When laying a tile floor for the first time, one of the fundamental questions that many homeowners have is where to begin the layout. The tiling can, in principle, start in any part of the room; however, beginning in the room's corners, for example, will almost never result in a balanced installation. Several types of tile installations, such as those with diagonal tile patterns, should be started in the room's centre because it is the most logical place to do so. In other circumstances, on the other hand, you would select a different starting point.
The majority of do-it-yourselfers are more than capable of installing a new tile floor on their own. However, in order to do a job well, it is necessary to make thorough preparations, have an understanding of how the various tasks should be completed, and pay close attention to detail.
It's possible that the idea of tiling your walls is intimidating to you, but if you adequately prepare for the project and make use of the appropriate tools, you'll find that it's actually much simpler than you might have anticipated. If you're worried about tiling the walls of your home, you shouldn't be because we've put together this helpful guide that explains everything there is to know about wall tiling.
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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.
Multiple-Piece Tile Patterns
When tiling a floor, it's common practise to use tiles of varying sizes to create a pattern for the finished product. The patterns can be composed of two, three, four, or five tiles of varying sizes and shapes, and they are laid out in a pattern that is repeated all the way across the floor. The left-hand corner of the room, furthest away from the door, is typically where the beginning of the tile patterns that consist of multiple pieces is located. Starting in a corner allows you to begin the pattern with full tiles on a straight line and move evenly into the room. The majority of the tiles will need to be cut to fit the perimeter of the room, so starting in a corner is recommended. If this is the case, starting in the centre may make it more difficult to get the pattern moving evenly throughout the entire piece.
Diagonal Tile Layouts
The beginning of a diagonal tile pattern almost always occurs in the centre of the room or very close to the centre of the room. To create a layout for a pattern with a diagonal, simply snap a line from one corner to the opposite corner. Find the centre point of the line using the measurements you took. At the central point, you should snap a second chalk line at an angle of 90 degrees to the first. This will create four distinct sections within the space. After beginning in the room's centre, you should begin laying the tiles along one of these lines, and then proceed to lay them along the line that intersects it. The next step is to fill in the quadrants, and then move on to the room's perimeter.
Tile Within a Tile Pattern
Sometimes a tile of a different colour is used in the centre of the room to serve as a focal point, medallion, or "rug." Typically, a "surrounding border" is used to separate these tiles from the field tiles that are used to fill the rest of the room. The field tiles should be installed after the layout and installation of the decorative centre tiles and their border, respectively. The field tiles are laid from the decorative area out to the walls, or from the centre of the room outward, to ensure that there are full tiles next to the decorative area and cut tiles around the perimeter of the room. This is accomplished by laying the field tiles from the decorative area out to the walls.
You have two choices if you are laying tiles in a pattern that is straight and does not include any decorative tiles or focal areas. The first method finds the point in the middle of the wall that is furthest away from the door. This makes it so that there is a complete row of tiles visible as soon as you enter the room. The tiles that have been cut are arranged in a circular pattern around the perimeter of the room. The second approach to tiling a room partitions it into four quadrants at angles of ninety degrees, each of which is determined by lines drawn from the centre points of the walls. The cut tiles are then distributed in an even manner all the way around the room's perimeter. With this configuration, the installation process starts in the middle of the room and then moves outward from there.
Laying a New Tile Floor
There are many different kinds of floor tiles, ranging from ceramic to clay to natural stone, and the majority of them can be successfully installed over a variety of substrates, such as tile that is already there, a mortar base, plywood subflooring, or cement board. Ceramic tiles, clay tiles, and natural stone tiles are some examples.
When installing new tile on top of existing tile, the old tile and grout must be firmly attached to the subfloor first. Make use of a patching compound to fill in any spaces in the old grout as well as tiles that are broken or missing. Sandpaper should be used to create a rough surface on the old tile, which will allow the new adhesive or mortar to adhere more effectively. Wash the floor with a commercial detergent such as TSP (trisodium phosphate) before you begin tiling it. This will remove dirt, soap film, and other contaminants that could prevent the tiles from adhering properly.
