How to Install Handmade Tile
This is a basic guide to install your own tiles.
Adhesive and Grout to use with Handmade Tile
Recommended Brands: TEC Superflex, Mapie, C-Cure, Custom Building Products
Before You Begin
Concrete is the best surface to adhere tile to and comes in three forms for tile installations:
Surface Preparation for Handmade Tiles
The work surface must be structurally sound, dry, and free from oil, grease, dust, loose or peeling paint, concrete sealers or curing compounds. Clean all surfaces with a dry towel. Sand painted surfaces. All wood should be sealed with a polyurethane. Begin when fully dry.
Mortar and Adhesives for Handmade Tiles
The Handmade Tile Association recommends using a concrete based mortar adhesive.
Silicone or PL 200 may be used to adhere tiles for smaller projects, and silicone specifically for glass tiles as it dries clear. If you plan to adhere tile to wood, we recommend PL 200. Both come in caulking tube dispensers.
Notched trowels are used to spread and "comb" adhesives onto the underpayment. Two sides of the trowel are notched with either "V" or "square-shaped" notches.
Trowels also come in different notch depths. Use one that's two-thirds the thickness of the tile you're setting.
If you don't want to invest a lot in trowels, you can get less expensive plastic ones at your tile supply store.
Many handmade tiles are not completely flat. That's when you need to "back butter" the tiles individually. Spread the adhesive on the back of the tile with a notched trowel. If the tile is too small you can also use a margin trowel to spread the adhesive and scratch in notches with the edge of the trowel. Set the tile giving it a little twist to insure good contact with the underlayment.
Always clean your hands, tools, and bucket in a separate bucket with clean water. Mortar dumped in the sink will ruin the drain.
Grout for Handmade Tiles
Grout is the filler between the tile joints. It is a concrete material but not an adhesive.
There are three types of grout: Sanded, Unsanded, and Epoxy
Follow manufacturer's directions. If grouting dimensional or matte tiles, use masking tape to protect the tile surface. Taping speeds the clean up process and prevents grout from adhering to unglazed areas. Remove tape once grout has been cleaned.
Choosing a grout color
This example of grout choices is on the same color glazed tiles. There are significant differences when choosing a grout color. White grouts with dark colors will create a griding effect. Gray grout is the old standby; you usually can't go wrong. Black grout can be beautiful, but it will fill any crackles in the glaze and will show up changing the look of un grouted tile, so do a test before settling on black grout.
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