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CTEF Blog - About Tile Education and Installer Certification

Back Buttering Tile: How Important Is It?

[fa icon="calendar'] Oct 16, 2018 9:30:00 AM / by Scott Carothers posted in Installing Tile TIps, Ask Scott

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Do you back butter your tile?

Back buttering tile is a highly opinionated and widely-debated topic among tile installers. Although it's recommended for natural stone tile, it's not always necessary or required to get adequate mortar coverage on ceramic and porcelain tile. So, how important is it?

To begin this discussion, we first need to define several words.  According to the NTCA Reference Manual:

  • Back butter is defined as, “the spreading of a bond coat to the backs of ceramic tile just before the tile is placed.
  • Bond is defined as, “The adherence of one material to another.
  • Coverage is defined as, “A measure of the amount of material required to cover a given surface.

According to the CTEF Certified Tile Installer Manual, Transfer is defined as, “The required adhesion of a bonding material to the tile.

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Why Do You Need Expansion Joints When Installing Tile?

[fa icon="calendar'] Oct 9, 2018 8:00:00 AM / by Scott Carothers posted in Installing Tile TIps, Ask Scott

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If you're wondering why you need to include expansion joints when installing tile, you've come to the right place. Let me explain why they are so important.

For perspective, we originally published this article in August 2016 and expansion joints continue to come up in conversation, during training sessions and also in comments.

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How To Select the Right Trowel Notch To Obtain the Required Mortar Coverage

[fa icon="calendar'] Aug 21, 2018 8:30:00 AM / by Scott Carothers posted in Ask Scott, Installing Tile TIps

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If you're in the tile business, you're surely aware how important it is to obtain the required mortar coverage .

And, you've probably noticed that achieving that coverage has become more challenging as tile sizes and the diversity in tile types increases.

Diversity is wonderful for enabling stunning tile installations. However, each of these products has different requirements in order to achieve the required mortar coverage, and that's where selecting the right trowel notch comes into play.

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Does Your Tile Slope To the Drain?

[fa icon="calendar'] Aug 13, 2018 8:30:00 AM / by Scott Carothers posted in Ask Scott, Installing Tile TIps

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When you install tile in wet areas, do you ensure that everything slopes to the drain? If not, please read below.

Let's consider showers.  Showers can be a beautiful part of the bathroom especially when tile is part of the finished product.  The beauty, though, will not be long lasting if the installation standards and best practices for tile installation are not followed.

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Why You Need to Eliminate Spot Bonding When Installing Ceramic Tile

[fa icon="calendar'] Jun 5, 2018 8:30:00 AM / by Scott Carothers posted in Ask Scott, Installing Tile TIps

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I hope you don't use spot bonding or "five spotting" when installing ceramic tile. It's a problem that's high on the list of failure questions received by the CTEF offices when things go wrong. 

It’s also one we featured at Coverings 2018 in the Installation Experience Hall of Failures.

In case you didn't read How to Correctly Trowel Mortar When Installing Tile? or you still think it's okay, let's review in detail why you need to eliminate even the thought of using spot bonding for your ceramic tile installation projects.

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The Ultimate Guide to Underlayment for Tile

[fa icon="calendar'] May 22, 2018 9:30:00 AM / by Scott Carothers posted in Ask Scott, Installing Tile TIps

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For a beautiful and long-lasting tile installation, you need to ensure that every facet of the job is completed properly according to tile industry standards and best practices. The key element here is the foundation of the installation and that's where underlayment for tile solves a multitude of problems.

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Is Your Tile Layout Centered and Balanced, With No Small Cuts?

[fa icon="calendar'] May 8, 2018 8:30:00 AM / by Scott Carothers posted in Ask Scott, Installing Tile TIps

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Do you spend time ensuring that your tile layout is centered and balanced, with no small cuts? I hope so since this the most effective way to ensure that a tile installation has a professionally installed appearance.

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Getting the Coverage You Need Under Large Wall Tile

[fa icon="calendar'] Apr 3, 2018 8:30:00 AM / by Scott Carothers posted in Ask Scott, Installing Tile TIps

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What challenges have you encountered getting the coverage you need under large wall tile? There are two aspects to this question. 

The first has to do size. Many projects today call for ever-increasing tile sizes, many of which are rectangular shapes such as 12” x 24”, 18” x 36”, 24” x 48”, and larger creating difficulties for the installer when bonding the tile to the substrate. 

>> See Do You Have Enough Mortar to Accommodate Most Tile Warpage?

The second has to do with walls.

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Want Credit Card Grout Joints? First Check Tile Industry Standards.

[fa icon="calendar'] Feb 6, 2018 9:00:00 AM / by Scott Carothers posted in Ask Scott, Installing Tile TIps

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Yes, credit card joints are popular, but given tile industry standards, they aren't possible, appropriate or even recommended.

Many installers have had customers who have seen tile installations in a magazine or brochure which is exactly what they want in their homes. Unfortunately, the “look” they want to achieve with credit card thickness grout joints most likely will not be possible using the tile that has been selected.

Let's explore why.

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How to Correctly Trowel Mortar When Installing Tile?

[fa icon="calendar'] Jan 23, 2018 7:00:00 AM / by Scott Carothers posted in Ask Scott, Installing Tile TIps

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If you're asking how to trowel mortar when installing tile, realize that you are asking a fundamentally critical question. It's so critical that readers like you have made this CTEF Blog article the one with the highest readership since we originally published it on June 7, 2016.

You see, when thin set mortar is incorrectly applied, the installation will many times fail. More likely than not, the tile will break - as you see in the image below.

Not a good situation for the customer and a terrible one for everyone involved in installing tile correctly.

Let's focus then on how to properly apply the mortar.

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