Traditional Antique 4×8″ brick tile

How Do I Install A Brick Tile Wall or Floor?

It has been a while since I’ve posted in the blog — where has the time gone?!  I decided to do a series of “questions and answers,” inspired by years of talking on the phone with my customers. I hope this will be helpful. The first will be on the subject of installing the tiles, with a few tips and hints. This is a DIY guide to installing brick tiles, geared to home owners who would like to do this themselves.

Inglenook brick tile installation in progress

Brick tile installation in progress

As with any tile, you want to be sure you are installing over a firm surface. If you are installing over cement, you already have a solid bed. If you are installing over a wooden subfloor, you need to add a substrate, like concrete board. You may not realize it, but when you walk across a wooden floor, it sets up a bounce. Inglenook brick tiles will not be harmed by this, but you may pop the grout over time. Regular 1/2″ cement board is most often used. You would lay this over the plywood subfloor, and screw it down securely with deck screws every 6 to 8 inches. Your hand-held electric screwdriver makes this job fast and easy. You may even want to put a material like liquid nails between the layers. Then you would tape the joints to create a seamless bed for your tiles. If the height is a problem with 1/2″ cement board, Schluter makes a product called Ditra, which is very thin. Blanke Permat is another similar product that our customers like to use.

The quantity of tiles we send for an order assumes a 1/4″ between the tiles. Some of our tumbled tiles have a ledge around the edge, and that ledge is covered by the grout. For the grout stability, it is important that you still have a gap between the tiles, so that the grout is not just laying on the shallow shelf, but also reaches to the substrate. The tumbled edges create a “thick and thin” grout line.

Using spacers in Inglenook thin brick tile wall installation

Using spacers in brick tile wall installation

You will cut the tiles on a wet saw. They are too tough to score and snap. Working with a wet saw is like working with a circular saw that spits water. These can be rented from an equipment rental business, but you can buy a tabletop model from a box store — probably cheaper than you can rent it for a day or two. I have always been glad I have mine, and have been happy to loan it to friends. You will often need to cut your tiles when you come to the edge of your tiling area.

If you are laying the tiles on top of cement, you will want to dampen the cement. This is so the moisture isn’t pulled out of the thin-set skim coat too quickly, which weakens the bond. You may also make the tiles damp, for the same reason. You want this to dry relatively slowly on a cement base. Trowel the thin-set adhesive over the base, and spread with a 1/2″ notched trowel. Nest the tiles over the thin-set, and use light pressure to create a bond. Let your floor dry thoroughly, but not too quickly. Some installers will cover the floor with tarps for a day or two, to create a better bond.

Installing brick tile in thin set on a wall

Installing brick tile using thin set on a wall

If you are laying the tiles over subfloor and cement board, then use any thin-set adhesive. Some installers will use a quick-set material. Nest the tiles in the thin-set the same as above, and then let the floor dry. This drying time will vary, depending on the material used, the temperature and the humidity. If you are covering a wall or ceiling, then use a non-sagging adhesive. Laticrete Multimax is a great choice for walls and ceilings.

When your thin-set is dry, you are ready to grout. Use either a brick mortar, or a sanded grout. There are many colors available at box stores. For most installations, I personally prefer a basic off-white/pale gray color of a traditional lime mortar. Another color I like is Haystack, by Polyblend. That is easily found at Home Depot. I don’t think that gray grouts with blue tones in them compliment the tiles. There are grays that have tan tones, and that is warmer with the brick color. Remember that the sealer you use may darken the grout. If you want to get more creative, Lime Works (www.limeworks.us) makes historic lime mortars, and some have slag flecks or ground-up oyster shells in the mix. When choosing your grout, I sometimes suggest that you buy small boxes of a few different colors, and mix them up in a paper cup. Put the wet grout on a piece of aluminum foil or a paper plate, smooth it out a bit, and let it dry. If you are impatient, you can put the setting grout near a heat source (or in the sun) to hurry the experiment. When completely dry, put some of the sealer on them. That way you will have a better idea of how the grouts may be transformed by the sealers. There is one penetrating sealer that I often suggest, which dries back to the original color, but others will darken or enhance the color.

Inglenook brick tile ready to grout

Installed and ready for grout

Mix to the manufacturer’s directions. When you think about the method of grouting your tiles, consider the look you want. Do you want a smooth, sponged grout line that is level with the top, a slightly indented smooth line, or one that is more rough? How you grout will also affect the amount of clean-up after filling the joints.

