One of the first questions many homeowners have when laying a tile floor is how to arrange the tiles. In theory, the tiling could begin anywhere in the space, but starting in the room's corners, for example, almost never results in a balanced installation. Installing tiles in certain patterns—such as a diagonal pattern—should begin in the room's center. On the other hand, you might go in a different direction in some cases.
Do-it-yourselfers can usually handle installing a tile floor without professional help. To be successful, however, you need to put in the time and effort required for proper planning and execution of the various steps involved in the job.
You may be intimidated by the prospect of tiling your walls, but with the right preparation and equipment, you'll find that the task is much easier than you anticipated. If the thought of tiling your home's walls fills you with dread, you need not worry; we have compiled a comprehensive guide that covers every aspect of the process.
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Multiple-Piece Tile Patterns
Floors are frequently tiled with tiles of varying sizes to create a design. Tiles of two, three, four, or five different sizes and shapes are arranged in a pattern that is repeated across the entire floor. Typically, the first piece of a multi-piece tile pattern can be found in the far left corner of the room, opposite the entrance. If you begin the pattern in a corner, you can lay out your tiles in a straight line and gradually fill in the room. A corner is a good place to begin because most of the tiles will need to be cut to fit the room's perimeter. If that's the case, it might be trickier to get the pattern flowing consistently across the whole thing if you begin in the center.
Diagonal Tile Layouts
Typically, the starting point of a diagonal tile pattern is located in the exact or relatively precise centre of the room. Drawing a diagonal pattern's layout is as easy as snapping a line from one corner to the other. Using your measuring skills, locate the line's geometric center. An additional chalk line, snapped at a right angle to the first at the point of intersection, completes the diagram. With this setup, there will be four separate areas within the larger room. To lay the tiles, start in the middle of the room and work your way outward along one of the lines, continuing to lay them along the line that crosses it. After finishing the corners, move on to the room's exterior.
Tile Within a Tile Pattern
Tiles of a contrasting hue are sometimes used to create a rug-like medallion in the room's center. These tiles are typically set apart from the field tiles used to cover the rest of the floor by a "surrounding border." The field tiles should go in after the decorative centre tiles and their border have been laid out and set up. So that there are complete tiles next to the decorative area and cut tiles around the room's perimeter, field tiles are typically laid from the decorative area out to the walls (or from the room's centre outward). For this, the field tiles are laid out from the focal point towards the perimeter of the room.
If you want to lay tiles in a straight pattern without any decorative tiles or focal areas, you have two options. The first technique identifies the exact centre of the wall that is the greatest distance from the entrance. As a result, the first thing you'll notice when you walk into the room is a full row of tiles. Cut tiles are laid out in a ring around the room's edge. Using lines drawn from the middle points of the walls, the second method divides the room into four equal quadrants at right angles. The tiles are then evenly spaced around the room's border. For this set up, we recommend beginning the installation in the centre of the room and working our way to the edges.
Laying a New Tile Floor
Ceramic, clay, and natural stone tiles are just a few of the options available for flooring, and the vast majority of these materials can be successfully installed over preexisting tile, mortar, plywood, or cement board. Tiles made of ceramic, clay, or natural stone are just a few examples.
The old tile and grout must be securely fastened to the subfloor before the new tile can be laid on top. Use a patching compound to replace cracked or missing tiles and to fill in any spaces left by the old grout. For the new adhesive or mortar to stick better to the old tile, you should rough up the surface with some sandpaper. Before you start tiling, you should clean the floor using a commercial detergent like TSP (trisodium phosphate). This will get rid of grime, soap film, and anything else that could compromise the tiles' ability to stick.
Professionals prefer to lay tiles over a mortar (also known as "mud" or "thin-set") base because it creates a stable and level surface for the tiles to adhere to and results in a floor that lasts much longer than other methods. To properly mix mortar and level it on the floor, however, is a more difficult process that necessitates experience.
