Cement Tile Installation & Maintenance
*Please note that this is not a complete guide to installation and maintenance, but some advice on aspects which we, from our experience, have found to be particularly important.
Step 1 – Setting the tiles
Since the tiles are hand-made and therefore subject to the color variation 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 backside 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 a 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 1/16″ – 1/8″(1-3 mm); in some countries, insurance company policies require wider joints e.g. in wet areas – please check before installation. Wider joints are also necessary when using floor heating cables.
When installing press the tiles down firmly into place only by hand – don’t 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 onto 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 on the porous surface.
Once the tiles are set allow standing 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. Use Laticrete, Mapei or equivalent unsanded grout, using manufacturer’s instructions. The tiles than have to be sealed in order to protect them from water and dirt. There are numerous products on the market for this purpose. We have found Motif Tile Sealer Apply twice, apart from that follow the instructions on the container.
Be aware that sealing in itself does not prevent excess grout (see step 3 – grouting) from sticking to the surface. It is thus of paramount importance that any excess grout on the face of the tiles is wiped off immediately and meticulously.
We recommend our Sealers for maintaining a longer life cycle of your cement tiles.
Cement Tiles must be sealed with Motif Tile Inc Suggested Sealer.
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 1/16″ – 1/8″(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 – After treatment
Once the tiles are dry we recommend an after-treatment with either concentrated soft soap (uncolored, neutral), colorless wax paste, or a product like Drytreat STAIN-PROOF (This sealer is specifically for stain proofing. It is a solvent base and does not enhance the color of the tiles.) DryTreat INTENSIFIA (This sealer is specifically for enhancing color, it is not a solvent although it does provide stain proofing.)
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.
Depending on the amount of foot traffic the tiles will have to be re-sealed periodically using a penetrating sealer.
Never use acidic cleaners or other acids on cement tiles.
Note: These installation instructions are offered as guidelines only. Motif Tile will not be held responsible for errors, issues, or problems due to installation.