Some people like to bag in their grout, or use a refillable caulking gun. Others mix a thicker mortar or grout consistency, and then trowel it in. You will mix smaller batches to do this. This is the traditional way masons fill in the joints of brick and stone. The nice part about this method is that the surface stays cleaner. Just let the excess grout or mortar lay on the top, and sweep it away when it sets up. Put the mix on a board, hold the board along the joint, and cut a line of it into the gap. Tamp it down with the edge of the trowel to remove air pockets, then turn the trowel sideways to “strike the joint.” That is removing any excess material that is sticking up above the surface. You will get a rougher joint when you do this. You can also use the curved bowl of a spoon to smooth the line, and make the joint a little lower than the surface, if you prefer that look. Alternately, you can use a wet sponge to make the grout level with the top. You will have more clean up to remove the grout haze later when you use a sponge (unless you seal with Enrich ‘N’ Seal). Some people “float” the grout. Do not expect to get it out of the texture of our more rustic tiles, if you do that. However, many people like the grout in the texture. You just need to be sure you are one of them before you grout this way. If you are using one of the tiles in our Manor Collection, you won’t have to worry about it sticking in the texture. After rinsing the floor until the water runs clear, you let it dry. Then you can use a commercial grout haze remover, or a dilute muriatic acid wash (rinse it well afterward, and wear chemical gloves) to clean off the cloudy haze. Some customers have used white vinegar, but it is more time-consuming to let it sit on the top and keep rinsing. You can also seal with Aqua Mix Enrich ‘N’ Seal to remove the haze. Be sure you want a matte finish if you use it, though, because no shiny top coat will adhere to it.

Grouting Inglenook brick tile

Grouting Inglenook brick tile

Your last step will be sealing your floor or wall. There are sealers that will give high shines and low shines, and others that are invisible and matte. There are many products on the market. You can get them at any box store, or on line. I have found primetimesolutions.com to be a good source for online ordering.
I like Enrich ‘N’ Seal (Aqua Mix) as a penetrating sealer. Not only does it do a great job sealing, but it also will remove any haze that you may have on your tile surface. Just be sure not to let it puddle on the tiles — remove excess before it dries. You will also be sealing the grout. The tiles will be darker after using this product. If you love the color exactly as it is, then Tile Lab makes Surfaceguard Penetrating Sealer. That will not remove haze, but it will dry to the color the tiles were before sealing them. Tile Lab, Behr, Aqua Mix, Miracle Sealants all make different levels of shine, and so do other companies. The penetrating sealers are one coat, and good for about 15 years. The ones with a shine require several coats, and may need to be refreshed in high traffic areas every few years.

Installed Inglenook brick tile floor before sealing

Installed brick tile floor – ready to get sealed

Done! Take a picture and send it to me!

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Introducing Color Mixes!

In our past 5 years of business, we’ve noticed that customers order similar color combinations for our brick tiles. We’d ask: “Do you want wood ash? How about some black or fire-scorched tiles? Any white? Or do you want them more plain? Are you interested in more red or more brown tones?”

The number of choices seems daunting, yet time after time, our customers settled on the same handful of color combinations. In order to simplify the selection process, then, we’ve organized these common choices into “Color mixes.” All color mixes are available on all styles of our brick tiles. Indeed, in the color mix photographs below, 4×8″ Wright’s Ferry, 4×8″ Traditional Antique, 4×8″ King Street, 7×3.5″ Summer Kitchen, 7.5×3.75″ Rutherford, 2×8″ Lancaster Running bond, and 2×4″ Flemish bond brick tiles are all pictured (see brick tile types in parentheses).

Each color mix is described below, named for a town in central PA. Click on photos to enlarge.

Interested in samples?

Visit our website: www.inglenooktile.com or call 717.442.0514 to request them.

Marietta: Marietta color mix embodies the classic color combinations of Inglenook brick tiles. Wood ash and blackened tiles complement our standard brick red colors to achieve the ancient appearance of antique brick. (Wright’s Ferry)

Old Strasburg:Named for the salmon tones of the brick homes in historic Strasburg, PA, the Old Strasburg color mix stays in the warm red tones of our standard brick tiles. (Lancaster Running Bond)
Old Strasburg color mix
Elizabethtown: Elizabethtown color mix combines equal amounts of the standard brick red tone with the blackened look of our “fire-scorched” tiles. (Traditional Antique)

Honeybrook:Honeybrook combines the best of our brown, earthy tones. Brick tiles from gas kiln reduction firings are added to browned-standard bricks and sprinkled liberally with wood ash to achieve this antique look. (Summer Kitchen)

Honeybrook Color mix

Providence: From the belly of our new gas kiln, Providence is the newest color mix for our brick tiles. With natural hues created by a reduction firing, the Providence is a rich spectrum of browns and earthy reds, burnt deeper along the bricks’ edges as though exposed to open flame. Luminous white tones on several tiles in each box complete this historic look. (King Street)
Providence color mix

Mount Gretna: Mount Gretna color mix contains the palettes of Providence color mix, but without the white tones for a deeper spectrum of earthy brick colors. (Rutherford)

