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Quarry tiles

Cost: Difficulty:


They are cold to stand on, but very hard wearing and water-resistant. They come as self-spacing tiles in natural earth colours as well as a range of modern patterns and designs.

Once you have decided on the tile, note its length and width and measure the room carefully. Measure its length and divide it by the length of one tile. Round up the number of tiles to the next whole number. Now measure the width of the room and divide that by the width of the tile, round up the number of tiles to the nearest whole number. Multiply the two whole numbers together. This will give the number of tiles required to tile the room. Try our Floor Tile Calculator page to give you a rough guide to the number required.

It is always wise to buy a few extra tiles, in case you crack or break a tile while cutting it to fit, or to keep as a spare in case of accidental damage in the future. They are difficult to cut and are really unsuitable for areas where complicated cuts have to be made. Quarry tiles require a rigid base such as a concrete floor. If you want to lay them on floorboards, 22mm (1 inch) plywood should be laid to provide an adequate base.

Laying the tiles

Use a builder’s sand/cement mix of 3/1 to lay a bed of mortar to set the tiles in. Water should be added to make a stiff yet smooth mix. It is advisable to soak each quarry tile prior to laying. This will stop the tile absorbing water from the mortar mix too readily.

It is very important to lay the first tile correctly, as its position will determine the position of all the other tiles in the room. Use two battens nailed to the floor (use masonry nails on a concrete floor) to give a straight edge and a right angled corner to guide the positioning of the tiles. Make sure the battens are deep enough to support the layer of mortar and the thickness of each tile. Place a third batten, parallel and a distance of 3 or 4 tiles away from the batten at the wall.

Use a notched levelling board between two parallel battens to level the mortar evenly. Scatter a fine layer of dry cement on the mortar and lay the tiles, using thick card as spacers. Use a spirit level to check the horizontal level and tamp down the tile gently into position.

Tile the floor section by section and use a straight edge to continually check the position of the tiles on the floor. Remove any excess mortar from the edges and surface of the tiles in a section before they set, as it is a difficult job to remove once set and will stain the tiles. Continue across the room, fixing extra battens as guidelines where necessary, while working towards the door.

Leave the room for 24 hours. Then remove the battens and lay the border tiles and fix in a similar way. If tiles have to be cut, use a wet diamond tipped cutting wheel otherwise it is probably advisable to hire a suitable cutter.

Remove the thick card spacers and grout the tiles using either cement or waterproof grouting. Floor grout is available in a variety of colours, but the standard colours are white, grey or brown. If you are unsure of the colour to use, mix pigments of colours with dry powdered grout and attempt to match the colour before adding the water.

However, most floor tiles are grouted with a mortar mix. Use a plastic scraper or a rubber-bladed squeegee to push the grout between the gaps in the tiles. Make sure all the spaces are evenly filled and then wipe the grout off the tile surface before it dries.

Use a blunt edge of a stick or tool carefully, to smooth the surface of the grout in the gaps - but do not ‘dig down’ into the grout. Remove any excess grout before it dries. Allow the floor to dry completely before using. It is wise to seal the surface to reduce marking, using either a matt or satin finish polish or stain protector.

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