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Ceramic Tile Installation

The following instructions will help you to properly install tiles giving you many years of trouble-free performance.  There are four steps you need to follow a successful tile installation:

1 Surface preparation
2 Floor layout
  Countertop layout
  Wall layout
  Applying adhesive
3 Setting Tile
  Cutting Tile
4 Grouting Joints
Special Notes:
Ceiling should be tiled before floors
Walls should be tiled before floors
Countertops should be tiled before backsplashes



Ceramic tile may be installed over most structurally-sound substances.  Make sure all surfaces to be tiled are clean, smooth, dry, free of wax, soap scum and leveled.  Remove all moldings, trims, appliances, etc. which may interfere with the installation.  Door jambs may be undercut for tiles to slip under.



When tiling floors, begin by marking the centre points of all four walls.  Snap chalk lines between the centre points of opposite walls.  The lines will intersect in the centre of the room. Check to make sure that they are perfectly square.  Adjust if necessary.  Lay out a row of loose tiles along the centre lines in both directions, leaving spaces for uniform joints between the tiles (use tile spaces).

If this layout leaves small cuts (less than 1/2 tile) at walls, then adjust the centre line by snapping a new chalk line half a tile closer to the wall.  Repeat this process along the other centre line, adjusting if necessary.

Now divide the room into smaller grids by snapping additional chalk lines parallel to the centre lines. To find the exact dimensions of these grids, lay out an area of tile approximately 2' x 3' starting in the centre of the room along the centre lines. Use tile spacers leave equal joints between the tiles.  Measure this grid and use the dimensions for each smaller grid through out the room.
Begin installing tiles in the centre of the room.  Install one quarter of the room, and continue installing one quarter of the room at a time.  Finish each grid before moving one to the next one.  Cut and fit the tile and walls.  Do not walk on fresh tiles until they are set, which usually takes 24 hours.


When tiling counters, lay out tiles from front to back.  Begin with counter trim then set full tiles in the first row working back, so all cuts are made on the back row against the wall.  Snap parallel chalk lines on the substrate as needed to keep rows straight. For backsplashes, match up joints with full tiles at the counter, working up so that all cuts are made on the top row under cabinets.  Use bullnose or Schluter trim pieces on flat walls or sides.  Tile countertops should have a tile backsplash at least four inches high for protection.


When tiling walls, tubs or shower areas, begin by finding the centre point of the wall.  Use a level to draw a plumb line in the centre of the wall.  Lay out a row of loose tiles across the bottom of the wall from the centre line, leaving uniform joints between tiles.  If your tiles have integral spacer lugs, the tiles can be butted together to automatically leave consistent 1/16" joints.

If this layout leaves small cuts (less than 1/2 tile) at walls, then adjust plumb centre line half a tile closer to the side wall.

Next determine the lowest point of the floor (or tub) by horizontally using a level.  Stack two tiles here, and at the top draw a horizontal line around all walls to be tiled.  This line is a guideline for the first row of tiles to be set above.

Begin installing tiles in the centre of the wall above the horizontal guideline.  Install one half of the back wall at a time.  Set the lower two rows last.  Cut and fit bottom tiles against the floor (or tub) if not level.  Leave a 1/8" gap above the tub for caulking to seal around tub.  Repeat the above process for side walls.  Mark outside tile lines on walls that will not be completely tiled. This guides you in spreading adhesive.
Use bullnose or Schluter trim pieces to finish the edges if necessary.

Mix Sopro thinset or mortar according to the directions on the package.  Mix only enough to be used for 30 minutes.  Pre-mixed wall tile adhesives can be applied directly from the can without mixing.
Spread a 1/4" - thick coat of adhesive onto the surface of one grid area using the flat side of the Marshalltown trowel.  Be careful not to cover guidelines.
When completed, immediately use notch side of towel to comb adhesive into standing ridges by holding the Marshalltown trowel at a 45-degree angle.  Leave uniform ridged setting bed.  Spread no more area than can be set in 15 minutes.




After choosing the correct Sopro adhesive or mortar, you are ready to begin setting your tile.  Start with the first tile in the corner of the grid, then work outward.  Set tiles one at a time using a slight twisting motion.  Do not slide tiles into place. Insert tile spacers as each tile is set, or leave equal joints between tiles.  Continue until all tiles within the grid are set.

When the grid is completely installed, "tap-in" all tiles with a rubber mallet or hammer and wood block to ensure a good bond and level plane.
Remove any excess adhesive from joints with a putty knife and from the face of tiles with a damp sponge before moving on to the next grid.

Measure tiles to be cut carefully and mark with a pencil or felt-tip pen.  Sharp cut edges may be smoothed with a carborundum stone.  Make straight or diagonal cuts using a tile cutter.

  • Make small curved cuts with nippers.  Chip away small pieces for the best results.
  • Make full length curved cuts with a rod saw.

Soap dishes, towel bars, paper holders, etc. should be set after tiles have well-set, in the spaces designated for them.



Before grouting joints, the tiles should be well-set to prevent breaking the bond.  Refer to the adhesive package for specific time.  Generally, you should wait approximately 24 hours before grouting.  Remove all the spaces used for setting.  For the correct type of grout for your tile installation, refer to the following:

  • Select the Sopro grout colour of your choice.  For the best result, choose one that colour coordinates with the tile.
  • Mix grout according to instructions written on the package.  Make only enough to use within approximately 30 minutes. Wear rubber gloves to protect your skin.
  • Spread the mixed Tec grout on the tiled surface, forcing grout down into joints with a Marshalltown rubber grout float or squeegee.  Tilt the float at a 45-degree angle to aid the compacting action.
  • Remove excess grout from the surface immediately with edge of float.  Tilt float at a 90-degree angle and scrape it diagonally across the tiles.
  • Continue the process of compacting, then scraping off the excess, until you have grouted for approximately 30 minutes, or when the mixture begins to stiffen.  Discard stiffened grout mixture and begin clean-up procedure.