Remodeling Tips and Reviews

How to install Hex Tile

How to install Hex Tile

Aug 20, 2011

If you are looking to go old fashioned with your bathroom or kitchen floor then hex tile is a great option. It is not easy to install but it is well worth the effort. I have installed dozens of floors using hex and there are some definite tricks to making it look easy.

1) The Right Sub-floor: Make sure you have a pretty straight and level floor. It should not have any big bumps or chunks missing. If it does  you will need to fix them. We almost always install Durock over a new sub-floor of 3/4″ plywood. We either screw or nail the Durock down. I prefer it over hardiboard and personally have found it to be more durable and less prone to breaking.  But either will work fine.

2) The right tools: A 1/8″ V notch trowel is necessary. Do not use anything bigger or smaller. The tiles need to set in the mortar, but you don’t want it coming through the spaces.

3) The right mix: Versabond is a great modified thinset mortar. I have even used mastic on my own floors with no problems. But I would recommend versabond mortar. Mix it to a pudding consistency and let it set for 10 minutes.

4) The right tile: I use Daltile hex tile. It comes on a 1’x2′ grid and is pretty easy to work with. Amazon has similar hex tiles, I like this pattern with the black hex too. It is also available in white.


Laying the tile out first

When working with hex I like to start at the larger ( straighter) wall and if there is a tub I spend time cutting it to carefully fit at the tub. As I cut each piece I lay them out along the tub and until I have laid out and cut 2 rows. Then it is time to get out the mortar and start laying hex tile. Make sure you take your time troweling the mortar and press down on the trowel as you angle it at around a 30 degree angle to the floor. It is imperative that you put  the mortar on thin, Otherwise it will ooze through the joints as you lay the hex tile down.  As I lay each row I do not like to line up the seams coming at me, I prefer to stagger the hex tile sheets to prevent a long gap that may catch the eye.

You will have to cut long sides for the long wall and short sides for the side walls. I use a large tile saw and recommend one for this job. It gives you enough room to work with these 1×2 foot sheets of tile and properly line them up for a straight cut. You will want keep working the tile from the tub or long wall back to the opposite wall. Make sure the tiles sheets are not bending in or out as you lay them. Any variation from straight will become more pronounced with each row and you make have a large gap at the very end. Once you get to the back wall you will likely have to stop and finish the next day since you don’t want to stand on your recently laid tiles for a day. When working your way around the toilet flange you will want to make sure and keep it tight in the back, otherwise you will have visible gaps that will require patching later.

You may want to see my post on cutting hex tiles here.

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  1. Roger /

    I am just about to attempt this and was wondering how you handled the thinset between the hex tiles when you stop overnight. The edge of the 1x 2 Daltile is staggered and the thinset would dry hard where there is not tile. Do you take it out before it drys or chisel it out the next day?
    Also, what do you use the cut just one hex tile to allow, say, a water pipe to poke thru?

  2. montytx /

    Great question Roger, I use a putty knife and work it along the edges a few times to get it clean. It is always easier to clean wet mortar than set mortar. As far as pipes go, I usually tear a line to where the pipe protrudes and then remove the tiles that are impacted and set the sheet. Bear in mind that normally you install an escussion plate around the pipe and that will cover the gaps. But, you can always cut a tile or 2 to set in afterwards if you need to.