Tiling over a mortar (also known as "mud" or "thin-set") base is the method of choice for professionals because it provides the initial floor with a stable and level base, which in turn produces a finished floor that is exceptionally long-lasting. Using mortar, on the other hand, is a more challenging process that calls for experience in order to properly mix the material and level it on the floor.
Tile mastic, also known as thin-set, is a type of adhesive that has already been mixed and is ready to use directly from the can. It bonds extremely well to almost any surface. Direct application to plywood or cement board is a common method of use. Cement board is a sheet material that is typically reinforced with fibreglass and is composed of cement, as the name suggests. The manufacturer provides specific screws that are used during the installation process. In the event that your tile is placed on plywood, it is recommended to use two layers of plywood with overlapping seams. A thickness of at least 1.5 centimetres (0.7 inches) is recommended for the bottom layer. Make use of screws to secure this layer to the structure of the floor. The top layer may be constructed out of plywood measuring one quarter of an inch thick or a commercial substrate designed specifically for use as flooring underlayment. This layer must also be adequately attached using screws or in accordance with the instructions provided with the product.
Lay Out the Pattern
First, take some measurements of the floor, and then use a chalk line to mark the exact centre of the floor's largest dimension. In the middle of the longest dimension of the floor, draw a second line. You can start tiling the room from the centre using your lines as a guide if you first divide the room into quadrants.
Perform a dry run to check your layout and make any necessary adjustments before applying the mastic and installing the tiles. Place along your lines a sufficient number of tiles to allow you to reach the walls in each direction. It is recommended to use plastic spacers in between each tile. Your tile supplier should be able to make recommendations regarding the appropriate side spacers for your tiles.
If the rows end with full tiles close to the walls, you might be able to avoid having to cut any of the tiles by slightly adjusting the spacing between them. Do not use pieces that are too short if the end tiles need to be cut to fit. They may have a poor appearance or will not adequately bond to the subfloor, especially in doorways where there is more foot traffic. If the end tiles need to be cut, use the longest possible pieces. In many cases, this issue can be fixed by trimming the tiles at the beginning and end of the row by the same amount. Make the necessary adjustments to the tiles on your centerline so that you end up with at least a half-tile at entryways and other areas that see a lot of foot traffic. Alternately, you could begin with a full tile at the primary entrance and let the short tiles fall at an end wall, which is where they will be less noticeable and will not be subject to foot traffic.
Make the Cuts
Tiles can be cut using a manual snap cutter or an electric wet saw. Both of these saws operate in wet environments. The use of a snap cutter is sufficient for completing smaller jobs and cutting thin tiles. A scoring wheel is used to first etch a cut line, and then a lever press is used to snap-cut the tile along this line. It has both of these features. When the edges need to be smoothed or dressed, carborundum files or stones are used instead of snap cutters because snap cutters leave a jagged edge along with the break. Tiles of all shapes and sizes, including thick paving tiles, tough ceramic tiles, delicate glass or porcelain tiles, and natural stone tiles, can be cut perfectly smooth with a wet saw, which can be rented from a hardware store. A diamond blade that has been cooled by water is used to make the cut.
If you have correctly calculated your layout, you will likely be able to cut all of the necessary tiles for row ends and corners before you start setting tiles in the mastic. This will save you time and effort. Compound cuts and tiles that need to be cut to fit while you're working can be measured and shaped as needed depending on the situation.
Apply the Mastic
When spreading the adhesive across the floor, use a trowel that has notches in it. Use a trowel with notches that are 1/4 of an inch wide for mosaics and tiles that are less than 8 inches in size. Notches ranging from 3/8 inch to 1/2 inch are necessary for larger tiles, with the exact measurement depending on the tile's size and thickness. First, begin at the layout lines you have drawn and press the mastic against the floor to ensure a strong bond. Next, place the trowel on its edge and rake the mastic to create ridges that are the same depth as the notch. Be sure your layout lines remain visible.
