How to Install Cement Tiles

cement tiles

Are you ready to transform your space with the stunning beauty of cement tiles? Well, you’ve come to the right place! In this comprehensive guide on how to install cement tiles, we’ll walk you through the process, ensuring that you achieve a professional and long-lasting result.

From understanding the unique properties of cement tiles to learning the best techniques for cutting and laying them, we’ve got you covered here at ExtremeHowTo. Let’s embark on this journey to create a breathtaking cement tile masterpiece!

Understanding Cement Tiles and Their Benefits

Cement tiles, often referred to as encaustic cement tiles or hydraulic cement floor tiles, are a popular choice for creating eye-catching cement tile floors and wall tiles. Manufactured from a blend of cement, sand, and pigments, cement tiles feature slight imperfections, irregular edges, and unique variations in shape, color, and size that add to their natural appeal.

While cement tiles may be slightly less forgiving during installation compared to porcelain or glazed ceramic tiles, the attention to detail required is well worth the effort. Their handcrafted nature results in a one-of-a-kind aesthetic that can elevate any space.

Preparing the Surface for Cement Tile Installation

Preparing your surface correctly is a key aspect of cement tile installation. The surface of the tile, whether concrete or wood, needs to be clean, level, and not covered in debris, grease, or wax.

Concrete Subfloor Preparation

When preparing a concrete subfloor, follow these steps:

  1. Remove any loose debris or material that is not firmly adhered to the surface.
  2. Use a level to check the flatness of the concrete. If you find any low areas, apply a self-leveling compound to create a smooth surface.
  3. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the curing time of the self-leveling compound to ensure a stable foundation for your cement tiles.

Before installing cement tiles, addressing moisture issues in the concrete is also of utmost importance to prevent efflorescence or other damages over time. Make certain that your concrete slab is fully cured and free from moisture before proceeding with the installation.

Wood Subfloor Preparation

Installing cement tiles on a wood subfloor is possible, but it requires some additional steps to ensure stability. To create a stable surface for the tile installation, it’s recommended to install a cement backer board on the wood subfloor, as this provides a firm and dimensionally stable foundation.

Before laying the cement backer board, dry fit the cement board or mats and ensure that all seams are covered with appropriate seam tape for optimal waterproofing. Your installer may choose to use Wonderboard, HardiBoard, or other suitable fiber/cement boards, or even Magnesium Oxide boards for added strength and stability.

Necessary Tools and Materials for Installing Cement Tiles

Having the right tools and materials is key for successful cement tile installation. Here’s a comprehensive list of items needed during the process:

  • Sponge
  • Bucket
  • 1/16” tile spacers
  • High-quality medium-bed thin-set mortar
  • Trowel with 12” semi-circular notches
  • Unsanded neutral color grout
  • Grout floats
  • Water-cooled tile saw with a diamond edge blade
  • pH neutral cleaner
  • Paint roller
  • Paint tray
  • Sponge and water bucket
  • Lint-free cotton cloth
  • 511 Porous Plus Sealer

Ensure to buy enough cement tiles to cover your project area, and add an extra 10% to cater for possible cuts and breakages. This way, you’ll have enough material on hand to complete your project without any unexpected delays.

Handling and Cutting Cement Tiles

Cement tiles must be handled with care to prevent damage during installation. Always lift the tiles from their edges and avoid dropping them to prevent cracks or chips. When it comes to cutting cement tiles, a wet saw with a diamond blade is the most efficient and precise tool for the job.

Before using a wet saw, make sure to don protective gear, such as safety goggles, gloves, and a dust mask. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the wet saw, and secure the tiles properly during cutting. Take breaks as needed to prevent fatigue and maintain accuracy throughout the cutting process.

Laying Out and Installing Cement Tiles

The subsequent sections outline the step-by-step process of how to install cement tiles, including the process of laying cement tile and installing cement tiles. From dry-fitting your tiles to setting them in place with thin-set mortar, these instructions will help you achieve a professional-looking result that you can be proud of.

