What is the Stone Industry Standard for the Allowable amount of Marble Tile Lippage?


Is there an allowable amount of lip-age on polished Carrara marble tile floor installation 12x12 tile?


ANSWER - Per the Natural Stone Institute Dimension Stone Design Manual the tolerance for the allowable lippage for a for a calibrated marble or any calibrated natural stone floor tile is 1/32".  This is based on the grout joint width being at least 1/16" wide and preferably 1/8" wide.  The standards state that stone tiles should never be butted together.

2 thoughts on “What is the Stone Industry Standard for the Allowable amount of Marble Tile Lippage?

  1. Dario says:

    I am actually located in Peachtree City, Georgia 30269. The area of evaluation is for our master bathroom that is about 120 square feet. All of the floor, side walls, and shower will be covered with tile. If I understood correctly, you described that there should be 1/32” of allowed lippage (credit card thickness). To be honest with you, me and my wife are not very familiar with construction specs but we work in agricultural research at a University and we quickly noticed that something may not be right. We took out a credit card and tried to see how large the lippage was (after researching information around and seeing some of your comments in different webpages) and indeed sometimes you can have even two to three credit cards of thickness for lippage in certain areas. We tried to address this with the contractor and he basically shut us down. He described the following as a explanation for our questions about lippage:

    “After you saw the natural product of the travertine, the wrapage of the unfinished side of the tile combined with the flooring joist that runs down the middle of the bathroom making it unlevel, I thought we had a plan in place. Grout the cracked tile or replace it again (whichever option you prefer).

    I have attached a document discussing the industry standards for tile lippage. It states that an acceptable lippage is 1/16th of an inch and even up to 5/16 of an inch for larger tile (such as the large 18×18 tiles we are using). Also the Ansi A108.02 specifications are for ceramic tile which are manufactured and not natural (therefore they have much less warpage). There is much more variances in natural products such as Travertine increasing the acceptable lippage.

    I feel there is no doubt that our lippage is far below the 5/16” mentioned in the standards. I’d even be surprised if the lippage exceeded 1/16th of an inch. And we have to remember that this is not new construction. We don’t have perfect underlayment conditions to work with. We are replacing tile that was improperly installed initially and working with flooring joists that have been affected by house settling and other circumstance beyond our control

    But I certainly don’t want to get into a long battle over the installation of the flooring travertine tile. It’s a tight timeline we’ve been given to complete the repairs and I’m getting the feeling we won’t be able to make you satisfied, which is our ultimate goal. If you would like, we can just charge for the work we have performed according to the approved insurance estimate and then you could hire a different contractor to complete the repairs”

    We have talked with few companies that sell and install tile and they all tell us that although the conditions may have not been optimal with respect with the floor, the contractor should have been able to address the tile level with how thick thin set was put under the tile or use a vortex lippage eliminator. The company in which we purchased our tile also told us that probably the 1/2 pattern was not the best for installation as the 1/3 pattern will reduce lippage (the contractor used the 1/2 pattern for installation) with the18x18 tiles.

    My wife and I are quite disappointed with the whole situation and it seems based on the contractor’s response that they are not willing to even provide any additional information or even entertain the idea of going back and trying to see if it is actually something that they should fix.

    I don’t know if you may have some advice for us and if of course you may have a fee rate to provide such informal advice please let us know. My wife is currently pregnant and we are expecting our child a few weeks from now and we keep thinking if we have a basis for our complaints or if we are just having unrealistic expectations. The way that the contractor replied is by putting us between a rock and hard place by saying that we can just stop (also taking advantage of our current situation with my wife being pregnant). We will prefer not going into any litigation, but it may be the end result if needed. I guess also I am not sure if all litigation and process may be even worth it for the size of the repair area and all the costs associated with that. I guess we just feel that we may have the losing end.

    Thanks for your reply again

    • Donato Pompo says:

      Your contractor’s statements are in correct. ANSI A108.02 is for ceramic tile and it does not allow for 5/16” lippage. That is over 1/4″ which would be a tripping hazard. It allows for up to 1/32” lippage plus the actual/allowable warpage for grout joints that are less than 1/4″ wide and allows up to 1/16″ lippage plus the actual/allowable warpage for grout joints that are 1/4″ or wider. Ceramic tiles normally do not allow more than 1/32” lippage, so the maximum allow lippage in a tile should never exceed 1/16” for grout joints less than 1/4″ wide unless it is a hand made type of tile with intentional lippage.

      Per the Natural Stone Institute Dimension Stone Design Manual, which is the main standard in the industry, and per the TCNA Handbook for Ceramic, Glass and Stone Tiles, it clearly says that lippage should not be more than 1/32″ in a natural stone. It does not factor in any warpage, as natural stone tiles are cut to size and not likely to have warpage. Although per ANSI A108.02, the installer is required to evaluate the tile, substrate and other conditions prior to installing the tile and if there is anything that will prevent a proper installation they are not to proceed with the installation. They are to stop the job and notified the owner, and are not to proceed until the deficient conditions are corrected.

      So if the travertine had excessive warpage and the substrate had problems, then the installer should not have installed the tile. As is commonly stated in the tile and stone industry is that installation constitutes acceptance by the installer.

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