Tile setters apply tile to floors, walls, ceilings, and countertops.
Tile setters use cement mortar to set tile. They nail a support of metal mesh to the area to be tiled. They use a trowel to apply the first layer, or scratch coat, of mortar onto the metal screen. They scratch the surface with a small rake-like tool, and let it dry. Tile setters apply another coat of mortar to level the surface. They apply mortar to the back of tiles and position tiles on the surface.
Tile setters use a different method to set tiles on floors or other level surfaces. To attach the tiles to the surface, tile setters use mastic, a very sticky paste, or an adhesive called thin set. Tile setters use a tooth-edged trowel to spread mastic on the surface or apply adhesive to the back of the tile. They position the tile in place.
Tile varies in color, shape, and size. Sometimes tile setters lay out tile on a dry floor, according to a specified design. This allows them to examine the pattern and make changes if necessary. They may also measure and mark the surfaces to be tiled. To tile in corners and around pipes and sinks, tile setters must cut tiles with special cutting tools.
When the cement or mastic has set, tile setters fill the joints with grout, or very fine cement. They then scrape the surface with a rubber-edged device called a squeegee. This fills the joints and removes excess grout. Before the grout sets, they wipe the joints with a damp sponge.
Tile setters help customers select tile and grout. They may consult on other items to be installed, such as bathroom accessories, walls, panels, and cabinets. Tile setters prepare cost and labor estimates based on calculations of time and materials needed for the project.
Tile finishers help some tile setters by supplying and mixing materials. Tile finishers also apply grout and clean the installed tile.