Tile Patio


Before you set the tile, test the layout. You should have full tiles in the field of the site and as few cut tiles as possible on the edges.

Snap chalk lines between the midpoints of each side. If your slab has a control joint, snap chalk lines between the midpoints of the sides parallel to the control joint. Starting at the center point or the junction of the chalk line and control joint, dry-lay tiles and spacers on both axes, extending the tiles to the edge of the slab.

If one side ends with a full tile and the opposite side has only a partial tile, move the chalk line so both sides will have tiles of the same size. Adjust the tiles on both chalk lines but not on the control joint. When the layout fits the slab, snap reference lines at intervals equal to the tile dimensions.

Ideally you should apply mortar when the temperature is 60 to 70 degrees F. Don't work in direct sunlight; the mortar will set up too quickly. Start with enough mortar to lay just a few tiles. Work in sections you can complete in 10 minutes. As you set the tiles, mortar will squeeze up between them. If the mortar is more than half the tile thickness, you're using too much.


18 to 24 hours for a 10x10-foot area

Five-gallon bucket, 1/2-inch drill, mixing paddle, chalk line, snap cutter or wet saw, square-notched trowel, beater block, rubber mallet, straightedge, grout float, caulk gun, wide putty knife, nippers, grout bag, sponge

Mixing mortar; setting, cutting, and grouting tile

Repair existing slab or install a new one

Latex-modified thinset, grout, tile, foam backer rod, caulk, spacers, sealers

Setting the Tile: Step 1

Start at the center of the slab (or at the center along a control joint), and spread a thin coat of mortar with the flat side of the trowel. Lay the mortar up to but not covering the layout lines. Rake the mortar with the notched side of the trowel. Set each tile in place with a slight twist and tap it with a rubber mallet and beater block. Place the covered side of the beater block on the tile and tap it a couple of times to seat the tile in the mortar, leveling it with the rest of the tiles.

Step 2

Use spacers to keep the tiles properly spaced. Set the spacers on end so you can remove them easily. As you work, remove the spacers from tiles that have had a few minutes to set up. It's much easier to remove the spacers before the mortar has hardened completely.

Step 3

Pick up a tile occasionally to make sure the mortar is adhered evenly. Apply more or less as needed. Check each section with a straightedge. If a tile is too low, pull it up, apply more mortar, and reset it. If a tile is too high, scrape off excess mortar and reset it.

Step 4

Continue spreading mortar in both directions away from the intersection of the layout lines. Use a spacer to remove excess mortar before it hardens. Finish cleaning the joints with a pointed trowel. Let the mortar cure and caulk the joints where necessary.

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