How to Lay Ceramic Tile Like a Professional

Many people enjoy doing their own home improvement projects. The popularity of “do-it-yourself” TV programs will attest to that fact. Some projects are relatively simple to do, even for the inexperienced. In this article, we’ll use laying a ceramic tile floor as an example.

Ceramic tile floors are durable as well as attractive and add value to your home. Tile floors are especially suitable for kitchens, baths, and entryways as they are easy to clean.

The first step in beginning your ceramic tile project is to select your tile. Deciding which tile you like best will probably be the most difficult part of the project. Other materials you will need are tile adhesive, grout, tile spacers, and preparation products if needed. Talk to the sales associate at the store where you purchase your tile. He will be a good source of information on how to lay ceramic tile.

Next, gather all tools needed before you start. The project will go faster and smoother if you have all your tools at hand. Some tools you will need are a clean bucket and sponge, pencil, tape measure, steel rule, level, adhesive spreader, and tile cutter.

One important lesson on how to lay ceramic tile is proper surface preparation. The finished surface of your ceramic tile floor will only look as good as the surface underneath it. After taking up the existing tile, make certain all the old adhesive has been removed and any damage to the surface is repaired. If you are laying new tile over existing tile be sure the old surface is clean. Before laying the new tile level the floor.

Next you have to find your starting point. With a chalk line, mark a line perpendicular to the entrance of the room. Starting from the entrance, lay a row of tile without adhesive along the chalk line. Be sure to use spacers to maintain a uniform distance between the tiles. Continue to the other side of the room until there is not enough space for a full tile. Lay a long, one inch thick board perpendicular to the row of tiles and then lay tiles next to the board in both directions across the room. Measure the space left along the edges of the room and decide how far to move the rows so the borders on both sides of the room are equal. Using this measurement, snap another chalk line. The starting point will be the intersection of the second line and the board.

Now you are ready to lay the tile. From the starting corner work in areas two foot square. Spread adhesive on the surface. Work the tile into the adhesive and place spacers between them to keep the tiles evenly spaced. As the tile is laid place a level on it. If the tile faces are not flush, use a rubber mallet to gently tap them into place. Continue in this manner back and forth across the room. When all the full tiles have been laid let the adhesive dry overnight. The next day you will be able to carefully walk on the tile to cut and lay the borders.

To measure the border lay a loose tile over the last full tile. Put the half-inch spacer against the wall. Lay another full tile against the spacer and even with the edges of the first tile. Mark a line across the first tile and this is your cutting line.

The easiest way to cut tile is with a tile cutter. If you do not have one a glass cutter will also work. When using a glass cutter, put a straight edge on the tile and score it once with the glass cutter. Then lay the tile on the edge of a table or workbench and snap it off. For more difficult cuts you may need to use a tile saw or tile nippers.

After the tiles are laid and the adhesive has set it is time to move on to grouting. Grout is the material that fills in the spaces between the tiles. Mix the grout and use a rubber float to apply it; working at a forty-five degree angle. Make certain the grout gets into all the spaces. Use a sponge to wipe off the excess grout from the tile, but be careful not to dig it out of the spaces as you wipe. After the grout has set you can clean off any remaining residue. You should mop the floor everyday for the first three days to help the grout cure to a solid, durable surface. After the grout has cured for a week brush on a silicone sealer.

You are now ready to enjoy your new ceramic tile floor and the feeling of satisfaction that comes from doing it yourself.

If you want to lay ceramic tile yourself and do a perfect job (or even become a professional tile setter), don’t get to work before you read this page.

Source by Lionel Astner
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