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Tile Care

This page is all about how to care for your tile. There are many useful tips for handling, mounting and displaying our tiles.

Simply expand the sections that are most relevant.

General tile handling

Displaying our tiles

Displaying our tiles

Our tiles are designed as wall tiles and not floor tiles. They are decorative pieces to hang up in a variety of situations whether indoors or outdoors. See our customer gallery to see where some of our customers have displayed their tiles.

We do not recommend leaving them on ground in the garden particularly during winter when water in the tile can freeze. They are not robust enough to be used as floor tiles or decoration in amongst floor tiles.

We also do not recommend using them as coasters as the uneveness in the designs will tend to make cups and mugs less stable.

Frost resistance

Frost resistance

Our tiles are frost resistant but we suggest that when hanging them up outside find a site where the tile is not going to be deluged with water. If the tile becomes waterlogged in winter and is subject to freezing conditions then water can potentially freeze causing water in the tile to expand leading to chipping and flaking.

As our tiles are normally mounted on walls moisture in the tile will tend to drain out or evaporate so chipping and flaking is not normally a problem.

Removal of backing card and glue

Removal of backing card and glue

Our tiles are normally mounted on a backing card. To remove the backing card from the tile simply pull the tile off the card. This will leave small patches of glue attached to the tile. This does not matter if you plan to fix the tile to a wall.

If you want to remove the glue then please use dishwashing gloves as you will need very hot water. Soak the tile in very hot water for around 20 minutes. Then use a blunt knife to prize off the glue. Hold the tile at the top and push the blade downwards, away from your hand. NEVER pull the blade towards you.

Removal of backing card and glue

How do you intend to hang the tile?

Your tile will either hang from holes that are incorporated in the design (this is most of our designs) or a slot cut into the back. For those with little or no knowledge the following is a non-technical, no-jargon guide to help you.

Click on one of the links below for a shortcut to the information most relevant:

Hanging tiles with a slot in the back

Hanging tiles with a slot in the back

For the few designs we make with a slot (Rose & Sunburst, Highgrove Hen and Lucky Cat) you will need to put a nail or screw in the wall first. The nail or screw head must protrude at least 5 millimetres from the wall in order to hang the tile on it. The tile can be levelled by adjusting it along the slot.

Hanging tiles with a slot in the back

Hanging tiles via holes incorporated into the design

Hanging tiles via holes incorporated into the design

Nearly all of the designs we make have hanging holes incorporated into the tile which you fix through. For these designs you need to find an appropriate sized nail or screw to fit the hole(s). You fix the tile by tapping in a nail or screwing the tile to the wall.

Every design mentions where the fixing points are. Some designs just need one fixing whilst other may require two or more.

Fixing with nails

Fixing with nails

We are a lot less keen on nails for hanging our tiles but if you do use them you might like to drill a hole slightly less wide than the nail so when you tap the nail in you can use less force. After all, if the hammer misses the nail and hits the tile with any force it will break. Using this tip may be useful if you think the tile may be moved to another spot. If the nail is easier to put in it will be easier to take out again.

Fixing with screws into wood

Fixing with screws into wood

A screw with a minimum length of 2cm will be fine. It is usually sensible to drill a hole before using screws. Select a drill bit that is the same width as the shank of the screw (not the thread) to drill your hole. See diagram below.

It is best to use a screw driver rather than a drill-driver as you have more control. As the head of the screw gets closer to the tile tighten slowly. Wiggle the tile to see how much movement there is. Gradually tighten until there is little or no movement remaining - then STOP. Tighten too much and the tile is likely to crack and break.

Fixing with screws into wood

Fixing with screws into plasterboard

Fixing with screws into plasterboard

Using 2-3 cm long screws will be fine for fixing into a plasterboard wall with the use of wall plugs. Select a drill bit which is about the same size as the shank of the wall plug. Drill a hole and pop the wall plug into the hole – you may need to tap it in with a hammer so it is flush with the wall. See diagram below.

