A primary tool is a notched trowel with the notches
of the depth recommended by the adhesive
manufacturers. A trowel with notches on one side and
smooth on the other is preferred. Different sized trowels
A tile cutter is the most efficient tool for cutting
ceramic tile. The scribe on the cutter has a tungsten
carbide tip. A glass cutter can be used but quickly dulls.
Use tile nippers when trimming irregular shapes.
Nip off very small pieces of the tile you are cutting.
Attempting to take big chunks at one time can crack the
A rubber-surfaced trowel is used to force grout into
the joints of the tile.
There are three primary steps in tile installation:
applying a mortar bed, applying adhesive, and setting
tiles in place.
Before applying a mortar bed to a wall having
wooden studs, you first tack a layer of waterproof paper
to the studs. You then nail metal lath over the paper. The
first coat of mortar applied to a wall for setting tiles is a
scratch coat; the second is a float, leveling, or brown
A scratch coat for application as a foundation coat
must be at least 1/4 inch thick and composed of 1 part
cement to 3 parts sand, with the addition of 10-percent
hydrated lime by volume of the cement used. While still
plastic, the scratch coat is deeply scored or scratched and
cross scratched. Keep the scratch coat protected and
reasonably moist during the hydration period. All mortar
for scratch and float coats should be used within 1 hour
after mixing. Do not retemper partially hardened mortar.
Apply the scratch coat not more than 48 hours, nor less
than 24 hours, before setting the tile.
The float coat should be composed of 1 part cement,
1 part of hydrated lime, and 3 1/2 parts sand. It should
be brought flush with screeds or temporary guide strips,
placed to give a true and even surface at the proper
distance from the finished face of the tile.
Wall tiles should be thoroughly soaked for a
minimum of 30 minutes in clean water before being set.
Set tiles by troweling a skim coat of neat Portland
cement mortar on the float coat, or applying a skim coat
to the back of each tile unit and immediately floating the
tiles into place. Joints must be straight, level,
perpendicular, of even width, and not exceeding 1/16
inch. Wainscots are built of full courses. These may
extend to a greater or lesser height, but in no case more
than 1 1/2-inch from the specified or figured height.
Vertical joints must be maintained plumb for the entire
height of the tile work.
All joints in wall tile should be grouted full with a
plastic mix of neat white cement or commercial tile
grout immediately after a suitable area of the tile has
been set. Tool the joints slightly concave; cut off and
wipe excess mortar from the face of tiles. Any spaces,
crevices, cracks, or depressions in the mortar joints after
the grout has been cleaned from the surface should be
roughened at once and filled to the line of the cushioned
edge (if applicable) before the mortar begins to harden.
Tile bases or coves should be solidly backed with
mortar. Make all joints between wall tiles and plumbing
or other built-up fixtures with a light-colored caulking
compound. Immediately after the grout has set, apply a
protective coat of noncorrosive soap or other approved
protection to the tile wall surfaces.
The installation of wall tile over existing and
patched or new plaster surfaces in an existing building
is completed as previously described, except that an
adhesive is used as the bonding agent. Where wall tile
is to be installed in areas subject to intermittent or
continual wetting, prime the wall areas with adhesive
following the manufacturers recommendations.
Wall tiles may be installed either by floating or
buttering the adhesive. In floating, apply the adhesive
uniformly over the prepared wall surface using
quantities recommended by the manufacturer. Use a
notched trowel held at the proper angle to spread
adhesive to the required uniform thickness. Touch up
thin or bare spots with an additional coating of adhesive.
The area coated atone time should not be any larger than
that recommended by the manufacturer. In the buttering
method, daub the adhesive on the back of each tile. Use
enough so that, when compressed, the adhesive forms a
coating not less than 1/1 6 inch thick over 60 percent of
the back of each tile.
The key to a professional-looking ceramic tile job
is to start working with a squared-off area. Most rooms
do not have perfectly square comers. As a result, the first
step is to mark off a square area in such a way that
fractional tiles at the comers (edges) are approximately
the same size. Begin by finding the lowest point of the
wall you are tiling. From this corner draw a horizontal
line one full tile height above the low point and extend