Installation and Maintenance

Installing porcelain stoneware floors. 

Installing porcelain stoneware floors: how to get the best results

There are at least three main ways of installing a porcelain stoneware floor: we explain them all below in detail to help you get the best results.

Installing the floor

Before you start installing tiles on any surface like wall or floor, make sure that the amount of material at your disposal matches the quantity, tone and gauge you require. You must then follow all the rules and precautions necessary for correct installation (repair the substrate, ensure the correct composition of mortars or adhesives, respect specified drying times, expansion joint positions and beating methods, etc.).

Floor installation with adhesives

Floor tiles must be installed by qualified persons using suitable equipment. The surface onto which the tiles are to be installed (screed) must be perfectly flat. Any unevenness must be no more than 3 mm over a 2 m rule. The installation surface must be well cured, and clear of dust and visible cracks. Make sure the area is well lit when installing the tiles. The choice of adhesive will depend on the type of tile (group and size), the type of surface you are covering and its intended use (for both interiors and exteriors). Check that the material has been correctly installed before the adhesive dries completely, so that minor corrections can be made if necessary.

Floor installation with fresh mortar

Installing tiles with fresh, cement-based mortar or “thick-bed” mortar is not recommended for tile sizes >30 cm or non-absorbent substrates.

Once the tiles have been installed, the following two steps must be completed:

Making the joints

The joints are critical in maintaining a good tiled surface and we recommend that you work together with or get advice from a professional tile installer. The manufacturer declines all responsibility for installations without adequate joints: the minimum acceptable joint between tiles is 2 mm.
The joints must be located:

-over structural connections (structural joints)

-between the floor and wall (perimeter joints)

-between adjacent tiles (installation joints)

-between tiles and other materials (e.g. ceramic / linoleum / wood)

Grouting the installed surface

Before you install the joints between tiles, whether on wall or floor, it is best to wait for the adhesive to dry completely and make sure that the installation joints are empty and clear of all adhesive and dust. Grout a small area at a time (4-5 sq.m.). This should be borne in mind especially when grouting textured, non-slip and polished surfaces. Eliminate any excess grout from the surface, working diagonally while the product is still fresh, and remove all residues, especially on outdoor surfaces. Clean the surface thoroughly with a sponge and clear, clean water, then wipe off the entire surface, including the joints, with a damp cloth. Always test grout of a colour that contrasts with the tiles on a small, hidden area. Use a sponge and plenty of water to clean off epoxy grouts. The reaction times and hardness of these products makes it impossible to remove residues once set. Clean off the entire surface with an alkaline detergent the day after grouting. We recommend referring to the grout manufacturer’s documentation to determine the right material for the type of tile in question.

After installation: recommended cleaning and care

A site can be considered completed when all construction tools and materials have been cleared away. To reduce the risk of damaging the tiled surface, it must be protected, especially against all abrasive materials (dust or residue from subsequent processes). To assure your porcelain stoneware floor or wall lasts as long as possible, follow the care instructions given below.

Initial cleaning of the floor or wall

Washing after installation is of fundamental importance to all further processes and to maintaining your ceramic wall or floor properly.

Thorough initial washing helps floors remain attractive and protected for years to come, and only has to be performed once, before the floor is used. It is best to clean the surface for the first time after 4-5 days, and no later than 10 days after installation and grouting.

The grouted and cleaned surface may have a film of cement residue which cannot be removed with water alone. You must therefore use an acid based product to do so, suitably diluted by 1:10 to 1:4 in cold water, as recommended by the manufacturer. Start by wetting the tiled surface, especially the joints, which are not normally acid resistant. Next, distribute the prepared acid solution over the surface and leave it to act for a short time (2 minutes). Do not allow the acid solution to dry.

Now remove the solution using a floor polishing machine with non-abrasive disk, wet vacuum cleaner or other equipment, or by hand, and rinse with abundant fresh water at the end. Note that cleaning with machines (which we highly recommend for large surfaces areas and textured tiles) must always be completed by hand in hard to get to areas, i.e. corners, along the bottom of walls (in the kitchen, bathroom, living room, but also outdoors), and wherever the floor polishing machine cannot work.

Always test acid products on an unused tile or small hidden area of the tiled surface to ensure compatibility, especially in the case of lapped or polished tiles. Do not use cleaning products containing hydrofluoric acid (HF) or its derivatives

Routine cleaning of the floor or wall

Routine cleaning of indoor and outdoor floors is intended to remove dirt, cancel any marks and restore the original look. Glazed porcelain stoneware tiles do not require protective treatment: regular, thorough cleaning is sufficient to keep it in perfect condition.

They must be cleaned with a normal warm water wash using a soft cloth or sponge and neutral detergent if necessary. Industrial scrubber-dryers can be used to clean large floors (like the living room), with inaccessible areas cleaned manually afterwards.

Finally, to maintain the product and make sure it lasts in its original condition, the following are recommended:

  • Remove greasy or oily residues using a detergent containing organic solvents or with an alkaline detergent (pH>9), then rinse the area thoroughly;
  • Do not use soap, since it tends to leave an oily film, especially when used in combination with hard water;
  • Do not use abrasive detergents on glossy or polished surfaces; such detergents can be used on matt surfaces, but only after testing on a small area of tiling.
  • Do not rub surfaces with abrasive materials such as metal scrubbing pads or hard brushes as these might leave indelible scratches or marks;
  • Do not use products containing waxes or shine-enhancing rinse agents;

In general, always test any non-neutral detergent on an unused tile or on a hidden area of the floor first.