Preparing a good substrate is the most important step to ensure a beautiful installation. New concrete sub floors must be left to cure 28 days before tiling. All floor and wall substrates must be rigid. Any spring in the substrates may crack the tile. All substrates, particularly floors, must be structurally sound. All substrates should be flat and leveled. All substrates must be squeaky clean, free from oil, grease, dust, loose or peeling paint, concrete sealers or curing compounds. If these contaminants are not removed, the tile will not adhere properly to the substrate.All sub floors that are structurally sound and free of excessive movement are suitable for tiling over.
Thin-set mortar – is a mixture of Portland cement and sand used to adhere the tile to the substrate. Latex Portland cement mortar – is the same as the thin-set mortar except that a special latex or acrylic is added. The latex gives the mortar flexibility and additional bonding strength. The flexibility is required when going over substrates that may experience minor movement, and the additional adhesion strength is needed when setting tile over hard-to-bond surfaces.
Membranes – are used to separate the tile and mortar from the substrate. They are made to resist tile damage caused by minor substrate cracks, minor movements and water damage to the substrates.
Cement Backer Boards – are light weight concrete sheets that are used to cover wood sub floors. They are also used as an underlayment for “wet” areas such as shower walls and tub enclosures.
Note : Not all latex and acrylic additives are designed to do the same job. For example, some are not recommended over wood, some are for interior use and some are not suited for going over cut-back adhesive, etc. The best way to handle this is to have your supplier develop a cross reference list that matches up the proper setting materials with the job conditions.
Prepare base mortar with cement and sand in the ration 1:4. Set the levels for floor (i.e. dead level or lope as specified by the architect / contractor) prepare cement slurry i.e. mixture of cement and water to form the thick paste and spread it on the level base mortar. Wet the backside of the tile with water. If tiles are square or rectangular in shape, set the right angles for the area and place the first tile along the right angle line and place it on the base mortar. Tap gently only with the rubber or wooden mallet to obtain perfect levels.
Plaster the surface to be tiles with mortar (1:3 ratio of cement and sand). Prepare cement mortar i.e. mixture of cement sand and water to form a thick paste and spread it on the backside of the tile after wetting the tile with sponge. Instruction given for floors should be laid in a similar fashion as wall tiles.
Starting Point: Decide on a pattern. Plain white or lighter shades with darker outer borders never goes out of fashion. Mural sets can be effective but be very careful not to break the set.
Decide layout: Take all your tiles and shuffle them together, if they are not a mural. The individual boxes may vary slightly in colour – if randomly distributed, this will be less noticeable.
Application on walls: If room has not been designed in accordance with dimensions, center on a window or other feature. Work outwards to meet the walls.
Application on floors: Start in the center (app.) of the room about parallel to one of the wall. From this tile work to each wall to form across on the floor then fill each quadrant.
Grouting: To achieve a flawless tiles surface, grouting is essential. No ceramic tiles will have exactly same size and a distinct grout line of 3-4 mm which takes care of these minor variations so a space must be used between tiles to create uniform grout line. Grouts available in the market are cement based powders or epoxy grouts. Some sealers breath naturally so a "still wet" installation can be allowed to dry out even after the sealer is applied. However, some sealers lock in the moisture as they lock out the stains, so make sure which type of sealer you are selecting and the proper technique of application. Your choices in grout sealers are a topical sealer that can offer a wet look, or a penetrating sealer that has a natural look, which protects the grout but does not change the look of the grout. When sealing the grout there are various techniques to apply the sealer. Always follow the manufacturer's directions, but generally the best methods are to apply only to the grout joints and buff off any excess that happens to get on the tiles. Another method is to apply all over the surface with a sponge or cloth and then buff off the excess with a terry cloth or cheesecloth rag. Some sealers protect against everyday dirt and minor staining elements; others protect against harsh staining elements like hot grease. Look for warranties and protection information on the label from the manufacturers.
Ceramic wall coverings offer excellent features of cleanliness and hygiene since, unlike other products, they are easy to clean using water and commercially-available standard detergents, they do not require waxing or polishing treatments, and do not easily retain dirt, thus preventing micro organisms and bacteria from spreading.
On completion of laying, the first cleaning job is carried out on walls and floors to eliminate the residues of mortar, adhesives, and gout from the ceramic surface. Usually, an acid solution is used which is left to act for a short time in contact with the tiled surface.
For routine cleaning it is usually sufficient to pass over the tiled surface with a damp rag or mop to restore the tile’s natural sheen, or to use a specific detergent for ceramic tiles . Special cleaning is carried out on a floor that has been neglected for some time, or one that has traces of stains on the tiles or the joints. For neglected floors, it is sufficient to thoroughly clean the surface with a suitable detergent.
Stained floors must be cleaned using physical or chemical processes. In the first case, very fine abrasives are used which mechanically detach and remove the stains or soil from the tile or the joints. In the second case, there is a chemical reaction between the stain and the detergent which dissolves the stain. Various products are commercially available for all the principal categories of stains. We recommend that these products be used following the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter.
Porcelain stoneware products are characterized by a very low level of water absorption. The first operation to be carried out, common to all ceramic materials, is the removal of grouting residues. For this purpose an acid product is used, appropriately diluted at the moment of cleaning according to the type of product. In general, a “buffered” acid product is used (i.e. one with acidity that is not particularly aggressive, that is controlled and delicate on the surface, as well as free from irritating fumes such as in the case of hydrochloric acid), diluted in water at a ratio of 1 to 5 (1 part acid to 5 part water). The solution thus obtained is applied to the floor and left to act for a brief period of time (30 seconds to 1 minute), and is removed by mechanical means using a single-brush machine, followed by thorough rinsing. The porcelain stoneware has a high resistance to acids, it is preferable not to use very strong acids in consideration of the safety of the operators, and in any case the manufacturer’s instructions provided with the detergent must be scrupulously followed.
For matt porcelain stoneware, preventive protection is not necessary, as correct and effective cleaning is sufficient for maintenance. At most, a preventing treatment could be applied to increase resistance to dirt in high traffic environments, though this is not particularly recommended, as the filmy products could encounter difficulty in adhesion due to the low absorption capacity of the material.
For routine cleaning, the matt material is treated using a highly diluted floor cleaning product (from 1:30 to 1:50). For special maintenance or heavy-duty cleaning, a stronger detergent is used, usually a degreasing for the polished version, the all-in-one detergent-stain remover product, diluted and used with a floor cleaning machine with a green abrasive disk, is an excellent cleaning agent also for matt porcelain stoneware.