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Laying of tiles is a complex process and hence, we recommend, using only trained contractors for it to get the best and long-lasting results. But for a user like you, it is important to know the basics of tile laying process to make sure you get the work done in the right manner.
There are two options for laying tiles, either by using sand-cement mixture or by using a tile adhesive. While, the basic process remains the same, there are differences between the two approaches, which is explained below. Remember, tiles can be laid on any surface or even on top of an existing tile, but before laying tiles, the underlying surface must be even and cleaned.
Fixing of tiles using sand-cement mixture
Tiles should not be laid on freshly plastered or prepared surfaces. This is because any freshly prepared construction surface shrinks or loses weight, this can cause damage to tiles if they are laid on a freshly prepared wall or floor. Typically, you must wait for around 2 weeks for the surface to “settle down”. But this is applicable only for a new wall or floor, in case you are getting new tiles laid on existing wall or floor, then this can be done immediately.
Next, a mixture of sand and cement needs to be made. For floor tiles, typically, a mixture of sand and cement in the ratio 3:1 is taken and then water is added to form a paste. For wall tiles, the mix is kept at 1:1 (sand to cement) and then water is added. A finer sand grade is also advised for wall tiles.
The tiles must be soaked in water at-least 30 minutes prior to the application.
This paste is then applied on the surface (wall or floor) to form a 15-20 mm (around 3/4th of an inch) thick layer. Simultaneously, a thin film of this paste is also applied to the tile back. This tile is then pressed against the layer on the wall or tile and pressure applied gently using a wooden hammer.
The tiles should be left to settle down for 24 hours, before the next step of grouting is done.
Fixing of tiles using adhesives
In this method, the difference is that instead of a mixture of sand and cement, one makes a mixture of special adhesives and water. These adhesives come in powder form, packed in bags, and are opened and mixed with water. The exact ratio of mixing would depend upon manufacturer’s specifications.
This paste is then applied on the surface (wall or floor) to form a 15-20 mm thick layer, upon which the tile is directly laid.
The setting time of tiles under this process tends to be shorter, typically between 8 – 16 hours.
Difference between the two approaches
The main advantage of using adhesives is that is time saving, because the preparation if the mixture is simpler, there is no need to soak the tiles, there is no need to apply a thin film on the back of the tile and
Another advantage is that the adhesion strength is much better which results in more durable tile work. Disadvantage of using adhesives is that it tends to be more expensive compared to sand-cement method.