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Commercial kitchens can be very harsh environments for tile installations. The constant cycle of fatty and acidic food buildup, as well as continual scouring and steam cleaning, can damage
surfaces over time. Learn how to choose the right system of installation products to get the best results.
Restaurants and food processing facilities present an extremely demanding environment for tile installations. The fats and acids in the food and dishwasher spillage create a major challenge for grouts. This leads to serious maintenance issues when the tile is not cleaned in a timely fashion. Ironically, cleaning methods and products themselves can become an even bigger threat to the integrity of the installation.
Tip #1 – Choose the right prep and set products.
Choosing products that can stand up to tough conditions is critical.
If the kitchen will be used right away, select rapid setting installation products. These will cure in a matter of hours to allow light traffic and get the facility back to work the same day.
Every kitchen floor will get wet frequently and the floors are usually pitched to a drain. To protect the concrete from oils and deterioration, prepare the substrate with a fast drying waterproofing and crack prevention membrane such as RedGard. When hot water is poured into drains, the membrane will help absorb the thermal shock and direct the water to the drain.
For setting heavy pavers and quarry tiles on these pitched floors, use a medium bed, rapid setting mortar.
One product that works well in these conditions is CUSTOM ProLite® RS Tile & Stone Mortar. It cures quickly in moderate temperatures, so grouting can take place in as little as two to three hours.
For full resistance to chemical exposure or heavy impacts, an epoxy-based mortar should be specified. Use a 100% solids mortar designed to provide high-strength chemical and impact resistance, such as CUSTOM EBM-Lite™ Epoxy Bonding Mortar.
Tip #2 – Select tiles that are appropriate for the harsh conditions.
Slip-resistant tiles that increase friction are especially important in these conditions. Select tiles that demonstrate a wet dynamic coefficient of friction (DCOF) greater than 0.42 per the new method, the DCOF AcuTest, and are rated Extra Heavy Commercial grade. Consider abrasive or treaded quarry tiles for increased safety.
Restaurants usually experience very heavy traffic with loaded carts, hand trucks and other metal objects. Tile edges at walls, movement joints and doorway transitions are among the first to be damaged. Stainless steel profiles and transitions should be used wherever possible to prevent damage to the installation.
Tip #3 – Use an industrial grade grout.
Commercial kitchens are frequently cleaned and scoured, often with aggressive chemicals and high temperatures. Many of these cleaners, along with pressure washing, can damage both tile and grout.
Protecting the integrity of the grout is a vital component of a successful kitchen. Health authorities can fine or even close restaurants if they see grout disintegration, so recommending the best products will save money in the long run.
These installations require the highest performance, industrial grade, epoxy grout available. Choose a grout that is highly chemical, stain and heat resistant. The grout should also have excellent resistance to the fatty acids that will be encountered throughout the lifetime of the installation.
For example, CUSTOM CEG™IG was developed specifically for unforgiving environments such as commercial kitchens and food processing facilities.
CEG IG meets ANSI A118.3 requirements for epoxy grouts and meets performance requirements of ANSI A118.5 for furan grouts. CEG IG can double as a rapid curing tile setting adhesive since it can also be specified as a mortar.
Tip #4 – Recommend a cleaning regimen.
If you are contracting the project, it’s never too early to recommend a professional cleaning regimen. This is another service you can offer the project owner to extend the life of their tile installation. The 2014 NTCA Reference Manual includes a sample letter that you can send in your project submittal to address this issue right up front.
This is crucial because the tiled surfaces in these kitchens are constantly building up residues that require cleaning in an endless cycle. You don’t want the wrong cleaners to damage your work!
Many cleaners on the market will leave elements behind that damage grout. Choose a neutral or alkaline cleaner to remove the build-up of grease, soap scum and other organic materials. Aqua Mix® Heavy-Duty Tile & Grout Cleaner is a professional grade, concentrated cleaner and degreaser. Heavy-Duty Tile & Grout Cleaner cleans deeply while protecting the tile installation.
Tip #5 – Install a complete system with a warranty.
A system warranty should cover installation materials, tile and labor for at least 10 years. This protects you, the architect, the contractor and the property owner. ..
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