Should I butt my Wall Tiles together [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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12-21-2005, 09:59 AM
I have never tiled before and am planning to start a small project of tiling. I am trying to install slate tiles in my basement around a Gas stove wall. I have a closet shaped wall area in my basement where I have decided to install a gas stove. I have used Durock as my wall around the closet shaped area. I recently saw a picture of slate tiles around the stove and thus decided to add the tile look on the walls as well as the floor in the closet shaped area where the gas stove will be sitting. The area is about 41" wide, 26" deep and 72" high. I have couple of questions and would love your expert opinion:

a) Should I go with a the 6" tile or the 12" natural look Slate tile

b) Should I grout or not. In other words, since the tiles are going on the wall, can I butt them together?

I believe that since I have never tiled before, butting tiles together may be much easier. Also, some imperfection may be to my advantage since the natural look tiles may look better if not 100% alingned. However, I am confused since I am getting very mixed messages from my friends who have supposedly tiled before. So, I am looking to you for some expert opinion. Should I definitely grout? Or can I get away with butting tiles together on the wall. Also, so you recoemmend 6' tiles or the 12" tiles.

Thanks in advance


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12-21-2005, 10:22 AM
Hi there -- can we have a first name?

The pros will be along shortly to weigh in on the details, but you should definitely plan on grouting. Tiles of dissimilar size will actually look better with a grout line, since the space between the tiles allows a little variation. There are other reasons I'm sure, but the installation will look better grouted, in my opinion. 6" or 12" tile is up to you -- what would look best to you? An area that big might look real nice with a bigger tile.

Grout lines and spacing aren't that hard to figure out, so don't be intimidated by it.

Oh, and make sure you use real thinset, mixed from powder in a bag -- no pre-mixed stuff in a bucket!


12-21-2005, 10:30 AM
I say go with the 12" tiles. Less tile to put up and less cutting means the job should go by quicker.

12-21-2005, 10:50 AM
I'd recommend detailing your tile layout plan first before making the final selection on tile size. In particular, decide how you want to lay out that one wall 26" deep. Additionally, consider how you might want to finish off the exposed perimeter edges. All this may play a role in what size will work best for you.

Plan on leaving a grout joint for sure like the others have said. Another reason for grout is it will keep out dirt and other gunk which will otherwise find its way into those tightly butted spaces. Grout actually makes it much easy to keep clean.


12-21-2005, 12:17 PM
BTW, my first name is Kishore.

Thanks for all the feedback. I guess the overall feedback so far is to go with Grout and not butt them together. Also, it seems like the concensus is to go with the 12" tiles. Initially, I also preferred the 12" tiles but I am not sure how the 26" wall would look with one 12" tile and two cut tiles of 7" width. My friends are talking me out of 2- 12" tiles with a 2" at the end since they claim that it will not look asthetically good.

So, I started looking at the 6" tiles. Since the natural slate tiles are multi-color, it seems like the 6" tiles may give it more color. However, that means that I will have to put 300 tiles on my wall. Seems like a much larger job than what I had expected. Also, since this will be my first time Tiling, I am not sure if I will be able to maintain the perfect grout lines all the way through. If you know of a good step-by-step instruction artcile and/or book, please let me know. I guess that I will need one.

Once again, I am very glad to get your feedback. Very much appreciated.



12-21-2005, 12:26 PM
Must recommend THIS ( book -- written by John Bridge, head-chief-boss-man around here. It's a wonderful read and will give you lots of info on all aspects. Any questions you have, bring them back to this thread and the pros and DIYs here will help you along.

12-21-2005, 12:33 PM
Kishore, thus far only one person (crash) has recommended the 12" tile approach so I wouldn't exactly call that concensus.

I know 300 tiles may sound like a lot more work but on the other hand, depending upon tile uniformity in size, including thickness, it may in fact not be " a lot more work" . Come up with a good layout plan first, then decide.

And definitely get a good book like John's. I highly recommended it as well.

12-21-2005, 12:38 PM
Great..I'll order the book on Seems like this book has received Excellent reviews. Awesome!!

However, Amazon usually takes over two weeks to ship out books. I just ordered some other home improvement books and it took over three weeks to receive them with standard shipping. I would like to start this job next week. I have searched the internet for some help also and have found some general help. If there is any specific article on tiling walls (especailly slate tiles) with grouting, I would love to read it before I start my project next week. Once again, I have never tiled in my life. So, any help or guidance is most welcomed


12-21-2005, 12:49 PM
Do you have a Barnes and Noble bookstore nearby? They carry John's book.

12-21-2005, 12:55 PM
Ask for advice, you'll get some! :D

1) Don't rush.

2) Study. Do a site search on grouting slate.

3) Gather your materials (including samples), and make test boards. Test boards will help you refine your grouting technique so you don't make a mess of your walls.

4) Mock up your layouts and try more than one befor you decide.

One question for you: is the gas stove a zero clearance unit? You will want your insurance company or building inspector to agree with your plans if the stove has specific clearance issues. Non-combustible construction rules are very strict.

