How to Ceramic Tile a Floor

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  • Author Matt Morgan
  • Published June 2, 2009
  • Word count 662

Laying down a new ceramic floor can really give your home a facelift. Not only is ceramic tile attractive, it is durable and easy to clean as well. By following these simple steps, you will be enjoying a new ceramic floor in no time!

Step #1: Prepare the Floor

Depending on whether the floor you are tiling was previously tiled or carpeted, it will first need to be prepared for tiles to be laid. If there was carpet on the floor it will need to be removed along with any backing or glue. In addition, the surface will need to be made perfectly smooth and preferably dust-free. Keep in mind that the wood floor on which the tiles will lay needs to be as flat as possible. Otherwise, the tiles will not lay straight and water may puddle, which is unsightly and can be dangerous.

It is possible for ceramic tiles to be laid on top of other tiles, but only where the lower layer is in good condition with no cracks. Otherwise, the lower layer of tile will affect the new layer. For this reason, it is not recommended.

Any fasteners need to be flush with the floor and there should be no lumps, bumps or nails to compromise the integrity of the tiles. The preparation of the floor and the material used to prepare the surface for the tiles to be laid depends on the current condition of the floor. Therefore, you should research your options carefully, perhaps taking advice from the DIY shop.

Step #2: Prep Doors and Other Obstacles

Inevitably, you will have a few obstacles in your way when tiling a floor. Where a door opens into the room, whether it be a walkway door or a floor-level cupboard, you will need to trim the door bottom in order to make sure it can open smoothly and without hitting on your new tiles once they are installed.

Step #3: Get Your Trowel and Mix the Thinset

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for mixing the thinset. Just keep in mind that you should only mix as much thinset as you can use in two hours. You will also need to make sure the notch size of the trowel is the same depth as the tiles, as this gives good adhesion and also allows any air to escape after the tile is laid.

Step #4: Find the Center

You need to begin tiling from the center of the room. In order to find the centre, locate the midpoint of each wall and snap chalk lines. If this tile line bisects a unit, such as the bath or a vanity, then make sure the tile has at least 2 inches width. Otherwise, it may snap when cutting or laying and it will have a generally untidy appearance. Move the centre tile where necessary to obtain this fit. It is important, of course, to work all this out before the application of adhesive!

Step #5: Lay the Tiles

When laying your tiles, be sure to press them down ith a slight twist of the wrist. You should also use spacers in order to give a good, tidy, even fit. Make sure you don’t have ‘lippage’ – this occurs where one tile is higher than its neighbor. Even pressure when laying the tiles helps with this.

Use a tile cutter or wet saw to fit the tiles around edges and to cut them to size. Smaller cuts, such as those needed for going around pipework, can be made with hand cutters and a file.

Step #6: Finishing It Off

The tiles can set overnight, then scrape any residue of thinset from the tile surface or joints. Apply grout from the center of the room to the outside, pushing it in first in line with the joint, then diagonal to them. After grouting, let the tiles dry for at least 30 minutes and don’t be too aggressive in wiping up the mess. Otherwise, it might pull out of the joints.

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