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Specifying Movement Joints and Sealants for Tile and Stone Reviewing current industry standards and design options by Donato Pompo, CTC, CSI, CDT, MBA Photo courtesy Florida Tile IN ONE WAY OR ANOTHER, ALL TILE AND STONE ASSEMBLIES MOVE. WHETHER DUE TO THERMAL OR MOISTURE MOVEMENT, SHRINKAGE, FREEZING, OR DYNAMIC STRUCTURAL MOVEMENTS, TILE AND STONE INSTALLATIONS ARE SUBJECTED TO THEM ALL. TO ENSURE A LONG-LASTING INSTALLATION, ARCHITECTS MUST SPECIFY THE REQUIREMENTS FOR MOVEMENT JOINT DESIGN AND PLACEMENT, ALONG WITH THE CORRECT TYPE OF SEALANT FOR FILLING THOSE JOINTS. A ‘movement joint’ is a general term used for all types of joints seen in construction materials that control and allow movement. Most commonly, they are known as ‘expansion’ or ‘control’ joints, but there are various categories. Generally, they contain an appropriate pliable sealant for the intended application, which is often referred to as a ‘soft’ joint. Movement joints allow for the material in which they are placed to move without restraint; they control where the movement manifests to avoid random cracking in finish materials. An example would be the joints or separations in a concrete sidewalk. If there were no movement joints in the concrete sidewalk, then it would crack at a random point as it is subjected to shrinkage during curing, or to expansion when it is exposed to moisture (and then contraction again as it dries). Rising temperatures cause expansion, lowering temperatures cause contraction, and wet freezing conditions cause both, as the temperature drops and the moisture freezes. 10 the construction specifier | october 2013 CS_October2013.indd 10 9/12/13 9:09:03 AM