Tile Installation: >> Setting the Tile (Countertops)
Be sure to visit the "how to" section concerning this process.
Once the bond coat or setting bed has been trowelled, it is time to set the tile. Remember that it is a good idea to back butter tile larger than 8" or any tile where 100% coverage is desired. Set the tile in place and beat it in using a rubber mallet and beating block. For small tiles up to 6" use the beating block and mallet or just the rubber mallet for large tiles. The idea here is not to hammer the tile into place. The idea is just to firmly seat the tile into the setting bed. There is no need to exert great pressure on the tile. So "softly" beat the tiles into the bed of mortar.
Once the tiles are placed and beaten in, align the tiles with your layout lines using a straight edge if necessary and clean off any bond coat residue from the tile surface. The bond coat should not interfere with the grout ability to penetrate the joint by at least 2/3 of the joint depth.
Remember to leave the joint between the deck and backsplash and between the tile and sink free of setting mortar or grout. This joint needs to be filled with a flexible sealant.
At this point, the installer can apply spacers if necessary. When using spacers, do not put them into the corner joints where the four corners meet. Simply place them in the joint between the tile. They therefore stick out from the joint. Once the tile has set and the thin set has initially hardened the tile into place, simply brush off the spacers and re-use them. Removing spacers used in the traditional manner is difficult and the installer runs the risk of damaging the tile work in the process.
All trim pieces, v-cap, quarter round, and any others are then installed by back buttering. Generally, a thin bond coat is applied to the back of the trim piece and it is installed and held in place with spacers until the bond coat hardens. Care should be taken to adjust the trim piece so that it is straight and in line with the adjacent pieces.
Additionally, the excess bond coat should be removed from the joints during the installation process to make cleanup and grouting easier. For trim pieces that require large amounts of filling, use a combination of bond coat and mortar to avoid thick coats of thin set mortar. This will reduce the chance of cracking discussed earlier.
If the chosen adhesive is in the epoxy or organic class, carefully follow the Manufacturers instructions for their use. A word of caution about epoxy adhesives, all residues must be removed from the face of the tile, as it is difficult to remove after it has cured.