How to Install Quarry Tiles

By Gene and Katie Hamilton

Tools Required
  • Utility knife
  • Carpenter's level
  • Carpenter's square
  • Chalk line
  • Grout float
  • Tape measure
  • Hammer
  • Old toothbrush
  • Notched trowel
    or spreader
  • Tile cutter
  • Tile nippers
  • Pliers
  • hop vacuum
Materials Required
  • Cement backerboard
    and screws
  • Fiberglass tape
  • Dry mortar
  • Quarry tiles
  • Tile spacers
  • Latex thin set mortar
  • Work gloves
  • Sponge
  • Tile cleaner
  • Silicone caulk
  • Clean rags
  • Safety glasses
  • Silicone grout sealer

Before You Begin

End Closet Clutter

To install quarry tiles remove the existing flooring material including the baseboard and trim and clean the surface so it is free of dirt, oil, paint and wax. Use a pliers to pull out any staples in the floor and thoroughly clean the surface of the floor with a shop vacuum.

Use a claw hammer to remove nails in the baseboard and trim. If you're careful removing the nails from the trim you can reuse it, otherwise plan to purchase and install new trim after the tile is installed.

The key to a good tile installation is the soundness of the underlayment so there's no danger of tiles cracking from a flexing floor. One-half-inch thick cement backerboard is a good choice for a setting base for a tile floor and it can be installed over a stable plywood subfloor or a tightly nailed hardwood floor. If the floor bounces when you walk on it, renail the subfloor to the floor joists. Also add rigidity with the addition of bridging between the joists. You can shim the subfloor with wooden shims driven between the top edge of the joists and the bottom face of the subfloor.

A concrete slab or floor is a good setting base for a tile floor if the concrete is flat, even and if it's stable without any cracks and thoroughly clean.

In the planning stage, remember to include door thresholds, which are wood, metal or marble strips that bridge the gaps between different floor surfaces.

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  • Step 1 : Plan the layout of the cement backerboard panels

    These rough-edged panels are heavy and sold in a variety of sizes. Because of its weight the 3-foot-by-5-foot or 4-foot-by-8-foot panels are a good choice. Plan to lay out the panels so they're perpendicular to the subfloor. It helps to use a chalk line to lay down guidelines to follow. Plan the layout so there is not a four-corners joint because the corner edges are its weakest point. Stagger the layout of the panels so there's always one continuous edge to provide the most strength. Choose backerboard panels with premarked screw locations for the easiest installation.

  • Step 2 : Lay out the backerboard

    Depending on the size of the room and size of panels, determine what panels require cutting. Use a tape measure to mark panels for cutting, then use a straightedge and utility knife to cut through them. Wear work gloves and safety glasses when cutting because the backerboard has rough edges. Score the panel on both sides with the utility knife, then press down near the score line.

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