the inspection for Donato Pompo under his management and control. Donato will make the final conclusions and recommendations. Donato is the leading tile and stone expert in North America.

          Generally speaking to perform an inspection by a a relatively local inspector the cost will be $3,000 USD more or less.

          So depending on your situation it may or may not be practical to use our services. Although if you don’t understand the cause of the problem, then you won’t know how to properly remediate it or avoid it if you replace the tile installation.

  6. Susan Hardman says:

    Hi Donato
    We are having an issue with excessive lippage after an installation on WALL tiles. What is the standard for this and can you give us the ANSI regulation number corresponding to this. All we can find are floor regs.
    Thank you,
    Susan and Ted

    • Donato Pompo says:

      It depends on the type of tile and the specified width of the grout joint to determine what is the acceptable amount of tile lippage. ANSI A108.02 standards say that acceptable lippage for tiles with a grout joint width of 1/16″ to less than 1/4″ is 1/32″ plus the allowable inherent warpage of the tile. If the grout joint width is 1/4″ or greater, then the allowable warpage is 1/16″ plus the allowable inherent warpage of the tile. Allowable warpage per ANSI A137.1 depends on the type of tile, but ranges from approximately 1/32″ to 3/32″. So 1/32″ warpage plus 1/32″ equals 1/16″ allowable warpage for most tiles with some exceptions. There are exceptions for tiles installed on sloped surfaces and for hand-molded tiles.

      The tile lippage standards apply to both floor and wall applications. Wall tile applications are more susceptible to mistaken lippage where the tile lippage meets the standards but because of the lighting in the area it looks excessive.

  7. Amy Gray says:

    Hi there! Just had a radiant tile floor installed in the basement of a rental unit we have. The tiles used were ceramic and very large, 8″ wide x 48″ The membrane was laid down on bare concrete (no leveling performed on the floor prior to start). The contractor “leveled with mortar” as he proceeded across the floor, which created lippage issues each night as the mortar settled. In the morning, he would pull up tiles and reset, over and over, to get them level, using varying grout widths to hand space the tiles and reduce lippage. The contractor laid the final few rows of tile and completed the job. The next morning we noted two planks in that area with edges sticking up 1/8 of an inch. He says the issue is not a workmanship issue, it is the fault of our concrete subfloor. I think the floor should not have been leveled with mortar as he went along, it should have been leveled prior to membrane and wiring being laid down and this wouldn’t be an issue. He strongly disagrees. Can you tell me who is correct? And now that those ceramic tiles have excessive lippage, can they be corrected by sanding the edges down? We are worried that pulling them up now will damage the wiring below and make it unusable as a heated floor. Help!

    • Donato Pompo says:

      Yes you are right. The concrete slab should have been flatten to meet the standards prior to installing the membrane. It is not allowable to try to adjust the substrate with the adhesive as they set the tile. The fact that the installer wasn’t able to compensate for the irregularities of the substrate and the tile while setting the tile suggests he didn’t have the skill necessary to install this tile properly.

      Per ANSI A118 industry tile installation standard for the thin-set dry-set mortar tile adhesives state “Dry-set mortars are designed as direct bond adhesives and are not intended to be used in truing or leveling underlying substantiates or the work of others.”

      ANSI A108.02-2019- states that for tiles with at least one edge 15 inch or longer, the maximum allowable variation in the tile substrate is 1/8″ in 10 feet an no more than 1/16″ in 2 feet from the required plane, when measured from the high points in the surface.

      Per ANSI A108.02-2019-4.3.7 allowable tile lippage for tiles installed with 1/4″ wide grout joints cannot be greater than 1/32″ plus the actual and allowable tile lippage. Generally speaking that means any lippage over 1/16″ is not acceptable.

      Per ANSI A108.02-2019-4.1 Prior to installing the tile the tile contractor shall inspect surfaces to receive tile and accessories, and shall notify the client in writing of any visually obvious defects or conditions that will prevent a satisfactory tile installation. Installation work shall not proceed until satisfactory conditions are provided.

  8. Shauntell Durant says:

    Pianetto tarsus almond II polishes shower floor tile was installed on shower floor. On all sides 4 sides of the shower floor, the tile does not lay flush to the wall. There are huge gaps. These gaps are filled with grout. What is are these gaps called? And is this acceptable? What does ANSI standard?

    The gaps on all sides vary between 1/2 inch to 1 inch.


