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In this video, This Old House tile contractor Joe Ferrante explains how to set ceramic tile in a subway pattern.

How to set tile

  1. Apply thin coat of tile mastic or thinset to cement backerboard with smooth edge of a notched trowel.
  2. Use the notched edge of trowel to apply thicker bed of mastic to wall.
  3. Start setting bullnose tile along edge of the wall.
  4. Press each tile firmly into the mastic to create a strong, lasting bond.
  5. Set the field tile alongside the bullnose, working your way across the wall.
  6. Maintain consistent spacing between tiles; if necessary, place tile spacers between the tiles.
  7. Allow mastic or thinset to cure before grouting the joints between the tile.