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How To Install Ceramic Floor Tile

how to install ceramic floor tiles

Ceramic tile flooring is a great choice when it comes to places where spills are likely to happen. Kitchens and bathrooms are great candidates for ceramic flooring. But that doesn’t mean you can’t install tiles in your other rooms. There are a few things like the weight of tiles and their cost that you need to keep in mind when installing tiles anywhere else though. Installing tile flooring on the first floor might not be a good idea as tiles weigh a lot. But there are always ways to cater to these issues and with the proper guidance and preparation. You can install tiles anywhere in your house. But the first question that comes to mind here is “how to install ceramic floor tile”.

Tile flooring is not that easy to install when compared to other alternatives like hardwood and vinyl. Most people out there end up hiring proper services to install their tile floor. But if you know what you’re doing, DIYing this won’t be a problem.

Things to consider

Tiles are a great choice for flooring but there are a few things you should consider before you decide. The first is that tiles are way heavier than other flooring options. And that’s why if you’re planning on installing these on the first floor, make sure that your floor/roof is strong enough to support all the weight of the tiles that you’re going to install.

Your subfloor is prone to flex under the weight of your tiles if it’s thinner than 1⅛ inches thick. This flexing can cause your tiles and grout to crack. The best way around this problem is to use cement underlayment. These come in 3×5 feet sheets. Make sure you follow the instructions provided by the manufactures for installing them.

The next thing you want to consider is cost, tiles are more expensive than most flooring options out there. And might not be the best option for your bedroom flooring. Unless you’ve decided and are okay with spending the extra bucks, know that there might be better options out there.

Step 1: Prep work

The first thing you need to do is prepare your subfloor. Installing your tile flooring over any type of existing flooring is highly not recommended. We recommend not applying tiles directly over any form of subflooring other than concrete subfloors. That too as long as you’re concrete subflooring is clean, flat and free from hollows and valleys. Make sure that the subflooring doesn’t have any moisture. One way to test this by taping a trashcan to your subfloor on all four sides and wait for at least 2 days. Then remove it and see if any moisture was captured by the trash can. If you think that moisture is a problem you might need to do an advanced moisture test. 

For subflooring that is not concrete, you must use cement-based backer board, use glue to stick them to the flooring and then use appropriate screws to secure them in place.

Step 2: gathering tools

The tools you’ll need for installing ceramic tile floor are,

  1. Level
  2. Carpenter’s square
  3. Sponges
  4. Tape measure
  5. Rubber mallet
  6. Notched trowel
  7. Buckets
  8. Tile wet saw
  9. Chalk line or chalk box
  10. Rubber gloves
  11. Grout
  12. Thin-set mortar
  13. Tile Spacer
  14. Rubber Grout Float
  15. Cleaning cloths

Step 3: Planning your install

To start, you’ll want to pull a tile from multiple boxes to achieve an even color across the floor. Next, you need to find the center point of the room. To do this, use chalk lines and snap them on the midpoint of one wall and snap the other chalk line on the other wall. These chalk lines will cross at the center of your room.

Place a tile with its corner nested at the intersection of the two lines. And start placing tiles along the chalk line using your tile spacer. When you can’t fit another tile in there, measure the remaining distance. If you’ll need to cut the tile less than half the width of the full tile, go back to the center to room and move the first tile you placed to be centered over the intersection of the two chalk lines, and repeat the process. This will make sure that the cut tiles along the wall are at least half a tile wide. Do the same perpendicularly.

As you reach the wall, leave a 1¼ inch along the sides for floor expansion. Cut the tiles using a wet saw for the sides of the room. Use chalk lines to mark placement for your rows.

Step 4: installing

Mix your mortar in a bucket and start from the corner farthest from the planned exit point. Using a notched trowel, spread mortar evenly going in straight lines with your trowel placed at a 45-degree angle. Always remove the excess mortar and return it to the bucket. Place the tile and twist a little bit to make sure that they are placed properly. Keep going along your chalk lines and remember to place tile spacers for grout. As you go along, make sure to wipe away any excess mortar, and use a level to find any high spots and use a rubber mallet to tap them and make it even. To completely install ceramic floor tiles, all you need now is to add grout, wait for 24hrs for the thin-set mortar to dry.

Now, it’s time to grout the joints. Mix it all at once to make sure that the color is consistent, push the grout into the joints using a rubber grout float and then move the float diagonally to remove as much excess grout as possible, return this grout back to the bucket. Afterward, use a damp sponge and wipe all the excess grout, make sure to change the water frequently to minimize grout haze on the surface of the tiles.

Once your grout is dry, which mostly takes about 48 hours, you can use a grout sealer to protect your fresh grout from any stains.

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