Wall Tiles

For walls, backsplashes, and even counters.


Step 1:

Surface Preparation

Tile may be installed over most structurally sound substrates, if they are clean, smooth, dry and free of wax, soap scum and grease. Any damaged, loose, or uneven areas must be repaired, patched and leveled. Remove any moldings, trim, appliances, etc., which could interfere with installation. Door jambs may be undercut for tile to slip under.


Step 2:

Wall Layout

Begin by finding the center point of the wall, using a level to draw a plumb line in the wall's center. Lay out a row of loose tiles across the bottom of the wall from the center line leaving uniform joints between tiles.

If this layout leaves cuts smaller than 1/2 tile, adjust center line 1/2 tile closer to the side wall. Next, determine the lowest point of the floor or tub, using a level horizontally. Stack two tiles here, and at the top draw a horizontal line on the wall. With the level, continue the line around all side walls to be tiled. This is a guideline for the first row of tiles to be set above.


Step 3:

Applying Adhesive

Select the right adhesive for the substrate you're using. Carefully read and follow all instructions and precautions on the adhesive or mortar package. Mix only enough to be used within 30 minutes. Using the type trowel recommended on the adhesive package, spread a 1/4" coat on the surface of one grid area, using the flat side of the trowel.

Do not cover guidelines. Next, use the notched side of trowel to comb adhesive into standing ridges by holding trowel at a 45-degree angle. Then remove excess adhesive, leaving a uniform, ridged setting bed. Don't spread a larger area than can be set in 15 minutes.


Step 4:

Cutting Tile

Measure tiles to be cut carefully and mark with a pencil or felt-tip pen. Make straight or diagonal cuts with a tile cutter, curved cuts with a nipper (chipping away small pieces for best results), full-length curved cuts with a rod saw. Sharp-cut edges may be smoothed with a carborundum stone.


Step 5:

Setting Tile

Variation of shades is an inherent characteristic of ceramic tile -- mix tiles from several cartons as you set, for a blended effect. Begin installing tiles in the center of the room, one grid at a time. Finish each grid before moving to the next. Start with the first tile in the corner of the grid and work outward. Set tiles one at a time using a slight twisting motion. Don't slide tiles into place. Insert tile spacers as each tile is set, or leave equal joints between tiles. Fit perimeter tiles in each grid last, leaving 1/4" gap between tile and wall.

Any rectangle porcelain should never be set in a running bond pattern, rather no more than a 1/3 overlap, the joint should be widened to 3/16" and use of a large unit porcelain mortar should be employed. When grid is completely installed, tap in all tiles with a rubber mallet or hammer and wood block, to ensure a good bond and level plane. Remove excess adhesive from joints with a putty knife, and from tile with a damp sponge.


Step 6:

Grouting Joints

Generally, you should wait about 24 hours before grouting (refer to the adhesive package for specifics). Carefully read and follow all instructions and precautions on the grout package. Make only enough to use in about 30 minutes. Remove tile spacers and spread grout on the tile surface, forcing down into joints with a rubber grout float or squeegee. Tilt the float at a 45-degree angle. Remove excess grout from surface immediately with the edge of float. Tilt it at a 90-degree angle and scrape it diagonally across tiles.

Wait 15-20 minutes for grout to set slightly, then use a damp sponge to clean grout residue from surface and smooth the grout joints. Rinse sponge frequently and change water as needed. Let dry until grout is hard and haze forms on tile surface, then polish with a soft cloth. Rinse again with sponge and clean water if necessary. Wait 72 hours for heavy use. Don't apply sealers or polishes for three weeks, and then only in accordance with manufacturer's recommendations.


Floor Tiles

Where to begin to achieve amazing results.


Step 1:

Surface Preparation

Tile may be installed over most structurally sound substrates, if they are clean, smooth, dry and free of wax, soap scum and grease. Any damaged, loose or uneven areas must be repaired, patched and leveled. Remove any moldings, trim, appliances, etc., which could interfere with installation. Door jambs may be undercut for tile to slip under.


Step 2:

Layout

Begin by marking the center point of all four walls. Snap chalk lines between the center points of opposite walls, which will intersect at the center of room. Make sure they're perfectly square, and adjust if necessary. Next, lay out a row of loose tiles along the center lines in both directions, leaving spaces for uniform joints (use tile spacers).

If this layout leaves cuts smaller than 1/2 tile at walls, adjust the center line by snapping a new line 1/2 tile closer to the wall. Repeat along other center line if necessary. Now divide the room into smaller grids (approx. 2' x 3') by snapping additional lines parallel to center lines.


Step 3:

Applying Adhesive

Select the right adhesive for the substrate you're using. Carefully read and follow all instructions and precautions on the adhesive or mortar package. Mix only enough to be used within 30 minutes. Using the type trowel recommended on the adhesive package, spread a 1/4" coat on the surface of one grid area, using the flat side of the trowel.

Do not cover guidelines. Next, use the notched side of trowel to comb adhesive into standing ridges by holding trowel at a 45-degree angle. Then remove excess adhesive, leaving a uniform, ridged setting bed. Don't spread a larger area than can be set in 15 minutes.


Step 4:

Cutting Tile

Measure tiles to be cut carefully and mark with a pencil or felt-tip pen. Make straight or diagonal cuts with a tile cutter, curved cuts with a nipper (chipping away small pieces for best results), full-length curved cuts with a rod saw. Sharp-cut edges may be smoothed with a carborundum stone..


Step 5:

Setting Tile

Variation of shades is an inherent characteristic of ceramic tile -- mix tiles from several cartons as you set, for a blended effect. Begin installing tiles in the center of the room, one grid at a time. Finish each grid before moving to the next. Start with the first tile in the corner of the grid and work outward. Set tiles one at a time using a slight twisting motion. Don't slide tiles into place. Insert tile spacers as each tile is set, or leave equal joints between tiles. Fit perimeter tiles in each grid last, leaving 1/4" gap between tile and wall.

