FAQs on installations and sealers:
Q: Can these thin brick tiles be a DIY project? AKA installing them myself?
A: Yes, most of our customers are able to install these themselves. There are many YouTube videos and websites that give you a step by step instruction on how to install tiles. These brick tiles are no different than any other tile installation process.
Q: How can I cut these thin brick tiles during an installation project?
A:You can use a wet saw to cut our brick tiles, it should work similarly as cutting other tiles.
Q: Do you have a list of recommended installers?
A: Call or Text us for a recommendation of installers our local customers have used in the past, we have a few of them on hand. We also recommend using other resources such as:
Any tile installer or brick mason who has installed unsealed stone will be familiar with how to install our thin brick tiles. We are always happy to answer any questions your installer may have, just give them our phone number and we'll be more than happy to assist.
Q: How can I get a smooth, shiny surface on my thin brick tiles?
A: Use a sealer that will provide a coat that lays on the top of the tiles. Usually several coats are used..
Q: How can I seal the tiles without getting a shiny surface?
A: A penetrating sealer is matte, and will invisibly protect your surface from stains. Be sure to seal the grout, also. A color-enhancing penetrating sealer will darken some grouts noticeably, so check this on a sample patch, before applying to the entire floor. Some penetrating sealers are not color-enhancing, and will not change the grout color. We are always available for questions.
Q: What bonding patterns can I install Real Thin Brick tiles in?
A: Our Thin Brick Tiles can be laid in all available variations. Anywhere from Running Bond, Jack on Jack, Basket Weave, half basket weave, Diagonal Herringbone and Herringbone.
Q: Do I seal the tiles before I grout them?
A: Some people do, and some don't. No matter what you use to seal the tile, when grout or mortar gets on the surface, is washed off and dries, you will get a white, cloudy film in those areas. Some people remove the haze, and others like to leave some on. Some installation methods leave little, or no grout residue on the bricks. Others leave grout or mortar in the texture.
This is really a broader question of how you might want the floor to look when it is finished. Our bricks have been installed in a variety of ways. The work can be done by a tile setter, a brick mason, or the home owner.
Method #1: This is the method preferred by the local craftsmen who often install our tiles. They set the tiles in a thin-set bed, and when this is dry, they come back to grout. They use a thick mortar (or sanded grout) mix, and trowel some on a board. You will want to mix up smaller batches, and work fairly quickly, since the material is already drier than a thinner mix. It is dry enough to pick up in your hands, like a snowball. This is the way brick masons "point" a brick or stone wall: They use a small board, almost like am artist palette, often with a handle on the bottom. They scoop some of the mix on the board, and cut a ribbon of the mix along one edge with the trowel. The hold the board to the joint between the tile, and slide the ribbon of material into the gap. They turn the trowel, and tamp down the mix inside the joint with the edge of the trowel to remove air pockets, then twist the trowel again to "strike" the joint. "Striking" is scraping any excess that sticks up, and the scrapings will lay on the top, dry, and then be swept away. Since the grout/mortar is already kind of dry, it won't stick to the brick, unless you step in it. This results in a traditional-looking brick floor, which we think looks wonderful with our more rustic brick styles. When this is dry, bricks and the grout/mortar is sealed with the finish of your choice.
Method #2: Floating the grout. This is the method of spreading the grout over the top of tiles and into the gaps, then washing off the top with a damp sponge. It is not my preferred method of grouting, because no one would spread mortar all over their brick wall, and our tiles are made of the same materials. It also requires a lot of rinsing, and will leave you with a lot of haze to remove. You will not get the grout/mortar out of the texture. That being said, we have seen some beautiful installations with mortar left in the texture of the tiles. If you do not want a shine, then AquaMix Enrich 'N' Seal penetrating sealer will remove the thin haze when the floor is sealed, while leaving the chunks in the texture. We have had some customers float on tiles in our Elegant Tile Collection, which are smoother. They sponge the grout line to a smoother surface, which does look nice in the Elegant Collection. The haze can be removed with a light muriatic avid wash (very dilute, rinse well), or a commercial haze remover. You can then seal with a penetrating sealer or one that coats the top with any level of shine.
Method #3: Bagging, caulking gun, grout machine. Some people bag in a thinner mix. There are masonry bags that look like extreme pastry bags. Others have had success with a refillable caulking gun. There are machines on the market that keep grout moving, like a mini cement truck, with a pump that allows continuous movement of grout into the joints. They are expensive, and probably equipment that only a professional might invest in.
Q: Should we use grout or mortar?
A: Either. We like the traditional lime mortar color with our rustic tiles. If you want a grout, there are many colors available at home improvement box stores. Be sure the grout you choose is a sanded grout.
Q: Do I want a shiny sealer on my floor, or a matte sealer?
A: A matte sealer is usually invisible to the eye, however, liquid will bead up on it. It helps seal from dirt and stains. Be sure to also seal your mortar or grout, it is more porous than our thin brick tiles. As for penetrating sealers, they rarely need to be reapplied. Sealers that lay on top of the tile form a sort of shell coating on the sealed floor. Depending on the manufacturer guidelines, It may need to be touched up in a few years. Especially in areas where high traffic is expected. Stripping the old finish is not necessary however. This type of sealer that protects the surface, will also smooth the surface of your floors. If you wish to use a paste wax on the floor, seal first with this kind of sealer, as wax does not work as well with penetrating sealers. If you wish to "antique" your floor with a water-soluble liquid black shoe polish, you will also need a NON-penetrating sealer to apply it over, and then seal the color in place.
Some people feel that a historic brick floor would not have a shine. However, Historic homes with brick floors would often wax those in more formal parts of the house, and leave them unwaxed in utility areas. It is entirely a matter of personal preference.
Q: Can I use radiant heat with your Brick Tiles?
A: Yes. In fact, you can build fires on them if you wish. It is difficult to find a more durable surface. Our thin brick products can be used in a variety of unconventional settings including: showers, car showrooms, hotels, and restaurants.