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(This topic is also categorized under Bathrooms and Kitchens)

Tile Floor Installation


Tile floor installation is one of the most difficult home remodeling projects that a do-it-yourself'er will run into; however, with some skill and careful attention even a beginner can do a good job.

Again as with many of the other project guides we have, using a computer designing package can make this go much more smoothly. Most software packages have tile laying and design sections which make designing your new tile floor a breeze. You can test design alternatives, get a materials list, as well as tips on installation (in most packages).

You should design with your preferences for tile types and styles but also want to be aware of the options that exist. While stone and slate look beautiful, they are more expensive than ceramic and also require the surfaces be sealed after installation.

Also, be sure to select floor tiles. Wall tiles may look similar but are thinner and cannot withstand the pressure exerted when walking. Once you know what you want and have a design you being preparing the area to be tiled.

If your floor currently has linoleum that isn't too warped or damaged you can use this as the surface to lay the tiles on. Linoleum that is badly worn should be removed first. If your starting floor surface is concrete check for high and low spots; remedy these before proceeding with the tile installation. Use a small builders level to ensure a flat grade as well. High spots can be fixed using a belt or disc sander to knock the surface down to the proper level. Small bumps can be removed using a chisel.

While you cannot get the surface perfectly flat you should aim to get it within a tolerance of 1/16th of an inch difference from level. Any differences larger than this can cause your tiles to wobble after installation and wear unevenly.

If your floor is unstable or drastically uneven you can fix it using cement-fiber boards or by laying a composite spread across the floor with a wide screed tool. Once your surface is prepared you can begin by laying two strings across the center of the floor for guidelines. Then use either a chalk snap-line or a permanent marker to make guide marks on the floor.

You should dry fit your tiles before applying adhesive to avoid mistakes and to make sure that you like the design and pattern you have selected. Your tiles should be spaced in a fashion so that no less than half a tile is needed near the walls.

Some tiles come with spacers installed to make installation easier. If your tiles did not come with spacers installed it's easy and cheap to get plastic or rubber spacers to ensure proper width of gaps for grout. The spacing should not exceed 1/32nd of an inch between your tiles.

Once you are satisfied with the look of your design and the spacing use a notched trowl to apply adhesive to the surface. Try to create long, low ridges across the floor. Lay the tiles down at an angle, then rotate and seat the tile into the adhesive bed. Rotate each tile back and forth slightly to get a good contact with the adhesive.

After you have several rows of tile laid you should use a rubber mallet and surface checking tool to adjust the levels of the tiles to be level with the floor. After all of the tiles are laid and the adhesive has had a chance to partially cure it's time to add the grout.

You can easy grout application by using a tube with a nozzle attached. Lay long beads of adhesive and wipe the excess material away before it dries. Once done rinse the excess and allow several days, up to a week, for the adhesives and grout to dry well.

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