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How to Install Earth-Friendly Ceramic Tiles

Replace peel-and-stick floor tiles with earth-friendly ceramic tiles.

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installing earth friendly ceramic tiles

Step 1: Snap Chalk Lines

Measure and snap chalk lines to create necessary guidelines, most importantly down the middle of the room. Cut threshold strips and transitions as necessary.

Step 2: Mark the Area

Dry fit the first rows of tiles to make sure to create the desired design layout and have appropriate guidelines. Use tile spacers to account for grout lines. Mark the area and tile points and remove the dry fitted tiles.

Step 3: Spread the Mortar

Using a notched trowel, spread mortar over the area of the first few rows, leaving room to work and to see any grid marks. Spread the mortar with the flat side of the trowel and use the edge of the trowel at a 45-degree angle to create wide grooves in the mortar. Imbed metal transition strip into the mortar at any doorways.

spreading mortar

Step 4: Lay the Tiles

Lay the tiles and appropriate spacers. Press the tiles into the mortar until they feel seated. Check the level of the adjoining tiles. This can be done using a straight board. Experiment using different tiles to create the design that you like.

lay tiles and appropriate spacers

Step 5: Cut the Tiles as Necessary

Most tiles can be cut using a tile cutter–a tool that slides over the tile to score it. The tile is then pressed and snapped to break along the scored line.

Another way to cut the tiles is to use a wet saw or water saw, which can be rented from home centers, hardware stores and tile stores. A wet saw keeps the blade wet as it's cutting, keeping it cool and lubricated for nice, even cuts.

wet saw keeps blade wet as it is cutting

Step 6: Make Intricate Cuts

Use tile nippers to make intricate cuts and patterns for areas around molding and fixtures. Snap off small tile pieces as necessary. Continue applying mortar, laying tiles and checking the design and layout as you go. Do not walk back over tiles that have been installed. The mortar needs to dry overnight.

Step 7: Remove the Excess Mortar

After the mortar has completely set, remove the tile spacers and use a screwdriver or such tool to dig out any excess mortar in the grout lines. Clean up any debris.

Step 8: Apply the Grout

Mix the grout and be prepared with towels, sponges and a bucket of water. Spread the grout over a tiled area, and use the edge of a grout float to push the grout into the tiled crevices. Make sure to push the grout into all grout lines. Move the excess grout to new areas. Be careful not to disturb grouted areas.

spread grout over tiled area and into crevices

Step 9: Sponge Away the Excess Grout

When the grout on top of the tile turns powdery, it can be sponged away. Use towels to buff away any grout film after sponging. The grout in the grout lines may not be dry at this point so be careful not to disturb it. When the grout has dried, re-install the shoe and doorway transition molding as necessary.

sponge away excess grout

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