How To Install Floor Tile
Learn how to install floor tile! Tips and hints to achieve a proffesional look, without the cost of a professional installation.
Installing floor tile is a job almost anyone can do and is a great way to improve the look of a room. Tile provides easy cleaning and a crisp cool look. If children or pets will be using the room, it saves on wear and tear on you, as well as on your floors. Floor tile comes in many colors and styles from smooth to textured, self-stick to glue it yourself. You can match any décor with your floor tile. Decide upon what tile you want to use, measure the area to be tiled and get ready to have some fun.
The first step is to clean the floor as completely as possible. The preparation is a very important part of achieving a professional result. Any small rocks, dust, moisture etc. will cause your tile to either have a lump in it, or worse, not stick properly. If you are removing old tile, now is the time to do it. Remove all baseboards and, if you are going to be reusing them, store them flat for later. If not, dispose of them. If needed sand any glue from previous tile to create a flat smooth, clean surface. Sweep the floor, then mop, and after it is dry vacuum with a good vacuum and a clean bag or filter. Don't be surprised as you go it you find that your floor has grown dust and rocks, pick them out as you find them, and carry on.
Check to see if you have any uneven spots on the floor. Dips or hills will make tiling more difficult. Small shallow dips can be worked around, but large, or deep ones will need to be filled, bumps will need to be leveled. Again sweep, mop and vacuum your floor.
Next, mark the place for your first tile. You will not be starting at a corner since you will want partial tiles to land on all walls. Mark the center of the room. Using a chalk line, snap a straight line to a wall and then another at 90 degrees to the first. This will mark your first 4 tiles.
Take a good look at your tile; most have a direction. It will not matter which direction you put your tile in, but keep it consistent through out the room. It is frequently easier to determine the grain direction from the bottom of the tile. You can create subtle patterns by alternating the tile direction.
Using a trowel put glue down in an area about two feet square, Wait a few minutes for the glue to get tacky, and place your first tile matching your chalk line on two sides. You want to make sure that you don't use too much glue; more is not better in this case, your tile will not stick better and you will have a large mess to clean up when you are finished. When you push your tile down if the glue comes more than halfway up the side of the tile you have too much. Place your second tile next to your first again matching your chalk lines; make sure that your tiles are lined up. Apply more glue and continue with the next two tiles. You will now have a 2-foot square area on the floor that has been tiled.
Choose one of your chalk lines to work down (I usually suggest one working towards or near a door). Spread your glue in two to four foot areas at a time, otherwise you will have too large an area to work with, and glue will end up everywhere, or worse will become too tacky to make adjustments if you need to. Keep your tile edges lined up and push your tile into the one just laid, if needed tap with a rubber mallet to keep the tiles tight together. When you get to the wall and can't place a full size tile go back to the center and work back down. You will do the edge (partial) tiles last.
As you are laying tile, you may notice a few tiles with chipped edges, flaws in the surface, or cracks. Set those tiles aside; you will be using them when you finish at the walls, since you won't be using whole tiles, you can use the portion of the tile that is not flawed.
Well the majority of the floor is done; all you have left is the edges. You will need a sharp utility knife, and plenty of spare blades. If the air temperature is cold, you may also want a blow dryer or space heater. Warmed tile is easier to cut and less likely to crack or shatter. If you have to warm the tile, be cautious since the tile will get very warm very quickly.
To cut the tile place the tile over the last tile before the wall and use a straight edge cut a line matching where the tiles start there overlap. In corners, you will of course have to make two cuts. You want to match the partial tile up to the whole tile edges. No staggered seams here please.
Replace your baseboard, and paint it if needed. The next part is harder, but for the average person not too difficult. You will need to remove any excess glue that has ended up on the top of the tile. You can try using acetone, but take care that it will not damage the tile. The most effective method is good old-fashioned elbow grease. Scrub until the excess glue is gone.
If you want a more finished look, you can use a good commercial sealer that will help protect your tile from damage as well as giving your floor a finished look. If at all possible keep traffic to a minimum for at least 48 hours on your tile. This will give the glue a chance to dry and prevent the tiles from shifting.
Your floor is done, follow the tile manufactures directions on maintenance and you will have a floor that should last for many years.