Tile FAQ’s

The list below contains some of the most commonly asked questions I get about tile and installation methods. For each one I have included a (very) short answer.  I already have, or will have in the future, a post about every one of these. If that post already exists there will be a link at the end of the answer.

I will continue to add to this page as the questions come up. If you have a question just leave a comment at the bottom and I’ll include it on this page.

Just click on the question to view the answer.

Grout

What type of grout should I use for my tile?

It depends on the tile and the size of the grout lines. Read this: Using the correct type of grout

How large should my grout lines be?

It depends on the tile size and the look you want. Read this: How large should grout lines be?

Can I fill my cracking grout with more grout?

Maybe. Read this article for a more complete answer: Filling grout lines with more grout

Are there any “magic” products available to remove stains from your grout and tile?

No there are not. One of the closest things to magic that you can buy is oxygen bleach. It is not bleach! It's a slight misnomer. This is the main ingredient in products like oxyclean. It works very, very well to clean grout. More information: How to clean grout

Does grout help stabilize tile, hold them in place, or make them stick better?

No it does not. (Epoxy grout is different) Read this: Does grout stabilize tile?

Are tile, stone or grout waterproof?

No they are not. Read this: Is tile waterproof?

Can I install my tile without grout lines?

No, you should not. Read this: Tile with no grout

Miscellaneous

Can I install floor tiles on my shower walls?

Yes you can. Read this: Floor tiles on a wall

Sealers

Will sealing your tile and grout make it waterproof?

No! It absolutely will not.

Should I seal (or re-seal) my tile and grout?

If you would like it to be easier to clean then yes, you should.

Setting Materials

What should I use to set my tile?

It depends on where you are installing the tile. Read this: Proper setting materials for tile

Are mastic and pre-mixed “mortar” acceptable to install tile on a floor or in a shower?

No they are not. Read this: Proper setting materials for tile

Substrates

Does my floor have to be level before I install tile?

No it does not. Read this: Does my floor have to be level for tile?

Do I need a waterproof membrane for my shower walls?

Yes, a membrane of some sort is required. Read the article for the different types. Read this: Preparing a shower wall for tile

Can I simply stick tile to the drywall in my shower or the plywood on my floor?

You can but it won’t last – so no. Read this: Preparing a shower wall for tile or this: Installing backerboard for floor tile

Transitions

Should I use grout or caulk in the corners of my shower?

Technically? Caulk. Realistically? It depends. Read this: Caulk or grout in corners?

If you have any suggestions or questions please feel free to leave a comment.

Paul Zaposiac

I want to tile a concrete floor that has radiant heat lines embedded. Will this work; any difference in procedure or prep needed?
There is also a brick hearth embedded flush to the concrete that I want to bury…do I need to fill mortar lines between bricks or can I just tile over?
Thanks.
Tile Art gallery amazing!

Reply

Roger

Hi Paul,

You can just tile directly to that with a REALLY good thinset like mapei ultraflex 2 or 3 or laticrete. I would likely use a membrane like ditra over it to ensure a lasting installation. You can just tile right over that hearth, but you should probably have soft joints over the transition.

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Chris

Hi Roger – I constructed a Kerdi board shower niche. I used 3×6 subway tile on the walls and want to continue in the niche. I planned on using a bullnose piece around the inner perimeter to meet up with the wall tile. What do you do for the corners? That is, a bull nose piece does not correctly meet with a bull nose piece at 90 degrees. Also, my niche ended up being 1/16″ too high at the bottom. Can I shave it down and still be waterproof? I would most likely have to shave the orange skin off.
Thanks,
Chris

Reply

Roger

Hi Chris,

I miter them at 45 degrees. Yes, you can shave it down. Just make sure you seal the edges again after you do that to ensure they are waterproof.