Any rectangle porcelain should never be set in a running bond pattern, rather no more than a 1/3 overlap, the joint should be widened to 3/16" and use of a large unit porcelain mortar should be employed. When grid is completely installed, tap in all tiles with a rubber mallet or hammer and wood block, to ensure a good bond and level plane. Remove excess adhesive from joints with a putty knife, and from tile with a damp sponge. Do not walk on tiles until they are set (usually in 24 hours).


Step 6:

Grouting Joints

Generally, you should wait about 24 hours before grouting (refer to the adhesive package for specifics). Carefully read and follow all instructions and precautions on the grout package. Make only enough to use in about 30 minutes. Remove tile spacers and spread grout on the tile surface, forcing down into joints with a rubber grout float or squeegee. Tilt the float at a 45-degree angle. Remove excess grout from surface immediately with the edge of float. Tilt it at a 90-degree angle and scrape it diagonally across tiles.

Wait 15-20 minutes for grout to set slightly, then use a damp sponge to clean grout residue from surface and smooth the grout joints. Rinse sponge frequently and change water as needed. Let dry until grout is hard and haze forms on tile surface, then polish with a soft cloth. Rinse again with sponge and clean water if necessary. Wait 72 hours for heavy use. Don't apply sealers or polishes for three weeks, and then only in accordance with manufacturer's recommendations.


Large Format Tiles

When installed properly, large format tiles can retain their beauty for years and years.

Large format tile installation requires particular attention to proper substrate preparation, grout joint sizing, trowel selection, and mortar coverage. It is critical that large format tile be installed on a level substrate. Additionally, there must be at least 90% mortar contact and the tile should be installed in accordance per the grout joint recommendations of each tile series.

Refer to the published installation instructions prepared by your preferred manufacturer of setting materials for optimal tools and setting methods to achieve your desired result.

Installation Requirement: For proper bonding, medium bed mortar should be used in installing tiles with a dimensional length greater than 15 inches on any one side of the tile. Back buttering tiles of this nature in the installation process will also assure proper coverage for body.


Choosing Grout

The right color grout can make a huge difference in how the tile will look.


Match

If you're looking for a less pronounced grout line, select a grout color that "matches" your tile selection. Selecting a grout color that is one shade either lighter or darker helps tie everything together. This is also an advisable choice when your tile has only one color because it helps create a fluid look. This can also be the best option when using more expensive tiles, such as marble tiles or granite tiles.


Contrast

If you're looking to make the tile stand out, select a contrasting grout color to your tile. This frames each tile and draws attention to them. You will also want to look at using a thicker grout in this instance to really highlight your tile selection. This is a good choice for more decorative tile patterns.


Neutral

If you're looking for what some feel is the safest choice, select a "neutral" grout color from the tans, beiges, or grays. If you want something that will have mass appeal, a neutral matching color is the most widely recommended approach.

Other Grout Considerations

The selection of your grout color is important to achieve your desired look; however, you still need to consider the type of grout being used. Grout functions to bond tiles and stone edges together and prevent chipping so it is important you or your tile contractor understand the types of grout available.

You should also consider traffic patterns in the room where your tile and grout will be used when selecting a color. A very light grout is probably not a good idea for a busy kitchen, but could be ideal for a less used guest bath. Note: A darker grout will fade quicker, while a lighter color will show stains and dirt.


How to Grout Tile

After lots of planning and hard work, your tile project is nearing completion and it’s looking as beautiful as you had envisioned. And while you’re close to the end, don’t underestimate the value of the grout.

Though it may appear to be nothing more than sand and cement, the grout you choose can add color, character and charisma to the project you worked so hard on.


Step 1:

Prepare & Apply

Before you begin, be sure that you have the proper tools and materials on hand. Be sure to have grout, water, grout sealer and if necessary, caulk. As for tools, you'll need a grout float, sponge, a small paintbrush to apply grout sealer and a caulking gun, if needed.

Next, make sure your tile has had the proper amount of time to set. This is important as grouting too soon may cause your tiles to shift. Typically, you should let your tile set for 24 hours but consult the manufacturer's instructions for exact timing. Also, make sure that all spacers are removed prior to adding grout.


Select a grout that is recommended by the tile manufacturer for best results and follow the mixing instructions on the package. Once you have mixed the grout to the required consistency, you're ready to begin.

Apply enough grout to fill the grout joints of a small area of your project. Using the grout float and a sweeping motion, work the grout into the joints keeping the float at a 45 degree angle to help ensure they are completely filled. Once filled, use the float in the same manner to remove any excess grout. Move on to the next small area and repeat the steps until all grout joints have been filled.

When the grout begins to harden - it should just take a few minutes - use your sponge to wipe down the tiles and be careful not to remove any grout from the grout joints. Once the grout hardens completely, you'll need to break out the sponge again to remove any haze that has appeared during the process.


Step 2:

Seal

A few days after applying grout to your project, you'll want to add a grout sealer. Typically, timing is 3-7 days after pplication but refer to the instructions on the sealer for the best outcome.

Adding grout sealer to your grout will help protect it from stains that might otherwise occur. You'll want to use a sealer specified for the grout used in the project and follow the application instructions that come with the sealer.


Step 3:

Keet It Dry

Now that you've applied the sealer, you’ll want to keep the area traffic-free until the sealer has cured. Consult the manufacturer's instructions on the sealer for specifics.

Once cured, you can test the effectiveness of the sealer by putting a little water on the grout where you applied the sealer. If it puddles, the sealer is working. Now it's time to sit back and enjoy your efforts!

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