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How to Install Split Face Tile

The rugged, natural look of split face tile is beautiful in so many applications that it is easy to find places for it all over your home. Interior or exterior, the unique, textured effect of split face stone and tile provides a rustic, classic look, while proper and precise installation provides clean lines and cohesive arrangement that betray a modern sensibility and a contemporary eye toward quality. It is easier than you think to install your own split face tile and skirt the cost of hiring a professional. Achieve your tiling ambitions with a little planning and a few simple steps.

What Is Split Face Tile?

Instead of the smoothness and high polish of most glass or ceramic tiles, imagine the variation and texture of natural stone. Manufacturers commonly make split face tile from stratified rock or stone by cutting it or cracking, such that the split face exposes the bedding. The result is the visually attractive effect of rough-hewn stone. Typically people cut the stone with the bedding set on a horizontal bias, but vertically set bedding cuts are available as well.

Many people usually use split face tile for external applications, such as for raised flower beds, outdoor fireplaces, and even water features. The raw aesthetic of the split face lends itself to outdoor style, but there are many places where it makes a stunning impression indoors, as well. Use split face tile as backsplash tile in a rustic or country kitchen, or install it as an accent wall in a bathroom or den.

VIDEO: Split Faced Stone Tile and Rosewood Installation

Preparing to Install Split Face Tile

Begin by preparing the wall or surface for tiling, which includes removing any hardware, such as light switches and other fixtures, and removing all of the current surface base. If your project is larger scale, remember to mount tiling board across the entire surface before you begin. Do not adhere tiles directly to drywall.

Use a tape measure and level to measure and mark to the middle lines of the area you intend to tile. Find both the horizontal and the vertical middle, because you need to divide the space evenly and exactly into sections so when you lay the tile it is perfectly straight. Use a chalk snap line to mark perfectly straight lines. Dry fit the tiles so you know you are getting the final look you want. Use a wet saw to cut and shape any tiles to size for edges or corners. To ensure your tiles stay straight, install a batten.

Installing Split Face Tile

Stir the mortar according to package directions and allow it to slake, which means letting it sit for 15 minutes, then stir again before applying. Apply the mortar to the tiling surface with a tiling trowel, working in areas of about 2 by 3 feet. Use the long, notched side of the trowel to apply and scrape the mortar into place, leaving roughly parallel lines from the notches. Place the tiles carefully, twisting them gently to really set in the mortar. Place tile spacers as you go to keep the corners and edges aligned the way you want them.

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