Dry-Fitting Cement Tiles

Dry fitting the cement tiles with spacers in the designated area is a necessary step before starting the installation. This process allows you to check for pattern alignment, proper spacing, and to strategize the placement of cut tiles to avoid prominent locations.

During the dry-fitting process, you may also need to cut border tiles to fit the size and shape of your room. A wet saw with a diamond blade is ideal for this task, as it allows for precise cuts and customization. Once you’re satisfied with the layout, you can proceed to the next step of setting the cement tiles in place.

Setting Cement Tiles in Place

When setting cement tiles in place, follow these steps:

  1. Mix thin-set mortar according to the package instructions, ensuring the appropriate water-to-mortar ratio.
  2. Apply a layer of thin-set mortar to both the surface and the back of each tile using a notched trowel.
  3. Lay the tiles on the surface, being careful not to exceed a thickness of 3/16 inch (or 5mm) for the thin-set mortar.

Once you’ve laid the tiles, follow these steps:

  1. Use 1/16-inch spacers to maintain proper spacing between them.
  2. Use a damp sponge to remove any excess thin-set from the tiles.
  3. Continue this process until all tiles are installed, ensuring a secure bond and even alignment throughout the project.

Grouting and Sealing Cement Tiles

To finalize your installation and safeguard your tiles from stains and moisture, grouting and sealing the cement tiles are necessary steps.

The upcoming sections provide details on how to grout and seal your cement tiles correctly for a durable and attractive finish.

Grouting Cement Tiles

When grouting cement tiles, follow these steps:

  1. Hold a rubber grout float at a 45-degree angle against the tiles.
  2. Spread the grout diagonally across the gaps between the tiles.
  3. Work in small 3-4 square foot areas.
  4. Use a clean grout float to remove any excess grout.
  5. Immediately wipe off any remaining grout with a clean, damp sponge.
  6. Frequently rinse and refresh the sponge with clean water.

For a professional result, it’s recommended to use non-sanded grout for joints under 1/8 inch. Sanded grout is suitable for outdoor settings and humid spaces, such as bathrooms. Wider grout lines are necessary for these installations. Once the grout has cured, clean the tiles with a pH-neutral mild cleanser and apply one final coat of penetrating sealer to protect your cement tiles. Consider using a grout release before applying dark grout for a contrasting look that highlights the beauty of the cement tiles.

Sealing Cement Tiles

To protect your cement tiles from moisture and prevent staining, sealing them is a necessary step. A penetrating sealer specifically designed for porous stone or cement tiles, such as Miracle Seal 511 Porous Plus, is recommended. Before sealing, clean your tiles with a pH-neutral cleaner, avoiding acids or bleach that can damage the tiles’ surface.

Apply several coats of the sealer to the tiles, waiting for the previous coat to dry before applying the next one. To test if your tiles are adequately sealed, perform a water test by dropping a few droplets of water on the tiles. The tiles are sealed if the water beads up. This is a sure sign that the sealing is complete. If the water absorbs into the tiles, apply another coat of sealer.

Once the final coat is dry, your cement tiles are ready to impress for years to come!

Final Thoughts

Congratulations on your successful installation of cement tiles! Thanks to your careful planning, meticulous surface preparation, and keen attention to detail, you’ve transformed a part of your space into a stunning and distinctive highlight. Don’t forget to share your completed project with friends and family to inspire them to embark on their own cement tile journey.

Remember, the beauty of cement tiles lies in their imperfections and variations, making each installation a true work of art.

Hot Product

Trex® Seal™ Sub-Ledger Tape
Trex® Seal™ Sub-Ledger Tape

Waterproofing the ledger board is a critical step in preventing moisture damage and ensuring the structural integrity of a deck over time. To fully protect this essential component, the makers of Trex® Seal™ Ledger Tape have introduced a new butyl tape engineered specifically for use beneath the ledger board. Measuring 22 inches wide, Trex® Seal™ […]