How to: Install Quarry Tiles

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Lay a handsome new floor with quarry tile and enjoy a durable surface that will last forever. Follow these step-by-step instructions and learn what materials and tools are needed to do the job like a pro.

Step  2:   Lay out the backerboard

Depending on the size of the room and size of panels, determine what panels require cutting. Use a tape measure to mark panels for cutting, then use a straightedge and utility knife to cut through them. Wear work gloves and safety glasses when cutting because the backerboard has rough edges. Score the panel on both sides with the utility knife, then press down near the score line.

Step  3:   Spread the mortar adhesive and lay the panels

Mix powdered mortar according to the manufacturer's directions. Use a trowel to spread the mortar adhesive on the subfloor and comb it out so it is smooth. Place the first row of panels on the chalk line. On subsequent rows lean the panels on edge and gently lower them in place leaving about 1/8-inch space between them. Allow for a 1/4-inch gap between the panels and the walls. Secure the panels with backerboard screws. Then fill in the joints with the mortar adhesive and lay down fiberglass tape embedded in the adhesive where one or both edges are square or cut. If the panels have rounded edges no tape is required, just fill in the joints where both panel edges are uncut. Make a second application of adhesive to cover the tape and feather the edges.

Step  4:   Lay out the floor with reference lines

Measure the room to find the center of two opposite walls and use the points to snap a chalk line across the length of the room in the center of the floor, dividing the room in half. Snap another chalk line perpendicular to the first so the two lines cross in the center of the room. Use a carpenter's square to make sure the center point is square.

The goal for the layout is to use as many full tiles as you can and end up with at least half a tile width in the areas where the tiles meet the walls. Use tiles to lay out a row across the width and length of the room. Leave a little spacing for the grout joints or use tile spacers between the tiles. This dry layout gives you an idea of any adjustments needed.

Step  5:   Apply the adhesive

Give the backerboard a final wipe down with a damp sponge to remove dust. Then follow the manufacturer's direction to mix and apply the adhesive. Provide good ventilation and follow the suggestions for safety precautions using the adhesive.

Spread the adhesive in an area approximately 10 square feet in the center of the room at the intersection of the reference lines you drew. Then use the lines as a guide as you work your way outward toward the walls in each quadrant.

Step  6:   Install the whole tiles first

Lay the first tile where the chalk lines intersect and twist the tile back and forth so it becomes embedded in the adhesive. Continue laying tiles out from the center and use tile spacers (set on end so they're easy to remove) between the tiles to maintain straight grout lines. If adhesive oozes up between the tiles, clean out the excess between the tiles before it dries and wipe off any adhesive on the face of the tiles immediately with a solvent-soaked sponge or rag. Follow the manufacturer's suggestion for the appropriate solvent.

Set the remaining tiles making sure to butt the edges against each other. To make sure the tiles are level, lay a scrap piece of 2x4 or other lumber on the tiles and gently tap with a rubber mallet to embed them in the adhesive.



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