    • Donato Pompo says:

      The perimeter of the shower floor tile transition joint to the wall tile should be be a movement joint with an ASTM C920 sealant. Normally it would not be any wider than about 1/4″ and should be uniform around the shower perimeter. The tile should have been laid out to anticipate any excessive wide perimeter joints, and to then determine how to adjust the tile spacing so it is uniform. There isn’t a specific standard in ANSI that addresses this condition, but under workmanship ANSI A108.02-4.3 does state that the installation shall be centered and balanced if possible.

  9. Shauntell Durant says:

    Is it acceptable to have a huge hole where the contractor cut out to place shower wall tile (12×12) around the shower head. The hole above the shower head is visible and filled with grout. Is this acceptable? What is the ANSI standard for cutting a nd installing tile around shower head?

    Can this be fixed?

    • Donato Pompo says:

      ANSI A108.02-4.3 states “Fit tile closely where edges will be covered by trim, escutcheons, or other similar devices.”

      The joint around the shower head should be filled with an ASTM C920 sealant to be a movement joint and keep water out.

      To fix it, remove the tile in question and reinstall it properly.

  10. Shauntell Durant says:

    Is it acceptable to lay bullnose trim on two different surfaces. One side of the trim is laid over USG Durock cement (1/2 inch) and the other side bullnose trim is laid over USG Sheetrock (moisture/mold) resistant panels (1/2 inch)? The bullnose trim is uneven. The contractor filled the gap with grout. What is this called? What is the ANSI standard? How can you fix this?

    • Donato Pompo says:

      Not sure what is meant by laying bullnose on two different surfaces. If it is a transition leaving an exposed tile edge then it would be appropriate to install a bullnose trim.

      All perimeter and transition joints should be movement joint filled with an ASTM C920 sealant. To fix, remove the grout and install the sealant.

  11. Dave Lazarick says:

    Good day Donato. Just following some of the threads on this post. I am about to install plank style ceramic tile and the retailer said that I could butt the planks side by side and end-to-end as the edges are beveled. I have dry laid a number of tiles and there seems to be very little room for grout to penetrate right to the subfloor, but there is a little bit. I do prefer the look of the tiles butted up against each other but also want the finished product to be sound.
    Your thoughts if you wouldn’t mind please?

    • Donato Pompo says:

      Per industry standard ANSI A108.02-4.3.8 Grout joint Size, the grout joint width should be 3 times the actual variation of facial dimensions of the tile. If you have a +/- 1/16″ tolerance in facial dimensions your grout joint should be 3/16″ wide. In no circumstance shall the grout joint be less than 1/16″ wide.

      The standard further states that for tiles that have one side that is greater than 15″ long the minimum grout joint should be 1/8″ wide plus the actual warpage of the tile. So if the tile has 1/32″ warpage then the grout joint should be at least 5/32″ wide.

      For a floor application you want the grout joint wide enough to fully fill the grout joint from top to bottom and accept a sanded grout which the minimum width is 1/8″ or the grout will tend to crack.

      If the grout joint is too narrow you might end up with excessive tile lippage.

  12. Shannon says:

    I have a general contractor telling me that the industry standard for tile levelness is 3/8″ – do you know what standard they would be referring to – the only thing that I can find is concrete levelness. Everything that I have been finding has a lippage of 1/32″ is the standard. The tiles being laid are 9″ x 36″ rectified tiles and if I put a level on the tile, I can put 2 quarters underneath and that seems excessive.

    • Donato Pompo says:

      The standards referenced might be conflated.

      There is an ANSI A108 standard that says the substrate for a tile with any edge over 15″ long cannot be more than 1/8″ in 10 feet out of plane or more than 1/16″ within 12 inches out of plane. It doesn’t say it has to be level. Whether it is level or sloped depends on what is specified other than in a shower or exterior area it is suppose to be sloped 1/4″ per foot with those same tolerances.

      Then there are ANSI A108 standards for allowable lippage, which is the difference in height between the edges for two adjacent tiles. For ceramic/porcelain tiles with a grout joint of less than 1/4″ wide, but not less than 1/16″ wide, it is allowed to have lippage that is 1/32″ plus the actual warpage of the tile. Most tiles are allowed to have up to 1/32″ of warpage, so it is possible to have up to 1/16″ of lippage.

    • Donato Pompo says:

      Tile lippage is noticeable as the tile is being installed. The consumer might not notice it until the tile is grouted and cleaned. The Tile installer should notice it as he installs the tile in order to prevent it or to stop the job to determine how to avoid it before proceeding.

  13. Joe says:

    Hi there, I have porcelain tiles installed. The grout space is 6mm (1/4 inch). What would be the acceptable Lippage? I have lippage from 0.5mm (3/16 inch) to 2mm (1/16 Inch) . thanks.

