Important updates to British Standard 5385-1:2018

Following a 5 year review, BSI have made important updates to British Standard 5385-1:2018 Design and installation of ceramic, natural stone and mosaic wall tiling in normal conditions – code of practice.

Published in June 2018, perhaps the most significant change to BS 5385-1:2018 is the exclusion of plywood and other wood-based boards as a suitable background material for fixing ceramic and natural stone tiles to walls.

The British Standard states that “the use of sheets or boards subject to movement from changes in moisture content should be avoided. Plywood and other wood-based sheets or boards should not be used for direct tiling.” In place of  this, the Standard now recommends that use of tile backer boards when tiling directly on to walls. For clarification on the best tile backer board for your installation, please contact UltraTileFix’s team of technical experts by calling 01827 254402.

It is worth noting that, whilst plywood and other wood-based boards are no longer recommended for direct wall tiling, good quality plywood is a perfectly acceptable substrate for floor tiling, providing it is properly braced to be rigid and non-deflecting, and is not being used in wet areas.

Alongside this important update, BSI have also added a number of recommendations to BS 5385-1:2018, which reflect the latest changes in the tiling industry.

Over recent years  there has been a significant increase in tile types and sizes available to purchase, with larger formats and  thin ceramic panels rising in popularity. With this in mind, the Standard has been revised to include guidance on how to best apply these new varieties of tile, for example, tiles of a certain weight, such as 9mm porcelain tiles which weigh over 14kg, “should be solidly bedded regardless of their size.”

Grout widths are also considered in the 2018 Standard, concluding that joint widths should vary depending on the facial area of a tile. For instance, smaller tiles which measure up to 600mm in length require a minimum joint width of 2mm and larger tiles, up to 1200mm in length, should have a minimum joint width of 3mm. The Standard also advises that joints between ceramic panels should increase relative to the panel size, for example, a ceramic panel 3m in length requires a minimum joint width of 5mm.

It is vital that everyone working in the tiling industry understands and implements these important changes. For further information on the revised British Standard or to request a free on-site visit, please contact Alan Collins, UltraTileFix’s Technical Field Support and Training Manager, by calling 07825 427654 or emailing