Porcelain, Ceramic & Encaustic flooring guidelines
We always recommend that you employ a proven professional for the installation of porcelain, ceramic and encaustic wall and floor tiles, but here are some important guidelines to consider in ensuring a smooth installation process.
When your tiles are delivered
When you receive your porcelain, ceramic or encaustic tiles, check that you have all your tiles and that they are in good condition. A few breakages and some slight corner or edge damage is inevitable, but these tiles can be used as cuts. We recommend that you shuffle and mix tiles from different boxes/crates so that you have a uniform effect across the whole of the new surface. It is often wise to dry lay small areas first to ensure even distribution and to consider optimum placement of tiles, for example, where movement joints will be required. Because of this all tiles should be unpacked and your installer should be made fully aware of your laying requirements prior to the job commencing.
When designing the tile layout consideration should be given as to whether tiles are rectified or non-rectified as this will have an influence on joint width and pattern.
- The tiles should be dry, and both sides of the tile should be wiped clean of any dust before installation and the top surface should be wiped and cleaned carefully again after installation before sealing and grouting takes place.
- The substrate being tiled on to must be flat, level, stable and rigid- preferably of concrete/screed. Timber substrates should be structural grade as per British Standards and need careful consideration as timber is subject to movement under load, temperature and humidity.
- For other substrates such as sand/cement screed, calcium sulphate screed, under floor heated screed and walls ensure that the correct fixing materials are used, suitable for the substrate in question.
- If you are tiling on to areas prone to wetting, such as wet room floors or shower room walls, we recommend that prior to tiling you fully tank (waterproof) the substrate using a suitable tanking system, such as the Mapei Shower Waterproofing Kit.
- If you are tiling on to an underfloor heated screed, we recommend overlaying with a movement uncoupling membrane (such as Schluter Ditra Matting). Appropriate movement joints will also need to be incorporated into the floor. Moisture content of screeds is a critical factor that must be considered prior to tiling.
- Tiles can be cut using a porcelain tile cutter with a diamond blade.
Note regarding underfloor heating (In-Screed Piped)
The underfloor heating should have been commissioned prior to installation and run through a full heating cycle at the very least, ideally it should have been on for a period of time to drive out any residual moisture in the screed. The underfloor heating should then be switched off prior to installation and kept off for 2 weeks after the install is complete. The temperature should then be ramped up gradually, at a rate of 1 degree per day. Anhydrite/Calcium Sulphate screeds need careful consideration as curing and drying rates are longer than conventional concrete or cement-based screeds. Seek more specific advice from your underfloor heating and screed suppliers.
- Use a good quality, flexible, rapid or semi-rapid tile adhesive (generally white adhesive is used for most porcelain products, please enquire if unsure) and carefully follow all manufacturer’s instructions.
- Ensure 100% coverage of each tile with adhesive, and remove excess adhesive with a damp cloth before it hardens. Occasionally lift a set tile to ensure that sufficient compaction and full bed adhesion is being achieved.
- Porcelain tiles do not need to be sealed. Ceramic tile are pre-sealed, so do not require sealing when installing. Encaustic tiles do need to be sealed.
- Due to the nature of porcelain, ceramic and encaustic tiles and the way that they are produced, a degree of variation in dimensions and warpage should be expected. Whilst this is minimal, it can become more noticeable on larger format tiles. In order to avoid emphasising this, if staggering joints then it should be by a maximum of 30% of the length, i.e. do not install brick bond – either install in-line (stacked bond) or stagger the joints randomly but no more than 30%. Tiles should be installed using a clip levelling system such as Raimondi Tile Levelling System.
- Level the tiles using hand pressure only. Using a mallet or rubber hammer could cause cracking.
Grouting and cleaning
It is important to ensure that the grout is thoroughly cleaned from the surface of the porcelain. Rinse the grouting sponges frequently, using two different containers of water: one to remove the excess mix from the sponge, and the other, containing clean water, to rinse the sponge. The buckets must be changed frequently. If grout residue still remains this should be cleaned off using a cleaner such as Lithofin Power Clean, but ensure that the grout lines are set hard prior to any cleaning.
Maintenance & Protection
See our Maintain you Floor page, for all information regarding maintaining your porcelain or ceramic floor.