How To Install Tile The Basics
Tile Project Introduction
Laying tile can range from simple to quite complex. With a few simple tips however, it has the possibilites of being a do-it-yourself project. Tile has longer durability, increases the vaule of your home, is allergen free with easy clean-up and maintenenace after installation.
All of the examples and pictures were done by me, a fortyish woman about 5'4" & 140 lbs, so if you are considering tile, consider the idea that you too can have all this in your home with a small investment in tools and time. Do-It-Yourself!
Let the ideas and creativity flow, there are few limitations on what can be done with tile. I have discovered there is no way to bend it though.
Tools Required To Do A Tile Job
The tools required can vary based on the tile job that you have chosen to do. There are basic tools however, which include:
A tile snapper for straight cuts, tile nippers for small trim ups on cuts, a grooved adhesive or mastic applicator, a small angled scraper, small rubber mallet, leveler, laser for aligning tiles, a grout float, large sponges, measuring tape, half square rule for marking tiles to cut, chalk line, and 5 gallon bucket.
Additional tools may include: A tile saw or wet saw, hole saws that must be diamond tipped, tile nippers for small trim ups on cuts, a drill with a #2 Phillips bit, a saw or knife for cutting backer board or cement board if needed, masking tape if doing a wall job.
Planning a Tile Job
There is much preparation involved in laying tile. This is in fact the hardest part, First assess the space you intend to tile. Is it a floor? Do you intend to go up the wall? Are there any obstacles like an outlet, a toilet, or any other fixture in the space you intend to tile? Is the area concrete or of another material the tile will be going over?
Measure the space you intend to tile and calculate the square footage. For example a room 10'X12' would be 120 square feet. Next determine the size of tile you will be putting into the area and if you will be doing one type of tile or want to create a design. Also determine the amount of gap you want to have between tiles. The gap between tiles will be filled with grout and can be wide to be part of the design itself or very thin to almost nonexistent and only using grout to bond the tile job together.
**TIP: Tile must be laid on either concrete, backer board, cement board, or on the wall use green board.
Let's Go Shopping
Have your measurements and checklist with you and have fun selecting the tile and grout colors and style. Shop around, order if necessary, many stores have on-line locations where you can do a virtual layout and design, prior to buying.
Your checklist will include: Everything on the tools needed list, tile, grout, spacers, and glue (if you are new to this I recommend the already mixed quick drying adhesive), if you get the mastic, it will require a mixing attachment for your drill.
Flooring Tile Projects
Time to start laying tile! Get the glue spreader and load it up with adhesive, holding it at a slight angle spread the glue leaving even trails of glue swirled through the floor surface. Set the selected tile in place shift around a little to get the tile settled in place and tap lightly with a rubber mallet. Place the spacers in-between tiles as you set them in to maintain spacing and continuity as you move through the room.
**TIP: If you do encounter, slightly low or high places a little more or less glue on the back of the tile will level it out and keep your floor even.
**TIP:If for any reason you need to lift a tile back up after putting in place, (IE. needing to put more or less glue on a tile) use the angled scraper to pull it up and scrape off glue or apply more glue
To mark tiles for cutting requires thinking upside down and or backwards. Always turn the tile over to make marks to ensure you are cutting the correct side for use. Make tick marks for where cuts need to be made, then drag tick marks to the top side of the tile. Connect tick marks with a half square rule to mark the line to be cut.
All straight cuts can be made with a tile snapper or a wet saw. Any other cuts must be made with a wet saw or hole saw. To make cuts to go around doorways or other indents into the center of tile without cutting all the way through is done by slowly chipping away with a wet saw.
**TIP: Always wear safety goggles when cutting tile, the little chips go everywhere. Also be careful with cut edges as they are very sharp and can cut deep very easily.
Laying a Tile Floor
Tiling a floor is the easiest of all tile projects. If you have a concrete base most of the preparatory work is done already. On concrete just ensure that the floor is as level as possible, filling in any sink holes if necessary or grinding down any high spots. If the base is not concrete, backer board will have to be cut and screwed to the wood sub-base prior to installing tile. In my example pictures backer board was installed over the wood.
