How to Set Subway Tile in a Brick Pattern
Use these step-by-step instructions to give a backsplash a classic look.
Use a pry bar, hammer, screwdriver and putty knife to carefully remove any molding. Save the molding to reinstall later. Pull up the existing carpet and remove tack strips. Use a utility or carpet knife and straightedge to cut the carpet in surrounding rooms at doorways. Cut the in the center of the line below any closed doors so the transition from tile to carpet won't be seen when the door is closed.
Use a hammer and pliers to remove any remaining staples or nails. Thoroughly vacuum the floor.
Remove any doors as needed to make tiling the room easier. Doors may have to be trimmed at the bottom to accommodate the new tiled floor, especially after backerboard is installed.
The total thickness of the subfloor and underlayment should measure at least 1-1/8" thick to give a rigid foundation for the tile and prevent them from cracking. Typically 1/2" backerboard is sufficiently thick. Cut backerboard to fit with the scoring tool and then snapping the backerboard along the scored line.
Use a notched trowel to apply a leveling bed of thinset mortar over the subfloor and embed the backerboard sheets into the adhesive. Spread mortar to about 3/16" thickness. Use the notched side of the trowel to make grooves in the mortar. Add more mortar as necessary to fill sunken areas. Position the backerboard in an offset pattern so that there is never a situation where four corners of backerboard meet. Do not align sheet with subfloor joints. Follow the pattern printed on the backerboard by the manufacturer to screw the backerboard down. Make sure screws are below the board surface.
In most cases, backerboard joints should be taped with 2" wide fiberglass mesh reinforcing tape. Tape the joints and then spread thinset into the tape smooting it with a trowel.
Measure and snap chalk lines to create necessary guidelines.
Cut threshold strips and transitions as necessary. Some metal transition strips should be imbedded in the thinset mortar. Here, a metal threshold strip designed for tile to hardwood floor transitions is used.
Dry-fit the first rows of tiles to make sure the tile results in the desired design layout. Mark any additional appropriate guidelines with a chalk line. Use tile spacers to account for grout lines. Mark the area and tile points and remove the dry-fitted tiles. Cut tiles as necessary using a tile cutter or wet saw.
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 mortar with the flat side of the trowel and then use the notched edge of the trowel, at a 45-degree angle, to create wide grooves in the mortar. Position tiles, adding spacers between. Press the tiles into the mortar.
Place a straight board over the tile and adjoining tiles and lightly tap with a mallet to level the tiles with each other. Again cut tiles as necessary using a tile cutter or wet saw. If needed, use tile nippers to make intricate cuts for areas around obstacles. Imbed transition strips into the mortar at doorways as doorways are reached in the process of tiling the hallway.
Continue applying mortar, laying tiles and checking the design and layout as you go. When pressing tiles into place, remove any excess mortar that oozes up between tiles. Do not walk back over tiles that have been installed. The mortar needs to dry overnight.
After the mortar has completely set, remove the tile spacers. Clean up any debris.
Mix the grout in small batches that can be applied in the following 20 minutes. Using a grout float spread the grout over the tiles and holding the float at an angle force the grout into the grout lines. Use the float to clean most of the grout from the face of the tiles.
As the grout on top of the tile dries and turns powdery, it can be sponged away. Use clean water in a bucket and a sponge to clean the tiles. Replace the water frequently to keep it clean for rinsing the sponge. Being careful not to disturb grouted areas, 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.
Follow the recommended steps provided by the grout manufacturer to cure the grout. Some types of grout require that you dampen the grout over the course of several days so that it cures slowly.
When the grout has dried, re-install the shoe and doorway transition molding as needed.