Tile Build Materials

Grout Joints/ Tile Spacers

When seeking professional results, tile spacers should be used.

They provide even grout lines, uniformity of tiles, enhance style and design, faster turnaround (spacers eliminate the guesswork in tile placement), and durability of tiled surfaces (without spacers tiles are likelier to be being too close together)

The tile type often dictates what size joint space to use. It is desirable to have small joints in most cases. If a tile is rectified a 2 mm or 3 mm space is possible. For many floor tiles a 3 mm, 4 mm or 5 mm joint is good. It often depends on the calibration of the tiles. Unless a tile has been rectified, most tiles are not 100% perfectly sized from one to the next, therefore a bigger joint than 2 mm is required to enable a proper installation. They can sometimes vary in size from tile to tile by a half millimetre or 1/64″ or so due to baking and drying factors during production, which is normal.

Advantages of Tile Spacers:

  • Even grout lines
  • uniformity of tiles
  • enhances style and design
  • faster turnaround (spacers eliminate the guesswork in tile placement -> save time)
  • durability of tiled surfaces (without spacers, there’s a likelihood of tiles being too close together)

A Glossary of Grout and Tile Terms

Caulk

A variety of flexible products (latex, acrylic, water-based) applied to seams of dissimilar materials and expansion joints where grout has the potential to crack.

Grout

A mortar used to fill the joints between tiles. Grout reinforces the tile installation and helps prevent moisture from penetrating the joints. It also plays a part in the overall design aesthetic. The width and color of the grout joints can radically alter the look of a tile installation.

Sanded Grout

A mixture of plain grout and sand. Used in larger joints, and also widely used in flooring.

Unsanded Grout

Like thin set mortar it is a mixture of Portland cement and additives used in joints 1/16 of an inch or less. Also effective in showers and walls.

Sanded/ non sanded grout

The rule used to be to use non-sanded grout for joints 1/8″ or less and to use sanded grout for joints bigger than 1/8″. However, today there are universal grouts available that are produced with finer sand particles and will work for most joints. These “New Generation” grouts are so fine that they can be used with glass mosaics, wall tiles and many polished stone tiles without scratching the surfaces.

Epoxy Grout

Composite of resin and hardeners used when chemical and stain resistance are required or high temperatures.

Mortar

Thin Set mortar or Mastic

A concrete based adhesive that bonds the bottom of tiles to the floor.

Three Types Motar

  • Unmodified
  • Polymer modified
  • 2 component system

Indoor tiles need to be covered with mortar 80%

Outdoor tiles need to be covered with mortar 100%

Open time: The time span given before mortar dries up if it is left uncovered for too long

Water-mixed Thin Set Mortar

A blend of Portland cement, sand, and additives mixed with water.

Latex Mortar

Similar to water-mixed mortar, yet has latex or acrylic additives for improved adhesion to tile.

Epoxy Mortar

Mixture of liquid resins and hardeners, effective when substrate is not compatible with other adhesives. Epoxy grout is a specialty joint filler made mostly of sand, dyes, epoxy resin and an epoxy catalyst. These components are mixed together at the time of installation. The mixing, grouting and washing techniques are a bit different than cement grout applications and require some proficiency. The result is a very tough, colour-fast, waterproof and stain-proof grout.

Medium-bed Mortar

Stronger than regular thin set mortar when applied in heavy layers. Often used when tiles do not have uniform backs.

Trowel size depends on the tiles you use for the job. If the back of the tile is flat, a 1/4 inch should be enough. If you use heavily corrugated tiles, you might want to use a 3/8 of an inch notched trowel.

Trowel Size:

Trowel Size:   ¼ by 3/8 by ¼                       Tile Size:  12”x12” or 13”x13”

Trowel Size:   ½ by ½ by ½                          Tile Size: 16”x16”

Trowel Size:   ¼ by ¼ by ¼                         Tile Size: 6”x6”

3/16th v-notch                                                  Tile Size: Smaller than 6”x6”

Silicone Caulking

Since inside corners often experience movement that can crack grout, it is recommended to caulk them with 100% silicone sealant. Today there are colour-matched silicone sealants available in the same colours as grout. A kitchen backsplash, for instance, requires silicone sealant at the countertop to wall junction to seal it against water and eliminate the problem of cracked grout due to inevitable movement. Showers and bathrooms are also enhanced when the inside corners are caulked properly with silicone. Please note that 100% silicone sealant is superior to acrylic, latex or “siliconized” caulk that is on the market. It is the correct product to use.

Schluter

Schluter® Systems (www.schluter.com) is a world leader in the development of innovative installation systems for ceramic and natural stone tile. The company was founded in Germany by a tile-setter who designed an aluminum L-shaped profile trim for ceramic tiles as a solution for floor transitions. It became so popular that the word Schluter became a household word for any metal tile trim product. Besides tile profile trims in a large selection of finishes and shapes, Schluter is famous for anti-fracture membranes, waterproofing products for bathrooms and many more innovations for the tile industry.

When applying Schluter products to cement it is recommended to use Kerabond to ensure warranty

Tile Fade with Sun

No. The color of your tiles are oven-heated at temperatures exceeding 2300 degrees. As such, they are impervious to fading.

Large Format Tiles

Any tile or stone with at least one edge greater than 15”

Standard for installing large format tiles

Porcelain and natural stone tile manufacturers recommend the use of a polymer modified mortar for installation of large format tiles to concrete, plywood and synthetic membrane surfaces.

Best way to cut tiles

Almost all ceramic and porcelain tiles can be straight cut very precisely and quickly with a manual tile cutter that scores the surface and then splits it. A wet-saw or handheld grinder can be used to do L-shaped cuts and such. Many glass tiles and mosaics can also be cut with a manual score-and-snap tile cutter. Stone tiles need to be cut with a wet-saw or high speed grinder. Ceramic wall tiles are the easiest to cut and drill into. Today’s dense porcelain tiles require more expensive blades and bits to efficiently cut and drill them. Visible cuts in an installation benefit from being sanded with a wet diamond hand pad to soften and smooth the edge.

Installing Tiles over old Tiles

If the substrate is stable and the existing tiles are without failures it can be a very practical solution. Please note that this method is intended for dry, interior areas only.

Do you have to seal stone tiles?

Yes, it is recommended to seal most stone tiles with an impregnator.

Can electric in-floor heat systems warm the entire room?

Yes. These electric cable or mat systems generate over 40 BTU’s per square foot which is more than a typical baseboard heater. Not only that, but an in-floor heat source is the most comfortable and pleasant form of heat.