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Jessica Hernandez

Just a quick question. Is it possible to grout small areas of tile as they are completed (under the oven, kitchen table, etc). My husband and I are installing the wood look tile and are having to do it as we have time (not the best way, I know). I’d like to get furniture out of the way with it probably taking so long to finish. Is this a good idea to grout as small areas are finished? Thank you for your time.

Reply

Roger

Hi Jessica,

You can if you want, just be sure to mix the grout with the EXACT same amounts of grout and water every time.

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Scott

Hey Roger,

I wanted to take a moment to say thanks for taking the time out of your schedule to maintain this site. I did a complete demo/remodel of our master bath after finding a leaky shower pan. Needless to say, they did everything the complete opposite of what I learned on this site. It came out beautiful, the wife is ecstatic and sends her thanks too.

I hope that was enough brown nosing to allow me to move into the questions I have.

Wifey wants new floors throughout the house, and has her heart set on the tile that looks like wood. Which is fine with me, with the Elf in my corner, I cant lose.

Base floor in the house is terrazzo. It has been cleaned scraped of all old thinset and imperfections. I have one 2′ x 2′ x 2″ deep crater that I need to fill, what would you recommend, and as far as prep goes, instead of asking you, I guess what I’m looking for is your plan of attack if you walked into a job with terrazzo. Thanks Roger, we greatly appreciate it…

Reply

Roger

Hi Scott,

I would take it down to the bare substrate and go over it with ditra, then tile. But I do that with everything. :D If your substrate is scraped down and flat then just go right over it with ditra. I would fill that spot with deck mud or regular cement.

Reply

Matt

Do you prefer to use caulk or silicone for the corners and around the plane where the tile meets the tub? I have purchased color matched Latisil and have the color matched Laticrete caulk as well. Which one would you use or is there something better besides using epoxy grout?

Reply

Roger

Hi Matt,

Silicone.

Reply

alvin sears

Hi Roger,
are tile setters responsible for installing the glass doors in showers?
Thanks.

Reply

Roger

Hi Alvin,

No, tile setters are responsible for tile.

Reply

Paul

Hi Roger,
I recently had a contractor convert a tub to shower with three quartzite walls and a mosaic marble shower pan and the drain is not in the center it is closest to the shower head area and glass doors. Having showered in it after using it for about three weeks we are experiencing water wicking up the three walls and slightly up and over the quartzite curb. The contractor used three coats of Hydroban on the pan and walls (no liner used).
Would you please give me some insight into what was done wrong?
The contractor has removed all fusion pro grout where the wall meets the floor all around at the bottom of the walls to air dry . He believes this has occurred because the bottom raw edges of the quartzite walls were not properly sealed .He wants to silicone the base where the quartzite meets the mosaic tile .
I’m not quite sold on his theory .HELP!!
Please provide me with a solution as well as why this occurred.
Paul

Reply

Roger

Hi Paul,

He’s right. If it’s not sealed it will wick the water up. It has nothing to do with the substrate, it sounds to me like exactly what he told you. The silicone should work.

Reply

Mike

Did Roger go on vacation??? ;)

Reply

Sue

Maybe he is working super hard and only has limited time to reply?

Reply

Roger

That too. :D

Reply

Roger

Yes, he did. But he’s back now. :D

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Ross

Hi Roger
Probably a stupid question but just how much adhesion should one expect between kerdi and cement board or other substrates? I have tried to follow your instructions but in seems that it is only adhering like masking tape or maybe cheap duct tape at best. Should I be ripping it out and looking for better un-modified thinset or is this normal?

Reply

Roger

Hi Ross,

The longer you leave it the more adhesion you’ll get. Provided your thinset did not skim over before you got the kerdi embedded in it, it’s fine – stop yanking on it. :D

Reply

Paul

Hey Roger:
I pulled up a tile job in a kitchen. The substrate was 1/2 plywood on a grid of 2×4’s laid on their side and glued down. I understand that the best install is both wood and some sort of durarock. The install was already 3/16″ above the adjoining room and we do not want to go higher. Would you go back on the 2×4 grid with 1/4″ plywood and 1/4″ durarock?

