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How to Install Tile Flooring


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Ceramic tiling is an attractive resource typically used for bathroom floors, skirting along walls and even kitchens. The durability and easy maintenance of this flooring has made it a popular choice of many people.

Installing a tile flooring is not very difficult but does require some patience and preparation. Ensure that you have all the materials and tools before starting the task. And if the tiling involves both the walls and the floor, it is recommended that you start with the walls first. Floor tiles are usually thicker than wall tiles so make sure you use the right tiles for the right platform. .

Tools and materials for laying tiles
The tools needed to install tile flooring are glass cutters, carpenter’s square, goggles, grout float, tape measure, pencils, sponges, hammers and a notched trowel. The materials required are tiles, tile spacers, spackling compound, tile adhesives, silicone caulk and grout sealer.

Tiling and Preparation
The old flooring must be removed completely before installing the new tiling. Ensure that the sub-floor is strong and able to support the new tiles, which are 1” in thickness. Since tiles are heavy they must be installed on a flat, rigid surface. Any indentations may later show up in the grouting and lead to tiles cracking. If the floor is uneven, cover it with an under-layment as the tile base. If you have a concrete floor, repair all holes and cracks. If you have linoleum, you can place the underlayment over it.

Remove all trimmings and clean floor thoroughly. The surface must be free of wax, debris or grease. Use water-proof membrane if the area is subject to moisture. Cement-fiber boards are most suited as underlayment for tiles in such cases.

Patterns and Layouts
The patterns and types of tiles are numerous depending on how artistic you would like to be. The two most common patterns are ‘jack-on-jack’ and ‘running bond’. While the former consists of tiles laid like squares on a chessboard, the latter has offset grout lines for each row. Floor tiles should always be centered in the room so as to look good and neat.

Measure and find the center of the two opposite walls. Use these points to draw a chalk line across the length dividing the room in half. Then do the same with the other two walls by drawing a line perpendicular to the other. Use the carpenter’s square to ensure that the centre point is square.

Dry-fit a row of tiles down both lines to the width and length of the room. Leave equal spacing for the grout joints. By laying out the tiles in this way, you will get an idea of what adjustments need to be made. Work with as many full tiles as possible and try to end up with at least half a width in areas where the tiles meet the walls.

Installing the tiles
Begin laying the tile from the center of the intersection of the 2 lines; then use the lines as a guide as you work your way outward toward the walls in each quadrant. Spread the adhesive with the trowel's notched edge, combing it out in beaded ridges. You could insert plastic spacers between the tiles to maintain straight grout lines. Remember to remove these after placing the tiles but before they become set in the adhesive. Clean the excess adhesive before it dries out. The adhesive takes about 20-30 minutes to set firmly.

After you have installed a few rows of tiles, set them into the adhesive with the tile leveler and a mallet. After setting all the whole tiles across the room, start to cut tiles to fit around the perimeter of the room.

Cutting and Fitting ceramic tiles
Obviously, all tiling jobs will require some trimming and cutting of tiles so that they fit snugly around borders, obstructions, piping, wiring, window frames, electrical pipes, basins etc. Shaping tiles to fit these indentures is difficult and requires some patience and practice. You can use a tile cutter or a glasscutter for small jobs, but for larger projects you may need a wet saw.

Apply pressure when using tools for scoring, cutting and drilling tiles, but a little excess pressure can cause the tile to crack or break.

To make cuts at right angles with a glasscutter, use a combination square as your straight-hedge. This should be done in one stroke to achieve a smooth and even shape.

Repeated scoring will lead to cracking of the tile.

The tiles can be snapped by hand or with tile nippers, tile cutters or using a wet saw. Apply firm and even pressure after measuring the size that needs to be cut. Always wear safety goggles when you are using tiles.

Taking care of rough and jagged breaks
Nippers or pliers serve to remove jagged edges and a round file will help smoothen rough edges. For a straight-edge cut, rub it against a sheet of 80 grit aluminum oxide sandpaper which will round and smoothen the edges.

Grouting the joints
The grout should be mixed in a thick paste and applied by forcing the grout between tiles with a rubber float held at a 45-degree angle. Hold the float almost perpendicular to the floor. Wipe away excess grout from the surface of the tiles. Use a toothbrush to shape the grout. After 20 minutes, wipe away all excess grout with a damp sponge. Fill seams with some flexible water-soluble silicone caulking where tiles meet the counter. Smoothen it out with a sponge or your finger. Allow the grout to cure for a week and then apply silicone grout sealer with a small paintbrush to help prevent grout discoloration.

William Brister - - Beautiful and Durable Floors


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