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Tips for Tiling Beginners

Originally Published By Footbridgemedia.com

Anyone who’s ever undertaken the task of a DIY home tile flooring project can tell you that there are many possible pitfalls that await you. As the saying goes, “you don’t know what you don’t know”. And this couldn’t be truer than when tiling your first room. If you walk into most home’s you can see a huge difference in the quality of tiling from the first project to the fifth. This is because tiling isn’t difficult once you get the basic concept down and learn a few tricks along the way. So here are some tips to help you on your freshman effort. Good luck!

Whole Is Greater Than the Sum.

No tile project is an island. You need to consider every element of your room as a whole. For instance, if you are tiling your kitchen, you need to ask yourself how the tile is going to match the cabinets, the paint, the appliances, and the toaster. Most rooms are the equivalent of a canvas in which all subject are creating a vibe.

Plan! Plan! Plan!

Do the math. Crunch the numbers. Take the measurements. You need to know within a given margin how much your project is going to cost and if it is within your budget. This will be determined by accurate measurements, number of pieces ordered, tools needed, all supplies, including additional items you might have to purchase such as quarter round trim along the floor. Will anything need to be pulled up, destroyed or replaced? Take into account the entirety of the project.

Take Inventory

When the day finally comes that you purchase your tile there are two questions that you need to ask your tile retailer: First question, Here’s how much I need, do you have enough in stock? Second Question, If I need to reorder down the road will it be available. The first question is usually a yes. The second question is usually a no. Tile is like fashion clothing. It comes in and out with the tide. For both questions, it is better to purchase some extra tile. Another reason for this is because you’ll probably mess up a few pieces since you are a beginner. You’ll need extra. Get it. Store it.

Design In Advance

Some people like horizontal, some like vertical, and some like diagonal. If you do not know but would like to find out, then try to draw a mock up of your room with the floor design. It doesn’t have to be a professional spec, just a scratch drawing of the room either from an angle or from the ceiling view. If your tile floor design is a little more complicated than the three options mentioned above, then sketching it out is essential.
Tools of the Trade

Here is a general list of tools you’ll need to efficiently and effectively do the job.

  • Snap Chalk Line – This guides the tile rows on the floor.
  • Carpenter’s Square – The insures that the intersecting chalk lines are angled correctly
  • Straightedge – this keeps the tile rows even. A long straight edge is preferred
  • Notched Trowel – This spreads the thinset along the floor. Make sure the notch sizes match tile manufacturer’s specifications.
  • Wet Saw – This gives you efficiency in cutting and gives you straight edges. It is also safe as it keeps sparks from flying during the cutting.
  • Tile Nipper – To make small cuts and trim away excel tile.
  • Rubber Tile Spacers – These are essential and very effective at making sure you tiles are evenly spaced. We recommend using 2-3 evenly spaced tile spacers on each side of the tile.
  • Rubber Grout Float – Apply enough grout to fill the spaces in between the tile without spreading the grout over the entire tile. This greatly reduces messy application.
  • Sponges – Silicone Sponges wipes away excess grout. A dry course sponge buffs away grout haze which can settle on the tiles.
  • Drill & Mixing Bit – This is not essential. It is efficient, however, and gives your thinset and grout a great mix. This is the equivalent of using a mixer instead of a spoon for whipping up your cake ingredients. It’s just easier.

First Layout, Then Install

It is best to pre-cut every piece and lay the entire design out on the floor before you actually attach it. This is especially beneficial if this is your first project. Sure, it creates a little more work, but it is worth it to see the finished product before you install it. This will save you possible future headaches. Once the tile is attached, there is no turning back.

Follow Thinset & Grout Instructions

Make sure you read the mixing and installation instructions on the back of the thinset or grout bag to the letter. Make sure the mixing ratios are measured and perfect.

Clean As You Go

It is always best to clean the thinset and the grout before it has a chance to dry. It is much easier to clean it while it’s still fresh. Be careful, however, not to use too much water to clean. Your sponges need to be damp but not soaking wet. Too much water can get into the thinset or grout and keep it from firmly setting. Too much water can also create water bubbles which lead to gaps in your mix.

Happy Tiling

Alright, there you go. This is a general rundown of how to undertake your first tiling project. Although this checklist is helpful, it is by no means, comprehensive. The key is to do proper research from experienced professionals and make sure you learn as much as you can before you launch. This will help you save money and create a beautiful floor from start to finish. Good luck!