12-21-2005, 01:03 PM
Great. I will check my local Barnes and Noble bookstore tonight.

Bob, thanks for your advice...I agree with your overall planning guide. I'll do my research and planning before I start. The gas stove is a direct vent stove and the city building inspector has already reviewed my plans. He is OK with the overall space.

12-21-2005, 01:05 PM

12-22-2005, 09:51 AM
I did not get a chance to stop by Barnes and Noble yesterday to buy John's book but I do plan to buy it before I start my wall tiling.

I have read through many threads on slate tiling in this forum dating back to 2000. Seems like John does not recommend butting Slate tiles together either. So, I guess that I am going to grout. So, I still have a couple of questions:

I pre-laid out the tiles on the wall last night and it seems like the 6" slate tiles may add some color to the wall. I could only lay one row since they would fall off. But it looks like the 6" may look better than the 12" ones. So, if I use the 6" tiles, what size of grouting should I use. Would 1/4" or less look good?

Also, reading all the threads and since I am a newbie to Tiles, I have decided to pre-seal the tiles so that I do not create much of a mess with the grout.

The Home Depot guy also suggested that I should use the V-Trowel for the wall. Should I use the V-Trowel or some other one for the walls? Also, what type of trowel I should use for the ceiling that would grab the tiles?

Finally, it sees like my concrete floor has a depression since the floor does not seems flat. So, I bought the Henry's floor leveler and plan to add it to the floor to level it. However, one of the Lowes Tile guy suggested that I should not worry about it. He mentioned that I should just adjust the leveling while laying the tiles with the Thinset. Does this make sense? There seems to be about 1/4" depression in my concrete

Thanks again, in advance. This is an excellent forum. I am really getting a lot of useful info in this forum (including all the archived threads) :-)



12-22-2005, 10:01 AM

1) The width of the grout line will depend on how accurately the tiles are gaged, or how close they are in dimensions to each other. Measure a bunch of tiles and see if there is much variation. Your grout line will need to be at least 2 times the variation just to prevent them from butting together occasionally. 1/4" will look OK if the tiles are fairly uniform.

2) V-notch trowels are used more for mosaics where you don't need as much thinset. Slate will require more thickness because some of the tiles will be thicker than others, and you will need to compensate for the thinner ones. A 1/4x1/4 square notch will do fine. For the ceiling, in addition to burning in the thinset on the ceiling, backbutter the tile, then build a rim of thinset around the perimeter. The rim will create a suction cup that will hold the tile in place without any help.

3) Fill the depression in the slab with your thinset, screeding it level and allowing to cure before setting the tile.

12-22-2005, 02:20 PM

Thanks for your advice. I'll try the 1/4" grouting. I will also exchange my V-Trowel with a squuare one so that the Slate tiles stick better.

Lastly, I will also try the Thinset for leveling. Thanks for all your valuable advice.

Happy Holidays!!



12-22-2005, 07:24 PM
Minor change of plans by my wife. She recommended that we should lay the tiles diagonally on the wall (diamond shaped). Now, this brings another level of complexity to my project. Do you think that I should attempt to lay the 6" tiles diagonally on the wall being a total newbie to tiles? As a newbie, do you think that I may screw it up?

Any suggestions on how to lay the tiles diagonally on the wall? I have read some articles on how to lay tiles diagonally on the floor but I have not found any advice for the wall.

Here's what I am thinking:

Cut a few tiles diagonally to get half diamonds. Then screw a leveler horizontally onto the wall to get a reference line. I am thinking of starting from the middle of the wall height since that will be at the eye level. My goal is to have perfect diamond alignment at the eye level and then start adding tiles above and below.

Once the reference line is screwed to the wall, I would start gluing the tiles diagonally to the wall including the half cut diamonds to get a straight line on top of the reference line. Once the tiles start gluing to the wall, I would remove the half diamonds, clean the thinset off the wall as well as the diamond. At this point, I would have a good starting point with all full diamond tiles. Next, going above the reference line should not be a problem. I can add the spacers between the tiles for grouting. Adding tiles below would be more work since I will have to keep repeating to move the reference line below one level as well as keep removing the half diamonds. Does this process sound feasable?

Any other suggestions on how I can glue tiles diagonally to the 26" and 41" walls?



John Bridge
12-22-2005, 08:12 PM
Hi Kishore, :)

The most difficult aspect of your project will be making the diagonal tile "wrap" through the corners as if the tiles were merely bent and not cut. ;) This means starting on the back wall and working in both directions into the corners. I'll see if I can find a picture of a wrapped corner.

Also, you should start at the bottom with full and half tiles and work your way up as long as that arrangement will allow decent looking cuts or full tiles at the top. You will need to support the tiles with spacers as you run the wall up.

12-22-2005, 10:20 PM
Are the 6" tiles a uniform size? If they are, you could go for your original intended look and lay them with a very small joint, like 1/16". Then use a non-sanded grout in a color that matches most of the tiles, and the joints will not be as visible. If the tiles vary in size, you need to use a wider joint.

