Our Complete Cement Tile Installation Guide
So you’ve read our cement tile overview and decided that cement tile is the best fit for your home project. Great!
We’ve compiled our best product recommendations and installation tips from our experts here to make your DIY project a success one.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- - What materials do I need to install cement tile?
- - How do I prep for cement tile installation?
- - How do I install cement tile?
What materials do I need to install cement tile?
- - Flexible tile glue, suitable for natural stone
- - Flexible grout, we recommend Mapei FlexColor™ CQ or Mapei Ultracolor Plus FA
- - Water-cooled tile saw
- - 1/2” Grout trowel, glue trowel glue pot
- - Breathable foil or colorless drapery
- - 1/16” to 1/8” thick tile spacers
- - Tile sealant: We recommend Miracle Seal 511 Porous Plus.
- - Grout Release: We recommend Miracle Sealants Grout Release Sealer
- - Tile color intensifier: Only needed if you wish to intensify the colors of your cement tile. We recommend Miracle Seal 511 Impregnator
- - Yellow application sponge
- - Clean lint-free cotton cloth
How do I prep for cement tile installation?
First, pre-seal your cement tiles.
- - Sealing is the most important part of cement tile installation. We built a guide on how and when to seal cement tile here for you for step-by-step instructions to do it correctly.
Prep your installation area.
- - Make sure that the surface you will be installing your cement tile on is clean and flat. Sweep and mop and let it dry.
- - Keep in mind: Installing on a surface that is dirty or covered in paint overspray could lead to a faulty installation. Installing on a surface that is not flat could lead to excessive lippage, differences in height from tile to tile.
- - Ensure that your floor is approximately .75 inches from your desired height.
How do I install cement tiles?
Adhere your cement tiles:
- - Using a flexible adhesive, glue the tiles onto your installation surface. Thin set mortar is typically used when installing on a concrete surface and tile mastic is often used when installing on sheetrock.
- - Use a trowel with recesses of 10-20 mm (1/2 - 3/4 in) to place the adhesive mixture to the floor. Ensure that enough adhesive is used so that the bottom of the tile does not directly contact the installation surface. There should be a layer of adhesive between the entire installation surface and the bottom of the tile.
- - Lay tiles in the desired pattern, using hand pressure to ensure that they are level with each other.
- - Wipe thinset or mastic off the face of the tiles with a clean sponge.
- - For best results, use 3 mm (⅛ in) thick tile spacers.
- - Allow up to 24 hours for adhesive to dry before grouting.
Apply grout release.
- - Prior to grouting, coat the tiles with a thin layer of grout release. We recommend Miracle Sealant Grout Release. This allows for a more efficient grouting process. Grout release dries in about an hour.
Grout with a non- or low-pigment color.
- - Always test your grout on a small area prior to grouting the entire installation.
- - We recommend to use only non-pigmented or low-pigmented grouts (no blacks or dark grays). These are colors that contain very little coloring and will not stain your cement tile. Our favorites are Mapei Ultracolor Plus FA in Avalanche, Biscuit, and Warm Gray.
- - Grout application should be done in a diagonal direction to the tile joints. Using a conventional grout trowel, apply enough pressure so that the grout is forced fully between the joints.
- - Apply grout in sections of about 4 square feet at a time.
- - Using water, dampen a sponge and try to clean each section as much as possible before moving to the next section. Be careful not to apply too much water as it could remove grout from the joints.
- - Allow the grout about 12 hours to dry.
Grout with a non- or low-pigment color.
- - Once the grout is dry, you might see a thin layer of grout residue on the surface of the tile. This can usually be removed with a dry or damp non-fibrous cloth. If the “haze” will not wipe away easily, you may need to use a grout haze remover.
Seal your cement tile two more times (again - check out the instructions here).
- - Once the floor is clean and dry, two more coats of sealer should be applied to the tile.
- - As with the pre-installation sealing, apply thin coats. Do not let the sealer puddle or build up on the surface.
- - Wipe away residue before it dries. Allow about 1 hour of dry time between coats.
- - The tile might start to develop a mild sheen at this point. If you are using Miracle Sealant Porous Plus, the sheen will fade to a matte finish once dry.
How do I remove grout strains from cement tile?
There are ways to prevent grout from staining your cement tile during installation, but if this does happen, we've built a step-by-step guide to how to remove these pesky grout stains from your cement tile.
Final thoughts on cement tile:
Installation of cement tile can be a big DIY project. A few final things to keep in mind before you embark:
- - Please be sure to review all instructions on the products used.
- - For safety purposes, wear safety gear when installing tile. Gloves, safety glasses and close-toed shoes can prevent injury.
- - Sealing is an integral part of cement tile installation.
- - Use only non-pigmented or low-pigmented grouts. Do not use black or very dark grout and can seriously stain your cement tile.
- - Apply grout in small sections, 4 square feet or less, and do not over-dry on the tile.
- -Mixing tiles from different boxes leads to the most pleasing visual results.
- - During a renovation, cover the newly installed floor with a breathable protective barrier. Avoid covering the floor with plastic or cardboard.
- - Avoid cleaning agents that contain acids.
Disclaimer: since the installation of tile greatly determines the integrity of the project and the tile itself, Clay imports does not warranty this product and is not responsible for dissatisfaction of material following installation. Please inspect all tile upon receipt and notify us immediately if you have any quality concerns. This guide is meant to serve as a general resource. Because each project is unique, consult your tile installer before installing your tile.