It is best to use a screw driver rather than a drill-driver as you have more control. As the head of the screw gets closer to the tile tighten slowly. Wiggle the tile to see how much movement there is. Gradually tighten until there is little or no movement remaining - then STOP. Tighten too much and the tile is likely to crack and break.

An alternative to wall plugs and screws are panel pins which can be tapped into plasterboard. They will support the weight of the tile but do not secure the tile to the wall.

Fixing with screws into plasterboard

Fixing with screws into brick/stone

Fixing with screws into brick/stone

A screw 2-3 cm in length will be fine. The screw should just fit into the hole of the wall plug. The ribs of the plug are forced into the stone when the screw is in far enough. Select a masonry drill bit which is about the same size as the top of the wall plug. Drill hole and pop the wall plug into the hole – you may need to tap it in with a hammer so it is flush with the wall. See diagram below.

It is best to use a screw driver rather than a drill-driver as you have more control. As the head of the screw gets closer to the tile tighten slowly. Wiggle the tile to see how much movement there is. Gradually tighten until there is little or no movement remaining - then STOP. Tighten too much and the tile is likely to crack and break.

Fixing with screws into brick/stone

Bonding with mastic onto wood, plasterboard, brick or stone

Bonding with mastic onto wood, plasterboard, brick or stone

If you want to bond the tile to the wall you will need a mastic such as silicone sealant, roofing sealant or a No More Nails type adhesive. The adhesive must have a 'body' to it unlike superglue which is a thin glue. As the back of the tile is rough any sealant/adhesive will grip the surface.

It is best to pop a nail(s) in the wall first by drilling a hole slightly larger than the nail shank so you can just push it in and pull it out with your fingers.

Put mastic on the back of the tile in lumps (see image below) so that when you press the tile against the wall then the mastic spreads out to fill the gap and provide suction. Avoid putting mastic close to holes in the design as it will try to come through when the tile is pressed against the wall. Once the mastic has set and you can not pull it off the wall just pull the nail(s) out.

Bonding with mastic onto wood, plasterboard, brick or stone

Embedding into a wall or amongst commercial tiles

Embedding into a wall or amongst commercial tiles

To incorporate your tile into a wall or amongst tiles is the most complicated method of display. As the tiles are porous pigment from cement/grout will be sucked into the tile and stain it – you will not be able to remove these stains. As nearly all our tiles have holes in them there is the added problem of cement/grout welling up through the hole(s) when the tile is pushed against the wall.

There is a step by step process to follow which will give you the best results.

Sealing the tile to prevent staining:

In order to avoid staining it is best to apply a stone/tile sealant or clear varnish to the whole tile. Test an area on the back of the tile first to see what the result is like. Applying any sealants/varnish tends to darken the tile a little but this will provide some useful protection against pigments from the cement/grout.

We never recommend placing tiles close to cooking areas where grease can attach itself. Also showers are not good as lime scale will gradually build up ruining the tiles appearance.

There are a number of methods for dealing with holes within the design to prevent or allow cement/grout welling up through the holes:

  1. Stain the grout/cement with a terracotta coloured powder paint. You may need to experiment to get the closest colour match.
  2. You can allow welling to happen and then try to touch over any grout with a terracotta coloured paint. You would need a very fine tipped brush and a steady hand.
  3. You can pay an extra £10 per design for us to manually fill in the holes. These are sympathetically filled in to look as though holes were never there. This option is found during checkout.

Once the tile is sealed then do the following:

  1. Use masking tape around the edge of the tile. Tiles vary slightly in thickness but assuming they are 10 mm deep, you would apply the tape around 4 mm from the front edge. This means that once the grout has set you have a good chance of removing all the tape. If the tape covers the depth of the tile you will find that it will tear as too much of it is buried between the tile and the grout.
  2. Cover the face of the tile with a bit of polythene bag or a white sheet of paper and fold the masking tape over it so that the surface is sealed.
  3. Apply grout as instructed on packaging
  4. When grout has dried pull the cover off the tile along with the tape.

Contact Us

Black Dog
Unit 4, Meadows Lane
Bath, Somerset
BA1 6FB

01225 445086

info@blackdogtiles.com