How to install ceramic wall tile over brick

Written by danielle odom
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How to install ceramic wall tile over brick
Ceramic tiles can be installed over a brick underlay. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Ceramic wall tiles need a firm foundation to adhere to so the tiles will not crack from movement. One of the best underlays for ceramic tile is brickwork. Laying tile over brick will provide a polished look to the area and offer colour choices that are unavailable with brick. When planning to lay ceramic tile over bricks, try to make sure that the tile grout lines will lie over actual bricks instead of the brick mortar. This will provide more stability and keep the tiles safe from damage.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Brown butcher paper
  • Painter's tape
  • Utility knife
  • Small pry bar
  • Side grinder
  • Wire brush
  • 3 2-inch by 4-inch boards
  • Paddle mixer
  • Power driver
  • Quick-drying thin-set
  • Acrylic additive
  • Notched trowel
  • Wet saw tile cutter
  • Tile spacers
  • Straightedge
  • Permanent marker
  • Bucket
  • Grout
  • Water
  • Grout float
  • Sponge
  • Eye protection

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Remove any furniture from the area to be tiled, and cover the floor with brown butcher paper, which is available at local craft stores or from a local butcher. Layer the paper so it overlaps, and hold it in place with painter's tape.

  2. 2

    Remove any trim or moulding from the wall by first using a utility knife to score any paint or caulk holding it in place. Next, insert a small bar behind the moulding and pry the trim from the wall.

  3. 3

    Use a side grinder to remove any loose mortar, take off paint and roughen the surface of the brick so the tile will adhere better. Go over the brick again with a wire brush to make sure all the loose debris is removed.

  4. 4

    Dry-fit the tile to determine the best fit with the fewest amount of cuts necessary. Begin at the most noticeable area, usually eye-level. Construct a temporary shelf to prop tiles on to check the fit. Cut 2-inch by 4-inch boards and support the shelf with legs that are not nailed in.

  5. 5

    Use a power driver with a paddle mixer attached to mix quick-drying thin-set with an additive made with acrylic instead of water. This will make the bond between the brick and the mortar and the mortar and the tile strong enough to hold the tiles to the wall.

  6. 6

    Cover the first area with tiles by covering the brick with mortar, using the shelf you constructed for dry-fitting the tiles. Next, cover the entire tile with mortar, and use the notched trowel to make ridges in the mortar before applying the tile to the wall.

  7. 7

    Press the tile in place firmly, and use tile spacers to keep the joints even. Remove the temporary shelf and continue to tile in the same fashion.

  8. 8

    Use a straightedge to measure any areas that whole tiles will not cover. Use the straightedge to mark tiles to cut with the wet saw. Butter the cut tiles with mortar and notch the mortar with the trowel before setting the tiles in place.

  9. 9

    Allow the mortar to set for about one hour before you mix the grout according to the package directions. Allow the grout to sit for 10 minutes and mix again.

  10. 10

    Apply the grout with the grout float by pressing a mound of grout into the joints. Continue adding and pressing the grout until all the joints are filled. Rake any excess grout with the side edge of the float, going in a diagonal direction.

  11. 11

    Allow the grout to set for about one hour. Use a damp sponge to remove the haze of grout over the tile, and rinse the sponge repeatedly. Continue until the haze is gone from each tile.

Tips and warnings

  • Change the water frequently when removing the haze from the tiles to make the process move faster.
  • Wear eye protection when cutting tiles.

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