How to Tile a Floor – The Ultimate Guide
Before you get started, it is important to prepare your floor, calculate the correct quantity of tiles to buy, and place the key tile. In addition, when tiling a wooden sub-floor, you need to buy a flexible floor tile adhesive. Choosing the best floor tile adhesive should not worry you, because in recent years, manufacturers have introduced new adhesives designed to work with the expanded array of tiles. As a rule, it does not pay to use a cheap adhesive, because more expensive products have technologically formulas that give better adhesion.
If you have used hardening adhesives, do not start grouting for at least 24 hours after fixing. You can choose between powdered grout for mixing with water, or pre-mixed. Make sure you also have products, such as silicone sealant and cartridge gun. Additionally, have tools, such as spreader, grout float, spirit level, rubber mallet, sponge, soft cloths, and tile spacers, file, marker and cutter. Your protective kit should contain knee pads, dust mask, and safety goggles.
Now, it is time to install underlayment to provide the essential strength and rigidity, which will prevent any movement of wood underneath your tiles. Usually, tiles are installed atop backer board, which is particularly for use on bathroom floors because it is impervious to water. First, use a carbide scoring tool to cut the sheets to size, and then use construction adhesive to glue the pieces in place. For added stiffness, install two pieces of plywood each half the total thickness of the underlayment you want. And once the underlayment has been glued down and properly nailed in place, use floor leveler to fill any cracks and gaps.
Thereafter, start installing your floor tile, and make sure it is laid from the center of the room outward. Before installing your tile, however, check your layout to make sure your tile is balanced around the walls. Starting at the center point, lay out one straight line of tiles in all four directions to the walls. Some tiles have small ridges on their edges that do not allow them touch each other. They are designed to provide a uniform space for grout installation. If your tiles do not have the ridges, you will need to buy tile spacers.
Ideally, make sure your edges are as evenly spaced and balanced as possible. The next step is to mark the adjustments you have made to the intersecting lines and center point. As you install the tiles, mark some chalk lines as guides to keep them straight, and when you are done, your floor will look like a giant checkerboard. In bathrooms, however, the tiles will be most visually pleasing if they run parallel to the bath tub.
You are now ready to install your tiles. If you are embedding your tiles in a mud bed of thin set mortar, the manufacturer’s instructions will tell you the right notch-size trowel you need. Start in one quadrant of the floor and spread the adhesive over about a three-foot square area at a time. As you follow the lines, lay the tiles and use spacers, and while installing subsequent tiles, be careful not to move the earlier ones. After installing, use a rubber hammer to gently set each tile firmly in the adhesive and drive out air bubbles.
After using the rubber hammer, move a long wooden straight-edge along the top of the tiles until they are uniformly level. Do not remove the spacers until the adhesive is set. When all the field tiles have been installed, it is time to cut the border tiles to fit. The type of cut you need will determine the type of cutting tool to use. Thereafter remove the spacers, clean off any adhesive on the tile surface, and start grouting to fill the gaps between the tiles. After the gaps are filled in and grout has just begun to set up, use a wet sponge to lightly remove the residue from the surface.