Installing New Quarry Tile to Match Historic Quarry Tile

Procedure code:
US Custom House/PO, St. Louis, MO, GSA PBS, 10/15/1979
Quarry Tile
Last Modified:

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Prior to inclusion in GSA’s library of procedures, documents are reviewed by one or more qualified preservation specialists for general consistency with the Secretary of Interior Standards for rehabilitating historic buildings as understood at the time the procedure is added to the library. All specifications require project-specific editing and professional judgement regarding the applicability of a procedure to a particular building, project or location. References to products and suppliers are to serve as a general guideline and do not constitute a federal endorsement or determination that a product or method is the best or most current alternative, remains available, or is compliant with current environmental regulations and safety standards. The library of procedures is intended to serve as a resource, not a substitute, for specification development by a qualified preservation professional.

We’ve reviewed these procedures for general consistency with federal standards for rehabilitating historic buildings and provide them only as a reference. Specifications should only be applied under the guidance of a qualified preservation professional who can assess the applicability of a procedure to a particular building, project or location. References to products and suppliers serve as general guidelines and do not constitute a federal endorsement nor a determination that a product or method is the best alternative or compliant with current environmental regulations and safety standards.




A. This procedure includes guidance on installing new quarry tile to replace lost or severely damaged portions of historic quarry tile, or to enlarge or alter an area of existing/historic quarry tile floors. GENERALLY, THIS WORK SHOULD BE ACCOMPLISHED BY A EXPERIENCED CONTRACTOR.

B. For additional information on the preservation, maintenance, repair and replacement of quarry tile, see 09310-02-S.

C. See 01100-07-S for general project guidelines to be used along with this procedure. These guidelines cover the following sections:

1. Historic Structures Precautions

2. Submittals

3. Quality Assurance

4. Delivery, Storage and Handling

5. Project/Site Conditions

6. Sequencing and Scheduling

7. General Protection (Surface and Surrounding)

These guidelines should be reviewed prior to performing this procedure and should be followed along with recommendations from the Regional Historic Preservation Officer (RHPO).


A. The Tile Council of America, Inc. (TCA)

B. American National Standards Institute, Inc. (ANSI),


A. Performance Requirements: Completed quarry tile installation to be within tolerances as follows:

1. Variation from a true plane not to exceed 3/16" in 10'-0", any direction but not more than 3/8" for total length.

2. Variation in offset of edge-to-edge alignment of adjoining tile not to exceed 1/32".


A. Product Data: Submit manufacturer's technical information and installation instructions for all materials required, except bulk materials. Include certifications and other data as may be required to show compliance with these specifications.

B. Samples: Submit samples of each type, color, pattern and texture of tile required, not less than 18" square on plywood or hardboard backing and grouted as required. Also, submit a full-size sample of each tile accessory. Samples will be reviewed for color, pattern, and texture only.

C. Design Data/Test Reports/Certificates: Furnish Master Grade Certificate for each type of tile complying with TCA 137.1.


A. Standards: Comply with the provisions of the following, except to extent more detailed or more stringent requirements are indicated.

B. Manufacturing Standards:

1. When using setting and grouting materials manufactured under TCA license, include identification and formula number on each container.

2. Provide materials obtained from only one source for each type of tile and color to minimize variations in appearance and quality.


A. Environmental Requirements: Maintain a temperature of not less than 50 degrees F. during tile installation and for 7 days after completion.



A. American Olen Tile Co.

B. Boston Valley

C. Ludowici Roof Tiles


A. Quarry Tile: Units complying with TCA 137.1, Standard Grade and as follows:

1. Size: 6" x 6" x 1/2" thick unless otherwise required.

2. Edges: Square edges, ground after firing.

3. Color: Matching existing historic quarry tile (clean and uncoated units) as selected from colors standard with manufacturer, if possible. If matching tile is unavailable as a standard option, custom slip coat coloring may be accepted if price acceptable and approved by RHPO.

B. Trim and Special Shapes, General: Provide tile trim and special shapes with rounded external corners at openings, exposed edge termination and other like conditions, and as specified for installation method, of same material and finish as field tile.

C. Accessories: Metal Edge Strips.

D. Mortar and Grout:

1. Setting Bed Mortar Materials: Complying with ANSI A108.1.

2. Dry-Set Mortar: Proprietary factory proportioned, pre-mixed and packaged mortar dry pre-mixture of portland cement and additives complying with ANSI A118.1 and TCA Formula 759.