Thanks,
Paul

Reply

Roger

Hi Paul,

No, I would not. Is this over concrete?

Reply

Anita

Hi Roger:
As I mentioned in recent posts, my shower stall is being built after removing an acrylic surround shower. After removing the original stall down to the metal studs and concrete floor, the rough plumbing was installed. Then the contractor added some 1-1/2″ x 3-1/2″ boards horizontally across the wall on which the plumbing fixtures are installed. (He had to do this to build out the wall to meet the new plumbing fixture sizes.) He then created the seat and step with multiple layers of similar sized boards. Last, he added the pre-slope (first pitch) of mud to the floor.

The Plumber will install a rubber membrane on the floor and up about 3-4′ high along the four walls. However, this will not cover the other horizontal boards that were placed above the shower plumbing controls.

My question is, do I need to first install the plastic vapor barrier over all of the wood i.e., step, seat and wood boards on the plumbing wall before the rubber membrane is installed. Or do I need to only place the vapor barrier over the exposed wood that won’t get covered by the rubber membrane.

Also, after the vapor barrier and rubber membrane are installed, should I wait for the second layer of mud to be installed before installing the cement backerboard on walls, seat and step? Or should I install it first and then do the second slope of mud?
Thank you,
Anita

Reply

Roger

Hi Anita,

If you are not using a topical membrane over your bench then the rubber membrane needs to go all the way up and cover all the wood framing and the top of the bench. The backer should go up after the mud, and it needs to have either a vapor barrier behind it or a topical membrane over the face of it.

Reply

Colm

Hi, I’m tiling a bathroom wall with a heat/air register on the wall. My question is: Do I tile around the register mounting it on the drywall or mount the register on top of the finished tile? Thanks for your help.

Reply

Roger

Hi Colm,

The register should be mounted on the tile.

Reply

Brad

Hi Roger,

I am starting to layout the tile for my shower wall. I am using 10×14 and laying them vertically and I think I would like to do a staggered pattern instead of straight grout lines. Do you have any advice for how to start the first row? I was going to use a board screwed to the wall since my shower pan is not level all the way around and I know I will have to cut the bottom row to fit. But not sure how to do that when only every other tile could be set on the board. I can’t just set half a tile in the space between because those tiles need to go down to the actual shower pan.

Thought you may have run into this before?

Thanks

Reply

Roger

Hi Brad,

Forget the board and cut your tiles to the floor to begin with. Draw two level lines, one for each tile height, cut your tiles to them and begin at the floor rather than a ledger board.

Reply

Anita

Hi Roger:
The new tile installed in my bathroom is abour 1/2″ lower than the veneer wood floor in my bedroom. I want to purchase a threshold to cover the two but not sure what the best option is and how it should be installed.

Can I install the tile right up to the wood and then place a threshold that has a one-sided bevel over the two with the bevel sitting on the tile side. Or do I need to leave space between the tile and the wood and insert the type of wood threshold that has a slope under it that would fit in that open space.

Thank you,
Anita

Reply

Anita

Also is there a particular type of cement/glue/silicone that I should use to adhere the threshold to the wood and tile flooring?
Thanks!

Reply

Roger

Same answer.

Reply

Roger

Hi Anita,

Either one will work, just depends on what type of threshold you purchase.

Reply

Mike

Hi Roger,

I cannot seem to get my grout to come out evenly colored. I just finished a tub surround, my joints are clean, I thoroughly mixed one batch of sanded Polyblend. Applied it over about 30 minutes. It’s been 4 days and it still looks very uneven, almost like parts of it are still wet (but they’re not). Any ideas? Thanks.

Reply

Roger

Hi Mike,

It’s the grout. Polyblend is absolutely notorious for color inconsistency and being extremely touchy with the amount of water mixed into it and used to clean it. You can try to ‘sand’ down the darker areas a bit to see if you get consistent coloring – it may work.

Reply

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