By Mark J. Donovan
Ceramic Tile brings a texture, richness
and color to a room that Linoleum has yet to truly mimic. Tile floors can be
installed in any room, however they are most frequently seen in Bathrooms and
Kitchens. I particularly like them in entryways, where they serve as a
transition point from the outside to large carpeted or hardwood floored rooms.
They make for easy clean up and are impervious to water damage.
Ceramic tiles come in two basic types.
Glazed and Porcelain. Glazed holds up the best for heavy traffic areas and
porcelain works well in bathrooms. Porcelain is typically more expensive,
so consider your budget and the size of the area you want to tile. Tiles
also come in many shapes and sizes. For flooring, however, I would suggest using
larger tiles up to 12" x 12".
For proper installation the base
foundation or the underlayment is critical. Typically it consists of ¾" to
1 ¼" of plywood. Tiling over Linoleum or existing tile is also feasible, as long
as it is solid. I also recommend when Tiling over Linoleum that you first apply
ring nails or screws 6" on center over the entire area. Tiles can also be
installed directly over Concrete. Make sure in all cases that the floor is level
and free of dust and debris prior to installation. There are leveling compounds
that you can apply before applying tile if necessary.
Preparing the Site
Before actually installing the tile, it is
best to lay it out in the room to see how it will look. Pay close
attention to how it runs out toward the walls, in the corners and next to
cabinets, tubs and toilets. The trick is to lay the tile out such that
stubby tiles do not show up in highly visible spots. Once you have completed
this, make two marks with a pencil outlining the most centered tile. These
lines should be perpendicular to each other. Also take note of the wall
that is most visible from all the others. Now remove the tiles. Next draw or
snap a line perpendicular to this wall that is in line with one of the marks you
made on the floor. Then, draw a perpendicular line to this first line.
This second line should be centered with the first line and fairly in line with
the second mark you made on the floor. Once you have completed this task,
re-layout some of the tiles along the perpendicular lines and observe if they
run out in a way that will limit cutting and stubbed tiles. Once this is
completed, remove the tiles and prepare for the actual installation.
Installing the Tile
Again, make sure the area is free of dirt
and dust. Next apply the ceramic adhesive or mastic to the flooring, starting in
the center, where the two perpendicular reference lines intersect. Apply
enough material to cover 6-10 square feet, if no cuts are required. If cuts are
required limit the amount of mastic application to about 2-4 square feet.
When applying the mastic, first spread it with the flat end of the trowel. Lay
it on relatively thick, approximately 1/8" to 3/16"thick. Then turn the trowel
around and run the notched edge over it. This creates ridges in the mastic that
helps to hold the tile down more securely. The larger the tile, the larger
the notches should be. For example, I use a ¼" notched trowel for 12" x 12"
Note: Only make up enough ceramic adhesive
for 30 minutes, as this material has the tendency to harden up rather
adhesive has been applied, begin installing the tiles working from the center
outward. On larger tiles you should back butter them. Basically, apply a thin
coating of mastic to the back of the tile prior to laying it on the floor. This
will help ensure a good bond.
As you near the
walls or edges of cabinets, tubs and toilets, you will need to cut some of the
tiles. I highly recommend the use of a Wet-Saw. A Wet-Saw will allow you
to make very accurate cuts, both large and small. You will also save money, as
you will waste many fewer tiles with bad cuts or broken tiles. Wet-Saws are not
that expensive and once you see your finished product you will certainly be
installing more tile. Wet-Saws can also be rented as a cheaper
When applying Tiles, you may want to use
Lugs. Lugs are effectively spacers that come in various thicknesses. I typically
like to have no more than a ¼" space between the tiles. Employing Spacers will
ensure uniformity with your tile spacing.
After the Tile has been completely
installed, allow it to sit for 24-48 hours before applying grout and walking on
it. Grout comes in many different colors and is very easy to install. Simply mix
the grout with water or a special bonding agent and apply with a rubber trowel.
Run the trowel on a bias when going over tile corners.
Once the grout has been applied,
immediately wipe the tile of excess grout, using a wet sponge and a bucket of
water. Wait 30 minutes and again wipe the tiles down of any residual grout. Wait
another 60 minutes and repeat. If grout is left on the tiles to dry, you will
have a great deal of elbow work scraping it off.
Let the grout sit up for 24 hours and it
is ready for use and admiration.
Over the past 20+ years Mr. Donovan has
been involved with building homes and additions to homes. His projects have
included: building a vacation home, building additions and garages on to
existing homes, and finishing unfinished homes. Mr. Donovan's formal education
and profession have been as an Electrical Engineer and Marketing Manager. Email
Mr. Donovan at firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit either his website
http://www.homeadditionplus.com or blog site