Please note that this is not a complete guide to installation and maintenance of cement tiles, but some advice on aspects which we from our experience have found to be particularly important.
Step 1 – Tile Setting
Since the tiles are hand-made and therefore subject to color variations we recommend that you batch mix them randomly from different boxes when laying them out in order to balance color and tonal variation.
Make sure that the surface that is to be tiled is level, clean and perfectly dry. Before laying the tiles briefly dip them in water to remove any dust and in order to pre-wet the back side prior to setting. Alternatively, you can pre-wet the back of the tile using a spray bottle.
Installation of cement tiles requires a double spread of adhesive. Use thin-set mortar and a notched trowel and apply the thin-set both to the substrate and to the back of the tile.
The pattern of the tiles looks best with small grout joints (1-3 mm). Wider joints are necessary when using floor heating cables.
When installing press the tiles down firmly into place only by hand – don not use a hammer or rubber mallet since this can crack the tiles. Work in small areas at a time and avoid getting the thin-set on to the surface of the tile since this can stain the unsealed tile – wipe off any excess thin-set or other dirt immediately so as to avoid it setting in the porous surface. Once the tiles are set allow to stand until the surface of the tiles is dry.
Step 2 – Sealing
Please note that sealing has to be performed before grouting, otherwise grout can penetrate the porous surface of the tiles.
The tiles then have to be sealed in order to protect them from water and dirt. There are numerous products on the market for this purpose. Apply twice, apart from that follow the instructions on the container.
Be aware that sealing in itself does not prevent excess grout from sticking to the surface. It is thus of paramount importance that any excess grout on the surface of the tile is wiped off immediately and meticulously.
Step 3 – Grouting
Before grouting tiles should be allowed to dry for at least 24 hours. Mix the grout to a slightly runny consistency in order to facilitate applying to small grout joints (1-3 mm). Apply the grout to small areas at a time so that any excess grout on the face of the tiles can be wiped off immediately. We advise against using dark colored grout with pale tiles and vice versa.
Step 4 – Aftertreatment
Once the tiles are dry we recommend an after treatment with either concentrated soft soap (uncolored, neutral), colorless wax paste in order to enhance the color of the tiles and to give the tiles the desired finish – matte, satin or shiny.
The tiles should be cleaned using mild soap based detergents (diluted soft soap if available in your market). Repeated cleaning with soft soap will also help maintain a satin finish to the tiles and to an extent acts as a continuous re-sealant of the tiles. Depending on the amount of foot traffic the tiles will have to be re-sealed periodically with a penetrating sealer. Never use acidic cleaners or other acids on cement tiles.
Our online Tile Catalogue is rich in cement tile collections. Please see Kelim, Klassiska and Claesson Koivisto Runes series by Marrakech Design, and Dal Bianco, Hayon, Navone, I Fregi Bds, Bds, I Colori collections by Bisazza.