So you’re thinking about changing that ugly old carpet or vinyl floor with something fresh and beautiful and you want to use tile instead. You have looked at a lot of pictures in home design magazines; you have an idea of the cost, and the retailer with the best selection but know where to start.
Well it sound like you already have a great start, you found some design ideas from magazines, you know where to purchase the materials, and you have a rough idea of the cost, and you have decided to do this yourself, outstanding! The tips I’m about to give you come from my experience as a professional tile setter in Phoenix Arizona.
The first thing you want to think about is what kind of surface are you going to lay that beautiful tile on, wood or concrete. I have found that the preparation of the surface will determine how your tile will look after it’s installed and how long it will last in the home, and let’s face it you don’t want to redo this next year. Follow these basic steps first before you lay your first tile
Is the surface level
Look for flaws like dips and bumps make sure the surface is smooth
If working with a wood surface make sure it’s secure no nails sticking up and it’s tight to the substructure
When working with concrete look for cracks, you don’t want the surface to crack more after you install the tile
Make sure the surface is clean before installation
These starter tips will save you time and frustration and make the experience more enjoyable for you. Next you want to make sure you measure the area you’re going to lay. You don’t want a 6″ cut on one wall and a 3″ cut on the other that would look really bad especially in a entry way. The first thing you need to make sure of is the room you are working with square? Trust me when I say this you don’t know how many times I went into a new home and found that one end of the room measured 12′ and the other end was 12′ 2″ Because of poor framing. This is ok if you’re working with larger tile but can be a real problem if it’s smaller tile like in a bathroom. Here are some tips on laying your floor out before starting the installation.
Buy some tile spacers. They look like small rubber crosses, they will determine your grout line width and give you an idea of your wall cuts, and in most cases will measure ¼ in, between tiles.
Don’t be afraid to lay the tile out in both directions using the tile spacers to get an idea what it’s going to look like.
After determining if your room is square set an installation chalk line in both directions, this will help keep the installation straight.
There are different types of adhesives for laying your tile I use thin set mortar for concrete, and you can use what is called cement board, this can be laid over any wood surface and will eliminate the use of the mastic clue. The reason for this is when wood is affected by temperature it will expand and contract, and the mastic clue will allow it to change with this effect, this is not a concern with cement board, Mastic is pre mixed, and thin set mortar will need to be mixed before you can use it. When mixing your thin set mortar it’s like mixing concrete it comes in a bag and you need to add water, be careful not to get it to thin, it needs to be thick enough to use with a trowel. I used a wheel barrel to mix it in and then transferred it to a 5 gal bucket, this made it easier to handle. Also remember that when installing the tile to make sure not to leave any air bubbles trapped under the tile. This will cause the tile to brake. The method I use is to set the tile by pushing down evenly on the tile until I see the adhesive start to come out from the edges and then I lightly tap on the top of the tile a listen for any hollow sound, this will tell you if there is a pocket of air trapped and if you need to push a little more.