Tile mastic, also called thin-set, is an adhesive that doesn't require any mixing before use. You can use it on just about any surface and it will stick like crazy. One common method of application is directly to plywood or cement board. Cement board is a type of sheet material that, as the name implies, is made of cement and is often reinforced with fibre glass. Screws used in the assembly and installation are provided by the maker. If you must use plywood, it is best to use two layers with overlapping seams for your tile installation. The bottom layer should be at least 1.5 centimetres (0.7 inches) in thickness. Use screws to attach this subfloor layer to the underlying subfloor. One quarter-inch plywood or a commercial substrate made for use as flooring underlayment can be used to construct the top layer. This layer also needs to be securely fastened using screws or otherwise adhering to the product's guidelines.
Lay Out the Pattern
Begin by measuring the room, and then draw a chalk line down the middle of the largest measurement to pinpoint the exact centre of the floor. Make a second line down the centre of the room's longest side. If you first divide the room into quarters, you can use your lines as guides to begin tiling from the centre.
Before applying the mastic and installing the tiles, conduct a dry run to check the layout and make any necessary adjustments. Spread out enough tiles along your lines to allow you to touch the walls in each direction. Use plastic separators between tiles, as they are highly recommended. It is recommended that you ask your tile provider for advice on the best tile side spacers to use.
You may be able to avoid having to cut any tiles by slightly adjusting the spacing between them if the rows end with full tiles close to the walls. If you need to cut the end tiles to make them fit, don't use pieces that are too short. At high-traffic entryways, they may not hold up to the wear and tear of foot traffic and end up looking bad or not bonding properly to the subfloor. If you need to trim the tiles at the ends, do so with the longest possible pieces. If you trim the tiles at the beginning and the end of the row by the same amount, you should have no more problems with this. Modify your centerline tiles as needed to ensure at least half a tile is exposed at doorways and other high-traffic spots. Instead of starting with a half-tile at the main entrance, you could start with a full-tile there and let the short tiles fall at an end wall, where they won't be seen as much and won't be subject to foot traffic.
Make the Cuts
A snap cutter or wet saw, either manual or electric, can be used to cut tiles. You can use either of these saws in damp settings. Tiny tasks, such as cutting thin tiles, can be finished with a snap cutter. Tiles are scored with a wheel and then snapped with a press along the etched line. It possesses these two qualities. Because snap cutters leave a jagged edge along with the break, they aren't used for smoothing or dressing edges, which is why carborundum files and stones are used instead. Wet saws are available for rent at most home improvement stores, and they make quick work of cutting tile of any material, thickness, and type, whether you're working with thick paving tiles, durable ceramics, delicate glass, porcelain, or natural stone. An iced-down diamond blade is used to make the incision.
Before you begin setting tiles in the mastic, you should be able to cut all of the tiles you'll need for row ends and corners if you've done your math right. You won't have to expend as much energy doing this. While you're on the job, you can use measuring tools and shape tiles as needed to make compound cuts and custom-fit spaces.
Apply the Mastic
Use a notched trowel to evenly distribute the adhesive across the floor. For mosaics and tiles smaller than 8 inches in size, use a trowel with notches no more than 1/4 inch wide. Larger tiles typically require notches between 3/8 and 1/2 inches in depth, with the precise size and depth dependent on the tile itself. To begin, start at one of the layout lines you drew and press the mastic firmly against the floor. Then, using the slanted side of the trowel, rake the mastic to make ridges of the same height as the notch. Maintain the legibility of your layout lines.
Keep the mastic from drying out by working in an area no larger than 3 to 4 feet square while you cut and fit the tiles as needed. Working with a mastic that gives off strong, offensive fumes and could catch fire necessitates turning off all pilot lights and providing plenty of ventilation.
Lay the Tiles
The tiles should be carefully set into the adhesive, beginning at the point where your layout lines intersect and working outward. Plan your installation so that you don't have to step on any tiles as you move outward from the centerlines towards the walls. It's best to have two people working on a tile installation project, with one person focusing on positioning and bedding the tiles and the other person keeping a steady supply of loose tiles, making cuts as needed, and retrieving tools as needed.
One tile at a time, use a rubber mallet or hammer and woodblock to tap and bed it into the mastic. You should do this in a kind but firm way. If you don't want the mastic to get compressed in the spaces between the tiles, it's important not to press on or move the tiles in any way. If a tile breaks when you tap it, pick up the shards, and then "but" some mastic onto the back of the replacement tile before setting it in place.
