Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Porcelain Tile Countertop Installation

I purchased a tilesaw from Harbor Freight to cut the tile, a Chicago brand bridge wet saw that could handle 24" tiles. I didn't use the included blade, instead I bought a more expensive diamond blade specifically designed for porcelain.

The tiles are through-bodied (color goes all the way through the tile, not just on the surface), and rectified (edges are exactly straight). Not all ceramic/porcelain tile has these properties. You cannot do the 1/16" grout lines without rectified tile. You must also use non sanded grout for the thin grout lines.

We had a problem cutting the tile. It seemed that no matter what we did, the cut curved slightly toward the end of the cut. The curve was very slight, but it was enough to mess up the cuts because we had such narrow grout lines. We thought the problem was with the saw, so we rented a wet saw from home depot, but we had the same problem. I think if I did this over again I would try a score and snap tile cutter. Also, maybe I would use smaller tiles and live with the extra grout lines. The large format tiles were very difficult to work with.

After the grout set, we had the efflorescence issue, which can arise with colored grout. We waited more than the 2 days recommended between tiling and grouting. I tried removing with sulfamic acid, and it helped some. I thought it looked pretty bad at first, but actually it is not noticeable because of the color variations in the tile. Here is a good website about causes of efflorescence. I think that my problem may have been prevented by using distilled water to mix the grout.

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