How to Install Tile Over a Yard

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Tile can be placed in the yard as long as it has a sturdy subsurface.
Tile can be placed in the yard as long as it has a sturdy subsurface. (Image: Kim Carson/Photodisc/Getty Images)

A tile patio area is a nice addition to your outside living area, and can be easily added to your yard after you create a concrete subsurface. The hard lower surface is needed so that there is a flat smooth area to which you can cement the tiles. If the tile is placed directly on the soil, the pieces will shift over time, or the ground underneath might erode away, leaving hollow places that might make the tiles crack.

Things You'll Need

  • Spray paint
  • Shovel
  • Level
  • Gravel
  • Tamping tool or machine
  • Measuring tape
  • 1-by-4-inch boards
  • Power saw
  • 1-inch screws
  • Drill
  • Wood stakes
  • Cement
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Water hose
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Mortar or thinset
  • Trowel
  • Carbide tip blade
  • Tile grout
  • Grout float
  • Grout sealer

Outline the patio area with spray paint.

Scoop off the grass in the area and place it in areas where your lawn is sparse. There is no need to waste good material.

Dig down 6 inches with a flat-edge shovel to remove the soil in the area. Then dig down further as you move away from your home to create a slope. This will help water run away from the house. You need a 1/4-inch drop for every 4 feet. Use a 4-foot level to help gauge the slope.

Fill the dug-out space with 4 inches of gravel and pack it down with a tamping machine or tool. You can rent the machines from a rental company.

Outline the inside of the dug space with 1-by-4-inch boards. Measure and cut boards to fit the space, using a power saw. Cut wood stakes and drill them to one side of the boards. Use 1-inch screws to attach the stakes to the boards. Place the boards in the space with the stakes on the outside. Tap the stakes into the ground.

Mix cement according to the package directions. Mix it up in a wheelbarrow for easy pouring.

Pour the cement into the hole. Place a long board across the top of the wood frame and drag it to smooth the concrete level.

Let the cement dry until it is no longer wet on top. Afterwards dampen it with a water hose and lay plastic sheeting across it to trap in the moisture. The cement needs to cure for at least a week to harden properly.

Remove the plastic wrap and sweep the surface.

Mix up mortar or thinset according to the directions.

Spread mortar over a small area of the concrete subsurface with a trowel. Apply only enough for a few tiles at a time. The mortar dries quicker when it is spread thin.

Place tiles, starting in one corner, on the surface. Leave a ¼-inch gap between the tiles. Complete one row before starting the next. Repeat the process with each additional row. Cover a thin layer of mortar on the back of the tile before laying it down to cover any dip in the bottom of the tile.

Cut tiles, when needed, with a carbide tip blade on a power saw. Measure and mark the tile, and cut along the line.

Leave the tiles to dry for a day.

Mix tile grout according to package directions and spread it over the tiles with a float, making sure to get in between all the tiles. Wipe off the tiles with a well-wrung-out sponge as you spread the grout, so that it doesn’t dry on the surface. Let the grout dry for one day. Remove any remaining grout haze with a rag.

Apply grout sealer to the patio to prevent the grout from staining or getting water damage. The sealer comes in an easy applicator tube. Simply squeeze the tube as you move the applicator along the lines.

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