Lighter loads

Lighten the load

By Jason Brunt, Ceramic Product Manager at Mapei UK.

Lightweight adhesives have been produced for the UK market for a number of years and continue to grow in popularity in tandem with the trend for large format thin porcelain tiles.

When choosing a tile of the large format type, an adhesive to match in its ability to perform whilst also being lightweight in itself is an obvious choice. Mapei Ultralite products weigh less than standard adhesive but produce more; yielding up to 60 to 80% more coverage in the same weight of standard materials.

Although light weight adhesives are being specified more commonly there are still some misconceptions surrounding these products; for example, that you need a larger quantity of a lightweight adhesive to complete a tiling project. As manufacturers we create lightweight products by substituting one raw material for another to produce an overall lighter weight product. I often use the analogy “which material weighs heavier: a tonne of feathers or a tonne of lead?” during training sessions for Mapei’s Ultralite adhesive to illustrate this.

You will be pleased to know that we do not use feathers or lead in Mapei adhesives but rather a multitude of different raw materials as the filler part of the adhesive. At Mapei we use lightweight recycled rubber crumb and glass bead technology.

Lightweight adhesives have a number of advantages over regular weight tiling adhesives, with positive effects for both the manufacturer and installer not least in reduced transportation costs and benefits to installer health and safety.

Lighter weight adhesives are normally sold in 15kg bags and can cover approximately the same surface area as a 25kg bag of standard weight material, which ultimately has a major impact on the transportation of products manufactured in the UK. Lighter bags enable more “meterage” per load to be transported saving on fuel and vehicle costs, therefore producing less emissions. This benefit is also applicable on a smaller scale for vans used by tile installers; less weight and strain on the vehicle transporting lighter weight adhesives means less fuel used and reduced transportation costs.

Lightweight adhesives: The impact for installers
We see on a daily basis tile installers carrying one or two 20kg bags on one shoulder. When considering the materials are often transported up flights of stairs this can also have a detrimental effect on the installer’s health. Mapei have built carry handles into the top of each 15kg bag, meaning they are easier to transport by hand and also balance the body when carried.

A good trowelling ability is a key consideration for installers. Using spherical raw materials in the products means that the trowel-ability of the product is lighter and easier, much in the same way that rolling a spherical object along a flat surface is far easier than rolling an angular material. Although these particles are microscopic, when they are bulked in mass the reality is that the lightweight product produced with glass beads will spread easier than the standard adhesive which is bulked using angular sand. In turn this puts less strain on arms, shoulders and neck when trowelling for long periods of time.

In terms of costing, at first glance the price of each bag of lightweight adhesive appears to be more expensive. With lightweight adhesives it is the cost per square metre rather than cost per unit which must be taken into consideration. Benefits to the installer’s health and the environment are also vastly improved when looking at the costs in terms of time and transportation.

The Ultralite product
The development of light weight green materials is something Mapei invests a high level of research and development in throughout their 18 research and development laboratories worldwide.

Mapei’s comprehensive range of lightweight adhesives includes standard and rapid setting cement based and a ready mixed product.

The standard setting products Ultralite S1 and Ultralite S2 are available in grey and white and have a pot life of 8hrs; this is ideal when installing more intricate works as the adhesive will remain workable for the day. The long open time is of added benefit when installing large format porcelain tiles (3mx1m for example) and allows the adhesive to be spread on to the wall or floor surface as well as the reverse of the tile without the product skinning over before contact is made. Being a lightweight adhesive, it also reduces the weight of the adhesive on the reverse of the tile when back combing.

Rapid setting products Ultralite Rapid Flex S1 and Ultralite S2 Quick are ideal for the faster floor tile installations. The larger the tile the greater the requirement for an S1 or S2 classified adhesive. While S1 and S2 is the grading of deformability of the adhesive, the main reason we increase the specification of the adhesive to an S2 (for example) is not due to its deformability, but rather the tolerance for lateral movement and increased bond strength to the reverse of the tile and substrate. By the very nature of large format tiles we eliminate many grout joints, which therefore leads to less allowance for movement, placing more stress on the bond to the tile. The higher the specification of adhesive, the less chance there is of having a tile install failure.

Ultralite D2 is a new product to the Mapei range. “Brilliant white”, ready mixed and easy to trowel, the new addition to the range has very good non-slip properties with all the benefits of being lightweight and easy to transport.

Ultraflex S2 Quick is Mapei’s longest standing lightweight adhesive. Although not lightweight by name, the product still has a higher yield than standard adhesives from its 15kg bag and makes for an excellent adhesive when we are looking to fast track installations. Formulated to work well with sand: cement screeds that may not have gone through full curing process, after 48 hours of the sand: cement screed being installed, porcelain tiles can be fixed using Ultraflex S2 Quick.

Using recycled materials in the formulation of the adhesives, advantages for the environment when reducing transportation, positive effects on the health and safety of tile installers and those who handle the materials, not mentioning the benefits in performance of materials, Mapei are paving the way in technology of lightweight adhesive manufacture.

Email or call 0121 508 6970 for more information on Mapei’s range of lightweight adhesives and how they can be used in your project.

View the Ultralite® training video on Mapei’s YouTube channel.

Mapei UK Ltd
Mapei House
Steel Park Road
West Midlands B62 8HD
T: 0121 508 6970