**TIP: When installing tile with or without backer board, remember to account for the elevation increase for door clearance or toilet installation.
**TIP: Install all cabinets and permanent fixtures except for toilets prior to flooring installation, tile goes up to and around not under these fixtures.
Prepare tile layout by first marking the center of the room. I have heard it said you should always start in the center of the room laying tile, this is not always true, you can lay it from the outer edges so long as the layout has been marked from the center of the room. Identify the center point, drop chalk-lines, lay out a row of tiles both directions with spacers, then mark a chalk-line for the outer edges.
After approximately 24 hrs you are now ready to grout your tile job. Mixing grout is relatively simple. In a 5 gallon bucket, add water to grout and stir with angled scraper, add water slowly and stir thoroughly. Grout mixture should not be soupy or stiff, test it on the float, if it slides off slowly it is the right consistency. Let the grout mixture set for 5 or 10 minutes, stir again, then apply.
**TIP: Mix smaller amounts of grout at a time, you don't want it to harden up before you have had an opportunity to use it.
**TIP: Have a bucket of water and sponge ready before beginning to grout. If the grout dries on the tile before being cleaned and wiped there is no fixing it or removing it later.
Generously scoop grout onto the float and holding at about the same slight angle used when applying glue, press and spread into gaps between tiles. Spread in half circle motions going across the tiles and completely filling gaps. Let dry slightly to a light haze, then wipe clean and smooth with a sponge. Ensure all grout is cleaned off all tiles at this time, it will automatically leave the slight groove indenting the gap between tiles as you wipe.
**TIP: Change water often!
Wall and Tub Surround Tile ProjectsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Tiling Walls and Tub Surrounds
Placing tile on walls and tub surrrounds does not require cement or backer board. It does require the use of green board rather than regular sheetrock. Ensure the surface is wiped clean of all dust and residue and dry before installing tile.
Cutting, applying adhesive and grouting is done the same as it is done on floors. Realize however, that it is advisable to consider a drop cloth or plastic as glue and grout alike will be dropping to the floor, counter top or tub surface.
Masking tape will be required to do vertical or wall surfaces to assist in keeping tiles in place as the pattern is laid out. See pictures for use of tape.
In addition you will need to use Siliconized Acrylic Latex Tile and Fixture Caulk rather than grout in what is referred to as the "expansion joints". The expansion joints are the places where tile meets tile at a vertical/horizontal point and where tile meets with another surface as in the bathtub itself. It usually comes in tubes like caulk and is applied with the use of a caulk gun and smoothed with a wet finger and wiped with a wet rag lightly.
**TIP: If there will be tile on a horizontal surface adjoining the vertical or wall surface, always tile the the horizontal or flat surface first.
Tiling Counter-tops and Back-splashesClick thumbnail to view full-size
Tiling Counter-Tops and Back-splashes
Counter-tops and back-splashes are similar to walls and tub surrounds, they are also a little higher on the difficulty scale. The only thing considered more difficult is showers which I have not covered here as that is an entire article of its own.
The back-splash area should be green board as in any other wall tiling project. The counter-top however, is built first with a 3/4" ply board cut and attached to the cupboards securely. Then cement board is screwed to the 3/4" ply board for the tile to be applied to.
Cutting tile, applying adhesive and grouting is the same as described above. Siliconized Tile Caulk is also used in this application where the counter-top meets the back-splash as well as around the kitchen sink.
**TIP: The tile goes under the lip of the kitchen sink, so it must be removed or installed after tile job is completed.
Immediate After Care For New Tile
After tile has been installed, grouted and cleaned stay off the tile for about 12 hours. For the first 3 days following tile installation damp mop and clean often, this helps is cleaning up remaining grout glaze and assists the grout to cure properly preventing cracking later on.
I always recommend a finish or sealant be applied to tiles and grout alike, I personally do 3 coats, although there are others who will tell you this step in unnecessary. This is a personal choice.
Enjoy your tile for many many years to come or appreciate the increased value of your home, whatever your reasons for tiling, best wishes with your project.