Mount Gretna color mix

Savannah: Savannah, as the only color mix named for a town outside central Pennsylvania, honors the stately brick homes and riverfront buildings of Savannah, GA. Savannah celebrates the chipping white paint adorning many of these tiles as well as those found in other areas of the South. Savannah is typically mixed with our standard brick red tones. (Lancaster Running Bond and Flemish Bond)

Savannah color  mix

Clinker: The Clinker color mix originated for our 2×4” Flemish bond brick tile. Clinkers were used in brick buildings in the 18th and 19th century in the classic Flemish bond pattern. Originating from Dutch klinckaerd, the word literally means “something that clinks” (referring to the sound produced when one was struck). The brick firing process burned the ends of bricks closest to the heat creating very hard, darkened clinkers with a slight sheen caused by melting sand. Our Clinker Flemish Bond brick paver designs capture this burned effect for historic flemish bond patterns and other decorative brick veneer installations. They are typically mixed in with other Inglenook tile color mixes. (Lancaster Running Bond and Flemish Bond)

Clinker color mix

Feature Project: “Primitive Hall”

Every now and then, we plan to pick out a special project and feature it on our blog. This is the first of these posts. Click on images to enlarge.

Primitive Hall exterior

This “New Old Home” project is a historic reproduction of a building called “Primitive Hall.” The home is located in Chester county, Pennsylvania, an area steeped in antique homes and historic sites, such as Valley Forge, where Washington’s troops weathered the winter in the Revolutionary war. Like many of our customers, this family loved the look of an old home but wanted to avoid the constant maintenance often associated with them. Inglenook Tile was their choice for several areas of their home, including in the sunroom, dining room, and hallway and on a custom kitchen backsplash.

The first picture captures the sunroom where”Traditional Antique” 4×8″ brick tiles are installed in a classic herringbone pattern. Primitive Hall has “Old Strasburg” color mix for all its Inglenook brick tiles.

Sunroom

From the sunroom, the brick tile flooring moves into the dining room. The graceful transition between herringbone pattern and the dining room’s running bond is marked by a step.

Transition to dining room

Inside the dining room, the antique corner cupboard and table set complete the authentic historic appearance.

Dining Room

Outside the dining room, the “Traditional Antique” 4×8″ brick tiles continue into the hallway.

Hallway

Inglenook Tiles also find their way into the kitchen, taking a prominent place on the stovetop backsplash. The custom backsplash design uses 4×4″ brick toned tiles bordered by 2×2″ tiles. Our Vegetable accent tiles, taken from antique German candy molds and glazed in “Fern” glaze, punctuate the design. The image below shows a close up of the backsplash design.

Backsplash design

Visit our website: www.inglenooktile.com or call 717.442.0514 for more information.

New Installations

Before installations are put on our website, we will be posting them here, giving you a first look at new projects. We are excited to share these nine recent installations with you!

Click on images to enlarge.

Wall Installation: Lancaster Running Bond 2×8″ brick tile: Custom color mix including many white and fire-scorched pieces.

Wall installation

Arched Ceiling in a Home Bar: Lancaster Running Bond 2×8″ brick tile: “Old Strasburg” color mix. Second photo shows a closeup of the arched ceiling.

Arched Ceiling

Arched ceiling closeup

Sunroom floor with Accent Tiles: Wright’s Ferry 4×8″ brick tile: “Marietta” color mix. Second photo has tile accent piece detail. This project used a wide grout line with its herringbone installation pattern.

Sunroom Floor

Floor accent detail

Entryway floor: Wright’s Ferry 4×8″ brick tile: “Old Strasburg” color mix. This installation in running bond pattern extends through the hall into the front vestibule.

Hallway installation

Kitchen Wall and Floor: Wright’s Ferry 4×8″ brick tile laid on the floor in Basketweave pattern: Marietta color mix. On the wall, Lancaster Running Bond 2×8″ brick tile: “Marietta” color mix.

Kitchen installation

Wall installation

Kitchen Backsplash and Gas Fireplace surround: All portions of the installation use 2×8″ Lancaster Running Bond brick tile in a custom color mix.

Kitchen backsplash

Fireplace surround

Fireplace Surround

Kitchen Nook: 2×8″ Lancaster Running Bond brick tile: “Marietta” color mix.

Kitchen cubby wall

Kitchen floor: Wright’s Ferry 4×8″ brick tile: “Marietta” color mix. Second photo shows the transition from the brick tile to the dining room’s wood floor.

Kitchen Floor

Floor transition

Mudroom: Wright’s Ferry 4×8″ brick tile: custom color mix. This installation left grout in the tile texture, adding to the mudroom’s rustic look. Notice the great “dog shower” in the back left hand area!

Mudroom Installation

Visit our website: www.inglenooktile.com or call 717.442.0514 for more information.