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Thin Slabs & Tiles

The old stonemason’s take on slim panels and tiles.

I am still trying to get my head around slim panels and slim tiles 3 m x 1 m panels by 3 mm in thickness is a totally new concept to myself and many other old masons and Tilers.

Here is a few things that I have gleaned about this slim tile. Apparently these slim panels in many formats and thicknesses can be used on almost any vertical or horizontal internal or external floor and wall substrates. One of the main places I feel that these slim panels will be used is tiling over existing bathroom walls and floors, providing of course that these services are sound and true. Apparently there is a 5 mm product which can be used on floors and 12 mm product which is suitable for kitchen bench tops. Also I have observed that moving these panels around is very similar to the way you would move sheets of normal glass. One of the major pluses to these slim panels is the weight, it appears to be about 15% of the weight of a granite panel. New tools have been developed already to cut these slim panels and are now available in Australia.

As you are aware of the Australian standards have now been replaced by the Australian ISO standards. This is to say we are now using the ISO standards but with minor changes to suit Australia. One of the new Australian ISO standards for these slim tiles is for the background to be plumb smooth and flat and free from any contaminants. The tolerances allowable for this new standard pump plus or -3 mm under a 2 m straight edge. All movement IE expansion joints still apply to this product. And under no circumstances like all other tiling material are they to be butt joined. It is thought that the joint between 3 Mt panels will be no less than 5 mm wide.

Because of the thinness of these panels and tiles all adhesive will have to be removed from the formed joints. Due to the thickness of these panels the coverage of adhesion will have to be 100%. This can be achieved by notching the substrate with a 6 mm notched trowel and the back of the panel with a 3 mm trowel. Don’t fall into the old trap of notching up to a chalk line which then leaves the very edge of the tile unsupported.

The good points for these slim panels and tiles are as follows resistance to abrasion, very low porosity, colours and patterns do not fade when exposed to sunlight, easy to clean, germ resistant surfaces, will have a green guard certification and of  course the lightness of the product.



Building Industry Newsflash - Parliamentary Inquiry recommends disbanding of the BSA

On Friday 30th November 2012 the Queensland Parliament's Transport, Housing and Local Government Committee tabled it's report resulting from the Inquiry into the Operation and Performance of the Queensland Building Services Authority 2012. The committee made a total of 41 recommendations and there are quite a few recommendations which could affect the way we do business in the QLD building Industry and they may well have implications on a national level when the National Occupational Licensing System comes into force over the next few years.

Probably the most important and far reaching recommendations are Recommendation 1 & 2:

  • Recommendation 1 - The Committee recommends that in the interests of improved confidence and transparency, the “one stop shop” model for the provision of Queensland government building services be discontinued and that the Queensland Building Services Authority be disbanded as soon as alternative mechanisms for delivering its functions can be established.
  • Recommendation 2 - The Committee recommends that the Minister for Housing and Public Works restructure the building services currently provided by the QBSA so that there is a clear and transparent divide between the roles of licensing; management of directions to rectify and complete work; and management of the limited home warranty scheme. We do not know as yet which form the new Authority will take, however, we have a unique opportunity as an Association representing the tiling and waterproofing industries, to influence the creation of this Authority in a positive way. The final report by the committee quotes extracts from our submission into the inquiry a total of 5 times and it would appear that industry Associations such as ours are likely to be consulted in the process. The Committee made the following additional recommendations:
  • Recommendation 8 - The Committee recommends that the Minister for Housing and Public Works take the views of stakeholders into account when examining the appropriate structure for the reformed building authority and Board.
  • Recommendation 32 - The Committee recommends that the Minister for Housing and Public Works use evidence provided to this inquiry on the current licensing regime to undertake an independent review of all existing licenses to test for fitness for purpose, eligibility requirements, costs and benefits.
  • Recommendation 40  -The Committee recommends that the Minister for Housing and Public Works use the evidence provided to the inquiry to examine ways in which the industry groups can take a greater role within the newly formed building authority in terms of licensing standards and procedures for their members. We have a golden opportunity to influence and help shape this new Authority to deliver better outcomes for consumers and contractors, by making it more difficult for cowboys, educating the public and delivering a better job.

If you are reading this and you aren't a member as yet, now would be a good time to consider membership. The greater our numbers the greater our chance of getting real results.

The full parliamentary report can be viewed here:

The report also made a recommendation for National Licensing:

  • Recommendation 41 - The Committee recommends that the Minister for Housing and Public Works take the recommendations contained in this report into consideration before agreeing to any time frames for the introduction of the draft Regulations stemming from the National Occupational Licensing System. As the National Licensing reforms affecting tilers and waterproofers are unlikely to come into effect before 2014 at the earliest, there is not a lot of information available as yet. We'll have to see what is proposed and then provide our input.

We have received (unconfirmed) information that Premier Campbell Newman has pulled on the reigns somewhat. He is looking for more information and more consultation before any changes are made, mainly it seems because of the costs involved in setting up a new Authority.

At this early stage it is unclear exactly what will happen and we hope that we will be involved in the consultation process no matter what the outcome is.

We are looking for feedback from the tiling and waterproofing industries and a discussion thread has been started in our forums which can be accessed here:

Polymer Additives

To all of you Tilers out there I have just learned important information from a very well-known and accredited commercial chemist.

The tiling industry has several different types of liquid additives that can be used to modify cement based products like adhesives and grouts these additives fall into several groups where the chemistry is very different for each group.

Polyvinyl Acetate (PVA): these products were used heavily in the tiling industry for years until it was discovered that PVA is acceptable to an action called Hydrolysis, meaning when in contact with water PVA will basically break down.

Styrene Butadiene (SBR), when a compatible SBR is added to a cement based adhesive or grout the end user will notice an improvement in performance but when used in immersed situations such as swimming pools SBR will break down. Also SBR’s are susceptible to biological attacks, so it’s crucial that a preservative is added to prevent this. SBR’s do not perform well in very cold climates.

Styrene Acrylics: this technology is currently the preferred emulsion to be added to cement based products such as tile adhesives and grouts. Styrene Acrylics will improve adhesion, water resistance, flexibility, chemical resistance and abrasion resistance.

We are proud to stock and sell all of RLA’s additives and primers, these are based on styrene acrylic technology.


The Old Stonemason

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