For a grouted installation, the tiles should be laid with a grout joint spacing of 1/16" (1.6 mm) to 1/4" (6.4 mm) utilizing tile spacers designed for this purpose. Because of the rounded edges, the appearance of the finished grout joint will be approximately 1/16" (1.6 mm) wider than the actual tile spacing.
Due to ALTERNA’s large format and increased thickness, extra care is required in handling and storage to keep the product from becoming damaged or distorted. Always store the product on a flat surface. Temperature control and subfloor flatness are important in the prevention of raised or curled edges, and performance of the grouted joints. Maintain the temperature of the room, subfloor, tile and adhesive at a minimum of 65°F (18°C) and a maximum of 85°F (29°C) for 48 hours prior to installation, during installation, and for 48 hours after installation. Maintain a minimum room temperature of 55°F (13°C) thereafter.
CAUTION: Do not use high temperature heat sources to aid in cutting or making the tile conform to irregularities in the substrate. Multi-layered engineered tile structures such as ALTERNA can warp or curl after significant heating from sources such as hot plates and heat guns. Condition the room and all flooring materials to the temperature guidelines stated above. If you must warm the tile, always heat from the back and limit the temperature of the tile to warm conditions- less than 110°F (43°C).
When using tile from two or more cartons, check to be sure all pattern and lot numbers are the same to ensure proper color match. On larger installations, open several cartons and mix them as they are installed to help blend any slight shade differences from one carton to the next. For best appearance, the directional arrows on the back of ALTERNA must be randomized when laying the tile (rather than aligned in one direction or in a forced turnblock layout).
The installation instructions that follow focus on the grouted installation method. The tile spacing must be between 1/16" (1.6 mm) and 1/4" (6.4 mm). The appearance of the finished grout joint will be approximately 1/16" (1.6 mm) wider than the actual tile spacing.
Taking the most prominent walls in the room into consideration, find the center point in the room. Divide the room into equal quadrants by making two perpendicular lines on the subfloor intersecting at the center point. Starting from the center point, and either by measurements, or by doing a dry layout of the tiles (with proper grout joint spacing), determine the distance between the last full tile and the perimeter walls and cabinets. A balanced layout will result in border tiles being 8" (20.3 cm) or greater for the 16" x 16" (40.6 cm x 40.6 cm) tiles.
If the border pieces are less than 8" (20.3 cm) wide, particularly at the prominent walls, you will need to shift the starting point in the middle of the room 1/2 the dimension of the tile [8" (20.3 cm) for a 16" x 16" (40.6 cm x 40.6 cm) tile] to balance the layout. After you have balanced the room to achieve larger pieces at the borders, make two new perpendicular lines on the subfloor intersecting at the new starting point near the center of the room.
Normally you will apply adhesive to 1/4 or 1/2 of the room area at a time so that you can start the installation where the guidelines intersect.
Begin at the starting point and install the tile along the chalk lines, laying the field area first in step fashion. Complete installation of full tile in all quadrants of the room. Do not slide the tile into place. Press tile firmly into the adhesive.
NOTE: Tile spacers do a very good job of maintaining tile alignment; however, the installer must also re-check for proper alignment by using measurements or creating additional lines on the subfloor about every 4' (every 3 rows of tile) to ensure straight lines and rows of tile. This is very important on larger installations.
Next, cut and fit the border tile at the perimeter. Mechanical tile cutters are available for cutting larger format tile. The score and snap method of using a utility knife to score through the wear surface also works well. Be sure to allow for the grout joint and a 1/8" (3.2 mm) gap at perimeter walls when cutting the border pieces.
For irregular cuts, make a pattern out of kraft paper or cardboard and transfer it to the tile. Score along the markings and snap off small pieces. Ceramic tile nippers or a coping saw are useful in making more intricate cutouts for complicated fittings.
After the ALTERNA is installed, remove all tile spacers and immediately roll the entire floor with a 100-lb. roller. Roll the floor diagonally across the tile joints in both directions. Use a hand roller in confined areas where the large floor roller will not reach, such as under toe kicks.
Use Armstrong S-693 Premixed Sanded Acrylic Grout. Traditional cement grouts are not recommended with ALTERNA tile and should not be used. Follow the application instructions as specified on the premixed grout container, working small sections of the floor at a time. Use a “hard” epoxy grout float to apply the grout. Do not spread the grout over the entire surface of the tile as is customary with some ceramic tiles. Rather, try to apply the grout and pack it down only in the immediate area of the open joints to minimize cleanup. Then, hold the float almost vertical to the surface and strike off the excess grout, pulling the float diagonally across the joints.
Do not allow the grout to dry hard on the face of the flooring before beginning the cleanup procedure. It is best to use two buckets of clear, cool water with sponges during the first cleanup. Firm, square-edged cellulose sponges typically work best for cleaning grout residue from the tile without pulling excessive grout from the joints. Use the first bucket and sponge to loosen the grout on the face of the tile and pick up most of the residue. Use the second bucket and sponge for final removal of the residue and for smoothing the joints. Always hold the sponge flat and wipe diagonally across the joints. Do not allow the rinse water to accumulate in the adjacent ungrouted joints.
If grout sponges alone are not sufficient to clean the face of the tile, a white 3M pad with light pressure may be used. Do not overwork the grout during the cleanup or it will result in shallow joints. It is normal to have a slight grout haze remaining after the initial cleanup. It will be removed in the final cleanup after the grout joint has completely dried.
Traffic should be kept off the installation until the grout has completely dried, usually a minimum of 24 hours. Joints that are wider may take longer to dry than more narrow joints of 1/16" (1.6 mm) to 1/8" (3.2 mm).
After the grout joints have dried and hardened, a very light application of properly diluted Armstrong Once’n Done Resilient & Ceramic Floor Cleaner and a white 3M pad may be used to remove the slight haze of grout residue that remains. Again, two buckets of clear, cool water should be used. Pick up residue with a clean damp sponge. Use the second bucket and sponge for a final rinse and cleanup. Buff dry with a soft cloth.
Do not use solvents or grout haze removers. Do not use Armstrong New Beginning or other floor strippers for cleaning the grout or maintaining the ALTERNA installation as they are too harsh and will degrade premixed acrylic grout. Grout sealers are not recommended for Armstrong Premixed Sanded Acrylic Grout.
Replace wall base and trim moldings.
The installation can support light traffic as soon as the grout has hardened (minimum 24 hours); however, the floor should not be exposed to heavy or rolling load traffic for an additional 72 hours after the installation. Always use pieces of hardboard or underlayment panels to protect the floor when moving heavy furniture and appliances back into the room.
*Multiple tile size installations require a 1/8” grout line for installation. Non-grouted installations are not recommended for multiple tile size installations.
Alterna Groutable Tile Installation System PowerPoint
ALTERNA Special Applications