Tile Mural Installation

Adding a ceramic wall tile mural and accompanying accent tiles will bring attention to your remodeling project and brings out your individual taste and style. A beautiful tile mural will lighten and brighten your kitchen backsplash walls and will add life and amazement to your shower or tub surround. Tiling a counter-top is a great idea to cover a bland or damage counter top without the expense of having it completely replaced. Tiles are durable, heat resistant and stain proof. Our decorated ceramic tile murals and accent pieces can be cleaned daily with a soft, non-abrasive cloth or sponge and normal household cleaners such as soap and water, soft scrub or glass cleaner.

The following are guidelines and are just our opinion on how to install tiles. We are NOT professional tile installers – we are professional tile decorators. If you have any questions about how to install your tiles you must contact a tile installing professional (someone that installs tiles for a living). The Tile Mural Store, its employees and agents are not responsible for damage or loss incurred by following these guidelines.
The tools and materials you will need:

  • Tape measure
  • Tile Nippers or Tile Saw
  • Goggles
  • Notched Trowel (correct size for your size tile and grout lines)
  • Rubber Grout Float
  • Mortar/Mastic (pre-mixed and made for the area you area you are tiling according to the package directions)
  • Gloves (vinyl or latex)
  • Cellulous sponges
  • Unsanded grout
  • Blank field tiles
  • Bullnose field or border tiles (optional)

The walls that you are installing the tiles on must be somewhat smooth and in good condition. Although the makers of the mortar will tell you that you have to use backer board on your walls, we have had several customers tell us that they have applied their tiles to plywood and sheet rock that has been previously primed or painted.

Put on your goggles and gloves. These are protective devices to shield your eyes from mortar and grout spray, and tile pieces that may come loose while cutting your tiles. The gloves will protect your hands from the mortar and grout. Some people are sensitive to the agents used in these materials.

Determine where you want the mural to be. Once you have the perfect place for your mural mark the center of that space. Using the notched trowel, scoop up some of the mastic and apply it to the back of the tile that is center to your mural. Using the edge of the trowel at a slight angle, scrape off the excess mortar turning the tile 1/4 of a turn with each wipe. The tile should now have an even amount of mortar on the back that is about 3/8th of an inch thick. If it is not right repeat scraping as you turn the tile. If it is still not right scrape it all off and start again. You will get the hang of it after a couple of tries or just practice on a blank tile a few times until they come out right.

Now, place that mortared tile on the center place you marked on the wall. Give the tile a little twist back and forth to set it. Do not push down too hard on the tile or you will squish all the mortar out from under it. It is important to know that this first tile is straight and level as it will determine the remainder of your wall. You can use a level or tape measure or ruler – whatever works for you – to know that this first tile is straight.

Once you know your first tile is correct, continue adding tiles to the left and right, top and bottom. If your tiles have built in spacers on each side, continue installing each tile of the mural following the number grid on the back of the tiles and the numbered grid that came with your mural. Butt each tile right up against the one next to it (be careful not to push the tiles you have already installed out of place). If your tiles do not have built in spacers, you may want to use plastic tile spacers for a thicker grout line. You can install tiles without spacers right up against each other but you will have thin grout lines which is fine if that is what you want.

For a small area you can “butter” the back of each tile individually. For a larger area apply the mortar to the wall working in 4 foot by 4 foot sections. Hold the notched trowel at an angle of 45 degrees as you apply the mortar. Once you have applied mortar to an area, install the tiles then move on to the next area.

Install all the whole tiles first. You will go back and install the tiles that need to be cut the next day. Complete the wall as much as you can without cutting any tiles. As you work, every now and again stop tiling and go back over the areas you have already tiled and using a small head screwdriver, remove any mortar that squeezes up through the tiles in the grout lines. You will have about an hour after you have laid a tile to remove the mortar before it dries too much to remove. You want to remove that mortar that comes up so that when you grout this dried mortar won’t interfere with your grouting. If you have applied mortar to the wall where a cut tile will go on tomorrow you need to remove the mortar from that area before it dries.

The next day you are ready to install the cut tiles. Use the tile saw to cut the tiles to the desired length and width of the area you need to fill. “Butter” the back of the cut tiles rather than the wall because it is easier that way.

Now you are ready for grout. Let any newly installed tiles dry enough so that they do not move when you touch them (a couple of hours at least but overnight is best). Once the tiles are all set you can apply the grout. Using the rubber float, scoop up a bunch of grout and smear it on the tile. Holding the float at a 45 degree angle, push the grout into the spaces between the tiles. Work in spaces no larger 5 feet by 5 feet. Once you have an area completed, use the cellulose sponge and water to wipe off the grout that got on the tiles. It will take several rinses and wipe with the sponge to get it off. Do not use a sponge that is dripping wet. Rinse the sponge, squeeze it half way and then wipe. Repeat that until there is no standing grout on the tiles (there will be a haze but that’s ok as we will fix that later). Continue working in sections pushing the grout into the tiles until the entire area is grouted and the excess grout is removed with the wet sponge.

Let the grout dry for an hour or two.

There will be a haze on the tiles from the grout. Use your sponge and warm water and keep wiping the tiles until the haze is gone. You can add just a little bit of white vinegar to the water to help remove the haze. But only a little bit – more is not better. Once the tiles have dried completely use a soft, clean, dry cloth to buff and polish the tiles.

You’re Done!!  Step back and take a look at how gorgeous your new tile mural and accents look and what a great job you did tiling it yourself!


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