Plastic spacers should be placed between each tile as you progress through the project. Since the mastic will not stick to the spacers, removing them is a simple first step before grouting the joints. Make sure the tile edges are lined up and the tiles are level all over by using a level with a length of 4 feet or a shorter length.
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Grout the Joints
Before removing the spacers and grouting the joints, you should give the tile mastic sufficient time to harden, at least one day. Premixed grout is not only simpler to work with than bulk grout, but it also comes in a wide variety of colours that can complement or contrast with the tiles you have installed. Because grout can leave stains or adhere strongly to porous or unsealed tile, your tile distributor may advise you to apply a sealer to the tile faces before you start grouting. This is because grout can leave stains or adhere strongly to these surfaces.
To prevent the grout from drying out while you work, mix it in small batches that can be applied within a quarter of an hour at the most. To force the grout into the joints, you can use a float made of rubber. Be certain that the grout completely fills the voids between the tiles (Image 3). While you work, remove excess grout from the tile faces by wiping them with a coarse cloth or a damp sponge. However, be careful not to wet the grout, as this will cause it to become brittle. To prevent the still-fresh grout from being pulled out of the grooves, wipe in a diagonal pattern across the joints.
After the grout has been allowed to completely dry, first clean the face of the tiles with a release agent to remove any grout haze, and then apply a grout sealer in accordance with the instructions provided by the manufacturer.
Steps on How to Lay Tile
Tiling a Floor Overview
- Your goal should be to arrange the tiles so that the size of any cut tiles and the number of whole tiles are both maximised.
- If you have to use tiles of an unusual size because there's no other choice, put them where they won't be seen once you put in vanities or where the doorway won't be in the line of sight.
- Don't walk on the tiles for at least 24 hours after the thin-set has been applied.
- Any cuts that will need a wet saw should be saved for last. The next step is to book the wet saw for the day.
- Draw a chalk line down the middle of the floor from the centre of each wall. The corner of the room where two lines meet is the starting point of the tile.
- Instead of placing them in a circle in the centre of the room, line them up along a straightedge on the opposite wall. A tile spacer is a tool used to keep tiles at a consistent distance apart. Once the measurements in this row are finalized, the tiles along the walls will fit perfectly.
- One way to hide the chalk lines is to place a tile in the corner of the room so that its edge is flush with the lines and the tile itself is touching the chalk. Measuring from one wall (A) to the edge of the nearest tile will tell you how far apart the tiles should be placed. Then, bring the measuring tape to the tile row and begin at one of the joints, working your way along until you reach the predetermined length.
- The line represents the width of the tile when it is a perfect fit against the wall. Return to the tile in the centre of the area, and slide it away from wall A if the measurement is less than two inches; this will make room for a wider tile to be cut.
Dry layout, Part II
- We'll call the distance we gathered from the tile in the middle of the row to the opposite wall (B) a marking along the tile row. If you move the tile in the middle, you can make the distance between walls A and B uniform.
- To do this, once the A-to-B line is straight, locate the point on the tile in the middle of the room where the A-to-B line crosses the chalk line separating the walls. Get the dots to line up exactly with the C-to-D chalk line. Walls C and D will require the same precise measurements and fine-tuning.
- If you hold a straightedge up to one of the centre tiles, you can get it perfectly aligned so that it's perpendicular to the line that runs between points C and D. Every time the straightedge comes into contact with a tile corner, a mark needs to be made. With this point, we can officially begin tiling.
- Tile can easily be installed around door frames with the help of a flush-cut saw. The saw blade was pressed flat against a tile that was placed on top of some cardboard.
Spread thin-set mortar
- Using a drill fitted with a mixer, combine the powdered thin-set and the latex additive until the mixture reaches a mayonnaise-like consistency. Don't dilute the mixture with water. Ten minutes of "sitting" time should do the trick. Thinset should only be mixed in amounts equal to what will be used in the next two hours.
- Apply thin-set (also called scratch coat) in an area two feet by three feet in size, using the flat side of a trowel, next to the straightedge.
- Use the notched edge of the trowel to apply more thin-set before the scratch coat dries. Thinset should be spread using even strokes that are broad and curved, and then finished with a straight pass, with the trowel held at a 45-degree angle to the floor for optimal adhesion. Making furrows in the thin-set allows air to escape as the tile is being set.
