Laying ceramic and stone tiles

In many cases, hard mineral floors are preferable to plank or resin floors. Long lasting and beautiful ceramic or stone tiles are perfect for making floors in bathrooms, hallways and fireplaces.

There is a wide range of tiles available in different countries, which differ in material, coating, color, ranging from unglazed square gray stone tiles measuring 150 x 150 mm and 12 mm thick to glazed ceramic square tiles with various patterns and sizes 300 x 300 mm. Small-size mosaic ceramic tiles of square or other shapes are produced in the form of carpets glued to paper or fabric. Whichever tile you choose, remember that tiles with an embossed outer surface are better suited for the floor as they reduce slipping..

There are also rectangular tiles of equal thickness from slate, sandstone, limestone and quartzite, which can be used to make very beautiful waterproof floors. These tiles are installed in the same way as ceramic tiles. The most luxurious – marble – tiles come in various sizes, but the most popular are square tiles measuring 300 x 300 mm and 10 mm thick. Despite its high density, marble absorbs liquids, and therefore marble floors must be covered with a thin transparent and airtight layer of organosilicon varnish. Most types of dirt are removed from marble by the same means as from concrete.

Ceramic, stone and other hard mineral tiles are best laid on a screed, however, they can also be installed over existing hard or vinyl tile flooring as long as it is clean, level and sound. If you want to lay tiles on a plank floor, you must first lay on the boards very hard plywood 12 mm thick or moisture-resistant chipboard 18 mm thick fixed to the floor with screws with a pitch of 225 mm. The floor prepared in this way must be primed at least 24 hours before laying the tiles with a waterproof primer recommended for use in conjunction with a mastic for laying tiles..

Check the moisture content of the concrete floor and, if necessary, lay a layer of waterproofing material and a new screed on top of it. If the concrete is dry but the surface is uneven, level it. Before installing the tiles, remove all skirting boards and doors that open into the room. Tiling will increase the floor height by at least 12 mm, so you will have to trim the bottom of the doors that open inward to obtain adequate clearance. Lay the tiles as described on the previous pages, but instead of chalking the lines, pull on a sturdy cord that bricklayers use by hammering nails into the walls 18 mm from the floor. When designing the floor pattern, take into account the pattern of the tiles, for example the structure of the marble.

The traditional material for laying mineral tiles is mortar, which is still used for irregularly shaped tiles, such as stone tiles of various materials, but the installation process is greatly simplified by using factory made tiles and modern mastics. For laying the tiles, ready-made synthetic mixtures or cement-based mixtures are used, which are mixed with water. The necessary material for this type of tiles will be advised to you in the store. Apply the tile mix with a notched trowel or other tool specified in the mix manufacturer’s instructions. Apply no more than one square meter at a time. meter of mixture.

Finish by replacing doors and skirting boards. To make your work look professional, as well as to protect it from moisture, buy ready-made shaped skirting boards. For stone floors, you can make your own skirting tiles by cutting 300 x 300 mm tiles into 100 x 300 mm strips. After cutting, round off the edges of the tiles with a silicon carbide emery wheel of grain sizes 80, 150 and 300. Attach the tiles to the wall with waterproof organic mastic.

1. Application of mastic or mortar. Starting at one corner where the cords intersect, apply a layer of mortar or mastic to the floor with a large notched trowel. Then, while holding the trowel nearly vertical, drag the prongs across the floor to form a corrugated grout surface..

2. Laying the first (lighthouse) tile. Lay the tile over the mortar so that one corner is at the intersection of the cords. Press down firmly on the tile, twisting it slightly to either side. If the tile is large, press it down with all your weight. Use the trowel handle to push the tile along the edges until it is firmly aligned with the cords. Check the tile is horizontal with a spirit level in both directions and also diagonally.

Achieve complete horizontality, upsetting the edges with a trowel handle, then pick up excess mortar. It is recommended to check the quality of the installation of the first tile by lifting it and examining the contact with the mortar. If there is no contact, place new mortar on the floor and re-install the tiles using more pressure and more turns. If you are installing tiles with deep grooves on the bottom surface, try placing mortar on the tiles before installing.

3. Laying the rest of the tiles. Lay the tiles along the cords in all four directions from the first. When you have a tile cross, remove the cords and tile all four quarters of the room. If the tiles do not have side tabs, use toothpicks or calibrated shims to ensure a 3mm gap.

Since tiles can vary in size, periodically measure the distance from the center to the laid row and adjust the clearances to ensure accurate placement. Use a spirit level on a long, level rail to check and adjust the height of the tiles in relation to the beacon tile. To trim tiles where there are ridges, use the technique described on this page..

