Review of Tuscan Tile Leveling System

Discussion in 'Shower & Bathtub Forum & Blog' started by DougB, Jul 10, 2014.

  1. DougB

    DougB Member

    Why buy a tile leveling system? I did because I’m not a pro, and I had 300 sq/ft of 12x12 wall tile and 70 sq/ft of 12x24 floor tile. I wanted to eliminate lippage.

    I researched several tile leveling systems, before choosing the Tuscan Leveling System (TLS). The reason I liked it was because the T straps that pull against the tile are thin, and mechanically pulling the strap against the cap looked secure, and ergonomic. Here’s what the straps, and caps look like:

    TLS_Straps.jpg

    You need a special tool to pull and tighten the straps. They have a ‘standard’ tool for $50, or a ‘pro’ tool for about $200. I opted for the standard one:

    TLS_Tool.jpg
    Right off – the standard tool has ‘cushioned’ grips. This cushioning material is a joke – it is not durable – the top handle grip arrived split, and soon fell off, the bottom cushion grip is split. This is after 250 sq/ft of tile.

    I used a 3/8 x ¼ notched trowel, Ardex x77, and I back buttered all tiles. The straps need to be hydrated, I soaked them in water for at least 12 hrs.

    What I found: The combination of the back buttered tile and the Ardex created so much of a suction force that I had to thin the Ardex (not a lot), otherwise the straps would break before pulling adjacent tiles into alignment. Even at that, some straps would break before the tiles were aligned. The instructions are to use a strap 2” in from the corner. What this amounts to is 2 straps for each side – I needed to exert enough force to align the tiles. Even at that, I sometimes would need to use the trowel (on the tile to be lifited) to break the suction of the thinset, so the TLS could level the tile.

    The TLS did help in leveling the tiles.

    I cannot recommend the TLS for several reasons:

    You need to juggle the straps, holding them between the tile, as you lower the tile into the thinset. Once the tile is contacting the thinset, it’s very difficult to slide a strap under a tile.

    Sometimes the straps break (while trying to level the tile) with little force. I didn't feel the strap design allowed for sufficient force. But what’s unusual, the next day it took much more force to break them off.

    The tool is not well designed. When breaking the straps off – it pinches your palm between the thumb and index finger. Also the cushion grips are a joke. They should give these tools away with say a $200 purchase.

    When you stop for the day, you can just "slide the unused strap" out from under the last tile, and continue the next day. Are they kidding? I thoroughly cleaned out the gap between the tile and the wall - but thinset residue remains and it's a bear to get the strap back into that gap.

    Lastly, value. It costs 25 cents a strap – that is $1 a tile! To me it looks like the straps should be 5 cents a piece. The standard tool is worth about $10.

    Next time, I would try a wedge type system.
  2. RedShoecounterbalance

    RedShoecounterbalance Active Member

    Messages:
    459
    Location:
    Minnesota
    DougB

    1. CORRECTED BELOW! The straps need to be soaked in a bucket of water before you use them for breakage reasons.

    2. At the end of day use wedges or shims to support the tile you left off with so it doesnt settle low as mortar shrinks/sets, also carve out a bit of thinset so tomorrow your strap will slide in the hole and of course backfill as you move fwd..

    3. The cleaner you are in setting and keeping grout joints clear ( i use a tooth brush with water as I go to keep joints clear) the easier the straps remove. If you dont mix your mortar just right it becomes a wet soppy mess, to dry and your screwed.



    The tuscan works better than the PROLEVEL pommel caps, but it simply is too expensive. I want to try the MLT but its more expensive yet. Glad I can bid jobs and float my tiles level/flat without the aid of these tools, when I have the budget I add them into my bid for bigger or more demanding installs. some jobs you cant bring them with or youll get teased and ridiculed by the other pros!!


    EDIT!!!! I can read, sometimes not before i type!! Doug I see you soaked them afterall. While I am not promoting TLS at all. I have burned thru a lot of straps and tools until I just refused to pay for more of their expensive product.

    I have not had such a hard time as you. with their system.

    The only other question is "How un guaged is that tile? is it just a light texture on top or is not guaged? The tuscan straps you used are meant only for Guaged tile(meaning perfect thickness of material from tile to tile.

    Anyways you have spoke your 2 cents on that product !! well done.........Next time Ill come over and teach you to float with medium bed and levels. !!! you can pay me a consultation fee and not buy any straps/caps/tools....!!!!!!
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2014
  3. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple Bathroom Design & Build - North Vancouver, B.C.

    Messages:
    4,553
    Location:
    North Vancouver, BC
    Doug I hate these little toys. You end up leaving bond breakers under the tile and lots of times in the corners where the tile is the weakest.

    A tile install needs 90% coverage under the tile and 100% on the corners and edges - this is not possible with the Tuscan Levelling System.
  4. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,187
    Location:
    New England
    You're not supposed to install the TLS clip closer than 2" from a corner...the corners are supported.
  5. RedShoecounterbalance

    RedShoecounterbalance Active Member

    Messages:
    459
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Doug I edited my premature response in OP above......
  6. DougB

    DougB Member

    It's not that I had such a hard time with their system - but it was more of a let down - and that crappy tool for $50 bucks is a real rip off. Also, after the fact, I realized that it's 25 cents a strap - $1 a tile!! That's the real rip off.

    I mainly wrote the review to warn some other DIY'er from becoming a 'chump' like me :)

    John calls it a Toy. I call it a Crutch.

    Consultation fee? You mean Beefeaters / Crown Royal / Boddings Pub Ale?
  7. RedShoecounterbalance

    RedShoecounterbalance Active Member

    Messages:
    459
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Lets
    Lets keep it local and beer only... I suggest Indeed brewing "daytripper". ! Or surly furious........ But yes thats a deal!
  8. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple Bathroom Design & Build - North Vancouver, B.C.

    Messages:
    4,553
    Location:
    North Vancouver, BC
    Counter can we now call you "Sitting Bull" ?
  9. RedShoecounterbalance

    RedShoecounterbalance Active Member

    Messages:
    459
    Location:
    Minnesota
    I prefer chief redshoe!!!!! The indians up here used natures showers .....

    Attached Files:

  10. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple Bathroom Design & Build - North Vancouver, B.C.

    Messages:
    4,553
    Location:
    North Vancouver, BC
    OK Chief Red Shoe.....

    My Native Name is TeKaya - Not sure how it's spelled but you pronuce it Ta-KI-Ya

    "The Wolf" - How awesome is that. I was given this name to me by the elders at Big House.

    [​IMG]
    Big House

    [​IMG]

    I was a Parent Elder for my daughter's class last year. An amazing time and experience. Slept there overnight and protected over my group with a throwing hatchet and all my knives!!! LOL

    [​IMG]

    When I was there I asked the Chief what he thought of levelling systems. He said they suck!
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