How to Lay Thinset Mortar

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Installing ceramic tile is a job many homeowners do themselves. It's important to learn to lay thinset mortar properly so the tiles themselves are correctly seated and look professionally done. It's not hard to lay thinset mortar; you just have to go slowly and work on a small area at a time.

Things You'll Need

  • Pre-mixed thinset mortar Large putty knife Notched trowel
  • Thoroughly clean the floor where you will lay the thinset mortar and tiles. Remove all traces of dirt, grease, mildew, paint or oil. The surface must be completely clean for the thinset mortar to adhere properly.

  • Use the putty knife to dip into the container of thinset mortar and transfer it to the notched trowel. Use the straight edge of the trowel to apply a thin, even coat to the floor. Use steady even pressure. Work on a 4-feet-by-4-feet area at a time.

  • Load the trowel with more thinset mortar. Using the notched edge of the trowel, apply a second coat. Form even ridges in the mortar the depth of the trowel's notches. These ridges will grab and hold the tiles.

  • Lay the tiles by pressing them into the thinset mortar so that about one-quarter of their thickness sinks into the mortar bed. Give them a little twist as you set them into it.

  • After completing the first small area, repeat with other small areas until all tile is laid.

Tips & Warnings

  • Pre-mixed thinset mortar and other necessary tools for this project are available at home improvement stores. Use a 3/16 inch trowel with v-shaped notches when laying thinset mortar for ceramic tile.

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