Thin-set or Wet-set Installation Applications for Detectable Warning Tile in Curb Ramps
How detectable warning tiles are installed is crucial to the longevity of the project. There are two types of installations that you need to know about: wet-set and thin-set. Both the wet-set and thin-set installation methods can be used on new construction as well as upgrading pre-existing ramps. Each type of installation can provide longevity and durability when installed correctly.
The preferred method for curb ramp installation is referred to as wet-set. A wet-set installation can be done by an experienced concrete finisher. This type of install anchors the cast-in-place truncated dome-tiles into a fresh bed of concrete as the curb ramp is being poured. This application ensures optimum performance and durability with the lowest material costs.
As with the thin-set method, it is highly recommended that all tiles be installed by an experienced tile setter. Unlike wet-setting tiles with concrete, tile setters are experienced in handling other challenges like preparing existing concrete to maximize adhesion, working within tight tolerances to ensure proper product depth, mixing time-sensitive materials and being aware of all fast-dry mortar product specifications.
Tiles installed using a thin-set method require a polymer enhanced mortar to bond the tiles to a pre-existing substrate. This depth of the substrate is much thinner, (1/4” - 3/8”) as compared to 3”- 6” of concrete. Thin-set installations are used when depth constraints are a concern such as in multi-level parking lots where electrical, plumbing or rebar are integrated into the flooring where the tiles are to be installed. Thin-set installs are generally more expensive due to the cost of the polymer-enhanced mortar.
Wet-set installation occurs in fresh concrete. Tools needed for installing domes include a cordless drill, mixing paddle, magnesium and rubber floats, non-marring rubber mallet and mortar mix. It’s also important to check the layout of the dome tiles and to precut the material prior to the concrete arriving.
The key components for a wet-set installation are fresh concrete and fresh mortar applied to the back of the dome tiles with 100% coverage. In addition, it is important to know the concrete is of the correct slump, that the anchors have been installed and the mortar has been applied to the tiles. The correct slump ensures that when the tile is worked into position using the rubber mallet, the vibration forces the mortar to flow around the anchors encapsulating them before the concrete is cured. This process creates a monolithic structure of the tile and concrete substrate.
Thin-set installation requires that the recessed area for the detectable warning tiles have a defined, uniform depth able to accept both the tile and thin-set mortar. The tile-bed finish must also have the correct concrete surface profile for bonding. Tools needed for the project include a cordless drill, mixing paddle, notched and rubber trowels, non-marring rubber mallet and mortar mix. For the installation, a key component is a notched trowel to ensure a uniform amount of material is applied to the back of the tile as well as the substrate. Follow the thin-set manufacturer’s instructions at all times.
Thin-set installations of detectable dome tiles need to be protected from heavy foot traffic for up to a week. Areas that receive less foot traffic are walkable after 24 hours. Further, the installation should be protected from frost, rain, and immersion in water for 21 days. To ensure durability, always follow the thin-set manufacturer’s instructions.
ADA compliant sidewalks support a world that is accessible to everyone. No matter what your curb ramp project may be, our industry experts can help you determine what type of tiles and installation are best. Talk with one of our industry experts at (866) 439-3216 to determine what would be best for your situation.