How To Install Ceramic Floor Tiles?
In preparation for laying the ceramic tile, it’s a good idea to spend a few minutes gaining an understanding of the characteristics of the specific tile and design you have chosen. If you are working with a specific pattern, it can be helpful to dry-fit or dry-lay a portion of the floor to identify any potential problems with the layout. This dry-fit will afford you the opportunity to make adjustments before the tile is set in place. A dry-fit will also help you to understand how to manage the joint spacing. Although most tiles are fabricated to have little variation in size and squareness, some tiles are made to have a more natural look and to have more size variation.
1- If necessary, mark or chalk guidelines for the floor layout. Marking a grid of guidelines will allow you to quickly notice if the tile is running outside the planned layout. It is important to determine the best spot to begin the tile installation so that you can exit the space.
2- Mix some thinset mortar as described above for setting the concrete backer board substrate.
3- Use a notched trowel to spread the thinset mortar in a manageable area (about as big an area as can be laid in 10 minutes) and work it onto the backer board. Cover the entire surface with a consistent bed of mortar and keep the grooves oriented in the same direction. The grooves in the mortar will allow any air under the tile to escape, minimizing air pockets and insufficient bonding.
4- Set the tiles into place and gently wiggle them to ensure full coverage of the thinset and to eliminate any air beneath the tile. Use spacers to keep the tile straight and check the guidelines to keep the layout on track. Remove any excess thinset in the joints to allow enough room for the grout.
5- Inevitably, you will need to cut some tiles. Of the many ways to cut tile, the most common methods are with a diamond-tipped wet saw or a tile cutter. The wet saw is similar to a table saw and has a water-cooled, diamond-tipped blade that grinds through just about any type of tile and is best for making complicated cuts and notches. Slide the tile slowly into the blade and let the saw do most of the work. Be sure to keep the water reservoir on the saw filled to keep the blade cool. Wear safety glasses, gloves, and ear protection when using a wet saw.
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