Setting Terra Cotta Pavers
Snap a chalkline grid across the floor to make laying irregular pavers easier.
A grid of chalklines snapped across the floor makes laying irregular tiles, such as terra-cotta Saltillos, much easier. The lines allow you to cover the floor by laying tile in one nine-tile grid at a time. The grid creates a regular, orderly looking floor, despite the irregularities of the individual tiles within each grid 1.
Clean the concrete (or substrate) with a damp sponge 2. Scoop a big pile of thinset onto the floor 3. Use a 1/2-in. by 1/2-in. square or half-moon notched trowel to spread and comb the thinset over the area you’re working on, making sure not to completely obscure your layout lines 4. Place the tile onto the floor, pressing it down and twisting it back and forth slightly to embed it thoroughly in the thinset 5. Make sure the edge of the tile lines up with the chalkline, but leaves enough room for the grout joint.
You’ll use more thinset to set pavers than with most other tiles. Because they’re rarely flat, it takes more material to fill the hollow spaces under their concave or convex surfaces 6. If a tile doesn’t feel fully seated when it’s set, use a margin trowel to lift it 7, then check to see if the underside is fully coated 8. If you have sparse coverage, add more thinset to fill any low areas or voids and reset the tile 9. Continue setting the tiles in the row of your grid 10. After you have filled each row, adjust the grout lines between the tiles 11. The grout joints won’t line up perfectly straight to one another, but after they are grouted, they will yield a consistent yet handmade look over the entire floor. Continue setting and adjusting tiles row by row, until the grid is full. Always wipe down the faces of the tiles before moving onto the next grid 12. Even if you preseal the tiles, it is imperative to clean the faces of each tile, because dried thinset stains can be impossible to remove. Spread thinset in the next grid and repeat the process 13. If your layout requires cut tiles, it’s best to set these last, after the tiles set in the grids have dried.