How to Lay Ceramic Tile over Concrete

Video Transcript

Video Transcript

RON HAZELTON:
If you're planning to install ceramic tile over concrete, here's a method and material you'll surely want to know about. Developed by master tile setter, Armen Tavy, it's designed to give you a professional-quality job that will look great and last for decades.

Creating attractive tile floors and walls like this over concrete and wallboard is quick and easy using the Tavy Thin-Skin method. To begin, apply the adhesive or glue directly to the floor using a notched trowel.

In this example, we're going to coat the wall with the same adhesive. While the glue is still wet, lay this fiberglass-reinforced paper on top of the adhesive. The joints can be overlapped or butted. The paper bonds securely to the glue and the glue adheres to the concrete underneath.

Paper is also applied to the wall, insuring that regardless of the condition of the wallboard, the tile that will eventually go on top will be securely and permanently bonded. For the wall tiles, we're using a pre-mixed mastic applied with a notched trowel.

Check the instructions on the mastic container for the correct trowel notch size. This 2-inch square tile comes in 12 by 12 mats that are simply pressed into the mastic. Notice that Armen Tavy, creator of the Thin-Skin system, starts at the bottom and works upward to prevent the tile sheets from sliding down when they're placed on the wall.

Specially-designed spacers created by Armen, are inserted into the joints between the sheets insuring that the grout lines are straight, even and uniform. Their open design keeps the tile corners visible for perfect alignment.

The floor tiles are going to be installed using thin-set mortar. The powder is emptied into a bucket and first mixed to blend the dry ingredients. Then Armen slowly adds water until the mixture is smooth, lump-free and about the consistency of sour cream.

The mortar is applied to the reinforced paper as a thin skin coat that conditions the paper for a heavier application that will follow. After the skin coat dries, a second coat of mortar is applied, using a notched trowel. The trowel is held at a consistent angle and the notches leave ridges of mortar that are uniform in height, ensuring that each tile is fully supported by the mortar underneath.

The tiles, in this case, 6-inch squares, are pressed into the mortar bed. Now notice how Armen slides the tiles from side to side, flattening the mortar ridges underneath and distributing the cement evenly across the back of the tile.

A few taps from a mallet further insures a good bond. Since they float, Armen often keeps his tile spacers in a bucket of water. Here, as on the wall, the spacers ensure joints that are consistent and straight. By cutting a spacer in half, it can be used around the edge where the floor meets the wall.

With all the full tiles in place, it's time to cut those that will fit around the toilet flange. First, Armen traces, then cuts out a paper template. Then he applies a couple of tape strips to a piece of tile and draws the shape onto the tape.

Using a tile saw, he makes one large cut [SAWING SOUNDS], then several smaller ones up to the line. Finally for finishing and smoothing, he uses the blade as a grinder. Sometimes the thin set mortar can squeeze up between tiles, leaving no room for the grout that will soon be applied.

The dried mortar can be removed with a utility knife or grout saw. Vacuum any dust off the face of the tile and out of the grout joint. After the thin set has dried for at least 24 hours, it's time for grout.

The dry ingredients are mixed together to evenly distribute the color pigments. Then the powder is added to a small amount of water and stirred. More water is added to the mixture until it's smooth and thoroughly blended to the consistency of pudding.

A sponge rubber float is used to apply grout. Armen first forces the material all the way to the bottom of the joint, completely filling it. Then he tilts the float up on edge and moving diagonally from corner to corner, removes any excess material from the face.

If the float is not kept on the diagonal, it can scoop out grout previously put into the joint. Virtually the same technique is used on the smaller tiles. The grout is then left to dry about 45 minutes to an hour, until the material is firm in the joints and a dry haze is visible on the face of the tile.

At this point, it's time to clean off the remaining grout using a grout sponge dipped in water.
ARMEN TAVY:
We're going to take about 80 percent of it out and leave some behind. We're going to take the sponge and just coat it over the tiles.
RON HAZELTON:
The tile will usually need to be washed two or three times. Turn the sponge over when one side becomes dirty and rinse it frequently. For the final wash, Armen begins with fresh water. As he wipes the tile, he tips the sponge up so that just the edge is in contact, and makes long strokes, lifting the sponge at the end and then presenting a clean edge for the next stroke.

The tile saw can be used to create a custom-size sponge, ideal for getting into corners like this one where the floor meets the wall. Once the tiles are thoroughly dry, any remaining haze is removed with a soft cloth.

So if you are planning on tiling over concrete, now you know what to use and how to do it.

