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How to Install Ceramic Floor Tiles (page 1 of 2)

Learn the best methods for installing ceramic tile.
Excerpted from Do It Yourself Home Improvement

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Step-by-Step Instructions:

Determine Layout

Dry-lay a few tiles to mark your starting point. You may choose to use the edge and corner of the room as a rough guide. Mark the outer edge of the tiles (image 1). Draw a pencil line to mark where to position your wooden furring strip. This provides an accurate guide against which to lay the tiles (the wall or the corner may not be straight).

Fix the furring strip along the pencil line. In this example, the subfloor is plywood, so screws may be inserted. For a concrete subfloor, drill pilot holes using masonry bits, then plug the holes and insert screws. Position a second furring strip at a precise right angle to the first one (image 2). Here, a metal square is being used for an accurate right angle.

Apply Adhesive

Mix adhesive with a power stirrer. Mix as much as you can use in about an hour. Apply the adhesive in the right angle made by the furring strips (image 1). Position the first tile on the adhesive, butting it up against the two furring strips. Gently press the tile into position (image 2).

Further Information About Adhesive
Testing Adhesive Cover
Press tiles down just hard enough for the adhesive to make contact with the entire back face of the tile. Tap the tile to test—if there is a hollow sound, some areas are not in contact. This problem tends to occur with an uneven floor or with rustic tiles. Take up the tile and add more adhesive to the hollow areas.

Adhesive Drying Time
Drying time depends on the type of adhesive, tile thickness, and porosity of the floor and tiles. Most adhesive will dry in 24 hours. If tiles are walked on before adhesive is dry, they may move, and the bond between adhesive and tiles will weaken. This would cause tiles to loosen, and grout joints may crack at a later date.

Build Up Rows

As you progress, insert spacers flat on the floor (image 1). The tile will probably be deep enough for spacers to be covered later with grout. Otherwise, use thin cardboard as spacers.

Use a level to check that tiles lie flush with each other (image 2). Continue laying tiles until all the uncut ones are down. Allow the adhesive to dry, and remove the furring strips.

Make Straight Cuts

Measure the gap left by the furring strip between tile and wall, so that you can cut a tile to fit (image 1). Measure at each end of the tile to allow for variations in the width of the gap. Subtract the grout gap, and mark off the resulting distances on the tile edge with a felt-tip pen (image 2). Place the tile in a score-and-snap cutter, aligning marks with the cutter's guides.

Push the cutting wheel away from you, across the tile, to score a line between the marks. Lower the handle to snap the tile along the line (image 3). Use a tile file on the cut edge. Check that the cut tile fits the gap (image 4). Apply adhesive to the floor or back of the tile, and insert it into place.

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Excerpted from Do It Yourself Home Improvement

© Dorling Kindersley Limited 2009