If ypu follow the wishes of The Boss and lay them diagonally, you could go with the 12" tiles and not have the little 2" piece on the ends.

Home Depot and Lowes sells 12" plastic speed squares that would be helpful in getting the 45 degree angle started.

12-23-2005, 07:43 AM

Those diagonal tile picture look awesome. I am not sure if my tiles will look any where close to them since I have never tiled before. Originally I was also planning on starting from the back wall but then I thought that I should start from the side wall to experiment with the diagonal tiles it since the side walls will not be that noticable. Even if the tiles are not perfectly aligned on the side wall, it may not be that noticable. Also, I was planning on starting from the middle of the wall so that the eye level was perfect. But it seems like you are suggesting to start from the back wall and start from the bottom. I am just afraid that since the back wall is about 41" wide and 83" tall, I may loose the tile alignment halfway if I start from the bottom. Your thoughts?



12-23-2005, 07:48 AM

The 6" tiles are fairly uniform. I have opened two boxes so far and they look fairly uniform. The thickness of the tiles do vary somewhat. I am hoping that I will be able to compensate for the thickness with the Thinset. I am not sure what are the 12" plastic speed squares. I will check them out at the Home Depot this weekend. I picked the 6" tiles to be placed as diagonally since they are multicolor and I thought that they may bring out some nice contrast to the wall. However, it has been very hard to visualize which size tiles would look better since I cannot stack more than 1 or 2 rows.


12-23-2005, 03:50 PM
If they are natural slate, then the thickness will vary a little. But it's the length and width that you need to be concerned with. Place a couple of tiles back to back, and see if they are exactly the same size, or maybe one is a little bigger than the other. Good quality tiles will all be the same size. cheaper ones will have less quality control in the factory, and the 6" stated size could be 1/16" more or less.

If they are all say 5-3/4", that's ok. But if they run from 5-11/16" to 5-13/16" or worse, then you need to use wider joint lines to keep from building in a layout error.

You're original post said that the closet-room is 42" wide and not very deep. I suspect that the stove will cover most of the wall space. Point being, I think you are fretting too much over very small details, and you're having second thoughts about doing the work. Relax. Gather your tools and materials, plan it out, and take your time. Maybe you should only plan on doing two rows the first day. So mix a small batch of thinset and have at it.

As far as doing a dry layout, try laying the tiles on the floor, not the wall. You cvan probably lay out almost all the tiles, and you can experiment with different layouts (diagonal vs square) and maybe check for oddly colored tiles.

12-23-2005, 04:41 PM

Actually, I do want to do this job. I am sure that I will be much more confident after I have completed this job. I am just a little paranoid because I have not tacked such a DIY project before and I do not want to mess it up. So, I like your suggestion of just get over it and start the job. Hopefully, it will turn-out OK.

I will layout the tiles on the floor and experiment with it before I start it though, as you suggested. Not sure if I should worry about all the 3-4-5 rule for diagonal layout or should I just start with the half and full tiles from the bottom and go at it. Sounds like John receommened the latter. So, I will just start from the bottom.

Thanks for all your help.



12-23-2005, 05:21 PM
The 3-4-5 method is a way to get an exact 90 degree angle. But it won't give you a 45 degree angle that you need. That wherre the speed square from Home Depot - lowes would be handy.

Oops. Just re-thought the 3-4-5 ... Find the center of the back wall, left to right. make a mark near the floor, then do a 3-4-5 triangle to give you a verticle line. Then when you install the first tile, make sure the top and bottom points are both on the line, and you will have a good diagonal layout. You could alsop draw a vertical line with a good spirit level. Or buy yourself a Christmas present, and get a self-leveling laser.

One of the reasons for doing a dry layout on the floor, is that you can determine if there will be a full tile on the centerline at the floor, or a half tile.

01-03-2006, 07:47 AM
Ed and John,

Firstly, I would like to wish you all a Happy New Year!!! Hopefully, you all had a great Holiday.

Just wanted to let you know that I did finish my tiling on the wall and it looks quite good. Not bad for a first timer. So, I would like to thank you for all your advice and your help. Based upon some caution from John on diagonal tiling, I decided to stay away from it on my first try since I had two inner walls and I was not sure if I would be able to wrap the tiles perfectly all the way through. So, I did the basic, square tiling. Even the square tiles look quite good. My wife was quite impressed. So, I can consider this project as successful.

One last question (I hope): Now, that I have grouted the tiles and cleaned them thoroughly I was wondering how to add shome shine to the slate tiles. Since no one will ever walk on these tiles, I was wondering if I could enhance the color of the slate tiles. These tiles look quite good when they are wet. So, I would like to know if I could put any sealer on these tiles that can give it a wet look.

Once again, thanks for all your advice and your support. I could not have completed this project without your help.



01-03-2006, 12:24 PM
Hi Kishore,

You can use an enhancing sealer on your slate -- Aquamix makes a good one, as does Stone Tech, I believe. The Stone Tech is sold in the TYW store (linked in the upper left corner). That'll give you your wet look.

01-04-2006, 08:23 AM

Thanks for the info. I will try to get one of the products that you suggested.