How to Install Mexican Tile
Install Mexican tile? You bet you can do it. It's much easier than you can imagine.
Install Mexican Tile On Smooth Slabs
Mexican tile is soft because it's not fired long in a hot kiln. The concrete slab under the tile needs to be very strong so the tile doesn't crack.
The concrete slab should be at least 5 inches thick. The slab should have 1/2-inch steel bars both directions in the middle of the concrete.
This steel prevents wide or offset cracks in the slab and tile. The worst thing that may happen is an ultra-thin hairline crack at some point.
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Notched Trowels and Flat Concrete
A 1/2-inch by 1/2-inch square-notched trowel is required to install Mexican tile. Look at the photo below:
Another key point is how you hold the trowel. Be sure the trowel is held at a 45-degree angle to the surface of the concrete. If you lower the angle, the thickness of the cement thinset will be insufficient.
Most Mexican tile come from the factory with a very smooth bottom surface. The wear surface may have small undulations that add character.
Be sure the concrete slab is smooth and in the same plane with no humps or dips in it. This is a point often overlooked.
The tile will look best when they lay flat on top of a flat concrete slab. Doing this ensures you don't have to back butter each tile.
Thinset Consistency and Weather
Mexican tile is installed on concrete using thinset. Thinset is a mixture of Portland cement and fine silica sand.
You add water to mix the thinset. The thinset should resemble warm cake icing.
The concrete must be dust-free and damp when you trowel on the thinset. Only trowel on thinset that you can cover in 90 seconds.
It must be remembered the bottom of the Mexican tile should also be damp before it's placed in the wet thinset.
Hot sunny days are the worst weather to do this job. Overcast days with no wind and temperatures in the 60s F are preferred.