Can I embed Ceramic Tile into a fresh Concrete Slab?


I'm pouring a 4' x 6' slab of concrete, I was wondering if after pouring can I put 12" ceramic tiles on it and kind of "settle" them down flush with the concrete? As it cures with the tiles in place it'll harden around the tiles securing them?


ANSWER - It is possible to embed 12x12 inch ceramic tiles into a freshly poured concrete slab, but there are a lot factors to consider.  It is recommended to let the concrete cure for 28 days before adhering the tile to it.

The concrete being poured for the slab has to have the right design mix, it has to be thick enough, and it should have proper rebar reinforcement to limit shrinkage and prevent cracking.  It should cure for at least 14 days before to allow it to complete much of its shrinkage, but you have to use a proper ANSI A118.4 or .15 thin-set mortar that allows for the tile to be installed that soon over the concrete slab.

In theory, you could apply the thin-set mortar over the back of the tile and then embed the tile into the fresh concrete, but it isn't recommended because if the concrete cracks so will the tile.


14 thoughts on “Can I embed Ceramic Tile into a fresh Concrete Slab?

  1. online school tips says:

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  2. Adrienne Parker says:

    I’m confused about the answer as the person’s question as I understood it, was about embedding the tile into the wet concrete so it is flush with the top of the concrete. You do offer the “in theory” part of your answer and with that, I’m wondering why you would need to apply the mortar to the back of the tile? Concrete won’t adhere to tile itself and only mortar will adhere to both the tile and the concrete? I’m curious about this myself because i would like to embed some pebble tile into freshly poured concrete. I was thinking that perhaps the concrete consists of too many big pieces of pebble etc. already to allow the tile to be pushed down into it. But, considering that it’s pebble tile with the mesh back that holds all the pebbles together, maybe that would make it possible/easier?

    • Donato Pompo says:

      concrete/cement will bond to a degree to tile or stones, but it doesn’t provide the full strength that a modified thin-set mortar will provide. You can embed pebble stones into fresh concrete, but they don’t always stay bonded as I have experienced first hand. So to ensure they bond well use thin-set.

  3. STEVEN says:

    I want to use 3/4 inch 4mm thick glass tiles, and “imbed” them into fresh wet cement paving stones, to create a colorful walking path. Please share your thoughts on this. Does anyone have experience in this type of application?
    [email protected]
    Steven Lutz, Pompano Beach Florida

    • Donato Pompo says:

      Depends on what you mean by Wet Cement Paving Stones. I will assume you are embedding the glass tile into fresh concrete. Glass tile is very dense and difficult to bond to. You can use a high strength ANSI A118.15 polymer modified thin-set mortar to help bond them to the wet concrete. Concrete shrinks a lot after being poured so that will subject the glass tiles to stress that may or may not withstand it depending on their physical properties as glass tile is inherently internally under tension. Glass tile mosaics tend to have sharp edges so they have to be fully encapsulated by the concrete or people with bare feet can be cut when walking over them.

      • AA says:

        What about a tile border embedded on fresh concrete? We want to tie in the tile that is on our porch to new walkways, but do not want to tile the entire thing as we live in a snowy climate and don’t want to worry about it being slippery. Is it okay to embed a 4×8 tile just as a border? I worry about doing it after the concrete is cured as the tile will sit higher than the concrete and will catch on shovels in winter.

        • Donato Pompo says:

          It should be ok to embed the tile into the concrete when you place the concrete on the porch. You should use a thin-set mortar adhesive to apply to the back of the tile to make sure it bonds well to the concrete.

          The only concern is that when concrete is placed it is very wet and will shrink. Normally you want the concrete to cure for up to 28 days before you adhere tile to it.

          You might consider placing a piece of lumber the width and thickness of the tile and the thin-set along the border. Then remove it the next day and let the concrete cure and then adhere the tile to it.

        • Donato Pompo says:

          There are no standards for embedding tile into fresh poured concrete. There are standards for embedding tile into a fresh application of a mortar bed. In either case, to ensure a good bond, you should use a thin-set mortar on the back of the tile to help ensure a good bond.

  4. Richard Ensminger says:

    Can I embed , randomly and very sparsely. some 2″ or 4″ thick cement flagstones into a 6″ thick 20′ foot freshly poured cement slab to give it a little color and texture. How would it be done?

    • Donato Pompo says:

      I think the 2″ thick stones might be ok in a 6″ thick concrete slab, but I wouldn’t put the 4″ because you end up with a 2″ thick slab there.

      Normally when stones are installed in fresh concrete they don’t go in very deep. I would apply a thin skim coat of a thinset mortar adhesive over the flagstone backs just before you embed them into the concrete to help ensure you get a good bond.

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