While you are cutting and fitting the tiles as necessary, work in an area that is about 3 to 4 feet square to prevent the mastic from drying out. If you are working with a mastic that emits strong, offensive fumes and has the potential to catch fire, you must ensure that all pilot lights are extinguished and that the working area has sufficient ventilation.
Lay the Tiles
To carefully instal the tiles into the adhesive, start at the intersection of your layout lines and work your way outward. Work outward from the centerlines towards the walls, and plan your installation in such a way that you won't have to step on or otherwise disrupt any of the tiles as you move forwards. When installing tiles, it is helpful to have two people working on the project: one person should focus on positioning and bedding the tiles, while the other person should maintain a steady supply of loose tiles, make cuts as necessary, and retrieve tools as required.
Tap and bed each tile into the mastic using a rubber mallet or hammer and woodblock. Be sure to do this in a gentle but firm manner. It is important not to press on the tiles or move them around in any way if you don't want the mastic to get into the spaces between the tiles and become compressed. If a tile breaks when it is tapped, remove the broken pieces and "but" the back of the replacement tile with a little bit of mastic before placing it in its new location.
As you work your way through the project, insert plastic spacers between each tile. Before you begin grouting the joints, you must first remove the spacers, which are simple to do because the mastic will not adhere to them. Make use of a level with a length of 4 feet or a level with a shorter length in order to check that the tile edges are aligned and that the tiles are level across their entire surface.
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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
- You should try to arrange the tiles in such a way that the number of whole tiles and the size of any cut tiles are both maximised.
- When it is impossible to avoid using tiles of an unusual size, try to position them so that they will be covered by vanities in the future or so that they are hidden from view when looking through the doorway.
- You shouldn't step on any tiles until at least 24 hours have passed since the thin-set has been applied.
- Put off until last any of the cuts that require the use of a wet saw. After that, you should rent the wet saw for the day.
- Locate the exact centre of each wall, then snap chalk lines on the floor at that point. The beginning of the tile can be located at the point where two lines meet at the roomroom'ster.
- Place a row of tiles along a straightedge that is located further than the middle of the room. For consistent joints, use tile spacers. This row establishes the dimensions for the cut tiles that run along the walls.
- Place a tile at the roomroom'ster so that its edges are flush with the chalk lines and the tile itself should be touching the lines. Take a measurement from one wall (let's call it A) to the edge of the tile that is the closest. Now proceed to the tile row, and beginning at one of the joints, measure along the row until you reach the distance you just measured, and then mark that distance. The mark indicates the width of the tile when it is placed against the wall. If the result of that measurement is less than two inches, return to the tile in the centre of the area and slide it away from wall A so that you can cut a wider tile.
Dry layout, Part II
- Measure the distance from the tile in the middle of the row to the wall on the other side of it (let's call it B), and mark this distance along the tile row. Make the necessary adjustments to the centre tile along the A-to-B line until the distances between walls A and B are identical.
- After adjusting the A-to-B line, make a mark on the tile in the centre of the room where it touches the chalk line that separates the other walls (call them C and D). Align these marks with the chalk line running from C to D. It is necessary to repeat the process of measuring and adjusting for walls C and D.
- Place a straightedge so that it is parallel to the line running from C to D and against one of the centre tiles. Put a mark on the straightedge wherever it comes into contact with a tile corner. The process of laying tile should begin with this mark as the starting point.
- Use a flush-cut saw to shave down the door casings so that the tile can slide underneath. A tile was placed on top of a piece of cardboard, and a saw was held flat against the tile (to represent the thickness of the thinset).
Spread thin-set mortar
- Put a mixer into a drill and blend the powdered thin-set with the latex additive until it has the consistency of mayonnaise. Do not add water to the mixture. Ten minutes should be enough time to let it "slake" (rest). Only mix as much thinset as you will need to use in the next two hours.
