How to Install Tiles

Now that you are all prepared, (see blog “How to Prepare for Tile Installation”and “How to Cut Tiles”), you are ready to begin installing! Follow this step-by-step guide to install your tiles and add that extra sparks to your home.

Prepare Mortar

  1. To prepare powdered thin-set mortar for mosaic tile, fill your bucket with water in the amount listed on the package. Gradually add the thin-set powder, mixing it thoroughly.
  2. Let the mixture stand for 5 to 10 minutes, then mix it again without adding more water.
  3. When you’re finished mixing, you’ll have a limited time to use it. Flex-type mortar can generally be used up to 4 hours after it’s been mixed.
  4. If you’re looking to save time, use a tile setting mat. Tile setting mats adhere to the wall so that you can tile immediately and move on to grouting.

Apply Mortar to Wall Surface

  1. Use the trowel with 1/4” teeth to evenly spread a mortar bed.
  2. Work in small areas to allow for time to set the tiles before the mortar dries.
  3. Press at 45-degree angle, this will ensure the mortar fully adheres to the walls.

Start Installing the Tiles

  1. Start from the bottom, press each piece firmly into the mortar, twisting the tile slightly to get the best coverage with the mortar.
  2. Remove any excess mortar from the joints so you’ll have room for grout.
  3. Where the mortar is hard to properly apply on the wall — at corners and edges and around outlets and fixtures — use the trowel, or your fingers, to evenly spread the mortar on the back of the tile.
  4. If the space between the top row of tiles and cabinetry is greater than an inch, cut your extra tile pieces to fit the space. If the gap is smaller, consider installing a piece of molding to hide it.

Pre-seal Tiles

  1. Allow the mortar and tile to dry completely, following the manufacturer’s recommendations. This usually takes 24 hours, but it depends on the mortar used and the temperature of your home.
  2. Use pre-sealer for natural stone at least three hours before you apply the grout. Pre-sealer helps protect the stone from staining.

Prepare Grout and Grout Tiles

  • Wipe the tiles clean with water and remove all spacers before you apply poly-blend sanded grout to natural stone mosaic tile. Carefully follow the preparation details on the package.
  • Fill a bucket with the appropriate amount of water. Then, gradually add the grout powder and mix thoroughly.
  • Let the mixture stand for 5 to 10 minutes, then re-mix it without additional water. Periodically re-mix the grout to maintain the consistency.
  • Once the grout is mixed, you’ll have a limited time to use it. Generally, poly-blend can be used up to two hours after it is mixed. Work in sections, so that you can complete an area within 30 minutes.
  • Apply the grout with the grout float at a 45-degree angle. Work diagonally. Wipe off any excess grout with the grout float held at a 90-degree angle.
  • Using a damp sponge, remove the grout from the face of the tiles in a circular motion and shape the grout joints fully. Rinse the sponge in clean water frequently.
  • Repeat this process several times. Limit the amount of water you use to avoid washing out the grout joints.
  • After about 3 hours, you can remove the last haze of grout. Use a dampened cheesecloth or sponge to wipe down the face of the tiles.

Clean and Seal Tiles

  1. Once the grout is fully dry, usually 24 hours to three days later, apply grout seal to protect your backsplash from staining. 
  2. Replace your appliances and cookware. Restore the power to your electrical outlets.
  3. To maintain your backsplash, wipe it down occasionally with a non-acidic kitchen or glass cleaner.

Installing new tiles is a good DIY project for homeowners looking to get their hands dirty and learn new skills around the house. It is a quick way to improve and transform the looks of your home. Shop the latest glass and ceramic tiles at Giorbello, call us if you have any questions!