Ceramic Tile Mortar Tips

Ceramic tiles are rigid and very brittle, so it is important to have a sturdy base when you are installing them in your kitchen or bathroom. The most important part of installing these tiles is getting the right ceramic tile mortar. Choosing the wrong mortar will result in cracked tiles, loose tiles and loose grout later down the road. Ceramic tile mortar is the layer that goes between underlayment and the tiles themselves.

Underlayment Choices

Prepare the surface where you will be applying the ceramic tile mortar. This may include filling, leveling, smoothing, priming and waterproofing, or it may require you to choose entirely new underlayment. The right preparation on your surface will directly affect the longevity of your ceramic tile job

If you are going to be applying ceramic tile mortar to an area that has never been tiled before, you will have to decide what type of underlayment will be best for your ceramic tile installation. The underlayment is the layer between the wood subfloor or subwalls.

Plywood is a popular choice, however because of its thinness it will need to be applied in two layers. The first layer of plywood can be covered with a second layer of exterior grade plywood. (See Different Types of Plywood) The total thickness of a plywood underlayment should be 1 1/8 inch.

Cement backer board is another popular choice to lay down before the ceramic tile mortar. These prefabricated, lightweight concrete sheets are used to cover plywood sub floors. The core is made of dense Portland concrete and there is fiberglass surface on both sides. One of the benefits of using cement backer board is that it is able to withstand long term exposure to moisture. There are many brand names of cement backer board available.

Tiling Project Step by Step

Before you begin installing tile with ceramic tile mortar, you will need to plan your installation well. Not every ceramic tile installation is the same, and there may be specific tiles that are better for your project.

Make sure to research your options before you buy and comparison shop. If you are selecting tile at a home improvement store, seek advice from a sales associate on what tile is right for your job. There may be specific tiles that are good on bathroom floors, but bad for kitchen counters.

Prepare the surface where you will be applying the ceramic tile mortar. This may include filling, leveling, smoothing, priming and waterproofing, or it may require you to choose entirely new underlayment.

The right preparation on your surface will directly affect the longevity of your ceramic tile job. Taking the time before starting to prepare the surface will mean that you won't have to re-tile in a few years.

After you prepare the surface, gather together all of your supplies so you can begin tiling. Ceramic tile mortar is relatively easy to apply. You should apply the mortar with a trowel, and then apply each tile individually with pressure and a little twist.

Ceramic tile does tend to produce some dust, so if you want to protect the rest of your home, it is a good idea to seal off the room where you will be working. Work slowly and apply each tile securely before moving on. Once you are done, allow at least 24 hours before applying grout to your ceramic tiles.