More in Floors
With any tile job, the first step should always be to determine the pattern and orientation of the tiles in your install. It helps to open a few boxes of tiles and actually lay them out in different patterns on the floor to see what looks best. Be sure to also experiment with different grout spacings at this stage.
Before you cut and install any tiles, you need to take measurements of the floor space to make sure you’ll have enough tile to get the job done. You should measure the size of the tiles as well, so you’ll have an idea how many will lay out across the room. In addition to measuring for the number of tiles you’ll need, you should also measure to determine if the walls are square. If the walls aren’t square, which is the case in most houses, you’ll need to run chalk guidelines across the floor for your tile pattern to follow. Following these guidelines will ensure that your pattern doesn’t drift as it moves across the floor.
TIP: Often, getting the tiles to fall out perfectly is as easy as changing the grout spacing. It doesn’t seem like much space when it’s measured out an 1/8th or 1/16th of an inch at a time, but it does add up.
Depending on your pattern, you may need to start with some cut tiles. The absolute best tool for cutting tiles is a wet saw, which can usually be rented for $50 to $75 per day. They save so much time and aggravation in the long run that they’re well worth the rental fee. To make a perfect cut, use a speed square and a pencil to mark a cut line on the tile, and then slowly push the tile through the cutting area. You don’t want to force the tile, just apply enough pressure to keep the tile in contact with the blade, which will do the work for your.
TIP: Don’t cut too many tiles at once. One miscalculation of your dimensions can ruin a lot of tiles if you cut them way in advance. It’s best to cut tiles a few at a time, as needed, to keep your pattern consistent and even.
Mixing the mortar is not a tough job if you have a corded high-output power driver and a mixing paddle. Don’t try this with a cordless driver, because it will burn out the motor. If you don’t have the proper mixing tools, or if you just want to save some time and effort, you can buy pre-mixed mortar at most hardware stores, but it is more expensive.
To mix your own mortar, add a small amount of water to the bottom of a five-gallon bucket and then more the mortar mix on top of the water (Image 1). Put the mixer paddle into the bucket and start mixing at a slow speed. Add more mix and water, a little bit at a time, so that it’s easier to mix. The final consistency should be just firm enough that it doesn’t drip or run easily (Image 2). Think toothpaste.