Set the tile
- Set a tile on the thinset next to the straightedge. Press down on the object with your fingers spread and your wrist rotated a quarter turn.
- Make one row along the straightedge as you go with the tile installation process. Having uniformly spaced joints is much easier to achieve with tile spacers.
- Put the straightedge away and continue laying the tiles for the second row next to the first, this time aligning them along the tile's edge. Spread thin-set and instal tiles in two-by-three-foot sections, beginning in the room's centre and working your way to the walls. Every few rows, you should check the tiles' squareness by holding a framing square or an A-square along one edge and making sure it's parallel to the other.
- If more than a few straight cuts are required, a snap cutter is your tool of choice. The waste must be wider than an inch for a single, firm stroke to score the tile before breaking it by applying pressure to the handle. Finally, use a rubbing stone to polish the cut edge.
- With the tile scored for the snap cutter, you can make clean cuts with a waste width of less than an inch. Then, cut the tiles into smaller pieces with nibblers or a wet saw.
- Tiles can be measured by holding one edge against a wall and making a mark where it meets the corner. You can now tile over an exterior corner. Using the pencil, make a line that spans the tile. After that, you'll have to slide the tile across the corner without turning it and make another mark at the point where the tile meets the corner. Mark the part that will be cut out with an X.
Notch the tile
- Take a wet saw and carefully cut along the line, stopping short of the mark. Remove the tile from the wall between the two marks. Turn the tile over and make another cut along the line next to the X, stopping short of the first cut you made. Once you've made it to the end of the cut, lift the edge that's farthest from you to help you throw away the remnants.
- When using a wet saw to make a curved or scribed cut, the slices must be perpendicular to one another and cut all the way up to, but not past, the line denoting the cut. Then, sort out the remaining "finers" from the "nibblers."
Fill the tile joints with grout.
- Once the tile has sat for 24 hours, use a margin trowel to scrape away any excess thinset from the tile's surface and the joints.
- Make a batch of grout that is just a little runnier than mayonnaise. If you need more water, you have to squeeze some out of the sponge each time.
- Using the trowel, dump some grout onto the floor, and then, holding the rubber float at a 45-degree angle, smooth it out. The joints can be packed with grout by moving the float first in a straight line alongside the joints, then in a diagonal direction towards the joints, and working from the room's perimeter into the interior.
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Cleaning up the grout
- Grout should be usable after waiting twenty to thirty minutes. The tile's face should feel firm when touched before any washing is done. Using a wet, thoroughly squeezed out sponge that has been rinsed in a bucket of clean water several times is the best method for removing grout haze.
- It's time to wait for the grout to get cloudy again, and then clean it with a new sponge. To get the tile completely clean, just keep doing this.
The most common method used to update the look of a home is the installation of floor tiles. Even if you choose the most beautiful tile for your home, improper installation will ruin the look of the entire project. This shouldn't stop you from trying your hand at the DIY task.
If you want to lay your tiles in a specific pattern, like a diagonal, you should start in the middle of the room and work your way outward. The tiles can be laid out in a straight line if the pattern is started in a corner. The majority of tile floors are simple enough for a do-it-yourselfer to instal. Just snap a line from corner to corner to outline the tiles for your diagonal tile pattern. The second strategy involves drawing lines in the middle of the room to create four equal sections.
The first method locates the wall's exact centre relative to its greatest distance from the doorway. Expert tile installers typically begin with a mortar (or "mud" or "thin-set") base before installing tiles. In doing so, you ensure a solid and even base for the tiles to adhere to. However, it is much more challenging to properly mix mortar and then level it on the floor. Inspect the layout in a dry run before putting down the mastic and tiling the area.
The use of plastic spacers between tiles is strongly suggested. Adjust your centerline tiles so that there is always at least half of a tile showing in high-traffic areas. Cut tiles with a snap cutter or wet saw (manual or electric). It's not recommended to use a snap cutter for breaking or slicing anything because the resulting ragged edge isn't conducive to further smoothing or dressing. You can rent wet saws from most hardware and home improvement stores.
