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Porcelain Tile Articles

How to install ceramic tile flooring Part 6 - Mixing and Applying Mortar Adhesive

Your plans to install ceramic tile flooring have produced a floor plan which you will use as a guide. The space has been fully prepared � baseboards and other accessories have been removed. Doors have been trimmed where necessary to accommodate ceramic tile. The substrate has been cleaned and has generally been checked for stability and evenness. You�ve gathered the proper equipment, and have allowed your choice of ceramic tiles to acclimate in the area where they are to be installed. The space itself has been measured, and divided into quadrants after the centre of the space has been verified. The ceramic tiles have been laid down in a dry-run, or "rehearsal" in order to make sure that your tiles will fit together in accordance with your floor plan. At this point, you are ready to prepare for a permanent installation. But, first you must mix and spread the mortar adhesive. Here are the basic steps.


  • Pick up all the ceramic tiles in your batch and set them aside in bunches reserved and marked for the different quadrants of the space.

  • You will need mortar adhesive to set ceramic tiles. Mix the mortar in a large bucket by adding the dry mortar in water and stir it to a consistency of thick paste. You can also rent a power mixer for this process.

  • Once the mortar is mixed and ready, begin spreading it with the notched trowel on your prepared surface. Start from the center point, working only in one quadrant, and apply small sections at a time, following the same pattern you laid out in the dry run.

  • Spread the adhesive evenly. Work in small areas at a time, using the surface area that you can cover when using the trowel while in arms length as a guide. Use the notched trowel in such a way that the rows left in the mortar are in a straight line.


Some varieties of adhesives require added water, while others don�t. Please read all directions carefully. Often latex or acrylic is added to mortar adhesive for extra durability. The latex gives the mortar flexibility and additional bonding strength. This flexibility is required for substrates that may experience expansion and contraction due to environmental conditions. The additional adhesion strength is needed while setting tile over hard-to-bond surfaces. However, not all latex and acrylic additives are designed to do the same job. For example, some are not recommended over plywood. If in doubt, always consult your seller to make sure that your chosen mortar is suitable for your specific installation.

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