3. Commercial Portland Cement Grout: Proprietary factory proportioned, pre-mixed and packaged grout dry pre-mixture of portland cement and additives. Grout pre-mixture to have properties to be non-shrink, increase moisture resistance, non-staining and non-promoting of bacteria growth. Colors to be as selected from colors standard with manufacturer. Color pigments to be resistant to fading, acidity and alkali. Maximum color pigment to cement ratio by weight to be 1:10.

4. Water: Clean and free of deleterious materials which would impair strength, bond or appearance.

E. Miscellaneous Materials: Joint Sealing Materials: Complying with sealant specifications.

2.03 MIXES

A. Mortar and Grout Mixes:

1. Setting Bed Mortar: Portland cement mortar mix complying with ANSI A108.1.

2. Proprietary Mortar and Grout: Mix materials complying with instructions of manufacturer.



A. Examine the substrate and the conditions under which tile is to be installed. Do not proceed with the work until unsatisfactory conditions have been corrected.


A. Match the historic character, coloring, and pattern of the quarry tile in all spaces containing, or contiguous with, existing quarry tile.

B. Provide applicable tile installation method for substrate and performance as described below and complying with TCA "Handbook for Ceramic Tile Installation".

C. Comply with applicable ANSI Standard installation specifications as follows:

1. Setting Bed of Portland Cement Mortar: ANSI A108.1

2. Dry-Set Mortar Floor Tile: ANSI A108.5.

D. Joint Pattern:

1. Unless otherwise indicated, lay tile in grid pattern.

2. Align joints when adjoining tiles on floor, base and trim are the same size.

3. Layout tile work and center tile fields both directions in each space or on each wall area as applicable. Adjust to minimize tile cutting. Provide uniform joint widths.

E. Expansion and Control Joints:

1. Provide where indicated and as recommended by TCA Method EJ411. In no case provide control joints less frequently than:

a. At any point where tile abuts projections such as columns, curbs and pipes.

b. Directly over joints in the structure substrate.

c. Joints to be not less than 1/4" wide.

2. Install removable divider strips of the same depth as the finished tile system, including setting bed. Remove strips after grouting and curing operations.

F. Edge Strip - Threshold: Where quarry tile terminates, except at vertical surfaces, and where finish surface will be in same plane with other adjoining floor material, provide metal edge strip, otherwise provide marble threshold of required profile, except as otherwise indicated for specific projects.

G. Coverage: Extend tile work into recesses and under equipment and fixtures, to form a complete covering without interruptions, except as otherwise indicated. Terminate work neatly at obstructions, edges and corners without disruption of pattern or joint alignment, and use applicable trim and special shape as required.

H. Fitting: Accurately form intersections and returns, and use applicable trim and special shapes as required. Perform cutting of tile without marring visible surfaces. Carefully grind cut edges of tile abutting trim, finish or built-in items for straight, aligned joints. Fit tile closely to electrical outlets, piping and fixtures so that plates, collars or covers overlap tile.

I. Setting Beds: Provide applicable setting bed types as indicated. Handle and apply proprietary mortar materials complying with instructions of manufacturer.

J. Setting Tile: Set dry quarry tile in place, and tamp level and even with adjacent tile and within required tolerances. Use appropriate spacers to obtain a straight and uniform joint. Provide trim and special shapes, and accessories as required.

K. Grouting: Provide applicable grout types as required. Handle and apply grout complying with instructions of manufacturer. Start grouting after setting bed mortar or bond coat has cured and tiles are firm and secure in-place.


A. Clean grout and setting materials from face of tile while materials are workable. Leave tile face clean and free of all foreign matter.

B. Use of acid or caustic materials to clean tile is not acceptable.

C. Leave finished installation clean and free of cracked, chipped, broken, unbonded, or otherwise defective tile work.


A. Apply a protective coat of neutral protective cleaner to completed tile surfaces.

B. Protect installed tile work with Kraft paper or other heavy covering during the construction period to prevent damage and wear.

C. Prohibit all foot and wheel traffic from using tiled floors for at least 3 days, preferably 7 days.

D. Before final inspection, remove protective coverings and wash tile surfaces clean.

Last Reviewed: 2017-08-13