Floor Tile Installation Tips
To tile a large floor spacesuch as a chef's style kitchen flooryou need as many tips and pointers as possible to ensure a seamless, eye-catching result. Take heart and read on, because what follows are some handy tips for the entire floor tiling process. First thing's first, if you are using ceramic tiles, the floor must have a smooth or rigid surface, in which case, you may need to first lay plywood or other subfloor material. This way, the tile supports the installation process and resists cracking and bending. Okay, let's get started!
1. First, mark guidelines on the subfloor and do a 'dry run,' during which you lay the tiles without adhesives to see how they lay and fit. For square rooms, find the center of the room and mark the guidelines from each wall. For rooms of any other shape, use a chalk line to snap a marker perpendicular to the main entrance to the room. Apply hairspray to prevent smudging or erasing of the line, and use a square measure to make sure the line is perpendicular to the entrance. You will start laying full tiles at the entrance because a visible full row of tiles greeting guests is preferable to pieces and offers a more balanced visual.
2. From the entrance to the farthest wall, lay tiles along the line you snapped. Make sure the tiles abut to one another, or use a spacer to ensure equal distance between tiles.
3. When you reach the end of the room and there is no longer space for a full tile, mark off the remaining space with a piece of wood or other marker. Tack this into place and continue to dry lay tiles in both directions to the walls on each side of the room, making a 'T' shape with the tiles. Stay one tile away from each wall or obstacle.
4. For equal-sized border tiles, determine how much space you have left over at the end of each tile line, and shift the tiles you laid to make sure that the leftover space is equal on both sides of the room. Snap a second line based on this measurement in one corner, and where this line intersects with the wood or other marker is your new starting point. The first line is no longer needed, so the dry-set tiles can be removed for the moment.
5. Using a 1/16' notched trowel, lay a two-foot square area of adhesive in the starting corner. Follow directions on the adhesive packaging as some adhesives have a window of as few as five minutes to set any tile!
6. As you lay down the tiles, work them into the adhesive to make sure they are flush. Keep going in two-foot increments so the adhesive doesn't dry out. Work your way back and forth across the room.
7. Roll as you go with a 150-pound roller that can be rented for about $20 per day. Keep rolling until the tile has set and completely bonded to the adhesive.
8. To lay the border tile, lay another full tile over the last full tile. Mark a line across the top tile, and make sure you use a spacer against the wall. This is called 'jump scribing,' and denotes where you need to cut the border tile.
9. Cut border tiles with a diamond-edged wet saw (for clean lines and less dust) glasscutter, or straight edge tile cutter. Snap off the border piece against a workbench or use tile nippers.
10. Lay and set the border tiles.
11. Make sure to tile under heavy appliances such as dishwashers. Many people skip this step, but it can prove faulty and expensive. If there's a leak underneath the appliance, the moisture seeps and ruins the subfloor underneath the entire tile job, causing buckling and cracking. If the tile is laid completely underneath, then you quickly realize any leaks and can take necessary and effective action.
12. After you lay all the tiles, begin the grouting process. Follow the directions, and mix the grout according to the manufacturer's recommendations. Apply the grout with a rubber floater at a 45-degree angle into the spaces between the tiles.
13. Wipe off excess grout with a sponge and take care not to dig grout of the spaces between the tiles. To help the grout become a solid, resilient surface, mop the floor daily for three days. Allow the grout to cure for a week and then brush the grout with a silicone sealer.
Voila! If you follow these steps and take the time to do it right the first time, even a new do-it-yourself-er can produce a quality and durable tile floor. Always wear eye protection goggles, and use caution when working with power cutting tools. Even for a beginner, a floor retiling project should take no more than 10 hours, so in a single day, if you have all the tools and tile material at hand, you can completely and easily transform your kitchen.