How to Install Ceramic Tile With Thinset

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Thinset adhesive keeps tiles in place.
Thinset adhesive keeps tiles in place. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Homeowners use thinset ceramic tile bedding as a leveling and adhesive surface for tile to stick to. If you use it properly, you will have a level, well-adhered section of ceramic floor or wall tile. Improper use, on the other hand, can lead to an uneven floor or wall with dangerous tile corners sticking up or out. Use the proper tools and procedure to provide an even layer of thinset adhesive to achieve professional-looking results.

Things You'll Need

  • Thinset
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Stir stick
  • 1/4-inch square notched trowel
  • Tiles
  • Tile spacers
  • Premixed grout
  • Grout float
  • Sponge
  • Dry towel
  • Grout sealant

Pour thinset along with the amount of water recommended by the manufacturer into a five-gallon bucket. Use cold water and stir the mixture with a stir stick until it is smooth. Mix the thinset in small amounts as it dries quickly when exposed to air. You will need about half a pound for each square foot tile area.

Scoop thinset from the bucket using a 1/4-inch square notched trowel. Apply it to the floor with the trowel in a generous layer. Scrape along the entire layer of thinset with the notched edge of the tile. This will ensure an even layer.

Press the ceramic tiles in place firmly over the thinset, placing tile spacers at each corner to space the tiles evenly.

Allow the tiles to sit and adhere to the thinset for the amount of time specified on the package, or at least 24 hours. Remove the tile spacers after this period of time.

Apply premixed grout to the spaces between tiles with a grout float. Do not worry about getting grout on the faces of the tiles.

Dip a sponge in cold water and wipe over the tiles to remove the grout from the tile faces. Rinse the sponge in the water frequently as you do this.

Allow the grout to cure overnight, and then buff the cloudy surface with a dry towel. Add a grout sealant according to the manufacturer's instructions.

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