How to lay down ceramic tiles

August 11, 2014

Do you need to lay down new ceramic tiles at home? Doing it yourself actually isn't as difficult as you may think. Read on to find out how you can get this job done yourself.

How to lay down ceramic tiles

Make sure to properly prepare the surface on which you plan to mount the tiles first. The surface should be as smooth and straight as possible.

Here are a few things you may need to get the job done.

Your materials

  • Grout and glue
  • Plastic braces (to space the tiles)
  • Large sponge and cloth
  • Rubber gloves (grout is corrosive)
  • Boilers (grout, glue, water)
  • Grout applicator
  • Sealant for joints and a foam brush
  • A protective ceramic sealant (if the surface is porous), and suitable applicator brush.
  • Chalk line and a pencil
  • Two serrated trowels, one large and one straight for corners
  • Ceramic cutter
  • Measuring tape, bubble level and a framing square

Be sure to calculate an extra 15 to 20 per cent of surface area when trying to figure out how many square feet of tile you need. Due to cutting, there will be loss of some tile and you don't want to end up short-handed.

Prepare your surface area

  • Draw two reference lines to cross at a right angle.

It’s best to start near a wall, but not along it. The lines are rarely perfectly straight. Making use of the chalk line and good measurements will allow you divide the surface into four quadrants.

  • Be very careful as both glue and mortar dry very quickly. It is best to use small quantities at a time.

How to install your ceramic tiles

  • Start at the inside line of one of the right angles you drew. Apply an even layer of mortar with the flat side of your trowel, allow the two lines to guide you. Make a square of mortar large enough for a few tiles. Now go over your mortar with the serrated side of the trowel to create grooves.
  • Apply the edge of the first ceramic tile at the junction of the right angle and press down hard so that it adheres to the glue.
  • Glue the edge of the next ceramic tile on one side of the previous one and let it "settle" on the glue (if the glue is on the ground). Next, pull it apart slightly to separate them from each other and then press to adhere. This will prevent an accumulation of mortar between two tiles.
  • Insert the plastic braces to create equal spaces and install the next ceramic tile on the second side of the first tile you inserted.
  • Cover the entire surface with glue, and then repeat these steps.
  • Place the bubble level over the ceramic tiles to make sure they are straight.

Do the same for the next three quadrants, and then let stand for 24 hours. Just be sure to remove the plastic space braces before the glue sets.

Be careful with grout sealer

  • Grout sealer dries even faster than mortar. Therefore it is necessary to fill the spaces with the grout applicator quickly.
  • After five minutes, the surface should be cleaned with a damp sponge. This step should be repeated at least three times.
  • Twenty four hours later, you may apply the sealant on the grout or over the entire surface of the tiles if the ceramic is porous.

Tip: Wet the surface of the ceramic before applying the grout. It will be less sticky.

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