One of the most important steps in any tiling project is surface preparation. Most often, the surface is structurally sound and requires only a thorough cleaning to remove oil, grease, dust, paint or curing compounds. Sometimes, however, a surface needs more work. After a surface has been cleaned, apply a coat of Level-Quik Concentrated Latex Primer - to help seal the surface and improve bonding. Next, mix Level-Quik Self-Leveling Underlayment, a cement based product used to level and smooth floors, with water to get the correct consistency - then pour it over the surface and let it cure for 12 hours. No trowling is necessary since Level-Quik flows and seeks its own level.
Once the surface is prepared, it's time to apply the setting material. Master-Blend Thin-Set Mortar is specially formulated for interior and exterior applications. Mix cool, clean water with Master-Blend and mix to a smooth paste consistency. When properly mixed, troweled ridges will stand with little or no slump. You can increase the strength and performance of the Master-Blend by using Acrylic Mortar Admix, instead of water. The Admix increases tensile and bond strengths and improves water resistance and shock-absorption. To apply the mortar with the flat side of the trowel held at a 35 to 40 degree angle. This forces material into irregularities in the surface. Then apply a bonding quantity of mortar with the notched side of the trowel. Press tiles firmly into place with a slight twisting motion and adjust them as necessary. Then beat the tiles in place with a rubber mallet.
When installing ceramic and smooth, flat-backed tile in dry areas or where intermittent exposure to water occurs - like counter tops, tubs, and shower walls, Custom Building Products recommends using Acryl-4000 Ceramic Tile Mastic. Acryl-4000 is a pre-mixed adhesive that provides excellent slip resistance and bond strength. And the application of Acryl-4000 is similar to Master Blend. Once all tile has been applied, you will want to let the setting material dry for 24 hours.
The next step to laying tile is to grout - filling the joints between the tiles. Polyblend Sanded Tile Grout is a "dry" grout used to fill joints from one eighth of an inch to one half inch wide and comes in a wide range of colors. To mix the grout, stir the tile grout into clean, cool water. Power mix at less than 200 RPM's until a stiff, creamy consistency is reached. To apply the grout, make sure that the tiles are firmly attached to a sound surface and the setting material is completely cured. Remove any loose materials or dust from the tiles and the joints and remove all spacers. Lightly dampen tiles with clean water before applying the grout. This makes grouting easier and the finished tile cleaner. Force the grout into the joints with a rubber grout float held at approximately a 45 degree angle. Work diagonally to the joints using enough pressure to ensure that the grout bonds to the subsurface while filling all joints. While the grout is still wet, remove as much excess grout as possible from the tile surface with the edge of the rubber grout float. Allow the grout to set up for 10 to 20 minutes and become firm in the joints before cleaning the tile. Soak a sponge in clean, cool water. Wring out the excess completely and wipe the tiles clean using a circular motion. Joints should become smooth and level with the edge of the tile. As the grout dries, a haze will form on the tile and the grout will set firm. Use a soft, clean, dry cloth to polish off the haze and remaining grout residue.
If you need to grout joints less than one eighth of an inch, White Dry Tile Grout is the product to recommend. It's ideal for porous floor and wall tiles and comes in a non-sanded formula.
To put a finishing touch on a tile installation, use Custom's Penetrating Grout Sealer. It helps seal grout joints, providing excellent water-repellence. It also reduces the possibility of grout stains caused by water or oils. And because it's a water based formula, the color or shade of the grout won't change.