Tiles should be carefully set into the adhesive, beginning at the point where your layout lines intersect and working outward. It is important to plan your installation so that you do not step on any tiles as you work your way to the edges. Unsealed or porous tile may be permanently stained by grout. Detailed instructions for installing a tile floor. To prevent the grout from drying out while you work, it is applied thin-set style.
The rubber float can be used to press the grout into the spaces between the tiles. The appropriate tile spacing can be determined by taking a measurement from a wall (A) to the edge of the nearest tile. If you move the tile in the middle, you can make the distance between walls A and B uniform. The same meticulous measuring and fine-tuning will be required for Walls C and D. How to instal a door frame with a flush-cut saw.
A thin-set and latex additive mixture, about the consistency of mayonnaise, makes it simple to instal tile around door frames. Having uniformly spaced joints is much easier to achieve with tile spacers.
- One of the first questions many homeowners have when laying a tile floor is how to arrange the tiles.
- Installing tiles in certain patterns—such as a diagonal pattern—should begin in the room's center.
- Typically, the first piece of a multi-piece tile pattern can be found in the far left corner of the room, opposite the entrance.
- If you begin the pattern in a corner, you can lay out your tiles in a straight line and gradually fill in the room.
- Typically, the starting point of a diagonal tile pattern is located in the exact or relatively precise centre of the room.
- For this, the field tiles are laid out from the focal point towards the perimeter of the room.
- The old tile and grout must be securely fastened to the subfloor before the new tile can be laid on top.
- Make a second line down the centre of the room's longest side.
- If you first divide the room into quarters, you can use your lines as guides to begin tiling from the centre.
- Modify your centerline tiles as needed to ensure at least half a tile is exposed at doorways and other high-traffic spots.
- A snap cutter or wet saw, either manual or electric, can be used to cut tiles.
- Working with a mastic that gives off strong, offensive fumes and could catch fire necessitates turning off all pilot lights and providing plenty of ventilation.
- Before removing the spacers and grouting the joints, you should give the tile mastic sufficient time to harden, at least one day.
- To force the grout into the joints, you can use a float made of rubber.
- While you work, remove excess grout from the tile faces by wiping them with a coarse cloth or a damp sponge.
- After the grout has been allowed to completely dry, first clean the face of the tiles with a release agent to remove any grout haze, and then apply a grout sealer in accordance with the instructions provided by the manufacturer.
- Once the measurements in this row are finalized, the tiles along the walls will fit perfectly.
- One way to hide the chalk lines is to place a tile in the corner of the room so that its edge is flush with the lines and the tile itself is touching the chalk.
- Measuring from one wall (A) to the edge of the nearest tile will tell you how far apart the tiles should be placed.
- The line represents the width of the tile when it is a perfect fit against the wall.
- We'll call the distance we gathered from the tile in the middle of the row to the opposite wall (B) a marking along the tile row.
- If you move the tile in the middle, you can make the distance between walls A and B uniform.
- To do this, once the A-to-B line is straight, locate the point on the tile in the middle of the room where the A-to-B line crosses the chalk line separating the walls.
- Get the dots to line up exactly with the C-to-D chalk line.
- Tile can easily be installed around door frames with the help of a flush-cut saw.
- Use the notched edge of the trowel to apply more thin-set before the scratch coat dries.
- Set the tile Set a tile on the thinset next to the straightedge.
- Spread thin-set and instal tiles in two-by-three-foot sections, beginning in the room's centre and working your way to the walls.
Tiles Floor FAQs
It's always advisable to start tiling your grid in the centre of the wall, as it's easier to make sure your pattern is symmetrical. It also means any half-tiles you may need can go at the end of each row and will be of matching size.
For flooring, Vitrified tiles are the best bet since they are durable and can withstand heavy traffic. For walls, you can choose either ceramic or porcelain tiles as they are non-porous or do not absorb stains.
Instead of choosing different tile colors, go for different shapes instead. Select two tile designs in the same color and use the grout lines to create patterns. To add more detail to the tiles, choose a grout color that contrasts with the tile. For instance, choose white subway tiles and black grout.
Do you need to tile behind a toilet? No, tiles are only necessary where, because of damp or splashes, the wall must be protected from water ingress.
A small bathroom can actually benefit from a large tile. With fewer grout lines the walls and floor are less cluttered and the room visually expands.