Basics of Ceramic-Tile Installation

When it costs $3-5 Dollars a sq ft to have ceramic-tile installed, you can see why it might be good to give it a try and save yourself a whole BUNCH of Money! Now that at your local Home Depot, Menards, or Lowes, you can buy a satisfactory wet saw for way under $100, it’s natural to think that you CAN DO IT!

Don’t be intimidated, but be methodical. I have borrowed some simple instructions from the experts that may help get you on the way. Remember, keep it though simple, don’t ceramic-tile the whole house, it not only gives you colder floors than either Laminate or Carpeting, but it will take a “heck” of a long time.

Keep it down to Entryways, Baths, and Kitchens, leave the rest to laminates and NEW carpeting. This will make your house “SHINE”! And remember too, that you can write this off your rental or foreclosed home taxes. The first thing you will need to lay Ceramic-Tile is

The right tools:

1. Tape measure, square and caulk line. Hammer, tile nippers, level, and a pry bar.

2. Wet Ceramic-tile saw and or 4 inch die grinder with dry cut diamond blade.

3. 1/4 inch notched trowel (1/2 inch trowel is recommended for 16x16 or larger tile/stone).

4. Safety goggles, power cords and any other safety equipment. Don't forget protection for your hands especially when grouting-latex gloves work great!

5. Rubber Ceramic-tile grout float, buckets and sponges.

Material List

1. Cement backer board.

2. Glue for cement board as wells as galvanized 2 inch roofing nails or backer board screws.

3. Modified Ceramic-tile thinset mortar, spacers and grout.

4. Choose yourself a good tile. Ceramic, porcelain or a natural stone. Note: Buy a good quality tile. Stay away from the red based clay tile. The finish isn't as good and they may break easier. You usually pay for what you get. You

Getting Started

Now it’s time to start the work by removing the old flooring. If you are building a new home and do not have old flooring or your existing floor is a level cement floor you can go right to the setting your Ceramic-tile step.

The old flooring must be removed for the following reasons:

• Multiple layers of old flooring will make your finished product too tall.

• Multiple layers will cause tiles to break and grout to crack.

• Particleboard sub floors become spongy when wet and can be a breeding ground for bacteria.

• Do your floor right the first time and avoid having to start over.

To have a professional look to your finished project you must remove the baseboards. To begin removing the old sub floor set your skill saw blade to match the depth of the old flooring. Make random cuts in the floor and pry the old floor up with your pry bar. Upon removal of the old sub floor remove any protruding nails or other objects, also make sure the original plywood is screwed tight to the floor joists and not making any squeaking noises when you walk across it. If you discover any loose areas screw it down and clean the work area.

With a clean work area it is now time to set the cement board in place. To add strength to the floor overlap the seams of the plywood with the cement board. The edges of the cement board should break in line with the joists. Use construction grade glue to adhere the cement board to the plywood. Then with 2 inch galvanized roofing nails nail through the cement board and into the floor joist (cement board screws work as well). While nailing the cement board down the spacing should be approximately 8 inches apart. With the cement board in place use a fiberglass mesh tape and a thin set mortar, tape up all your seams.
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Setting Your Tile

To get started you will need to divide the room horizontally and vertically, make sure you end up with the same size of tile breaking on either side of the room both horizontally and vertically. You will want to pre lay out your tile to get a visual of the finished breaking lines. Once you have completed this choose the longest a straightest wall and chalk a line a line both vertically and horizontally including the breaking lines against the walls. (When using a random square pattern it will not matter where you begin, it only matters that your start with your tile square to the wall) When mixing the thinset bring it to a creamy peanut butter consistency, then with your notched trowel spread the thinset evenly on the floor and begin setting your tiles. Push down firmly on the tile and make sure you are using your spacers for consistent spacing between tiles. Give your tile 24 hours to set before grouting.

Grouting Your Tile

With your tile floor set, now its time to grout. Make sure your floor is clean, scrape away and excess thinset and remove the spacers. Make sure the grout has at least a ¼ inch of space to sink down into the joint, if not scrap away the excess thinset. For tile joints between 1/8 inch to ½ inch make sure you use a sanded grout. For tile joints less than 1/8 of an inch use non sanded grout. Mix the grout to a peanut butter consistency, let it slake for a few minutes. Using a rubber float begin spreading into the joints. After 30 minutes to 40 minutes of drying time has occurred, begin to clean off your tiles with a sponge. You must smooth out the joints, but don't wipe too much as it is important to keep the grout as close to the top of the surface of the tile. A few hours later with a terry cloth you may remove any excess haze or dust. You may also mop or sponge it clean the next day using only water.

Sealing Your Grout

When your grout job is complete it is a good idea to seal your grout (or natural stone).The grout must have cured for at least 72 hours. To apply the sealer use a grout applicator you can get at the home store or tile store. (A bottle with a ¼ inch brush or roller.) Remove any drips on your tile with a rag. The sealer we recommend is 511 porous plus (from Miracle Sealants Company). It is excellent for sealing grout and any natural stone.

We hope this proves helpful in making your home's flooring a thing of beauty and pride.

How to install Ceramic-Tile (Free Video)

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