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Why Tiles Are Soaked In Water?

As you must have read from the George ceramic blog series, Tiles are construction materials made from the natural occurrence of the earth which is united with fire as in the case of ceramic tiles. Their surfaces are usually very hard and resistant to abrasion.

It has a glossy characteristic that aids easy cleaning and easy removal of stains. Tiles provide a cool surface and often help to prevent dampness in buildings due to their water-resisting properties.

Over time, their installation has been used to add beauty, and appeal, increase value, etcHowever, laying and installation of tiles requires much skills and experience.

Click to learn: Tile laying: material selection and surface preparation.

tile

Even so, tile laying is not without some procedure that may somewhat appear strange to an ordinary layman. Among such known strange techniques involved is the art of “soaking tiles in water”. This has sparked many discussions among construction moguls due to the extra step it adds to the tile installation process.

Soaking tiles is crucial for a variety of reasons. Primarily, it prepares the tiles for bonding with the adhesive or mortar. Most tiles, mainly ceramic and porcelain types, have pores on their surfaces. If not properly prepared, these pores can absorb the water from the adhesive, disrupting the setting process and potentially leading to weaker bonds. 

Wouldn’t it sound strange to you if you hired an installer and at the onset of your project, the installer requested a basin to soak tiles for onward installation? Strange Right! Your next exclamation would be, but why? 

In this review, George ceramics will field these related questions:

Laying of Tiles

Water absorption Rate of Tiles

Why are tiles soaked in water before they are installed?

Which tiles should be soaked?

How to soak tiles in water and for how long should tiles be soaked?

To Soak or Not to Soak?

What precautions should be observed?

Laying of Tiles

The laying of tiles is one major process that requires carefulness. The process requires a meticulous approach. Tiles are embedded into floors and walls using a thick mass of mortals which are made of very fine sand to give it cohesive properties. The mortal thickness depends on the thickness required to be filled. Before being laid, tiles are soaked in water.

This soaking is a very crucial tile-laying preparation process. As you can see from the bottom surfaces of the tiles as shown below, they contain pores. These are common for ceramic and porcelain tiles. The purpose of the pores is to allow for proper bonding of the tiles with the surfaces of floors and walls through mortal medium.

These pores as much important as they are could mess up a tiled work. These pore spaces usually absorb the water from mortal thereby preventing proper settings, whereas creating weak bonds between mortal and tile if the tiles are not soaked in water for about 20-30 minutes.

The soaking of tiles in water makes the pores absorb water fully such that they do not tamper with water from mortal.The essence? It would help to prevent cracks or shedding off of tiles.

Water Absorption Rate of Tiles

Tiles that are soaked vary and are largely dependent on the rate of water absorption on the tiles. Categorically speaking, tiles that have below 0.5% water absorption rate need not be soaked.

Generally, Glazed Porcelain Tiles which are commonly used in kitchen and bathroom walls, and kitchen and bathroom floor tiles have a water absorption rate of above 10%, hence they need to be soaked.

Their high rates of water absorption are not unconnected to constant exposure of these surfaces to water. The water absorption rate of porcelain tiles is normally less than 0.5% and thus would NOT necessarily be soaked.

Why are tiles soaked in water before they are installed?

It is similar to the watering principle of red bricks for building houses in the past to avoid too much water absorption in the cement mortar. However, it results in the tiles’ deformation and hollowing, so they need to be soaked in water and then paved.

Whether it soaks in water or not is only determined by the characteristics of the tile and has nothing to do with the quality of the tile itself. For example, suppose the tiles that need to soak water directly lay without soaking in water.

In that case, the tiles will absorb a large amount of water from the cement mortar, and some voids will appear during the solidification process of the cement mortar, which is tiles hollow.

Soaking in water prevents the tiles from absorbing the moisture of the cement mortar, causing hollowing and falling off. Tiles will be more or less porous, which is normal. Soaking in water before laying allows the pores to absorb moisture fully.

Which tiles should be soaked?

In terms of the water absorption rate of the tiles, the water absorption rate of the tiles is low, so there is no need to soak in water when paving. In contrast, the glazed wall tiles and floor tiles for kitchen and bathroom use generally have a relatively large water absorption rate; It is necessary to soak them when laying. But, of course, if it is a tile with low water absorption, it is no need to soak.

How to soak tiles in water and for how long should tiles be soaked?

Since it says “soaked in water,” then the tiles must be fully immersed in water. So, generally, the construction party will prepare a large basin. However, pouring water on them with water pipes cannot make the tiles fully “saturated.”

As a result, various problems are likely to occur after laying. Since different tiles have different water absorption rates, there is no specific standard. But the result is that the tile “drinks” the water until it stops bubbling. 

The higher the water absorption rate, the longer it will soak. In rainy weather, because the air is relatively humid, the time will be shortened, and when the hot summer weather is dry, the time will increase accordingly.

Guide to Follow When Soaking Tile in Water

Fill the container with clean water that is room temperature — water that is too warm or too cold may alter the tile material adversely. Once complete, gently lay the tiles inside to fully submerge them in water.

The soaking duration typically ranges between 20 and 30 minutes, and its purpose is to allow the tiles to absorb enough moisture for proper installation without drawing moisture directly from adhesive or mortar. When sufficiently soaked, no air bubbles will rise from their surfaces.

Once the tiles have soaked for their specified period, remove them from the water and allow them to drain on a flat surface before laying them back on your worksite. Avoid completely drying your tiles when installing. They should remain damp but not soaking wet when placed in their respective spaces.

To Soak or Not to Soak?

Several variables must be reviewed when determining whether or not tiles need to be soaked. The type of tile material is a key factor to consider. Stone-made tiles don’t require pre-soaking, while red and white clay variants greatly benefit from pre-soaking for bond strength and surface adhesion.

Ceramic and porcelain tiles allow more leeway in preparation procedures. Misting with water or using a brush to moisten the under-layer may suffice rather than soaking. Although ceramic tiles can be installed without completely submerging the sub-layer, this option is not possible with porcelain tiles — they must be soaked.

Tile thickness also plays an essential part in deciding whether or not to soak tiles before installation, with tiles of less than 1 cm often not needing to be soaked but just washed instead. Thicker tiles must go through an initial soak followed by drying slightly to avoid slipperiness during assembly.

Tiles stored for an extended period may accumulate a dust layer over time and need cleaning either pre- or post-soaking. When it comes to granite tiles specifically, these should be dampened before dusting off using a sponge. With so many tile options, it’s important to thoroughly research the appropriate tile type for each space — like your kitchen — to ensure you choose the material that meets your requirements.

What precautions should be observed?

After the tiles soak in water, the color will darken compared with brand-new tiles; the color looks different. So when everyone is laying tiles, use a few pieces to absorb a few pieces, don’t soak them all at once. Otherwise, it will be a waste if you can’t return later.

In conclusion, there is no doubt that tiles are essential elements in contemporary architectural designs. Their smooth, stylish aesthetic combined with their practicality enhances the visual appeal and the usability of living spaces.

They feature a hard, glossy surface that is resistant to scratches and makes clean-up of spills or dirt much more manageable. Additionally, tiles are water-resistant, maintaining cooler surface temperatures and acting as a barrier against dampness within a building.

This review has helped us see the beauty it adds to the building as well as its special process of installation, Tile simply left us wondering in amazement. If you as a homeowner find it challenging to figure out what tile is best for a certain area of your home and whether or not it needs to be soaked pre-installation, ring us at George ceramic, and our expert installer will attend to your queries.

Related Reading:How Do I Maintain My Tile

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