Tile DIY

Ceramic / Porcelain Tiles

Tile Selection

Find The Right Tile For Your Needs


Slip resistance and abrasion resistance are always important factors for floor tiles. The use of a "wall tile" on a floor is not recommended. A tile with good breaking-flexural strength should be used. Note that some polished stone tile have incredibly high slip resistance when dry. When wet, polished stone can be very slick. Stone or ceramic tiles tend to have deep fissures, crevices, or voids in the tiles surface which can mean more time spent maintaining the floor’s cleanliness. If the floor will be exposed to food acids or other acidic chemicals, then stone or ceramic tile vulnerable to such attacks should be avoided. For example, polished marble floors are good for kitchens.


Interior commercial floors are generally tougher versions of residential floors. Slip resistance and abrasion resistance are critical in these installations. Many other recommendations can be made such as high impact resistance, breaking-flexural strength, and generally a tile with the durable requirements for the intended installation. Other considerations are the type of ceramic or stone tile quality chosen if the floor is vulnerable to food acids or other acidic chemicals.


As wet areas, these should be tiled with tile in the vitreous or impervious class for best results. Slip resistance is important since uncovered exterior floors most likely will become wet. The wet condition will change the slip resistance. Also, the same tile used on ramps will have a different slip resistance. Abrasion resistance is important especially in higher traffic areas such as exterior commercial installations. Additionally, tile susceptible to water damage or freeze/thaw damage must be considered. Most stone tiles are suitable for exteriors with the exception of polished stone due to its poor slip resistance when wet.


Residential interior walls allow many different options especially in dry areas. You are free to use special, decorative and elaborate designed tiles here. Stone or ceramic tiles with fissures, crevices, or voids can easily be used here depending on the project requirements and design.


Similarly to residential interior walls, there are many options available to you. However, the tiles selected should be tougher and resist more frequent cleaning and possibly harsher chemicals used to remove graffiti and/or other stains.


Exterior walls are considered “wet areas”. Classic wall tiles shouldn’t be used on exteriors due to its high water absorption rate. In addition, tiles that are freeze/thaw resistant should be considered.


Counter tops are considered “wet areas”. The only exception is that a tile should have good abrasion resistance and impact resistance. Chemical resistance is also important due to the many food acids common to cooking. Consideration should be given to stain resistance, both from food materials and metal utensils. Note that polished stone marble will etch when exposed to even mild household acids.


As “wet areas”, tiles in the vitreous or impervious class should be used. Note that the glaze on wall tiles typically renders that surface impervious to water. Hence they can be used in wet areas. Slip resistance should definitely be considered on shower floors. Stone tiles are suitable, but polished stone tiles offer less slip resistance.


Tiles should be in the vitreous or impervious class. Depending on the installation, care must be given to slip resistance. Again stone tiles can effectively be used in these areas.


Repairing Loose Tiles

When loose tile are encountered it may be best to replace them. But if you prefer to not replace the loose tile you can fix it by injecting epoxy resin underneath the tile to re-bond the tile to the substrate. Tools required are:
  • a drill motor
  • carbide tipped blade equal to the grout joint size (preferable a little smaller)
  • a large construction syringe
  • a supply of quality two part epoxy
  • a supply of matching grout
Step 1
Carefully drill holes into grout joints on either side of the loose tile.

Step 2
Mix the epoxy carefully and inject it into one of the holes with a tight fitting fixture until epoxy comes out the other side. You can use a golf tee in the opposite hole to ensure the epoxy completely fills all voids prior to oozing out the other hole.

Step 3
Dig out the epoxy slightly and allow it to dry. Then grout the holes to complete the procedure.


Installing Porcelain Tiles

Take note of the following:

1. Porcelain tiles have low water absorption properties. Hence a suitable adhesive is required to provide optimum bond strength as the bond coat.

2. Large tile sizes require more level or flat surfaces than smaller sized tiles. The reason being floor unevenness will more visible with larger sized tiles.

3. Please make sure there is at least 80% bond coat coverage on both the backs of the tile as well as the floor surface.

4. Tiles should installed with a minimum joint width of 3mm to allow for substrate movement and expansion.

Installation Steps:

1. Prior to installation, check that:
  • the substrate is firm, consistent,clean, and free from dust and grease
  • there are enough materials for the whole job
  • all boxes are the same product code, size and shade.
  • suitable tools are available at the job site e.g. a cutting machine.
Using a chalk, draw a line perpendicular to the main entrance into the room. Use a carpenter’s square to ensure the line is correctly perpendicular to the door.

2. Measure and find the centre of two opposite walls. Use these points to draw a chalk line lengthwise across the room through the center of the floor, dividing the room in half. Draw another chalk line perpendicular to the first so both lines cross in the center of the room. Check where the lines intersect with a carpenter’s square to make sure the center point is square.

Dry-fit a row of tiles down both lines to the width and length of the room, ensuring equal spacing for the grout joints. Make sure there is at least half a tile width in the areas where the tiles meet the walls to avoid unsightly small cut tiles.

3. Lay the tiles beginning from the center of the floor where your two final reference lines cross. Start laying a tile at the intersection of the lines, then use the lines as a guide to work your way outward towards the walls in each quadrant.

Follow the manufacturers’ instructions on the adhesive. Spread the adhesive with the trowel’s notched edge, combing it out in beaded ridges. Mix enough adhesive to be used within 30 minutes.

4. As each tile is installed, work it into the adhesive. Set the tiles one at a time using a slight twisting motion. Use the spacer to make sure the tiles are spaced evenly. Use a level to make sure the tiles faces are flush. Use a rubber mallet or block of wood and a hammer to gently tap down tiles to ensure a good bond and level plane.

Allow the tiles to set for 24 hours. To check whether the tiles are well laid, a sound test can be performed by lightly knocking on tiles. The tiles shouldn’t give out a hollow sound which indicates the bond coat has voids.

5. Once all the tiles are laid and the adhesive set after 24 hours, you can start to grout. Mix the grout according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Apply the grout with a rubber float at a 45-degree angle, working it into the spaces.

6. Wipe excess grout off the tile faces with a sponge. Be careful you don’t dig the grout out of the spaces. Once the grout has been set, go back over the tile faces and clean off any remaining grout residue.

Allow the grout to cure for a full week before sealing with a silicone sealer to prevent grout discolouration.

Wax Coating on Polished Porcelain Tiles

Some polished porcelain tiles are supplied with a thin coat of wax on the tile surface. This protects the polished surface from in-transit scratches and more critically, prevents staining problem arising from the use of dark coloured grouts.

This thin wax coat should therefore be removed only after the grouting is completed. To remove the wax coat, use dry white cement on the tile surface followed by buffing off with a dry cloth. Alternatively, scouring cream cleaner may be used. For large installed floors, a buffing machine may be used.

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