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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 this fact. Some projects are relatively simple to do, even for the inexperienced. In this article, we will 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 particularly suitable for kitchens, bathrooms and entrances as they are easy to clean.
The first step in starting your ceramic tile project is choosing your tile. Deciding which tile you like best will probably be the hardest part of the project. Other materials you will need are tile adhesive, grout, tile spacers, and prep products if needed. Talk to the sales associate at the store where you buy your tile. It will be a good source of information on how to lay ceramic tiles.
Next, gather all the necessary tools before you begin. The project will go faster and smoother if you have all the tools at hand. Some tools you will need are a clean bucket and sponge, pencil, tape measure, steel ruler, level, adhesive spreader and tile cutter.
An important lesson in how to lay ceramic tiles is proper surface preparation. The finished surface of your ceramic tile floor will look as good as the surface beneath it. After removing the existing tile, make sure all old adhesive is removed and any damage to the surface is repaired. If you are installing new tile over existing tile, make sure the old surface is clean. Before laying the new tile, level the floor.
Then you need to find your starting point. With a chalk line, mark a line perpendicular to the entrance of the room. Starting at the entrance, lay a row of glueless tiles along the chalk line. Be sure to use spacers to keep 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, 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 you will move the rows so that the borders on both sides of the room are even. Using this measurement, snap another chalk line. The starting point will be the intersection of the second line and the table.
Now you are ready to lay the tile. From the starting corner work in areas two square feet. Spread the glue on the surface. Work the tile into the adhesive and place spacers between them to keep the tiles even. 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 this way back and forth across the room. After all the full tiles have been laid, let the glue dry overnight. The next day you will be able to carefully walk the tile to cut and place the borders.
To measure the border, place a loose tile over the last full tile. Place the spacer half an inch against the wall. Place another full tile against the spacer and even with the edges of the first tile. Mark a line along the first board and this is your cut line.
The easiest way to cut tiles is with a tile cutter. If you don’t have one, a glass cutter will work too. When using a glass cutter, place a straight edge on the plate and score once with the glass cutter. Then place the plate on the edge of a table or workbench and snap it. For more difficult cuts, you may need to use a tile saw or tile saw.
Once the tiles have been laid and the adhesive has set, it’s time to move on to the joints. Grout is the material that fills the spaces between the tiles. Mix the grout and use a rubber float to apply it; working at a forty-five degree angle. Make sure the grout gets into all the spaces. Use a sponge to wipe excess grout from the tile, but be careful not to dig it out of the gaps as you wipe. Once the grout has hardened, you can clean up any residue left behind. You should mop the floor every day for the first three days to help the grout cure to a hard, durable surface. After the grout has dried for a week, coat it with a silicone sealant.
Now you are ready to enjoy your new ceramic tile floor and the feeling of satisfaction that comes with doing it yourself.
If you want to lay ceramic tiles yourself and do a perfect job (or even become a professional tiler), don’t go to work before reading this page.
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