    • Donato Pompo says:

      Per ANSI A108.02 grout joints that are 1/4″ wide or larger can have 1/16″ tile lippage in addition to the actual warpage of the tile. Of course the tile cannot have more warpage than allowed in ANSI A137.1. Generally speaking, depending on the type of tile, the tile can not have more than 1/32″ of warpage. So you should not have more than 3/32″ of lippage with a 1/4″ wide grout joint.

  14. Bridgette Fane says:

    i recently had a tile replacement completed in AZ , the installerd did not pull the base boards and when they installed the tile and grout it shows the irregular cuts of the tile and i have lost some of height of the baseboards. When I pointed it out to the installer he said it is not a requirement to pull and replace the baseboards. the project looks really sloppy. can you tell me if this is the norm?

    • Donato Pompo says:

      There is no standard that says that the base board should be removed and the tile should be installed under it with a gap at the wall to mitigate movement stresses. Replacing the base will cover the gap so it looks a lot better that way and is more practical than having the movement joint outside the base.

      If the tile doesn’t line up evenly with the bottom of the base, then the installer did something to adjust the height of the floor in his preparation for installing the tile. In that case it would have been reasonable to remove the base. It would not be reasonable or considered within the standard of care to install the tile with the tile above the bottom of the base. Not only does it look unprofessional, but if you ever wanted to remove the base and replace it, you would likely damage the base if it is butted up to it or hard grouted to it.

      There should be a resilient joint filled with an ASTM C920 sealant at that joint between the tile and the base in order to mitigate potential movements within the tile.

  15. Jennifer Biss says:

    9 months ago we had about 650 sqft of 24×24 tile laid by a contractor on a 50% offset. It was not discovered that this is not recommended until about 80% of the job was complete. It was found literally printed on the boxes the tile came in. We do have excessive lipping which is worse in the bathroom. Now, we have a hairline fracture in one of the tiles and widespread grout cracking in the bathroom. We haven’t seen anything in the kitchen yet and the lipping appears to be more minimal in there. The grout in the bathroom also seems too porous like too much water was added. Would the lipping itself cause integrity issues of the floor and is there anything we can do to prolong the life of the floor without ripping it out? The contractor was licensed and insured; however, is a neighbor and “friend” (mistake on our behalf) so it’s uncomfortable and would be perusing this situation differently if we didn’t have this relationship with the contractor. What do you recommend?

    • Donato Pompo says:

      The reason they don’t recommend the 50% off-set of tiles larger than 15″ on any side is that ceramic tiles naturally have warpage at their corners and at the center of the tile. So when you install a tile with the corner at the center of the tile you have the potential to have more tile lippage.

      Tile lippage is normal in all installations. The standards say for grout joints less than 1/4″ wide that you are allowed to have up to 1/32″ tile lippage PLUS the actual warpage in the tile. Porcelain tiles normally are allowed to have up to 1/32″ of warpage more or less depending on whether it is a rectified tile or a calibrated tile. So on average having 1/16″ of tile lippage is within the standards, even though you would normally what less. A credit card is about 1/32″ thick so two credit cards is about 1/16″. If you put 3 credit cards next to a tile edge and the third card doesn’t slide over then you typically would have excessive lippage unless the tile is a specialty tile such as a hand molded tile.

      You can have the installer replace the tiles with excessive lippage as long as you have replacement tiles to match. Extreme tile lippage can cause tripping hazards and can lead to chipped tile edges as things are dragged against it. Tile lippage can create shadows under certain lighting that can be undesirable.

      As long as the tile was installed correctly, having the tile lippage will not affect the life of the tile other than what was pointed out above.

  16. Robert says:

    Hi, I have exactly 1/16″ lippage on a few of the subway tiles I’ve installed in a shower I’m finishing. The grout lines are 1/16″. Should I rip those tiles out and redo them before I grout? Thank you in advance for any help you can offer. Best, Robert.

    • Donato Pompo says:

      Technically 1/16″ lippage probably meets the standards. Most tiles are allowed up to 1/32″ warpage in addition to 1/32″ lippage. A lot of the rectangle subway tiles tend to have warpage so I’m not sure if you can limit it more. Although how you install the tiles and how much thinset you use and how you adjust the tiles will affect how much lippage you end up with.

      The only time tile lippage on a wall is a problem is when there is direct light over or near it that creates shadows in the grout joints that accentuates the tile lippage making it appear to be excessive tile lippage. So you might need to adjust your lighting if you can.

Leave a Reply

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