Do-it-yourself work in the home has become somewhat of a craze these days. In fact, you cannot turn on the television without coming across a show that centers around this theme. Having caught the bug ourselves, so to speak, my husband and I purchased a home for a reasonable price, that needs some work, and we have taken on the task of doing much of the renovation on our own. Our most recent task has been to lay porcelain tile in our kitchen and the end result is absolutely fabulous.
The first step you have to take is to measure the area you are going to tile. Then, for best results, you need to get the old flooring up. Then, it’s time to go shopping. Items you will need are as follows:
You will need a tile cutter. They have smaller versions and if there is a high probability that this will be your one and only tile job, then I recommend just getting that; they cost about $30.00. If, however, you are going to lay tile at some time in the future, the higher end models prove to be a great investment. You will also need the following:
Tile of choice
Cement Board and Nails (these boards take up to 150 nails per board). This is used only for wood sub-flooring. If you have a cement floor you can skip this step. Some people might advise you to skip this step regardless, that it is unnecessary. I have seen floors buckle and warp after time when this step was ignored on wood sub-flooring, so I would advise installing it if applicable to your situation.
Grout Mix (ensure color matches tile as you would like it to)
(2) large mixing buckets (one for cement, one for grout)
Protective Gloves (rubber is fine)
Metal Cement Mixer (that attaches to a heavy-duty drill)
Heavy-Duty Drill (if you do not have one to attach cement mixer attachment to)
(1) Bag of tile spacers
One or two large sponges
Grout Sealer (optional)
Step One: The first thing you need to do is remove all of the existing baseboards.
Step Two: Evaluate the condition of the existing floor and replace or make repairs as necessary.
Step Three: Install your cement boards if you are starting from a wood sub-floor
Step Four: Whether installing cement boards or not, make sure the floor you are starting from is clean and free of moisture.
Once you have followed the above steps, you are now ready to begin with the tile. You will start from the exact center of the room to ensure tile placement is done evenly. Measure from each wall to the middle and snap a chalk line. Where your lines intersect will be your starting point. Doing the chalk line from all four walls will aid you later as you work in quadrant sections to place your tile.
Lay a row or two of loose tiles down from the center to the wall. This will serve two purposes; one, to ensure your measurement is even and the last cut of tile will not be too narrow, and two, to ensure you are putting the pattern down as you would really like it to be because once you start cementing it will be too late to make changes.
Once you have completed the above steps, you are ready to start putting down the cement. Be very careful to read all of the instructions from the manufacturer of the cement that you are using. Generally you will use a notched trowel to put the cement down unless the instructions state otherwise. Cover about ¼ of the floor with the cement and allow to dry until it reaches a tacky, not sticky consistency. You can easily test consistency with your thumb or the flat part of your index finger. The process usually takes about 15 minutes, but if it is still sticky, you will need to wait a bit longer.
Once the cement consistency is correct you will begin to lay your tiles. Start from the center chalk line, being very careful to ensure the starting piece is perfectly centered and straight. Lay your tiles down one by one, careful to ensure that you have a tile spacer in place after each one. Do not slide them, place them firmly, directly down, and flat where you want them to be. Work from the middle to the wall for each section. When you reach the last row of tiles it will be necessary to make a pattern (using paper or marking on an existing tile) to use for cutting tiles that will not fit. When coming across pipes, heater vents, etc. it will also be necessary to make a cutting pattern. Once this quarter of floor is placed, remove your spacers so they do not adhere to the cement. Repeat these instructions, one quarter at a time for the rest of the floor. Allow to dry overnight to allow the adhesive to set.
After your adhesive is set it is time to grout. Place the grout into the joints of the tile by putting it on your putty knife, working in a diagonal motion. As you go along remove the excess grout with a damp sponge. Work in quarters as you did above. The tile will have a hazy appearance from the grout but you need to remember that it is not yet a finished project. Be certain to wipe up haze as best you can with your damp sponge as you go and then with a damp sponge mop. It takes about a week for the floor to cure. Some people recommend waiting the entire week before mopping and some people use a damp sponge mop two or three times a day for a week during the curing process. I choose the latter, but again, be sure you are following manufacturer directions to the letter. If it says not to do this step, then skip it. After a week has passed you may choose to seal your grout so that dirt and moisture are repelled. You can follow the manufacturer’s simple instructions to get it done. Replace your base boards and you have now laid your own porcelain tile floor.
Important points to remember are that your floor will most likely be raised to a bit of a higher level than you are used to (especially if you did not have tiles previously on the same floor), so be sure to plan accordingly. Also, make sure you are wearing your protective gloves at all times throughout the tile laying process. The last bit of advice I have: Be prepared for the onslaught of compliments you are sure to receive as once your floor is cured they will come aplenty.