How To Install Floor Tile
These tips will help you learn how to install tile on walls or floors and even replace broken tiles when necessary.
Tile, whether ceramic or vinyl, can add a whole new dimension to a room. These tips will help you learn to install tile on walls or floors and even teach to replace broken tiles when necessary. Both vinyl and ceramic tiles come in a variety of colors and patterns. Ceramic tile can also be purchases in a multitude of shapes and sizes while vinyl tile, which is much more pliable, can easily be cut to fit anywhere. Ceramic tile can be cut as well, but is more difficult due to its thickness and the consistency of its make up.
Most commonly ceramic tiles come in size of 1, 4 2\4, 6, 8 and 12 square inches. They can be purchased in glazed, unglazed or mat finishes. Glazed tiles are better for walls while unglazed and mat glazed are better used on floors. All unglazed tile will need to be coated with a waterproof sealant before using. Some ceramic tiles come on pre-spaced backing to make installation easier and are best used on uniform surfaces. Once you have chosen the area you are going to tile you should begin by measuring the area. When you go to choose your tile, ask the sales person or dealer the number of tiles you will need and about the proper adhesive to use. The surface where you plan to lay your tile should be level and firm. It can be plywood or concrete but if the concrete is uneven you should lay a layer or mortar to smooth it. Be sure if you have any loose or springy wallboard or sub-floor that you make sure it is securely nailed before you begin. Any areas that are rotted out or disfigured in any way should have 3\8 inch exterior plywood nailed to it to supply a firm surface.
When you are ready to lay your ceramic tile, remember that the first row is the most crucial. If you are putting the tile on a wall around a bathtub you should draw a line the height of the tile above the bathtub rim. Tap tacks at each end of the line and tie a chalked string to each tack. Gently pull the string toward you and release it with a snap against the wall. Compare the line you have drawn with the chalked line to be sure your line is level. Then mark on a yardstick lines that are the width of your tiles. To find a starting point for your tiles shift the stick left and right to be sure the smaller end tile pieces will be equal in size. Going back to the line you have drawn, mark the width of each tile and then using your chalk string snap a vertical chalk line at each full tile end to make a squared off area for each tile.
You can start at either vertical line and using a notched edge trowel, spread the adhesive evenly on the bottom area of the square area. Check your adhesive package to be sure you are doing this as is specified by the package. After you have pressed the bottom half of the wall tile gently into place, apply adhesive to the top half and do the same. Entirely cover the squared center area before you begin doing the smaller end pieces. When you buy your tile, talk to the clerk about spacers. These are tiny removable plastic pieces that can be inserted at the top and bottom of each tile to insure a perfectly even space between the tiles when you plan to apply grout. If you find that you need to cut a piece of ceramic tile to fit the end areas you can do this by drawing a line on the top part of the tile with a grease pencil. Using a glass cutter, score the line and place over a pencil with the scored line on top. Press on both halves until the line snaps. If the piece you are cutting has a curved line you should mark and score the line, then use needle nose pliers or nippers to remove the bits at the edge until the curve is clean.
When your wall is completely tiled, you will need to allow the adhesive to dry for two full days before preparing to apply the grout. Trim away any excess adhesive between the tiles using your fingers and clean adhesive from the surface of the tile with a damp sponge. For the best results you should wait one more day after doing this and before applying grout to the grooves. When the adhesive is cured press the grout paste into each joint using a rubber squeegee. Most grout comes in a water soluble powder form that will need to be mixed by the directions on the container. Allow the grout to dry for 72 hours and then coat it with a silicone sealant. When this has dried or even before you have applied it any excess grout that has gotten on your tiles can be removed with a damp sponge.
To apply ceramic tile to a floor you will need to snap your first line from the middle of the doorsill to the opposite wall. This line should be marked with the tile widths leaving a 1\16 inch space between each tile. When you reach the edge you should mark off the last full tile and nail a room width wooden batten 90 degrees to the original line. When laying floor tiles you will need to start at the three foot square area within the batten corner. Apply your adhesive as you did with the bathroom tiles. When you have pressed down each tile insert a spacer. The smaller edge tiles should be applies last and the floor should be treated in the same manner as a tiled wall, right down to the grout. If one of your tiles becomes damaged or breaks simply dig out the grout around that tile with a putty knife. Tap a cold chisel lightly but firmly on one corner of the tile until the tile breaks. Use the chisel to pry out the broken bits and then scrape off the old adhesive with a putty knife. Use a stiff brush to brush the area clean and then spread adhesive on the back of the replacement tile. Set the new tile flush with the surface of the old tiles, the allow to cure before applying grout and sealant.
Vinyl tiles are much simpler to work with. Most can be installed over any smooth, solid, dry, clean surface that has not been waxed. Most vinyl tile has an adhesive backing covered by paper that can be easily peeled away. In a case where you are attempting to cover a vinyl tiled area with more tile, it is wise to sand the surface of the old tile for the best results. To find the number of tiles you will need to do a room you can multiply the areas length by its width. Count a partial foot as a full foot when measuring. In this case, your chalk line should divide the room in half in both width and length. Then lay the full tiles within these lines, shifting the line six inches if the wall tile is under four inches. Start with two tiles at the junction of your chalk lines and work outward to form a pyramid. When you are using non-adhesive tiles use a notched trowel to apply the adhesive before pressing each tile in place. Each tile should be set straight down since sliding tends to push up the adhesive. You can use a rolling pin to press the tiles down or a rented press which can be found at most rental stores.