Helpful Hints


How To Do It Yourself

A successful tile installation guarantees years of trouble-free performance and increases your home's value and beauty. To properly install tile, careful planning is important. For the best results follow the steps below:

  1. Surface Preparation

  2. Layout

  3. Setting Tile

  4. Grouting Joints

1. Surface Preparation

Ceramic tile may be installed over most structurally-sound substrates. Make sure all surfaces to be tiled 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 all moldings, trims, appliances, etc. which may interfere with the installation. Door jambs may be undercut for tiles to slip under.

2. Layout

When tiling walls, tubs, or shower areas, begin by finding the center point of the wall. Use a level to draw a plumb line in the center of the wall.

Align a row of loose tiles across the bottom of the wall from the center line, leaving uniform joints between tiles.

If your tiles have integral spacer lugs, the tiles can be abutted to automatically leave consistent 1/16" joints. If this layout leaves small cuts (less than 1/2 tile) at walls then adjust plumb center line a half tile closer to the side wall.

Now determine the lowest point of the floor (or tub) by horizontally using a level. Stack two tiles here, and at the top draw a horizontal line on the wall. With a level, continue the line around all side walls to be tiles. This line is a guideline for the first row of tiles to be set above.

Begin installing tiles to the center of the wall above the horizontal guideline. Install one half of the back wall at a time. Set the lower two rows last. Cut and fit bottom tiles against the floor (or tub) if not level. Leave a 1/8" gap above the tub for caulking to seal around tub.

Repeat the above process for side walls. Mark outside tile lines on walls that will not be completely tiled in order to spread adhesive.

Leave out tiles where you plan to install ceramic accessories (soap dish, towel bar, etc.) Use bullnose trim pieces to finish edges on walls where necessary.

3. Setting Tile

Variation of shade and texture is an inherent characteristic of ceramic tiles. For a blended effect, mix tiles from several cartons as you set.

Applying Adhesives

Spread a 1/4" thick coat of adhesive onto the surface of one grid area using the flat side of the trowel. Do not cover the guidelines. When completed, immediately use the notch side of the trowel to comb adhesive into standing ridges by holding the trowel at a 45 degree angle. Remove any excess adhesive, leaving the setting bed uniform and ridged. Spread no more area than can be set in 15 minutes.

Setting Tile

After determining the appropriate adhesive and mortar, begin setting the tile. 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. Do not slide tiles into place. Insert tile spacers as each tile is set, or leave equal joints between tiles. Continue until all tiles within the grid are set. When grid is completely installed, tap the tiles in with a rubber mallet or hammer and wood block to ensure a good bond and a level plane.

Remove any excess adhesive from joints with a putty knife and from the face of tiles with a damp sponge before moving on to the next grid.

Each grid must be installed correctly and completely within the layout grid lines for a successful overall installation.

Cutting Tile

Measure tiles to be cut carefully and mark with a pencil or felt-tip pen. Edges that are too sharp may be smoothed with a carborundum stone. Make straight or diagonal cuts using a tile cutter. Make small curved cuts with nippers. Chip away small pieces for best results. Make full length curved cuts with a rod saw. Soap dishes, towel bars, paper holders, etc. should be set in the spaces left out for them.

Apply a room temperature, vulcanizing silicone sealant to the back of each accessory. Position over hole and press firmly. Wipe off any excess silicone that may have leaked out from the sides. Use masking tap to hold in place and prevent slippage during cure time. After 24 hours, remove tape and grout perimeter edges.

4. Grouting Joints

Determine the grout color of your choice. For best results, choose on the color-coordinates with the tile.

Carefully read all instructions and precautions on the package. Mix grout according to instructions. Make only enough to use within about 30 minutes. Wear protective gloves to protect your skin.

Spread the mixed grout on the tiled surface, forcing grout down into joints with a rubber grout float or squeegee. Tilt the float at a 45 degree angle to aid the compacting action.

Remove excess grout from the surface immediately with edge of float. Tilt float at a 90 degree angle and scrape it diagonally across the tiles. Continue the process of compacting, then scraping off excess, until you have grouted for approximately 30 minutes or when the mixture begins to stiffen.

Discard stiffened grout mixture and begin cleanup procedure.