4. Preparation of frieze tiles. Stone or thick ceramic tiles prepared and measured for laying in a row against a wall, cut off with a sander with a stone cutter. Nail two parallel strips to the wood base, as thick as the tile and at a distance equal to the width of the tile.

From above, perpendicularly to them, nail another rail and attach the entire structure to a thick board, which, in turn, attach to the trestle for sawing wood. Place the tiles between the battens and align the cut line with the top batten. Press down the tile with a clamp, placing a strip under it to protect the tile.

Using the top plank as a guide, cut a tile about a third of its thickness (bottom left), then place the notch on the edge of another tile and hit the edge with a hammer. Thin tiles can be cut with a glass cutter and ruler, or with a mechanical cutter (bottom right). Scratch a line on the tile by moving the carbide wheel handle forward, then slide the handle back and hit it, the tabs on either side of the wheel will hit the tile and break along the scratched line.

5. Setting the threshold. When installing hard tile floors, new thresholds can be installed for interior doors to match the floor material. Delete the existing threshold, then set a new threshold on the mastic layer. Stone thresholds are cut to size when sold. Ceramic thresholds can be made from shaped wedge-shaped tiles. The thresholds in the bathroom should rise 6 mm above the floor level to protect adjacent rooms from spilled water. If the hard tile floor ends behind an outside door, install a metal threshold from the corner, which with one shelf under the tile.

6. Sealing gaps between tiles with mortar. Fill the gaps between the tiles with a rubber scraper with a semi-liquid cement mortar prepared from the ready-mix and water. Move the scraper along each joint at a slight angle to it, first in one direction, then in the opposite direction. Then lightly wipe the tiles with a damp cloth, this will create small grooves in the grout filling the gaps..

Once the mortar begins to harden, carefully wipe the tiles with a damp sponge to remove the cement film and mortar residues. The gray cement slurry filling the gaps is invisible and does not show any contamination. If you want to color the mortar, add a dye to it, which can be purchased at a building materials store. On some types of tiles, the dye can leave stains, therefore it is recommended to cover the tiles with an airtight mastic before filling the gaps with a solution..


The natural texture and color of the stone, the “artistic disorder” of the joints of irregularly shaped tiles allow you to obtain interesting artistic effects in the manufacture of floors in halls and courtyards. For the manufacture of tiles, sedimentary rocks are used – limestone, sandstone, shale and blue stone (feldspar sandstone, which is easily split into thin even tiles). The tiles are available in a variety of sizes, shapes, and usually have a thickness of 6-25 mm. You can buy these tiles, or even just find them at the foot of a crumbling rock, ready-made, flaked, with interesting shapes. Regardless of the source of the tiles, they need to be sorted by color, as tiles that appear similar when viewed individually may turn out to be very different in color when placed side by side on the floor..

Stone tiles are often of uneven thickness, so they cannot be laid on a thin layer of mortar, how it is done when laying ceramic tiles. Prepare to lay the tiles in a mortar layer 18 to 30 mm thick. Thick stone tiles placed on a thick layer of mortar can be too heavy for a wooden floor, so only install such tiles on the ground floors on a hard concrete base. The appearance of a stone tile floor depends mainly on the selection of tiles when pre-laying the floor dry.

Choose flat-edged tiles for installation near walls. Lay larger tiles with an even edge against the walls, even if there are large gaps between them; then you will select small tiles for these gaps. Do not make gaps between tiles more than 25 mm, except in rare exceptional cases. Some tiles require edging. Tiles made from softer stone, such as sandstone, can be processed by chipping off pieces of the edge with a bricklayer’s hammer (or an old nail hammer, as the working surface of the hammer can be damaged during processing).

First work the bottom edge by chipping off pieces from the bottom of the tile. Then work over the top overhanging edge. Tiles made of harder stone are first cut with a grinding wheel, then with light blows of a hammer and chisel they split the tile along the notch line. Prepare a mortar from 1 part cement, 4 parts washed sand and water, which should be enough so that the trowel, dipped in the solution, does not fall. To ensure good adhesion between the concrete base and mortar, prime the concrete with latex or epoxy mastic, which can be purchased at a building materials store, just before laying the tiles..

Apply one tile mortar to the subfloor, then brush the underside of the tile with cement batter with a brush. Press down firmly on the tile and level it with a rubber mallet. Use a spirit level and a long, even plank to keep the tiles level when laying. Fill the gaps with mortar, flatten it with a trowel, and sew up the seams with a raised jointing or a piece of pipe. Spray the floor with water and cover with plastic wrap for three days to keep it moist.

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