construction worker pours cement for sidewalk

Let’s Talk Installation for Detectable Warning Dome Tiles

While the quality and durability of the detectable warning dome tiles are absolutely vital, they are only as good as their installation process. Let’s talk about installation processes.

Installation is when two or more materials are adhered together to form a strong bond. In this case, we have the detectable warning dome tiles that will be bonded to the substrate, the underlying substance or layer, with an adhesive. All the materials might be of the highest quality, but if the installation process is poor, then the integrity of the other materials will be compromised.

To complete a project, such as a sidewalk handicap ramp, two things are necessary: high-quality detectable warning tiles and a solid installation process. The best detectable warning dome tiles should have a history of durability and longevity, and the installation process must promote a secure bond between the substrate, fresh concrete, and the tiles. This installation process is called a monolithic installation.

Not all installation processes hold up the same under the stresses of daily traffic, whether vehicular or pedestrian. Detectable warning dome tiles are sturdy but only as sturdy as the substrate and adhesive. Depending on the project, it’s advisable to consider the installation process for each detectable warning dome tile application.

The key difference between wet-set and thin-set installations comes down to the materials used to bond the two surfaces together. However, a couple of other differences exist between the two installation styles.

Wet-set installation, also known as monolithic installation, is almost always used in new construction or freshly reconstructed sidewalk ramps. Generally, a minimum of 3-4 inches of fresh concrete with the correct slump bonds the substrate and the detectable warning dome tiles. To further bond the materials, the use of mortar to back-butter the tile and a proven anchoring system is also used.

Concrete contractors agree that wet-set installations are the easiest and most cost-effective method for detectable warning dome tile applications.

Thin-set installation uses a thin layer of a polymer-enhanced mortar applied to the back of the tile and the substrate to provide the adhesion necessary to bond the detectable dome tiles with the base of a shallow recessed area. The depth of the thin-set mortar is determined by the manufacturer based on the tile size and weight. Thin-set materials are generally more expensive but are used in applications where depth constraints within the substrate prohibit the use of a thicker bed of concrete.

At StrongGo, we encourage the use of both wet-set and thin-set installation methods depending on the application. As always, the most cost-effective means of installation is the wet-set method that takes advantage of both the buttering of the tiles with mortar and the proven anchoring system for a monolithic structure. Speak to an industry professional today to determine your options by emailing


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