Use the Tavy Thin-Skin Method to Ensure a Long Lasting Tile Installation

If you have ever install tile over concrete, then you know the frustrations of uneven surfaces, pits, and ridges. With the new Tavy Thin-Skin method, these problems are eliminated, virtually guaranteeing you professional results and a tile job that you can be proud of.

Prepare the Concrete Surface
Step 1

Prepare the Concrete Surface

The first step in the Thin-Skin method is to cover the surface with the custom adhesive. Use a smooth trowel to coat the entire area to be tiled. Once the adhesive has been applied, the skin of fiberglass based paper can be put down. Use a broad drywall knife to smooth the surface of the paper and to squeeze out any wrinkles or air bubbles. Remember that the surface needs to be perfectly smooth so that the tile don't rock and pop loose.

Apply the Wall Tiles
Step 2

Apply the Wall Tiles

For this project, we've also applied the Thin-Skin to a wall board sample. We'll begin by applying mastic to the wall board surface with a notched trowel and then setting the pre-made tile pads into place. When tiling on a vertical surface, always start at the bottom so that gravity doesn't cause the tiles to sag.

Install the Spacers
Step 3

Install the Spacers

As you work your way across the surface, applying the vertical tiles, be sure to install spacers. Not only will the spacers prevent the tiles from sagging, but it will ensure that you have uniform grout lines throughout your project.

Condition the Concrete Surface
Step 4

Condition the Concrete Surface

Before you apply a thick coat of notched mortar to the flat concrete surface, you will need to condition the fiberglass paper that you laid in step 1. Use the same thin set mortar, but only apply a thin skim coat with a smooth trowel. This process is much like putting a coat of primer under paint. Once the skim coat dries, you will have a smooth and clean masonry surface on which to install your tiles.

Spread the Mortar
Step 5

Spread the Mortar

After the skim coat of mortar has dried, you are ready to begin installing tile! Mix another batch of mortar, and spread it with a 1/4" notched trowel. Hold the trowel at a 45 degree angle, as this will ensure that all of the ridges are the same height.

Set the Tile
Step 6

Set the Tile

When you set the tile into place, move it back and forth about 1/4' in both directions. This step will fold the mortar from the ridges into the valleys. As you work your way across the field, install spacers between the tiles. Just as with the vertical surface, the spacers will help you ensure a uniform grout line throughout the project. Any tiles that are high can be set further into the mortar with a rubber or plastic mallet.

Cut Custom Pieces as Needed
Step 7

Cut Custom Pieces as Needed

This tile project has a toilet in the middle of the floor, so a few pieces will need to be custom cut to fit around the base. Trace a straight line onto the tile that is roughly the shape of the cut that you need. Make the straight cut using a tile saw. After the main cut is made, smaller cuts can be made with the saw the chip away at the tile, until the proper shape is achieved. Once you are done, the tile saw can even be used as a grinding wheel to smooth any rough spots off of the cut.

Prepare the Tile for Grout
Step 8

Prepare the Tile for Grout

The next step in tile installation in to apply the grout, but before you do that you will want to take a few minutes to make sure the spaces are ready to receive it. Use a grout saw or a utility knife to make sure that no ridges from the mortar are visible between the tiles. This simple step guarantees that your grout will be the same depth throughout. Now you are ready to mix the grout. Before adding any water, mix the dry grout well so that the dye is evenly distributed. This step will ensure a uniform color throughout. Add water and mix the grout until it reaches a creamy consistency.

Applying Grout
Step 9

Applying Grout

Using a rubber grout float, work the grout into the joints, making sure that it goes all the way to the bottom. Once the joints are filled, turn the float at a 45 degree angle and begin working across the tiles from corner to corner, removing any excess material. Keep in mind that the more excess you are able to remove during this step, the easier the final stages of clean up will be.

Cleaning the Face of the Tile
Step 10

Cleaning the Face of the Tile

Allow the grout to dry until the material left on the face of the tiles becomes hazy. You can now use a clean sponge, with about 80% of the water wrung out, to clean the tiles. Use long, broad strokes, always making sure that you have a clean edge down. If, after this step, you still have a bit of haze on the tiles, use a clean dry cloth to buff the haze away, just as you would if you were polishing your car.

Cleaning Hard to Reach Places
Step 11

Cleaning Hard to Reach Places

If you have a 90 degree joint, such as with this project, don't be afraid to cut your sponge into the shape you need. For this angle, a simple sharp cut on the tile saw turns the sponge into the ideal tool for the job.