- Next to the straightedge, using the flat side of a trowel, spread a very thin layer of thin-set (also known as scratch coat) over an area that is two feet by three feet.
- Apply additional thin-set with the notched edge of the trowel before the scratch coat has a chance to dry completely. The best adhesion can be achieved by holding the trowel at a 45-degree angle to the floor, spreading the thinset in even strokes that are broad and curved, and then finishing with a pass that is straight. It is possible for air to escape as the tile is being set by combining the thin-set into furrows.
Tip: When spreading thin-set, press down hard so that the trowel makes a scraping sound; the trowtrowel'sch size should equal the tile thickness.
Set the tile
- Next to the straightedge, carefully place a tile on top of the thinset. Put pressure on the object while spreading your fingers and rotating your wrist slightly.
- Apply the same method to the installation of each tile, forming one row along the straightedge as you go. Using tile spacers ensures even joints.
- Put the straightedge somewhere else and then proceed to lay the second row of tiles next to the first one, this time using the edge of the tile as a guide. Continue to spread thin-set and set tiles in sections measuring two feet by three feet, starting in the middle of the room and working your way towards the walls. Check the squareness of the tiles every few rows by holding a framing square or an A-square along the edge of the tiles and making sure they are parallel to each other.
Tip: Consistent finger pressure (and constant practice) helps avoid lippage—where a tiletile'se is higher or lower than its neighbours.
- Using a snap cutter, make as many straight cuts as is necessary. When the waste is wider than an inch, score the tile with a single, firm stroke, and then break it by pushing down on the handle. Finally, smooth the cut edge with a rubbing stone.
- Score the tile with the snap cutter so that you can make straight cuts with a waste width of less than an inch. After that, use nibblers or a wet saw to break off pieces of the tile.
- Hold one edge of the tile against the wall and make a mark on the tile where it touches the corner. This will allow you to fit the tile around an outside corner. Draw a line with the pencil across the tile. The next step is to move the tile to the opposite side of the corner without turning it, and then mark once more where the tile meets the corner. Put an X on the piece that will be removed from the whole.
Notch the tile
- Cut the tile using a wet saw from the mark to the line, being careful not to cut past the line. Cut the tile from the mark to the line. After that, turn the tile over and cut along the line that is adjacent to the X, but stop short of the first cut you made. When you have reached the end of the cut, lift the edge that is furthest away from you to assist you in releasing the waste.
- When making curved or scribed cuts, use the wet saw to make parallel slices into the waste section, cutting all the way up to but stopping short of the line marking the cut. Then, separate the "finers" from the "nibblers" that are still left.
Fill the tile joints with grout.
- After letting the tile sit for a full 24 hours, use a margin trowel to remove any thinset that may have accumulated on the tile surface or in the joints.
- Create a batch of grout with a consistency that is slightly less thick than mayonnaise. Squeeze a little bit of water out of a sponge every time you want to add more.
- Put a handful of grout on the floor using a trowel, and then spread it out using a rubber float while holding it at a 45-degree angle to the floor. To pack grout into the joints, move the float first in a straight line along the joints, then in a diagonal direction towards the joints; work from the room's perimeter towards the interior.
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Cleaning up the grout
- After about twenty or thirty minutes, the grout should be ready to use. Before you begin washing the tile's face, it should feel firm when you touch it. To remove grout haze, use a wet sponge that has been thoroughly squeezed out and frequently rinsed in a bucket of clean water.
- Once more, wait for the grout to become cloudy, and then wipe it down with a fresh sponge. Continue in this manner until the tile is spotless.
Tip: Don' too aggressive when wiping up grout haze, or you could pull grout out of the joints.
In the United States of America, homeowners had 3.05 billion square feet of tile installed in their homes just in the previous year. The installation of floor tiles is the method most commonly used to update the appearance of a home. Tile installation that is not done properly will have a negative impact on the overall appearance of your home, regardless of the type of tile that you select. You shouldn't let this discourage you from attempting the do-it-yourself project.