Ceramic & Porcelain Tile Installation – What To Expect
When thinking about types of flooring, it is important to understand the room and its usage before purchasing the flooring material for the room. In many cases, homeowners use floor tile for kitchens and bathroom floors. These tiles have many types of stone, ranging from marble to travertine to slate, but they generally fall under the ceramic or porcelain categories. After selecting and purchasing the tiles, the next step is Ceramic Tile Installation into the room of choice.
Ceramic tile installation is broken down into 4 phases:
- Setting Up
- Spreading Adhesive, Laying Tiles
Planning and Preparing the Space
For planning, you have to understand the material of which the existing floor is made. Plywood makes this process easier, but in most cases, you may have to remove the base trim and the particleboard more typically found in flooring. This step is so that you can replace the particle board with plywood. One tool that will help remove the board is a Skil saw.
After replacing the particleboard, you should inspect the space, so it is attached to the floor joists. At this point, the floor is ready for the leveling compound. You will need a backer board made of fiberglass or cement, sized at 3 by 5 feet. This is so that the tile does not pop off.
At this point, you should have already measured the room size and distance of opposing walls. These measurements let you know the number of tiles you need to purchase. If not done so already, you can also determine the tile sizes and patterns for the space. You should have 15% more tile than the square footage measured, since a lot of the tile becomes cutoffs.
The last step in planning is to make sure that the entire surface is smooth. It is best to use a floor leveling compound to float out any divots, holes, or differences in subflooring height.
Setting Up the Space
Now that planning is done, you will need to find the center point of the room. This can be done by measuring each wall to see the respective distances. Be sure to rehearse laying out the tiles starting at the center point. Place tiles in a straight line towards a wall, leaving a small space between the tiles. Repeat this process as many times as necessary, based on the room layout.
In some cases, you will have to drill holes in the tiles for items such as radiator pipes or bath pipes. Once you’ve rehearsed all the tile placements and finalized measurements, it is ready to lay the adhesive.
Spreading Adhesive, Laying Tiles
Spreading adhesive is a critical step in the tile installation process that ensures a strong bond between the tiles and the surface. Before you begin installing tile flooring, make sure you have clean water available for mixing the adhesive to the proper consistency. The type of adhesive you use depends on the type of tile you are installing. For example, ceramic or porcelain tiles typically require thin-set mortar, while natural stone tiles may need specialized adhesive.
Before applying the adhesive, it’s important to prepare the tile surface. Clean the surface thoroughly, ensuring it is free of debris and contaminants, and let it dry completely. This helps to create a clean and receptive surface for the adhesive.
To maintain consistent spacing between the tiles, use tile spacers. These small plastic devices help ensure even grout lines and proper alignment. Choose the appropriate size of tile spacers based on your project requirements.
Creating guidelines is essential for accurate tile installation. Use chalk lines to mark straight lines on the surface, serving as reference points for laying the tiles. Measure and mark the layout carefully to achieve the desired tile placement.
Once the adhesive is spread, it’s time to lay the tiles and proceed with grouting. Depending on your project’s needs, you may need to cut tiles to fit specific areas. Utilize a tile cutter or snap cutter for clean and precise cuts. Tile cutters are ideal for various tile materials, while snap cutters are commonly used for straight cuts, particularly with ceramic or porcelain tiles.
Consider the size of the tile and the layout when determining the appropriate grout line width. Larger tiles may require wider grout lines to accommodate potential expansion or contraction. Maintain consistency in the grout line width throughout the installation for a cohesive appearance.
When installing tiles at corners or edges, cutting them at a 45-degree angle creates a polished and professional look. Use a tile cutter or snap cutter to achieve precise cuts at this angle, ensuring a seamless corner or edge installation.
After the tiles are laid, it’s time to apply grout. Use a grout float, a tool with a rubber or foam bottom, to spread and press the grout into the joints between the tiles. This helps achieve an even distribution of grout and ensures the gaps are filled properly.
Remember to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for recommended drying and curing times for the adhesive and grout. Proper curing allows for a strong and durable tile installation.
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