Flooring and Carpeting/Installing procelain tile in home
I want to install 20”x20” Marazzi porcelain tile in 2,000 sq ft of my home. Questions:
Is it possible to install 20”x20” with a 1/8” grout line? Or what is the smallest grout line you would recommend for this size tile?
While laying the tile, how do I ensure the grout is consistently filling the grout lines to the bottom of the tile?
Is it possible to have grout lines level with the top surface of the tile? Or how close to the tile surface would be recommended?
After installing the grout, what is used to clean off any excess grout?
Sorry for my delayed reply Diana, simply buried at work these days...
Ok...on to your questions. Are you personally going to attempt so large an install? Just installing a 12" material can be challenging at times but employing so large a format can be a challenge to even an experienced Mechanic. That being said when it comes to whether you can install a large format tile such as your 20" example really depends upon the manufacturing quality of the material. A 1/8" joint is certainly possible but you simply won't know until you actually begin the install. Once the material has been purchased you can open several boxes and begin a "dry lay" in order to discover if the tiles are consistent enough to attempt a "Marble joint" install. Really all you do is lay out two to three rows of the tiles just exactly as you would if you were setting them in thinset only you do it dry and carefully space the tiles the 1/8" joint spacing and run out at least 3 courses. This should be a good indicator to see if the tiles run consistent enough to go with the tight joint. With a 2000 sq. ft. install I would open 10-15 boxes at at time and blend thoroughly always being on the alert should there be a caliber change (the tiles begin to get smaller or get larger) some can vary as much as 1/8" so you see there could very quickly become a big problem for you should you be into the install 500-600 sq.ft. and then the size changes. Your point of purchase should be able to lend some confidence as to whether the material that you are choosing can fit the bill.
Filling the grout joints is little more than packing a crack tightly prior to using the edge of the grout float to cut/screed off the excess material. Sometimes you have to "put" the grout into the joints and not just smear it across the surface hoping to get it in there. So you take your time and consciously push the grout down in the joint, and once you have done it a few times you can begin to see where and how to administer the grout more effectively into the joints. Then use the edge of the float to cut off the excess grout and tool the joints with your sponge (not too wet now) and keep moving. Once you have a large section done and you can see the grout begin to dry you can drop back and rinse again the surface of the tiles to reduce any lingering film.
With many large format tiles they have what is called a chamfered edge. Some tiles have incorporated into their design a slight easing of the edges which is consequently covered over with glazing. So getting the grout to completely fill to the top of the tile will not work because the grout will not grasp the top of the tile because the glazing will not hold the grout. So you will most likely end up with the grout being slightly below the detectable top of the tile...follow me? It's not bad, it's just the way it is.
Your last question causes me some concern Diana...it really sounds like to me at this juncture that you perhaps have little experience at installing tile. If you are asking me what to use to clean off excess grout then maybe you should consider having a professional do the install for you. It would not be a happy outcome to install such a large floor only to have it ruined by a suspect grout job. I know the "Home Improvement" shows tend to make such things appear easy but at this level there will be nothing easy about it. These large tiles are unwieldily and heavy and may require setting and lifting and resetting multiple times to get it set properly. I would hate to soft sell anything about this process to you with the idea that an amateur (no offense please) could just dive right in and have a good outcome. So I will pause at this point so perhaps you might fill me in on what you are doing with this install. Are you going to attempt this or someone else? Let me know if you want me to clarify any additional information you would like to know.