Published on Thursday, June 13th, 2013
Tile is one of the most popular flooring materials. It’s attractive, durable, long-lasting and easy to clean. Furthermore, it doesn’t tend to go in and out of style like some other flooring types. Tile does require a good deal of preparation to install, and mistakes when installing tile tend to be both more noticeable and more permanent than mistakes in other types of flooring such as carpet.
Tile can be installed on a variety of bases, but the common theme for these foundations is that they must be flat and level. Possible bases for tile include a concrete slab, cement board, three-quarter inch plywood, or existing tile.
Installing tile over existing tile is generally only done if the existing tile is placed only on floors or other single surfaces. Tub surrounds or showers or other fixtures that have multiples surfaces at right angles to each other might suffer from the application of multiple thicknesses of tile, since the second layer will protrude awkwardly. Furthermore, the second layer of tile will only be as secure as the base it is attached to, and if applied over an existing layer that includes loose or cracked tiles, the new layer will be loose and tiles will fall out.
Professionals generally apply tile over a layer of mortar called “thinset” since it can be spread much thinner than ordinary mortar and contains adhesive. A layer of thinset ensures that the tile floor will be flat, since any unevenness can be compensated for a little by adjusting the thickness of the thinset. Thinset is relatively difficult to work with, and requires experience in order to get a floor that is flat and level.
To tile a room, measure the tiles and the room and calculate how many tiles will be needed. It’s unlikely that you’ll have an exact number of tiles per room, so plan to have half tiles somewhere that gets a little less traffic and is more out-of-the way. Snap chalk lines on the floor to indicate grout lines, and keep yourself oriented while working. Since tile is rather permanent, planning out exactly where it will be before installing it will save a world of headache.
Once the plan has been transferred to the floor, it’s usually good to divide the room into four quadrants and begin tiling in the center, where the quadrants meet. This ensures that you don’t get trapped in the middle of the room where small adjustments would be highly noticeable. Also, working from the middle out will keep the need to walk on the newly laid tile to a minimum.
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